Understanding how each generation wants to live is just the start. After a good understanding, then housing leaders have to develop product that fits their needs, demands and expectations. But, here, is a good place to start.

The housing landscape has dramatically shifted in the last few generations, from the modest, affordable houses of the 1950s to the towering McMansions of the 1990s. Easy access to mortgages made buying a home in the '90s not just popular, but practically a social mandate.

At that point, it usually made more sense for people to enter the real estate market and snatch up properties rather than rent. Yet, today, while McMansions may actually be seeing a resurgence in some areas, the right-sizing of homes is also trending. The baby boomers who bought those towering 7,000-square-foot McMansions in the '90s are downsizing and looking for those "just-the-right-size" houses.

Today, too, it's not just the preferences within the housing market that have changed; it's also the mentality surrounding owning a home. Renting, increasingly, is a more desirable option, whether as a deliberate choice or one driven by financial woes and housing shortages. According to research from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, the nation's homeownership rate has been falling for more than eight years -- from its peak of 69 percent in 2004, to roughly 63.7 percent in 2015.

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