The Curious Case of the Missing Bathtub

I’d like to get some feedback on this subject, as it is relevant to me as a broker, developer and buyer. If the Owner’s suite doesn’t have a tub, it simply won’t work for me. Today, I saw a great ad for a new development in Bethesda, MD. The prices were reasonable for the location and finishes, the building details were well thought-out, and as I looked through the floor plans, I noticed that most of the Owner’s Suites were equipped with soaking tubs. However, this building is rare, and as I reviewed the details in greater depth, some of the units did not have tubs. They were priced between $550,000-well over $1,500,000.

As someone who has developed my own properties, consulted on ground-up developments, and represents buyers and sellers in the upper-tier markets, I always scratch my head when I see buildings designed without tubs in the master bath. When I inquire with the developer or the on-site rep, I hear the same response, “The market is swaying away from tubs!” To this, I say, “You can’t possibly be serious!” My belief is that more and more buildings are being designed without them because they take up space and cost the developer more. As consumers, we are forced to accept that. I will not.

Some trends make sense: Formal Living Rooms, for example, are becoming less desirable. That makes sense. Houses are being designed with “real living” in mind: open spaces, front porches, smaller/better design in place of “McMansions”. Great! I’ll take it! But, at the end of the day, I (and most women – and many men!) want to relax in a tub.

When consulting on a condo conversion project recently, I had this discussion with the developer. We added the tub and, I believe that this decision not only rendered a higher price for the developer, but also set the units apart from others on the market and allowed for a quicker sale.

I’m curious to hear feedback on this subject, as I don’t want to pretend that I am the final word. I do, however, know that my next purchase (and any after that) will welcome me with a beautiful bathtub.