Ask the Egghead: Should I buy a three-bedroom house, a 4-bedroom, or a 5-bedroom?

Dear Egghead: I know the conventional wisdom is that a single-family detached home should have at least three bedrooms, perhaps four or maybe more. Is there an actual advantage to finding a place with five or six bedrooms?

ANSWER: For the near term, it depends on your living situation. Most people should opt for a place with a bedroom for each adult, plus another room for a baby — assuming that the family will be growing. That way, at least one of the adults should be able to get a full night’s sleep.

That brings up the question of how many bathrooms is ideal. Ideally, most people would like to see nearly one bathroom for each bedroom in the house (such as three bathrooms for a four- or five-bedroom house), but older houses tend to have far fewer bathrooms. Yes, the American standard of living has gone up dramatically in the past few generations. Your typical three-bedroom house older than 50 years will probably have just a single bathroom and perhaps a half-bath in the basement.

So far, we’ve considered the question in terms of your immediate personal living situation. But what’s the best configuration if you’re attempting to sell the house? In that case, you’ll want to have a bathroom and a quarter for each bedroom. An upgrade to correct this situation will pay off at selling time. Upgrading existing bathrooms is smart, too. It’s commonplace now for master bathrooms to have two sinks — one for her, one for him.

Adding a bedroom for a three-bedroom house can easily add $50,000 to the resale value of the home but this can vary according to the particulars of your location. And the equation depends on whether you’re repurposing existing space to create the bedroom, or adding more square footage to your house. Keep in mind that it’s customary for a bedroom to have a window, closet, and a direct passage to a hallway, so check your local zoning regulations, and consult a local realtor for advice.

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