clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Multigenerational living is making a comeback

So how does one go about buying a home that works for the whole family?

The pandemic changed life for everyone, and for some people, that included shacking up with a few familiar faces. Living with multiple generations under one roof is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s influencing what buyers look for in a house. So why is multigenerational living on the rise?

Let’s go back to 1940. During the Great Depression, money was tight in most American households. Seniors who were out of the workforce were often cared for at home by their adult children. At the time, almost a quarter of American houses were home to three or more generations. Then came World War II, which resulted in an economic boom for the US. The traditional American nuclear family flourished as more young adults were now able to afford single-family homes, and thanks to expanded Social Security benefits, seniors now had the means to live independently, too. That trend continued for a while... until 1980, when the number of multigenerational homes in the US started to shrink to just 12%. Those numbers remained somewhat steady for several decades.

Then, in 2020, COVID-19 hit.

Multigenerational living began gaining broader appeal because of its cost-saving benefits, caregiving possibilities, and the emotional support that family members can provide during a time of crisis. The numbers back that up, as reported by the National Association of REALTORS®. In 2020, 15% of US buyers opted for a multigenerational home.

So for those who are considering multigenerational homeownership, how do you find a house that fits your family? The first step is finding a real estate professional you can trust. By partnering with a REALTOR®, buyers gain a trusted ally with expertise in the homebuying process. These agents are members of the National Association of REALTORS®. Their expert guidance, first-hand experience and knowledge of local markets can be a valuable resource to prospective buyers as they begin their search.

A multigenerational home can vary in size and setup. It can be a single home under one roof that serves the needs of each family member, two fully functional units that are attached (like a duplex), or a detached accessory unit in the backyard of a larger house. Studies have shown that the two most important factors in making multigenerational living work, are having separate entrances and separate kitchens. Why? For seniors, retaining a sense of independence is essential to their well-being. And for young adults living with older relatives, a separate entrance and kitchen allow for more privacy. These features can also help minimize noise disturbances when family members are on different schedules.

Even with these considerations, not all family members may agree on what they want in a home. A recent study from the National Association of REALTORS® revealed that for more than half of young adult buyers, avoiding renovations in a new home was a top priority. But that changes as people get older, with less than a fifth of senior buyers looking to avoid renovations after purchasing a home.

REALTORS® have access to proprietary data and trend reports like this, which can help spark important conversations between family members, and ensure everyone’s preferences are taken into consideration. A REALTOR® also provides the expertise to help navigate the nuances of multigenerational homeownership, such as appropriate financing options, and finding a house that works for a variety of life stages. Multigenerational living may continue to grow in popularity, especially in today’s market.

By working with a REALTOR®, buyers could be one step closer to finding a home that the whole family will love – for generations to come.

Want to find a REALTOR®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®? Click here.

Click below for more on the Future of Homebuying