When 34-year-old Billy Rojo (@billy_the_realtor) posted a video tour of a new affordable housing community in San Antonio, he wasn't expecting to go viral. In the video, which has been viewed over 500,000 times on TikTok and more than 8 million times on Twitter, Rojo shows off a brand new tiny home.
He starts the video saying, "You asked for it and here it is — the most affordable home in San Antonio, Texas. Let's check it out," before taking viewers through a breakfast nook, kitchen, a bedroom, and a loft. "It's small, but it's affordable."
The two-story home is over 600 square feet (which is bigger than my current residence, tbh) with two full baths, and an estimated mortgage of about $1,000 a month on the total price of $136,900.
You can watch the full video here:
@billy_the_realtor / Via tiktok.com
Now, I'm from San Diego, so maybe I'm a little bit brain-poisoned from growing up in the most expensive city in the US, but $1,000 a month to own a place to live sounds like a screaming deal to me. But over on Twitter, people had thoughts about this tiny home development.
You might not want to, but you're going to live here pic.twitter.com/B1MqyQaK0O
— 🌴 Josh Lekach 🌴 (@JoshLekach) November 28, 2023
Some people resented seeing these homes touted as "affordable" when they believe that denser, multi-family builds are needed to address affordable housing shortages.
San Antonio would rather its residents live in this dystopian nightmare for $1000/month than build up. pic.twitter.com/CGHW6IdIKV
— Hayden Clarkin (@the_transit_guy) November 29, 2023
While others criticized the lifestyle these small homes offer:
As usual with the suburbs, this combines most of the worst aspects of urban and rural living:All of the space of a 1 BD apartment, almost no outdoor area, all the maintenance costs of a single family home, a boring unwalkable neighborhood. What's not to love? https://t.co/yxz3OXHcfw
— Alex Z (@AZinCLE) November 29, 2023
And others pointed out the suburbia of it all:
— THEObr🌞mic (@theobromic_) November 29, 2023
The TikTok comments weren't any better:
Rojo told BuzzFeed he was surprised by the response to his video. "I didn't think it would be so controversial. Normally on my content, people just scroll past it if it's not for them or comment if it is something they like."
And he also thinks the reaction is partly shock from people who hadn't realized just how much the housing market has changed in the last few years. He explained, "If you purchased a home two years ago at $300,000, the same home now costs $100,000 more and the interest rate has doubled from a 2.75% to a 6%. It's really getting harder to afford a house and these tiny homes are a great affordable option."
He also shared that when he shows homes like these to actual clients, they often really love them. "I think what attracts them to the tiny homes is the cost. There's a home for everyone out there. This is 'Military City,' so we have a lot of single, active, and retired military people. You're paying less than the cost of an apartment with a little more privacy. These are perfect for people on a fixed income."
While they're probably not right for a growing family, I could see homes like these being perfect for a single person or someone in the military, as Rojo mentioned. There's a big military presence in my hometown too, so I've seen plenty of even smaller, cottage-style homes here that were built decades ago with the military in mind.
In my opinion, the anger at Rojo's video has a touch of the "What About Me" effect that we see in things like people online demanding a bean-free version of a viral bean soup recipe or getting mad at a woman for tweeting about having coffee in her garden with her husband. It's not like Rojo was saying everyone should live in a tiny home — he was just sharing a property in hopes of finding the right buyer. But the internet took it personally.
However, the reactions also reflect a very real frustration with a housing market that keeps getting harder and harder for the younger generations to crack. This feeling is so, so valid (and I share it), but picking on a realtor about it isn't going to do anything for the cause. Rojo's not in charge of building affordable housing, and our rage could be so much more productive aimed at actual decision makers like local politicians and developers. If you gotta cyberbully someone, why not your local government?