If you read Wednesday’s Home&Garden section of the NYT online, you might have read about a family of divorced/step/partnered-but-unmarried New Yorkers who all share a large two-story home in Brooklyn. The house, purchased by two divorcees who define themselves as “partners” but who are not technically remarried to each other, was renovated to form two autonomous apartments.
The article, Blending Like the Brady Bunch? Let’s Not Go Too Far, offers a view into several examples of this somewhat-unusual version of the American Family, and implies that similar situations may eventually become the norm. The reasons for this trend are manifold: changing attitudes about parenting and co-parenting, greater numbers of financially-independent mothers, and the fact that the divorce rate has not slowed down since it hit 50% or so.
One has to wonder how this sort of thing will affect real estate, of course. The nuclear family in the most traditional sense has long served as the cornerstone of the American home-owning dream. Social “stability” and long-term commitment to one location/lifestyle has kept property values high and rents low. Now that stability is more a state of mind than a legal declaration, things could change.
As scary as it all might sound, this change might very well be positive for the housing market – more flexible attitudes about residency and real estate could help a great many people weather the recession. Furthermore, should the traditional nuclear household become obsolete, some other model will fill the vacuum. Homes may become larger and fewer, more private or more efficient – or simply more complex. Either way, there are changes to be made – and that means revenue and new ideas. If these families can make it work, so can the real estate world.