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Will converting my half-bath into a laundry room hurt my resale value?

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Q.  I live in a two-bedroom coop with 1 ½ bathrooms. I would like to turn the half-bath into a laundry room but my husband thinks it will hurt our resale value.  Would it?  If we turn it into a laundry room, is there anything we should do remodeling-wise to keep it flexible if/when we eventually sell?

A.  Co-ops that allow washer-dryers are about as rare as a year without a maintenance increase, so in one sense you have already won the lottery.  But cashing in your ticket with minimal impact on resale value depends where your half-bath is situated.  

“If it’s a small water-closet off of the kitchen, as many are, then putting a washer/dryer in is absolutely the right thing to do,” says Deanna Kory, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group.

“However, if it is placed an area that makes sense for a guest or second bedroom usage, don’t lose it!!” she advises. “It’s far better to lose a closet or cabinet space in the kitchen.”

Overall, says Shirley Hackel, an associate broker at Warburg Realty, a two-bedroom apartment with 1 ½ baths will usually be worth more to a buyer than a two-bedroom  with one bath plus laundry.  

“However, those who put a premium on convenience might value them nearly equally,” she notes, and if you are planning to stay in your apartment for at least three years, you should do what makes sense for you.

To protect resale value as much as possible, “leave the original plumbing in place so that it could be easily converted back to a half bath if need be,” says Gordon Roberts, an associate broker at Warburg Realty.

Indeed, lots of people in your situation leave the toilet and remove the sink. That’s useful as a psychological marker for buyers, says Kory, because it’s easier for them to picture the space as a half-bath, and harder to add a toilet than a sink.

Clare Donohue, the owner of kitchen and bath design company One to One Studio, is not a fan of this idea: “To me, that’s unappealing – I’d rather have a nice laundry room than a cramped WC with no place to wash your hands afterward.”

Related links:

The Ultimate Luxury (NY Times)

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