Manufactured Homes – Not “Mobile Homes” — Might be the Answer to U.S. Housing Crisis

In the first half of last year, more than 50,000 manufactured homes were shipped across the U.S. – a 31% year-over-year increase, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The pace of shipments decreased in the final quarter of 2022, not surprising, considering the winter months have perennially been the slowest time of the year when sales of all housing is less than robust. 

Despite all the economic headwinds, supply and workforce issues, the shipment/production of 112,865 manufactured homes in 2022 was the largest increase in over 15 years.

The average sale price was $124,900, and while that number represents a two-year increase of nearly $30,000, manufactured homes remain an affordable option for an inventory-depleted U.S.housing market.

Conversely, the price of a typical site-built home rose 43% in the past three years, far surpassing the average wage increases of 16%. The median price of a site-built home went from $254,900 in early 2020 to $366,900 in December 2022.

Many see manufactured homes as the answer to the national housing crisis.

“Quality improvements in construction and installation practices have increased durability so that the life expectancy of factory-built housing is increasingly comparable with that of site-built housing,” Urban Institute researcher Karen Kaul wrote last year.

Government help is also needed to keep manufactured home prices low, UMH Properties President and CEO Sam Landy wrote in an opinion piece for Housing Wire. UMH owns and operates 134 manufactured home communities in the U.S.

“Federal policymakers should take note of the fact that manufactured housing is the most affordable homeownership available for low – and moderate income families in America. Manufactured homes are often less expensive to own than it is to rent.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) points to local government regulation as a detriment to manufactured home ownership, claiming city and county governments often impose zoning restrictions making it difficult to find a viable location for a manufactured home to be placed. The NAR complains many are relegated to very specific areas. NAR believes that much of manufactured housing defies the run-down trailer park stereotype when they can be “downright posh.”


Please Don’t Call Them “Mobile Homes”

While 22 million Americans live in manufactured homes, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute, there remains a stigma nationally as many people revert to the memories of “mobile homes.” such as – “they are not well-built,”- “they are not safe,” -“they don’t appreciate,” – “they are not energy efficient,” etc.etc.

The descriptive words “mobile home” and “manufactured home” are not interchangeable and “are not one-in-the same.”  In fact, there have been zero “mobile homes” produced in over four decades. Click our previous post:  Manufactured Homes: Mischaracterizations and Misrepresentations of America’s only Quality Affordable Homeownership

In a recent survey of new manufactured home purchasers, 65% of those homeowner respondents referred to their home as a “mobile home.”

Manufactured home industry personnel including retailers commonly refer to manufactured homes as “mobile homes.” The industry needs to do a better job of distinguishing the differences between manufactured homes and “mobile homes, when interacting” with the public.

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