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May 24, 2022

Is it time for your ohana to begin sharing a home? Maybe your parents need to move in to make it easier to ensure their safety as they age. Or maybe your adult kids need a place to live as they start their own families. Regardless of your situation, these are the features you should look for and the questions you need to ask as you merge your family into one home.

Make Sure Everyone Is on the Same Page

Before you start looking for a home, discuss what each family member expects. Do your parents want to help pay for the home? Do they expect that their names will be on the deed? Do your kids plan to live in your home temporarily, or are they looking for a forever home with you?

Also, talk about the features everyone wants. What school districts do your kids prefer for their own children? What resources do your parents want to be nearby?

Talk to Your Realtor and Loan Officer

When you’re ready to look, discuss your needs with your realtor. Share your wishes and the goals for how your family will live in your new home. They will know the market and what types of multi-generational options are available in your price range. They will also be able to advise about features you might not have thought of, based on their experience helping other families in similar situations.

Your loan officer is a valuable partner. They can advise on the financial considerations and help you gather the paperwork needed to protect everyone’s interests.

Don’t Skimp on Square Footage

The more people you have in one home, the more you realize that sometimes bigger really is better. Besides enough bedrooms, look for homes that have multiple common areas. This feature will allow one part of the family to enjoy the dining area or living room while others gather in the family room. In this way, families can avoid feeling like they’re tripping over one another, and everyone can get some separation when needed.

Outdoor living spaces can also help accomplish these goals. For example, the young kids could play outside without worrying about being quiet, while the grownups enjoy cards or dominos inside.

Be Willing to Stick to One Floor

If your multi-generational home includes your aging parents, you might try to find a home that is on one level to avoid the dangers of stairs for your elders. However, building multiple stories is so common here, as we try to fit more square footage on the same plot of land, so if a two or three-story house is the only one that works for your needs, look for one that has a full bathroom and at least one bedroom on the main floor. This layout will help keep the kupuna safe while maximizing your livable space.

Try for Separate Entrances

When your parents or kids move in with you, they don’t want to feel as if they’re causing a commotion when they come and go. Having a separate entrance or a secondary unit on your property can help everyone feel as if they’re in their own home, not an afterthought in your home.

Depending on your situation, a duplex or triplex might be a good option. In fact, if you buy a triplex, you and your family could use two of the units and rent out the third to help offset the cost of your new, larger living space.

Be Adaptable

The wish list for a multi-generational home can be extensive. And that can make it hard to find a house that meets all your needs. You may need to do some work to make the home livable for everyone. For example, you may need to convert a half bath into a full bath to make sure there is a full bathroom on the ground floor. Or you may need to install a secondary kitchen on the upper floor to give everyone their own living space. You could even close off areas to create those separate entrances that offer more privacy.

As you secure funding for your new home, you may be able to get a larger mortgage to accommodate the necessary improvements. Or you may plan to get a home equity line of credit to pay for construction as needed if you don’t plan to make all the improvements before moving in. Some upgrades may not be necessary for a few years, so waiting is not always a problem.

Moving everyone into a common home can present a set of challenges, but it can be a rewarding option. We’re happy to help you explore the financing options for this significant change. Meet our team.