By Pearl Cajoles, senior living correspondent

Published 9:35 am, Monday, November 21, 2016

A record 60.6 million Americans, or about 20 percent of the population, live in multigenerational households, according to a 2016 analysis by the Pew Research Center using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The analysis defined a multigenerational household as one where two or more adult generations live under one roof, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren.

In many cases, a multigenerational setup offers a cost-effective way for families to share the financial burden of assisted living or child care. The analysis also suggests cultural and ethnic influences play a role in one's living situation, and that foreign-born Americans are more likely to share a home with multiple generations.

As of 2014, Asians (28 percent), Hispanics (25 percent), blacks (25 percent) and whites (15 percent), made up the majority of those who live in multigenerational homes.

Toll Brothers, a luxury home builder that entered the Houston market in 2009, immediately saw a demand for this housing niche.

"We quickly recognized we would sell homes to a higher percentage of international buyers and we began to design options to accommodate their needs," said David Assid, Houston division president for Toll Brothers.

"As an international city, Houston sees a higher concentration of culturally diverse buyers. It is commonplace for these families to have lived in multigenerational homes prior to moving to Houston, so their requests are simply extensions of their existing lifestyles," he said.

Toll Brothers offers home designs with options to create spaces for multigenerational living in all its communities. Popular floor plans include those with two-bedroom suites on the first floor, or those with one master bedroom on the first floor and another one upstairs.

"These suites are designed with full bathrooms and some offer space to accommodate an option of a coffee bar or kitchenette. We've recently unveiled a new home design with a casita option, as showcased in NorthGrove at Spring Creek, which features a 'self-sufficient' room with full bathroom, coffee bar and private entrance," Assid said.

Realtor Paul Silverman, who has been in the real estate and home-building business since 1995, said he has seen an increased preference for 'private lofts,' where a home's top floor is built as a secondary living space. Floor plans with separate outdoor entries for each living space also are popular options that allow both privacy and togetherness under one roof.

This concept is a selling point for Lennar's NextGen The Home Within A Home, specifically designed for multigenerational living. People who have purchased NextGen homes include adults whose parents may require help with daily living, grandparents who prefer to be near their grandchildren, those with college-age children who plan to live at home, or those who simply want a separate suite for their guests.

When looking to buy a multigenerational home, Silverman recommends speaking to a Realtor who knows how to take family's future needs and plans into consideration.

Those thinking about sharing a home with parents who might require special care or assistance might want to consult someone with the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation.

"An SRES specialist can help you think about aging in place, and what kind of options a builder can do to meet those needs," he said. "A knowledgeable Realtor can really help you choose the right home and products based on your lifestyle, not just now, but for years down the road."

No matter the living situation, the most important thing is to consider is what kind of home a family can afford.

"The first step is to talk to a loan officer to see what your options are, and then you can go from there," Silverman said. "Members of a multigenerational household can share living expenses, but there will only be one mortgage."

For information about Toll Brothers, go to tollbrothers.com.

For Lennar, go to lennar.com. To reach Silverman, go to har.com/paulsilverman.