| NEW YORK, April 30
NEW YORK, April 30 When it came time for Tom
Moser and his wife to consider having his 83-year-old father
move in with them, a house with a special multigenerational
floor plan solved their problems - and may have saved his dad's
For the same $335,000 he might have paid for a traditional
home in the Tucson suburbs, Moser, 61, was able to pick a "Next
Gen" model from Lennar Corp, one of the biggest U.S.
homebuilders. It had an 800-square-foot house-within-a-house for
his dad that had a separate entrance and its own patio, plus a
bedroom, sitting area, and bathroom.
One morning, Moser noticed his dad didn't look right, and at
the emergency room they caught a heart problem early enough to
save him. "If he had been in his own home, he would have sat in
the chair with his clicker, and I would have found him days
later," Moser says.
More than 50 million Americans already live in
multigenerational situations, according to Pew Research, and the
number is expected to grow as baby boomers age. For an
increasing number of families, clearing out an extra room for
Grandma (or for "boomerang" kids and grandchildren) isn't good
enough. Homebuilders are responding with new models that have
separate wings, attached apartments, dual master suites or
"The great thing is that it is independent living," says
Jeff Roos, who originated the Next Gen design for Lennar as
Western regional president, and has overseen sales of 1,700
multigenerational units in the last two years. Mega-builder Toll
Brothers Inc has similar models in 20 states, which
account for about 2 percent of sales. Prices range from $250,000
and up depending on the area and features, says Tim Gehman,
director of design for Toll Architecture.
There are also a myriad of small builders in the game that
homebuyers can find through real estate agents or local
searches. Gertz Fine Homes, which builds between 12-30 houses a
year near Portland, Oregon, says about 30 percent of sales are
now multigenerational models, which can cost around $600,000.
DEFINE WHAT YOU NEED
Privacy seems to be the prime concern of most people about
to enter multigenerational living situations - otherwise any
four- or five-bedroom house might do.
"They key is to balance proximity with privacy," says John
Graham, co-author of "All in the Family: A Practical Guide to
Successful Multigenerational Living." He says the most important
features people look for are: private entrance, separate
kitchenette (often without a full stove because of zoning laws)
and no stairs.
One layout that works for many people is called a "dual
master" - where at least two bedrooms have their own private
bathrooms; sometimes one is on the ground floor.
This is the type of house that Susan Couveau, 61, is looking
for near Portland, Oregon from Gertz to accommodate her
38-year-old disabled son and her 78-year old mother, who now has
an upstairs spare room but may not be able to do stairs much
The gold standard has become an internal apartment - what
might also be called a mother-in-law apartment, maids' quarters
or casita - that is usually on the ground floor.
Moser saw this layout in a house he visited and the next day
did an internet search for "multigenerational housing." He found
a Lennar development in his area, and within days put down a
deposit on a Next Gen home.
The plan was so appealing that Moser's sister bought the
plot next door and built a Next Gen home so her 90-year-old
in-laws could move in. For a few months, a grown daughter and
her children also lived there - four generations under one roof.
Moser's 83-year-old mother-in-law didn't want to be left
out, so she bought the plot on the other side and built a
traditional home for herself.
Communities filled with multigenerational clusters like this
are springing up all over, says Keller Williams real estate
agent Kevin Kieffer, based in Danville, California. The sales
now account for 5 to 10 percent of his business, boosted by
international clients moving from Asia and India. His last
multigen sale was a 4,200 square foot home for $1.2 million.
In areas where there is not a lot of new construction, the
search can be harder, says Brandon McNamee, a Coldwell Banker
real estate agent in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He had a
family of seven people, ranging from age 3 to 81, ask him to
find them a house where they could all live together. "It took
us months," McNamee says.
McNamee found them a 3,500-square-foot ranch for $520,000
with a master suite on each side of the house and a finished
basement with two bedrooms, full bath and a wet bar.
"A lot of families might say, that's too close together, I
couldn't handle it. But it worked for us," says Moser. "I think
more and more communities will have these choices. Multigen will
be the norm."
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or here.
Editing by Lauren Young)