The Rise in Multi-Generational Living

As we’ve reported before, multi-generational living is on the rise. Now, thanks to information from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we know a little bit more about who is buying these homes and why. 

At 16%, Gen Xers (people born between 1965 and 1979) are the most likely to purchase a multigenerational home, according to the NAR’s Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. We’re taking a closer look at the motivations driving those purchases and the different features buyers might look for in a multi-generational home.

Adult Children Living With Parents Longer

Nowadays, more adult children are either coming back to live at home or choosing not to leave. But this isn’t breaking news. Since the paranoia about millennials being stuck in prolonged adolescence has emerged, we’ve learned about how stagnant wages and a lack of job security is largely credited for many millennials choosing to live with their parents longer.

The trend of adult children living with their parents doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, according to the NAR report. Of the Gen Xers who bought multi-generational homes, the largest number reported that they’d done so to accommodate children (or relatives) over 18 who hadn’t left home or that they would be sharing their home with children (or relatives) over 18 who were moving back into the home. 

As it becomes clear that the forces keeping adult children at home aren’t changing any time soon, families are looking for a more comfortable way to cohabitate. That often means giving the adult children more privacy and a sense of separate space. That way, they can lead an adult life while cohabitating. 

These separate spaces can include a variety of elements, depending on the family’s needs and price point. Maybe it’s a separate bedroom with an en-suite bathroom somewhere separate from the master—like on the first floor or basement level if the master is on the second. Maybe it’s a full suite, complete with a kitchen and sitting room. Because homebuyers in this situation don’t often have to contend with mobility limitations, there’s more flexibility for the location of suites, e.g. you can have stairs to access the unit, etc.

Taking Care of Aging Parents

According to the NAR report, bringing aging parents under the same roof was the second most common reason for Gen Xers to embrace multi-generational living. Respondents reported two reasons for bringing aging parents to live with them: health and caretaking concerns and wanting to spend more time with them

This is the situation we tend to imagine when we think of multi-generational housing. After all, smaller, independent accommodations within the main home are often referred to as in-law quarters.

Homebuyers who purchase a home with the express purpose of sharing it with aging parents will want to keep senior needs in mind, like mobility and accessibility, when buying a home. In-law quarters on the ground level make the suite easy to access if mobility is an issue (or becomes an issue in the future). If the suite is on another level, there’s a possibility that you’ll have to put in a chair lift. Something you may not know: It’s twice as expensive to put in a chair lift if your stairs twist/have a landing. So, a straight set of stairs might be something to look out for. 

Sensible Money Moves

Financial concerns are the third major reason for buying multi-generational homes. According to the NAR report, respondents answered that they had purchased their homes for cost savings or because they “wanted a larger home that multiple incomes could afford together.”

We have seen trends like this in states like California. Despite soaring prices, there still aren’t a ton of homes being built. Families are finding it more affordable to modify the homes they already have to fit the needs of multi-generational living.

If you’re buying a home to save money—or even to score some extra square footage—that may not look the same as your typical in-law suite home. Cost savings may look like making sacrifices in personal space for the financial gain of the family. Getting a larger house may mean more space without it being specifically designated as separate (like with a separate entrance). 

If you fall into either of these two categories, you’ll benefit from sitting down at the beginning of the home shopping process and having a frank discussion about expectations and needs. Getting everyone on the same page about what they think the home will look like, what responsibilities each person will have, and how you’ll navigate the need for alone time will set you up for success in your new living arrangements.

Other Reasons

As more homeowners embrace rental services like Airbnb, homebuyers may purchase a multi-generational home in order to earn extra income from renters. Separate spaces in a multi-generational home allow homeowners to take in additional, largely passive income from their home.

If you’re shopping for a home with the intention of renting part of it out, you’ll want to keep in mind what renters are looking for. It might be a good idea to run a search for rental properties in your area to see what type of accommodations are currently offered. That way you can look for something in line with or above the market. Features that might attract renters include: a separate entrance, a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, and a potential living space like a small kitchen or a seating nook.

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