Over the past decade, homebuyers have embraced multigenerational living. A recent study found that 1 in 5 American households have multiple generations living in the same space. The reasons for multigenerational households are as varied as the families who live together under one roof: financial stability, affordability, assistance with childcare, and in-home care for aging adults.
Homebuilders and Realtors are also taking note of the multigenerational living trend. The demand for multigenerational homes is on an upward trajectory with no signs of stopping.
Why the Sudden Increase in Multigenerational Living?
Most experts cite the economic crash of 2006 for the initial increase in multigenerational living. As Americans lost their homes, adult children moved back in with their parents or other relatives.
Cost of living is also an important factor. Housing prices continue to rise, but wages aren’t keeping up. Social security isn’t enough for most retirees to live on comfortably. Moreover, single-parent households are increasingly the norm. All these factors together make multigenerational households a more affordable option for everyone in the home.
Other contributing factors include increased student debt and consumer debt among young people, aging adults who need assistance to live semi-independently, and close-knit families and/or immigrant families who choose to live together.
Benefits of Multigenerational Living
There are challenges associated with multigenerational living, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives in most instances. Benefits of living with three or more generations under one roof include:
- Strong bonds between children and grandparents. Multigenerational living allows grandparents (and great-grandparents, in some cases) to play an integral role in child-rearing, giving children a unique perspective on the world. Often, children who grow up in these households have a much higher respect for older adults in general.
- Financial stability. More adults in a home means more income, and that can drastically alleviate financial stress for everyone. Some younger adults live at home with parents and grandparents while they save enough for a down payment on a home of their own. College graduates can live at home while finding a career. Those who have experienced financial hardships have the chance to regroup and get back on their feet. And retirees living on a fixed income can live more comfortably.
- Aging adults have the help they need. Many older adults wish to live independently as long as possible. Some choose to downsize, moving to senior living communities, or assisted care. But others choose to move in with adult children or another family member. This arrangement allows aging adults to live independently, but have access to assistance and care from a trusted family member if needed.
Challenges of Multigenerational Households
While living with many generations in one household has enormous benefits, it would be imprudent to think this arrangement is without difficulty. Some downsides to living in a multigenerational home include:
- Lack of communication about responsibilities. Misunderstandings about financial obligations, who will be providing after school childcare, or about household chores can all lead to tension in the household.
- Privacy issues. Let’s face it: the more people there are under one roof, the less privacy there will be for everyone. Choosing a home with ample space can help this issue, but it’s a problem many multigenerational families face.
- Disagreements about childrearing. When three or more generations live together, there’s bound to be differing opinions. Often, grandparents take on more responsibility in raising the children, and this can lead to clashes as parents and grandparents disagree about how a child should be raised, disciplined, and treated.
- Increased stress and physical strain. For adult children caring for an elderly parent, the emotional and physical stress can take a toll. Be sure to seek outside help whenever available to keep your responsibilities from becoming overwhelming.
How Real Estate Agents Can Help Multigenerational Homebuyers
Multigenerational homebuyers pose a challenge for Realtors. Real estate agents should know what’s driving a family to live together and understand their ideal living situation.
Purchasing a multigenerational home looks different for each family. Many home builders are recognizing the increased trend of multigenerational living, creating houses with separate kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms for grandparents or children. Other homes can be modified to offer privacy for all family members. Some multigenerational families might choose to live on a single piece of land but have two separate homes close together.
Understanding the needs of each family will help you better serve multigenerational clients.