Warren County Ohio Real Estate News and Observations: The 4th Bedroom Can Of Worms

The 4th Bedroom Can Of Worms

Avoiding a can of wormsIf there's one room in a house that's got potential to open a can of worms, it's the 4th bedroom in a 3 bedroom house.

There are times the county auditor doesn't know the true count of bedrooms in a home, and that's okay as long as the home isn't on septic and the home is ONLY rated for the smaller number.

But what's more common is the county IS accurate in their reporting.  The number of CONFORMING bedrooms in the home matches the county records.

Wait, what do you mean by CONFORMING bedrooms?

This is one of those cases where how you might use a room and the legal requirements for a bedroom might not coincide.

We see it pretty often, a room in the basement is often used as a spare bedroom for guests (or for that surly pre-adult who lives in your home), but calling a room a bedroom and it actually being a bedroom are not the same thing.

A rule of thumb is the ability to leave the room in case of emergency.  Is there MORE than one EASY way out of the room?  If the window is egress capable (big enough for a firefighter wearing an airpack?), then you're golden.  But if the window is the typical basement 2 ft by 1 ft and located 7 feet off the floor, who's going to be able to get out?

Multiple paths out will do the trick too.  E.g. two paths, one to upstairs and the other out the basement walkout is fairly common.

But if you're lacking in those emergency escapes, you don't have a legal bedroom in the basement. 

And unfortunately, as your agent I can't call that "bedroom" a bedroom if it doesn't meet the requirements.

What does that ultimately mean to you?

Your buyer pool is a bit smaller, and that might mean your price will be a bit lower even though you have the same amount of total living space as a four bedroom home.

However, there are buyers (and agents) smart enough to realize that a 3 bedroom home with an extra room or two may be just as good for them as a 4 bedroom home. 

Have more real estate questions?  Just contact us at 513-520-5305 or email Liz@LizSpear.com.

Serving Greater Cincinnati home buyers and sellers,

Bill & Liz aka BLiz

Serving Warren County Ohio & Adjacent Areas


The Liz Spear Team of RE/MAX Elite
Elizabeth Spear, ABR, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2002007747

William (Bill) Spear, CRS, Ohio License SAL.2004011109  Kentucky 77938
Ask for us by name if you visit the office!

EHO Two locations: Lebanon & Mason, OH
Bill Direct:  513-520-5305
Liz Direct: 513-265-3004     
Fax: 866-302-8418

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Comment balloon 6 commentsLiz and Bill Spear • July 01 2019 12:23AM


Thank you for sharing your helpful advice on this important topic.

Posted by Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) 4 months ago

Our MLS has always been strict in enforcing City/County codes for room descriptions Liz and Bill Spear . In addition to your description a bedroom in the City of Minot is required to have a closet as well.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) 4 months ago

This is a great blog and really does address the possibility of a 4th bedroom in a home. 

Posted by June Piper-Brandon, Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time (Long & Foster Hampden) 4 months ago

This is spot-on! Just because someone uses a room as a bedroom doesn't mean it is officially one. And the listing (at least where I am) has to reflect the official count per the town/county. Which can result in a lower price. 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!)) 4 months ago

I’ve never heard of the fourth bedroom being called a can of worms before, but there’s a first time for everything and I’ve been educated, :) Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) 3 months ago

Kat Palmiotti I suppose anyone can use any room for anything, if we were to really think about. :)

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) 3 months ago