Under One Roof, Many Generations

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Homebuilders are designing new multigenerational McMansions for households made up of several generations under one roof.

Miami-based Lennar, one of the country’s largest homebuilders, started marketing its new designs in 2011, featuring 3,000 square feet of living space, plus a one-bedroom apartment with its own garage and a discrete side entrance.

Lennar calls their new multigenerational designs “Next Gen — The Home Within a Home.” Lennar’s Next Gen homes look like any other, but each includes a separate “suite,” or apartment. Homebuilder Lennar now sells these 3,000 square foot floor plans, with main living quarters of over 2,300 square feet of living space, plus an attached Next Gen suite of more than 660 square feet. The Next Gen suite has a bedroom, bathroom, living area and kitchenette.

Las Vegas architect Howard Perlman, owner of the Perlman Design Group, pitched the idea of multigenerational housing to several builders in the Southwest in 2011. The first builder to bite on his multigenerational design was Lennar. The builder has since taken Perlman’s basic designs and developed 15 floor plans.

“In 2011, I was calling builders,” said Perlman. “Now they’re calling me.”

Lennar began introducing the Next Gen homes in Arizona, Nevada, and California in 2012, and the company said 25 percent of its sales last year were Next Gen homes. Lennar was one of the first U.S. homebuilders to notice the demographic trend of “doubling up” or “tripling up,” where multigenerational families (parents, children and grandparents) share the cost of their mortgage and other living expenses under one roof.

“Since we started building these homes a few years ago, we see grandparents moving back in with their children,” said Greg McGuff, president of the Inland Empire Division at Lennar. “We see children moving back in with their parents. We also see multigenerational families, where the parents, children and grandparents move in together. We are also seeing 350,000 Americans turning age 65 every month. If that trend continues to grow, that will fuel future demand for these homes.”

Demographic shifts are making the home-within-a-home concept more marketable. According to a 2012 report from the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of adults between 25 and 29 are now living, or have lived recently, with their parents. Overall, 51.5 percent of Americans are living in multigenerational households, a 10 percent increase from 2007. As baby boomers continue to age, and as America’s growing immigrant population continues to swell, many more families will be doubling or even tripling up in their homes with multiple generations.

Since homebuilders have lost the low end of the real estate market to foreclosures and investors, they need to recalibrate how they build and market their larger, more expensive new homes to this new multigenerational demographic.

A 3,000 square foot Lennar Next Gen home in Gilbert Ariz. is priced at $240,000. Today, Next Gen homes are sold in 25 U.S. markets, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Related News
Economists Preach Housing Revival
New Home Sales Dipped In October
A Snapshot of the Las Vegas Housing Market Since 2010

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About the author

Octavio Nuiry

Born in Havana, Cuba, raised in Miami, Fla., and New Orleans, La., Octavio has spent his entire career in the communications industry. Prior to joining RealtyTrac, Octavio worked as a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a publicist at Burson-Marsteller in Los Angeles, an account executive at various Orange County advertising agencies and the owner of his own marketing firm, ON Marketing.

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