How is real estate handling the rise of multigenerational housing?
Multigenerational living demands a different approach to housing, far from the standards set by nuclear families. Year after year, the number of adult children living with their parents continues to increase, and grandparents aren’t exempt from the trend. Having six or more family members under a single roof is no longer so uncommon.
Naturally, with transitions in occupancy and demographics, the real estate industry has to adapt to new preferences and priorities. Professionals in real estate can’t depend on the traditional strategies that sustained them for such a long time. They need to change their perception of the family unit and adjust accordingly.
The ways they’ve adjusted have been interesting to watch, and their response to the multigenerational housing trend reflects ingenuity and flexibility. In this article, we’ll examine the effect of multigenerational living in greater depth, looking at its impact on today’s real estate market and those who work within it.
Multigenerational Housing and Reasons for Growth
The Great Recession was a powerful driving force behind modern trends in multigenerational living, with millennial graduates moving back in with their parents after leaving college. Unable to find positions in their chosen fields, many of them had little choice but to return home and save money, taking short-term jobs.
That said, economic circumstances were only one of several reasons behind the shift in living trends. The lifestyles of older Americans evolved to accept and even embrace living arrangements that included their adult children. They don’t see them as a burden, and statistics support this.
According to a 2016 survey, 42 percent of home shoppers in a group of 20,000 planned to accommodate their adult children. The stigma of staying at home and the stereotype of the “spoiled millennial” have started to disappear, and many young adults see the financial benefits of moving in with their parents.
The nation’s increasingly diverse and growing immigrant population has also contributed to trends in multigenerational housing. Many countries outside the United States don’t attach the same negative connotations to living with parents or caring for grandparents. The concept of family changes from culture to culture.
Constructing Multigenerational Living Solutions
To restate an earlier point, trends in multigenerational living have led the real estate industry to adapt its practices. Real estate professionals have moved away from traditional strategies to account for new preferences and priorities, and the ways they’ve changed are impressive in their ingenuity.
Duplexes and other attached living situations have always been viable options for extended families seeking a place to live. But if the market doesn’t hold exactly what these families are looking for, many custom homebuilders across the country have adapted to meet this growing demand.
Miami-based homebuilder Lennar was an early adopter, having released what it calls its “NextGen” home, offering separate living spaces for individual family members. Rather than placing an additional unit in the backyard, this home is custom-built to accommodate extended families in one seamless property.
Similarly, Adair Homes in the Pacific Northwest has a wide selection of multigenerational floor plans available for its customers. Offering flexibility, they allow families to choose between secondary master suites or completely separate units.
Multigenerational housing is also aligning with other booming construction trends. In 2017, only 2 percent of new single-family builds were prefabricated. Yet modular housing is predicted to grow steadily in the next few years as new homeowners seek increasingly environmentally friendly and efficient options.
In response, modular builders such as Connecticut-based Design. Build. Modular. offer customized solutions for multigenerational households. Not only are extended households being accommodated by nationwide builders, they’re being offered flexibility; rather than hunting around the market, multigenerational families can find greener and more customized solutions right at their fingertips.
Building and design teams of all types have met the challenges of multigenerational housing with spatial independence and interdependence. By developing a build to accommodate the needs of everyone, without compromising the comfort of anyone, an entire family can feel satisfied with its living situation.
Marketing to Multigenerational Families
Real estate has adjusted to trends in multigenerational living in its messaging as well. Marketing has moved from targeting nuclear families to embracing diverse family structures. Keen real estate businesses will note that 13 percent of homebuyers purchased a multigenerational home in 2018, making the market ripe for smart targeting.
Real estate agents can begin to add multigenerational flexibility to listing descriptions, citing extra bedrooms as excellent options for in-laws or touting a finished basement as an additional master suite. They can also look at demographic trends: Foreign-born seniors are four times more likely to live with their children, so advertising to these specific groups on social media and other platforms remains a strong strategy.
Multigenerational families haven’t just transformed real estate, however. Many brands, from technology to entertainment, have been making moves to successfully market their products to extended households.
The toy industry has found ways to capitalize on shifting demographics in the American family unit, for example. After all, grandparents purchase four in 10 children’s books, one in five video games, and one in four toys. It’s likely that Americans will continue to see grandparents and children together in paid ads.
Major moguls are getting in on the trend, too. Disney World launched its “Grand Adventure” campaign in 2014, encouraging grandparents and grandchildren to visit the resort together. The emergence of services that specialize in “grandtravel” endorses bonding across generational divides, and these efforts are often well-received.
Visual representation, language, and targeting are core to changing marketing solutions. As multigenerational households continue to grow, any business that caters to family units will find the need to diversify their idea of what a family looks like.
Addressing New Challenges with Creative Solutions
Multigenerational living demands a different approach to housing, and real estate professionals have shown incredible resourcefulness in addressing new challenges. As homebuilders such as Lennar demonstrate, the industry is ready to accommodate emerging trends with creative solutions.
Written by: Holly Welles, BOSS Contributor
Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers the latest market trends in everything from residential to commercial spaces. She is the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update, and curates more advice on Twitter.
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