Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Living Smarter - Design that Sells

Sarah Susanka's Not So Big House book was published in 1998, but the concept of living smarter and more efficiently wasn't really new.  I think people just forgot how to do it.  Or maybe I think that b/c I grew up in a smaller house where we didn't have a choice but to make it work.  It was that simple. You made do with the space that you had. But something happened in the 80's and houses became bigger and bigger. Now I think we're starting to come full circle because all that space didn't necessarily make life easier or better.

Having said that, the Not So Big principle actually has nothing to do with size, meaning that the author doesn't expect everyone to live in 1000 square feet.  But the idea is to live in a home that is well designed such that every space is used. I am sure there are many people who use every inch of their 4000 sq ft home, so this is not a rant about large homes.  I am guilty of falling in love with a kitchen once and ending up with a 3100 square foot home where at least 4 rooms were never used. I've learned my lesson.  I recently updated a 1500 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with the same types of features you'd only find in a luxury home. I wanted quality without the added space.  Will someone pay a luxury price when I go to sell? Will I get my money back? It's a risk I was willing to take to get what I wanted, because at the time it did not exist.

So, with all that as background, it was nice to see several homes sell lately that were small, but well designed.  Yes - Raleigh has shown that you don't have to have square footage to get a quality home with style. And if you're worried about fixing up that tiny home and not getting your money out of it, here are some examples of small homes that brought great prices:

Historic Oakwood - East St
This 1076 sq ft home has 3 bedrooms and 1 bath and just sold for $315,000 in 3 days.

Oakwood - Elm St - This 1262 sq ft home has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and just sold for $335,000 in 5 days.
Glenwood Brooklyn
This 1420 sq ft home has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and just sold for $362,800

Historic Oakwood
The Rose Cottage.  This 1489 sq ft home with 2 beds, 2 baths, sold for $370,000 in just 2 weeks. 

Location is clearly a factor, as all of these homes are within walking distance to something. The most important point here is not to get caught up in the price per square foot. So many people get lost in numbers and forget the value of what they are looking at in front of them. A well designed home lets you live the way you want in a more compact and BEAUTIFUL home. But having the numbers to back it up is also important, because it will encourage others to renovate smarter, not larger. And it's not just home owners that want to live this way.  Check out my friend Nicole's new blog, Intentionally Small.