A Trendy Commodity - Owner Occupied Multi Families for the Financially Savvy
One Owner Occupants Artistic Solutions to Making it work
The current trend in housing is smaller. A return to investing in multi families to accommodate multi-generational living is also becoming more in demand to fill the needs of the "sandwich generation" (families caught between aging parents and young children). Robert Fishel wrote in is latest newsletter: The ideal home is shrinking. Out of five categories of home sizes, more respondents preferred homes in the 1,401 to 2,000 sq. ft. range, a category which increased 17% in popularity from a year earlier. For more on this subject go to: Robert Fishel at Paramount Mortgage
This example of a four family in the northeast quadrant of University City Mo makes the prospect of becoming an owner occupant very appealing. The property was purchased about 16 years ago. Kathy Straatmann, the owner occupant, chose this property which is in a neighborhood of smaller homes because it is located conveniently close to several University City parks, a grocery store, the Delmar Loop, Washington University, public transportation and the Metrolink. She was using public transportation at the time and also wanted to be in a subdivision that graciously dealt with the block busting attempt that took place in the 1960's and has maintained its stable neighborhood to this day.
Kathy has since turned this purchase into a trendy commodity. The size is small and the tenants are paying her mortgage, an ideal situation for the current economy. She is an artist and just loves to entertain. The phrase "less is more" is heresy to her. Her unit is only 850 square feet, it's true, but she has turned it into an efficient piece of art.
She has personalized the common hallways so her tenants feel at home. Vacancies are seldom and they are quickly snatched up by word of mouth when they occur. Each unit has a garage space and use of the yard. The pasture scene under the shade tree is a popular place for "teas". The livestock were added as a result of an inappropriate "farmer" fence installed by her neighbor.
Making the best use of all 850 s.f, the owner's living room dining room is designed to transform on a minute's notice. She has 2 different sitting spaces in her living room. One centers around the fireplace and the other is actually set up as an intimate space for conversation between 2 to 4 people. She has put everything on wheels so that she can change the ambiance with very little effort. All of the chairs pull back and the tables move and walla you have room for a large dinner party or committee meeting.
Her dining room doubles as her office. Her desk is her dining room table. She has the dining room table on a rug which makes it easy to turn the position of the table. The closet houses a Murphy bed for overnight guests and extra folding chairs for her dinner parties. The chairs that are lined up in front of the Murphy bed were a vision of hers when she spotted them as normal chairs and pictured turning them into people. The backs are just as much fun as the fronts.
She LOVES stuff and doesn't feel like a small place means you can't have it displayed. Her hallway is another one of her artistic statements. She has painted/collaged the tops of the walls as the theme "Happiness is a journey not a destination. One section is "show up", another is "hold hands", another is "always go to the fair". Above her bedroom door she has "The Wizard of Oz".
Her kitchen is somewhat of a blank slate right now. It is going to be anchored around the Bette Midler picture she just purchased. She has already placed some shoes and martini glasses on the shelves above her "Desi-Lucy" table.
In her bedroom she has maximized storage with several unique pieces that she saved from the dumpster and then painted. The one is a crude cabinet fashioned by an itinerant Mexican worker during the late 30's. They are definitely one of a kind.
Click on the picture for a virtual tour
Kathy's work of art isn't on the large scale of Steve Jobs, but it is a testament to investing in your community and neighborhood and living proof that life can be grand in the "The Not So Big House". Also, investing in a multi-family as an owner occupant can be a financially savvy thing to do, especially in the current economy.