Comparison of the Costs of Manufactured and Site-Built Housing

The following are excerpts from an expansive study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Much of that study and research affirm the importance of manufactured housing in addressing the nation’s home affordability crisis.

Following is the abstract from that report, concerning the costs of manufactured homes compared to traditional site-built homes. Over the next few weeks we will be reporting at this site many of the studies associated with those comparisons.



Manufactured housing holds promise as an affordable form of housing that could expand homeownership possibilities for low – and moderate-income households at a time when house value growth is outpacing income gains in markets across the country.

Simple comparisons of the cost of manufactured housing to site-built housing find that manufactured housing offers significant cost advantages, derived in large part from greater efficiencies in purchasing, production and installation. However, recent comparisons are relatively simplistic, comparing the average cost of homes built without considering differences in size, amenities, or the costs of transporting and siting manufactured homes.

The goal of this study is to document the cost of comparable site-built and manufactured homes such that these differences are accounted for. To achieve this, we analyze three common types of manufactured homes; single-section, double-section, and CrossMod. While single-and double-section (known colloquially as “single-wide” or “double-wide”) have long been staples of the manufactured housing industry, CrossMod is a relatively new type of home developed by the industry to make manufactured homes more comparable to site-built homes in their physical appearance, thus broadening consumer appeal, appraised value, and financing opportunities, and reducing community opposition to the siting of these homes. 


The results of our analysis find that all three types of manufactured homes continue to offer significant cost advantages over site-built housing. These findings suggest that efforts to expand access to manufactured homes hold the potential to increase homeownership opportunities for low-and moderate income households.

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