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Video: What can be advertised as a bedroom?

In the world of real estate, the definition of a bedroom goes beyond simply having a space where a bed can fit (but that is an important aspect). Watch the video below (or read the article) to learn more about this often confusing topic!

For home sellers, buyers, and real estate professionals, understanding what constitutes a legal bedroom is crucial to avoid misunderstandings, especially when it comes to listing properties and determining their value.

Closets: A Common Misconception

One of the most common questions in real estate listings concerns the necessity of a closet for a room to be considered a bedroom. Contrary to popular belief, the absence of a closet does not disqualify a room from being listed as a bedroom.

This decision should be based on common sense and reasonable judgment rather than strict rules. For instance, a room that does not have a closet should have room for a bed and a dresser or armoire. Keep in mind that while a closet is not a legal requirement for a bedroom, it certainly may be a requirement for a buyer!

Compliance with Governmental Regulations

A critical aspect of defining a bedroom is its compliance with governmental regulations, particularly those related to safety and health. For instance, if a home uses a septic system, the number of bedrooms advertised cannot exceed the number authorized by the septic permit. Furthermore, the North Carolina Residential Building Code requires every sleeping room to have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening, such as a window or exterior door, that can be opened from the inside without the use of keys or tools. This regulation ensures the safety of the occupants in case of an emergency.

Minimum Size and Space Requirements

While the legal requirements for a bedroom can vary by state, there are general guidelines concerning the size and space of a room to qualify as a bedroom. A room should be large enough to accommodate typical bedroom furniture, with a suggested minimum size of 7’ x 10’ to fit a single bed comfortably. Additionally, the room should have a minimum ceiling height and meet specific horizontal footage requirements to ensure it is a functional, livable space.

Legal Bedroom Requirements at a Glance

To summarize, a legal bedroom typically needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Compliance with local building codes and safety regulations.

  • An operable emergency escape and rescue opening.

  • Sufficient space to accommodate standard bedroom furniture.

  • Minimum size and ceiling height requirements.

  • No closet is required.

What would you call a room that doesn't meet these requirements? A flex space? A bonus room? Something else? Let us know in the comments or share with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class!


North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, Inc. (2022-2024). "Understanding Bedroom Requirements in Real Estate Listings." [Online].

Ericson, C. (2023, February 14). "What Is the Definition of a Bedroom? Make Sure You Know the Legal Bedroom Requirements." [Online].

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