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Across the real estate sector, multigenerational living has emerged as a beneficial solution for many families. As the older generation ages, they’re cared for by loved ones. Younger generations are supported by their parents in sharing the costs and responsibilities of homeownership, and grandparents are available to help raise grandchildren.
As noted by Kylie McCollough, Luxury Property Specialist at Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty, demand for multigenerational living among luxury clientele is especially high in second-home markets like her area of Newport, Rhode Island.
“Buyers are looking for a place their children and grandchildren will want to spend summers and holidays,” she says. “Conversely, young families with two working parents are opting for a guest house or in-law suite for their parents to liveand help with childcare.”
“Family reunion” has a new meaning
So what are buyers looking for, and how can agents deliver? According to Cynthia Ruggiero, a Real Estate Professional with Kienlen Lattmann Sotheby’s International Realty, the priority for many is a site with multiple dwellings.
“At the moment, I’m representing a property with two separate homes on the property, one of which is actually deeded for ‘a relative who is older than 55,’” she says. “I’m also selling a compound with six separate standalone residences on almost 200 acres.”
But separate buildings aren’t always necessary. “My parents built a vacation home so that the whole family could visit,” says McCollough. “They added a separate wing with its own kitchen, deck, and bath that feels like a getaway for us. I always tell my clients: If you build it, they will come.”
The multigenerational home checklist
Based on her client’s wish lists for an ideal multigenerational home, McCollough suggests agents market homes with these five factors:
- The size of the property needs to be able to accommodate guest houses or in-law suites, along with plenty of land for outdoor living. Bonus points if it has a pool, or is near a lake or beach.
- Depending on the age of the homeowner’s parents and children, walkability matters. “A buyer may sacrifice yard space in favor of their family being able to walk to the tennis club and get a coffee, or to a summer job.”
- With aging relatives, accessibility is a top concern for adult children purchasing a home with their parents in mind. “First-floor access is top of the list, along with proximity to good medical care.”
- Different areas should accommodate different ages and activities. “Finished basements are a huge plus. With games rooms and movie screens, kids can have their own space, and the adults can be upstairs.”
- A sense of separation is crucial. Private entrances allow family members to come and go as they please, and quiet areas allow residents to focus on work without worrying about their relatives disturbing them.
Marketing the multigenerational home
While some homes cater to multigenerational buyers, Ruggiero notes that’s not always the case. “Sometimes the municipality will not allow the space to be advertised as an apartment, or have a full kitchen, so advertising can be tricky,” she says.
“I make sure to advertise the separate entrances, and have the photos that clearly demonstrate the space for a guest or nanny suite,” she adds, since buyers will understand that a nanny suite can easily become a granny suite. “I also provide floor plans that buyers can look at and decide which rooms they are going to be using for this type of living.”
In order to showcase a property’s multigenerational potential, McCollough often features actors of diverse ages in her listings’ video marketing — for example, portraying an extended family hosting a holiday get-together or a large dinner party.
There are also clever techniques to show how a home can be modified for multigenerational living. “Adding a leaf and extra chairs to dining tables is great for this during tours and open houses,” says McCollough. “Split king beds are also ideal for versatility, and setting them as twins for staging photos is a great way to show potential for grandchildren’s rooms.”
Make sure the whole family is aligned
Whether part-time or full-time, having a multigenerational home can be extremely fulfilling. “It’s great to see clients make real estate decisions that bring their families together year-round or for summers and holidays,” says McCollough. “If parents and their children are sharing costs, they can afford something really special for everyone — and enjoy knowing that they’re not just investing in a property, but in spending time together.”