Manufactured Housing Institute President Mark Bowersox and longtime community owner and industry writer and educator George Allen provided the opportunity for 500 manufactured housing industry professionals to get a “State of the Industry” update during The SECO National Conference of Community Owners on Oct. 1.
Manufactured housing industry new home shipments have been a logistical challenge during materials and labor strains associated with the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions. With that in mind, production has been good.
“2020 started out really strong and then COVID happened,” Bowersox said. “The industry responded very well. There’s the v-shaped recovery you’ve heard about, that’s very much what we experienced and that’s what you’re seeing here.”
“To this point right now our industry is about 100 homes off the pace from last year,” he said.
Beyond Manufactured Home Shipments
Bowersox reminded his audience of community owners and operators, along with other factions of the industry, that growing the industry isn’t all about growing new home sales.
“It’s also about growing new land for land-lease communities, for our customers,” Bowersox said.
MHI works in Washington, D.C. to address national issues for the industry. It also partners with state associations to handle challenges on the state to local levels.
Allen said access to capital, particularly with a lack of secondary markets, continues to be among the industry’s top challenges. Still, land-lease communities provide a path to homeownership and a great value for those looking to buy a first home or to live more affordably.
Consolidation, Resident-Owned, Rental Business
Consolidation continues in the industry, Allen said. Resident-owned properties are an increasingly common model, as is the emphasis on park-owned homes for rent.
Community owners in all parts of the country are increasing the mix of rentals on a property, and some manufactured home communities are being designed or built for 100% rental homes. Allen cited the National Average Multi-Family Rental Rate, which shows a 2019 national average at $849 per month.
“This represents a roughly $50 incentive for living in a land-lease community,” Allen said.
During the last several months several surveys and reports have shown more stability among renters in manufactured housing versus apartment living.
“Virtually every land lease owner I’ve talked to during the last six months is impressed by how much residents have honored rental agreements,” Allen said.
The Future of Manufactured Housing
Bowersox said strength through the pandemic indicates the industry may be able to pick up where it left off when the crisis begins to wane. HUD Code reform plays into that, he said, and so does the support of HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
“He’s our chief storyteller,” Bowersox said of Secretary Carson. “There are many examples of him espousing the benefits of manufactured housing and we’re pleased to have him as an ally,” Bowersox said.
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