Connect with us

How to

Multi-generational housing is the hot niche in a cooled market



Growing class of homes

Last February we reported on the Coldwell Banker survey of its agents that revealed 70% expected a rise in 2010 of multiple generations sharing a roof. And they were right.

Aaron Glantz of the writes that “multigenerational housing is specifically aimed at the booming immigrant population in the Bay Area, and is emerging as one of the few growth niches in a moribund housing market.” Silicon Valley is host to diverse cultures, many of which observe the living traditions of their home country which range from standard multigenerational living to parents that visit from abroad for several months at a time. Spatial needs are different for this category of buyers.

Not just immigrants

But it’s not just immigrants that are demanding this new style of living. Sharon Graham Neiderhaus completed her master’s thesis at Stanford on multigenerational living which has since been published in a book on the topic which reveals that the number of Americans that live in multigenerational homes has grown 40% since 1990 but the shift is not exclusively a rising immigrant population.

A 2010 Pew poll states that nearly 50 million Americans currently live in a multigenerational home and the number is expected to rise in coming years, making the multigenerational housing trend less of a trend and more of a market reality.

Traditions in multigenerational living are changing

Traditions with multigenerational living are changing in America due to immigration, difficult times forcing cohabitation, and a negative cultural stigma dying about sharing a home with family.

Neiderhaus’ research points out that traditionally, a joint household shares a roof but are more like separate families living in close proximity with some families building separate entrances. Builders are accommodating this trend by building multi-level suites with equally sized rooms (some call them multiple master bedrooms) and private bathrooms. Despite shared daily activities like meals and family time, the day ends with separate living and the rules of “calling ahead” as Neiderhaus indicates, still applies in making plans. Culturally speaking, no one simply bursts into a room as separate living quarters are respected.

Reasons for the rise in multigenerational living

“While saving money is certainly an incentive for buying a home that accommodates multiple generations, the benefits go beyond just financial reasons,” said Diann Patton, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Consumer Specialist. “With two or three generations living under one roof, families often experience more flexible schedules, quality time with one another and can better juggle childcare and eldercare.”

Reasons for a rise in multigenerational living are plentiful. More college students are living at home until their career is in full swing, grandparents are moving in to tend to grandchildren to save on childcare costs, adult children that are struggling financially are moving back home with parents, health reasons have families moving in together and so on.

The challenges to Realtors and builders

This presents a special challenge to builders that seek to cater to this lifestyle and an even bigger challenge to agents with clients seeking mulitgenerational resale housing. Considerations to the culture shift have to be understood by the agent. When an older generation is sharing with a younger, there has to be a bedroom and shower downstairs in case stairs become a burden. When a family has an adult child living in the home, an in-law plan with no shared bedroom walls becomes necessary.

Sometimes multigenerational buyers will request a larger garage that they can convert or a garage apartment for their college student living at home. Then the challenge becomes how to sell these homes when the market or culture shifts and being prepared to overcoming the objections to a garage-less house in a neighborhood full of garages and work benches. The future challenge is in repurposing these spaces and reframing equally sized bedrooms as a perk, a feature that a buyer would want but not necessarily need- a luxury if you will.

Foreclosures will continue as a part of the housing sector, interest rates will fluctuate, resale will continue to compete with foreclosures, and multigenerational housing will continue to be the hot niche in a cooled market for several years to come.

Continue Reading


  1. Mike C

    April 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    "Multi-generational housing" is linked more to the unemployment problem than anything else.

    • Lani Rosales

      April 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      Mike, that is a huge part of it, but we are shifting toward a more practical economy- not quite the scrap saving economy of WWII but close. Kids aren't moving away for college, grandparents are coming in to hep care for children, etc.

  2. Mark Brian

    April 23, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I have a listing that I market for multi generational family: 2 kitchens, 2 laundry rooms, separate entrances etc etc.

    OTOH, because it is also a lake home, sometimes I market it differently.

    However, I agree the trend in housing changing due to the way our world is changing. Some of the reasons for multi generational housing are economic, but the advantages of having the whole fam damily in one place cannot be denied.

    • Lani Rosales

      April 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      Mark, I think some of the stigma is being removed as well- in years past, if your parents lived with you it was because neither of you could afford your own home, now it's becoming more a part of the culture like in many other nations and it's not just financial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

Continue Reading


Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

Continue Reading


Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!