Do basement bedrooms count?

c9pilotAugust 30, 2007

Just wanted to get a sanity check before we dropped our price again in Maryland.

My REA sent me four comps in my area and they all have finished basements (mine is framed out, but not finished, but we have more square feet than any of these on the 1st floor due to a builder addition for the model home).

These other homes all listed their basement bedrooms in the house numbers, which I thought was odd. The most expensive home only has a 1/2 bath in the basement, so whoever got that bedroom has to go up two flights of stairs to take a shower. And that one doesn't specify that it's a walk-out basement, which is even worse.

Is it normal to list basement bedrooms & baths in the listing?

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I think its fairly standard to have similar rules about conforming and non-conforming bedrooms in the basement.
Its a conforming or "legal" basement if you have an egress to the outside via door or window (not a little window but one of those big ones)
Those can be listed as bedrooms without much more explanation as they are again "legal" and can be included in the overall liveable sq footage as can any other finished square footage in a basement with egress.
Non-conforming bedrooms are listed as that and usually explained as non-conforming. I don't think that finished basements with no egress can be included in liveable square footage.
Bathrooms are just bathrooms, 1/2, 3/4 or full.
May vary some by state but from living in several states and other posts here I think that's generally how it works.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 5:02PM
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Some of the areas of the country we've lived in have included finished basements in total square footage, others have separated it into above ground finished space and below ground finished space etc. I've never lived in a community however that would classify a basement bedroom as a bedroom unless it had legal egress to the outside directly from the bedroom.

A number of years ago we had a finished basement with a room that could have functioned as a bedroom (12 x 14, closet, window), but it's window couldn't open enough to allow someone to get out in case of a fire. When we listed the house we could not call that room a bedroom.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 6:26PM
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The finished basements depend where you live.
In the NE, you exclude the basement from the total living area. You mention it as a side note. This is not to say that some people don't cheat & try to call the basement a regular living area.

There is an overpriced home in the area, where the guy is totally adding the basement as regular sqft. That home has been sitting on the market for 2 years. The owner just doesn't get it.

Also, in pricing, it should be the sqft on the living floors. For a finished basement 700-800sqft, you add an additional 10k-15k to the asking price. You cannot charge the same amount for a basement.

A house with 2800 sqft and a finished basement will go for a slightly higher figure than one without a finished basement (maybe...). Let's say homes in your area sell for 200 a sqft, your listing should be 560k plus 10k-15k for basement, for a total amount of 575k.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 8:19PM
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dabunch, this sounds along the lines of how I thought it should go. But I'm used to the listing saying, "4BR 2 1/2 BA, blah blah blah, finished basement with 5th BR and full BA", that sort of thing. Not using the basement BR/BA in the full count.

Well, we've been keeping our price at the lowest end of the similar homes, since we have the unfinished basement, although we have the extra square footage on the main floor. We MIGHT get $ for $ back if we finished the basement, but it would be very, very difficult to manage that kind of project from out-of-state while we're still renovating the house that we're living in now.

An update: We just got an offer tonight. 92% of original asking price. I'm almost afraid to write this in case I jinx it. But I'm so excited I'm jumping out of my skin. We'll see if the buyers can get their financing, though. Apparently they have no cash and there pretty much aren't any 100% loans anymore, but that's another topic.
I'm thinking that we found buyers who realize that they can finish the basement to their liking, one or even two bedrooms and a full bath, if they need that much. Or home theater, whatever. We needed a buyer with imagination.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 9:30PM
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Here agents are allowed to count it if it is a finished walkout basement, though agents here seem very "creative" with their sq ft calculations on all levels. If they include the basement, the house sounds large in the ad, which leaves me so disappointed when I enter. I'm sure my reaction is based upon my plans for basement space. DH and I use our basement for storage, workshop, fitness equipment and hobbies. Personally, I do not want a bedroom, family room or media room in the basement. Some buyers would undoubtedly feel diffeently.

Unless comps are difficult to come by, I would not care to use those homes as comps if I were in your shoes. Personally, I would want comps that include the same distribution of bedrooms as my home. I'd then consider finished basement as one of the many plus/minus factors in estimating a homes value along with interior features, lot size, curb appeal, condition, etc.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 9:57PM
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c9, my general impression is that 100% is still possible if the buyer has good credit and it's not a jumbo loan (under $417k). Although it's technically none of your business who the buyer tries to finance with, I can send you the name/number of someone in Waldorf who is very good at making financing work, and maybe you could suggest that person to your buyer if the opportunity comes up...

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 8:37AM
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quip- Comps are difficult to come by in our area. I posted another thread called something like "ugly in So. MD" that showed less than 20 active listings in my area. Less than 1/2 of those were close to age, size, and neighborhood (school zone). None of these homes are my model, even without the addition. 3 of the 4 that my agent just sent me have rooms over the garage, which is something that I don't particularly like.

monzamess- Unfortunately, the loan would be for slightly more than that. That's interesting to know where the "jumbo" cutoff is - I hadn't given it much thought, but I had assumed it was more around $600K+ based on the home prices back in California. Thanks for your offer, but I'm steering clear of getting too personal with the buyers.

The whole financing thing is so strange to me...I just don't think it's any of my business as the seller. As long as the buyer can come up with the financing within a few days of the contract I'm satisfied, yet part of my offer has two pages of financial information on the buyer for me to take into consideration.

And, to stay slightly on topic if anybody else is following this thread, I think the next logical question is, "What is a walk-out basement?"
This house's basement has double glass french doors that lead out to a patio (that is under the main floor deck). That is "walk-out" to me. It could even be made into an in-law suite or apartment with it's own entrance from the side street (it's a corner lot).
Some houses have a door that leads to an outside stairwell that leads up to ground level. And maybe some windows set high in the basement walls. Although you can "walk out" of the basement to the outside, I don't consider that a "walk-out" basement.
What does everyone else think?

Here is a link that might be useful: Ugly in So. MD

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 10:08AM
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Sorry to stay off-topic, but...

The whole financing thing is so strange to me...I just don't think it's any of my business as the seller. As long as the buyer can come up with the financing within a few days of the contract I'm satisfied, yet part of my offer has two pages of financial information on the buyer for me to take into consideration.

Well, ultimately, it's up to YOU to decide if you want to sign the contract with the buyers, and part of that decision is, do you believe strongly enough that they will get financing, in order for you to take the risk of taking your house off the market for them. The buyers give you this information so that you will believe that they are able to get the money. If they can't, the net result is that your house if off the market for a month or two and you don't even get the earnest deposit (assuming a typical finance contingency).

In my case, it WAS unusual to have the interaction that I did with the buyer's finance guy. This only happened because the buyer was having trouble closing the loan before the contract expired, and wanted the finance guy to explain to me how everything could work out, so I could decide whether to let the contract expire, or to extend it (keeping my house off the market) hoping that it would work out.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 10:25AM
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Is your realtor familiar with alternative financing possibilities? For instance, could you take on some of the buyer's financing needs? I'm thinking that would be a way to get his mortgage request in under the limit. You'd have to feel this is a good credit risk for you, of course. If you don't have to have all the cash out of the house immediately, this could work for you.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 10:44AM
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My understanding of a walk out basement is that you can walk directly out to the yard or patio or deck from the basement without climbing a flight of stairs. Your home appears to have a "walk out basement"

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 11:10AM
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