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What Constitutes a “Bedroom?” Ceiling Height? Closet? County Records Wrong!

What Constitutes a "Bedroom?" Ceiling Height? Closet? County Records Wrong!

My wife Heejin spoke in front of a brokerage recently and an agent approached her afterward to complain about a transaction we closed over three years ago.

The agent was still upset b/c the appraisal came in low. We researched the transaction and found out that the county records and the MLS had the bedroom count wrong.

The agent was adamant that the home was a 3-bedroom house, as per county records, but it was actually only a two-bedroom home, necessitating the use of more similar and lower-priced two-bedroom comps.

The ostensible “third bedroom” was only 42 square feet – far too small to constitute an actual bedroom.

Superstar appraisal-blogger, Ryan Lundquist, of course addressed this issue in one of his excellent blogs – Four Requirements for a Room to Be a Bedroom.

Here are a few simplified takeaways (I recommend reading Ryan’s entire blog for more detail).

  1. Entrance/Exit: A bedroom needs to have a door to the main house and a window to the outside.
  2. Ceiling Height: At least 50% of the ceiling needs to be 7 feet high. Hence, a sloping attic ceiling is “OK” in most cases.
  3. Size: A bedroom needs to be at least 70 square feet, with no side being less than 7 feet. Hence, a 6 by 12 foot room is not a bedroom.
  4. Closets are not required in most cases. Many agents and buyers mistakenly believe that a “bedroom” must have a closet, but it often depends on local real estate norms, per Ryan.

The last point is my own, and not Ryan’s.

County Records and MLS info are sometimes incorrect.

My above story involving the upset agent is a great example. County records say the house has “three bedrooms” when it definitely only has two.

This is also another reason why we need skilled human beings to appraise homes. AI/computers will believe county records every time, but that is a topic for another blog.

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(855) 855-4491 | DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 335646