As the Lesser Depression continues, more families are consolidating multiple generations under one roof.

Nearly 51 million Americans live in a household with at least two adult generations, according to a Pew Research poll. The number of multigenerational households increased by 10.5% from 2007 to 2009.

Multigenerational household formation is occurring from both ends of the generational spectrum. It’s long been accepted that grandma and grandpa may move in once their retirement savings is diminished or they need special care. But the jobless Lesser Depression has forced recent college grads to make their way back to the nest as well.

By 2060, the population of Americans 65 or older will double to nearly 92 million. Among Americans aged 25 to 35, 61% stated they have friends or family who have moved back in with parents due to lack of employment.

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Given these undeniable data, how should the real estate industry respond?

The issue is clearly an economic one. Which is to say, this is likely not a sign of a larger cultural shift in the American real estate landscape. Rather, multigenerational homes are being formed out of economic necessity.

Thus, how you as a broker or agent decide to respond to these data depends on your long-term outlook for the economy. Once jobs return, these multi-gen households will split. The resulting Gen Y households, combined with single-family residence (SFR) renters (former owners) will unleash a wave of pent-up demand for residential housing.

One insight that this trend provides, however, is that there is an insufficient supply of low-cost, quality housing available in our city centers. Builders, industry advocates and agents are better served approaching this problem, rather than taking a shortsighted leap onto the multigenerational home building bandwagon.

The first step is organizing an effort to repeal NIMBY zoning laws and height restrictions. Forward-thinking zoning laws will open up opportunities for builders to meet the demand for low-cost urban housing. The real estate trade union will never lead this effort, since they are of the old school that still believes in suburban expansion. That leaves it up to you.

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Re: “3 generations under one roof” from AARP