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Housing: Are we going back to the future?
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Want a glimpse at the future in housing?

Then head up to Atherton Homes off of North Union Road in Manteca or to Lafferty Homes at Oakwood Shores on the former site of the Manteca Waterslides.

Both builders are offering home models that are a clear break from the post World War II concept of “single family” homes. They call them “intergenerational homes.”

In both cases there is a living suite that puts studio apartments to shame in the front portion of the home. They have master bedroom suites with walk-in closets and bathrooms as well as a large living area complete with a kitchenette. Each has its own separate exterior entrances as well as a door leading to the rest of the house usually opening to the main kitchen.

And it’s not just for older parents moving back in. In many cases buyers have adult children in mind.

It is safe to say the market has yet to catch up with the trend.

Much ado is being made about demographic trends showing adult children returning to live at home after college. They are either looking for work or else they are employed and can’t afford to rent a place of their own or are saving money.

The numbers went up during the Great Recession according to the Census Bureau with 13.6 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 to 34 living at home. That’s up from 10 percent for the same age group in 2003.

The numbers don’t reflect the whole story.

In the early 2000s about a fifth of the sales of 3,800-square-foot and larger McMansion home sales in several neighborhoods in Manteca and Lathrop were bought by multiple families with or without family ties by blood line or marriage. Both families acquired the mortgage. The homes, that typically had two master suites including one with a kitchenette, were designed with the idea of snagging buyers with elderly parents who were moving in with them.

At least several of the homes in the two Manteca neighborhoods mentioned at the start of the column have had situations where the adult child and the parents or parent have secured a loan together to buy a home.

This is not a foreign concept to some immigrant families.

Nor is it a new trend for Americans.

There was a time when multiple generations living under the same roof was the norm and not the exception.

As the Industrial Revolution picked up steam our agrarian-based society started shrinking.

It also provided more wealth for workers.

For the past decade there has been a decrease in the dollar purchasing power of most American households. Much of it is tied into the fortunes of the housing market. When housing prices soared after the dawn of the 21st century, it put a squeeze on people. Then when prices collapsed and the mortgage meltdown started it put downward pressure on jobs, working hours, and even pay.

While we are not sliding back to a pre-World War II standard of living, the new reality doesn’t bode too well for a robust return to rapid economic growth.

The intergenerational homes reflect that as well as shifting cultural values.

The odds are new homes built 10 years from now in Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, Turlock and elsewhere will look less like our parents’ homes and more like one that accommodate more than  one generation.

McMansions and larger homes are still selling but if you look at the faces of the buyers there are fewer young first-time buyers.

That reality will force a shift in the future style of “single family home” being built in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail