Does an armoire constitute a legal closet?

Practice vs. Theory

One of the biggest areas of confusion in residential real estate is, “exactly what constitutes a legal bedroom?”

In particular, to be a legal Bedroom, does the room have to have a closet?

The short answer: it depends on the local city’s code requirements (some require it, some don’t).

MLS Guidance

However, that technical, legal definition is trumped superseded by a more practical one: Buyers’ expectations.

Here’s the MLS’s guidance on the subject:

Per the MLS rules, a bedroom must meet code requirements to be included in the MLS. Some municipalities do not require a closet. Others do require a closet, but have grandfathered in bedrooms in old houses that do not have closets. Those can all be listed on the MLS.

Note that most buyers and buyer’s agents expect a bedroom to have a door, a closet, and a window, even if they meet code without those elements. Also, appraisers cannot count bedrooms that don’t meet the higher standard. If you include a bedroom that has been grandfathered in, at the least it is courteous to describe the bedroom in the remarks.

Egress windows are always required for basement bedrooms.”

Practically, besides closets, the other three big “bugaboo’s” for a Bedroom to qualify as legal are: 1) room size (usually over 75 square feet); 2) average ceiling height (over 7′); and 3) the size of the egress window.

Technically, egress windows usually must be bigger than 80″ square inches to be considered legal.

Shouldn’t That Be Ingress Window?

Not good with numbers?

I usually tell Buyers I’m working with that, to be considered legal, an egress window has to be big enough for a fireman (or woman) to get in (vs. big enough for you to get out).

Meanwhile, there’s an even simpler test to determine if Buyers will reasonably accept that a room is a legal bedroom.

Namely, “the duck test.”

That is, if it walks, looks, and quacks like a duck (legal Bedroom) . . . it usually is.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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