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Selling a Home With an In-Law Apartment

How to Sell a Home that has an In-law ApartmentIn-law apartments are a desirable feature for many home buyers. A home with an in-law apartment can sell quickly and for a good price if the property is properly prepared, staged and marketed. Getting a home ready for home buyers before putting the house on the market can help the sale go more smoothly.

Make Sure Construction Is Permitted

Sometimes in-law apartments are added without proper permits. This can save homeowners money in the short term but cost homeowners when it’s time to sell. If you own a home with an unpermitted apartment, or if you’re not sure if the apartment was permitted when it was built, now is the time to look into the permit status and have the apartment permitted, if necessary.

Getting an apartment retroactively permitted may take a lot of legwork and cost a significant sum of money, however, an unpermitted apartment may cause even more trouble and expense when the house goes on the market. To find out whether or not an in-law apartment is properly permitted, or to find out how to get an in-law apartment permitted, contact the local city hall or building codes agency.

Stage the Apartment

Staging is an important part of marketing a home. If the in-law apartment is currently occupied by a tenant or member of the family, their cooperation may be important in order to stage the apartment and make it more appealing to buyers.

  • Organize the space. In-law apartments tend to be small. If the current occupant has a lot of stuff, this can lead to disorganization and a feeling of clutter. The best way to fix this problem is to de-clutter wherever possible and organize what cannot be removed. Use attractive baskets to keep items separated. Install open shelving on the walls to give yourself an extra place to put small items.
  • Clean thoroughly. Work with the person or people living in the apartment to clean the space from top to bottom. If the tenants that are currently living in the apartment are older, you may need to do this for them or hire a cleaning person.
  • Let in the light. Light will make the in-law apartment look larger and more spacious. To allow more light to enter the room, remove heavy drapes from the windows and leave up the sheers. Install more lamps to chase away shadows.
  • Make basic repairs. If the in-law apartment is currently occupied by an older person who is physically unable to make basic repairs, the apartment may need a little maintenance before the house is put on the market. Go through the apartment with the person living in it to find out what needs to be fixed, then make the repairs yourself or get a handyman.
  • Remove the boxes. Some homeowners use their in-law apartments as a storage instead of living quarters. Rooms full of boxes and clutter are unattractive and can make the space look small. Before putting a house on the market, clear the boxes out of the in-law apartment and put them into storage, if necessary. This may leave the in-law apartment completely empty, but it’s better than showing it while full of boxes.

Throw In the Extra Furniture

If the apartment is currently empty but still contains furniture from a previous occupant, consider including the furniture with the sale of the home. This puts less pressure on the home buyer to find furniture to fill the space and makes the in-law apartment almost move-in ready. This could lead to a faster sale and may even boost the price of the home.

Make Age-in-Place Upgrades

Age-in-place upgrades can help ensure the home will appeal to buyers with aging parents. Some common age-in-place upgrades include:

  • Curbless showers.
  • Grip bars in the shower.
  • Extra lighting in the bathroom, to prevent slips and falls.
  • Installation of carpeting to prevent slips and falls.
  • Installation of non-slip flooring in the bathroom and kitchen area.
  • Lever-style door handles.
  • Shower seating
  • Lighting in the closets.

Many of these upgrades are a bonus even for younger occupants and can make a home more attractive to buyers of all ages.

Work With a Real Estate Agent to Craft a Proper Listing

Once the in-law apartment is ready, the house must be properly listed. Work with a real estate agent to ensure that the home is properly listed and the in-law apartment is adequately described in the listing. A real estate agent will be able to create a listing that will attract buyers and lead to a faster sale.


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