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The pandemic sent many Americans dreaming of more space and scurrying to find it. Sales of large homes are booming. So too are tiny ones.
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These dwellings often measure no more than 350 square feet, or barely bigger than a standard hotel room. They are built mostly in suburban backyards or converted garages on the West Coast, where new laws designed to ease the region's housing shortage have encouraged their construction.
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But they are also for sale or rent in rural Maine and Vermont. They have been popping up in Wyoming, Alaska, Georgia and Texas. Florida city officials have proposed zoning changes to allow them.
While tracking all these mini-houses across the U.S. is difficult, listings that include either tiny homes or other types of guest apartments have increased 8.6% a year on average over the last decade, according to a July study from Freddie Mac. There are now more than 1.4 million homes that share a lot with one of these units.
The high cost of housing is one factor. The median price paid for a home by a first-time buyer is around $266,500, according to the National Association of Realtors, which is out of reach for many younger owners. Tiny homes can be rented for about the price of a traditional apartment unit of the same size. For tiny homeowners, the units generate income or serve as guest homes. Owners often rent them out to college students or offer them to elderly family members, so they can stay nearby.
HOME PRICES CLIMB TO RECORD IN CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AS BUYERS SEEK SPACE
The pandemic is creating more uses. Some people are constructing them as a backyard office while working from home. Others are building tiny homes on undeveloped lots where one might expect to find a traditional-sized home, either for use as a primary residence or vacation home.