Looking at listings through Zillow or another online portal can be confusing, especially when you compare the areas around St. Louis with other areas in the country.  One of the biggest sources of confusion is the definition of a full bathroom and a half bathroom.  Here is the best way to think of a full bathroom.

Full Bathroom Defined

Think of it like this.  There are 4 fixtures in a bathroom and each fixture accounts for ¼ of the bathroom.  So, the sink is ¼, the bathtub is ¼, the shower is ¼ and the toilet is ¼.  There is your official full bathroom.

Half Bathroom Defined

The half bathroom is defined the same way.  You have a toilet ¼ and you have a sink ¼, leading to a half bathroom.  I guess you could have a ¼ bathroom if it just had a toilet but no sink, but that would be pretty gross.

What are the issues with bathroom definitions?

There’s a few issues that occur when you go to list your home for sale in St. Louis.  First, our MLS(Multiple Listing Service) system doesn’t take ¼ in the bathroom field.  We are limited to ½’s so as of right now you are never going to see a ¼ bathroom or a ¾ bathroom.  Here’s what happens in practice.  If a bathroom has a sink, toilet, and shower, it is considered a full bathroom.  If a bathroom has only a sink and a toilet, it is considered a half bathroom.

The second issue that you’ll tend to notice when you list houses for sale for a living is that it is really not that unusual to have a bathroom remodeled and by definition changed during the time of someone’s home ownership.  Put another way, you can have a listing where tax records indicate that you have a 1 full bathroom home, but when you go through the property with the seller, there’s been an addition of a half bathroom.  The listing would then be a 1.5 bathroom home.  The tax records would conflict with the listing.  My recommendation here is that you should literally count the bathrooms you see when you look at a property and not rely on the listing itself.

A third issue that can arise is how we input half bathrooms.  For example, what would a 2 full bathroom, 3 half bathroom listing look like?  It would be a 5 bathroom home, but it would say (2,3) in the listing.  If you search for a 5 bathroom home, I would suspect most of you would think that would be 5 full bathrooms..

An issue that arises in home searches around St. Louis is that you never really know the combination that makes up the full bathrooms in a listing until you visit the house.  A lot of times, this happens because agents who list homes for sale are very crafty with their photos.  As an example, you can have a listing with 2 full bathrooms.  One of the full bathrooms doesn’t have a tub and the other one does.

Full Bathroom Debate

For years, home sellers have been told that they should never remove their tub from their full bathroom because buyers won’t like it.  I can tell you from real estate agent experience that if a buyer is given a choice between a pink tub installed in 1960 and a shower without tub installed in 2012, the new shower will win every time.  I would caution that you should still try to have at least one tub in the home if you do have two full bathrooms, and if you only have one full bathroom, you are still going to want to have a bathtub.

Fun Questions About Bathroom Definitions

Would a laundry room sink be a ¼ bathroomNo, because it is in the laundry room.

What if the laundry room had a toilet?  Seriously?  Who would do that?

I hope that you’re clear on the definition of a full bathroom or a half bathroom in St. Louis.  If you have any additional questions on how we would classify bathrooms when you list your house for sale, or if you’re concerned how a bathroom addition or remodel might affect your home value, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.