* Multi-generation homes up 24 pct in 2008 from 2000 - AARP
* "We can't afford to put grandma in a nursing home"
* Economy will drive more demand in 2010 - Coldwell Banker
By Lynn Adler and Helen Chernikoff
NEW YORK, March 18 The recession slowed most
homebuilding in the United States to a standstill but it has
fueled demand for a special kind of housing: the granny flat.
As unemployment hovers around 10 percent and healthcare
costs spiral upward, homebuyers like Stephanie Charbeneau want
to cut costs by sharing shelter with her extended family.
Charbeneau, a 27-year-old court recording monitor in New
Haven, Connecticut, is buying a home with her husband, their
two young children and her in-laws because money is tight.
"Everything is so expensive, you need your family to help
you out. Thank God that they're there to help you," she said.
The Charbeneaus and Stephanie's in-laws plan to split the
mortgage on a $337,000 two-family home with an apartment her
brother-in-law may rent. It is a bigger and newer house than
the couple could afford on their own.
They are not alone. Almost 70 percent of Coldwell Banker
Real Estate agents see economic concerns compelling more
families to seek housing together in 2010, according to a
January poll. For more see [ID:nN19136873].
At least in the short term, multi-generational housing
demand is a boon for homebuilders, architects and developers
mired in the deepest housing slump since the Great Depression.
The recession is accelerating a long-standing trend. U.S.
multi-generational households jumped 24 percent from 2000 to
6.2 million in 2008, or 5.3 percent of all households,
according to AARP, the nonprofit organization for people 50 and
over. Economics and culture were the main motivators.
A prolonged push for bigger and fewer homes "would dampen
housing demand going forward and further dampen a substantial
recovery in the housing market," said Nicolas Retsinas,
director of Harvard's joint center for housing studies.
For related graphic, click on link.reuters.com/syk93j
ONE BIGGER HAPPY FAMILY
Opportunity for homebuilders and manufacturers hurts senior
housing, a business aimed at about 78 million baby-boomers, as
more elderly people avoid costly managed care.
"We can't afford to put grandma in a nursing home now,"
said Monte Anderson, a Texas developer. He plans to include 50
apartments offering separate living quarters, called "granny
flats", for an older parent or adult child in a 500-unit
project south of Dallas.
In Jeffersonville, Indiana, beauty salon owner Karen
Carden, her husband and 19-year-old college student daughter
expect to buy a larger home, hopefully with no steps, with
Karen's 84-year-old father.
"Assisted living is not an option for my dad. He didn't
retire with that kind of income," she said.
Senior housing occupancy rates fell to 89 percent from a
peak of 93 percent at the end of 2006 and early 2007, according
to data from the National Investment Center for the Seniors
Housing & Care Industry. One major operator, Sunrise Senior
Living Inc SRZ.N, had to sell off assets and is in
restructuring talks with lenders.
The expense of managed care is driving much of the demand
for multi-generational housing, but more adult children are
also bunking in with parents.
"The empty nest is a historical relic," said Stephen Reily,
chief executive of VibrantNation.com, a Website aimed at women
over 50 based in Louisville, Kentucky.
Two-thirds of the boomer women it polled had at least one
adult child living with them, and half of those children
brought their own kids along. On top of that, parents or
in-laws also lived in 13 percent of these households.
If this trend continues, only 5.4 million new households
will form over the next five years compared with the 6.9
million that more normal conditions would produce, Michael
Hakim, an analyst at PPR Global, projected. That equals a loss
of more than one year's average household creation, he said.
A shrinking number of households would ultimately hurt
builders. But for now, the housing industry is running to meet
demand for families looking to merge resources under one roof.
Homebuilders are seeing more buyers in groups that include
a parent, said Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N) Nevada division head
Gary Mayo. Interest is up in products such as KB Home's (KBH.N)
Open Series, with up to six bedrooms, and Pulte Homes Inc's
(PHM.N) "casitas" featuring an extra bedroom, full bath and
closet that can serve as living quarters.
Those who cannot afford a new home are remodeling the one
they have, said Bill Gati, an architect in New York City who
helps clients convert part of their house to an apartment.
Manufacturers have responded by tweaking such tools as the
grab bar, which enhances access to shower and toilet, to lessen
their institutional look, said Melissa Birdsong of Lowe's
Companies Inc (LOW.N).
Wide doors and entrances without steps aid accessibility
for those on wheels, be they wheelchair, walker or stroller,
said Trina Summins, an Atlanta-based builder working on a home
that features a ground-floor suite for parents to move into.
The goal is to share responsibilities while maintaining
Anderson's apartments provide separation between the
generations. "I can take care of you, but I don't have to live
with you," he said.
(Editing by James Dalgleish)