Senior Housing’s Next Big Competition: Your Backyard

The senior housing industry has long said its biggest competition is Americans aging in place in their own homes. But now, another trend may be creating more competition in the same vein.

“In-law units” — technically called accessory-dwelling units (ADUs) — are becoming a draw for aging parents and in-laws, or “boomerang parents,” writes The Wall Street Journal in a recent article.

An ADU is an apartment carved out of an existing home or a standalone dwelling built on the homeowners’ property.

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Not only do the adult children get the peace of mind of having mom and dad nearby, but real estate agents also say the in-law accommodations are adding value to their homes.

In an analysis of real estate listings, homes with ADUs were priced about 60% higher than houses without them, according to real estate website Zillow, which examined the past four years of new listings in major cities.

And in a 2012 survey of 550 homeowners with one or more living parents by PulteGroup, one of the nation’s largest home builders, 32% of respondents said they expected to have an aging relative live with them in the future.

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Architects also cite an uptick in requests for in-law units. “We hardly ever do a house anymore that doesn’t have multiple buildings,” often as dwellings for aging parents, Michael Frederick, an architect in Beaufort, S.C., told the WSJ.

In Oakland, Calif., Larson Shores Architects recently launched a division called Inspired Independence to focus on housing solutions for aging parents.

However, until recently, homeowners in many areas weren’t able to build in-law units on their properties because of local regulations that made them either illegal or too complex to build. But efforts by AARP and individuals like Portland-based ADU blogger and educator Kol Peterson have led to loosened rules in some areas.

To read the full Wall Street Journal article, click here.

Written by Emily Study

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