PERSON OF THE WEEK: In May 2007, Kent Griswold launched the Tiny House Blog, with the goal of highlighting different options for homeowners who were looking to take their residential downsizing to the next level. At a time when McMansions were the rage, Griswold's blog could have easily been dismissed as being curiously out of touch.
In the five years since the blog's debut, the tiny house movement has grown substantially and Griswold has expanded his coverage of the subject with his recently debuted Tiny House Magazine, an electronic publication that explores the subject at greater depth. MortgageOrb spoke with Griswold about this unique corner of the housing market.
Q: What is your definition of a ‘tiny house,’ and why in a society defined by conspicuous consumption would anyone want to live in such a small space?
Griswold: A tiny house is a house under 400 square feet. It is often built on wheels and in the 120 square foot range. Usually, a single person or a couple lives in these tiny homes.
With the economic downturn and the loss of many homes, people want to have something they can build and afford. They can pay it off as soon as possible and be able to relocate if necessary.
Q: What is the average cost for a tiny house? And are lenders willing to originate mortgages for such small properties?
Griswold: The average cost of a tiny home is around $30,000. Although it is smaller in size, the homeowner still needs all the basics, such as kitchen, bathroom, etc.
At this time, it is difficult to find lenders who are willing to provide funding for a tiny house. It is a new category of homes and lenders who are not familiar with this category and are sometimes wary when approached for a loan.
Q: Is there a standalone industry that is fueling tiny house construction and sales?
Griswold: The do-it-yourselfer market is the most prolific. But there is also a cottage industry of builders for tiny homes, and some are moving into it full-time as the demand grows.
Q: Since you began Tiny House Blog in 2007, what do you consider the most surprising trends in this niche market?
Griswold: The way it has grown. In the early days of the blog, I had to struggle to find people who were actually doing this. Now I can't keep up with all the projects, and several other blogs have come in to cover the growth as well.
Q: What motivated you to create Tiny House Magazine? And what are your plans for this new endeavor?
Griswold: The goal of the Tiny House Magazine is to spread the word about tiny spaces to a new market. There are so many people that have not even heard of this, and my goal is to reach out to them through electronic publishing.