How to Buy a House with a Mother-In-Law Suite

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By Clever Real Estate Updated February 2, 2023


Homes that have a mother-in-law suite are great for loved ones who want an independent space while living with family or as an addition for guests. Either way, there are unique things to consider when buying a house with a mother-in-law suite. Here’s what to know.

How to Buy a House with a Mother-In-Law Suite

Sometimes, a house alone isn’t enough room for what you need. Whether you’re looking for a place where a relative can live but still have their independence or you just want an addition for guests, buying a house with a mother-in-law suite can be a great option.

However, there are many things you need to consider when purchasing such a home. When done correctly, having the additional space provides privacy for those who live or stay with you. But if you don’t know what to look for, you can also end up with an expensive project on your hands.

By connecting with a real estate agent you can find the perfect home for you and your family.

Here’s what you should know when buying a house with a mother-in-law suite.

Buy or Build?

At first glance, it might seem like the cost of buying a home with a mother-in-law suite is much higher than your typical home, and that’s probably true. However, before you think it’s better to build additional living quarters, you should think twice.

The cost of building a mother-in-law suite can range between $32,000 and $67,000. With that price tag, it’s often far less expensive to purchase a home with a mother-in-law suite in good condition than it would be to build one from scratch.

Make Sure It’s Up to Code

Make sure your mother-in-law suite is up to code. To your HOA and any other legislative body that has rules regarding property, it’ll probably fall under the same category as a guest house. If you can’t find any rules stipulating a mother-in-law suite specifically, check those related to guest houses.

Always check with the county, your HOA, and your real estate agent to make sure the structure is up to code. Purchasing a home with a mother-in-law suite only to discover you’ll have to tear it down or significantly modify it can add stress and financial strain you don’t need.

Have it Appraised

The last thing you want to do is get into a position where you’ve purchased a home with a mother-in-law suite, but then you discover problems and major repairs that need to be done to it. This adds financial strain to an already stressful situation. Always have the mother-in-law suite (and the house in question) appraised and evaluated before you sign.

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Expect a Lengthy Search

Finding homes with mother-in-law suites can be a lengthy process. It’s notoriously difficult to find such homes since an in-law suite is not usually listed in the features. Most sites you’d use to find homes on the market don’t have filters or categories for in-law suites, which means you’ll have to do a lot of digging.

Understand how to use keywords effectively. Try alternatives such as guest house, addition, and in-law suite. Additionally, when you get a page of results in front of you, hit Ctrl+F on your keyboard. This will open up a search box and will allow you to search your entire page of results for "mother-in-law suite" or "guest house", which can often help you find listings faster.

However, your best bet is to work closely with a real estate agent since they have access to the MLS, a much more accurate database for homes on the market that allows them to search for additional structures and other features not included on most public-facing search tools.

Work With a Real Estate Agent

If you’re looking to buy a house with a mother-in-law suite but you feel overwhelmed or don’t know how to get started, consider partnering with an experienced, local real estate agent. A good agent with local expertise can help you determine the best time to buy, show you what to look for, and guide you through the entire process, from house hunting to negotiations and closing.

Clever Partner Agents are all top performers in their local market.

Get in touch with Clever today, and we’ll introduce you to a Partner Agent in your area who can help you find the perfect home with a mother-in-law suite.

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