5 unbreakable rules for working with buyers from multigenerational families

Unintentionally embarrassing a family member is easy to do

As a real estate agent, you serve a wide variety of clients. How many of you have assisted buyers making up a multigenerational family? If you have not done this already, don’t be surprised if it happens soon.

Multigenerational families are those households where more than two generations reside. According to the 2010 census data, 4.3 million family households are multigenerational in the United States, or 5.6 percent of the 76 million U.S. family households.

As a member of multigenerational family myself (my mother-in-law moved in with us six months ago and I have two teenagers), I can tell you that there are some unbreakable rules when dealing with us when we are in the market for a new home.

1. Don’t leave anybody out of the discussion or decision-making process. When it comes to real estate, your client will be the main bread makers of the home so they will be your primary decision-maker. However, they are not alone. They have two or three other generations lobbying in the background. You would be smart to involve the entire household in the process. If you don’t, the process might take longer as one generation convinces your client that they need to rethink an offer on a house.

2. Don’t forget the old adage: Location, location, location. I know we hear this all the time as real estate agents. Location drives the price of property. When working with multigenerational families, location takes on a different meaning. Your clients will need to see homes located in an area in which each generation can feel at home. Older generations will need to be closer to different institutions like churches, doctors and social clubs (like Kiwanis or Lions), while younger generations will want to be close to their schools and entertainment destinations.

3. Each generation will need their own space. Of course, the floor plan of a home will depend heavily on the budget. However, if possible, find homes where the different generations will have their own unique space. For example, I have an oasis upstairs while my mother-in-law resides downstairs. When I need to be alone, I hide  in my bedroom for solitude. If you can find a house with this, you will get an offer much more quickly.

4. Don’t embarrass any of the generations. One mistake you don’t ever want to make is to show a house where one of the generations can’t even function in the space. It embarrasses them and they put up walls immediately. Best example of this are homes where the wiser generation cannot even get into the home because there are too many steps up to the front door.

5. Never underestimate the importance of enough storage. Once again, budget will play heavily in this rule. However, showing a multigenerational family a home with one or two closets is not a good use of your time. Each generation has their own stuff and none of them will be willing to sacrifice. I write this last rule from experience.

Adam Wright is a Keller Williams Realtor in Texas specializing in Denton and Tarrant counties.