The New Age of the Tiny House

The era of sprawling McMansions is over. The beast is extinct. Austerity is the newest fashion in real estate. Welcome to the dawning of the age of the tiny house.

Irvine Home Address … 187 BRIARWOOD Irvine, CA 92604

Resale Home Price …… $249,900

When the moon is in the Seventh House

And Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets

And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

The Age of Aquarius

Aquarius! Aquarius!

Harmony and understanding

Sympathy and trust abounding

No more falsehoods or derisions

Golden living dreams of visions

Mystic crystal revelation

And the mind's true liberation

Aquarius! Aquarius!

5th Dimension — Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In

There is a simple truth that underlies our overly complex existence. The clutter of our daily lives weighs on us like layers of heavy emotion and pressing attachments.

There is a purity to living simply: daily exercise and meditation and surroundings free from clutter and distraction. Monastics have known this for centuries.

Now, with the collapse of the housing bubble and the upheaval to families caused by foreclosure, many are seeking an alternate way of life. A life with a much cozier house….

Tiny house movement thrives amid real estate bust

Associated Press — 11/29/2010

GRATON, Calif. (AP) — As Americans downsize in the aftermath of a colossal real estate bust, at least one tiny corner of the housing market appears to be thriving.

To save money or simplify their lives, a small but growing number of Americans are buying or building homes that could fit inside many people's living rooms, according to entrepreneurs in the small house industry.

Some put these wheeled homes in their backyards to use as offices, studios or extra bedrooms. Others use them as mobile vacation homes they can park in the woods. But the most intrepid of the tiny house owners live in them full-time, paring down their possessions and often living off the grid.

"It's very un-American in the sense that living small means consuming less," said Jay Shafer, 46, co-founder of the Small House Society, sitting on the porch of his wooden cabin in California wine country. "Living in a small house like this really entails knowing what you need to be happy and getting rid of everything else."

Why Do Buddhists Avoid Attachment? "In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"

Because we think we have intrinsic existence within our skin, and what's outside our skin is "everything else," that we go through life grabbing for one thing after another to make us feel safe, or to make us happy."

Shafer, author of "The Small House Book," built the 89-square-foot house himself a decade ago and lived in it full-time until his son was born last year. Inside a space the size of an ice cream truck, he has a kitchen with gas stove and sink, bathroom with shower, two-seater porch, bedroom loft and a "great room" where he can work and entertain — as long as he doesn't invite more than a couple guests.

He and his family now live in relatively sprawling 500-square foot home next to the tiny one.

Shafer, co-owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, designs and builds miniature homes with a minimalist style that prizes quality over quantity and makes sure no cubic inch goes to waste. Most can be hooked up to public utilities. The houses, which pack a range of amenities in spaces smaller than some people's closets, are sold for $40,000 to $50,000 ready-made, but cost half as much if you build it yourself.

It sounds like a cross between a mobile home, a motor home, and a log cabin.

Tumbleweed's business has grown significantly since the housing crisis began, Shafer said. He now sells about 50 blueprints, which cost $400 to $1,000 each, a year, up from 10 five years ago. The eight workshops he teaches around the country each year attract 40 participants on average, he said.

"People's reasons for living small vary a lot, but there seems to be a common thread of sustainability," Shafer said. "A lot of people don't want to use many more resources or put out more emissions than they have to."

Compared to trailers, these little houses are built with higher-quality materials, better insulation and eye-catching design. But they still have wheels that make them portable — and allow owners to get around housing regulations for stationary homes.

Since the housing crisis and recession began, interest in tiny homes has grown dramatically among young people and retiring Baby Boomers, said Kent Griswold, who runs the Tiny House Blog, which attracts 5,000 to 7,000 visitors a day.

"In the last couple years, the idea's really taken off," Griswold said. "There's been a huge interest in people downsizing and there are a lot of young people who don't want to be tied down with a huge mortgage and want to build their own space."

Everyone here in Irvine still wants to be tied down to a huge mortgage.

Gregory Johnson, who co-founded the Small House Society with Shafer, said the online community now has about 1,800 subscribers, up from about 300 five years ago. Most of them live in their small houses full-time and swap tips on living simple and small.

Johnson, 46, who works as a computer consultant at the University of Iowa, said dozens of companies specializing small houses have popped up around the country over the past few years.

Before he got married, Johnson lived for six years in a small cabin he built himself and he wrote a book called "Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned from Living in 140 Square Feet."

Austerity is one thing, but I think these people take it a bit too far.

"You start to peel away the things that are unnecessary," said Johnson, who now lives in a studio apartment with his wife. "It helps you define your priorities with regard to your material things."

Northern California's Sonoma County has become a mini-mecca for the tiny house industry, with an assortment of new businesses launching over the last few years.

Stephen Marshall, 63, worked as a building contractor for three decades before the real estate market tanked three years ago. That's when he jumped into the tiny house business, starting Petaluma-based Little House On The Trailer.

I enjoy reading about entrepreneurs who found a way to make a new living in real estate. Kudos to Mr. Marshall.

His company builds and sells small houses that can serve as stand-alone homes equipped with bathrooms and kitchens, and others he calls "A Room of One's Own" that can be used as a home office or extra bedroom. Many of his customers are looking for extra space to accommodate an aging parent or adult children who are returning home, he said.

The adult children coming home to a 150 SF detached house ought to motivate them to get a job and rent a nicer place. It must be quite a fall from entitlement to downsize that much.

He said his small houses, which sell for $20,000 to $50,000, are much cheaper than building a home addition and can be resold when the extra space is no longer needed. His company has sold 16 houses this year and aims to sell 20 next year.

"The business is growing as the public becomes aware of this possibility," Marshall said. "A lot of families are moving in with one another. A lot of young people can't afford to move out. There's just a lot of economic pressure to find an alternative way to provide for people's housing needs."

Tiny House Movement Thrives

by Kent Griswold on November 30th, 2010

A couple of months ago Terence Chea from the Associated Press contacted me wanting to do a story about the tiny house movement. Terence wanted some local examples of tiny house builders so I put him in contact with Jay Shafer and Stephen Marshall. I also gave him Gregory Johnson of Small House Society contact information. Terence than arranged to come out and interview and video tape us at different locations.

Yesterday the Associated Press published the story with Jay Shafer and Tumbleweed as the top story. He than went on to quote Gregory and myself and closed with Stephen Marshall and Little House on the Trailer. The article went live yesterday and than spread almost virally across the web. Below you will see the story highlighted on

The good news is that there has been a huge spike in interest and traffic to our websites and blogs. I had triple the traffic yesterday and if you tried to get to the blog you found it extremely slow. Many more people have discovered the idea of tiny houses. I have been asked to be interviewed on two radio broadcasts and more requests are coming in. You can read the Associated Press article here.

Congratulations, Kent, on your 15 minutes of fame. If you write well about something people find compelling, the word gets out. Nice job.

Demand for McMansions is eternal

Despite the high hopes of tree huggers everywhere, there will always be a demand for McMansions. If they become scarce, demand will be more intense and prices will be higher as the highest wage earners bid up prices with available financing terms.

The simple truth is that people want to live in big detached homes. I want to live in a big detached home. I will settle for whatever I can afford, but I will always prefer a big detached home to a small condo at a transit stop. And so does everyone else. The green movement can't change human nature.

For those who are looking for the simple life in Irvine, today's featured property is about as close as you can get.

Zero down equity surfer

Once the housing market became a blatant and obvious Ponzi Scheme, many posers bought properties with no money down and extracted and spent appreciation as it appeared. Why not? Banks were giving out free money — actually they were more than giving it away, they pushing money on people. All the neighbors were taking it — as illustrated here daily — so it shouldn't be surprising that taking free money became a component of their lifestyle spending. Today we have one such equity surfer. He got as much equity as he could, and now he is discarding the empty shell.

  • This property was purchased on 5/15/2003 for $240,000. The owner used a $192,000 first mortgage, a $48,000 second mortgage, and a $0 down payment.
  • On 3/15/2004 he obtained a $25,000 HELOC.
  • On 4/1/2004 he refinanced with a $243,500 first mortgage.
  • On 4/29/2005 he obtained a $40,000 HELOC.
  • On 7/12/2005 he refinanced with a $285,639 first mortgage.
  • On 8/6/2006 he obtained a $122,000 HELOC.
  • Total property debt (assuming maxed out HELOC) is $407,639.
  • Total mortgage equity withdrawal was $167,639.

The return on investment is infinite when there is no investment.

Irvine Home Address … 187 BRIARWOOD Irvine, CA 92604

Resale Home Price … $249,900

Home Purchase Price … $240,000

Home Purchase Date …. 5/15/2003

Net Gain (Loss) ………. $(5,094)

Percent Change ………. -2.1%

Annual Appreciation … 0.5%

Cost of Ownership


$249,900 ………. Asking Price

$8,747 ………. 3.5% Down FHA Financing

4.55% …………… Mortgage Interest Rate

$241,154 ………. 30-Year Mortgage

$49,126 ………. Income Requirement

$1,229 ………. Monthly Mortgage Payment

$217 ………. Property Tax

$0 ………. Special Taxes and Levies (Mello Roos)

$42 ………. Homeowners Insurance

$385 ………. Homeowners Association Fees


$1,872 ………. Monthly Cash Outlays

-$113 ………. Tax Savings (% of Interest and Property Tax)

-$315 ………. Equity Hidden in Payment

$15 ………. Lost Income to Down Payment (net of taxes)

$31 ………. Maintenance and Replacement Reserves


$1,491 ………. Monthly Cost of Ownership

Cash Acquisition Demands


$2,499 ………. Furnishing and Move In @1%

$2,499 ………. Closing Costs @1%

$2,412 ………… Interest Points @1% of Loan

$8,747 ………. Down Payment


$16,156 ………. Total Cash Costs

$22,800 ………… Emergency Cash Reserves


$38,956 ………. Total Savings Needed

Property Details for 187 BRIARWOOD Irvine, CA 92604


Beds: 2

Baths: 1 bath

Home size: 921 sq ft

($271 / sq ft)

Lot Size: n/a

Year Built: 1978

Days on Market: 93

Listing Updated: 40499

MLS Number: K10096853

Property Type: Condominium, Residential

Community: West Irvine

Tract: Cc


According to the listing agent, this listing may be a pre-foreclosure or short sale.






63 thoughts on “The New Age of the Tiny House

  1. winstongator

    There are some places where the building of McMansions will not come back for a long time – parts of FL, AZ, Vegas? An article on the McM says that people will go back to close-in neighborhoods. In our area, the prime close-in ‘hood, has lots of 4-5000 sqft homes which might be McM’s, but also 8-10000 sqft homes that easily take the Mc out of it. They were built between 1900-1950 and may be seen to have more character than newer homes.

    Lots of 4000 sqft homes constructed today would be 2500-3000 sqft homes 50 years ago because many have finished basements or what was once left as attic space. There are energy benefits to using basement space, especially in summers.

    The current move to smaller homes is more brought by cost issues than any push for sustainability. As for new construction, minus the land costs, financing new construction is lower than it was 4-5 years ago, but there’s a lot less of it going on – and that’s everywhere, not just the bubble areas.

    1. Geotpf

      Basements are not a factor in most bubble areas, because they were mostly in southern areas (CA, AZ, NV, FL) where houses are built on concrete slabs at grade and don’t have basements. I would guess that 95% or more houses in the state of California do not have basements. Even older houses here (1950 or so and before) typically don’t have basements (they were be built on raised foundations instead).

  2. Geotpf

    ” I will settle for whatever I can afford, but I will always prefer a big detached home to a small condo at a transit stop. And so does everyone else.

    There are a fair number of people (probably no near a majority, but much greater than zero) who like living in the big city, and will take an urban condo over a suburban house. Of course, at least some of that is being near their jobs, but some people like the bustle of the city. (And when I mean city, I mean something like Manhattan, probably not anywhere in Irvine.)

    1. Laura Louzader

      I prefer a condo in a decorative old building, on a high floor, in a dense, walkable neighborhood, with a bus downtown at the door and a train a few blocks away, in a neighborhood stuffed with urban amenities, like 4 grocery stores and 3 live theatres and a film house and lots of restaurants and shopping. I also like the security and service of a large building, as a single woman who HATES yard work and fears people crawling through her window.

      That’s Chicago, NYC, or Boston, some parts of L.A., Philly, or St. Louis, or maybe San Fran if you can get a job that pays for it all there.

      1. .

        Wow 4 grocery stores! You should come to Irvine where there is a major supermarket chain on just about every blocks. If you include neighboring Tustin there re four Targets and three Costcos to choose from.

        Irvine also has lots of culture. There are not one, but two art house movie theaters. There are plenty of live performances at three colleges (UCI, IVC & Concordia).

        Irvine used to have a lot of restaurants but now that Claim Jumper is closing, the community will feel a huge loss.

        You don’t need any security because there is no crime in Irvine. No 20-murders in a weekend like you might find in Chicago.

        There are two train stations (if you count tustin), an airport and an iShuttle. Oh and a giant Orange balloon. I bet no other city has that.

        And one of the great features about the new condos in Irvine is that they lack backyard space. So all you need to do is pour some concrete out there and not worry about anything.

        1. Jeff

          That’s too funny, but is basically a synopsis of all life in any area of SoCal I would want to live. It’s also the main reason my wife and I will move somewhere else in the near (3-5 years) future. For me, Irvine is OK for renting if you get the bargain price, but the lack of options for dining that are not chain’s drives me nuts. I find myself driving to neighborhoods I used to live in to get a decent meal. The back yard space is a huge buzzkill for me. What’s the point of living in SoCal if I can’t enjoy the weather without having to drive 2 hours to Big Bear? Went to a friend’s child’s first b-day the other weekend. They had to hold in a community park and had to reserve the right to do so months in advance. They couldn’t serve booze and some park lady came to check that they weren’t. I was born elsewhere, so maybe I’m just used to something else, but I really just don’t get it. What’s the allure? Seriously, I would like to know what does drive people to stay here.

          1. Perspective

            What’s the alternative? If you and your spouse are both professionals working in Irvine earning $100k+, where would you live?

            It’s like asking why people buy/finance BMWs.

          2. Jeff

            That’s just the thing. If you live in SoCal, OC to be specific, it’s almost all built the same way. I’m not a fan. The cost is still too high for a single earner supporting a family, which I would like to have. Daycare won’t cut it. Just too much research saying that’s not the way to go with young children, but that’s a different discussion. We’ll probably move to the Northeast where I was born so that there will be a family support system near by. The weather doesn’t bother me, I’m into snow sports and a snow blower is pretty cheep.

        2. Vincenzo

          She means a small produce store a few houses away that you can visit each day to buy fresh bread or meat or fruit, not a huge supermarket full of frozen and canned food to which you have to drive 10-15 minutes.

          1. .

            That’s the beauty of Irvine. You don’t have to drive to get to the supermarket. They are omnipresent. Take your pick (I’m including the Tustin side of Jamboree). 5 Albertsons, 5 Ralphs, 2 Pavilions, 1 Gelsons, 1 Sprouts, 1 Henry’s, 2 Ranch 99, 2 persian markets, 2 Korean markets and get this — THREE Trader Joe’s. You read that right. The only thing lacking in Irvine are liquor stores.

            Irvine is also home to three or four weekly farmers markets if you don’t mind overpaying for produce that the “famer” picked up at the wholesaler in downtown L.A.

          2. .

            How could I forget Whole Foods? I know it’s technically Tustin but if you want to live on the former Marine Base on the Irvine side you can literally walk there. And walk to a movie theater and walk to that restaurant that Irvine Renter always holds his meetings and you can walk to Costco. Imagine that! Walking in Irvine!

          3. toshi

            Distance is just one factor in determining whether a neighborhood is walkable. Sure, some places in Irvine may be within “walking distance” of a big lot shopping center, but that doesn’t make it a walkable neighborhood. The walk has to be interesting.

            When you talk about waking to Costco in Irvine, I imagine that means: 1) walking through residential streets, past identical looking tract homes, 2) walking along a major street while cars are flying by at 55mph, and 3) walking through an enormous Costo parking lot until you reach the store. On your entire trip, you probably won’t run into any other pedestrians. That is a profoundly boring, soul-crushing walk.

          4. Perspective

            You’ll be able to walk to Whole Foods (& the rest of the District) once they build Tustin Ranch Road/Von Karman through.

          5. jumpcut

            If you live in Woodbury you can stroll along the beautiful opens space trail to Smith Farms, an honest-to-gosh fruit & vegetable stand that grows stuff on it’s own farm right there. It’s been there 46 years.

          6. Renter_1

            Farmers markets: overpriced and low quality. Same with Albertsons, Ralphs and Pavillions. The closest is at least a 5 min drive, so no comparison to having something “around the corner”. And that actually means “around the corner”, not a 5 min drive.

    2. toshi

      Count me as among those people who prefer smaller homes in urban environments to large, detached homes in diffuse suburbs. I grew up in Socal in neighborhoods like Irvine, and I will not move back to a place like that as long as I have a choice.

      1. irvine_home_owner

        Do you have young kids now?

        The reason you grew up in a place like Irvine is probably because that’s the kind of environment many (not all) people like to raise their families.

        Before we had kids, the wife wanted to live in SanFran or Urban San Diego, she couldn’t understand my desire for Irvine. Now… she won’t live anywhere else.

        What you want… isn’t always what you want.

        1. toshi

          Hi irvine_home_owner.

          I actually live in central san deigo, which I really love (I like SF too). No, I don’t have kids now and I don’t know if I really want to have kids, but even I did, I would not want to live in a place like Irvine.

          I actually don’t think these quiet suburbs are all that great for kids. When I think back about my childhood, what I remember most is the overwhelming sense of boredom I felt most of the time. There was never anything to do, anywhere to go. And I also don’t think that parents always have their kids’ best interest in mind when they buy into these expensive houses in Irvine. I think it’s just as much about what the parents want and what makes them happy.

          1. irvine_home_owner


            Those are fair assertions.

            I contend that your perspective may change if you ever become a parent.

            While you look at it as “boredom”, the other side of that coin is “safety”. I grew up in a more “urban” area. I had my bikes stolen and even got mugged once. I would NEVER want my kid to get mugged. Now I’m not saying that any city can guarantee that not happening… but the odds are better in Irvine than where I grew up.

            And you’re right, it is a lot about what the parents want, but most parents that I know are concerned about their kids’ well-being and education… not about keeping up with Joneses.

          2. toshi

            Bikes getting stolen were everyday occurrences at the suburban schools I went to. If you didn’t lock up your bike, it got stolen. Even if you did lock up your bike, sometimes, parts were stolen. I think kids just had nothing better to do.

            I understand the desire to raise kids in a safe place with good schools, but I have to believe that you could do that in places other than Irvine, preferably some place more interesting. For better or for worse, a lot of urban neighborhoods are becoming gentrified. I think it’s possible to raise kids in a dense, urban neighborhood without fearing for their safety.

          3. irvine_home_owner


            Nice paraphrase… but in the actual quote:

            1. What is the “essential liberty” I am giving up?

            2. What is the “temporary safety” I am trading that for?

            And the context for that was war with the British and the independence of the United States… does that really apply to living in a “boring” suburb?

  3. Laura Louzader

    Austerity and “minimalism” are reaction-formations formed in response to the extravagance and emphasis on consumption and accumulation of the past few decades.

    I’ll never be a minimalist, but I understand people who are. I like space and beautiful things but make it a point to keep my possessions contained within the confines of my 900 sq ft apt. If the apt feels cluttered, then I have too much unnecessary garbage around, and get rid of it. If I’m not using it, I get rid of it, and these days, every time I hanker after something, I ask myself: a)Do I need it? b) Was it something I planned to buy? c) Do I really even DESIRE it? d) Can I afford it without putting it on a credit card, and e)what benefit will I derive from owning it?

    Last month, my upstairs neighbor, a young woman, moved out of her large 5-room 2 bed to a studio apt that could fit in her living room, leaving behind a 40-year accumulation of her mother’s and her own possessions. Two china cabinets, 3 sets of fine china one of which was Lenox and another of which was a service for 16 people, enough glassware and stemware to stock a restaurant, about 50 pieces of good wood furniture, table and bed linens, expensive Wedgewood bric-a-brac, and enough clothes to stuff about 40 large plastic storage bins and 6 closets and 6 chests of drawers. It took the building staff about 2 weeks to work their way through it all and get it out of there.There was also an infinity of paper napkins in unopened packages, paintings, table linens, serving pieces, books, and other stuff.

    The woman took only her futon, her cats, a minimum of clothing, and her jewelry making things to her tiny new home.

    The stuff was literally making her sick. She couldn’t clean around it, or move it, and she derived no enjoyment or benefit from owning it.

    I also helped another friend through the Move From Hell, that involved 2 60′ moving vans, 6 men,and weeks of packing, to move about 10,000 lbs of stuff from one apt to the other. And there still remains a triple storage locker STUFFED with things.

    I see the ads for storage facilities, a very fast-growing industry- and realize that people have equity-stripped their houses and maxed their credit cards to buy all this stuff that oftentimes they never even take out of the package, and never even really wanted to begin with. Useless garbage. They see it, think they like it, take it home, throw it on a stack, then move it to the garage then to the locker.

    What a waste.

    1. Planet Reality

      Dude you are totally bumming me out with your mid western cat lady story, balance it out with some sunshine now and then. This story may cause another middle age southern California cat lady to max out her credit card on cosmetic surgery before he slits he wrist.

    2. Geotpf

      Moving sucks, which is one of the reasons I never quite understood the concept of “move up houses”. Unless job or family reasons cause you to move, I would want to move as little as possible. I expect to be in my current house until I die.

  4. BeachRenter

    LANDUARY ????

    IMO, the rich will always want bigger homes. In So Cal this will further stratify the housing situation. Clusters of poor and middle class housing will surround the large homes of the rich. A wall along the 405 freeway will need to be erected to keep the peasants on the east side from infiltrating the land of the rich on the west. The Wall will eventually fail.

  5. Eat that!

    Ironically, new housing maximizes indoor space at the expense of outdoor space in a part of the country that has nearly year round temperate weather.

  6. lee in irvine

    Bill Gross from Pimco ranting on the Fed in his recent monthly investment outlook:

    Well we’re living here in Allentown
    And they’re closing all the factories down
    Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
    Filling out forms
    Standing in line
    And we’re living here in Allentown – Billy Joel, 1982

    “We’re all Allentowners now. Granted, 90% of the workforce is still reporting for work on time, but our standard of living, our confidence in the future – we’re standing in line in Allentown. Lost in the policy debate surrounding the elections and the subsequent demonisation of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing (“QE2”) policies has been any recognition of why we no longer live on Ronald Reagan’s shining hill or how we might possibly reclaim higher ground.”

    “The real beneficiaries however, are the mega-millionaires of Wall Street and Newport Beach. And yes, policymakers at the Fed write trillions of dollars’ worth of checks under the guise of quantitative easing, a policy which takes Charles Ponzi one step further by purchasing the government’s own paper in a last gasp effort to support asset prices.”

    1. lee in irvine

      Another important part from Mr. Gross:

      “This phrase of a “level playing field” opens up endless possibilities. If, in fact, the solution to how we can reclaim the vision of Ronald Reagan’s “shining hill” and the Allentown of decades past is to “level the playing field,” there are obviously a number of ways to do it. The constructive way is to stop making paper and start making things. Replace subprimes, and yes, Treasury bonds with American cars, steel, iPads, airplanes, corn – whatever the world wants that we can make better and/or cheaper. Learn how to compete again. Investments in infrastructure and 21st century education and research, as opposed to 20th century education are mandatory, as is a withdrawal from resource-draining foreign wars. It will be a tough way back, but it can be done with sacrifice and appropriate public policies that encourage innovation, education and national reconstruction, as opposed to Wall Street finance and Main Street consumption.”

      BRAVO MR GROSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. lee in irvine

          Our largest problem … Politicians don’t get elected by offering sacrifice to the public. Especially in this state, where reason is overwhelmed by stupidity. Hells Bells, who’s got time to worry the monetary & fiscal policy when we got some gawd damn global warming. Duhhhhh!

          1. Anonymous

            You notice how no one during the recession bothers to mention that all the lack of consumption and driving and flying around of vacation has reduced the carbon footprint and helped out with global warming … Only during the boom times was everyone talking about polar bears and such.

          2. nefron

            I’m getting back on my soapbox about buying goods made in the US. We have the power to make our own recovery, if Americans would just make an effort to check where the stuff they are buying is made, and buy more stuff made in the United States.

            Instead of whining and crying about how there are no jobs, how about saving the jobs we DO have and maybe creating some new ones by supporting what manufacturers still stick it out here in the U.S? It would be a huge boost to our economy, no government involvement at all, if we just shopped for goods made here.

      1. Anonymous

        Bravo mr bill gross … Who has never manufactured or designed anything and just skims a fortune off the productive like the rest of the financial system. Who can write pretty and politically correct speeches to justify whatever action will make him the most money this week (ie don’t print
        Money cause that makes our bonds worth less).

        Gotta learn to read between the lines dude

        1. lee in irvine

          I know, Mr Gross doesn’t write or say things that are not self-serving, but I agree with his basis … Americans need to sacrifice and compete.

          1. AZDavidPhx

            Americans need to sacrifice and compete

            The problem is that many of these sheeple actually believe that they have it rough and are sacrificing by being made to buy a car once every 8 years instead of every 2 years.

            You cannot reason with stupid.

    2. Planet Reality

      In general the beneficiaries are the premium areas were at a minimum the well to do upper middle class live.

  7. irvine_home_owner

    Bleh… smaller housing is more about maximizing profits (builder) and reducing costs (buyer) than actually simplifying lifestyles.

    The Irvine Company is already going that way (check out how dense all the new projects are). In Stonegate and Laguna Crossings (nee Altura), they’ve already reduced the number of pocket parks to fit in more homes.

    New lots aren’t even wide enough to fit a 3-car wide garage… ack!

    1. gepetoh

      Agreed, the trend isn’t to “simplify” lifestyles. It’s almost a forced trend based on current economy, disguised as something we would “want” to do. Come on, nobody “wants” to live in a 400sf room if they don’t have to. The past trend of ever-larger homes are one thing, but living in a box is another. And we still must have that $500 iPhones. Public seems to have forgotten the term “moderation”.

      1. Laura Louzader

        Yes, it IS based on current economic conditions, but could we ever really afford the excess of recent decades? It’s also a reaction to the incredible excess of the past few decades.

        Look at the trend in personal debt since 1980. Personal debt loads have increased greatly while incomes have stagnated and for what? For TWO houses to maintain and pay for instead of one, or for cars for teens who would be distinctly better off without drivers’ licenses?

        As I say, I’m no minimalist. I like to live well, in a large, beautiful old apartment well-appointed with all the amenities and furnished with fine furniture. I personally feel that not only is minimalism per se a reaction, but is something that can only really be practiced in a wealthy, advanced, resource-rich environment where you don’t need to accumulate stuff in order to have food stores in the winter and a means of finding food in the summer. There’s a reason humans measure their accomplishments and status by how much they accumulate, and that’s because for 5,000 years it was all most of us could do to keep food in our mouths and a few pieces of shabby clothing on our backs.

        It just that the urge to accumulate has to be directed constructively- like toward accumulating a savings account, food stocks, gold, real tools, not toward the kind of consumption that has bankrupted a big portion of the population.

        It’s sick to be booted out of your house because you spent your equity on multiple tv sets, juicers, electronic games, and about a ton of outdated clothes, just to have to move in with your in-laws if they’ll have you, because you can’t even come up with a security deposit.

        I don’t believe that many people will adopt the stringent minimalism some are promoting, but that it might inspire people to think about what they really want, and that that might not be the biggest house and most expensive cars they can get loans to buy. Nobody wants to live in 400 sq ft, but when you see people of quite ordinary means stretching to live in 3000 sq ft with a pool and spa tub and four autos, you can see we need to find some balance.

        1. gepetoh

          As I said, “moderation” seems to be the key word that we need to begin remembering again. I don’t understand the point of “minimalism” when the same people preaching it are still choosing to go out for dinner at nice restaurants and drive something more than “minimal” automobiles. Do we really want everyone eating at home and driving a Yaris? Life is meant to be enjoyed, and as such there has to be some balance between living within your means while still enjoying some of the luxuries that makes life worthwhile to live in.

          Conspicuous consumption is what’s killing us now, but we’ll equally come to kill ourselves if all we’re doing is living in 900sf apartments and obtaining “only what we need”. That’s surviving, not living. Maybe the word should be “moderationism”.

  8. awgee

    Since I like to do pretty much the opposite of what everyone else is doing, I think we will go with the ‘bigger is better’ and ‘go big or go home’ theme.

      1. awgee

        Realtors find me easy to deal with because I have nothing to hide and don’t lie to them.

        They ask where we live; I tell them.
        They ask if we have to sell first, I tell them we are leasing.
        They say interest rates are low so it is a good time to buy, I tell them low interest rates are not a motivation to me because we will probably buy all cash, and I wouldn’t mind one bit in interest rates increased making it more difficult for others to buy.
        They ask if I want to be on their email list and I decline being quite honest that we do not use a agent to buy.

    1. Anonymous

      I dunno, all those baby boomers have their big places to sell & retire. Some might not have a choice about
      It after their retirement savings losses from the recession, and then all the social security and medicare cutbacks that will eventually come in one firm or another, plus unplanned early retirement due to job loss. Throw in some unofficial food and fuel and medical inflation, and downsizing might be their only option for many. Which wouldn’t be great for SFR houseprices.

  9. bltserv

    Who in their right mind would buy a Maytag Box place like this thats 30+ years old with a $ 385 a month HOA? NOBODY. Thats why it will sit till its price gets slashed. You got to love that tiny bathroom for 2 to share in the morning. This place should rent for $ 1200.00. No rental parity here. Move along. New, Bigger IAC 2 Bdrm goes for $1800.00 and you get 2 baths.

    1. FreedomCM

      don’t forget that you get your 1 carport space to go along with your 900sf apartment, for your $2k/month.

      and also don’t forget that the HOA is only going to increase, in a few years you could be paying the north korea tower’s rate of $1k/month in HOA

      1. bltserv

        I know some 20 Something dudes living in the NK Towers paying $ 2500 a month and they love it. So lets see here. This dump for $ 2000.00 or the NK Towers for $ 2500.00 ? I wonder which one will be better to bring a date home with. Decision made.

        These old Irvine rate holes need the Irvine Commercial Treatment. If you cant move it. Bulldoze it. Its better for the comps.

      1. bltserv

        Did you look at the listing history on this POS ?
        Listed for $319K in Dec 09. Finally some moron bought it at $ 245K a year later ? So lets see. It lost $74K in a year. Thats 24% in a year.
        Lets see what the prices on these are in another year. Like P. T. Barnum said. As sucker is born every minute. It just took a year to find one for this rat hole.

        Its not a comp. Its a joke moving down stream.

  10. Mark Sanders

    I would say that people’s choices on size of homes depends on what they consider to be their “living space.” I have a rather small ranch house, but it’s placed on 2 acres (and I’m a gardening fool). My living space is the house plus the land. People who choose to live in condos in urban settings probably feel that their living space is the condo PLUS the city. If you live in a McMansion, that house is your living space, and you probably tolerate whatever yard you have, and couldn’t be bothered to even walk around the block. And this is the problem I have with suburbs in general — there is no community and there is no connection with nature aside from some prettified park that you can look at while you drive by it in your car.

    1. gepetoh

      It’s all personal preference. What you might consider “problem” may be advantages to others.

      Suburbs are in reasonable proximity to the city, so for those that work in the city but want the outdoor space and enough room for kids to run around in have a reasonable balance between the city and rural. One can choose to ignore that prettified park in his community, but that would be the same as ignoring that forest in your backyard in the rural area, no? So why would you assume he would ignore that park? During the holidays everyone in that suburban neighborhood decorates their home and all the kids come out to play in the streets or driveway, marveling at the lights. Try doing that in that farm 100 miles from the city and no neighbors for acres on, or in the city without the risk of kids getting run over. One can walk his dog around the neighborhood, waving hello to their neighbors. Or fire up that bbq in the backyard, and hear their neighbor and their kids do the same. Have that block party without the risk of some strangers crashing it.

      Those are the things that happen at my street block. And it’s pretty damn relaxing and enjoyable.

  11. Anonymous

    Hear the house or trailer in wheels is popular with some folks instead of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Just live on your beachfront property and enjoy it, and when the next hurrican warning comes, just hitch the house up and move it somewhere safe until the storms over. Very practical approach.

  12. lee in irvine

    From the WSJ …

    Number of the Week: 492 Days From Default to Foreclosure

    The average borrower in the foreclosure process hadn’t made a payment in 492 days as of the end of October, according to LPS. That compares to 382 days a year ago and a low of 244 days in August 2007.

    In other words, people who default on their mortgages can reasonably expect, on average, to stay in their homes rent-free more than 16 months. In some states such as New York and Florida, the number is closer to 20 months.

    Millions of Americans still are paying their mortgages even though they owe more than their homes are worth. The more banks’ backlog grows, the more likely they are to join it, adding to the already giant pile of foreclosures weighing on the housing market

    The number on cause for foreclosure is not job loss, but rather negative equity.

    1. Planet Reality

      That’s a pretty good deal, in Irvine that’s around $50,000 cash to rent a nice SFR for 16 months. In most areas of the US that rent money could buy a house.

      1. bltserv

        This is what I mean by Ponzi Scheme Economy. I pay my bills and rent. Save my money and pay my Taxes. But if I scam the system I could make $ 50K without causing a criminal case or eventual lien ? But god forbid if I dont pay my Resale Tax, or any Business Tax on time. State of California just takes it out of my account quick.

        Whats so god darn special about Real Estate ? We need laws now that STOP this crimianl behavior and theft of public funds. Like Grand Theft. Anything over $10K is a felony.

  13. toshi

    I have been interested in the small house movement for some time now and I’m glad that it’s finally starting to get some mainstream attention. For me, the catalyst was when I visited Temecula a few years ago and I saw all of the streets lined with enormous three story houses. Looking at those mcmansions made me realize that there was something seriously wrong about the way we think about houses.

    I don’t think smaller is necessarily better, just as bigger isn’t necessarily better. Susan Susanka said it best in her “Not So Big House” books — it’s not about building bigger, but building smarter. The thing about building a smaller house is that it forces the designer to be smarter, to use space efficiently. From limitation comes innovation — or so they say. Even for me, those Tumbleweed Houses are a little too small for my comfort, but I can still appreciate the ingenuity that goes into these tiny designs.

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