Text by Lisa Cavanaugh
After nearly ten months of pandemic response and reaction, some home buying trends have clearly emerged. The National Association of Realtors 2020 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, revealed a dramatic shift in needs and habits brought about by COVID-19. One of the trends that agents noted was a greater demand for homes that suit multi-generational families, a factor that proves to be even more important now, since celebrating the holidays within your own household is recommended as the safest choice.
“Due to the pandemic and the uncertainty of the coming years, many multi-generational families are working together to share home owning expenses,” says Alexander Parmenidez of Coldwell Banker Realty in Providence, Rhode Island. “Having a small house proved to be a key factor in wanting to sell,” he says. “since families are starting to live together and need to buy a bigger house.”
Belmont-based Coldwell Banker agent Lori M. Orchanian has also seen builders respond to families that need space for additional relatives. “What is interesting is that I am seeing buyers who are combining homes with a parent,” says Orchanian. “ My builder always includes what I refer to as the “Granny Suite”, usually a bedroom in the rear of the first floor, with an ensuite bath.” Orchanian has noticed that this plan has been adopted by many builders and feels that it is especially important when a loved one is contributing resources to purchase the home. “The older relative wants a suite and does not want to be banished to the basement or have to deal with stairs,” she adds. “All of the buyers I am seeing love this idea, even if they don’t need it right now. They always tell me they could use it in the future for a parent.”
“We see more of the “sandwich generation” buyers. People who are taking care of their parents AND still taking care of their kids,” says Laura Semple, a Coldwell Banker Realty agent in Sudbury, MA office. “We are seeing more buyers looking for multi-generational homes,” agrees Beth Hettrich, of the same office. “People want their parents to be close by. They may not need to be in assisted living but cannot live alone.”
Semple and Hettrich find that one obstacle in their community is that typically the elder parent needs first floor living. “In our market we do not have a lot of homes with first floor bedrooms,” says Semple. “The ideal situation would be an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit), however, we do not see that very often as most communities in our area are private septic and that limits building an additional unit with a bedroom.”
Still, the Sudbury team has been able to find properties for dozens of eager buyers this year. Hettrich notes that many people were seeking larger properties, and Sudbury has many homes with significant square footage. “We have been selling real estate for 12 years,” she says, “And what started out as a dismal year has turned into our most successful year by far!”