When I bought my first little starter home many years ago – which, being in California, cost as much as a mansion in Buffalo would have – my in-laws, who happen to live in Buffalo, were shocked that it came with only one bathroom. Given how hot the market was at the time, I felt lucky that it had any bathroom at all.
Of course, when it came time to move, the 2nd bathroom was one of the biggest things to look forward to. No more knocking on neighbors’ doors while the plumber was in doing repairs! No more standing in line when houseguests were staying!
The desire for more, bigger, and more luxurious bathrooms is a trend that seems destined to never end. As Lauren Beale reported on in the Los Angeles Times last year, the wealthy take it to extremes, demanding two bathrooms for every bedroom. (Gotta love the quote from homeowner Sandra Beltre, whose custom-built home has 16 bathrooms: “We use them all.”)
According to broker and appraiser Hank Miller, “Owners are looking for that special retreat . . . making spa-like luxury a major push in today’s remodels. Heated towel racks , underfloor heating, over sized shower heads, wall jets, and open showers are popular now and will continue to be in 2013.”
There’s just one problem, for anyone buying a starter home, or in many cases, an older home: You can’t always get what you want. Remember the days when the bathroom was referred to as a “water closet?” Many homes’ bathrooms are small, insignificant, and in short supply.
Often, the best that you can do as a homebuyer is to look past the staging (as in the above photo, where the pretty accessories can almost make you forget that there’s hardly enough space on this sink for a toothbrush) and assess just how big (or small) the bathroom really is. Then examine the surrounding rooms to see whether they offer room for expansion, and possibly bring in a contractor for a reality and price check.
The good news is, if you do remodel or expand your home’s bathrooms, this is among the home improvements most likely to yield a higher sale price when you move. See “Do Home Improvements Add Value” for details.