Things happen in cycles. It’s not a deep insight, but it is true. There is a cyclical trait to human matters, whether economic, political, sociocultural, or otherwise.

With respect to the housing market, bigger was once regarded as being better as opposed to smaller…price-gaps aside. If the choice was between 2,300 square feet in Neighborhood A and a similarly priced 2,700 square foot model in Neighborhood B, there was little question in the matter. One purchased as much square footage as could be purchased within their budget and for the simple reason that large trumps small—period.

Or once did, anyway.

Rethinking the Status Quo

This mindset has come under scrutiny in recent years and has been reevaluated by a select few homebuilders along with a growing number of homebuyers, as the idea of owning a large home for its own sake is no longer the commonly prized pearl of real estate wisdom it once was.

It seems small is now perfectly legitimate within the real estate space, provided the occupant is encouraged by the following:

  1. Living modestly
  2. Minimizing possessions
  3. Reducing environmental impact

The last of these is of great interest to those embracing the aptly named “Tiny House Movement.”

The Tiny House Movement

Exactly as its name would suggest, the Tiny House Movement is a conscious shift away from a “big for the sake of big” way of thinking, with concepts such as efficiency, simplicity, and eco-harmony gaining popularity in the minds of prospective homebuyers. A direct extension of this shift is that of tiny home design/sales.

Though precise parameters are difficult to pin down, the general size-range of tiny houses is somewhere between 100-500 square feet. Some particularly ambitious tiny home designers have miraculously produced spaces less than 100 square feet. And without splitting hairs too closely, the correct term for models in the 500-1000 square foot range is “small homes.”

Whether tiny or small, the broader movement is predicated upon a singular philosophy—that less can be more. The fact that this concept has attracted enough supporters to permit the “movement” name is due to several factors:

  1. Cultural shift towards eco-friendly lifestyles
  2. Material minimalism philosophy gaining traction
  3. Economic crises contribute to growing sense of housing market instability

Having taken root in the minds of many price-conscious, philosophically minded, or eco-friendly buyers, many ideas born of architects and visionary thinkers as far back as the 1970s have been sought after by buyers seeking to align their finances and mentalities with inexpensive and ecologically balanced homes.

And many builders have happily begun catering to this market, to include tiny house designer Jay Shafer of Four Lights Tiny House Company. As Mr. Shafer states on his company website, “Since the recent housing bust, bank bailouts, and subsequent economic downturn, there has been increasing demand for well-designed, affordable homes, and more sensible laws.”

One needn’t agree with every aspect of that argument to understand why a sub-market of tiny home buyers has been steadily growing in recent years. Familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons may prove wise, as the movement appears to be here to stay. Odds are slim that tiny or small houses will ever come to represent a majority of home sales in any given year, but they will continue to sell; may as well make room for that reality in your business outlook.

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