Learn what a half bath is and how it can help (and sometimes even hurt) home values and selling prospects, with insights from our real estate pros.
Nice, plentiful bathrooms add tremendous value to your home. Similarly, a bathroom with water damage or a home with too few bathrooms for the number of bedrooms can lose value: There’s a reason the number of bathrooms in a home is one of the key figures in any good listing.
As you browse home listings, you’ve likely seen counts for full baths, half baths, and powder rooms. These distinct types of bathrooms can have a huge impact on the way you (or potential buyers) use and enjoy a home. Learn the differences between these types of bathrooms, plus how they can influence a home’s resale potential.
What Is a Half Bath?
A half bath is any room in your home with a toilet and a sink. Full baths, on the other hand, have a shower and/or bathtub, as well. These bathing fixtures that distinguish full baths from half baths might be walk-in showers, shower/tub combos (or separate fixtures in one bathroom, or (rarely) just bathtubs.
Christa Kenin, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman, says half baths are typically found on the first floor of the house. These are the bathrooms that homeowners use during the day or while entertaining guests who have stopped by.
Kenin says the term half bath refers to the same space that the powder room does, and that both rooms are defined by having a sink and toilet—but no shower or tub.
While a powder room and a half bath might be the same kind of room, the terms are not necessarily interchangeable in house listings, our experts say.
“I would never use the term powder room, it would be a half bath,” says Heather Hanlon, a Realtor at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – The Masiello Group, Northern New England. “I would be clear in my listing about this.”
Half Baths and Home Value
As with kitchens, updates to bathrooms or new bathrooms can add enormous value to your home.
Bruce Gillispie, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Journey in Bentonville, Arkansas, estimates that a half bathroom can add between $8,000 to $10,000 to a home’s value, depending on condition, accessibility, and location in your floor plan. (Note that values can also vary significantly by region.)
Of course, that figure will change depending on how many bathrooms your home has to start, and the total value to you as a seller (current or future) will depend on how much it costs to install the bathroom. Ask a local real estate agent for input on what your bathroom additions or remodels could add to your home’s value, if you’re curious.
Certain finishes and details can increase the value and appeal of a half bath. Kenin encourages homeowners to take some artistic liberty with their half baths.
“They are a great opportunity to have a little fun with decorating and can help set a home’s style,” she says. “You will often find bold wallpaper and memorable light fixtures in these jewel box spaces. Be brave and have a little fun with these spaces!”
Maintaining a Half Bath
Just like kitchens and full bathrooms, half baths introduce water and plumbing into your home, and therefore require special maintenance.
“Cleanliness and moisture control are important in every bath,” says Hanlon. “Updating finishes in a bath for resale will typically yield a good ROI.”
Gillispie says that you’ll want to make sure you have a durable floor in place, given that this room is regularly exposed to water. And in emergency situations, you’ll need to know where to shut off the water in your home.
Amanda Munoz, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Valley Partners in Greater Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, says good maintenance also means cleaning clogs from your pipes regularly. You might be able to handle this yourself with a drain cleaner or a drain snake from the store, but persistent clogs will require help from a professional plumber.