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Kathryn Carlson's Blog

By Kathryn Carlson | Broker in 80209

Making Small Homes Have Big Appeal To Buyers

by Phoebe Chongchua

There's a movement away from the McMansions toward smaller homes for convenience and cost-savings. It seems an attitude of “less is more,” is prevailing in the housing industry; whether it will remain short-lived may depend on the economy.

An article by James Wentling of Wentling/Architects was published this month in Nation's Building News, the weekly online newspaper of the National Association of Homebuilders. According to the article, the median size of a new single-family house sold in the United States actually increased 42 percent over the past two decades. The increase rose from 1,650 square feet in 1978 to 2,335 square feet in 2007. However, Wentling writes, that when this trend is closely examined, it's revealed that there were decreases in square footage during several periods including 1981-1982, 1995, 2003, and 2007-2008. Wentling predicts house sizes will continue to shrink in an ailing economy.

So, if you have a smaller home, now may be a better-than-ever time to market its cozy, less maintenance, and lower-utilities-cost benefits. Here's a look at a few ways to give your small home a big appeal to buyers by creating multi-purpose usage.

Hidden storage: smaller can be better, if you can somehow squeeze all the things you need into it. Think of the electronic devices that are rapidly becoming smaller and smaller. Decreased size is welcome provided that you don't lose functionality and compromise your usage of the device. The same goes for homes. Smaller homes can be exactly what buyers are looking for but the key is to have them well planned to accommodate buyers' everyday needs. Built-in furniture: can provide dual purpose, and if it has convenient hidden storage, that's an extra value. Some homeowners steer clear of this type of furniture mistakenly thinking that it will look too utilitarian and unbecoming. However, it can be beautifully designed and still be highly functional.

Office niche: these days home offices are prevalent in housing. Nearly everyone, regardless of whether going to an office or working from home, finds a home office useful. In smaller homes, finding that space can be difficult, but if you can create even a small space to showcase where a computer/office has its own niche it may influence buyers. You can create this space even without adding partition walls by using a decorative screen or tucking away a small desk beneath a staircase are just two examples.

Take appliances off the counters: in really tight spaces, some extra-creative homeowners mount appliances under the counters to free clutter from countertops and cabinets. Kitchen tables can double as a work surface for food preparation. Living rooms: the traditional sofa may not be the best furniture for a small living room. Sometimes, depending on the size, shape, and wall space in the room, a few simple chairs may fit better along with a small coffee table with storage underneath.

Built-In Floor-to-ceiling bookcases: I'm a writer and a book lover, so I had to include this one. Those who read and hold onto their books often find space is an issue. But bookcases with adjustable shelves can be custom-built surrounding a doorway or fireplace, providing easy access to the books and also saving space. Some homes have sliding bookcases that resemble pocket doors, tucking away the books and keeping the room clutter-free.

Published: August 7, 2009

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