Today, about one in five Americans live in multi-generational homes. A multi-gen home is one where grandparents, parents, and children (a mix of different generations) all cozy up under one roof. This type of living situation is on the rise again, coming back from only 12 percent (about 1 in 7.5) of families in the 1980s.
Why multi-gen living?
Multi-generational living can take a number of forms, from buying a house with a mother-in-law suite to including a small kitchen in a finished basement. Some people even buy properties with guesthouses or with enough land to accommodate a separate structure for their family.
The increase in mutli-gen living is the result of a number of factors, including:
- Increased cost of living. While Austin still has a fairly affordable cost of living, housing can be expensive and so can commutes and everyday expenses. Nationally, it can be harder for families of any age to make ends meet, thus the higher presence of multi-gen living.
- Decreased retirement savings. Millions of Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, but many (55%, according to Investopedia) don’t have the funds they need. Multi-gen living decreases housing costs and allows Boomers to save more money for their golden years.
- Student loan debt. The average student has about $37,000 in student loan debt — debt they have before they even start working or sometimes even live on their own. The high monthly payments for these loans make it hard for Millennials and Gen Y’ers who are just starting out, making it preferable to split costs with parents or even grandparents.
- Recovery from the recession. The 2008 market crash wiped out a lot of retirement and savings accounts and caused a lot of Americans to foreclose on their homes. Whether it’s a lack of funds or damage to their credit, many Americans are still recovering or are worried about another market crash.
- The cost of healthcare. The average cost for healthcare premiums is now $440 per person or about $1,100 per family — per month! This eats into take-home pay and often doesn’t include expenses for visits or prescriptions. Dependents under 26 can be retained under their parents’ plan, which gives many Millennials a reason to live with their parents. In addition, older individuals on Medicare and/or Medicaid often have limited funds for housing just to manage their healthcare costs. The result is many Baby Boomers living with and caring for their parents, as well as supporting their children’s healthcare premiums.
Homebuilders offering multi-gen floorplans
Sometimes, the idea of living with your parents or even grandparents can be… overwhelming. Finding enough space for multiple generations of stuff, plus having enough bathrooms and bedrooms, can be difficult. That’s why many home builders in the Austin area are taking this growing need into account.
Many builders are now offering multi-gen homes in the Austin area. Many of these floorplans have nearly separate living quarters for at least two parts of a family and offer amenities that cater to aging family members, like ranch floor plans, walk-in showers, ADA-accessible entrances, and more. They’re also boasting an affordable price range, which is exceptional considering they offer nearly two houses for the price of one.
Realtors focusing on the next generation of housing
Now that both home buyers and builders are taking an interest in this unique market, though, it’s time that Realtors pay attention to this trend — and start building a portfolio for potential multi-gen clients.
Check out the builders in your area of specialty that offer multi-generational housing. Visit onsite agents and tour the homes so you can see exactly what each plan has to offer. This makes it easier for you to decide which communities are worth your clients’ time (getting an entire family to tour a home can be a marvel in scheduling). Keep stock of which communities allow multiple buyers and how the multi-generational homebuying process works to make yourself a valuable resource to these potential clients.
You can also take into account multi-use development communities that include single-family houses as well as apartments or patio homes in the same neighborhood. This will be useful information if you have clients who want to be closer to aging parents, but who don’t want to be under the same roof.