When Selling, What is Legally Considered a Bedroom?

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 29 January 2020 09:04

When you are selling a home, the number of bedrooms it has is one of the most important selling features. In fact, home buyers make sure to tell an agent exactly how many bedrooms they require their new home to have, it is usually the first thing communicated when they are describing the house they are looking for.

It is not uncommon for sellers to be able to fit a bed into a space in their home and call it a bedroom. One reason for doing this is, the more bedrooms you list that the home has the higher you can list the home. But just because you can fit a bed into a room does not mean that it can legally be considered a bedroom and listed on the market as such.

Yes, there are laws that list required attributes of a room to be able to legally call it a bedroom and as such up the asking price of your home. Though these requirements vary by state there are six standard features that are required in order to classify a room as a bedroom. Here they are:

Square Footage

The size of a room matters in its classification. The size requirements vary from state to state, the most standard size minimum for a bedroom to be called a bedroom is 70 to 80 square feet.

Horizontal Footage

It is not just the size of the floor that matters when classifying a room as a bedroom. You need to have at least 7 feet of horizontal space in all horizontal directions to qualify as a bedroom. There are several long and narrow hallways or storage spaces that have the square footage, but you would never be able to fit a bed into them.

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At Least Two Sizable Exits

There have to be at least two ways to safely exit a bedroom. Traditionally this means a door and a window that fit within the size restrictions. These exits have to be large enough for a sizable adult to safely fit through and easily exit in an emergency situation such as a fire. Many basement “bedrooms” do not pass this law.

Ceiling Height

At least half of the bedroom ceiling height needs to be at 7 feet tall. Who wants to live in a bedroom they can never stand up in?

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Window Size

This goes back to having a safe alternate exit beside the door. Window openings must be at least 5.7 square feet in size.

Heating and Cooling

A bedroom must have a source of heat, and a portable heater does not count here. It needs to be hooked up into the home. It is also required that there is a way of cooling the space be it by air conditioning or just opening the required window.

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This is a long-debated topic in the “is it a bedroom?” debate. In some states, a bedroom is not required to have a closet to classify it as a bedroom. This is because some historic homes were not built with closets, it was expected that the homeowner buy a piece of furniture to store hanging clothes. The answer to this really depends upon the state you live in and many states do not require it.

The best way to determine if you can legally include a room in your home as a bedroom is to ask your real estate agent. What if you can’t list a room as a bedroom? You can list it as an office or a bonus room instead. These will communicate extra space to buyers and will still be appealing to help get your home sold. When deciding exactly what to list it as a real estate agent will be your best help.

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Tammy Emineth

Real estate marketing expert - online content builder, social media manager, website builder and online marketer. 


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