Home listings always 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. Obviously, 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 your bedroom count matches their own.
There are some basic legal requirements on what defines a bedroom, which are points based on 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,” in other words, 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.
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.