Ask an Expert: How Important is Master Suite for Resale?

KohlerQuestion from reader Al in Hollywood:

We have a 1950s bungalow-style house (two bedrooms and two bathrooms) with a very small “master suite” with a small bedroom (180 square feet) adjoined by a very small bathroom (50 square feet with a stall shower, sink and toilet). We only use this bedroom as a guest bedroom now because the bedroom across the hallway is larger with big windows and a nice view. We have considered turning the small master suite bedroom into a nursery/child’s bedroom and moving the bathroom entry to the hallway when we remodel it. Because of the layout, this actually would capture a little more space for the bathroom, allow all occupants of the house to access it from the hallway, and provide for a safer environment for our little girl. Our concern is that we’ve always heard that master suites are valuable to home buyers. Even though this one is very tiny, would breaking it up in favor of a more practical layout hurt future resale value?

My opinion:

Al, a lot of this depends on how long you will live in your home. As I found out in a recent Pardon Our Dust Poll, we don’t tend to live in our homes very long before selling. So if you’re out of there in a year or two you’ll make different remodeling choices than if you plan on living there until the tot graduates high school.

A real estate agent’s opinion:

Keep the master bath. Some buyers won’t consider a home without a master suite. Since your master bath is small make it really beautiful. Use as high end fixtures as you can. Look for sales and floor samples. Keep the lines clean, colors neutral and the tile design simple. Try building in recessed shelves, alcoves, or cabinets between the studs to add more storage and dimension. One of my favorite small-bath tricks is to install a French door with frosted glass panes to let in light and open up the space. If there is space and money in the budget, add a window, or a larger window if one exists. A small master bath can be stunning and is always better than no master bath. —David Kean

(Photo: Kohler)