What does that plus sign really mean?
One of the questions I am frequently asked by someone reading real estate listings are “what do you mean by 2 + 2 bedrooms or 2 + 1 baths?” Each plus sign in this example has an entirely different meaning. Let’s deal with each of these questions, one at a time… so, in a way, we will look at them 1 + 1.
In regards to bedrooms, what the listing Realtor® is trying to show the reader is that there are bedrooms both above grade (or ground level), and below. In the case of a 3 bedroom bungalow, for instance, with a supplemental bedroom finished in the basement, we would list the house as having 3 + 1 bedrooms. That is 3 above, and 1 below. This is very important to potential home buyers because often there is a preference as to where the bedrooms should be. I find this most often with young families. The maternal instincts of some mothers dictate that the children all need to be on the same level, or at least fairly close by. However, as the children get older, the maturing teenager will look for space of his or her own. I always refer to this as the Greg Brady room. If you have ever watched the Brady Bunch TV show, you will remember that there were 6 kids and two parents, along with Alice, the live-in maid. Greg was the oldest child. Once he had reached a stage of early adulthood, he negotiated with his parents that he should have a room of his own. They finished off some space in the attic or loft, if I remember correctly, and tada! Greg had his own room. Now it is much more common to have that additional bedroom finished in an area of the basement, or lower level. This also can work well as an in-law or “Granny” suite, as it allows for a certain amount of privacy and separation from the main common areas of the home. Private space and independence are important factors for both these examples (teenager & Grandparent). It is often a point of contention among real estate salespeople how to advertise a home that has bedrooms on multiple levels. A brother of mine has a four level sidesplit, with bedrooms on 3 different levels. How do I handle this? My theory is to still go by the rule of grade – is the bedroom above or below grade? In this particular case, there are 3 bedrooms above grade, and 2 below. Thus I would list the home as having 3 + 2 bedrooms. Others, though, would call it a 5 bedroom home. This is where an ad in a magazine or newspaper might be easier to read by just saying it has 5 bedrooms, but I would still want the actual listing to read 3 + 2 bedrooms. Occasionally, we get calls from confused buyer prospects, who think if the ad says there are 4 bedrooms then they are all on the same level. I always direct them to the actual listing, or simply tell them that the best thing to do if you are befuddled, is to call me, the “de-fuddler”.
Now, the bathroom story is completely different. With bathrooms, there is less concern for where in the house they are located, and more concern for the size of the bathroom. We count the number of plumbing outlets, for lack of a better term. The first number is the number of “full” bathrooms in the house and the second is the number of “partial” bathrooms. A full bathroom is defined as having a toilet, sink and either a tub or shower, or both a tub and shower. A half bath is sometimes referred to as a “powder room”, and consists of just a toilet and sink. This is also referred to as a 2 piece bath. When you read a listing as having 3 + 1 baths, this means there are 3 full bathrooms, and 1 half bathroom. When a bathroom has a toilet, sink, bath and shower, we would define it as a 4 piece bath. Add a bidet, and you have a 5 piece bath. Add a second sink, and we now offer a 6 piece bathroom. Anything from 3 up is called a full bathroom, as long as there is a tub or shower included. Sometimes, as in the home on Geneva Street I lived in in the late 1960’s, the owner installed a stand-alone shower in the basement. Now I personally would not call this a “half bath” or even note it in the bathroom stats, but would rather point out this feature of the home in the description, or “ad copy”. I find it humorous when the house is listed as having 1 full and 1 half bath, only to find one full bath and a stand-alone cheap metal shower downstairs. I hope that this clears things up a bit. If you have comments or questions, please contact me.