It Turns Out Tiny Homes Are Too Small for Some Enthusiasts

June 17, 2019

Over the last few years, some homeowners have swapped out spacious digs for 300-square-foot homes, favoring simplicity and lower costs. The tiny-home trend has played out on reality TV shows and throughout the media. But a new trend is emerging in the tiny-home movement—and it's making a not-so-tiny splash.

Buyers of tiny homes are increasingly favoring larger styles of the small dwellings, and they’re opting for higher-end finishes that are moving overall costs higher, realtor.com® reports. Some buyers want more space for their own enjoyment. Others are turning these tiny homes into vacation homes or renting them out for added income.

The newest tiny homes are coming with stainless steel appliances, solar panels, built-in TVs, and upgraded cabinetry, Mark Stemen, a professor who teaches sustainability at California State University in Chico, Calif., told realtor.com®. These upgraded tiny homes are now fetching more than $200,000. That’s not too far from the median price for an existing single-family home, which is $267,300 as of April, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The higher prices are prompting lenders to step in. Banks are offering loans to help buyers afford these properties as prices on tiny residences rise. “The tiny-house movement is expanding to meet the desires and needs of the people who are in it and joining it every day," Coles Whalen, a marketing director at Simple Life, told realtor.com®. Simple Life is creating tiny-home communities in the South and recently debuted a pricier two-bedroom model that is about 540 square feet. "It’s adapting to accommodate the needs of people who are tired of spending money on square footage they’re not using, but they may want slightly more [room]," she says.

Tiny homes traditionally are about 20 feet long and 8 feet wide. However, some companies are responding to buyers’ desire for more space. The firm Cumming is showing off 30-foot plans, and the owner, Dan Louche, says he’s even getting requests for 40-foot models. “Are you still interested in a tiny house?” he says is his response to the larger home requests.

A DIY 20-foot tiny home traditionally costs about $15,000 to $20,000, including materials but not labor, Louche says. Prices have been moving upwards to around $65,000 to $75,000 for a standard 28-foot finished tiny home, but the costs are going even higher for those who desire more upgrades. For example, Tiny Heirloom in Portland, Ore., is selling customized models that can range from $89,000 to $220,000. One model includes a motorized deck that retracts in 30 seconds.