What to know about manufactured homes

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Manufactured homes are sweeping the housing industry, making them quality yet affordable options. They are customizable and cost efficient with the option for living in home parks that make great communities. However, one must be aware of the other costs a manufactured home entails, the social hurdles and potholes that can be encountered when opting for this type of home.

Image from Sapphire – Jade RTM Homes (jadehomes.ca)

Over 22 million people are living in manufactured homes. The industry also provides over 10,000 jobs all over the United States.

These factory made homes have turned dreams of owning a home into an attainable reality, costing a third of what site built homes would. The typical home buyer has an average income of $34,800 and if we want to look at numbers in the future, just look at the high satisfaction rates of existing residents. (1)

MHI conducted an extensive research of residents of manufactured homes and found:

  • 95% of residents in 55+ communities and 87% of residents in all-age communities report satisfaction with their homes.
  • 70% of those living in manufactured housing plan to live in their homes for over six years, with 40 percent saying they plan to stay in their homes indefinitely.  (1)

The U.S. Census Bureau recorded around 7.7 thousand manufactured homes were shipped across the United States in 2018. (2)

Most manufactured home owners are aged 18 to 29 with the next largest demographic at 50 to 59 years old, proving the home is compatible across several life stages. (3)

So you’re definitely not alone!

And we can learn from the experiences of others.

You can get a U-shaped kitchen,with an island, walk in pantry or breakfast nook. You can even have a den, an oval bathtub, double sink, game room in a 4 bedroom, 5 bedroom or 2 storey home! “Stringent building standards with affordable luxury” (4)

Check out Homes Direct (thehomesdirect.com) for some of the top models out there today and the biggest names in the industry!

Image from Palm Harbor 4+ Bedroom Manufactured Home Timber Ridge Elite for $276968 | Model 5V468T5 from Homes Direct (thehomesdirect.com)

What makes manufactured homes so desirable?

They’re best known for their speedy construction and affordability, taking as little as 2 to 3 months to have built and costing a third to half of what it costs to build a traditional home!

Manufactured homes are able to achieve this through bulk buy of material paired with the controlled streamlined construction in a factory. What’s more is that all homes that leave their warehouse need to be HUD Code approved. This ensures their structural integrity, energy efficiency and fire safety, being one of the strictest codes in housing. (3)

There’s a lot of companies to choose from out there, from independent dealerships, factory dealers, manufactured home communities and real estate listings (pre-owned homes). So scout for some local manufacturers online, see who offers your musts and non-negotiables like how many bedrooms, bathrooms, your finishes, etc.

Some states require your dealers to be licensed so check for that too! Afterwards schedule a showroom tour, and try to walk through your chosen home model. (5)

In the U.S, there are three major players in the manufactured housing industry and own most of the market: Cavco, Clayton and Champion. Several companies tend to be subsidiaries of the 3. (5)

Due to needing to be transported via truck, manufactured homes have a limited width and are categorized by their measurement.

A “Single” or “Single Wide” are long narrow units and comprise the smallest type of manufactured home. Picture one container van or a long box that can sit on a truck.

Combine two or three of those Singles and you get your “Double” and “Triple Wides”, also “multi-section” or “sectional”, because they are delivered to your site in sections and put together to get that bigger home.(5)

Image from Palm Harbor 2 Bedroom Manufactured Home The Loft for $115309 | Model HD1576 from Homes Direct (thehomesdirect.com)

Upfront & Latter Costs

As of today these homes cost from $20,000 for your single wide up to a $200,000 for a multi-section with top of the line upgrades.

Image from 10 Key Things to Know Before Buying a Manufactured Home (homeia.com)

You can opt for a pre-owned home already on land, but do note that those built before 1976 in the U.S. may not be compliant to building code, need heavy renovation and will be difficult to finance through some loans.

Other costs one should anticipate in purchasing a manufactured home are: (4)

  • Land property – The site your home sits on
  • Site Work – This is to even out or grade the land
  • Delivery and Setup – This is meticulously planned by a crew, sometimes two!
  • Utilities – Especially if your site has no main line or grid to tap into, these need to be built out. Air conditioning is also usually separate.
  • Exterior Additions – Should you opt to have skirting installed, a deck or porch
  • Surcharges, Taxes, Insurance
  • Closing Costs for Loans
  • Community Fees – Especially if you’re staying in a home park

The good news is that the running costs are lower, such as your daily maintenance and lot rental fees that may already include water, sewage and recycling garbage pickup. Newer manufactured homes also tend to be much more energy efficient, lowering electricity bills. (2)

Being descended from a mobile home, manufactured homes are usually considered personal property (like a car) rather than real estate property. This makes it difficult for some residential zones to deem your house as “residential” and therefore not allow it to be placed on site. This would also mean lower property taxes but also more limited financing options such as loans. (3)

If you won’t be converting your home title into real estate property, be sure to look into some insurance for mobile homes. This will cover any water, fire and wind damage, liability for personal injury and theft of personal belongings. (3)

Things to Watch out For

The biggest hurdle in going for the manufactured home route is definitely the negative stereotype. Some people and institutions will still view your home as a mobile trailer, therefore not giving it as much land rights or financing. This can mean a limitation to the mortgages and home loans you can avail of. (2)

There’s also that negative connotation that these are “cheap” and live in a trailer park, when actually several home park communities are safe and kept well. However, these home parks don’t have as much stability in rent fees and can be bought out at a short notice, so that’s something to watch out for and ask about early on.

Some parks are actually catered to senior citizens and therefore restrict residents under a certain age, which can be advantageous or not depending on where you’re at.

Another barrier may be that you find it hard to resell your manufactured home. It’s also tricky to relocate the home, having to go through all the site preparation and utility hook up again. (2)

Your maintenance may be lower, but it’s also because you lose the space most traditional homes automatically have like a big yard and a spacious attic. Not to mean that manufactured homes CAN’T have those spaces, but these are not typical and automatically built in.

In terms of construction, there are a few maintenance checks you should do to keep your home in tip top shape: (3)

  • Check that your home is level to the ground. Do this annually as the house can gradually settle into the soil. This can cause issues in your doors and windows, walls, plumbing and drainage.
  • Invest in and maintain your skirting ventilation. Know that your skirting encloses the underbelly of the home. It protects the home from being susceptible to weather damage and pests, so it’s definitely worth upgrading into a high quality, air-tight weatherproof material. (This also adds to looking like a traditional site built home)
  • Repair and replace the roof. This needs to be resealed or recoated annually to maintain its good condition. The roof is a component that can either extend your manufactured home’s life or drastically shorten it if not taken care of well.

If the problems involve the structural frame of your home like your main home beams bent, damaged rotting floors, cracked or chipped masonry piers — call a building professional!

Do your checks regularly so that you’re used to knowing what looks “normal” and what is unusual. (3)

Each living setup will have its ups and downs! So assess whether this one is still the right one for you!

Image from Palm Harbor 4+ Bedroom Manufactured Home Timber Ridge Elite for $276968 | Model 5V468T5 from Homes Direct (thehomesdirect.com)

 

References:

  1. Beigay, K. (2022, June 1). 2022 homes on the hill consumers: MHI: Manufactured Housing Institute. MHI | Manufactured Housing Institute. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.manufacturedhousing.org/homesonthehillconsumers/
  2. Kennedy, A. (2021, August 6). The Pros & Cons of Mobile Home Living. Move.org. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.move.org/pros-cons-of-mobile-home-living/
  3. Erika. (2022, February 24). Living in a mobile home: 7 things (2022) you must know. Gokce Capital: We Buy and Sell Land. Retrieved June 2022, from https://gokcecapital.com/living-in-a-mobile-home/
  4. Gritton, R. (2019, June 19). The 20 best manufactured homes for you and your family. Homes Direct. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.thehomesdirect.com/blog/best-manufactured-homes-for-you
  5. HOMEiA. (2021, October 4). 10 key things to know before buying a manufactured home. HOMEiA. Retrieved June 2022, from https://homeia.com/buy-house/key-things-to-know-before-buying-a-manufactured-home/