Resale of Manufactured Homes Enhance the “Good Life” in Southern California

In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, thousands of people migrated weekly from all over the United States to Southern California. Many, like me, came to escape harsh weather and seek the “good life” to an area plentiful in opportunities and with a climate unmatched anywhere else in the country.

The preferred area where all these new arrivals preferred to locate was in or near to Los Angeles, Orange County, or the San Diego area. The year round great weather and employment opportunities were in these areas, which are situated in a basin that is encompassed by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Mexican border to the south, and mountains and desert to the north and east.

Many of those migrating to this land of opportunity were also dreaming of homeownership in this ideal place to live. However, as more and more people arrived in these areas, they were disappointed to find that the demand for affordable housing was far greater than the supply of single family homes available.

The limited amount of buildable land in these areas and the high costs of site-built home construction resulted in new single family homes being too expensive — prices that only the most affluent could afford.  This resulted in many opting to pay high rental fees to locate in high density apartment complexes or forced to locate in areas outside of the preferred location, often commuting for several hours daily via traffic jammed freeways to their place of employment.   This is still true today as there is still not an effective rapid transit system available for commuters).

The mobile home industry responded to the dream of affordable homeownership in beautiful Southern California, as approximately 300 mobile home rental parks were built during the 60s and 70s in the Orange County, L.A. County, and San Diego areas.  These rental communities were not the typical trailer parks  prevalent  in other areas of the country. Most of these communities were built  with 200 to 500 or more spaces to accommodate new manufactured homes. These manufactured land-lease communities  were, and still are, developments with well-maintained recreation facilities, swimming pools, community clubhouse centers, playgrounds, greenbelts, and and a wide range of amenities and resident social activities.

Most of these communities were built with strict community covenant restrictions requiring that manufactured homes installed in the parks comply with particular aesthetic standards, such as brick skirting, low profile installation, quality and size of exterior accessories, such as patio and carport awnings, decks sheds, etc. Many of these communities only permitted multi-section homes to be sited in their new manufactured home parks.

As these communities were completed, there was an overwhelming public demand for new manufactured homes that created a robust market for retailers. At one time there were 15 or 16 mobile home dealers retailing new manufactured homes in Orange County on just two boulevards: Beach Blvd. and Harbor Blvd. (only a few miles apart) all retailing new homes in these new communities. This was indeed the most prosperous time in the retailing of new manufactured homes. Unfortunately, this prosperity was short-lived.

As land earmarked for mobile park construction no longer became available and all existing spaces had been filled, the manufactured industry in these prime Southern California areas took actions that was and is unique in the manufactured home industry. The retailers formed an alliance to serve an underserved element of the manufactured housing industry, listing and re-selling previously owned manufactured homes. Copying a real estate model, the Southern California Orange County retailers established the California Multiple Listing Service in the early 1980s that is still functioning effectively today.

Today there exists few large new manufactured home display centers in Southern California as compared to the past. Instead, there are many licensed retailers located in real estate type sales offices and in manufactured home communities who not only sell new manufactured homes to park spaces that come available from time to time and occasional private property sales, but are most active in the listing and sale of pre-owned manufactured homes in land-lease communities.

The combination of the organized effort of retailers  to address the re-sale market of manufactured homes, along with the quality of life and original requirements imposed by the manufactured home communities, has resulted in homeowner’s appreciated values and return on their investment higher than anyone would have originally imagined many years ago. In fact, it is not unusual for a homeowner who purchased a new manufactured home in on of these rental communities 20 years ago to resell that home today at a price at least double the amount of the original purchase price.

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