What is a “Bedroom?”

QUESTION: I recently agreed to list a home for sale. One of the rooms is being used as an office but the owner says that it used to be a bedroom. He wants me to advertise  the home in the MLS as if that room is a bedroom. I have some concerns because the room does not have a closet. What should I do?

ANSWER: In an article published in the October 2006 issue of the “Real Estate Bulletin”, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission acknowledged that there is no clear  answer to the question “What is a bedroom?” The article advised brokers to use their common sense and exercise reasonable judgment when determining whether a room is, for listing purposes, a bedroom.

Some Multiple Listing Services have prepared guidelines to assist their members on what can be listed as a bedroom. You should check with your MLS and be sure to follow  those guidelines.

In the absence of MLS guidance, you should consider several factors in making your determination. First, if the home has a septic tank, the home must comply with the septic permit issued by local authorities. If the home is only permitted for two bedrooms, you cannot list it as having three or more bedrooms.

If the home is on public water and sewer, you should consider whether the room was designed to serve as a bedroom. A closet is one indication of such intent, but older  homes were often designed to use an armoire. If the home you are listing is relatively new, keep in mind that potential buyers will likely expect to see a closet in every  bedroom.

Finally, you should consider the applicable building code. Under the North Carolina Residential Building Code, if a room has at least 100 square feet, and at least 50% of the  room has a ceiling height of greater than 7’, it can be called a bedroom. The NCRBC also requires a bedroom to have a window or door leading directly to the outside for  access in case of an emergency. If the room in question meets these guidelines, advertising it as a bedroom would be reasonable.

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