Does a Bedroom Have to Have a Closet to be Considered a Bedroom?

We have had these questions asked of us: Do I have a 4 bedroom home or a 3 bedroom home? Does a bedroom have to have a closet to be considered to be a bedroom? Does a bedroom have to have a window? What are the requirements for a room to be considered a bedroom?

Taking a Look at Guidelines and Regulations:

First, we will look at what guidelines and regulations have to say about bedrooms.

*FNMA (Fannie Mae) guidelines which apply to most appraisals on residential properties for mortgage lending states:

The Appraiser must not identify a room as a bedroom that cannot accommodate ingress or egress in the event of an emergency, regardless of location above or below grade

( FNMA 4000.1 Guidelines)

There is nothing in FNMA guidelines stating the need for a closet, but that there needs to be ingress or egress in the event of an emergency. The methods of ingress or egress in the event of an emergency is typically in the form of a window but may also be a door.

*International Residential Code which creates minimum regulations for one and two-family dwellings of three stories or less, has the following requirements for bedrooms:

The provisions in Section R310.1 of the International Residential Code require basements and sleeping rooms to be provided with emergency escape and rescue openings. When the construction of additions and alterations change the use of the existing basement, emergency escape and rescue openings must be provided; regardless of the requirements in place when the dwelling was originally constructed. (IRC)

For rooms with sloped ceilings, at least 50 percent of the required floor area of the room shall have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet (2134 mm) and no portion of the required floor area may have a ceiling height of less than 5 feet (1524 mm) (IRC)

R304.2 Other rooms. Other habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet (6.5 m2). Exception: Kitchen

R304.3 Minimum dimensions. Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet (2134 mm) in any horizontal dimension. Exception: Kitchens. (IRC)

Based on the International Residential Code, bedrooms need an emergency escape or rescue opening (ingress and egress), need to have at least 50% of the ceiling at least 7 feet, and be at minimum of 70 square feet. The IRC does not address the need for a closet for a bedroom.

*Local City and County Codes- city and county may differ from these codes and should be considered in a local market.

How Appraisers Look at Bedrooms:

Along with considering the guidelines and regulations, appraisers look at markets and how different features respond to market participants. Appraisers will determine what is accepted in a certain market as not all markets are the same.

Is a property located in a residential neighborhood or development where all bedrooms have closets? This market will expect bedrooms to have a closet. Buyers in this market would most likely not consider a room without a closet a bedroom. If, however, a property is located in an older neighborhood with older homes which were typically not built with closets in the bedroom, then buyers would most likely consider a room without a closet a bedroom as they are more common for that neighborhood.


Bedrooms Requirements:

1. Emergency egress & ingress