News & Media
Five people from three generations tand in front of a house
yongyuan, E+, Getty Images

Could Multigenerational Housing Help Supply Issues?

At an NAR panel last week, industry experts said that when multiple generations live together, it can help address affordability concerns and homeownership gaps.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – A panel of housing industry experts discussed how multigenerational housing could help combat housing supply shortages and growing homeownership gaps last week during the National Association of Realtors® 2023 NAR NXT: The Realtor® Experience.

The Regulatory Issues Forum explored the many benefits of multigenerational housing. Experts noted that homeownership affordability remains a top concern and challenge for millennial and Gen Z buyers.

Intergenerational or multigenerational housing is a concept where multiple generations live together, a model that many cultural communities have embraced. The panel discussed the real estate market’s current challenges and the benefits of the multigenerational housing model for families to achieve the American Dream of homeownership and create generational wealth.

The panel discussion was led by Nia Duggins, NAR’s senior policy representative for business issues. It included guests Donna Butts, executive director of generations united, Rodney Harrell, the vice president of family, home, and community for AARP, and Hope Atuel, executive director of the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

Duggins began the panel discussion with the topic of the pandemic and the years following when many families chose to move in together. Trends of elderly parents moving in and younger people staying home longer grew, and thus, so did the prevalence of the multigenerational housing model.

“We’ve been saying intergenerational living, multigenerational living is here to stay,” said Butts. “And it’s here to stay because it’s being consumer-driven. Whether it’s your own family or someone in the neighborhood, it’s the way of the future. And sometimes I get asked, would you want people to go backward in time because, as you know, we were settled by multigenerational families? And it’s not a matter of going back. It’s a matter of going forward to something that makes sense, and it’s good for us.”

Duggins then pivoted the conversation to the lack of housing stock available across generations. She continued to point out that we are in a very constrained market because of record-low inventory and high interest rates. Duggins asked the panelists what the reimagined housing stock looks like with the kind of housing we need.

Atuel shared her opinion that “we can look to additional dwelling units (ADU) to address not just multigenerational families housing stock, but also looking at how ADUs can solve, or help at least, address the inventory crisis plaguing the country.”

Harrell added insight to the conversation: “One thing that’s been driving research for over a decade is the idea that we have unmet preferences, and our preferences change over time. So, what we need to do with the housing stock is figure out what housing stock meets our needs. A Harvard Joint Center study shows that less than 1% of the housing in the country has the kind of features we’re talking about here.”

Butts then pointed out that homeownership rates could be positively impacted by the trend of buying a home with your family: “One strong benefit of multigenerational housing is the fact that you can pool resources oftentimes and buy that bigger house that you need, and you might qualify for financing that you wouldn’t have been able to qualify for alone.”

The conversation turned to what policymakers can do to help with housing stock and how we can begin to solve the homeownership and racial wealth gaps.

“One of the big challenges has been that there’s limited opportunities to buy and get loans, and we’re getting into a little bit of financial limitations as well,” said Harrell. “And all of those feed into your question about the racial wealth gap and why it’s persisted over the years. We should make sure that the folks who need homes can buy them in the locations that work best for them and their families. That to me is just a key, expanding options in different neighborhoods across town, not just one neighborhood on one side of town.”

Duggins ended the event by taking questions from the crowd. The last discussion uncovered not just the positives but also the challenges of intergenerational living.

Butts explained that, “Family looks very different now and the expansive definition and type of family as has changed over the years, so our needs have changed.”

Last, Autel added, “We live in a society where there is a stigma that is sometimes associated with multigenerational living, that it is a burden. But no, it’s not; taking care of my parents is a privilege. There’s nothing wrong with a multigenerational household. This is the future of housing.”

Source: National Association of Realtors®

© 2023 Florida Realtors®