Looking for the right home for your family can be a difficult task. When that family includes several generations under one roof, it can become even harder. But if you're in the position of buying a house to satisfy everyone -- older and younger -- here are a few tips to help make your real estate search more successful.
Discuss Early and Often. Start the family discussion about your potential new living arrangement as early as possible -- preferably in a neutral location rather than around the family dinner table where family dynamics can get in the way. For the best results, be sure to listen to the needs of everyone who will be living in the home and include even those family members who won't be. Treat every family member's suggestions, complaints and desires seriously. It might even be good to get each person to make a list of must-haves and don't-wants so everyone is on the same page when you go house hunting.
Be Creative. When looking at houses, recognize that you're unlikely to find exactly the right layout in a traditional home. Instead, focus on what you can do within the existing confines of already-built homes. Being creative with your imagination can open up a lot more houses that may work for you. Remember that walls can often be moved, entrances may be changed and things like bathrooms can even be added. Can the garage be turned into an apartment on its own? Can you add a story above the garage or house for adult children? Can a master bedroom and adjacent room be repurposed into a suite for a parent?
Think About the Location. You can make a lot of changes to a home's layout, but you can't change its location. If the older generation in the home is still active, choosing a neighborhood with easy access to local amenities -- grocery stores, parks, senior centers, libraries or other local hangouts -- can make the transition easier on everyone. On the other hand, don't forget the children in the house. If things get a little too close for comfort in the home, it might be important for kids to be able to get outside, meet with friends and enjoy themselves. If you're unfamiliar with the local area, be sure to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows the neighborhood's pros and cons.
Following these few steps when beginning your multi-generational home search can help ensure the best possible outcome -- a property that everyone in your family will be happy to call home.