If it looks like a bedroom and works like a bedroom, then it must be a bedroom, right?
Not so fast! This might be one of the most nitpicky rules in real estate, but not all rooms that you use as bedrooms can be labeled as such in your real estate listing.
When you’re selling your home, you’re required to list the number of bedrooms that actually qualify as bedrooms. There are specific details that will disqualify rooms from being included in this count, so make sure you understand the rules before you list your home and put yourself at risk of misrepresentation.
What’s the Legal Definition of a Bedroom?
Most people believe that a room can be considered a bedroom if it has a closet, but this isn’t actually true. In fact, a closet’s presence or absence has nothing to do with it.
If you aren’t sure if your makeshift bedrooms count, follow these five rules to stay out of legal trouble:
1. Ceiling Height Must Be 7 Feet or More
People need to be able to walk comfortably into and around the room. The height requirements prevent homeowners from labeling compact areas like a crawl space or the room under the stairs as a bedroom.
Rooms with sloped ceilings may still qualify as a bedroom, such as a converted attic space. But at least half of the room’s ceiling height must be at least seven feet.
2. The Room Must Have 2 or More Exits
Also known as the egress requirements, bedrooms must have at least two means of escaping. This could be a door and a window, or a door to the inside and a door to the outside. In some markets, a skylight that opens could qualify as a means of egress.
A person should be able to crawl through it in the event of an emergency. In general, the window sill should be no higher than 44 inches from the floor. The opening height should be a minimum of 24 inches and a minimum opening width of 20 inches. However, these dimensions can vary by area. You’ll need to check local fire codes to see how big the window or skylight needs to be.
3. The Room Must Be at Least 70 Square Feet
The biggest concern for buyers is ensuring the bedroom is large enough to function as a bedroom. By law, bedrooms should be at least 70 square feet, though some areas may require more area.
4. There Must Be at Least 7 Feet of Horizontal Footage
Not just any square footage will do for a bedroom. Otherwise, long hallways could technically be considered bedrooms. A real bedroom will have at least seven feet of horizontal space in any direction.
A room of 10 feet by 7 feet is about as small as a bedroom can legally be. Local laws may vary on this figure, so check with your real estate agent to verify.
5. Bedrooms Have an Installed Heating and Cooling System
Space heaters and floor fans don’t count here. Real bedrooms are tied into the home’s central HVAC system or have their own window unit or installed heater. If you have a central HVAC system, one vent should be sufficient.
If there is no central air conditioning, the room must have a way to cool down, such as a window that can be opened. Missing the heat source is an automatic disqualification.
How to Market Your Non-Bedroom Space
If you’re tempted to list rooms that you’re using as bedrooms, don’t do it! It’s not only dishonest, but it can also land you in legal trouble.
Instead, get creative with how you include your extra spaces in your home. Some real estate listings will call them “bonus rooms,” while others will give it a specific title, like an office or nursery.
No matter what you decide to call it, you certainly don’t want to ignore it completely. Many buyers are actively looking for homes with enough space for an office, craft room, game room, or even storage. You could even suggest they turn it into a bedroom, though the logistics of doing so will be on them.
Your real estate agent is a valuable resource in presenting your home’s best attributes, so lean on them for guidance. They’ll handle your listing for you so that the information isn’t just accurate, but also attractive to buyers. Clever Partner Agents are top-rated real estate in your area that can help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar.