DEAR BARRY: Our house is 48 years old, and we have worked on it for the past 30 years. One problem is that it needs closet space. My husband wants to convert one of the bedrooms to make a large walk-in closet, with a passageway through the master bathroom. That would decrease the number of bedrooms from four to three and would reduce the size of the bathroom.

I am concerned that this will affect out ability to sell the home in a few years, when we retire. What do you recommend? –Marie

DEAR MARIE: If you decrease the number of bedrooms, you will definitely decrease the property value, and that will definitely matter when you eventually sell the home. Before you sell, an appraiser will determine the value of the property, and a major consideration will be the number of bedrooms.

Eliminating the number of bedrooms also makes the property less desirable to many buyers. A fourth bedroom is important in today’s market because so many people use an extra bedroom as a home office.

If a larger closet is important to you, consult a licensed architect to see what other ways the floor plan can be altered without decreasing the value of the home.

DEAR BARRY: We recently bought a foreclosed home from a bank and were not told the truth about the heating and air conditioning system. Everyone said the system was a heat pump. It was stated as such by the real estate agents, the home inspector, and the purchase contract.

The home inspector reported that the system needed to be repaired or replaced, but because it was a bank-owned home, it was sold "as is."

After moving in, our electric bills were so high that we called an HVAC contractor. He told us the system is an electric furnace with an air conditioner, not a heat pump. Can we sue the agents and the home inspector for replacement of this system? –Kathy

DEAR KATHY: You may not have a basis for a claim against the agents or the home inspector. The inspector told you that the system is defective and needs repair or replacement. Whether it is an electric furnace or a heat pump, the bottom line is that you need to buy a new system or repair the old one.

When the home inspector advised you that the system had problems, an HVAC contractor should have been called at that time, before you purchased the property. Then you would have learned in a more timely manner the type of system in the home.

As for the faulty disclosure, most people who are not professional HVAC contractors have no idea of the difference between an electric furnace and a heat pump. Those who disclosed the system as a heat pump may have been doing so in good faith, believing that this was truthful disclosure.

But again, if the system was disclosed as needing repair or replacement, then the type of system involved is likely irrelevant.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at

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