Imagine for a moment that you’re a real estate agent. Yes, allow yourself to fantasize about the typical agent’s glamorous life of buying car magnets, being awakened by text messages at 4 a.m. and sweeping the floors in a home you don’t own or even have listed. Heady stuff.
Now, imagine that you have just listed a home for sale, and it’s time to enter the home’s data into the Multiple Listing Service. Here’s where you have a chance to describe the home to prospective buyers and other agents. You have many questions to answer. One of the seemingly easy ones is “Number of bedrooms?”
That should be simple, right? Maybe not, I say. I have shown plenty of Lake Martin homes with floor plans that don’t exactly match up with the number in the “Bedrooms” field in the MLS data.
One example that I often hear from buyers is when a bedroom lacks a closet. Some go even as far as to claim that is a state law in Alabama (or their home state) that a room must have a closet in order to be called and advertised as a bedroom. Maybe that is so in other states, but I know of no such regulation in Alabama. In fact, most of the time, rules about home sale advertising are created and regulated by the local MLS, not the government. This means there are different rules in different areas within each state. The definition of a bedroom might differ from city to city.
Besides, what if the mom-closet room has an armoire? Does that count? An armoire can store extra socks and the trolling motor battery just as well as a closet.
Another one I hear is that a bedroom has to have windows. Really? I’ve seen plenty of houses built over two stories or with finished-out basements. Oftentimes, when some extra space is found, a room might be finished out in the interior of the floor plan. Without windows of any sort, these rooms are probably the darkest and quietest and easiest sleeping rooms in the home. Call me crazy, but it sounds like a bedroom to me.
Plenty of homes around Lake Martin have been added to over the years. Seeking space, homeowners have enlarged their homes in unique ways. Some of these homes’ bedrooms can only be accessed by walking through other bedrooms. That’s right, there are four walls and maybe a couple of beds and nightstands. But if you have to walk through one bedroom to get to it, does it count as a bedroom? It’s a gray area, I think.
So maybe a bedroom is just simply where people sleep, regardless of how they get there or whether or not there’s a closet. In that case, converted screened porches count. You see this especially in older cabins. Desperate for sleeping space, guests (usually the kids) get relegated to sleeping on couches or futons in an area that used to be a screened porch. For that matter, I know plenty of Lake Martin homeowners who still sleep on their outdoor screened porches, weather permitting.
In my view, when looking at a lake home, the question, “How many bedrooms does it have?” is much less important than, “How many people will it sleep?” I’m more interested in how many friends and family can pack in for a fun long weekend. Just how many bodies can enjoy a 4th of July barbecue there? Because that’s what the lake is about. It’s not for each person to be able to retreat behind four walls and stare at a screen.
They can do that back home in the city.
Note: I originally published this article in my monthly column in Lake Magazine. I am proud to write about Lake Martin Real Estate for Lake Magazine and ACRE – the Alabama Center for Real Estate.