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Living Larger in Smaller Homes Movement Gains Popularity

An emerging real estate movement is redefining the average American vacation home — the Not So Big House movement.

Recently, resort community Heritage Harbor Ottawa was a sponsor of the design series weekend “Living Large … in a not so big house,” in Naperville, IL, which hosted architect Sarah Susanka. The well-known architect was behind the launch of the “Not So Big” movement of house design, which means making homes better, not bigger.

Susanka says the market reflects a need for smaller, better-designed houses because they return the qualities customers seek, which include a sense of home and high quality craftsmanship. It’s not more square footage and ever-expanding ceilings that give a sense of comfort or a great community.

“When someone buys a Mercedes Benz or Jaguar, they look for quality, comfort, and detail,” Susanka tells Architecture Week. “Size has nothing to do with the appeal of these cars. If you wanted nothing but space, you could buy a truck. Why is it, then, that some people feel compelled to buy huge houses with empty, cathedral-like spaces that offer few comforts of home?”

The idea of that a sense of “home” having more to do with quality than quantity is also reflective in the waterfront homes at Heritage Harbor Ottawa. The resort resides in historic Ottawa, Ill., in the center of Starved Rock Country — also a target location for a Baby Boomer generation on the hunt for an adventure lifestyle.

There are a range of waterfront properties at Heritage Harbor, which also has a full-service marina with more than 450 boat slips, restaurant on-site, in-ground pool, walking path and year-round events. At Heritage Harbor there are well-designed, beautiful houses — whether used as a vacation or primary home — to fit everyone’s lifestyle. There are single-family cottages, row homes, Cape Cod inspired town homes, coach homes and more. All are designed for a lifetime of low-maintenance, such as maintenance-free exteriors, so not only is quality chosen over quantity, there are resort amenities at your disposable and the resort is in a prime location — there’s less daily stress to deal with.

And according to 2011 data, many Boomers are avoiding possible later stress now by jumping on and seizing real estate opportunities.

MarketWatch.com reported in September 2011 that many in the Boomer generation are deciding to buy a vacation home now that will eventually become their primary residence. In 2010, the National Association of Realtors reported that 34 percent of people who purchased vacation homes planned on using it as their primary home at some point in the future.

Plus, it’s just a good investment, says George Harvey, resort and second home chairman for the National Association of Realtors.

Last month, Harvey told the Charleston Business Journal that many second-home buyers start out as repeat vacationers before venturing into the real estate market. When they do invest in a vacation home it’s not only for personal pleasure, he says, as many Boomers aren’t retiring completely, but instead transitioning to part-time work. Real estate is viewed as an investment for the future.

“We’re in a perfect place for real estate investment (in the resort market),” Harvey said. “The worst is behind us and the upside is looking good.”

Ottawa, Illinois, and Heritage Harbor is the ideal place to start the next phase of life for those looking to make life transition, while making a smart investment. The locale of Ottawa in La Salle County fills all of the needs for those living or vacationing at Heritage Harbor as it does for anyone wanting to live an adventure-type lifestyle. But a great perk is that the location still allows everyone fast and easy access to Chicagoland and its suburbs. Not to mention, the historic town and vistas hold a spectacular beauty.

Those who call Heritage Harbor home are never too far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, but are far enough away to relax and enjoy life. No one has to make a choice of one or the other. At Heritage Harbor Ottawa, everyone has the flexibility to create their perfect lifestyle in the ideal waterfront home.

For more information, to schedule a tour of a Heritage Harbor waterfront home or for directions to the resort community, contact Heritage Harbor at 815-433-5000

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