Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Multi-generational homes in the U.S. are proving to have staying power. Defined as including two or more generations of adults, multi-generational households spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic years.  At the beginning of the pandemic, multigenerational home purchasing jumped from 11% to 15% for three months, returned to around 11%, but then increased again to a total of 14% of purchases nationwide for the year ending in June 2022, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. 

But the upward trend did not begin then. Multigenerational living has been growing sharply in the U.S. over the past five decades, quadrupling from 1971to 2021, “and shows no signs of peaking,” according to a Pew Research Center report on survey results last year. 

Today, 18% of people live in homes with more than one generation under one roof. Forty percent of adults cite financial issues as the motivation for multigenerational living. About 25% say caring for an adult family member or receiving care themselves is a major reason and 28% say it has always been their living arrangement, reports the Pew Research Center. Other goals include a change in their relationship status such as death of a spouse or divorce, companionship, or for childcare help – either providing or receiving. 

With more extended families sharing homes, housing needs are evolving. Realtor.com reports that Daniel Parolek, author of Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis, said multigenerational housing needs to meet three standards: accessibility, adaptability and affordability.

Experts have identified options to meet these three standards. First, accessory dwelling units, adaptable single-family homes and senior living spaces were identified as key for supporting accessible housing. 

Next, homes must be designed to adapt to the changes that occur over a lifetime, from when there are young children in the home, to when they become adults, to when the children move on. Realtor.com cited Parolek’s version of a more versatile single-family home: “The main dwelling houses the core family unit. Then, there’s a wing for the grandparents and a third unit over the garage for boomerang kids or to rent out. The space includes a shared courtyard. So, in this single space, there are three distinct units that function as one unit or close off for privacy.”

And finally, communities with multigenerational housing need affordable living options to house the support workers they require such as childcare providers, home health aids and housekeepers. 

Given the growing trend, it all points to a needed shift in housing that will be felt increasingly in the coming years.

Data in the Pew Research Center report is drawn from a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults surveyed in October 2021. A total of 9,676 panelists responded out of 11,340 who were sampled, for a response rate of 85%.

For more information, read the Pew Research Report at: pewresearch.org/social-trends/2022/03/24/financial-issues-top-the-list-of-reasons-u-s-adults-live-in-multigenerational-homes and the Realtor.com article at: nar.realtor/magazine/real-estate-news/sales-marketing/3-standards-multigenerational-housing-needs-to-meet. 

By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder. He has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, email Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620 or visit boulderco.com.