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Is micro the next big trend in apartments?

Real estate development often follows a trend. Large homes in the suburbs, condominium developments in downtowns and every developer wants to be on the leading edge of the curve when that next trend arrives.

Will small be the next trend in Minneapolis and St. Paul? For many millennials who may have grown up in the suburbs with large, multi-bedroom homes and three-car garages and seemingly acres and acres of stuff, less may truly be more.

They may have experienced their own parent's struggles with a large home during and after the mortgage and financial crisis and the Great Recession. They may be wary of mortgages, are carrying substantial student loans and may simply not want the opportunity to become weighted down with stuff.

In the world of commercial real estate development, it may mean the trend is moving towards micro apartment units, which tend to be about 200 square feet smaller than the typical one bedroom.

With micro-units, a premium is placed on design and thoughtfulness of the layout. In a smaller space, there is less chance of distraction with regard to mistakes in construction or design, and builders need to truly maximize the elements of the space to ensure livability.

Such things as lounges and other common spaces, to allow residents the option to entertain guests or interact with other residents. The location is very important, as proper site decisions can obviate the need for cars by enabling residents to walk or use public transit.

The urban experience is part of the package, and developers who put it all together correctly potentially may have a big market for small.

Source:, "Next Big Thing: Tiny apartments are big," February 18, 2016

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