A common mistake among real estate agents and consumers both is estimating a home’s probable value using only the living space’s square footage. But what about the total number of rooms? Specifically, what is a bedroom worth?
Clearly other factors have a significant impact, such as remodeling done (or deferred maintenance that’s taken place), whether or not there are special features such as pools or tennis courts, the quality of the landscaping, or the presence of a view. Some of these are challenging for pinning down a value since they may be unique to a particular property and there may be no similar comparable properties or “comps”.
All homes, though, have bedrooms. We know (almost intuitively) that it will be challenging to sell a 1 bedroom home and that 6 or more bedrooms may sound like a boarding house and have diminishing value for most consumers. (I’ve known 6 bedroom homes to be presented as 5 bedrooms plus a den or home office.)
Recently I ran into this issue again, where some lovely people I was discussing the market with appeared to be looking at their house’s likely sales price based only on square footage and not seeing the highly likely limitation of having fewer bedrooms than most home buyers want. I decided it would be a good study to pull up two and three bedroom sales in San Jose over recent years and check on the average sale price of each – keeping the properties within a fairly close band of square footage and lot size so that it would be a level playing field. (Most accurate would be in a very small area with a very tight range of square footage, but going that narrow likely leaves us with too few homes for a decent pool of data.)
I did a spot check of smaller, older houses in San Jose 95126 (roughly the Rose Garden, Shasta Hanchett, and St. Leo’s areas) and used square footage of 1000 SF to 1500 SF and small lot sizes of up to 6000 SF. Also I removed sales on busy roads, such as Hedding. Bottom line: the 3 bedroom houses were selling for an average of $897.72 per square foot, while the 2 bedroom houses were purchased at an average of $837.04 per square foot.
What if we looked at a broader area, and not just older houses? The next section covers all of San Jose and also from 2017 to the present.
What is a bedroom worth? A San Jose study of 2 and 3 bedroom houses.
The study above is for San Jose, and it could vary between Evergreen or Berryessa and West San Jose, Cambrian, Almaden, Willow Glen, or other areas. You can see, though, that a 3 bedroom house usually sells for about $70,000 to $100,000 more than a house with 2 bedrooms and the same square footage. (Unfortunately, the MLS doesn’t have an easy way of tracking homes that are 2 bedrooms + den, with a den being similar to a bedroom but without a closet in most cases.)
This truth that the bedroom count matters also is at play if you are bidding on or selling a 4 bedroom home. For many in Silicon Valley today, an extra bedroom (or two) means space for a home office. It may also provide space for visiting relatives, and for some home buyers, that extra bedroom is a must.
Right now it’s harder to sell a condo or townhouse, particularly if there is little or no outside space, then it is to sell a single family home. Consumers today want more space, and more bedrooms for that critical home office, not less.
As Realtors, we need to factor the number of bedrooms into our estimated market price, even if the data is a little messy, as we know that the #1 reason why homes don’t sell is a list price which is tooo high. When the home has a small number of bedrooms, the home owner may not be happy to hear the estimation of value which is lower than a price per SF only valuation, but it’s what the home owner needs to hear (if if it’s not what he or she wants to hear). The home buyer will need to understand that the “good deal” today will mean pricing it lower than similarly sized houses with 3 bedrooms in the future.