Attention Manufactured Home Buyers: It’s O.K. To Call It a Mobile Home!!

In 1980, the federal government changed its official reference from ‘mobile home’ to ‘manufactured home’ in describing the home we sell. This was done at the urging of the leaders of the then mobile home industry. We were encouraged to change all literature, signage, documents, and personal references to ‘manufactured homes’. After 30 plus years, we are still having difficulty explaining to the customer the difference between a mobile home and a manufactured home.

As a veteran of the mobile home/manufactured home industry I am totally in agreement with the need to transition from the mobile home designation to manufactured housing. The mobile home business of my era bears little resemblance to the manufactured industry of today.

The “mobility” aspect of today’s manufactured home doesn’t exist anymore; Today’s home is usually only “mobile” when it is moved to the site on its own chassis to the homeowners site, where the tires, axles and hitch are removed. Don’t get me wrong, it still could be moved, but that it is rare.

I’ve found that that the name “mobile home” is still used to describe today’s manufactured home by many customers. I believe that we are confusing many of those potential buyers by our attempts at always being “politically correct” with our terminology. It seems we are often trying to correct the customer by explaining the difference between a mobile home and a manufactured home. Compound that with trying to explain the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home, or a pre-fab home or a system-built home (I’m not even sure what this is).

I realize that the mobile home of yesteryear bears little resemblance to the homes we have available today. I also know that the boom era of the mobile home era of the 50s, 60s, and 70s resulted in a lot of customer complaints because of the disparity of building code irregularities in various states resulting in many consumer complaints, and some unsavory characters who tarnished the industry. However, In some states, such as California, the mobile home was not considered sub-standard housing and was the only affordable housing available to many of the people relocating to this area. Many of those mobile home owners have subsequently become manufactured home owners and never would even consider any other type of housing. They are mobile home owners for life!

I will never forget what one of my competitors once said to me a few years ago when referring to the use of the term, ‘manufactured housing.’ He said, ”You know, I sold more homes and made more money in this business when they were called mobile homes.” Many of those who grew up in the mobile home business in my generation are somewhat nostalgic about “the good old days” of the industry. I do know that one of the good things of that era was the realization of the dream of homeownership by millions of families which would not have been possible without the affordability factor of the mobile home. Today’s manufactured home has continued that legacy.

When a buyer asks me about the difference between a manufactured home and a mobile home I always answer, “They are the same thing.” I really don’t care what they call them, as long as they are buying them. After all, “A home by any other name is still a home.”



(Photo: 2009 Clayton Mobile Home)

Recommended Posts