OPINION: HOW MANUFACTURED HOUSING COULD RESHAPE THE POST PANDEMIC HOUSING MARKET IN 2021 AND BEYOND

The manufactured home market has shown consistent, albeit nominal, recovery beginning in 2011 in the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis. For the following eight consecutive years, HUD Code manufactured homes produced, shipped, and sold an average of nearly 100,000 homes per year, about one-half the number of homes previous to the housing and mortgage crisis.

The stagnation of results was somewhat misleading as the totals did not include the expansion of modular homes, built to residential codes, also produced by HUD Code manufacturers.

At the beginning of 2020, the industry was optimistic that manufactured homes were on the cusp of providing access to affordable high-quality housing for many more Americans dreaming of homeownership, that heretofore had not been, nor would be affordable to millions in the traditional (site-built) sense.

We, in the manufactured housing industry, have come to expect the unexpected. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed our optimistic predictions of 2020, as production and shipments of new manufactured homes declined significantly in 2020 and into 2021, due to the lack of available factory employees and home component materials, dramatically delaying shipments and construction of pre-sold homes.

Despite the manufactured home production delays, the demand for manufactured housing has actually increased, albeit with production and shipment expectations ranging from the “normal” six-eight weeks to as much as six to eight months delivery. 

The pandemic has changed the dynamics of almost all industries in the country, including the way housing is produced, sold, and located. The following observations/factors relative to manufactured housing are based upon hopeful expectations that we are currently on a path to an environment resembling normalcy in 2021.

 

Escalating site-built home prices:  The U.S.median resale home price was $303,900 in January, an increase of 14.1% from a year earlier. The dearth of homes for sale has been the main driver of escalating home prices, further eliminating many hardworking lower to middle-income families from the realization of homeownership.

 

A new manufactured home is “everything a home should be,” for about half the price of a comparably sized and equipped site-built home and will be equal, and often superior, in every respect.

 

“Work anywhere” dynamic: People are piling into the sunbelt areas of the country where taxes are favorable, mild climates, and affordable costs of living. The “work from anywhere” mentality will continue after COVID and will feed these migratory trends of workers relocating to lower-cost areas.

 

Demand for affordable quality housing has never been greater: The demographic trifecta of coming-of-age millennials, retiring “boomers” and migratory trends will lead to an ever-increasing demand for affordable quality housing in 2021 and years to come. The uniquely American dream of homeownership will survive the devastation of the pandemic and will be built in a factory.

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