Retail Sales in the South Continue to Expand

clayton homes retail sales in the south manufactured homes

Clayton Home Centers in the South provide a multi-state system of retail locations for a variety of homebuyer preferences and business throughout the Pandemic continues to grow in both the land and community segments.

Eric Boehm, a regional vice president for Clayton Homes, oversees 29 home centers throughout Alabama, Mississippi, and the panhandle of Florida.

“You have a lot of people who are looking to rural settings,” Boehm said. “There are a lot of places to go in Alabama, and Mississippi, especially, and still in the panhandle as well. 

“It all comes together and is a very viable option,” he said of the diverse offerings manufactured housing provides.

“Our region’s community business has started to grow slightly, too,” the Clayton exec said. “Pools, community centers, paved streets, people are looking for that more often.”

The business region-wide settles into thirds, land-home, land-in-lieu, and chattel. The region has also seen an increase in all-cash purchases.

Boehm concedes that there are pain points.

“We’ve all waited on refrigerators and stoves, waited on windows, but you roll with that,” Boehm said. “The morale is great; the culture is strong. We have fantastic employees who can really get things done.

“Customers have been really good too,” he said. “They may love a smooth top stove or a certain range hood, and they’ll take a coil top or a similar hood if you provide the overall experience that they want. Each time they leave happy, we make sure that happens.”

The living room in Clayton’s Hampton Bay model. All photos courtesy of Clayton Homes.

Homebuyers Seek Open Space, High-End Finishes

When it comes to floorplans, buyers are looking for a home that flows and fits the needs of their families.

“We are selling a lot of open floorplans with the kids’ rooms on one end of the home and a primary suite tucked away on the other side of the home,” Boehm said. “These are floorplans that are great for gatherings, and each one of our homes has an element of customization. The list grows as you get into the upper-end homes.”

Most customers are looking for hardwood or linoleum flooring throughout the home, with a small segment of buyers asking to upgrade to carpet in the bedroom.

Sourcing Homes in Alabama

Nearly everything the Clayton Home Centers sell in the three states comes from homebuilding facilities in north Alabama. They sell Southern Homes from Russellville, Tru from Hackleburg and Lynn, Southern Estates, Southern Energy from Addison, Buccaneer from Hamilton and Epic from Addison.

“A lot of the people who are buying homes from us live out in the country, they have dogs, many people hunt and fish, they play sports,” he said. “Hard flooring is a lot easier to maintain.”

DuraCraft cabinets come in each Clayton home and upgrades within that line are among the other primary options customers enjoy.

“DuraCraft has the look and feel of a very high-end cabinet,” he said. “But it’s very light, very durable, and will last for years and years.

“If I’m the customer, I want to know if I’m buying a home that it’s very energy efficient, too,” he added. “A lot of our customers were asking for additional energy features like digital thermostats, that can be controlled from anywhere. A lot of people were asking for energy-efficient homes, and it was loud and clear.”

All Clayton Built® homes come with an ecobee smart thermostat. Additionally, Clayton Homes® in many markets offers an EnergySmart® Home package, which includes a variety of energy-efficient upgrades such as upgraded insulation, low-E windows and a dual element water heater.

“They are very efficient, and it’s very residential,” Boehm said. “Our customers come in and they really like what they see, it flows beautifully. You can be in the kitchen at the stove or sink and still be able to watch TV and keep an eye on the kids.”

The Emma Jean has a large kitchen with a center island and plenty of individualized options.

Home Choices and Settings

The mix of homes sales is nearly an even mix between single-section and multi-section, with multi-section homes tipping the scales just slightly. Boehm’s retail centers sell some modular homes, but it’s predominantly HUD code.

“It’s a very similar demographic from state to state in the region and down into the panhandle of Florida,” Boehm said. “There are some cost differences when you get down into the coastal regions for setup largely because of wind zone requirements.”

However, despite added costs for wind zone regulations, rising material costs, or the added time it may take to get a manufactured home, homebuyers in the region are undeterred, largely due to the increasing demand for affordable housing.

“The time frames are reasonable because our building group has worked really hard to fill on allocation what we need,” Boehm said.

“There are some different factors, run rates, but we’ve been able to keep our customers supplied with a product, keep them happy, and keep the homes moving,” he said. “This is one of the most challenging times I’ve been through, don’t get me wrong. But the problem is one we can deal with when there is huge demand, and you know you can meet it. That’s better than the opposite problem.”

The Steady Growth of CrossMod

CrossMod, the HUD code home that is made for R1 residential developments and supported by lending programs offered through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have been slow to develop, but the 29 Clayton home centers in the South, and throughout the country, remain committed to it.

“It’s taken some time to build up that business, but it’s taking shape,” Boehm said. “There is a ton of interest and it evolves as we learn how to set the home and build the on-site additions.