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Tiny homes don’t cost much, but they can require a tiny mortgage.

Unless you have $30,000 in cash to buy the average tiny home of 200 square feet, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get a mortgage on a tiny home. A mortgage requires that a home be placed on a permanent foundation, not a trailer with wheels, as many small homes are.

Most mortgage lenders have minimum loan amounts that are much higher than a tiny home budget. The typical size of a small home seldom exceeds 500 square feet. The average cost is $30,000, though it can range from $10,000 for a build-it-yourself tiny home to $100,000 or more for one from a professional builder. Such small loans may not be worth the risk to lenders.

The good news is that there are other ways to finance a tiny home:

RV Loan
If a tiny home meets the manufacturing and safety requirements to be certified roadworthy by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, it may qualify for an RV loan from a bank. The main requirement is that the home be on wheels.

Personal Loan
If a tiny home isn’t certified as an RV, or it’s not on wheels and is on a foundation, then an unsecured personal loan may work best.

This way, the borrower, not the home, is being underwritten through the loan. The tiny home isn’t used as collateral, as with a mortgage. A customer’s credit history and ability to repay will be the basis for loan approval, and they won’t have to justify how the money will be used.

However, personal loan rates can be twice as high as 30-year mortgages, though at much shorter terms of up to seven years. That can be good for a tiny-homebuyer, giving them a small loan that they can pay off within several years to then save money for other things down the road.

Traditional Mortgage
If your tiny home is going to be on a permanent foundation, that may be enough to get you in the door at a bank offering a traditional mortgage, despite the small loan amount. Even for a small loan, a bank may consider you if you have good credit and your tiny home meets the local zoning codes and licensing rules. Like an RV loan, the mortgage will be secured by the home, which is key to being able to deduct interest.

With tiny homes becoming more popular, look for more lenders to enter the market. When a need for loans is created in the marketplace, banks often find ways adapt.