Each year, the ranks of people drawn to living in a tiny house—a structure no bigger than 400 square feet—continue to grow. Picking the size, layout, and style of your tiny home can be hectic but very exciting. When the most appealing option is a permanent location, buying land is a challenge you can overcome when armed with the right information and some creative negotiation.

Buy, Lease, or Be a Guest

The choice of buying or leasing land sometimes depends on what’s available and on local building code and zoning laws.

Many owners want to purchase land for their tiny homes. Others foresee an eventual move and opt to lease a parcel. Maybe the plan is to stay in the tiny house while traveling. Sometimes a tiny home owner is a guest on the property of a family member or a friend.

Depending on the owner’s situation, the home will be one of three types. It might be a house on purchased land. If on wheels, it might be considered an RV requiring a place on which to park it. Some communities consider a tiny house that’s the second structure on a residential lot an alternative dwelling unit, or ADU. Specific rules for placement determined by each community apply to each type.

Finding Land to Buy

Why is finding land to purchase a challenge? Often lots for sale are much bigger than what the owner of a tiny home needs or wants. Small lots are sometimes in short supply.

The land search process includes finding a lot that’s in the right location, is the right size, and fits within the budget.

Many tiny house experts stress the value of using a network made up of other owners of tiny homes to get leads. Using social media or builder referrals can also help.

It’s hard to overestimate the power of the Internet when searching for residential land or joining a network. Going online is helpful both for finding other “tiny” owners and for locating residential parcels. Many social media users merely perform searches only for people’s names because they don’t realize it’s possible to enter criteria such as “land for a tiny home in Oregon” or “tiny home owners in Columbus” in the search box. Check out these sites for leads:

  • Craigslist
  • Meetups.com
  • Facebook
  • Nextdoor.com
  • Other Social Media websites

Experts also suggest posting a “land wanted” flyer in spots like supermarkets or the local library. A photo of the tiny home will attract attention. The flyer should contain specifics such as the size of the house, the lot size sought, required utilities such as water and power, and the date needed.

Special Considerations

Prospective land buyers need to consider three special things: building codes, zoning regulations, and seller perspective.

Both building codes and zoning laws limit tiny house construction. Local building codes specify how to build the dwelling. Zoning regulations govern where the owner can place the home.

Before searching for land, place a call to the local zoning office or the municipal planning department. The staff should indicate whether there is a minimum size requirement—sometimes 1,000 square feet—for new homes situated on their own land. Bear in mind that it’s usually possible to apply for a variance. Also note that each state, city or county may have differing building codes or zoning regulations.

Finally, when making contact about land potentially for sale, the owner of a tiny home should always keep in mind the seller’s perspective. Sellers focus on their own concerns: sales price, timeframe for selling, and other favorable terms. When negotiating, it’s up to the owner of the tiny home to point out all the potential benefits of a proposal to the seller rather than the virtues of the tiny house itself.

Knowledge of local laws and creative negotiating will go a long way in helping you buy the land for your tiny house. Perplexed by red tape when it comes to local building codes and zoning regulations? Ask for assistance from a local real estate professional.

Written by: Anthony Gilbert

From: RealFX group