According to a report by Pew Research Center, multigenerational homes – where families with more than one adult generation live together – have increased from 32.2 million in 1950 to 64 million across the country. As more and more American households are becoming multigenerational, experts think that there could be a number of factors driving this new trend.
Rise of Multigenerational Homes
Chief economist Lawrence Yun from National Association of Realtors says that with the current economy and rising home prices, sharing a home with a bigger group of people has significant economic benefits.
For example, Diana Limongi who shares a house in Astoria with her parents and her children, says that by living together, her parents are able to cut the cost of long-term care, whereas she can dedicate more time to her job without having to worry about getting day care for children; it’s a win-win situation for both families.
John Burns, a real estate investment consultant in California, says that families born after the 1970’s are more likely to follow the multi-generational household trend since people from that group had the highest homeownership rate, but now that near their 70’s and 80’s, they’re more likely to pool resources with their children to cut the cost of living.
If you’re thinking of buying a property that can accommodate several generations at once, here are a few things that you need to consider before you go house hunting.
Before You Look
Before you draw an idealistic conclusion that you and your family could live harmoniously under one roof for the rest of your lives, it’s important to take the generational gap into consideration which can often get in the way of effective communication. It won’t be easy in the beginning to get everyone on the same page, but you may have to make a few difficult conversations with your children and parents to set ground rules.
Before shopping for a home, discuss property requirements with your family and make a list of the absolute must-haves in order to narrow down your choices on the market. Whether your parents want a driveway for their car or your partner a backyard for the dogs, make sure you understand and respect everyone’s needs to make it enjoyable for them to live together under one roof.
While you’re setting the ground rules for the new house, you might as well draw up a home prenup which specifies how much each member of the family pays for the property and how the living expenses are divided. The prenup could also cover an exit strategy in case someone wants to move out and get their own place. Having this document in place can give you a piece of mind since it would make all parties legally obliged to stick to the terms of the agreement.
On the Hunt
Once you’ve agreed on the location and specifications of the home, the next step is to find a broker who is familiar with the area and know where to look for a multigenerational home that suits your needs.
Real estate Agent Karen K.H. Park, is an expert in selling large million-dollar homes to migrant families from countries like China and Korea where it common for different generations to live together under one roof. Being half Korean, Karen is able to understand her clients’ culture and background which helps her smooth the entire buying process.
But before you put your signatures on the dotted line, you may need to familiarize yourself with the legal issues associated with purchasing a home in a specific area. Hiring a lawyer who can help you figure out issues like insurance, taxes and zoning before making the purchase is a good idea to avoid any unexpected costs afterwards.
Buying a house is a stressful endeavor, but with several family members involved in the decision, you can make the administrative work easier by dividing tasks so the burden doesn’t fall on just one party.
If you’re making the living decision for the long haul, it might be helpful to create a 5-year or 10-year plan that covers possible scenarios like having children or hiring a full-time nurse to look after the older generation. It takes time and effort to make sure all parties are comfortable in the shared space, but effective communication is the key to happiness and harmony.