Cute, mobile and inexpensive, mini-homes have been very popular since they first appeared in Quebec in recent years. But, be careful to weigh the pros and cons before you take the plunge!
Coming from the United States, where they were born in the wake of the real estate crisis at the end of the 2000s, mini-homes, also known as micro-homes, appeal to all those who dream of freeing themselves from a 20-year mortgage and living more simply.
Measuring on average between 100 and 300 square feet, they are often cleverly designed to compensate for their reduced surface area.
Thanks to these small houses on wheels, becoming a homeowner for less than $50,000 is possible. The more manual will be able to build themselves a basic mini-home for $20,000. For a larger model delivered turnkey, it is necessary to count 50 or 60 000 dollars.
These are all assets that explain the enthusiasm they have triggered. The first mini-home festival, which took place in Lantier last July, attracted 7,000 curious people, 7 times more visitors than expected.
However, although mini-houses offer an interesting alternative to conventional houses, they still have major drawbacks. “Some people only see the advantages of mini homes, but we must remain realistic,” warns Olivier Houle Roberge, who is both a fan and builder of these homes through his company Nano Architecture.
Complicated in the long term
While mini-homes are well suited to single people, occupying less than 300 square feet for two people is often easier in theory than in practice. I was hoping to live there with my family,” explains Olivier Houle Roberge, who left his mini-home to get an apartment with his spouse and their child. But the lack of space created friction. We realized that we needed to have a personal space for each of us.
Often, the mini-home is more of a stopover than a long-term solution, unlike the purchase of a traditional house, which represents the purchase of a life. That’s how Pascale Geoffroy, a 32-year-old single woman who moved into her 200-square-foot mini-home last September, sees it. I don’t see myself starting a family there,” she says. When I have a spouse, my micro-home will become a cottage or a place for guests. »
Legally, mini-homes on wheels are considered trailers. However, most municipal by-laws prohibit their occupancy year-round. Some cities tolerate the presence of mini-homes on wheels, but others are more inflexible.
Faced with this constraint, some owners hide and others question their choice. I wanted to get the municipality’s agreement, but it’s difficult,” says Pascale Geoffroy, who hopes the authorities will change their mind. I even thought about selling my micro-home, but I’ve changed my mind. »
While semi-detached homes are much more affordable than a single-family dwelling, they cannot be financed with a mortgage. Interest rates are low, so banks are not interested in lending if the amount is small,” explains Idriss Bouhmouch, Director of Business Development and Operations for Quebec at Ratehub.ca. “If you’re looking for a home that’s not in the market, you can’t finance it with a mortgage. Having received questions about mini-homes from users, he addressed the issue on the blog of this mortgage and credit card rate comparator.
To finance the purchase of a mini-home, those who do not have the necessary funds must therefore turn to more expensive options such as a line of credit or a personal loan, whose rates exceed 10% while mortgage rates are around 2 to 3%.
That’s what Pascale Geoffroy had to do to raise the $28,000 that her minimization cost her. The financing was stressful because the bank wouldn’t give me a $30,000 loan because I was going into self-employment at the same time,” she says. I ended up getting $5,000 at 11 per cent interest, a $10,000 loan from a family member and using a line of credit, my savings and a credit card to finance the rest. »
No value increase
Another difference with a traditional house is its heritage value.
“It’s a solution for housing but it’s not an investment,” warns Idriss Bouhmouch. An opinion shared by Olivier Houle Roberge. “Like a vehicle, it loses its value over time. It is not an investment in the same way as a house built on a piece of land. ».
Indeed, the value of property resides in the building itself but especially in the land.
Moreover, while the minimization itself has a good lifespan, the trailer on which it is installed can rust and deteriorate over time. And, minimaisons are not resold like houses or condos.