Episode #13 – Elizabeth Farias from Village Farm explains the big dream that’s about to come true for Texas’ only tiny home Agrihood.
On this episode of Agrihood Radio we’re catching up with Village Farm Representative Elizabeth Farias.
Today Elizabeth talks about the first of it’s kind, a tiny home Agrihood located in Austin, Texas.
During our travels we have yet to visit a tiny home Agrihood. So when we heard about Village Farm, we had to make a special trip to see it in person.
Our trip was met with a warm greeting by Elizabeth. So we wanted to catch back up with her and have her share the story of how Village Farm all began, and the vision of where it’s headed.
We think you’ll be as impressed as we were of how this tiny community has such a big vision for its’ residents.
Elizabeth admits that when she first heard of a tiny home Agrihood, she asked herself the question “how are people going to buy that?” She said “there’s no way!”
To her surprise she said she couldn’t have been more wrong in her assumptions.
She tells us that Village Farm attracts first-time home buyers, professionals, baby-boomers, empty-nesters to single parents. She explains this as being an extremely diverse community made up of very like-minded people, who all want to simplify their lives.
It’s continuing to become extremely popular with that segment of the population. So much so, Elizabeth says her sales team is seeing a major influx of people moving to Village Farm from all over the country.
She says “everybody wants a piece of Village Farm!”
We also learned that Village Farm works with four different home builders, including Clayton Homes, Platinum Homes, Athens Homes, and Wheelhaus.
Residents can choose from these four builders with a total of nine different floor plans.
However, because of the growing popularity, starting with phase two, Village Farm will be offering additional builders which will also increase the current number of floor plans.
Have a listen as we learn more about the only tiny home
Agri-Community we have seen along our 7,000 mile tour.
Brett: Hi, Elizabeth. How’s it going?
Elizabeth: It’s awesome. How are you?
Brett: Good, excellent. We want to follow up with you because Lena and I and Cash we’re out there taking a look at that property you have, and it was amazing. I think we told you when we were there, we’re looking for an Agrihood for our family, and we’ve seen quite a few. But I have to say again, that yours, Village Farm there in Austin is something that’s amazing. Because we have not seen one yet that has the tiny home concept which is amazingly huge right now, and also the Agrihood component put together. You guys are swinging for the wall and it’s a home run. So tell us about that, what’s going on? How did it all start? And what’s the vision? Because there’s some cool stuff happening there.
Elizabeth: Yeah, absolutely you are correct. We are the only tiny home active community that’s already developed in Austin, Texas. We definitely have some projects coming up. Right now we have phase one of the community which are about 42 lots that are surrounding our RV park. We have a lot of common areas and a lot of amenities like our pool, our hot tubs, 24-hour fitness center, we have laundry facilities, we have playgrounds, we have pet parks, we have raised garden beds for those residents that would like to do their own gardening, bocce ball, barbecue pits.
Coming soon into phase two which where the actual community will be, that community will be built around the organic farm. It’s going to have an additional 112 more lots into it. It’s going to be more of a communal community to where you’re going to have to park your car in the outer and then just walk into the community. They’re going to be building a 6,000 square foot barn where there’s going to be a bunch of amenities not only from us but from our own residence as well with an amphitheater outside to invite local artists into our community.
We’re going to be building the general store as well which is going to have a bistro inside, kind of like our own little Starbucks where you can go and work from there if you do work from home, we do have some residents that do that. So we’re definitely growing and it is making a huge impact in not only Austin but different states that the word of mouth is getting out there and we have people from New York and Arizona, and just really different states that are looking to relocate into Austin and looking to move into a community like Village Farm.
Brett: Yeah you guys are … that’s pretty, that’s spot on. So as you’re describing this place I’m not sure if you have heard of one of the originals down there in Chattahoochee Hills outside of Atlanta, Georgia, it’s called Serenbe. And Serenbe is how I first learned about Agrihoods when I was watching CBS Sunday morning about three years ago. And then I told Lena, my wife, about it, and it never left our minds.
And this past summer we did a big extensive road tour, and we got a chance to see Serenbe as one of our visits. And I know that you’re tiny homes, that’s not what I’m comparing it to, but your community as far as having the amphitheater, having the market, the barn, the shops. I mean, it’s like a whole village within … It’s like a whole village, a whole city within a village, it’s very similar to the concept of what’s happening out there right now. So how did it all start? Because we came through there, we saw RV’s, so did it start as an RV park?
Elizabeth: Well, the RV was bought by Scott Roberts who is our owner, about four years ago. And his original plan was to expand the RV park across the street where Village Farms will be, is Green Gates Farm Market which was bought out by Roberts Communities. And they were leasing out that area for them. And when he bought the RV Resort he was like, “All right, I am going to extend the RV Resort. I’m going to go ahead whenever their contract is done, not renew them anymore and just really do an expansion of the RV Resort,” which he already currently has.
The farmers were not okay with that, went to the city, he fought with the city for about maybe two, three years to see if he could actually expand his RV Resort. He wasn’t allowed to, they told him, “Look, Scott, you’re just going to have to keep the farm there. The farmers have been there for a long time, they’re pretty stable. Just do something with the space.” And that’s when he came up with the concept, okay, well, the homes that we do have there are all registered recreational vehicles which are RVs, so they’re just more of an upgrade RV in comparison to a 5th wheel.
So that’s when Village Farms was born, where he’s like, “All right, I’m going to keep the farm. I’m going to create this little village, kind of going back to our old roots.” A little bit different than what we’re seeing nowadays with all the technology and the stores and the high-rises, it’s totally the opposite. And people are really, really loving it, they really are. It’s amazing how much traffic we get in and how they’re even paying … I was talking to my manager not too long ago and we were comparing what people are paying on built homes as far as square footage and compare it to a tiny home, it’s almost double to that. But that’s how people are wanting that. They’re wanting to simplify their lives and just kind of have that village and the whole organic farm like you said, and then just kind of simplifying their lives. And it’s working well.
Brett: It’s working so well that you have multi-billion dollar investment companies like Taurus Development, they’re on board, you have Freehold Communities another big one. I mean, you have these huge, huge, huge corporations sinking millions and millions of dollars into understanding the new buyer is the Millennial, most of them are Millennials. And then you have the retirees, and a lot of people are not requiring or have an interest in the golf course communities anymore, because the farm-to-table lifestyle is more appealing. And like I said for you guys that tiny home concept with the farm is like it’s pretty sweet.
Elizabeth: Yeah, it is pretty sweet. And you’re right about the investors, we actually have our owner in town today and he’s been lately bringing in investors, because he bought a community in Tahoe, in the Lake Tahoe area, the California side of it, which he’s going to be implementing the same concept that he has here in Austin over there. And trust me, all these investors are just amazed of the idea and everything, so we definitely do have all of that going for this concept of the tiny home village thing.
Brett: Yeah, tell me, is it Roberts you said, Roberts Development, is he the owner?
Elizabeth: Scott Roberts is the owner; his company’s name is Roberts Communities.
Brett: Roberts Communities, okay, cool. People want to know that. And before I forget, tell people right now how they can find Village Farm.
Elizabeth: They can either visit us at VillageFarmAustin.com, and that’s our website. It will show the floor plans that we have available. We’re on Facebook, Village Farm Tiny Home Community. We’re also an Instagram. Or they could call me personally too.
Brett: Cool, yeah, I bet they could. So I want to ask you also because you touched upon it, but let’s talk about this, each home is maxed out at 399 square feet.
Elizabeth: All of them are, yeah.
Brett: All of them. I mean, it’s a ridiculous question, but are any smaller than that, or is at this exact size for every single house out there?
Elizabeth: All of the nine floor plans that we have are all 399 square feet.
Brett: Okay. And I was so impressed that you could put that much into … I’ve watched the TV shows, you have Tiny Home Living, you have whatever the other ones out there are on TV, I watch the programs. And on TV you kind of get an idea, but you need to walk in one of these places, it’s like, “Gosh, darn, look how cool this is. They got the kitchen, the washer, the dryer, the queen-size bed upstairs.” We didn’t want to leave; it was like we felt like we’re on vacation somewhere. So what are they starting as far as price point?
Elizabeth: They’re starting at $80,000 to $90,000 and going through the mid-hundreds. Just really depending on the floor plan they choose and also any upgrades they want to do interior wise or cosmetically wise to the home. So they are very, very cool. I actually, when I started working … before I actually started working there they’re like, “Hey, tiny homes,” I’m like, “How are people going to buy that? There’s no way.” Well, to my surprise I was wrong. We have families here; we have a family of three little girls with mom, dad, and their pets that just had puppies to single parents, to professionals that are starting out their lives, to retirees. I mean, very like-minded people that are all wanting to simplify their lives. And it’s just so popular that everybody wants a piece of a tiny home here at Village Farm.
Brett: Wait till that farm pops up, Elizabeth. It’s going to be so, so cool when that farm gets up, because the whole experience especially being so close to Austin. I mean, that’s one of the healthiest parts of the country. You have farm-to-table living right there at your doorstep in that community, it’s going to go bonkers. So I was going to ask you as far … Oh, okay, so in other words when they build the house, do you supply the builder or they can choose whoever they want as long as it meets your guidelines?
Elizabeth: So we work with four different builders already that we have set. We work with Clayton Homes, we work with Platinum Homes, Athens Homes, and Wheelhaus. So those are the four builders that they can choose from. Now these builders design these homes for Village Farms. However, going into phase two just because they’re becoming so popular, we’re also going to be getting more builders to bring in more homes for us so people can even have more of a choice than the nine floor plans that we currently have now.
Brett: Got you. Hey, and to add to that, the lots are not for sale, just to be clear.
Elizabeth: That is correct. So you would purchase the home, and then you would lease the land. So do a personal pick up to your house, Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We’ll obviously all the time be taking care of the lawn service, not only for the homes but also for the common areas to help keep the community nice, uniform, and clean. You will have free basic cable and then of course access to all the amenities and events that I had mentioned earlier.
Brett: And that’s for $600 per month per lot.
Elizabeth: That is correct.
Brett: Could somebody put two homes side-by-side if they wanted to maybe have a second home next to … there’s no saying you can’t do that, right? You do what you want with that second lot next to your house. I mean, not as far as an RV but an actual tiny home, two tiny homes, if they want to do that that’s fine as well, right?
Elizabeth: Yeah, absolutely. We have a lady that bought two homes already. In the beginning when we first opened up she wants one for herself and one for her son. Now the only thing is that if you buy two homes you cannot have it side to side if it’s the same floor plan. We do have to …
Brett: Vary it.
Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly. But yeah, you’re definitely more than welcome to buy as many as you want and rent as many lots as you want as well.
Brett: And that’s going to save you on taxes because you’re not paying … you don’t own the lot, so you’re not paying the big taxes.
Elizabeth: There’s no property taxes, no personal taxes because these are RVs. That’s why you pay the $600, which we provide a lifestyle for you with the amenities and events that we have in the community. And so it’s a win-win situation really for a lot of people, again, that are retiring and don’t want to live in 2,000-3,000 square feet homes, and they just kind of want to simplify by not paying that. The only thing that you will have is your registration fee of $33 every year for the RV, which is …
Brett: How long does it take you to get downtown from that property right there to the heart of Austin? Distance is … I know traffic, I got that, but if no traffic, you’re there in how many minutes?
Elizabeth: So we are 8.7 miles exactly to the heart of Austin. I live on Mueller, which is on the way to Austin, to downtown Austin, and I’ve had commuted from Village Farms to downtown area of Austin, and it takes me 15 minutes, maybe 20 with traffic. It’s really a straight shot. It’s literally a straight shot from Village Farms. You don’t have to take any turns or anything.
Brett: And one last question before I let you go, are the RVs currently there at the park, are they staying or is that all going to be converted into tiny homes?
Elizabeth: No, the RV Resort will be staying. That already has its own identity, it’s already a community, it’s called Oak Forest. It will always be there. However, phase one right now at Village Farm that’s surrounding the RV park will also always be phase one and stay there. And again, those people in phase one will be able to have first priority on choosing their lot as phase two, once phase two lots become available and they’ll move the home at no cost to them.
Brett: Oh, really?
Elizabeth: Yes, correct.
Brett: That’s pretty cool. And then will the RVs have access to all the amenities? Are they paying the same fees that the tiny home people are paying?
Elizabeth: They are paying the same fee of $600 per month. However, they will not have access to Village Farm. However, Village Farm residents will have access to amenities of the RV Resort.
Brett: Got you. Okay, that’s cool. So I want to say thank you for your time. You got something pretty, pretty special there.
Elizabeth: Yes, thank you. Thank you for calling me. I really do appreciate it, and I cannot wait just as many people are waiting to really see the final product whenever Village Farm is completed in 2020.
Brett: Oh, please reach out to us in that process and let us know what updates we can post for you, because like I said of all the ones we’ve seen, we have not seen one like this before. So please, please share all the updates as they happen, all the progress, okay?
Elizabeth: Absolutely, absolutely we’ll do. Thank you so much for your call.
Brett: All right, Elizabeth. Thank you. Have a great day.
Elizabeth: You too, I appreciate it.
Brett: Okay, sure, bye-bye.
Disclaimer: Agrihood Radio transcripts are prepared by a transcription service. Refer to full audio for exact wording.