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What Is An In-Law Suite? A Smart Feature

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By: Robin Shreeves

What is an in-law suite? It's the most common name for a small dwelling on the same property as (and perhaps attached to) a single-family home, where an aging family member (or others) can live with some modicum of privacy and independence. It's often a separate space with its own bathroom, sometimes in a basement or over a garage.

In-law suites are also referred to as accessory dwelling units, multigenerational units, secondary suites, or granny flats. In Hawaii, they're known as ohana units. In the Southwest, they're frequently called casitas.

No matter what the name, they're a desirable feature in a home that comes in handy in many ways well beyond providing a place for mom alone. Here's everything homeowners need to know.

What is an in-law suite?

The traditional in-law suite can be either connected to the main dwelling of the home (perhaps in the basement), or an external, separate structure, like a small cottage on the property or a converted garage. Minimally, an in-law suite has a bedroom and full bathroom. It can also come with additional rooms, such as a sitting room or a small kitchen.

Alternate uses for separate suites

When not in use by an aging parent, an in-law suite can serve many purposes, making it a wise investment. Here are some uses to consider:

    Home office: "More and more buyers are looking for a place to work from home," says Mike Dinella, broker salesperson with Lenny, Vermaat & Leonard Inc., Realtors® in Haddonfield, NJ. "So this area could be the perfect spot for your small business."
    Guest quarters: When out-of-town guests come to visit, an in-law suite is the perfect place to give them a little privacy, with their own bedroom and bathroom.
    Residence for an older child: Adult children who may need to live at home while establishing themselves financially can use the space as an apartment, perhaps even paying a little rent.
    Short- of long-term rental apartment: Since many in-law suites are fully equipped apartments, they make ideal rental apartments, which can bring in added income from long-term renters or short-term rentals on Airbnb.

What's the cost of an in-law apartment?

The cost to add this amenity to your home varies widely, depending on the size, details, and whether it will be an addition to an existing home or a stand-alone structure. When adding an in-law suite to an existing home, expect to spend an average of $32,700 to $63,000. If you're building a new structure, it can cost as much as $125,000.

In-law apartments as a sales feature

Thanks to their versatility, in-law suites are an attractive feature to look for when buying a home—or to play up in your home if you're selling.

"A mother-in-law space, or even the potential for one, can make your home more desirable to buyers," says Dinella. "With multigenerational living on the rise, buyers are frustrated that they can’t find a home that meets their needs. There are limited choices, so they start looking at homes that can be easily modified into a residence with a mother-in-law apartment. If I have a listing with a first-floor bedroom and full bath, I’ve been advertising it as a 'potential multi-generational suite.' It creates a lot more buyer traffic."

The best advice Dinella has for homeowners who feel the need to add a space for aging in place to their existing home is to configure it with an open floor plan.

"An open floor plan has versatile uses after the fact. It's easier for buyers to envision the space as something else if they don't need to use it for its original intention," he says.

Are in-law suites legal?

Local ordinances vary when it comes to the amenities of an in-law suite and its use. To find the laws specific to your property, go to the zoning office with your lot and block number, to find out if having such a suite on your property is permitted.

If zoning laws do not allow an in-law apartment, it may be possible to get a variance.

"You may have to send out certified letters to the neighbors and get their signatures," says Dinella. "The cost of a variance could run up to $500."

You will also need to obtain building permits. Even then, there may still be limitations on what the suite can include or how it may be used. Some zoning laws do not allow full kitchens, because of the risk of stove fires. Some laws do not allow such suites to be rented out if they are no longer being used for an older relative.

Bottom line: Know the local laws before investing in a home with this amenity, if you are hoping that it may become a money maker.

Despite a few negatives, homeowners find the pros outweigh the cons, and that in-law suites are a smart investment both while they are living in the home and when they go to sell.

Photo by Emil Widlund on Unsplash

Home Security Tips You Should Already be Doing

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By Rachel Stevens

By the time you read this paragraph, another preventable break in will occur in the United States. Every 18 seconds, adding up to 200 an hour, home invaders successfully strike. Home security shouldn’t have to cost thousands of dollars with complicated devices. There are simple steps you can take to improve home security and peace of mind before leaving your home.  

Lock your door and windows  

This seems like an obvious tip, but 30 percent of burglars report breaking into a home through an unlocked window or door. Life gets busy and we rush to work, school, and activities. Take a few minutes before you leave to check the doors and recently opened windows on the first level. If you believe you’ll forget to, stick a note on your door to remind yourself before stepping out.  

Get a dog 

If you’ve always wanted a dog, here’s your excuse. Properly trained dogs are effective at deterring a burglar. Barking loudly will panic the intruder that they may bite or alert someone of their presence.  

Read More

 

Photo by Ralph Kayden on Unsplash

Maintenance Must Dos

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Fall Home Selling Tips

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Many sellers try to avoid putting their home on the market during the fall. However, while the spring and summer markets are more popular, the fall market certainly doesn’t disappoint. Follow these tips to help ensure that your house flies off of the market before Old Man Winter arrives.

Create festive curb appeal.  
In a buyers’ market, it’s important to do everything you can to make your house look its best. Make sure that your yard, walkways, and gutters are free of leaves  and debris. Add a seasonal style with a festive-door wreath, planters filled with autumn-colored flowers, and a front porch lined with pumpkins.

Keep the lights on.
Gone are the days that it stays light well past dinnertime. Since the days are shorter, be sure that your house is illuminated both on the inside and outside. Brighten rooms by pulling up the blinds and pushing back the window dressings. Keep the front porch and walkway lights on so visitors have a better chance to experience the exterior of your house.

Check the HVAC.
The nights are becoming chilly, so it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is up to par. It’s best to have it checked out before you put your house on the market. Not only will this reduce the chances of an offer falling through, it can help keep you and your guests warm and cozy during the colder months.

For more real estate tips for fall, visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/home.

 

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The Rain Team
CA# 01169588 | CA# 01125976 | CA# 01908304
248 Main Street, Suite 200
Half Moon Bay CA 94019
Michael: 650-888-6361
Kathy: 650-888-6903
Fax: 866-396-0207

Kathy and Michael Rain of Coldwell Banker provides real estate services in the San Mateo County, California area including the surrounding communities: El Granda, Half Moon Bay, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica and San Mateo. Search for homes in San Mateo County. We list and sell residential real estate, investment properties, vacant land, lots for sale in the San Mateo County, California area.

Licensed in the State of California

Kathy Rain - CA BRE# 01169588 | Michael Rain - CA BRE# 01125976 | Coldwell Banker - CA BRE# 01908304  

Email: therainteam@coastal-realestate.com
Cell Phone: (650) 888-6903 * Direct Phone: (650) 712-0411
San Mateo County Real Estate and Homes for Sale

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