Agent

The ultimate guide to selling tiny homes: Part 1

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Does the sight of a small cabin in the woods make your heart flutter? Do you swoon over small spaces that have custom storage solutions?

Then you might have the perfect foundation to jump into the fast-growing niche market of the tiny-home lifestyle.

This housing trend has found roots across our country, and smart agents are jumping in and finding this option opens up many doors for potential clients.

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Ashley Bennett / Bennett Belka Photography

Tiny house

Two popular television series, “Tiny House Nation” and “Tiny House Hunting,” on the FYI network have shed light on the movement and the reasons that consumers are seeking out tiny homes.

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These shows are engrossing to watch as future tiny-home owners purge their junk and seek out minimal and often eco-friendly dwellings.

Consumers who are embracing this trend are downsizing from traditional floor plans into homes that are up to a tenth of their former home’s size.

“Tiny” is typically defined as 500 square feet or less; it can be customized to an individual or family’s needs. Key features include mobility, green utilities, smart architectural design and convertible furniture.

“People have to have the courage and the desire to downsize,” said Gena McCarthy, FYI’s senior vice president of programming and development.

Also “THH” and “THN” executive producer, McCarthy notes that tiny-house dwellers have to be creative by making sure that every single item in the house has more than one function.

McCarthy said that her team has completed extensive research on social trends and found that though every age group is represented in the movement, the lifestyle mainly appeals to millennials.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, McCarthy explained that this trend is hardly new, but it’s gaining popularity as millennials explore housing options.

In a nutshell, the heart of the movement is about creating affordable housing with a small carbon footprint that allows dwellers financial freedom to spend their hard-earned cash on life experiences, not a huge mortgage payment.

Tiny advice from a true-life phoenix

I tracked down Pye Parson of E21 Realty in Alabama via email to ask about her experiences on “Tiny House Nation” and as a real estate agent.

Parson has been an agent for almost five years. Like most agents, she is passionate about marketing and helping her clients. But unlike most agents she can also refer to herself as an elite tiny-living expert.

Parson not only advocates for but also lives in a beautiful tiny home. Parson was recently featured on “Tiny House Nation,” and with the help of the show, she was able to rebuild her dream home finally, after losing her former property to Hurricane Katrina.

Here’s what she had to say:

What appeals to you most about the tiny-house lifestyle?

“Less is more,” affordability, and after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina, I realized the material items tend to weigh you down and complicate an active lifestyle.

The reality is, a buyer sees a home, specifically the size of the home, as a status symbol or visual display of financial prosperity — as an agent you’re probably not going to convince them otherwise.

However, take the vibrant young professionals who are just starting out who want to enjoy life without becoming financially broke — a tiny home under $75,000 is the answer.

Most young professionals are living in apartments under 1,000 square feet. They could be investing and building equity in their own property.

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Ashley Bennett / Bennett Belka Photography

Has living a minimalistic lifestyle improved your business?

I wouldn’t define my lifestyle as minimalistic — just smaller. So I can spend more time doing what I want to do, which makes me happier — which increases business.

No one wants to work with a depressed agent, and when life gets overwhelming, people get depressed. Being on the show has tripled my Facebook fans, and in real estate, it’s given me more exposure to a broader audience.

What advice do you have for agents who are interested in helping their buyers explore tiny-house options?

Put on a tiny developer’s hat and get creative. Until neighborhoods and cities get on board, you need a “pioneering” spirit.

Research local zoning codes and ordinances that may or may not work in your favor. I had to get a variance from zoning and the city council to build a 24-by-24-foot home because it was too small and too far from my property lines.

You have to educate those in charge. In my case, I had a TV show on board that gave me the street cred I needed to push it past the ignorance. But once built — seeing is believing — and most of the local government is supportive.

As an agent, what kind of marketing campaign would you create to sell a tiny home?

I’d put together a “lifestyle” campaign. “Debt-free urban living” or  “Spend your income traveling, having fun and going out to dinner — not on a huge mortgage.”

It’s probably not going to be your forever home, but will be a starting point in building equity for your next home. A tiny home can be a huge step toward financial independence.

What was your experience like on the show?

The “crew” on the show were upbeat and supportive. Their enthusiasm made the whole experience fun and exciting. We actually went through “withdrawals” once they left because the house was so quiet and devoid of laughter.

During the filming, I broke through many emotional barriers about truly mourning and recognizing all I had lost. Every time I was asked a question about our lives in Mississippi, it made me remember — then made me cry.

The director had one of the sound guys get a box of Kleenex for me because at some point I had nothing left to wipe my tears. The hardest take (to film) was before the “reveal.”

They wouldn’t let me see the tiny house, but we were on the neighbor’s property. They (the crew) asked me about the front door steps leading up to our old house that still remained. I was flooded with memories of my son as a little guy shakily going up and down those steps.

I remembered drinking wine on the porch during thunderstorms. I remembered a community of people that will never be together again, and it hit me like a rock.

My sniffles became sobs and the sadness and grief I had kept in … that I had hidden in an effort to “move on,” came out … painfully. The crew sat there patiently as Roald held me until I had nothing left.

The experience on the show taught us about ourselves and each other. I watched my 16-year-old son, who would rather stay in his room, and responds with yes, no or I don’t know, eloquently elaborate on architecture, lighting and computer programming in front of a camera.

Roald, not from MS (Mississippi), and recently married to me, had no stake or emotional attachment to the property, yet supported me 100 percent both financially and emotionally in “my dream.”

I learned to never give up. I learned that I can manifest what I hold dear, and it was by taking a long shot that it became real.

You can watch Pye’s episode here and connect with her at www.pyeparson.com. Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of this tiny adventure: an interview with West Coast Windermere real estate agent Megan Harried with more tips on the tiny home movement.

By day, Rachael Hite helps agents develop their business. By night, she’s tweeting for listingdepot.com.

Email Rachael Hite.


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