a tiny house, real estate lawyerThe emergence of tiny houses in the Chicago market may provide a solution for those seeking home ownership, but buyers should be aware that purchasing a tiny house is a real estate transaction with the same legal requirements as a traditional home purchase and may also be subject to other restrictions. Since the decline of the housing market in 2008 and the subsequent recession, many would-be home buyers have struggled to find affordable houses.

An Affordable Option

The tiny house movement continues to gain traction in the U.S. In Chicago, some are turning to them as a solution to the affordable housing shortage. Averaging from 100 to 500 square feet, tiny houses are comparable in size to many studio apartments.

Unlike apartments, which can rent for $1,400 to nearly $2,000 a month in Chicago, the mortgage payment on a tiny house usually runs about a dollar a square foot. At a retail price of $100,000 or less, the mortgage payment on a 500 square foot home can average a little over $500 with all fees included.

Are Tiny Houses Legal?

The easiest answer to the legality of tiny houses is that they are not illegal. They are, however, subject to zoning restrictions and may require a variance depending on the neighborhood.

It’s estimated that there are more than 10,000 vacant City-owned lots on Chicago’s South Side. The addition of privately owned vacant lots increases the number to more than 30,000. Proponents are looking for ways to return these lots to the real estate market, which could make them ideal for tiny houses.

Real Estate Transactions Require Due Diligence

Despite the unique nature of tiny homes, purchasing a vacant lot and building or buying a tiny house is still a real estate transaction. All real estate transactions require due diligence.

Tiny house buyers must ensure that they have a sound understanding of the legalities of their purchase. To protect their property rights, they must obtain clear legal title to the land where the home will be placed and comply with all zoning requirements.