Tiny Houses: How big is still small?

Tiny Houses: How big is still small?

One of my favorite sources for real estate eye candy is the Wall Street Journal.  I’ll admit:  Their “Mansion” section — as you can probably tell by the title — has never been accused of focusing on modest abodes.

There are castle renovations, sprawling New York penthouses and my personal favorite, voyeuristic looks into the homes (and they usually have more than one) of the rich and famous.

So I was surprised to see this week’s edition featured “Small Houses that Live Large.” The article shows how people are downsizing their homes and focusing on high-end finishes and craftsmanship instead of sheer space.

Take the first couple, who is building a vacation home on Washington’s Whidbey Island. It has sweeping views of the Puget Sound and heated teak floors, but measures a paltry 1,888 square feet.  The writer points out it is “downright tiny in the luxury real-estate market.”

That got me to thinking:  How big of a house can be small?  Obviously, it’s subjective.  That island getaway might seem pretty normal to many homeowners, but for a couple whose primary house is 4,000 square feet, it surely must seem tiny.

Dallas real estate agent Robbie Briggs tells the Journal that a decade ago, he did a brisk business selling 12,000-square-foot homes.  Nowadays, someone who wants a big family house is “probably happy at 7,500.”

Shall we declare the death of the McMansion?  Probably not.  But what I like about the article is that luxury buyers echo some of the same sentiments I hear from those of us living with a lot less space.

One couple said they appreciate “certain intangibles” that come with smaller houses, like a sense of community.  They enjoy being close enough to their neighbors to actually have a conversation with them while sitting on the front porch.

Others say they want a home they can be proud of, but one that doesn’t take over their lives.  One buyer put it this way:  “I wanted the house to be everything I needed it to be and nothing more.”

That’s a worthwhile goal, whether you’re talking about 200 square feet, or 2,000.

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