This Is Us. Jane the Virgin. Black-ish. What do they have in common? They are all family television programs that have members of multiple generations living under one roof. But the reality of multi-generational living is more than storyline fodder.
According to the 2019 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), this continues to be a growing trend among homebuyers, and it’s being driven largely by Gen Xers. Not only does this group make up the second-largest band of homebuyers today at 24%, one in six have purchased a multi-gen home.
That surpasses “younger Baby Boomers as the generation most likely to do so,” said Multi-Housing News. “Of the Gen X multi-generational buyers, 52 percent said they did so to accommodate adult children who moved back home or never left.” Nine percent of millennials purchased a multi-generational property they could share with aging parents, per the report.
There are a number of factors at play here, such as the rising housing prices encompassing both for sale properties and rentals, and the staggering amount of student debt holding that may be holding buyers back. According to the NAR report, “Gen Xers and older millennial buyers carry the highest median student debt balances” at $30,000.
“The high cost of rent and lack of affordable housing inventory is sending adult children back to their parents’ homes either out of necessity or an attempt to save money,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “While these multigenerational homes may not be what a majority of Americans expect out of homeownership, this method allows younger potential buyers the opportunity to gain their financial footing and transition into homeownership. In fact, younger millennials are the most likely to move directly out of their parents’ homes into homeownership, circumventing renting altogether.”
If you’re looking to take the multigenerational plunge, these tips will help you find the right place and make it work.
Look for a home that was built with multi-generational living in mind
Tailor your home search
If a brand-new home or one that’s already prepared for multi-generational living isn’t doable, look for a home that’s easily convertible. A downstairs bedroom and bath is key for older residents, and if it has a bathroom en-suite—even better! A home with a basement or attic may seem like an ideal place to turn into a grandparent’s haven, but stairs can be dangerous. Also, if an aging parent uses a walker or wheelchair, the upstairs may become inaccessible to them.
A property with a guesthouse or enough land on which to place a granny suite or tiny home is another option. Just make sure the land is zoned properly to accommodate this type of structure.
Make smart renovations
Why not just renovate your existing home? Taking down walls to create an open floorplan is a smart move that can have a positive impact on your home’s value. Creating a more open space can also help make a home more accessible for aging parents.
The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist recommends a “5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom.” Wide hallways that measure a minimum of 36-inches across, good lighting, and non-slip flooring are a few more key recommendations.