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Catch the multi-generational housing wave

Posted by Rona Fischman June 18, 2012 01:52 PM

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I invited Paul Morse, owner of Morse Constructions Inc., to write about his ideas about housing in our area over the next generation. As a builder, he is seeing a change in the kinds of changes people are making to their houses. Do you think he is spotting a trend?

Multi-generational housing is hot. Youve probably seen the statistics between 2000 and 2009, multi-generational households increased by 30 percent. Since then, the percentage has been on the rise as adult children move home in a tough job market and longer life spans increase the number of elderly parents living with children. As long as this trend holds, homes that can be adapted for multi-family living will be particularly valuable properties. Even better, homes that have already been renovated to provide private, yet connected, living spaces will have selling features that will appeal to a growing market.

The homes that are best suited for multi-generational living offer:

Privacy with Proximity Successful multi-generational living requires a fine balance between private and communal spaces. Separate entrances, morning bars or kitchenettes in bedroom suites, and sitting rooms provide much-needed privacy. A large, open kitchen/eating/living area is ideal when the family comes together.

Flexible Spaces Flexible spaces can be easily transformed to function for different purposes and ages. For example, an underused living room and sunroom may transition into a home office, then an in-law suite, then a space for an adult child who moves home, then an entertainment area.

Universal Design -- Universal design works hand-in-hand with flexible spaces to create environments that are usable by all people. Hallways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair and zero entry thresholds are classic examples of universal design features.

Im a builder, not a real estate agent, but if I were selling a property that is great for multi-generations, Id emphasize flexibility. Id style rooms to reflect different uses by different ages of people. On the other hand, if a property has clearly been adapted to accommodate multi-generations, you might not want to pigeon hole the property for just the multi-generational housing market. In that case, consider playing up how the space can be repurposed in different ways.

Were definitely seeing more interest in multi-generational housing in home renovations. Are you seeing it in the Boston area real estate market?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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