In the age of the internet and social media, fact, and fiction can often blur together. And, when it comes to manufactured homes, there’s always been plenty of misinformation floating around. For the sake of current manufactured homeowners, home buyers contemplating buying a manufactured home, and those who just have a sense of curiosity about the options outside of traditional stick-built homes, we’d like to take this opportunity to illuminate some interesting facts about manufactured homes (and bust a few stereotypes along the way).
Wondering how manufactured homes are built? How do they compare with stick-built homes in important areas? Whether they can appreciate in value? These nine manufactured home facts will shed some light and maybe even change your perspective on manufactured homes.
Manufactured homes have changed a lot since mobile homes began.
First, some terminology: Let’s understand the difference between mobile homes and manufactured homes. The term “mobile homes” technically describes only pre-1976 “trailer homes” that were built to be moved from place to place and were minimally regulated by the government. The Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (also called the HUD Code) changed all that in 1976 by establishing strict safety and building standards for all factory-built homes and created the term “manufactured home” that we now use today.
A manufactured home is built in a factory and outfitted with a steel chassis and wheels that allow it to be transported. The builder then transports it to the buyer’s choice of permanent site via tow truck. Once the home gets to its chosen site, the wheels will be removed, and it’s unlikely to ever be moved again—one more reason why the term “mobile home” is no longer accurate.
Today’s manufactured homes are of a higher quality than ever. What’s more, home manufacturers continue to improve their products by implementing improvements like ENERGY STAR certification, which gives homeowners a more eco-friendly home that can also help them save money on bills. The era of the manufactured home is just getting started.
Manufactured homes are popular.
Across America and around the world, it’s become clear that manufactured homes are a great option for people looking for efficient, flexible, and affordable housing. In the U.S., 22 million people live in mobile and manufactured homes, and manufactured homes represent 9 to 10 percent of new single-family home starts. What’s more, manufactured homes are popular across many different age groups and income levels, and mobile home communities continue to address a wide variety of housing needs.
Why are manufactured homes such a popular option? Buyers in today’s housing market demand well-made housing at prices they can afford, and manufactured housing is uniquely well-suited to provide that, thanks to its economical designs and factory-made efficiency. Manufactured homes offer a unique combination of value, options, and reliability that has proven to be a great fit for many homeowners.
Manufactured homes are affordable.
The median price of a home in the U.S. is $255,000—a lot more than many people are able to borrow or are comfortable borrowing. The average price of a brand new single-wide manufactured home, meanwhile, was just $51,371 in May 2019. And, although that figure doesn’t include the price of the land under the manufactured home, it still offers some pretty amazing value for the money and demonstrates why manufactured homes are a great path to homeownership on a budget.
It’s worth noting that getting financing on a manufactured home can be somewhat different from traditional home financing, and the process may require going through different financing channels that specialize in manufactured home loans. The federal government is a great place to start looking for affordable financing for manufactured housing—options like FHA loans, VA loans for veterans and service members, and loans from government-backed agencies like CHOICEHome℠ Mortgages from Freddie Mac can all be great choices for buyers who qualify.
Even buying a mobile home with a low credit score can be more achievable than you might realize. Buyers can take steps like lowering their debt-to-income ratio, posting an increased down payment, and applying for loans such as FHA loans that are designed to help people with low income or bad credit. With some smart budgeting and patience, ownership of a manufactured home is one of the best ways to become a homeowner and begin rebuilding your credit.
Manufactured homes are sturdy and built to last.
The stereotypes of mobile homes as flimsy and disposable are just another misconception. In fact, manufactured homes are actually quite sturdy and well-built.
That’s because mobile home manufacturers are tightly regulated to ensure that their products are safe and durable. Home manufacturers have highly standardized building processes with aggressive quality control that leaves very little room for error. Most importantly, all new manufactured homes since 1976 are built to the exacting standards of the HUD Code—the only structural code that’s regulated at the federal level. Some of the most important HUD Code standards include:
- Ceilings at least seven feet high
- An egress window for every sleeping area
- At least 400 square feet of living space
- Minimum width of eight feet for all areas inside
- Safe and functional plumbing and electricity
- A foundation such as a pier-and-anchor, slab, or basement foundation
The long and short of it: If you’re willing to research your choices and select a high-quality manufactured home, as well as to take the time to maintain your home properly, you can count on having a durable and good-looking manufactured home for years to come.
Manufactured homes give buyers plenty of options for amenities and floor plans.
Think a manufactured home means accepting a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all floorplan and blah interiors? Think again—today’s manufactured homes give buyers a variety of options in creating their dream homes. Whether it’s exterior or interior, manufactured homes come with all kinds of material, color, and design choices that allow tons of customization.
For starters, manufactured homes are available in a multitude of shapes and sizes. And, when it comes to deciding between mobile home floor plans, most builders recognize that every home has different needs, and they provide different configurations for bedrooms, bathrooms, living spaces, and kitchens. Any builder will be able to show you their available floor plans upon request and explain what kind of modifications may be available.
Furthermore, manufactured homes have long moved past chintzy interiors. Manufactured home builders now offer beautiful and contemporary options like laminate hardwood floors, granite countertops, integrated lighting, and all the comforts of a modern home. So, while a manufactured home might not offer the truly custom building and design process that a stick-built home offers, it has plenty of variety to satisfy the typical home buyer’s needs.
Want to see? Check out these 21 photos to see what a mobile home looks like on the inside
Manufactured homes can appreciate in value.
Let’s clear up another misconception. It’s sometimes said that manufactured homes don’t appreciate in value and that they only depreciate like a car. This is another old stereotype left over from the mobile homes of decades ago—today’s manufactured homes can appreciate, much as any other home does.
How do we know? Government studies conducted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency have concluded that manufactured homes appreciate in value at similar levels as stick-built homes do. In fact, manufactured home communities are gaining popularity among real estate investors due to their low tenant turnover, high demand, low cost per unit, and steady returns. Considering the fact that manufactured homes can be just as sturdy and attractive as stick-built homes, it should come as no surprise.
The key to making sure your manufactured home appreciates in value? Mounting it on a permanent foundation, titling it as real property, and maintaining its condition. Naturally, many other factors also come into play, including neighborhood property values and the general state of the housing market—but, all else being equal, it’s clear that a manufactured home can be a solid investment.
Manufactured homes are safe.
When installed and cared for the right way, mobile homes offer a safe and secure place to live, even during extreme weather events. The HUD Code’s tight regulations, and the fact that manufactured homes are built using most of the same materials that are used to create traditional stick-built homes, mean that manufactured homes are built with the structural integrity to withstand extreme weather events such as storms.
The data are clear that manufactured homes perform equally well as stick-built homes in most important ways. For example, the National Fire Protection Association has reported that manufactured home residents were just as likely as stick-built home residents to survive a house fire. But there’s evidence that manufactured homes may even outperform stick-built homes in some ways. According to a study cited by the Manufactured Housing Institute, manufactured homes in Florida were among the most resistant homes when four hurricanes hit the state in 2004.
Manufactured homes are built on solid foundations.
As we mentioned earlier, the term “mobile home” might fool you into thinking that manufactured homes are always on the go when, in fact, almost all of them remain on the lots where they were delivered from the factory. On top of that, the HUD Code requires solidly constructed permanent foundations for mobile homes that anchor them in place.
Several different types of HUD-compliant manufactured home foundations are commonly used. These include:
- Pier and Ground Anchor: Concrete or steel piers beneath the home’s structural beams, held in place by anchors in the ground.
- Concrete Slab: A poured concrete slab under the home, with the home secured via anchors sunk into the slab.
- Basement: A traditional basement foundation that supports the home, with the home often lowered into place via a crane or slid into place on rollers.
Certain types of foundations may also make it easier to get a traditional mortgage for your manufactured home. Basement foundations, for example, demonstrate a commitment to stability and structural integrity, making some banks more willing to lend against manufactured homes that use them. (Note that, for these purposes, the bank’s definition of a permanent foundation may be more strict than the HUD Code’s definition.)
Manufactured home communities are much more than trailer parks.
The inaccurate, harmful, and classist stereotypes about “trailer parks” are nothing new, but people in manufactured home communities have no time for them anymore. That’s because they’re too busy living their lives, raising families, growing wealth, building careers, and having fun.
As standards have risen for manufactured homes, manufactured homeowners have come to demand correspondingly higher standards from the communities they live in, and the market has responded. Mobile home parks today are vibrant and family-friendly places that often come with all kinds of top-shelf amenities like clubhouses, pools, tennis courts, and more. You’ll find everyone from young families to retirees enjoying the good life in attractive, cost-effective homes.
At the end of the day, anyone buying into stigma and stereotypes against manufactured homes is hurting themselves the most, as they’re passing up opportunities to get a great home for a fraction of the cost. The more open-minded individuals will continue laughing all the way to the bank.
The upshot of these manufactured home facts is that manufactured homes offer great opportunities for home buyers. As buyers continue to prioritize convenience, flexibility, and cost-effective design, they’ll also continue to discover the advantages offered by manufactured homes. Interested in learning more about how to buy a manufactured home, including financing options and house hunting tips? Check out the information in our mobile home buyers guide for all the latest from our industry experts.