Got Room in Your Home for Grandma?

When new-home builders start offering models with an independent living space for elder (or younger) family members, you know there’s a trend afoot. (See “Latest home designs: Our house is Grandma’s house, too,” by Jim Buchta of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.) Minnesota’s Lennar Corp. says it’s the first production builder to offer a design featuring a “house-within-a-house,” each with a its own entrance and garage.

Buchta also provides figures from the Pew Research Center, indicating that while only 12% of the U.S. lived in multigenerational households in 1980, that has since gone up to 17% of U.S. households. Yup, a trend!

What does that mean for home buyers and sellers who won’t be signing up to live in a Lennar Corp. development? For buyers, expect competition for houses with layouts that can accommodate a relatively independent family member, and that don’t present major barriers to accessibility — or can be so adapted. (For more information, see Nolo’s article on “Home Modifications for the Elderly.”)

For sellers, it means a marketing opportunity. If your home already features grandma-friendly features, or could easily be adapted to do so, be sure to mention this in your marketing materials. Just be careful about over-promising, in case local zoning or building laws limit the possibilities for remodeling or expanding your house.

Also realize that your most likely buyers may be originally from another country, where many generations share one house is more common. That may give you ideas or cautions for marketing, such as advertising your house in the local ethnic media.