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Selling a House with an In-Law Suite

In-law suites are becoming increasingly common not only in Massachusetts but across the United States. Multigenerational living arrangements are becoming more and more popular. This can mean moving in an elderly relative or giving your adult-age kids their own space while they save up for their own place. In fact, Pew Research Center estimates that one in five Americans live in a multigenerational household.

Because of this, let’s run down what in-law suites are and how to sell houses that have them.

What Is an In-Law Suite?

An in-law suite is the most common name for a small dwelling on the same property as the main house. It has many names, including multigenerational units, secondary units, granny flats, ohana units, and casitas. They can range from a basement apartment to a wing connected to the main house to a small cottage on the property. At a minimum, an in-law suite has a bedroom and small bathroom. More elaborate versions include a sitting room and even a small kitchen.

These units are great because they give the resident privacy while still being connected to the family. It’s beneficial when you have an older family member living out their golden years with you, as they get to enjoy some independence while knowing they have help nearby should they need assistance.

Do In-Law Suites Make Houses More Desirable?

In-law suites absolutely make a house more desirable to potential home buyers. With 20% of Americans now living in multigenerational homes, having these suites gives extra space and privacy to the occupants.

They’re also helpful for saving money. Building an in-law suite can cost anywhere between $40,000 and $125,000, but homeowners might feel that’s worthwhile. After all, that money could be made up by the additional family members being able to contribute to the mortgage. They can also save money by not needing to send grandma to an expensive care facility. Rent and the cost of assisted living facilities have increased, so buyers know they’ll be saving money in the long run.

The added resale value of a house with an in-law suite varies depending on size and other factors. However, the extra square footage can seriously raise your return on investment (ROI). If you’ve got a property with an in-law suite, be sure to get it properly appraised so you don’t undersell.

Legal Things to Know

If you’re selling a house with an in-law suite or adding one to increase the home’s market value, check local zoning laws. These laws can vary by city and town so don’t assume what’s allowed in one town is permitted in another. Always do your due diligence and research.

Also, note that an in-law suite is not the same as having a multi-family home where you have units you can rent to people. It’s specifically meant for a family member and cannot be rented to the public.

In-law suites are an extremely desirable feature for homes on the market. When selling such a house, be sure to emphasize to potential buyers the benefits and advantages they’ll enjoy by having one.

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