Livermore, Pleasanton, Danville, Short Sale Specialist

Imagine living in a home the size of a large SUV. Hard to do? Tiny homes are a practical and very affordable option for buyers ranging from young singles (21 percent of tiny-home buyers are under 30) to empty-nesters and retirees looking to downsize (38 percent are over 50), according to our interviews with owners and builders of pre-fabricated models on the market.

These prefabs can also make attractive backyard additions, serving as a a “granny flat” for an aging relative, for example. (But make sure to check your local zoning laws, and beware that regional zoning restrictions can affect the construction and location of your tiny home, warns The New York Times.)

If you’ve got the land, costs range from around $20,000 for the smallest models to more than $150,000. By contrast, the U.S. median price for new single-family homes was $275,800 in April 2014, according to U.S. census data. It’s not just savings in building costs. By their very nature, tiny homes help homeowners save big on utility and maintenance costs. The biggest challenge? “Minimizing your accumulation of stuff,” says Hunter Floyd, of tiny-home builder Cinderbox Dwelling.

We’ve rounded up nine appealing tiny homes, all 500 square feet or less. Our tiniest is 128 square feet, occupying a mere six feet less than a 2014 Chevy Suburban. The average single-family home is 2,300 square feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Take a look.

Slide show: 
12 tiny, tricked-out homes

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