EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 5, 2013

Builders target families with multiple generations under roof

APEX, N.C. — Viewed from the street, the single-family home at the entrance to Lennar’s Traditions at Bella Casa community looks just like any of the homebuilder’s other models.

Until you spot the second door.

From the home’s porch, visitors have the choice of entering into the main home or a side door that leads to a 500-square-foot suite. The suite, which has all the amenities of a second private residence, is the latest—and most emphatic—attempt by a Triangle homebuilder to appeal to a growing demographic of buyers: those with multiple generations of family members living under one roof.

Lennar calls this its “Next Gen” house. The Miami-based builder is now offering the model at subdivisions in Apex and Clayton, N.C., after having success selling it in western states such as California, Arizona and Texas.

“We market it as two homes, one payment,” says Trish Hanchette, Lennar’s Raleigh division president.

The idea of designing a home to appeal to a larger, multigenerational family is not a new one. But in the past, the plans were designed more to appeal to buyers from cultures where having multiple generations living together was expected.

The market for such homes has expanded in recent years as economic factors and demographic shifts have reshaped the nuclear family and altered its housing needs.

The severity and length of the economic downturn has created a need for what the housing industry calls “bounce back” rooms, meaning space for adult children struggling to make it on their own.

“The number of 22- to 30-year-olds that are still living at home is at a record high right now,” said Hampton Pitts, an executive vice president with Ashton Woods Homes, an Atlanta-based builder that is active in eight North Carolina communities. “So, you have that college graduate that’s back at home looking for a job and maybe got their first job but not ready to be in an ownership or rent situation.”

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