Saying “I Told You So” Can Be So Satisfying

If you have daughters, you know the one big drawback.

It’s not the expensive weddings. You can plan for those. It is not the boyfriends. You can scare them witless (which is quite enjoyable).

No, the main issue with daughters is much closer to home. In fact, it’s IN the home. It’s the bathroom.

Once girls hit their teen years the bathroom becomes an extension of their lives. From clothes to cosmetics to hair products, the place is in shambles at all times. For the life of me I can’t fathom how they can trash that particular room of the house so quickly and so thoroughly.

It’s different with boys. They are messy, no doubt… but there aren’t all of the other products that are sprayed on, smeared on and otherwise left as residue around the room.

Frankly, I try to avoid my daughters’ bathroom at all costs. Physically and verbally. If I ever mention the state of affairs in there I get the typical teen response (said in a shrill voice): “Why were you in there?!”

The fact that I pay for that bathroom (and everything in it) does not sway them in the least.

Now, sharing a bathroom with one of your children as they age can be difficult. Sharing one with another adult, long after you got past the age of roommates, can be a nightmare.

But this is what many U.S. households look like today…

It’s called multi-generational living…

The dreaded call can come anytime. An adult child who has been living and working on his own for years is now out of a job and will soon lose his ability to live independently. Or maybe it’s the other way around. It could be a parent that has lost a steady paycheck and simply has no idea what to do next.


Whatever the circumstances, the outcome is the same… one generation moving in with another. Welcome to a world of sharing you never expected.

The situation has become so ingrained in our population over the last five years that now home builders are cashing in on it. Lennar homes is promoting what they call “Next Gen” homes, which they describe as having a “home within a home.” From their own promotional materials they write:

Each NEXT GEN suite includes a separate entrance, living room, kitchenette, one-car garage, laundry and private outdoor living space. Lennar designed this unique floor plan to be incorporated into the main home floor plan in a way that allows it to be a separate space but also offers direct access from the main house, depending upon the family’s needs.

Hmm. That sounds nice, right? We’re all just gathering together but get to keep our “space.”

The reality of the situation is elsewhere in their material:

Studies show that one of out of six people already lives in a multi-generational household and that by 2020 there will be an overwhelming trend for this type of living space.

What they don’t say is that many of those people are currently living together for economic reasons and there is no light at the end of this tunnel.

This trend came out of the financial crisis, but that doesn’t make it bad…

Once in a while we should ask ourselves why we do things the way we do. I can gripe and complain about my daughters’ bathroom, or joke about how I don’t want my parents moving in, but does it really have to be that every single person has their own home?

This idea of independent living for 20-somethings, empty-nesters and retirees is a very American idea. One that seems more to the benefit of real estate professionals than anyone else.

While it was a difficult economy that brought us back to multi-generational living, maybe we’re better off because of it.

If the Next Gen homes by Lennar do well, it will be interesting to see what happens to all of those rosy forecasts of a real estate revival. After all, much of the hoped-for recovery depends on those multi-generational families taking the first opportunity to split up again. This is just one more reason to be very cautious about the path of residential real estate.




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Rodney Johnson

Rodney’s investment focus tends to be geared towards trends that have great disruptive potential but are only beginning to catch on to main-stream adapters. Trends that are likely to experience tipping points in the next 5 years. His work with Harry Dent – studying how people spend their money as they go through predictable stages of life and how that spending drives our economy – helps he and his subscribers to invest successfully in any market.