When home means a place for everyone

30 January 2018

Multi-generational living is rising as growing security needs and high costs of living make "hiving" an attractive option for families.

Estate agents report a marked increase in home purchases for this purpose, with parents and children, or parents and grandparents, pooling resources to buy properties to share.

There has recently also been a rise in demand for homes with multiple granny flats or cottages to accommodate retired parents, newlyweds or working singles in the same family, says Berry Everitt, chief executive of the Chas Everitt International property group.

"At the same time, many retirees who already own large properties are now building themselves a retirement cottage on the same stand while one or more of their adult children move into the original family home."

The demand for smallholdings with several dwellings is also rising, says Everitt, as siblings or even other family members buy homes to serve as "family compounds". This also allows families to take care of their elderly parents or grandparents.

The main drivers of this trend include declining affordability levels as well as concerns about crime and personal security. In addition, multi-generational living arrangements also offer other benefits, such as grandparents being able to help look after and spend quality time with their grandchildren. Household responsibilities can also be shared.

Everitt says: "We expect hiving to continue gain ground in South Africa, and to see specific home designs emerge to meet demand."

In parts of Cape Town's southern suburbs, multi- generational living is becoming more popular with buyers, says Dawn Bloch, area specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in Lakeside, Zandvlei, Kirstenhof, and Zwaanswyk.

Not only does this afford families less expensive lifestyles, but it ensures elderly family members are taken care of.

"Retirement homes are very expensive and waiting lists in affordable options are long. Staying with the family is often a better solution."

Bloch says this arrangement also encourages a more involved family unit and mutually beneficial interactions. Not only this, but younger family members or couples are often not in a financial position to afford a bond on their own, so shared expenses makes it possible for them to buy their first homes sooner.

Bloch says: "Students also often study to age 27 or older and can only afford to leave home when they have secured employment after graduating. Some medical aid schemes have supported this trend by providing cover for older students by allowing them to still be included on the parent's scheme.

"Single parents are also on the increase and can often afford only to live with family to survive financially."

In terms of home set ups, Bloch says grandparents usually stay in the same bedrooms and younger children often share rooms. Homes that cater for these living arrangements are available across all price bands and range from modest three-bedroom semi-detached houses selling for R1.2 million to free-standing three-bedroom homes priced from R2.2m to R2.4m. Luxury homes selling for R21m are available for this purpose.

"There are properties in Zwaanswyk which have sold from R6m up to R21.8m which provide apartments in the main house for the extended family and cottages in the grounds."

Properties suiting multi-generational living have also been sought in Kirstenhof and Plumstead, says Lorraine-Marie' Dellbridge, rentals manager for Lew Geffen in the southern suburbs, Noordhoek and False Bay. However, they are rare in these areas.

Struggles for affordable property purchases and rentals are behind the increase in hiving, agrees Graham Ross, manager of five Just Property franchises in Cape Town. The arrangement is becoming "more and more evident". Also, while in the past most cases would see parents moving in with their children for care-giving, there has now been a big increase in youngsters aged 18 to 35 moving back in with their parents.

"This means families are able to purchase properties instead of renting. This in turn helps them with housing stability. It is not uncommon for those living together to rearrange their homes to accommodate the elderly or children moving in. Garages are converted to granny flats and living areas may be changed into bedrooms. Sharing of bedrooms among siblings has also taken place."

When buying properties for family sharing, Ross says privacy is a big driving factor. Even though the family is living under the same roof, all parties like to have their own space. The number of bedrooms will be determined by the number of occupants, and they will also look for properties that offer more than one living space.

"With the added buying power this type of arrangement gives them, they will be able to look at properties in better areas and could include propertiesfrom R1.6m to R2.5m. When renting, they would prefer a three-bedroom home with at least two bathrooms for between R10 000 and R15 000," he says.

In his end-of-2017 address, Pam Golding Property Group chief executive Andrew Golding said apart from downsizing or downscaling, extended family living, with the associated benefits of pooled resources and cost efficiencies, was making "increasing economic sense in today's world, including South Africa".

"This is becoming evident across regions and in various sectors of the market. Economic pressures are seeing adult children moving back home as singles or young married couples who occupy a cottage or second dwelling on the parents' property.

"Rising costs and a shortage of affordable retirement accommodation, together with a concern for the care of ageing parents, is contributing to this trend."

As a result he says some households accommodate up to three family generations.

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