Learn what en suite means in real estate listings—and how some en suite bathrooms can give your home’s value a huge boost.
If you’re in the market for a new home, you’ve likely come across the phrase en suite in your hunt. Typically referring to bathrooms, this term—made common by the British and stemming from the French ensuite, which literally means afterward—refers to how a bathroom adjoining a bedroom creates a suite and is often used to highlight the convenience (not to mention additional privacy) of having a bedroom with an attached bathroom. But does the term en suite have other applications? And what does the presence of an en suite (or lack thereof) mean for resale? We turned to a few real estate experts to weigh in.
The Definition of En Suite
In today’s market, en suite typically refers to a connected bathroom. The literal definition is “so as to form a suite.”
These bathrooms are distinct from primary bathrooms because a primary bathroom is not necessarily attached to the primary bedroom, even if it’s the largest, most-used bathroom in the home.
“Whether it’s used as a noun, an adverb, or an adjective, in a house the term ‘en suite’ refers to a room or area that is adjacent and connected to a bedroom,” says Laura Bierman, an interior design consultant at YouthfulHome.com, a service that helps connect homeowners to home professionals in their region. “The term is used almost exclusively to refer to a connecting bathroom.”
Bierman says using this term for any use other than a bathroom can cause confusion. However, some listings might also refer to en suite laundry, office space, or seating areas in the primary bedroom, meaning those spaces are connected to the bedroom.
Typically, en suite bathrooms have a shower, toilet, and vanity with sink. Upgraded en suite bathrooms might feature a double vanity and a soaking tub or Jacuzzi.
One note: Experts in most areas define a bedroom as any space with a window and a closet, so closets are also a given in these types of en suite arrangements, as well as in any standard bedroom.
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How En Suite Features Affect Resale
Nowadays, buyers in many markets expect to see the main bedroom with an en suite bathroom—particularly in newer homes—but that layout hasn’t always been the norm.
“I’m from Cleveland, Ohio, where we have a lot of homes that are built in the 1890s, so the concept of ensuite just isn’t there,” says Kristina Morales, realtor at eXp Realty. “That’s actually a con for a lot of people, because that’s just not how today’s family functions.”
Instead, many older homes have a second floor where all bedrooms share a single hallway bathroom. If you’re buying a home that describes a bathroom as a primary one, it doesn’t necessarily mean that bathroom is en suite.
Morales finds that, because en suite is not typical in her market, buyers aren’t turned off when a home doesn’t have it. In some cases, that just might mean the house sits on the market longer.
“You have to price it appropriately,” she says. “When you look at comparable sales, you have to discount the fact that you don’t have an en suite bathroom.”
However, when a home does feature an en suite bathroom, it’s a major perk.
“The head of the household basically always wants the privacy of that bathroom,” Morales says. “In general, nine out of 10 people want that en suite bath.”
Buyers feel en suite adds a certain style and feel to the primary bedroom overall.
“Buyers really prefer that because it turns into a suite and it really has a luxe feel,” says Beatrice de Jong, broker and consumer trends expert at Opendoor, a home-buying service. “That being said, you want to have at least one standalone bathroom in the house, so when you have guests come over, you aren’t having to walk them through your bedroom to get to the only bathroom in the home.”
En Suite Maintenance
Maintaining an en suite bathroom is basically the same as caring for any bathroom, meaning you’ll want to keep an eye on potential water damage, mold, and mildew.
“Beyond keeping your bathroom clean and tidy, it’s especially important to make sure it’s dry to keep mold and mildew out of the bathroom, as well as the room it’s connected to,” says Bailey Carson, a home care expert at home services finder Angi.
Carson suggests turning the exhaust fan on or opening a window each time you take a shower. Do this for the duration of the shower and for about 10 to 20 minutes afterwards to remove moisture.
And on days you don’t shower, it’s smart to turn the fan on for a few minutes anyway.
“If you don’t have an exhaust fan, you can open a bathroom window or use a portable fan to push moisture out, but it is definitely worth calling in a pro to install an exhaust fan to be able to take the best care of the en suite,” Carson says.
And, as with all bathrooms, you’ll need to watch for leaky plumbing and fixtures.
“Bathroom plumbing issues are never good, but if it takes place in your en suite bathroom and spreads to your bedroom, you’ll have more repairs to do,” Carson says.
Boosting Home Value with En Suite Features
If you’re looking to resell a home without an en suite bathroom, you might consider adding one to boost your sale price.
“Bathrooms are like kitchens, they really kind of sell homes,” de Jong says. “[They are] the first place that people think of when they’re doing a big remodel [or] facelift on the home. So this is a great thing to do if you have the option to open up the bedroom and include the bathroom in that space.”
If adding one truly isn’t an option (or you already have one), make sure all the bathrooms—including the en suite—are updated. A 2022 survey by Opendoor shows that outdated bathrooms were a turnoff for 66% of home buyers.
“We typically see an 80% return on a bathroom remodel, and the cost is typically between $9,000 and $11,000,” de Jong says. “It’s a big boost that isn’t necessarily only tied to en suite bathrooms.”
Still, that en suite might be key to a quick, high-value sale.
“It is unusual for a modern home to not have an en suite bathroom, particularly in the main bedroom,” Bierman says. “A home without this feature will probably not be valued as highly as one that does. A home with an en suite in the main bedroom will have a higher resale value than one that does not.”
Of course, you won’t add value by simply adding bathrooms to every bedroom without considering the consequences of repurposing that space.
“If en suites are part of every bedroom, it will either increase the total square footage of the house or take away available space for other rooms, such as a family room,” Bierman says. “A solution is to have one bathroom that serves the second and third bedrooms—a ‘Jack and Jill’ bathroom.”
“It’s just one way to upgrade the home,” de Jong says. “You’re selling a lifestyle, and it’s one way to up the ante.”