It is actually happening. The years or even decades of hard work that our industry has put into educating consumers about the value of manufactured housing is finally paying off. Consumers and even some cities are realizing that today’s manufactured homes are not the mobile homes of the past.
Recently my own neighborhood that used to be full of diverse, hard-working families has landed on the radar of developers and house flippers. Being close to downtown Dallas, and within blocks of a rail system station has made it a perfect target for building large, multi-family structures. It has made us form neighborhood organizations and get involved in city politics, including inviting city planners to come and speak to our group.
When a meeting happened recently, the discussion came up about ADUs and tiny homes. When the city planner started describing them as “mobile homes” I raised my hand and kept it up until I was allowed to speak. I shared how instead of us being forced out of our homes by large developers that wanted to build tall, apartments, townhomes and condos, we had other options. Allowing ADUs or tiny homes in the city limits could be a great alternative along with factory-built cluster homes, or other higher density, single-family options. I always have examples of our homes on my phone and offered to share with and educate anyone interested, including the city council and planning committee. All were interested, and I fielded lots of questions. By the end of the meeting, there was interest instead of a flat no.
With the homes that our industry is building today, we are a viable option for infill and affordable housing, right alongside site-built homes in affordable housing neighborhoods. One of the planners in attendance actually asked what it would take to get more RV or tiny home parks built nearby, and in some areas that is actually happening.
An Industry That Works for the Customer
YES! Communities is in the process of building a new community from the ground up in New Braunfels, Texas. Dwelling at New Braunfels has been designed to not only attract customers that have been familiar with factory-built housing for years, but to be a viable, possibly preferred option for the new and younger customers, particularly the emerging tech workforce in nearby Austin and San Antonio. The Denver-based company hopes to help change the perception of community living by offering a healthier lifestyle with their native wetland plantings, a loop trail, pond, and signature pier. The amenity center clubhouse will be three linked buildings with a modern, simple feel. Designing thoughtful homes and communities based on local preference, not just a national directive, is becoming more important than ever.
State-of-the-art fitness centers, splash parks, golf simulators, pickleball, and jogging paths are some of the ways that communities are encouraging a healthy lifestyle that appeals to today’s community customers. Pride in community, and allowing those customers to know that they are an important part of a community or neighborhood is a vital consideration. Manufacturers and community owners aren’t waiting for the customer to come to them, they are going out into the wider community and meeting potential customers in their own environments.
Innovation and Technology to Meet Needs
Consumers today have a shorter attention span than ever, so it is critical to come up with unique ways to get the information they want as quickly as possible. Clayton Homes is using QR codes in their new MIYO homes that offer a flex space in each home. Instead of relying on the sales team to tell about the features of the homes, customers can quickly scan the code in various areas of the homes. They can then learn by a short video about what is special, or be taken to a page on their website.
Having great photography of your homes is also very important, and having the 3D tours available online is now expected by consumers so they can tour your homes at their leisure instead of having to drive all over town to see a home that they like. This technology has become a lot more affordable, and it is now possible for smaller builders and retail centers to rent the equipment and technology to do this in their own homes.
‘Micro’ is the Buzz
It looks like “micro” might become the buzzword for 2022. Micro kitchens, micro homes, and micro-communities are something that today’s home buyers and renters are Googling, and searching out. Blomberg Appliances is a company that you may not ever have heard of, but you may have used in an apartment, or hotel suite that you have stayed in. Their “micro appliances” could be the perfect fit for today’s smaller homes, and are also ideal for creating cooking and entertaining areas outside of the traditional kitchen space. This company is also very focused on sustainability and recently showed at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show some very exciting innovations coming to market.
Casata is a new micro home rental community that has purchased land in Dallas and other areas to replicate its success in Austin. The group is about sustainability, community living, and being able to live large in a small space. Its leadership is concerned about the social impact of their community as well as the lifestyle they make available to their customers. Their website shares that their impact focuses on two key pillars: sustainability and the arts.
The community is packed with amenities that encourage consumers to enjoy and share the entire community, not just their personal homes. From dedicated food truck areas, to free live music events, and top-notch concierge services available through their designated app, this design is one to watch. Casata Austin was designed for using factory-built construction of their homes, and they are considering this type of construction for the new communities as well.
Having a walkable, bike-friendly neighborhood has become a priority for many of the consumers looking to buy or rent a new home. This is true not only with the younger buyers, but for the 55+ customers as well. In the last two years, we have realized that the more we can do at home or nearby instead of having to drive everywhere can make a difference in our lives and to the planet.
By being a better neighbor, and welcoming new ideas and innovations into our communities, we can build a better neighborhood and a future that is brighter for all of us.