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Why do rich people need so many bathrooms?

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The average American home is 2,392 square feet, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, a family room, a two-car garage and maybe a den, if you’re lucky.

Very high-end homes often have a dozen bathrooms or more.

[Don't believe us? Click here or on a photo to go to a slideshow of mansions with many bathrooms.]

Yes, bathrooms.

Brokers told the Los Angeles Times a few months ago that rich homebuyers "typically want homes that have at least two bathrooms for every bedroom."

We know we're not alone in wondering one thing (How do we know? Because we read your comments!):

WHY do the rich need so many bathrooms?

Turns out there are two simple answers: Luxury homes are getting bigger, and so is the thirst for convenience.

Deciding on the number of bathrooms in a luxury home begins with the assumption that each bedroom includes a private bathroom, with the master bedroom getting two, according to Andre D’Alessio, president of D’Alessio Inspired Architectural Designs, a building and design company that focuses on mansions.

From there on up, the bathroom count has more to do with the size of the house, not the size of the family. In the Los Angeles and Phoenix areas, luxury homes begin at about 10,000 square feet, according to real-estate agents who work there.

Although the housing market is still recovering from a deep recession, the average size of a newly built house is nearly back to pre-recession levels, in part due to an atypical mix of wealthy buyers in the market buying larger, more luxurious homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“Are we building more and more large homes? Oh yeah,” said Valerie Fitzgerald, a real estate agent out of Beverly Hills, Calif., who once sold a house that was in excess of 70,000 square feet. “There are prominent builders that are building very large homes – 15,000 and 20,000 square feet easily.”

[Click here or on a photo to see a slideshow of homes with a dozen bathrooms or more.]

At that size, the number of bathrooms is, in part, a matter of geography, said Jeffrey Smith, a real estate agent working out of Scottsdale, Ariz., a wealthy suburb of Phoenix.

If you have to use the bathroom, Smith said, you want it to be convenient, so they should be placed throughout the house in a logical and accessible way.

There will be bathrooms in areas where the family spends most of its time, such as the kitchen or family room, said Sally Forster Jones, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International.

The additional spaces in the house, such as the media room, the office and the gym, often have their own bathrooms. Sometimes a bathroom is placed between the pool area and the rest of the house, so family and friends won’t dirty up the living quarters.

Speaking of dirt, if the property is large enough to have gardeners, there will be a bathroom readily accessible from the outside, said Jones.

“The owners would prefer them to not have to enter the house,” Forster Jones said.

Finally, families who live in luxury homes are also likely to entertain guests with charity events or large parties, Smith said.

“A lot of these bathrooms aren’t typically used by the people who live in the house,” he said.

Placed near the public rooms, these bathrooms have the air of an upscale hotel, stocked with high-end soaps and toiletries.

One of Smith’s listings is a two-story home in Phoenix. Completed in 2010, the 21,000-square-foot mansion is priced at $9.4 million. It features nine bedrooms and 13 bathrooms and has had more than 250 people in it at once.

Exiting the ballroom, Smith said, you’d hit three bathrooms before you reach a bedroom.

The rich don’t think twice about flushing money down the drain.

“I see it all the time,” he said. “It’s normal at this price range.”

[Curious about these many-bathroomed abodes? Click here or on a photo to go to a slideshow.]

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

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