From the Record:
They could never afford their own home but their daughter changed the picture recently, clearing that financial obstacle and allowing them to all live together in one common residence in West Milford.
“It’s a wonderful thing because mom and dad never owned a house before and now they’re all under one roof,” said Karen Wiedmann, broker associate with Re/Max Country Realty, West Milford.
Yet in this tumultuous economy their story is not unique. Several Suburban Trends area sales agents say they too know of experiences where multiple generations live together and often shoulder together the high cost of living in New Jersey.
Walter Molony, public affairs spokesman for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), calls this a “temporary phenomenon” that created “a lot of uncomfortable living situations” from 2008 through 2011 as the floundering economy forced adult children to stay with parents or move in with a lot of roommates.
The real estate industry considers this a pent-up demand for housing, amounting to just shy of 2 million households a year. But it is a demand that Molony expects will begin to be addressed as the real estate market emerges from its “rut of the previous four years.”
Beyond economics, there is also a cultural influence that leads extended families to share their living space. Those who emigrated from countries where multi-generational housing is more common are not likely to change their habits with economic recovery.
Though Molony anticipates that pent-up demand will help to boost the growth of home sales, for right now, northern New Jersey sales agents continue to work with clients looking for expanded family housing.
“I’m seeing people divorcing and migrating back to their parents’ residences,” said Robert Burr, sales agent with Realty Executives in West Milford.
Then there is the trend of young adults never leaving their parents’ home, or moving back after a bout of independence cut short by housing costs, a trend Wiedmann said she definitely encounters.
According to the Pew Research Center, by 2009, some 51.4 million Americans were living in multi-generational households, or about 16.7 percent of the population, said Steve Melman, director of Economic Services for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
“That is up from the low of 12.1 percent of the population in 1980,” he said.
“The drivers are economic and cultural. Many college students have returned home, but so have unemployed relatives.… The economic strategy works…. Among the unemployed, the 2009 poverty rate was 17.5 percent of those living in multi-generational households, but 30.3 percent for unemployed persons not living in those larger households,” said Melman.
According to Halpin, the number of households headed by someone under 25 years old has fallen steadily over the last four years in New Jersey, supporting the contention that more young adults are remaining in the family nest.
She reports there were 74,466 households headed by someone under 25 years in 2007 in New Jersey, 63,324 in 2010, and 58,700 in 2011.
The Great Recession seems to have taken the greatest toll on households headed by those under 25 years of age, accounting for the biggest demographic change from 2007 to 2010.