No one can predict the future of real estate, but you can prepare. Find out what to prepare for and pick up the tools you’ll need at Virtual Inman Connect online Nov. 1-2, 2023. And don’t miss Inman Connect New York on Jan. 23-25, 2024, where AI, capital and more will be center stage. Bet big on the future and join us at Connect.
For years, people have flocked to online forums to opine about the need for more affordable housing options in a market that’s been especially tough on first-time buyers.
But when Lennar, a major builder, unveiled a community of tiny houses in San Antonio at a six-digit price point, the internet did a driveby — and mostly hated what it saw.
“I had no idea shrinkflation could apply to houses,” one Instagram user wrote.
“More like $100,000 jail cell,” another person quipped on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
These homes actually start at $130,000 for a brand-new, 350-square-foot house, according to Lennar’s website for the community, which began development recently. Buyers can get a bit more bang for their buck if they opt for the more spacious 661-square-foot unit, which starts at $163,000.
But they have also attracted the derision of online content creators and their followers, who have framed both the buildings’ appearance and price point as symbolic of a broader housing affordability crisis. (Fair warning: Bleeped language and maniacal laughing below.)
The reaction to the tiny homes highlighted the public’s general frustration with the lack of affordable starter housing options in most big U.S. cities. At the same time, when people see builders’ efforts to introduce lower-cost alternatives, they often find it lacking in some way — either too ugly, too small, or too expensive.
“The whole point of tiny homes is they are only supposed to be 30-50k max,” another X user wrote.
This might be a bit optimistic in a market like San Antonio. One 408-square-foot home listed for sale less than a mile from a nearby college campus is asking for the same $130,000 price. Unlike the new Lennar community, this structure is more than 80 years old, and is visibly well worn on the inside and out.
“Location!! Location!!” the listing description reminds potential buyers.
Not every user thought the tiny homes sounded like a bad deal. Some did the math, pointing out that the mortgage payment on one of the 350-square-foot units might be lower than a month’s rent on a small apartment unit — and would come with the benefits of homeownership.
“A tiny home with no land or utilities is $100k… just on its own,” one person wrote on Instagram. “These are a great deal and very needed low cost housing. And more dignified than a trailer park.”
As with any viral post on the topic of affordability and housing development, this tiny-home community also invited debate among urban planning enthusiasts.
The problem with this stuff is that it’s still not walkable. You get the worst of both worlds: urban lack of space, but you still have to drive twenty minutes to the grocery store. https://t.co/Jh7hlC5hce
— Seth Largo (@SethLargo) August 18, 2023
Still, the Lennar homes got their share of criticism for being an eyesore in the eyes of many online. For others, they were simply filed under “missed aesthetic opportunity.”
Americans yearn for the row house yet lack the language and imagination to describe it. https://t.co/i7E8k3Jsgs pic.twitter.com/w6prLsDCsF
— Chris AKA “Michael Synergy” (@Papapishu) August 18, 2023
Email Daniel Houston