My partner, Ryan Egan, and I are frequently asked why we started Stackhouse. Whenever we tell our story, some parts are emphasized over others, some details are left out depending on the audience. For us, Stackhouse is more than a business — it is a necessary adjustment caused by the world in which we found ourselves.
At its core, Stackhouse is a real estate development that seeks to make homeownership more accessible and downtown living more affordable. We make this possible by providing high-quality homes at reasonable prices, no matter the real estate market. Ryan and I are building this company with three core values: innovation, social and corporate responsibility, and remaining open-minded toward all of the experiences our world has to offer. Our vision is to help usher in a new way to live and be in our world. We see eco-friendly, economical homes as an essential adaptation for our ever-growing cities and populations.
When we first decided to start this company I had no background in real estate, compared to Ryan’s 10 years in the business. He carefully explained to me that it is the cost of the homes themselves, as required by developers, that makes neighborhoods expensive. The real solution to the housing crisis would be in figuring out a way to give residents control over the cost of their home and then, in turn, giving people affordable access to the land where they want to live. Shipping container homes are built off-site, where costs can be controlled and savings incurred through assembly-line construction. That idea made perfect sense to me.
We then spent the next two weeks pulling all-nighters, outlining business plans, checking in with each other every few hours to make sure we both still thought this was a good idea, and generally being in this state of ecstatic panic. As a couple, we had discussed going tiny ourselves.
A shipping container would fit perfectly where we were living at the time, but the city code required us to affix it to the ground. But we knew we wanted a tiny house we could move to new and different cities, but didn’t want to be the ones to drive it! Having knocked out THOWs and Skoolies (tiny houses on wheels pulled by a truck and tiny homes built in school buses) we started Googling other options.
Besides our own desire to go on a Tiny Living adventure, we knew that affording a place to live wasn’t just a problem we were facing. Nearly half of the households in the United States are rent-poor, as the costs of living have increased exponentially and wages have remained stagnant.
The housing problem median-income earners are facing has many contributing factors. Realtor.com reports that median home prices have increased from $185,000 to $275,000 over the last five years, up 48%. While the median household income has only risen 15% over the same time period. Additionally, demand for starter homes, defined as those listings priced at under $200,000, is up 46% year-over-year.
Simply put, there aren’t enough affordable homes to go around. And those in the starter home market — working millennials — are saddled with debt and lower-paying jobs. The average net worth of a 2007 college graduate is currently estimated at just over $10,000, according to Robert Farrington, an expert on millennials and student loan debt. For young professionals just finishing their first year on the job market, Farrington estimates their net worth at a frightening average of negative -$33,984 dollars.
With the median household income in the United States sitting at just under $60,000, the market is bereft of attainably priced homes. Research has shown for decades that owning a home, and the zip code in which it is located are two of the most important indicators of individual and familial stability, as owning a home and renting a place to live are fundamentally different experiences. Homeownership and stable housing in general boosts “the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates, and lessens welfare dependency” this according to research from the National Association of Realtors.
Since both of our parents have reached retirement age, we are also keenly aware that baby boomers are transitioning into fixed incomes and looking to downsize. CNBC reports that the supply of entry-level homes is still lagging behind demand. This is a multifaceted crisis that is facing one of the largest generations in U.S. history. At Stackhouse, we are working to provide the solution for that first facet: a truly affordable homeownership option for median income earners.
An affordable homeownership option like Stackhouse will allow millennials and baby boomers alike to access the stability homeownership provides and increase financial security.
In the wake of increasing rents, home prices, and lower wages, there is a growing number of people who have decided to “go tiny” out of necessity. Recognizing the tremendous potential that tiny homes could have on the affordable housing market, Stackhouse was created to provide a homeownership option that conforms to existing city codes.
We started Stackhouse to merge multi-family housing with tiny living so that our residents can live in downtown areas with the best amenities, in a customizable home of their design, all while remaining affordably priced.
The Stackhouse tower, lift mechanism, and integrated crane, all patent pending, seamlessly lifts, slides in and locks your home into place. Our first tower in Tucson, Arizona will have bays for at least 40 container homes; in larger markets, we are preparing to build towers as large as 250 units.
We have partnered with a manufacturer to supply shipping container tiny homes that start at $45,000 and are customizable from floorplans to paint colors, appliances, and storage.
In expanding our business, we intend to build our towers in metro areas around the country, and internationally. Residents will be able to move their container home from one tower to another. We will simply remove their home from their current slot, ship it via train or flatbed truck to their new city, and connect their home to the utilities.
To facilitate this efficient way of moving, we offer our residents long-term leases and the convenience of one monthly payment, which includes their utilities, cable, internet, and parking where required. Rents in our Tucson tower begin at $650 a month and Stackhouse towers are equipped with a shipping container elevator at the front, stairs at the back and all units are ADA accessible.
Ryan and I have been hard at work since February 2017. I will never forget that very first conversation we had about what is now Stackhouse. Ryan told me he’d had this idea for a new kind of homeownership, and had been kicking it around in the back of his mind for quite a while. His experience working in condo development in San Francisco had shown him how unnecessarily expensive the construction process had become.
We are so close, ya’ll. Stick along for the journey and #backthestack with us!