Developers look to cash in on roommate boom

More homes across US designed for multiple residents
January 22, 2016 02:50PM

For New Yorkers, living with roommates is about as rare as seeing a rat. Turns out people have roommates in other cities too, and developers are starting to pay attention. 

A growing number of landlords across the U.S. are marketing their projects to tenants and buyers who plan to live with roommates, grown-up children or rent out a portion of their apartment on Airbnb.

At a recent International Builder’s Show, developers showcased a number of concepts designed to keep down the cost of housing. The backdrop to all this is that housing prices have grown by 25 percent across the country since 2011 – although they are still below their 2007 peak – while median household income has stayed mostly flat. Apartment rents, meanwhile, have grown 20 percent since 2010, according to one study.

The budget crunch has led to a growing market of people willing to reimagine their living situations.

In Las Vegas, developer Element Design Build is offering homes with a second-floor unit that it claims can house your college-grad children or elderly relatives. (In the USA in 2016, developers are probably right to assume that a college grad with a BA in English and $200,000 in student debt is about as independent as your wheelchair-bound grandma.)

Another model home built by California-based Pardee Homes includes two guest suites designed to be rented out on Airbnb or other apartment-sharing sites. A TRI Pointe survey of young whippersnappers found that 35 percent want to rent out space in their homes part-time. [WSJ]Konrad Putzier