Karen Lawley's Blog
As the percentage of senior citizens continues to grow every year, more and more homeowners are taking a serious look at the possibility of having their aging parents move in with them. An increasingly popular idea is the notion of creating an "in-law apartment" to provide a private, but nearby living space for older members of the family.
As an alternative to remodeling one or more rooms to accommodate a live-in relative, some homeowners build an addition to their house. Those with an acre or more of land (and the budget) sometimes consider building a separate guest house on their property. In most cases, though, people tend to convert a portion of their homes to a secondary living unit.
If you're considering going this route, it's necessary to check with your town or city government to make sure you're in compliance with local ordinances, building codes, and zoning laws. Sometimes the approval process might be relatively simple, while in other situations, it could be more restrictive or complicated. The requirements vary widely from one location to another, but you never know until you ask!
A knowledgeable real estate agent can provide you with a lot of helpful information on the topic of in-law apartments. To find out whether your home is already approved for "multiple-unit occupancy," your local assessor, building department, or building inspector can provide the answer. They can also fill you in on requirements, restrictions, and guidelines for converting a living space to a secondary dwelling unit.
By approaching it with an open mind and a little bit of optimism, you might be pleasantly surprised with the practicality of welcoming an aging parent, grandparent, or other member of your extended family into your home. A separate living space may also be the ideal solution for a recent graduate or older adult child who isn't quite ready for the cost of full independence.
If you're currently in the market for a new home, you may even want to expand your "wish list" to include properties that have an approved secondary unit on it. Whether you're anticipating future family needs or toying with the idea of using the space to generate rental income, there are several potential advantages to having an apartment or guest house on the premises.
Your real estate agent can provide you with data on the availability of residential properties with "in-law apartments" and multiple unit occupancy features. They can also offer valuable insights on the future marketability of the property. While your main objective at this point may be finding a long-term place for your family to call home, choosing a property that's a good investment could make real estate ownership even more rewarding down the road.
Getting your house ready to be sold can seem like an overwhelming undertaking. Like any large project, though, if you take it one step at a time, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
The ideal scenario involves having everyone in the family pitch in to keep your house looking its best for each showing. When you divide the labor and work as a team, things get done a lot faster and more efficiently.
Keeping your lawn mowed, bushes trimmed, and house clean on a consistent basis are among the many challenges of always being ready for the next showing. Another common necessity involves applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and other surfaces. That relatively inexpensive step can help make your home look dramatically brighter, vibrant, and more appealing to prospective buyers.
One thing to keep in mind when preparing to put your home on the market is that you (the owner) are probably "too close to the trees to see the forest." In other words, you may be overly accustomed to the appearance, the imperfections, and the décor of your home to be able to identify what needs to be upgraded, fixed, or changed. An experienced real estate agent can help you develop a cost-effective plan for staging your home, enhancing curb appeal, and making necessary improvements to maximize your home's appeal and marketability.
There are dozens of inexpensive things you can do that often have a major impact on the impression you make on potential buyers. Having your carpets, upholstered furniture, and draperies professionally steam-cleaned, for example, can make a world of difference! So can adding a few colorful flower arrangements, inside and out. Lots of light -- both natural and artificial -- also helps make your home look more cheerful and inviting. Keeping your windows crystal clear is another way to make a positive impression, as well as cleaning out your closets to avoid a cluttered, unkempt look.
A few other critical things homeowners sometimes forget to do is clean up dog droppings in the yard, fix squeaky hinges, and remove visible mouse traps from the basement and garage -- especially if there are mice in them! The cleanliness of your cat's litter box is another major priority that can easily be overlooked.
Even the most meticulous, conscientious home sellers can forget to clean, prepare, or organize important things before potential house buyers come to visit, so it's useful to create checklists and routines to get ready for scheduled house showings.
While some homes pose more of a challenge than others when it comes to getting ready for real estate showings, the goal is to make the most of what you have, and do so within your available budget and timeframe.