Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Home Ownership Still Trumps Apartment Life—When there’s a Special Place for Grandma!

Homebuyers for Multigenerational Acreage Homes


When I started selling real estate over a decade ago, one of my very first clients was a family: mom, dad, two daughters, three horse AND a grandma! My goal as a REALTOR® was to find a home on acreage that accommodates horses within the Forest Lake School District that had a mother-in-law apartment for grandma. There weren’t too many options at the time. Sure the market was overloaded with McMansions on small lots but few homes were designed to accommodate a multigenerational family with horses. We did eventurally find a home that would work…but it was not ideal. About a year later, an administrator at my sons’ school had a discussion with me about the difficulties his family was having finding a home in the Mahtomedi school district that would have a special place for his mother-in-law.  There was no need for acreage for this family, yet they were struggling to find a home that met their multigenerational needs too.

Over the years I have seen single family homes with mother-in-law apartments scattered throughout Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties. Not too many homebuyers were impressed by a second kitchen in the basement unless they were truly looking to have a separate home within their home. Yet, on more than one occasion, I have had clients seeking such a house; one that accommodates a returning college student, a relocating relative or an adult child with grandchildren.

I was reading a Forbes.com article about how home ownership still trumps apartment life this morning…Don’t Bet Against the (Single Family) House. I was pleasantly surprised that many builders are now recognizing a trend toward the multigenerational home. Due to the changed economy, it is often a way to the pool resources of family members while continuing to give everyone their own space. The thing I like most about this trend is that homes will be designed specifically to include the separate living space. Most of the homes that I have viewed over the years with a mother-in-law apartment were a turn off because the space was ill conceived by the owner. The home was originally designed as a single family home but due to family circumstances the home was altered to include a kitchen, bedroom, laundry, bath and separate entrance…and viola, “we have an apartment for mom!” Unfortunately, these poor designs don’t sell well.

As a REALTOR® will be watching to see the floor plans of these new multigenerational homes. Hopefully, the floor plans will be adopted by builders on Minnesota acreage so if families moving with grandma and the horses will have more options than before!

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