NEW YORK (Reuters) - More generations are living under the same roof and the trend will deepen as families grappling with near double-digit unemployment share expenses, a study showed on Monday.
Demand is escalating for multi-generational housing as buyers scale down during the deepest housing crisis since the Great Depression, according to a survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Parsippany, New Jersey.
Thirty-seven percent of the company's real estate agents polled in January said that in the past year, buyers were increasingly shopping for homes that fit more than one generation. Almost 70 percent of the agents said they expect economic conditions will drive still greater demand for this type of housing over the next year.
"More buyers are pooling investments, considering bringing mom and dad into it," said Diann Patton, a Coldwell Banker real estate consumer specialist based in Grass Valley, California, in an interview with Reuters.
Buyers were primarily driven by financial concerns when deciding to combine generations in a household, the survey found. Health concerns were the second most common reason and strong family bonds a distant third.
Patton said one of her clients sought to bring her mother out of a health care facility. The mother and daughter pooled resources, buying a house with separate entrances with units for each and room for a caregiver.
This shift in homeownership comes as unemployment hovers just under 10 percent and many consumers are being dealt wage cuts.
College graduates unable to get jobs are often returning to their parents' homes.
Merging generations under one roof could foster more demand in the struggling move-up market, with families buying together to get larger homes than the entry-level houses some might otherwise be able to afford.
Some current supports for buyers will soon end.
Borrowers eligible for a $6,500 federal tax credit aimed at move-up buyers, as well as the $8,000 first-time buyer credit, need to sign contracts by April 30 and close on loans by the end of June before these programs expire.
Downsizing also comes on the heels of massive overbuying during the housing boom earlier this decade.
Many consumers bought more house than they could afford, spurring a tidal wave of late payments and foreclosures.
The government has been compelled to spur lenders to modify mortgage terms for struggling borrowers still occupying their homes. But so far, lenders have been unable to keep pace with the number of mortgages that are failing.
On the plus side, houses are more affordable after prices toppled about 30 percent, on average, from 2006 peaks and with 30-year loan rates holding near record lows under 5 percent.
Coldwell Banker, a unit of Realogy Corp, based its online survey of multi-generational home trends on responses from 2,360 of its real estate agents.
Editing by Dan Grebler