Compared to the Lakeland Metro average of $106 per square foot, the $54.42 per sq ft for the home listed on Zillow on the collage above is a bargain. Image credits and data on the right, Zillow, and are shown under fair use guidelines. Image credit of the woman at the left, MHLivingNews/GraphicStock.

A Look at Today’s Home Buyer, Analyzing Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report

For more than a decade, Zillow® has been helping millions of Americans do their homework.” With those words, begins Zillow Group’s Forward to their “CONSUMER HOUSING TRENDS REPORT 2016.” 

Perhaps unwittingly, many of the facts Zillow’s interesting and in-depth housing report on consumer desires brings forth, indirectly point to reasons why manufactured housing could be growing at an ever-faster rate than the double-digit growth it is already enjoying.  So, we plan to review parts of the useful Zillow study in a periodic series here on MHLivingNews, begin with a look at the section of their survey, entitled – “Today’s Home Buyer.”

Zillow surveyed some 13,000 buyers, sellers, and renters for their study.  Among their findings?

Half of all buyers are under age 36, meaning the Millennial generation is driving more of the housing market than we previously understood.”

Graphic credit, Zillow, from report cited, and shared under fair use guidelines.

Online research is booming, the Zillow report points out, but “Those who start their home searches online are actually more likely to use an agent than other buyers.”

Graphic credit, Zillow, from report cited, and shared under fair use guidelines.

While ‘agent’ in Zillow terms means a real estate agent, here sellers of manufactured homes need to sit up and take notice.  Isn’t a retailer or community manager showing and selling a home an agent too? Of course. But, there has been a trend among many manufactured home sales professionals to simply let shoppers wander their model home displays.

Yet, the bulk of those shoppers – per Zillowwant to have the benefit of an agent’s insights and feedback during a home tour.  Per Zillow, many of those shoppers want to have solid, professional feedback, even if it differs from what they think they want.

The Desire for Single Family Living

Despite demographic reports about young adults’ urban lifestyles, Millennials share their parents’ aspirations for a single-family home, often in the suburbs,” states Zillow’s report.

That dovetails with Pew Research reported on MHLivingNews last year, that pointed to a move toward the exurbs. A more recent Daily Business News report that several cities are seeing a modest exodus – a population decline – as urbanites leave for more suburban or rural lifestyles.

Some notable bullets from Zillow’s report are captured in the following two topical headings, which neatly dovetail in points that manufactured home owners or shoppers can enjoy.

Graphic credit, Zillow, from the report cited, and shared under fair use guidelines.


  • Half (50 percent) of today’s home buyers are under the age of 36, and 47 percent are first-time buyers. Solo home buyers are in the minority; most buyers are shopping with a spouse or partner (73 percent).
  • Eighty-three percent of buyers are shopping for a single-family house. Their top considerations are affordability and being in a safe neighborhood.
  • Across all generations, almost nine out of 10 buyers (87 percent) use an online resource at some point in their search for a home to buy.
  • The average shopper goes on seven home tours, and while they may incorporate online research, they tend to be hands-on at decision time, preferring to meet an agent in person or talk on the phone, and prioritizing private tours of homes led by a professional.
  • Only 46 percent of buyers get the first home on which they make an offer, reflecting the reality that in today’s tight market, the search—which takes an average of 4.2 months— comes with competition and disappointment.


  • Nearly half (48 percent) of all buyers consider homes that have never been lived in before.
  • Younger buyers (50 percent of Millennials and 54 percent of Generation X) are significantly more likely than Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation (38 percent and 39 percent, respectively) to consider newly built properties.

Among buyers who were interested in and ultimately purchased brand-new homes, the following information is most desired during their search:

  • Energy-efficiency savings (48 percent)
  • Builder reviews/ratings (47 percent)
  • Options for customizing the home (45 percent)
Zillow’s research shows that about 8% of the population – and 10% of Boomers –
are considering a manufactured home. The reason the number tends to be low are outdated impressions about manufactured housing today. See the video, on this page below, an interview with a previous conventional house owner. Graphic credit, Zillow, from report cited, and shared under fair use guidelines.

Beyond Zillow’s Facts and Figures

While other statistics – from sources normally cited by manufactured housing professionals – provide a somewhat different view than Zillow’s keen report, that may be due to the survey’s method, or looking at prospects vs. actual owners and buyers.

For example, actual new manufactured home sales tend to be more robust in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other South Central/Southeastern states, while Zillow’s study suggests more are looking for a manufactured home in the Upper Midwest.

That later fact is quickly proven by looking at the latest new manufactured home shipment report, which touts double-digit increases, and is once more linked here.

The Market View from Credit Human

San Antonio Credit Union recently rebranded their parent operation and various manufactured home lending divisions under the single name of Credit Human, Federal Credit Union.

From Noffsinger’s report, cited below. Note that federally regulated HUD Code manufactured homes can range from about 400 sq. feet on the small end, to over 2400 square feet, on a single level.  

Credit Human is one of the larger, independent national lenders whose award-winning service is highly engaged in the manufactured home lending market.

Barry Noffsinger, Credit Human Federal Credit Union, Manufactured Home Lending Manager.

Barry Noffsinger, Sales and Marketing Manager for Credit Human, made a recent presentation to manufactured home industry professionals at the 2017 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show.

Noffsinger provided attendees with a variety of slides and statistics, including those shown above and below.  While he did not specify the sources of his data, they are similar to – and reflective of – studies by Zillow, the National Association of Realtors, and other home buyers/market research available.

Noffsinger’s thought-provoking presentation ought to be a wake-up call to industry professionals and home shoppers alike.  They could be summarized in just two lines, in the following fashion.

  1. Home buyers – What you seek accurately describes what a modern manufactured home is, you just may not know it yet.
  2. For home sellers – Noffsinger’s point about ‘testimonials’ is akin to interviews by MHLivingNews with home owners and experts, who ‘testify’ to their experiences and knowledge about today’s quality and appealing manufactured homes.

There’s More…

Noffsinger’s facts also suggest that manufactured housing industry professionals ought to revisit their professional practices.

Why?  To make sure they’re making it clear to home buyers in their market(s) that they offer what dovetails with shoppers’ their dream homes.  Manufactured homes accomplish that at a budget more easily afforded than new conventional construction, or even millions of existing ‘resale’ housing options.

It’s no surprise that as readership on this – and our MHProNews.com professional sister site – are growing, so too are the sales of new manufactured homes.

All of these features would be common or doable in a residential style manufactured home. From Noffsinger’s report, cited above.

Seeking out Reputable Operations

Home seekers who take the time to research the realities vs. the outdated myths or misconceptions – and then go to reputable operations in their desired market – are finding their dream homes at about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of a new, conventional ‘on site’ built house.

Or many homebuyers are finding a new manufactured home for a similar or lower price to an existing house – and those resale houses often require updates.  Buyers are discovering they can customize a manufactured home – or buy one ‘ready to go’ – from a model home center, that fits their taste, budgets, and lifestyle.

In the days ahead, we will return to Zillow’s in-depth report, and provide additional analysis that reflects how what home buyers are looking for, can be found in contemporary manufactured homes. ##

Useful, related links:

To learn more about the evolution from trailer houses and mobile homes of decades ago to modern manufactured homes, click here.

To learn more about the distinctions between a modular and manufactured home (they are not the same thing), click here.

There have been no mobile homes built in the U.S. for over 40 years, click here.

(Image credits are as shown above.)

Tony Kovach leading an educational session on manufactured housing. Credit = Inside MH Road Show/MHLivingNews.com

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

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