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Funny Live-In Grandparents in Giant Sweater“I can’t take it anymore.” “We will not be doing this again next year.”

If you’ve uttered one of these phrases during this past holiday season while feverishly packing your belongings and plotting an early departure from the sheer madness of family gatherings, give yourself a moment before reading this article.

While you may have had your fill of extended family throughout the holidays, apparently not everyone feels the same way.  In fact, according to a 2013 NAR study, it appears the new trend may be towards purchasing larger homes or multi-family dwellings to house multiple generations under one roof. 

As unbelievable as that may seem to some, others are embracing the idea of having mom and dad or their adult children and perhaps even a grandparent or two residing either in a home together,  or in very close proximity to one another – permanently.

Higher-than-normal unemployment and skyrocketing rental prices may be contributing to this new trend.  The study showed many adults are choosing to move back home with parents, or are having older parents move in with them.

The NAR study indicates that 14% of buyers purchased homes large enough to accommodate their adult children’s return home.  Another 25% of home purchases were bought for the purpose of housing elderly parents in need of care.

Economics and necessity play an obvious role in the multi-generational housing trend, but for many U.S. and Canadian households, culture also play a large role.  Both the U.S. and Canada have large multicultural groups whose households customarily included three or four generations.  So for these cultures multi-generational living is not a new phenomenon.

In fact, many believe that North American society is simply coming full circle from the early 1900’s when the practice of several related adults living under one roof was considered the American way.

The many benefits of multi-generational living for its household members may even appeal to those who would otherwise oppose it.  Consider the perks of a built-in babysitter, slimmed cost of senior care, shared expenses enabling maximized savings for all members and the security of always having someone in the home.

Live-In Grandmother Pelted with SnowballInvestors in the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to focus their attention in 2014 on multifamily dwellings and single-family homes large enough to accommodate additional family members with designs that accentuate privacy and flexibility (e.g. in-law suites).  Those investors who are able to take advantage of this trend may see long term maximum profits as this may be more than just a trend, but a new normal for middle class living.

Some large builders have already begun building with the multi-generational family in mind. Lennar Homes, one of the largest home builders on the east coast, has begun building homes larger than 3,000 square feet with enough “flex space” for additional family members.  Whether used as an in-law suite, guest quarters or just a bonus bedroom and kitchenette, the appeals of this flex space are easy to appreciate.  Builders are also heavily focused on more spacious kitchens to facilitate larger families. 

Lennar has dubbed its multi-generational home projects Next Gen Homes.  They currently have over 40 plans in 100 communities in 10 different states, and are anticipating building these homes in all of their existing markets in 2014.

Have you seen evidence of multi-generational living in your market?  Tell us how you plan to take advantage of this new trend?

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