Downsizing has gotten a lot of attention as Baby Boomers—many of whom have become empty-nesters—discover that they don’t need the space, expense, and elbow grease required to keep up the family property. But there is a counter-trend that could well explain the popularity (and desirability) of many big ol’ homes. It’s a multigenerational thing.
It was to be expected that multigenerational family households became more numerous following the Great Recession. After all, when jobs became scarce, incomes stagnated, and foreclosure rates skyrocketed, the idea of moving back home with mom and dad became a practical necessity for many families.
Enter the term “multigenerational family living.” It’s defined as the inclusion of two or more adult generations—or including grandparents and grandchildren under 25 years of age—in a single residence. That lifestyle choice had been steadily declining from 21% in 1950 to 12% thirty years later. But beginning in 1980, that trend reversed—sharply so, during the economic turmoil of 2007-2009. Although that rapid increase has since slowed, today it is still on the rise.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 51.5 million Americans lived in multigenerational households in 2009 (that’s 17% of the entire population). Compare that with the latest count from Pew Research, which registered 60.6 million (19%) in 2014.
Pew explains part of the trend as a cultural phenomenon stemming from the growing diversity of the U.S. population. Cultural preferences among some Asian and Hispanic groups—as well as with some foreign-born Americans—tilt toward multigenerational living. But in recent years, young adults make up the age group “most likely” to add to the trend. Previously, the elderly had led the way, but by 2014, for young adults aged 18 through 34, living with parents surpassed other living arrangements for the first time ever.
What this means for home sellers is simply that there is a measurable counter-trend to the more widely publicized downsizing phenomenon. Whether your own residence is right-sized for multiple generations or single ones, there are buyers out there eager to take a look tour. Call me!