Real Estate Advice

What is an ADU in real estate terms?

“Great location, huge lot, perfect for ADU!” Have you seen or heard this term thrown around lately? An ADU in real estate terms is an Accessory Dwelling Unit. The surge in ADU popularity is due to the Bay Area housing shortage. These “granny flats” are nothing new, but in areas with tight housing inventory, they’ve become a very desirable selling point. Often times these separate detached structures have their own private entrance, kitchen, and full bath. An au-pair, another term often used to describe a possible rental space, differs from an ADU in that au-pairs are often attached to the existing structure yet still have their own private entrance, bathroom, and bedroom-but not always a kitchen.

“With this housing shortage people in the East Bay are getting creative with their living situations,” states Karen Richardson, the lead REALTOR® of her own team, Karen Richardson Group. “In-law units, pool houses, au-pairs, guest quarters, guest houses, etc. are just a few of the other names for these rent-possible home setups. They are almost always seen as a plus when listing a property for sale.” Local governments are also taking note, and many, in an effort to alleviate housing inventory strains, have become increasingly willing to allow homeowners to build & rent out these units.

The National Association of REALTOR®s (NAR) published an article in their July-August 2018 REALTOR® magazine describing the many benefits of ADUs and has begun urging all REALTOR®s to become advocates for them. They listed their own depiction of what counts as an ADU, stating it can be detached or attached- but generally when attached is either a “bump-out” from the main house or a “carve out” within the house. In both cases where the ADU is attached, they feel completely independent from the house.

Still have questions? Karen Richardson Group is a full service real estate team educated on the local market and all that is real estate.  Call to speak with one of us today! 925.438.2011 or email

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