MFH News and Views: Boomers/Retirees Reshape Housing Market, Officials Say FEMA To Slow Setting up Emergency Housing For Louisiana Flood Victims
“Growing old has been the biggest surprise of my life”. — Billy Graham
As the modern-day exodus of retiree’s promises to redesign the American dream (think prefabricated housing over stick-built), Louisiana’s politicians are lamenting the detrimental pace at which FEMA is currently providing Louisiana flood victims emergency mobile homes in the Bayou State.
Those are two of the more interesting news stories in the manufactured home world over the past seven days, and in each case mobile, modular, and manufactured homes are providing sanctuary and safe harbor in an otherwise fast-changing world. Now let’s get some details…
Heads up America, the “the retirement wave” is fast approaching. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more people were 65 years old or older in 2010. Significantly more than any other census. In fact, between 2000 and 2010 more people turned the ripe old age of 65 years old ( or older) at the faster rate (15.1 percent) than any other sector of the U.S. population. Currently, folks much smarter than me estimate approximately every eight seconds another U.S. citizen hits the “surprising” mandatory retirement age of 65. As the Boomer population ages and retires, massive shifts in the housing market are to be expected. One current popular trend with expected exponential growth with these older Americans, is manufactured housing. Especially in land-lease manufactured home communities, where homes are placed on leased land and the overall price of the home is lower than other types of homes. And many of these communities offer senior-friendly amenities, such as a community clubhouse with scheduled activities, library, laundry, exercise facilities, swimming pools and some have lakes for fishing and boating.
“While manufactured home in land-lease communities
are popular with people of all ages, those over 55 may
particularly appreciate the affordability, quality, safety
and lifestyle benefits they deliver,”
says Richard Jennison, President and CEO of
the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
According to MHI, manufactured homes can cost an average of $68,000, compared with $276,000 for a single-family site built home. plus, manufactured homes offer “more home” for the buck. Costing up to 20 percent less per square foot than a site built homes with comparable interior finishes.
For those who are retired or approaching retirement, affordability is a significant factor to consider. Additionally, several manufactured home builders offer low-cost customization options, which allows today’s homebuyers to order a manufactured home built explicitly to their needs and desires. Major producers that are noted for their expertise in customized manufactured homes are Skyline Homes of San Jacinto California and Mansfield Texas, Sunshine Homes of Alabama, and Kit Homebuilders West in the Pacific Northwest
Today’s manufactured homes offer a wonderful option for America’s cash-strapped home buyers, regardless of their age. Appealing to seniors who are desperate to downsize their current lifestyle, or upgrade their vacation home – and – middle class hard working Americans who seek affordable living options, minus the need to give up a comfortable lifestyle. The modern manufactured home appeals to those looking for flexibility and who choose to “think outside of the traditional stick-built box.”
Boomers and retirees who are anticipating less mobility to come are finding manufactured home communities to be a convenient alternative to a traditional site built homes and in a conventional neighborhood. Well groomed grounds and nice landscaping, common to these resort-like manufactured home communities, can provide convenience to those possibly unable of doing their own yard work.
“If you are looking for a home in which to age-in-place,
don’t rule out a manufactured home in a land-lease
community,” says Jennison. “They offer a neighborly environment
with a strong sense of community.”
For additional information, we suggest the following articles: Today’s Manufactured Homes: Defining “The Good Life” | Who Buys Manufactured Homes? |American Seniors And Manufactured Homes
Louisiana lawmakers in Baton Rouge last week lambasted the pace of mobile home setup for flood victims, saying it’s unacceptable that the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) has moved only one manufactured housing unit into a yard nearly three weeks after the catastrophic flooding. (According to an AP news report.)
Rep. Clay Schexnayder(R) criticized the FEMA mobile home program at a House homeland security meeting.
“We’re not expediting it fast enough to get these “trailers” in place.
I’m confused as to why it’s taking so long to do that.” Schexnayder said.
Quick to answer the criticism, FEMA’s regional director, Gerard Stolar
noted, “These units are not easy to install”…
Stolar didn’t offer a timeline for when more manufactured homes might be installed in “homeowner’s yards”. But said several storm victims have been approved for the units. FEMA’s director said the installation of a mobile home can take up to a week, requiring utility hookups and extensive setup.
FYI: The installation time frame of one week is a correct assessment of how long it will take to completely install a single manufactured home on a site where there are existing utilities.
The availability of manufactured housing units, known as FEMA MHUs, which are newly minted to HUD’s strict code for all manufactured homes and are ready in Selma, Alabama, the southeastern staging area when the floods inundated Louisiana. Thousands more have been contracted to be built by manufacturers who met an August 24 application deadline. Nearby in Texas and Louisiana are also hundreds of manufactured homes available at retailer sales centers that would be immediately available. Notably, Texas and Louisiana are the top two shipment states for manufactured homes in the U.S. The fortunate logistics and availability of the MHUs should not create a delay from a supply standpoint.
“We have almost unlimited capacity.”
– John Bostick, President of Sunshine Homes.
This comment from Sunshine Homes, reported by MH Living News, best illustrates the capabilities of the manufactured housing industry to efficiently and quickly respond to the catastrophic Louisiana flooding disaster with more than 100,000 residences, sending families into shelters and the homes of family and friends, relatives and even strangers.
Alabama – based Sunshine Homes has opted to focus on keeping its Louisiana dealers stocked with inventory and has not applied to manufacture the transition MHUs.
“We anticipate our normal business in the market to be
— unfortunately — spectacular, says Sunshine President
and CEO John Bostick. “ I believe our Lafayette retailer
is going to call and say everything is sold.”
The last time events in the southeast tested federal resources was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the infamous shoddy “FEMA trailers” became an enduring symbol of FEMA’s failure to provide safe haven for thousands left homeless.
FEMA has now “upped their game” since the bad old days of Hurricane Katrina, says Steve Duke, Executive Director of the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association. In an interview with MH Pro News.
FEMA has got their plan and its moving and it looks like there’s some thought to it,” he says. “We just tell them ‘if there’s anything we can do, let us know.’ Our number one thing is to get people out of the shelters.”
Today’s FEMA’s MHUs are constructed to exacting and stringent HUD Code specifications designed to local wind force criteria and fire safety equal and sometimes superior to traditional site built homes; these will be anchored on piers, not rolled into yards and left there on wheels, as were the Katrina “Fema trailers.”
These are, in fact, bona fide manufactured homes, not trailers or mobile homes—a term that applies only to pre-HUD Code homes built prior to 1976. – A fine point that is widely missed in media reporting — and Louisiana lawmakers.
“The terminology matters because the terminology defines the construction standards,” says Duke.