Multigenerational living increases affordability
If you thought this was about the proverbial millennial still living in the parents’ basement you are wrong. That’s unplanned multigenerational living. I’m talking about homes that are intentionally designed or remodeled to accommodate two parties to live together under one roof. The two parties could be parents, with or without children, and their parents and/or grandparents. The two parties could also be unrelated.
Not enough homes
There is a shortage of homes in the Seattle area. There are not enough new homes being built. Most importantly, what is available is often not affordable. Multigenerational living arrangements are one way to address this issue. Others are traditional subletting and joining the Airbnb community. I will focus here on multigenerational living.
What are the features of a multigenerational home?
What makes a home multigenerational? In some instances, all that is needed is an additional bathroom located on the same level as the already available spare bedroom. At other times, an extra room such as a home office or rec room can be converted into a bedroom on the same level where a bathroom already exists. I should emphasize that ideally, these room additions should all be on the ground level.
A special scenario for creating an additional and separate living space is offered by split-level style homes. This may explain the new interest in this formerly unpopular building style.
A sure way to improve the value of your home
Adding another bedroom and/or bathroom with the idea of accommodating a separate entity is the surest way to improve the value of your home. I know from experience. One example was a home I listed in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle. The owners had done a magnificent job of updating the home over the years and asked me if there was anything else they could or should do. Since there was a full bath on the first floor connected to a spare playroom I suggested converting that room into a small bedroom by adding a closet.
It works in the city.
What I had in mind was to make this already extraordinary 4-bedroom home even more attractive to buyers who would greatly value this ground floor feature. We were thinking of families who were accustomed to having the grandparents stay full or part-time to watch their grandchildren. I hasten to add that I never discriminate in my line of work and that a single man or woman would have been just as welcome to buy this home. As it happened, the buyer who purchased the home did so in no small part based on that one-room conversion.
It works in the country.
When something works, try it again. Here too, the homeowner had done everything to make the home as presentable as possible. I noticed a spare room with no door next to the downstairs bathroom. All we had to do was adding a door. Now we were able to list the Redmond Ridge suburban home as having five bedrooms. We received and accepted a very good offer on the day of the listing. The buyer had been waiting for a home to come on the market in the neighborhood. The family needed that extra bedroom on the ground level and they were able to live were people with similar preferences already lived.
But it may not please city hall.
When a split-level home, owned by one of my clients burned and needed to be rebuilt from the ground up, making the daylight basement separate living quarters seemed like the natural thing to do. Wrong! The city inspector would not permit a kitchen. While there was a second kitchen in that space before the fire, Bothell authorities disallowed the second kitchen arguing that the home would no longer qualify as a single-family residence! In light of the Seattle area housing shortage, this seemed rather odd. Also, some recently proposed and controversial Washington State legislation runs counter to this decision.
It will work in Newcastle.
Yesterday, I put a new home on the market. The MLS calls it a “2-story with basement.” I call it a home run. The Newcastle home was built in 2010 and was meant and permitted to have a downstairs build-out as separate living quarters with bed, closet, bath, living space, kitchen, and even laundry facilities. Alas, the plumbing and suitable electrical connection are all there but the build-out somehow never happened.
Our staging of the home showed the potential of the basement. All the buyer has to do, is add a wall to separate the bedroom with its closet from the living area, and a small kitchen. To illustrate the kitchen we used virtual staging. The listing went live yesterday at 5 pm. At 7 pm I received a text message from a real estate agent asking about the finish of the basement. He added, “I have buyers that need separate living space for their parents.”
That didn’t take long.
Could it work for you?
Whether you are looking to buy a multigenerational home or have a home to sell that may appeal to a certain buyer, don’t hesitate to contact me.
First published by Gerhard as his February 2020 View from the Street Newsletter.