Housing Responding to Multigen Trend

August 2, 2017

More generations are sharing a roof as a growing number of adult children move back in with their parents and aging parents move in with their grown children. Nearly one in five Americans are now living in a multigenerational household (defined as a home with two or more adult generations or grandparents living with grandchildren).

The number of multigenerational households in the U.S. has bloomed to the highest level since 1950. About 60.6 million adults, or 19 percent of the population, were residing with their extended family in 2014, according to data from the Pew Research Center on multifamily households. The number has increased from 57 million in 2012. 

Economists say the main reasons for the uptick are rising home prices, higher child care expenses, increasing college debt, longer life expectancies, and the growth in diverse communities. Multigenerational living is more prevalent among certain ethnicities and cultures. For example, 28 percent of Asians live in a multigenerational household; that number is 25 percent for both Hispanic and African American families. Whites have the fewest multigenerational households at 15 percent.

Builders have been responding to the trend, constructing homes with more square footage and that contain a separate wing for extended family members. 

“Everyone is looking for the perfect home for any number of family situations, such as families who opt to take care of aging parents or grandparents at home, or millennials looking to live with their parents while they attend school or save for a down payment,” says Valerie Sheets, a spokesperson for home builder Lennar, which offers "Next Gen" homes to accommodate the trend.

Multigenerational homes account for up to 30 percent of business at Partners in Building, a Houston-based custom home builder. The company's homes contain multiple kitchens and master suites and separate entrances.

Some homeowners looking to adapt their current home to better accommodate multiple generations may find zoning problems in their retrofits. For example, some municipalities ban “granny flats” or other accessory dwellings on a property. Others may ban having a stove, for example, in an in-law suite. California lawmakers recently paved the way to make additions easier in the state, passing laws that ease restrictions on constructing a second unit on a piece of land.

Source: “All in the Family: Multigenerational Living Makes a Comeback,” realtor.com® (Aug. 2, 2017)