The way Americans are living is shifting. Multi-generational homes are on the rise and some builders are starting to take advantage of it by changing the way they design homes.
The shift began with a decrease in seniors choosing to enter nursing homes. In 1990, 10.2% of the elderly (residents age 75 and older) lived in nursing homes. That number fell to 7.4% in 2006. In fact, 25% of all households are now responsible for caring for an aging relative. It’s important to keep in mind that everyday until 2030, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 years-old, the traditional age for retirement. Baby boomers have proven to be less than traditional when it comes to the aging process, opting to continue working beyond 65 and/or retiring into an active lifestyle, but builders can predict future housing demands from these numbers.
Past multi-generational housing usually involved an elderly parent living in a guest or second master bedroom and sharing the home’s kitchen. Nowadays, it isn’t just parents moving in with their children. The recession put a hamper on finances for many people. When homes were lost to foreclosure, siblings moved their families in together. Children, unable to find jobs after college, were forced to move back home with their parents. Even aunts and uncles under financial hardship found a place with their extended family. However, this combining of homes has helped families realize that having more family living together means saving money on bills, mortgages, childcare, and healthcare. It’s not uncommon now to see children, parents, and grandparents all living together under the same roof.
In Wilmington, we’ve seen an increase in searches for mother-in-law suites, also referred to as guest quarters, which are attached living quarters, usually separated by a door and/or staircase from the main areas of the house. The include a bedroom, bathroom, living area, and small kitchen; so, family members can be near, but have their own space for watching television, doing their laundry, making meals, etc. while giving the home owners their privacy when needed. But builders are starting to go beyond that by designing first floor, handicap accessible suites and guest quarters that feel like separate residences with main entrances leading in from a second street or courtyard. They’re also designing larger homes with multiple “apartments”, but they are not as common and are limited by state building codes.
While multi-generational housing isn’t booming, there’s definitely a growing demand and building niche to be filled. Looking at trends from the past 12 years, it’s safe to say we’re going to see an increase in the number of buyers looking to purchase homes with in-law suites, guest quarters, or mini-apartments over the coming years as the baby boomers grow older and the economy continues to settle; but, to what extent the demand will grow is yet to be seen.
If you have any questions about multi-generational housing options in the Wilmington area, please don’t hesitate to ask.