Sticking up for small houses

April 24, 2016 • Filed under:

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It’s spring! The earth is showing off her glory as blooms of all colors burst forth from the green foliage coming alive once again after a long winter’s sleep.

Something else is popping up all over town too.

For Sale signs.

Spring is the most popular season to put a house on the market.

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Because of the flurry of activity in the housing market in my town and the number of friends I have who are real estate agents, I have been involved in many discussions about selling a home. Today’s buyer is looking for a move-in ready house. When a two-income family has a calendar overflowing with scheduled activities for their kids in addition to their jobs, who has time to fix up a home? Such families want to move in and keep on going.

I get it. I completely understand.

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In response to such buyer expectations, sellers now get their house ready to show by removing much of their belongings and “staging” the home as if it is being featured in a magazine.  Not too many years ago, a home would only be viewed by those who physically toured it. Now, however, most people find out about homes for sale online, so competition is stiff. We can each tour homes virtually–hundreds of homes–without ever leaving our desk chair. A perfectly fine home–one that would have been desired if not compared to another–now gets cast away by a home with better pictures or a larger neighborhood pool.

I get it. I completely understand.

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The same happens with resumes submitted online, something I speak about at my job all the time. We are simply dealing with the realities of technology.

It just so happens that houses in my geographic area are being built large. Granite counter tops, open floor plans, hardwood floors, and a bathroom for every bedroom, are fast becoming the expected norm.

This post isn’t about bashing large, updated homes.

This post is about sticking up for the smaller, gently used homes.

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The smaller homes, typically the older homes, are being squeezed out and passed over. They are tired looking, it is true, but just like an older person earns his or her wrinkles, an older home has earned its right to normal wear and tear. Such homes have sheltered families through births and deaths, happy celebrations and crisis interventions, scorching days of summer, bitter cold days of winter, and each has faithfully welcomed its occupants home at the end of each day to tuck them in for sleep. The walls of a house can’t talk, but the walls have seen and heard it all, and they are willing to do it all over again for a new family, if only a new family would dare to pick a used house over a larger, fancier dwelling down the street.

Small homes have a special glory.

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Small homes save money.

Just because we can afford a certain priced home doesn’t mean we need to purchase at that level. Financial margin is a good thing; we get to save more, take our family on vacations, pay for weddings,  and accommodate emergencies without going broke. Am I the only one who knows what it is like to ignore the mailbox for a day because it contains a stack of bills I will struggle to pay?

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Small homes can be more easily maintained.

Large homes wear out just like small homes do. Walls need to be painted, heating and air systems replaced, and decor updated (in case you have to sell to today’s buyer.) Smaller homes mean smaller handyman bills. I remember buying the cutest condo ever when I was 29. When it came time to tile the foyer, I only had to tile about a 5×8 foot space. I was able to pick out the tile I desired and it didn’t hurt my pocketbook at all.

Am I the only one who has lived in a house I could afford, but then struggled to maintain it?

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Small homes teach us to share.

I sometimes wonder how a child who grows up in a home with their own room and bathroom learns how to share. Sacrificing for others is difficult. It requires us to lay down our desires and make gritty decisions to be content when things don’t go our way. I know everyone practices sacrificial sharing because life demands it from everyone, but do kids who share rooms and bathrooms get more practice? I think so.

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Small homes are mansions.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, Astonishing Numbers: America’s poor still live better than most of the rest of humanity, a chart published in the New York Times indicates “the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.”

Compared to the rest of the world, we are rich. Nearly all of us.

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Our homes are large, even our small homes.

Last week I watched the true story about Li Cunxin, a world-renowned ballet dancer, in the independent film, Mao’s Last Dancer. When Li first came to America and entered a normal, standard apartment occupied by Ben Stevenson, the artistic director of the Houston Ballet at the time, Li’s first sentence was, “You must have a very large family!” A very small apartment in America felt like a large family home to Li by comparison.

I was also reminded of a line in the movie, The Good Lie. Sudanese refugees are taken in by an American woman played by Reese Witherspoon, assigned to help the refugees adjust to modern life in the United States. At one point Witherspoon’s character talked about purchasing dog food, to which one refugee responded incredulously, “You have food for dogs?”

Oh, dear man, if only you knew how good dogs have it in America.

I cannot forget that line — You have food for dogs?

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I cannot dismiss small homes, either.

The value of a home is determined by the people who reside within its walls, not its square footage.To all the owners of small homes and to each of us who grew up in one, let’s celebrate. Those homes saved us money, sheltered us through thick and thin, were easier on our pocketbooks and maybe…just maybe…played a role in developing our character because we had to share.

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To small home owners everywhere, enjoy the joys of living with financial margin and enjoy the drive back home each night to your “mansion.”

Hey precious reader, do you want to add something to the list?

I just got started!

Why do you like small houses?

Photos courtesy of a trip to Dahlonega, Georgia and my front yard.

© 2016 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

 

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