When A 3-Bedroom House Isn’t ACTUALLY A 3-Bedroom House


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If you’re a buyer looking at freehold houses right now, you’ll undoubtedly be analyzing several aspects of the home such as size, style, and layout.


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When A 3-Bedroom House Isn’t ACTUALLY A 3-Bedroom House If you’re a buyer looking at freehold houses right now you’ll undoubtedly be analyzing several aspects of the home such as size style and layout. When it comes to entry-level single family freehold homes aside from location the layout is the most crucial part of any property. I’m seeing a lot of 2-bedroom houses listed as 3-bedrooms and a lot of true 3-bedroom houses aren’t necessarily conducive to “growing families” as I’m told by some of my buyer clients… 3-BedroomSemi Quick question to start this blog off: does a bedroom in the basement “count” as a bedroom And along the same lines: who is counting I wrote a blog last month called “Making Sense of the Condo Den.” In the blog I referred to the “plus-one” or the “+1” as it appears on MLS. The original intention of the +1 before people started using it to refer to a small nook adjacent to the front hall in their condo was to represent a room below grade in freehold properties. Living + Dining + Kitchen + Master Bedroom + 2nd Bedroom + 3rd Bedroom 6 rooms. But there’s a rec-room and a 4th bedroom in the basement so the house is “6+2” rooms and the bedroom section of the listing would show “3+1” due to that 4th bedroom below grade. Of course that’s how the +1 was intended. Nowadays MLS is a free-for-all with agents doing whatever they please with little fear of repercussion. Don’t shoot the messenger. Having already examined the “Condo Den” issue in last month’s blog today I wanted to look at how the various floors in a freehold property are laid out specifically paying attention to the bedrooms. Having been a father for ten months and still living in a condo I can’t profess to be the expert on what it’s like to raise young children and how best to set up your home as a result. But having worked with many buyers over the years who have one two or three kids I can tell you that the way a house is laid out can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker. From what I’m told by my clients – you want to be on the same floor as your kids.

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Now this isn’t for everybody of course. And it depends on what age your children are. If you’ve got a 4-bedroom house with two bedrooms on the 2nd level and the Jack-and-Jill bedrooms that share a bathroom on the 3rd level it’s perfect for your 14 and 16-year-old children who want to be away from their parents. Having their own floor means having their independence. But for young families For first-time parents or parents with two very small children From what I’m told having the bedrooms on different levels is far from ideal. Consider the following floor plan which I would call a very “standard” 3-bedroom layout in any entry-level semi-detached house in Toronto:

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Pretty standard right Forget the main floor as it’s not important in today’s blog. What we’re looking at is the upper level where we see two bedrooms separated by a wall and at the back of the house there’s a master bedroom. In this case the master has an ensuite so this isn’t really entry-level but rather it’s a slight step up. A true “entry level” home would have one bathroom shared by Mom Dad and the kids. The point I’m making is that assuming this is a 2-storey house there are three bedrooms on the 2nd level. And that is what most of my clients with young children prefer. Not all of them keep in mind. I have one set of buyers right now that I raised this issue with. I told them “The master bedroom is on the upper level and I know many of my buyers are looking to be on the same floor as their children.” They said “That doesn’t bother us at all. We’ve got an audio/video camera over the crib and we’re fit – we can climb up or down a flight of stairs.” But I go with the feedback I get and judge everything in real estate on a relative basis. If 8/10 of my clients with small kids want to have their bedrooms on the same floor as those children then I figure it’s a point bringing up with all of them. Let’s look at four other floor plans with three bedrooms where the bedroom layout needs to be scrutinized by the buyer to determine if it works for the family. – 1 Master Bedroom On 3rd Level w/Ensuite 3-Bedroom04 In many cases this is preferable to the layout provided above. Here we have essentially a “master level” for the parents with a 4-piece ensuite bathroom. The bedroom is fit for a king-sized bed and you can picture a slew of built-ins or dressers in a room that’s 13 x 20. It’s fantastic – 2 1/2 storeys are better than 2 right

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But if you’re a couple with a newborn and a 2-year-old how do you feel about living on a different floor than your kids – 2 Third Bedroom On Third Level 3-Bedroom03 This differs from the first floor plan because the master bedroom is on the 2nd level and one of the “Kids” bedrooms is on the 3rd level. But the difference between the two floor plans isn’t merely a label on who’s room it is. This changes the entire living situation for the parents. Having a “Master Suite” on the 3rd floor and two kids below you is something that a lot of folks can make work. But now we have a bedroom down the hall from the master and then a bedroom above That’s just not going to work for a family with two small children. Is it I’m asking because the feedback I get would suggest “no” but I’m curious to hear from the readers as to whether you’d have your 5-year-old living one level above you. – 3 Third Bedroom In……Basement

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This isn’t a 3-bedroom house. This is a 2-bedroom house plain and simple. To call this a 3-bedroom house is like oh so many other fabrications on MLS. A client asked me last night “When it says ‘ensuite’ for locker on MLS what does that mean” I told her “It means there is no locker.” Sure in a 1980’s condo there could be a massive storage room that acts as a laundry facility and holds enough food to save for Armageddon. But in a new condo when somebody says “ensuite” for locker it means they’re referring to their hall closet as a locker. Same goes for this silly below-grade basement acting as a “third bedroom.” By traditional standards this is not a bedroom. This is a “+1” and on MLS under bedrooms it should say “2+1.” But on MLS anything goes. And it’s up to the buyer and the buyer agent to identify what this property is how it’s laid out and whether or not it could work for the family. – 4 Third Bedroom In Basement…..or….1/2-Storey 3-Bedroom01 This one is interesting. This is basically the same as 3 but it adds the 1/2 storey up top. As with 3 this house has two bedrooms on the 2nd level and one in the basement that they’re calling a third bedroom. But they have a “loft” on the third or 1/2-storey. So if they couldn’t get away with calling this a “3-bedroom” and it’s actually a “2+1” as was 3 on the list perhaps they can call that loft a third bedroom as with floor plan 2 Define it however you like but does it work for you and your family That’s what you have to decide.

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And ultimately what price are you paying for the home Let’s use 4 as an example for a moment and pretend that basement bedroom doesn’t exist. Pretend it’s unfinished storage. Then what have you got Is this a “Two-plus-loft” Because I’ve seen a ton of east-side houses lately that are 2 1/2-storeys listed as a 3-bedroom but where the third bedroom is essentially a finished attic space. Does that work for a 2-child family The shame of it is – most of these are Victorians which are gorgeous and yet somewhat impractical. And because of the beauty and rarity of Toronto Victorians they sell for more money. Do you want to pay more money for a less practical home So let me put it to the readers both those with kids and those without: how do you feel about the layout of the five floor plans shown above If you have no kids one kid two kids young kids or grown kids let me know what’s a deal- breaker and what’s not.

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