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4 facts about multigenerational housing — from boomerang children to aging parents

What you need to know about this evolving trend

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In the 1980s, harboring a post-college adult child in your basement was something you didn’t advertise during lunch with your friends. Today, it is more the norm than the exception that more than one generation might reside in a home. And it is not just adult children; parents of baby boomers are also contributing to the multigenerational housing trend.

According to an analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center, a record 57 million Americans live in multigenerational households. That is 18.1 percent of the population, approximately one¬†in six¬†Americans. Baby boomer couples with boomerang children and aging parents are dictating a new housing trend — one that resurfaced after the 2007-2009 recession. Whether prompted by a lost job, a house foreclosure or a sinking pension, it is not uncommon for three generations to come together under one roof.

Here are what Realtors, builders and those thinking about purchasing a multigenerational house need to know:

1. There’s a high demand for multigenerational homes.

Homebuilders and real estate agents are finding the demand for housing that accommodates several generations is on rise — across all demographics and geographical regions. Although one would normally expect baby boomers to be downsizing at this stage of their lives, quite a few are trading up to a multigenerational housing model.

2. More baby boomers means the demand will increase.

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Every day for at least the next decade, more than 10,000 baby boomers reach the age of 65. More baby boomers mean an ever-increasing demand for this evolving housing style.

3. Privacy is a top priority.

While many builders are now making a first-floor bedroom suite a standard feature, truly multigenerational homes are designed with a separate living space in the confines of a single-family home. Common features in modern multigenerational layouts include self-contained apartment-like living areas with bedrooms, full baths, kitchenettes and separate entrances. This separation allows more than one generation to live together while still maintaining individual independence and privacy.

4. Multigenerational layouts mean higher resale value.

The unique layout of a multigenerational house, surprisingly, does have resale value. The separate apartment-like living area is versatile and can be used to accommodate aging parents, boomerang children, the need for a home office or business, a nanny or even guests. The flexibility of this design, along with its organic integration in the home, predicts high resale value.

Bottom line

Multigenerational households declined in popularity after World War II, but they’re on the rise again in a big way. This trend is changing the shape of the American family — something not only of interest to agents, builders, architects and rehabbers, but also to social scientists. Interestingly enough, we see this trend across cultural, geographic and ethnic boundaries. These homes are everywhere — and will soon become the dominant housing form in neighborhoods once littered with the classic nuclear family home.

Jill Butler is the CEO of and founder of RedKey Realty Leaders St. Louis — an independent real estate agency created on a foundation of love, service and fun. You can find RedKey on Twitter @RedKeyStLouis and on Facebook.

Email Jill Butler.