The Rise of Mail-Order Tiny Homes

August 20, 2019
Amazon shipping center
Photo: Bryan Angelo

Amazon has the potential to turn tiny homes into a widely-used housing solution through its one-click, mail-order buying platform, Curbed reports.

If you need to buy a house, why not try Amazon? Since 2015, consumers have been using the e-commerce platform to buy garden sheds and workshops. And in May, the Allwood Solvalla came online. It’s a 172-square foot sunroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, subtly marketed as a tiny house. Soon after its internet debut, the kit promptly sold out.

Is there a future for Amazon’s mail-order housing market? There is now a wide range of DIY home kits from multiple third-party sellers available on the site, ranging from bare-bones cabinettes to a two-story container house and even a pre-fab modular home for $105,000. They’ve enjoyed a deluge of media coverage, and curious Amazon users are peppering manufacturers with questions. And the market is certainly ready: With solo living on the rise and a deepening nationwide housing shortage, demand for smaller, cheaper places to live is sure to grow in the coming years.

North America’s affordable housing shortage could serve as the same economic rationale for Amazon’s mail-order house business. As housing prices skyrocket in places like Los Angeles and Boston and developable urban land becomes increasingly scarce, an affordable build-your-own-house kit could be just the fix for many households. (And since the company is often blamed for boosting real-estate prices in Seattle and now Northern Virginia, it might be karmically appropriate for Amazon to get in on the solution side to the affordable housing crisis.)

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