Demand for ‘multigen’ homes may find a short supply
NEW YORK – May 8, 2019 – Housing is poised for a significant redesign from a growing number of households looking for a home that can accommodate multiple generations under one roof.
Up to 41 percent of Americans in the home buying market say they're considering a property that can accommodate an elderly parent or an adult child, according to a new survey from John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
That will likely influence the homes they choose to buy. However, the current housing stock is dominated by single-family homes that aren't designed to fit multiple generations.
Homes designed for multigenerational living make up a small segment of the housing market today, though some families have renovated their homes to accommodate other generations.
In response to the multi-generation trend, some major homebuilders have designed floor plans that make space for three or more generations in one household. In 2011, for example, Lennar began offering its Next Gen brand under the tag line, "Two homes. Under one roof." It offers models of its Next Gen line of homes in 13 states.
A multigenerational home typically consists of separate entrances and garages, and the extra space is often presented as an "in-law" unit. Those units usually have their own kitchen and living spaces, too.
Architects say that housing designs need to respond to accommodate changes in households. In 1980, only 12 percent of Americans lived in a multigenerational household, but that has now grown to 20 percent – 64 million – of Americans who have two or more adult generations in a single household, according to the Pew Research Center.
Americans are living longer – now to the average age of 78 – and the cost and isolation of living alone may be prompting more families to come together.
"The emphasis on physical and financial independence at every stage of adulthood has high incurred costs," Fast Company reports. America's current housing stock, however, has centered on independence and privacy, which doesn't quite fit the merging of households.
"I think there's a tighter connection just generationally between young adults and their parents," says Chris Porter, an analyst at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which tracks housing trends. "We're seeing the golf course as less of an amenity these days for senior housing. The real amenity for seniors is being near their kids and grandkids. I think that comes back to that connection between the boomers and their kids."
But when living in a multigenerational household isn't an option, cohousing may be. Cohousing is also growing in the U.S. The term reflects a group of private homes that share community spaces and resources. It can take many forms, but one way it's growing is through senior-focused cohousing, which offers seniors the ability to age in place and also serves as an alternative to senior-living complexes. There are more than 170 cohousing communities in the U.S.
Many changes will likely influence American neighborhoods going forward, but the impact of meeting the needs of aging-in-place and multigenerational households is a pressing one, researchers say.
"American cities and suburbs will need to undergo a radical change in response to climate change, shifting away from single-family homes and toward denser housing typologies; away from personal vehicles and toward public transit, walkability and shared cars; away from independence and towards resource sharing. Ironically, we stand to benefit from those changes as we age," Fast Company reports.
Source: "The Future of Housing Looks Nothing Like Today's," Fast Company (May 6, 2019)
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