Tiny House Movement: The coolest places go small

People ask me all the time if RightSizing is the same as Downsizing.  The truth is, it often is – because the last century of this country’s history has been about enlarging, many of us took that beyond what might be the ‘right’ size.

“Editing is the skill of the century.” What a great quote, now it’s about cutting out what isn’t needed, and ‘editing’ one’s life into the perfect balance of space without too much to keep up with.

I myself, as a native Santa Barbaran, have lived in increasingly smaller homes. The cost of living here is high, but the rewards are too. It’s worth it to me to stay in sunny Santa Barbara and be smart about the space that I buy here.

In fact, compared to the Tiny Houses that are popping up all over the world, my two granny cottage is palatial.

Check this documentary out if you want to know more about the Tiny House Movement.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcVrVA4bSQ

Average size of homes in the 50′s was 1000 square feet, as of 2005, the average was 2300 square feet, for a smaller average family size!

 

Rightsizing is about Spending More of your Time in Joy

Spring has officially arrived and with it time to clean, re-organize and it’s the season to  “Rightsize” your lifestyle.

Rightsizing began as a business term. When businesses use “right-sizing,” they mean reducing and cutting activity to increase profit and productivity. This is more than a euphemism for downsizing. When I suggest rightsizing your life, I mean ‘cutting activity’ by means of doing less upkeep and ‘increasing productivity’ by creating more time and freedom.

Rightsizing is about restructuring how you use your time and money to enhance your satisfaction.

The more “have to’s” associated with your life, like “have to change the outside lights” and “have to paint the fence” the more dissatisfied most of us are. Joy is about spending our time the way we want to, not the way we have to.

So how do you decide if major rightsizing is in order? Begin by looking at the home you live in. Does it serve your daily needs? Does all of the space get used? How far do you travel when you leave the house? To shop, to visit friends to visit family?

In Santa Barbara especially, with prices as they are, maintaining a large home is expensive. If your home is spacious, with room for pets and kids that no longer live there, does it leave you feeling isolated? Often what is right for us in our thirties and forties isn’t right for us in our fifties and sixties. When you Rightsize your lifestyle you are looking for your daily activities to be supported by where you live. That might mean selling your current house and moving into town.

Look at how you spend your time. Is your life filled with stuff you have to take care of and activities others want you to do? Do you spend hours taking care of house, car and stuff that has lost its charm or usefulness in your life? Nothing is more precious than time, especially as we start nudging toward retirement. Assess what percentage of your time is spent in upkeep and ask yourself how much joy that brings?

Your next question is what does your home cost. Look at how you spend your money. If you are working for a home but don’t like your job, sell the house and find a job that resonates with what you want to spend your time on.

Is your time spent fulfilling your life with what you enjoy doing?

Most people answer that spending quality time with your friends and family is what brings them joy. If that is the case, Rightsizing is about how to align more of your time in joy, and spend less time maintaining empty rooms,  yards and houses.

Listen to the Rhythms of Life

The human scale and the size of home we currently live in are not in synch. Considering the ‘over-sizing’ of how we live in middle-class America leads us to questions about diet, finance and lifestyle. When a culture questions its assumptions about modern lifestyles, and begins to assert the need to downsize, it’s time to listen. As a group, we are living longer and larger than any century ever has. But what happens when we need to turn that corner? Just how long can expansion continue?

For 40 years the Danish architect Jan Gehl has systematically studied human behavior. His starting point was an interest in people, more than buildings – in what he called Life Between Buildings. This included studies of how human beings use the streets, how they walk, see, rest, meet, interact etc.

Jan Gehl also asked unusual questions: How much of the street space are the various groups allowed to use? Is this street performing well for all its users? Jan Gehl made his first studies in Italy and later he inspired the planning of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, for 40 years. Copenhagen is a mecca for small spaces made efficient.

Ghel’s ideas inspired the creation of walking streets, bike paths and the reorganization of parks and other public spaces. You could say that Ghel was early in the RightSizing or Downsizing movement. Around the world cities like Melbourne, Dhaka, New York, Chongqing and Christchurch are now also being inspired by Gehl’s work and by the developments in Copenhagen.

Americans are coming on board. More and more of us are living simply and smaller. Simplicity as a design statement conflicts with our ‘Big Box’ stores selling Costco sized products, furniture and food. But what is chic is practical, sleek and elegant. Moving from the suburbs sprawling ranch-home to an Urban Oasis is a shift, and moving to smaller digs is a change that often brings seniors into a more active lifestyle. They tend to walk more and be more involved in the lives of friends and neighbors.

Rightsizing is about finding what works for each individual in each phase of life. This is the natural order of the universe, there are times where the world swells, with children and pets we need a larger place with that fenced lawn, and a time when we be no longer seek space, but comfort and ease. It takes courage to follow that momentum and listen to the rhythms of life. If you have done this, I’d love to hear your stories.

Spring Means Clearing Clutter

Spring is the best time to RightSize your home. Why? Because Spring is all about NEW. In nature, we see animals having babies in the spring, flowers blooming and everyone feeling the ‘newness’ in the long days and warming nights. Winter’s thaw is lifting and people get out and feel more energized. Everyone is ready to ‘start’ down a new road.

Screenshot 2014-03-29 09.27.29For retirees, Spring is the optimum time to move from your current home, to one that will meet more of your needs in the future. Houses in our area have been selling quickly with the average number of days on the market is still just over 40. That means, if you want to have sold your house by June, given the average days on market plus 30 days in escrow, you want to get it listed this April.

Reluctant sellers call this time of year, and sometimes I can hear in their voice the conflict of both wanting, and not wanting to downsize into a smaller home. I like to help people understand that each move, whether increasing or decreasing size can be viewed from the lens of RightSizing. You may find a home with a larger craft room, and a smaller dining room, and that may be a better size home now that the kids have moved to big cities and free time is spent on hobbies.

Moving to a smaller home goes against ingrained conventional thinking that ‘bigger is better’, and understanding what the resistance to downsizing is, can help alleviate unrecognized beliefs. “For most of us, where we live not only fulfills our needs for shelter but also tells the world who we are,” says Genevieve Ferraro, who knows what it’s like to move from a large home to a smaller one: her 1,800-square-foot house in Chicago is next to one twice that size and the only one in her neighborhood that hasn’t added additional rooms.

Understanding the part of you that compares allows you to identify the voice that may tell you a default message such as ‘smaller is worse’ and by extension ‘I’m worse, in a smaller house.’ By identifying these thoughts, you can tackle them directly. By being able to listen to the voices that point out the upsides to downsizing, you can soothe the part that is apprehensive. Re-categorizing downsizing as RightSizing can help put logical and emotional arguments on a level playing field.

It can be difficult to think about moving because it is natural to avoid the unknown. We are attached to our home for sentimental reasons; for many of us, our home was the backdrop to some of our favorite memories. But in my experience, the happiest and most satisfied people in retirement have been those who included housing in their retirement research and tried to anticipate their future needs, study their options, and become well informed.

RightSizing is about identifying needs, lifestyles and priorities. Looking at issues of how we live, breathes fresh choices into life – this is what retirement is about -being prepared and ready for a new phase of life, and meeting those needs with a new home allows you to focus on what you are looking forward to rather than being unconsciously attached to the past.

Small is the New Big

Big is nearly synonymous with American – or at least Texan! And since the industrial revolution, growing profits has meant growing bigger, and therefore getting bigger meant being profitable – or at least it would seem so. Value has often come in scalability. More sales, more volume equals more value. Value comes from national TV ad budgets reaching millions and those of us working for these large corporations could move into larger houses with larger rooms.

And then small happened.

Suddenly Mega-mansions became cliche and Brooklyn studios chic. Downsizing your home may be the trendiest movement of the decade.

Big computers are unwanted and smaller and lighter demanded. Big boom boxes are replaced by tinier and tinier music players.  New developments emphasize communities instead of wide expanses of lawn to mow alone, today’s in touch community minded citizens are choosing homes with shared amenities from rooftop decks to outdoor BBQ’s. Sharing is ‘cool’ and hoarding is out.

bigstock-Vector-of-hands-holding-home-26435483 Downsizing into a smaller home where your neighbors are closer, or into a community where you share resources, is smart, social and responsible.

Today, little companies often make more money than big companies. Companies like Etsy and Majisto rely on social fans and crowd sourcing. While Giant Cap corporations struggle to hold on to their huge market share making growth tough, lean companies like Spotify and Craigslist are attracting record numbers.
Small means the founder makes a far greater percentage of the customer interactions. Small means the founder is close to the decisions that matter and can make them, quickly. A small fund doesn’t have to fund big corporations, they can make small investments in tiny companies with good (big) ideas.

Small is the new big because small gives you the flexibility to live the way you want to. Lower overhead after downsizing your home means you can travel, eat out or pursue new hobbies. Small means you can tell the truth on your blog.

Small means that you can answer email from your clients.
A small restaurant owner or real estate broker greets you by name.

Small is the new big because appreciating the efficiency, the beauty, the simplicity of small is thinking big.
Don’t wait to downsize your home.

Get small. Think big!

Conscious Downsizing is Santa Barbara Chic

I was posed a question at a party when I mentioned that my niche is conscious RightSizing or ‘downsizing your home’, “How do you know if what you are doing is actually conscious or not?”

I thought that was a pretty good question. It’s not really that hard to answer though. Doing the right thing is the thing that makes you feel good about what you gave. It can mean making a sacrifice, or can initially feel like sacrifice, but downsizing has its own rewards -and there are a lot of them.

Screenshot 2014-03-15 18.24.36In my hometown of Santa Barbara,  where I am lucky enough to have spent most of my life, we regularly downsize. With each new influx of Santa Barbara Chic and new rounds of money from the likes of Oprah, Brad and Angie and hedge fund managers, we locals who come from families who bought one $54.000 house in the sixties and never had a dime to spare to invest in another one, have rented smaller and smaller places.

But there’s no shame in that. While Santa Barbara does have it’s own very classy vibe, we also pride ourselves on being grateful, practical and down to earth. Small houses seem to speak that far more eloquently than most mansions, and while a Hawaiian Aloha feel may not be apparent at The Bacarra, you will find it among the surfers at Butterfly Beach, many of whom are home time folks who like myself went to private schools where families strived to pay the $1000 a year tuition at Howard School and kids played in the street where Bentleys and Ferraris now roam.

No harm in luxury, but it is still the simple things in life that set us free. So how do we know if its conscious? Because it’s a good clue that if it’s a tough call it requires consciousness to make it. Staying in Santa Barbara is like that sometimes.  To stay in our homes, we may have to choose between spending the kids’ inheritance and selling off our grandmother’s china. Some of us downsize from beautiful homes in the hills with views of the ocean in order to maintain a life of travel, or minimize tax burdens, or not run out of money. Whatever the initial motivator, downsizing your home is a challenge, but one that can be very rewarding. Like working out and eating well, simplifying and RightSizing can be a conscious choice that results in more freedom, time and often money – that’s a conscious choice.

An Important Phase in Conscious Living

No Doubt about Less House

 

Everyone knows that change is a constant in life.

RightSized

Conscious Living

But knowing and accepting can be two different things. As we move through our lives, most of us go from starter home or apartment to the need for more house as the kids come. Years later, we move from that rambling house where we raised our families to a more efficient home where empty rooms don’t gather dust and the garage isn’t large enough for your youngest to park his three partially re-built motorcycles.

Time is a funny thing. It seems like only yesterday you were making big plans, expanding your family and dreaming about the day you could buy new furniture. Today, your daughter is asking if she can take the spare refrigerator to her new apartment.

The natural course of affairs is that kids move on, and we tire of managing a home full of empty rooms. When this is the case, you know that your downsizing journey has begun. In our culture we are steeped in “Bigger is Better”. That pervasive message, on the surface, may seem to have an alternate ‘smaller is not better’ corollary, but does it? Thinking of large as good and small as less than good can often produce anxiety about facing the inevitable desire to scale down.

While we aren’t shown images of retirees pining for a smaller home, consider why anticipating with joy that part of life. After all, the increasingly precious time and money that are available  to you when there is less home to manage, means what you used to spend on maintenance, cleaning and repair, is now available for the discretionary spending on your favorite fun things. Increasingly, baby-boomers are understanding that downsizing is not a dirty word. In fact it’s a step forward into a life of more freedom, more time and more choices. Finding the right size home with minimal maintenance is definitely an upside to not living large. If you’re thinking less home means more time, you’re not alone.

Luckily, today, smaller is getting good press. Everything from ‘mini’ hybrid cars to smaller plates of food are being heralded as choices which emphasis life over stuff. Living simpler, by taking more time and fewer packages, by walking instead of filling the spare room with treadmills and weights is getting its due. Whether you’re retiring or just want an eco-friendly, low-maintenance lifestyle, downsizing is an important phase in conscious living.

When children grow up and move out of the family home, for example, Mom and Dad are left with an empty nest that’s too big for them. Many adults 55 and older are finding that they are young in body and heart and have a new opportunity to leave the suburbs behind and move downtown, closer to amenities and in a lifestyle that requires less gas and planning.  Not only are these homes easier to maintain, moving into a condo downtown offers easier access to beach walks, coffee shops and music.

In life, there are many events that lead us to a new phase. This is the nature of time, and also the effect of a variety of circumstances. Some life events, such as a divorce or unemployment, are unexpected and force us to make changes, perhaps we need to find a smaller home for financial reasons or we need to move to a home in the same neighborhood where our mother is to be a caretaker. The challenge in these situations is to remain positive about our new path, and find the benefits that will come from choosing a smaller home. I call this process RightSizing.  When too much house is forcing weekends to be spent on cleaning and maintenance, or when it makes financial sense to move from the suburban ranch home to an urban condo, we can see the big picture and say “Yes” to the elements and forces that are sending us down the downsizing road.

My job, and I love it, is to help people identify their needs, their wants and their circumstances. Then we go to work underscoring how you like to live in your home. While transitions take courage, knowing you have a partner who understands and will help can really take the sting out of change and allow the excitement of it to pour forth as you move into your new RightSized home.

Contact me for a Free Lifestyle Values Survey to gain insight into your true RightSized home values.

 

 

The RightSized Value Proposition

A home is not a home because of its roof, its rooms or the color of the walls. It is about how you feel when you walk through the front woman with groceriesdoor. And the way you can instantly envision your life unfolding there.

I understand that buying and selling a home is not just about real estate, it’s about your life and your dreams.

Sometimes downsizing your home feels like giving up a dream, but I like to encourage people to find a new dream. I specialize in finding RightSized Homes to fit your new dreams. I make sure that I listen, and understand your needs and wants – then I go to work. That’s my value proposition, and when you interview a real estate agent to work with, make sure that they are adding expert value to your deal and that they know what it is.

Finding a home is a BIG DEAL. This is an investment of money, and in Santa Barbara a sizeable amount, but it’s also an investment on which your future hinges. Do you know  what is your expectation for return on investment is? Has your agent shown you a forecast of how an area is predicted to appreciate?

How will you mindfully handle the transition? Any move is stressful, moving out of the area is doubly so and moving into a home that needs remodel work can be overwhelming. I help by establishing priorities and fears. Then we work on steps that can be handled to minimize the stress of all things coming in at once.

In this market, you need to be ready to buy, when the right house comes along, and that can feel like a ‘rush’ unless you are prepared. If you are thinking of moving or downsizing your home in the next twelve months, there is no time like the present to prepare.

“To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail,” as John Wooden said. I can take you from initial inquiry to the last box off the moving van. I’m there to ease the way, provide references and case histories that will ease your transition.

Know your assets. For instance, being qualified for a loan or being a cash buyer puts you ahead of others who may also write an offer on that great home. Cash is king and that, for some, this can be a unique value proposition. Time is an asset too, seriously. Let me help you use less of yours to track down the house you love. Time is money and money should be spent on someones’ time who adds value to what you need and any professional you work with should be able to tell you what their value proposition is.

As a professional Real Estate Broker, I can help you sell or purchase a home. I listen first, then go to bat for you to negotiate price and protect the legal aspects of your real estate deal. I know my role: I am your advocate, and I promise to work diligently to make your move a great one.

Real Estate Professionals: Advocate or Bully?

Real Estate Professionals: Advocate or Bully?

Screenshot 2014-02-28 16.10.13  I got the best and funniest compliment today. A friend and prospective client responded with amazement and delight, but genuine surprise when I told her my role as her Real Estate Broker was as advocate, educator and negotiator.
“That’s great!” She exclaimed.

“Every Realtor I’ve worked with in the past has made me cry!”

That’s a problem! If you don’t feel completely confident and comfortable with your Realtor – that’s a problem! Too many professionals in a commissioned capacity forget that they are responsible for the client’s overall experience. Always remember, you are the customer and your needs, not the salespersons commission, should come first.

I assured my client that she was in good hands with me and that there would be only tears of joy. As an independent contractor, my first goal is to give you a good experience looking for your next home. These means that I am responsible for serving all your needs. If you need a lender on your deal, or an inspection, if you need to first understand what kind of home you want or whether the sales price of your home will allow you to move into the rightsized real estate for you, I take that seriously and never bully you into buying or selling.

Making a Real Estate transaction is a BIG deal – especially in Santa Barbara. Most of us never make a larger investment than the one we make when we buy a home. There is no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy the work you pay your Realtor to perform. The stakes are too high and the deals too few to rely on fast money, yearly appreciation or house flipping. It pays to ask your Realtor what his or her background and education are in the field.

Both agents and brokers can help you buy or sell a home. A Real Estate Agent need only pass the Salesperson test and pay dues to the National Association of REALTORS to be called a REALTOR. a licensed Real Estate Broker has many more hours of education and training. A college degree or a minimum of four years of experience working with a Broker and a state wide exam are all required to become a licensed Real Estate Broker.

A Broker’s license is required to sign off on a legal contract, agents work under a broker who is licensed by the state to make legally binding contracts.

Whether your REALTOR is an agent or a broker, make sure they are YOUR advocate and never, ever let them push you into a deal that you aren’t comfortable with.

Is Now a Good Time to Sell in Your Neighborhood?

Sellers are Optimistic about Listing Now

While the California Association of Realtors reports a slowdown in sales at the end of 2013, fundamentals of demand and the general economic outlook remain solid for 2014. Interest rates are predicted to climb, but are currently at historic lows with a 30 year fixed at 4.5% and a jumbo five year interest only loan is at 3.125%
The national median home price is up 11.5 % from 2012, making the combination of rising prices and low interest rates attractive to sellers who no longer have to compete with distressed house prices. In fact, the mortgage rates at these levels are the second lowest rates since 1972. The lowest was rates were in 2012. According to the latest Redfin Real-Time Seller Survey polling 466 homeowners across 22 major metro areas in the U.S, the number of respondents who believe now is a good time to sell rose four percentage points, suggesting rising confidence in the market. Responding to a new question, just over half of home sellers said that mortgage rates are one factor (41%) or a key factor (11%) in their decision to sell their home.

There are reasons to consider that the combination of low inventory, low rates and decreasing distressed properties make this a great time to list your property. In fact, 38 percent of home sellers believe that now is a good time to sell, a bump from 34 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, and a steep rise from 22 percent last year.

Increased confidence, low rates and a stronger economy point the way, and additionally there is more money available for buyers. The average credit score of approved mortgages is down from 750 to 720 -meaning money is getting a little easier to come by.  Interest rates point to this year as a historic place to buy – government wants to push these rates up, but they are still below five percent now, making this a unique spot where home prices are attractive but rising, interest rates are low and money is being lent.

Let me know what you think!

 

Rightsized Dream Homes Come True