In Housing Shortage, Pre-owned Manufactured Homes And “Mobile Homes” Values Soar

Washington state leads the U.S. with the most expensive pre-owned manufactured homes and “mobile homes,” according to an online report and narrative by the Washington-based Journal of Business.

Mobile homes/manufactured homes historically haven’t been known for appreciating value. That’s no longer the case, Spokane-area lot owners and real estate agents say.

We respectfully disagree with the assertion that the most expensive homes in the nation are found in the state of Washington. In fact, the most expensive existing mobile homes and manufactured homes are sited in the states of California and Florida. Albeit used mobile homes and manufactured homes in Washington, especially in and around the cities of Seattle and Spokane, and other urban and suburban areas across the United States are in demand and, as a result, are experiencing significant appreciation.

Multiple Listing Service data provided by the Spokane Association of Realtors show a steady uptick in sales value during the past two years. The median price for a mobile home rose 26% to $87,300 in 2021 from $65,000 in 2019. Mobile homes on land sell for substantially more, and those sales follow an even steeper trajectory.

The question of why pre-owned mobile homes are generating high prices has to do with availability and demand. The primary answer is not complicated. The homes attracting the high resale prices are usually located in mobile home parks where there are zero empty spaces available, a result of scant new communities being developed in over three decades anywhere in areas where people prefer to live. 

Why have so few new mobile home parks been built? Local zoning regulators are simply anti-manufactured homes and typically reject manufactured housing “out of hand” based upon myths and mischaracterizations of mobile homes and those who own them handed down from generations. Some of those myths are prominent in some of the Spokane discussions about mobile homes and manufactured homes that follow.

Data from Spokane’s Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service shows a median price of a manufactured home on owned land was $295,000 in 2021, up from a median value of $199,500 in 2019.

Robert Cochran, property manager at Contempo Spokane Mobile Home Park, attributes that trend to the onset of the pandemic and a short supply of homes in recent years.

Cochran says one person who leased a Contempo lot bought a manufactured home there for $25,000 six years ago and recently sold the home for $90,000 without performing any improvements or repairs. Just a few years ago, that home would have sold for the same or less price than the original purchase price.

A study found that single-family site-built homes in Washington appreciated in value by 46% over a five-year period, while mobile homes appreciated in value by 62%.

Cochran says he tried to persuade the Spokane City Council that manufactured homes can be one tool in providing relief during the current housing crisis.

Even with the growing housing shortage, Cochran says he doesn’t see the city, including manufactured homes, as an infill–housing option.

“I think there is still a negative connotation with manufactured homes, and, in general, people go.’I don’t want to live near poor people,” he says

Recent Posts