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Do you live in a small home?

Do you live in a small home?

What is your definition of a small home? How much living space do you need and/or want?

As a Realtor, I always have this discussion with my buyers before we start looking for homes. One person’s cubicle is another person’s mansion.

Aside from personal preference, affordability figures into the equation prominently. Whether renting or buying, once we move out of mom and dad’s home, most of us face a reality check concerning how much space we would like vs. how much we can afford. The calculations becomes even more complex when you fold in factors such as location and condition. Again, when starting to look for a home — especially a first home — I ask my clients to prioritize A) location B) price C) condition, and D) size (sq. footage). It’s usually not an easy task.

Most couples tell me that they can’t imagine living in a house that is less than 1000 sq. ft.  Interestingly, many single individuals feel they need about that same minimum just for themselves.

Many of the houses that were built in the first half of the 20th Century (at least, in this part of the country; I don’t know about other areas) were very simple and plain-looking 2 bedroom/1 bathroom homes averaging about 750 sq. ft.  Brokers often refer to such homes, built in the mid 1940’s, as “war boxes.” They were intended as affordable housing for all the men (and women) returning from WWII. Presumably, most would get jobs, get married, start families and then move into bigger houses. Thus these houses were dubbed “starter homes.”

Of course, much of the time, the amount of space we think we “need” is influenced by the amount of space we are used to. I worked with one couple who moved here from Hawaii. They were amazed by how much more square footage they could get here in Seattle for what they paid in Hawaii. Europeans, I’m told, are also used to living in much smaller spaces than Americans are. It’s hard to argue that we are not spoiled.

So, back to my original question. What is your definition of a small home?

I am about to list a property that is host to perhaps the smallest free-standing (as opposed to a condominium, co-op or townhouse) house in West Seattle… just 380 square feet! That’s about the size of many RV’s and studio apartments! The house is situated on a large 7,560 square foot lot, however, so the potential for building a bigger home is there.

Originally built in 1920, the house was rebuilt from the studs out in 2004. It’s in great condition, move-in ready and absolutely adorable. The challenge for me, as the broker, will be to find a buyer who is comfortable in such small living quarters. Who do you know who might fit that description?

Just out of curiosity, what is the smallest space you have ever lived in?

Tumbleweed Home

Small homes offer big advantages

Small homes offer big advantages

Small home for sale!

Have you ever considered the big advantages to owning a small home?

In my first conversation with new clients looking to buy their first home, we always discuss their list of needs and wants (aka “must have” vs. “prefer”). This includes everything from  number of bedrooms and bathrooms to commute times and neighborhoods.

I am always interested to hear how much square footage my buyers would like. Most first-time buyers who are native to this area (whether a single person or a couple without children) estimate that they need at least 1000 sq. ft. of living space. Recently, however, I started working with a young couple who is moving here from Honolulu, Hawaii, where the price of real estate is significantly higher. They are used to living in such small spaces that 1,000 sq. ft. seems like a McMansion to them!


Living in a small home allows you to…

  1. Prevent back injuries (yours and your friends). Right from the start, moving into a small home costs less. You can rent a smaller moving truck and hire fewer helpers because it takes less time to move fewer belongings.
  2. Thumb your nose at the tax assessor. Personal property taxes are based on the combined value of your home and your lot. All other things being equal, the market value of a larger house is more than the market value of a smaller house, so the tax bill on a small home is less.
  3. Hire a maid.  It costs less to clean a smaller home; maybe you can afford a house cleaning service!
  4. Economize on flooring. Owners of small homes can often take advantage of bargain prices on flooring materials by shopping for remnants of hardwood, carpet, tile, etc.
  5. Avoid ladders. Most small homes are a single story, making it much more feasible to paint both interior and exterior walls yourself without risking a fall from a ladder. It’s also cheaper to hire a professional to paint your small home for you.
  6. Save on utility bills. It costs less to insulate, heat and cool smaller spaces. Consider using electric heat which eliminates the costs associated with furnace and duct work maintenance and allows you to heat just the rooms you are using.
  7. Spur your creativity. Smaller spaces inspire inventive ideas for maximizing every square inch of your home. Consider building a loft to take advantage of unused ceiling space. Or turn your stairs into drawers!
  8. Curb accumulation. The phrase, “Where would I put it?” will regularly run through your brian. When you have less space to fill, you tend to buy less stuff.
  9. Feel more secure. Smaller homes generally have fewer access points, i.e. doors and windows, so the bad guys can’t get in as easily without being seen/heard.
  10. Save travel time. Yes, it does take more time to walk from one end of a large home to the other and one floor to the next. Those seconds add up more quickly than you think, especially if you are running late!
Those are my Top 10 reasons for owning a small home. And here’s a bonus reason. Small homes are cuter than large homes!
If you are thinking of buying a small home, navigate to my Prudential Northwest Realty website where I have set up an automated small home search from various parts of metropolitan Seattle.
And here is a link to information about a terrific small home that is for sale in the Westwood neighborhood of West Seattle. (It happens to be my listing.) Call me today for an appointment to see it in person. 206-708-9800.