What to Consider When Buying a Property with In-Law Quarters

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Buying a property is a big financial investment and one of the most complex transactions. 

If you’re thinking about buying a home with a mother-in-law apartment, a mother-in-law suite, guest house or in-law quarters – weighing the pros and cons is a great way to start.

Guest homes typically include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living space and a separate entrance from the primary home. If it’s a secondary housing unit completely independent of the main house, it may be considered an official accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, which can be attached or detached and are often rented out to tenants.

While having an attached or detached guest home has many benefits, understanding the potential hassle and costs involved is essential – so you can make an educated decision if this is the right direction for you (and your family).

Benefits of Having In-law Quarters

The top reason why people opt to have a mother-in-law apartment on their property is to house a live-in nanny, aging parent or other family member(s), as it’s a great low-cost alternative to having to pay for costly housing expenses.

One of the most common benefits is also the convenience of having a family member or a nanny in such close proximity, allowing everyone to live near each other while still retaining their own separate living spaces.

Having a separate dwelling on your property also means you can host guests, without having to share your own home space. If you often have visitors, having a separate guest home will certainly make life easier – since everyone will have complete privacy.

Another benefit to a property with another dwelling is that it offers additional storage space, especially if you don’t have a basement or a garage to store extra furniture, sports equipment, seasonal stuff, etc.

Finally, there’s the potential rental income, which can be an excellent way to earn additional passive income on a monthly basis. If you are able to rent out your in-law quarters, it can help pay for home renovations, family vacations and general day-to-day expenses.

Cons of Having In-Law Quarters

One of the main downsides to having a separate guest home is the high utility costs – higher water bill, as well as higher energy bills.

Also, you may need to deal with the insurance costs, so first check whether or not your current homeowners’ insurance policy will also cover an accessory dwelling unit. If you’re renting the guesthouse to tenants, you may need to get additional insurance to properly protect your home.

Another drawback is that there will be more day-to-day upkeep – from in-house cleaning to clearing gutters and other home maintenance, which can be time consuming and expensive. And if you become a landlord, know that it takes a lot of work, performing repairs and maintenance plus finding the right tenants can surely become burdensome.

If you’re planning on building a mother-in-law suite, you may have to deal with city zoning regulations and strict building codes, and if your home is located in a historic district, it’ll make the addition even more difficult to accomplish.

Bottom line: If you can be with the drawbacks, having a property with an attached or detached in-law quarters is a great way to accommodate your aging parent, another family member, a nanny or a guest, increase the value of your home and improve its resale potential.

As with any complex transactions, a lot can go wrong with a home purchase, resulting in long-term financial consequences, so consider working with an experienced real estate attorney who is up to date in current real estate laws of your state.

At the Levin Law Group, our real estate lawyers are here to help you navigate the complicated waters of buying a home. Take steps to ensure your interests and assets are protected – contact the Levin Law Group’s experienced and dedicated real estate attorneys today.

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