Building Micro-Homes in Portland

By
Real Estate Appraiser with Ashcroft & Associates

A Portland developer is starting a 29 dwelling site of micro-homes ranging from approximately 360+ to 650+ square feet. The houses prices are yet to be determined.

It is located in a bike and transit friendly part of the city, which is essential as there will be no room for anything more than limited street parking.

As an appraiser, I have run into lending issues with dwellings under 500 square feet and I'm not sure if the developer is offering financial assistance.

Other than the forementioned issues, I'm excited to see if the public will envelope the idea (especially as we just purchased a tiny house of our own recently, but that will be the topic of a later blog).

Here is the link to the news story.

Here is a link to the developers page.

               Micro-Homes SE Portland

 

Update 11/15/2011:

 

According to D.R. Horton, over 50% of these micro homes have been sold.

My only current thought is 'how do you fit 2.1 bathrooms and 2 bedrooms in 687 square feet?'


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Location:
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Tags:
microhomes
tiny houses
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japanese ultrasmall homes
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Rainer
176,141
John Rakoci
Eagle Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
North Myrtle Beach Coastal Carolinas

360 - 650 sq ft and call it a home? For a single person maybe but there would not be room for a dog or cat either? Not much larger than a jail cell and inmates are out of their cell so they don't go crazy. Cost per sq ft would indicate a cottage on an island beach. I can understand lender reluctance as they would have to think the buyer not to be very stable.

Apr 17, 2011 01:48 AM #1
Rainmaker
351,485
J. A. Michail
Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee - Sarasota, FL
Real Property Management of Sarasota & M

Very interesting? Thank you very much for sharing your post with us!

Apr 17, 2011 02:15 AM #2
Ambassador
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Michelle Carr-Crowe-Selling Silicon Valley Homes in Top Schools San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto-Just Call 408-252-8900
Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

I have heard of people embracing this - keep us posted on how the buying public responds to this project.

Apr 17, 2011 03:10 AM #3
Ambassador
1,124,559
Michelle Carr-Crowe-Selling Silicon Valley Homes in Top Schools San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto-Just Call 408-252-8900
Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

P.S. I had to suggest it - haven't seen many people cover this topic at AR.

Apr 17, 2011 03:11 AM #4
Rainmaker
503,231
Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA - Eureka, CA
Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA

Good Morning Sara, years ago I listed a home that was 480 square feet.  It had a very large garage and was an almost acre lot.  In order to meet the appraisal requirements the seller enclosed and finished 5 foot by 10 foot front porch.

This will be interesteing, keep us posted on the outcome.

Apr 17, 2011 06:39 AM #5
Rainmaker
173,379
Richard Glesser
North Country Appraisal Services - Gaylord, MI

Sounds similar top some Japanese housing.  As always, it will take some time to see if it will be accepted.  During that period, probably "cash" sales will need to prevail unless the developer has already sold the concept to some lenders.

Apr 17, 2011 09:11 AM #6
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Hi John - When I was in college I lived in an 800 +/- SF house with two roomates (actually there were six of us living there at one point, but that was short lived), two dogs and four cats.  That was pushing sanity, but I think that a person really can survive in 250 SF of their own.

Dan ~ I've seen other creative solutions to get small houses to meet lender requirements.  The last one I remember appraising was accepted because it had a 'liveable' basement/root cellar.  

Richard ~  Like John mentioned, I can see this being ideal for a vacation property.  I also wonder if it wouldn't be more popular near a college campus in the area.  It might be a good competition for a dorm (?).  I'll have to look into some of the lending guidelines for this.

 

Apr 17, 2011 02:08 PM #7
Ambassador
1,124,559
Michelle Carr-Crowe-Selling Silicon Valley Homes in Top Schools San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto-Just Call 408-252-8900
Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

I re-blogged this and someone mentioned the prices seemed high - how is this compared to

1) other new townhomes/condos

2) existing small homes

3) new starter homes.

Thanks.

Apr 17, 2011 04:35 PM #8
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Hi Michelle -

A very brisk search of newer construction in the area (approximately a 2 mile radius) found the average price per square foot to be $176 (although they vary substantially in price per SF). 

That is, of course a vast average and doesn't take into account amenities and green upgrades.  Also the square footage of houses found were between 1,180 and 2,400 square feet (the 1,180 square footer was $240 per square foot).  These are all detached home prices (although there are some attached homes in the development).

Houses of all ages and conditions under 700 square feet (all between 640 and 690) were between $133,000 and $221,000.

 

Apr 17, 2011 09:50 PM #9
Rainmaker
90,211
Craig Chapman
Call Realty / Access Appraisals - Mesa, AZ
The Value Guy

I think most people tend to want more space that what those units would offer, unless there was a significant trade off, like price. I recently saw a piece about a woman who had a 90 Sq Ft apt in New York & it showed all the space saving ideas she had used to make it work. But for her the trade off was that her rent was about 1/3 of the typical rent in that part of New York. 

Apr 18, 2011 02:18 PM #10
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Hi Craig -

I agree with you. There should be some enticement like price reduction.  I did see on the developers web page where it boasts that the units will be built with salvaged and sustainable materials.  We kind of go nuts for things like that in Portland.  It would be beneficial if they were to get LEED or some other 'green' certification to help sales.

 

Apr 20, 2011 12:06 AM #11
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Richard ~ I found this link on Japanese 'Ultra-Small' homes.  There are some great architectural and space-saving ideas here.

Apr 20, 2011 11:20 AM #12
Rainer
31,312
Michael McGovern
Key Advantage Realty - Needham, MA

I think its a good idea for the right person but good luck finding comps!

May 13, 2011 08:24 AM #13
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Hi Michael -  I think that is my conclusion as well ~

May 15, 2011 12:38 PM #14
Anonymous
Anonymous
Alex

Ther is a "cool factor" to micro homes in Portland, but these places at 700+ Sq ft don't fully qualify as "micro", most like "small".   In fact, I don't think you can build a true "Micro" and still be up to code in the state not to mention city limits unless it is on wheels.   The Ikea store here (which is huge business in Portland and easily the single largest furniture retailer by a long shot) has sample living spaces in their upstairs showroom which get a lot of attention, a lot of people saying "I wish they would make houses like this".   I have found some areas where true micro homes can be built and I think profitably sold in the $60K range except that there remain those pesky issues of zoning and taxes.  Then the question gets to be what is truly "real estate" vs just a fancy trailer in a trailer park, and the layout of trailer parks is usually so awful that people only live there out of economic necessity.   Combine that with the fact that the most exclusive and costly trailer parks look like nothing more than manicured parking lots, while the ones with the best potential for cute landscaping look more like homeless camps.  Then there is "Dignity Village" where it is shaping up to something, except it was built from the beginning as a magnet for bums and still lacks required amenities like real running water with the city wanting something like $20K up front from the charitable organizations before one shovel breaks one clod of dirt on the construction of a real full size park style bathroom facility.

The lifestyle that sells here for the young people is artistic low to middle cost housing, access to bike and train commuting routes (nobody really loves the busses) and at least some parking for car storage.  I bike commute when I can, but reality is that I still need to own a truck for work.  The young people want to walk to a bar, and if possible, carry their beer to a food cart court parking lot and catch a "free" concert or dance, spending plenty of cash along the way, just not signing over many payment agreements for big ticket items or cars.   They want to buy something and own it, not be obligated to make payments forever because in reality, they are maybe not that stable, and all know horror stories of someone who paid $250K for a house they can no longer get out of.   Betting $70K to $100K on a mobile home makes economic sense on the higher end of the younger people who were not given a lot of "starter money" by their parents, until they get a look at the mobile home parks and say "no fucking way".  There is currently a series of videos on Youutube right now of a 16 year old Portlander building himself a true micro-house on a trailer frame, but he will still run into zoning issues when it is done.   They estimate costs on those things to be in the $12K range for self-build, although some single wide manufactured variants are a flat $9995 at mobile home dealerships in Washington along I-5.  Lumber scavenging is for those with more time than money, I don't see a large contractor really coming out ahead sending employees to shop for scavenged lumber and materials when new specification stuff can be ordered from naufacturers.  

Jantzen Beach currently has lots of homes under $100K, condos and mobiles, decent neighborhood, just bad traffic to and from and limited mass transit access.  (busses that also have to navigate the bad traffic going to the crowded bridge). 

The $100K small houses will probably sell, but they should make sure to keep the "cool factor" in play and have a food cart court within a very short walking distance.

Oct 16, 2011 02:53 PM #15
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Hi Alex -

We actually have acquired a tiny house but never anticipate it being housed in a trailer park.  In fact, I'm not sure if mobile parks allow houses with axels still attached (I'm admittedly no expert on that, however).

I talk to people quite a bit about downsizing and try to grasp their opinion on how small they can live with (when the opportunity arises).  If I had to guess, I would say that few 2+ people would dare think of anything smaller than 700 square feet for a full time residence (myself included).

And yes, when you park a car next to a 200 +/- sf dwelling, it tends to dwarf a tiny house.

Nov 15, 2011 11:30 PM #16
Rainmaker
117,420
Sara Goodwin
Ashcroft & Associates - Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon Appraiser

Updates posted above ~

Nov 15, 2011 11:47 PM #17
Anonymous
Anonymous
heidi

Did anyone find comps for places under 400sqft in Portland? Did anyone find a lender that is good to work with? I have been watching all the 50's tiny homes turn into UGLY narrow lots with garage faces....it's ruining the community and I want to save a old tiny lot and racing our neighborhood developer. 

May 10, 2013 11:57 PM #18
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Rainmaker
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Sara Goodwin

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