Have you ever been home searching and found that what you consider a bedroom differs from what the seller advertised? It happens more frequently than you might think. Whether it’s a windowless room in the basement or a small sitting room that could barely fit more than a mattress, watch out for bedroom count versus what you see in the home.
Bedroom Count Matters
Home listings include the total number of rooms available, with a specific entry for bedrooms. How all rooms are tallied depends on who’s doing the counting. Sellers seem to count higher than buyers. Let’s face it, the open concept architecture leaves room for disagreement on where one room ends and another begins. And sometimes a small nook is treasured by some while seen as wasted space to others. But when it comes to the bedroom, the terms get a little more specific and the stakes are higher.
Generally speaking, more value is expected from a home with each additional bedroom. There’s no single way to calculate how much more money a four-bedroom home is worth compared to its three-bedroom neighbor because property value combines so many different factors. However, you can usually expect to pay more for more bedrooms. When it comes down to offers, a buyer will be the final decider on whether a seller’s bedroom count matches their own.
A Bedroom in the Eyes of the Law vs. the Appraiser
There are some basic legal requirements on what defines a bedroom, which are points based on building code safety and livability. Laws can vary by location, but here are general rules on what constitutes a bedroom:
∙ The room must be a minimum of 7 feet by 9 feet.
∙ The ceiling height must be a minimum of 7 feet tall in at least half the room.
∙ The room must have a window and a door. If the room is in the basement, it must have the proper egress to the outside, either by an appropriately sized window (defined by local building codes) or a door to the outside.
∙ The room must have sufficient heating and cooling. A space heater does not qualify. For cooling, a window can qualify.
What about lofts? Generally lofts do not adhere to the basic requirements listed above and shouldn’t be counted as bedrooms. What about a closet? Legally speaking, a room doesn’t require a closet to be a bedroom, however, in an appraiser’s terms, a room must have closet space to be counted as a bedroom. Also, while that fifth bedroom in the basement is an excellent addition for your family, an appraiser does not count any room as a bedroom that is “below grade,” meaning in the basement. You can still list it as a bedroom in MLS, but for buyers seeking loans, below grade rooms are not counted in appraisals. This is an important factor to consider if there’s any question your home might not appraise for the purchase contract price.
Room Descriptions Vary
Sellers often use descriptions such as office, work space, bonus room, or nursery for rooms that they know buyers might not accept as full-size bedrooms. Each of these uses hold value for specific types of buyers. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, keep these guidelines in mind when considering bedroom needs, as well as determining your price.
Real Estate Term of the Week
Means of Egress: An unobstructed path to leave buildings, structures, and spaces. A means of egress is comprised of exit access, exit, and exit discharge.