Small is big at present

NEWS flash everybody! Property experts say small houses are the in thing.

NEWS flash everybody! Property experts say small houses are the in thing.

According to Xoliswa Tini of Xoliswa Tini Properties in East London, small is the new big.

Tini says rising energy costs and the housing credit crunch is causing an increasing demand for smaller, more efficient houses.

She says because of the credit crunch fewer people are qualifying for big house mortgages and people are determined to get the most affordable home loan rates available.

"The housing market has always been demand driven," she says. "Big houses have fallen out of favour for the moment.

"More and more people are demanding smaller houses."

Tini says developers and builders have changed their tune and started building smaller, more efficient houses.

They have also begun to recognise that smaller houses appeal to a greater number of people as "green" becomes more important and utility costs rise.

Tini says more and more people are moving in with their relatives and parents to share costs.

"More people are also finding greater joy in living in smaller places.

"Small houses save energy, time and cash."

Chris Althorpe, an interior decorator, says your home doesn't need to be big to be beautiful, functional and comfortable.

"The advantage is that smaller homes require less energy to heat and fewer materials for repair - and improving an existing house has a much smaller effect on the environment than building a new one.

"Small houses can also offer an opportunity to add amenities without breaking the bank."

The disadvantages of downsizing

Fewer belongings. Moving to a smaller home would probably result in selling or giving away your furniture, books, kitchen supplies and emptying out the garage, basement and attic.

No room for guests. Hosting a huge dinner might be out of the question in a smaller home.

Out-of-town guests might need to stay at a hotel when they visit you.

Space restrictions. Some home owners report feeling cramped . It's hard to get away from other family members and enjoy private time, because there are fewer rooms to escape to .

l Less prestige. For some people appearances are more important than comfort and for some a smaller home might not project the image of financial success they look for.

Lifestyle changes. Especially for long-term home owners, trading down means changing a lifestyle and some people are resistant to change. There is a certain comfort derived by staying with what is familiar.

Tips for coping in asmall house

Find a place for everything and put everything in its place as soon as you're done with it.

l Have a transitional junk drawer where you stash stuff until you can file, fold, sort or dispose of it.

l Banish clutter from your kitchen counter tops. An uncluttered kitchen is the biggest step toward small-space sanity.

l Eliminate small appliances you don't need. Stash those you do need inside cabinets.

l Don't own a lot of stuff. If you can do without it, do without it.

l Only host huge parties outside when you have pleasant weather.

l Decorate to make small look bigger. Use light colours and avoid wildly patterned fabrics. Muted is good.

l Use futons, sofa beds or other furniture that can go quickly from compact to full-size as you need it.

- Additional information from