Every year, millions of Americans are looking for a new place to call home. A new report on the Daily Business News states that 1 out of 9 Americans are moving a year, per the U.S. Census Bureau.
People move for many reasons. Among the top reasons mentioned are to:
1) save money,
2) and to get a new home or apartment.
Before people move, most ‘do their homework.’
When people shop and compare their options, they naturally want to read, see, and hear what’s true. Good, bad, or in between – why not tell it like it is?
As trade media, we have for years held those in the factory-built housing industry accountable too, as this report will once more reflect.
We strive to correct and set the factual record straight. “The truth well told will set us free.” Almost everyone can benefit from knowing the truth about the subject of affordable housing — or any other subject.
Once armed with the truth – not spin, myths or hyperbole – let people apply the facts to their own situation. “We Provide, You Decide.” ©
Ending Ignorance and Prejudice – What a U.S. Government Report Says
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that the most affordable type of permanent housing in America is usually a manufactured home (see GAO chart below).
The expert in the video on this page, Bill Matchneer – a former, well-placed federal official – also notes that people don’t have to sacrifice quality to get savings. We’ve spotlighted in previous reports that on fire or windstorm safety, manufactured homes are as or more safe than conventional construction.
Part of the challenge is that people still call manufactured homes, ‘mobile homes’ or the T Word – ‘trailer’ – even though there’s been no mobile homes built in the U.S. for over 40 years. They are not the same thing, as manufactured homes are built to a federal construction and safety code, one that older mobile homes and trailer houses did not benefit from.
Older mobile homes did burn more often, and often are more vulnerable to windstorms. But just as old crank telephones evolved over time into modern smart phones, or how cars have evolved, so too have modern factory-built manufactured homes evolved from the mobile homes of 4 decades ago.
Census Bureau Says Manufactured Homes Cost Much Le$$
The reason people produce products from electronics, clothing and cars in a factory is because the quality goes up and the costs comes down. The same can be true with housing.
The U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t rate quality, but it does makes a similar point as the GAO’s about price. The Census department’s research for many years have stated that the cost of buying a new HUD Code manufactured home is about half the cost of conventional home building.
What the Census doesn’t say – but federal law mandates – is this. That today’s manufactured homes are third party inspected. They must be federally certified for safety, construction, and energy efficiency.
So while there are entry level manufactured homes (think of an basic level cell phone, or an entry level car) – as well as upgraded “residential style” models, the overall savings is substantial. You can site build a house for $400 a square foot, but you can also site build a home for $125 a square foot, depending on the market and what features are in that house. The same principle applies to factory home building as does to a house or car. You can have basic cars, and cars that are loaded with features. Ditto that for a manufactured home.
The savings in time, labor costs, less wasted material and other factors yields savings, without sacrificing safety or other factors.
Affordable homes are a growing need in America, and around the world. There are advantages that a HUD Code manufactured home can provide that other forms of construction – no matter how good those others may be – don’t enjoy the benefits of preemption and standardization that can save significantly without sacrificing quality, saving energy features, or safety.
With All Due Respect to MHI – Facts are Facts…Errors Need to Be Corrected, or Clarified
Not unlike other trade organizations, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) puts out periodic reports and literature for those considering the manufactured home option.
MHI is a trade group that advocates on behalf of several hundred member companies. Let’s clearly state that analyzing and critiquing the trade group doesn’t imply a body slam at all of the companies in that organization. Most pros are busy, and state association executives tell MHProNews that professionals don’t have time to double-check each and every thing MHI is saying, doing, and publishing.
While some MHI information offers useful insights, let’s candidly alleged the following. MHI has published consumer-focused information that contradicted themselves – and known facts – in their public-focused literature.
It’s not easy to say how many may – or may not – notice MHI’s apparent mistakes. But certainly if we and other industry professionals have noticed their errors, then there are those in the public, media, housing advocates, and officials who have or will too.
Those published MHI contradictions and apparent errors may cause discerning people to lose confidence in a good opportunity. Why? Because MHI has failed to get and keep ALL of the facts, straight. Its human nature to be doubtful of a ‘good deal.’ That skepticism often grows when contradictory information exists.
The Truth Matters
So, in spotlighting these and other challenges with MHI literature, we’re not commenting in this article how and why such apparent – and numerous – errors may occur. But you can see for yourself the problematic statements. These are just some of several other serious errors we’ve noted in their information and website.
We sincerely hope this report will encourage MHI to make all of the needed corrections, pronto. We point this out precisely because the truth and accuracy matters.
As the industry’s top trade media, it’s important for MHLivingNews and our sister publication, MHProNews, to get and keep the facts straight. At times like this, that means identifying errors within the factory-built home industry.
Editorially, we as industry trade media believe that only through accuracy can we and other professionals dispel the outdated concepts about the manufactured home and other types of factory-crafted housing options.
Facts and accuracy matter.
An Award-Winning Professional and Licensed MLO Speaks Out
Bob Crawford, President of Dick Moore Housing with locations in MS and TN, is an MLO (Mortgage Loan Originator, NMLS #339159). Among other things, that means that Crawford can make and share estimated loan calculations for prospective buyers.
Crawford shared some comparisons for those thinking about building a new house built on-site vs. buying a manufactured home.
Crawford started with the costs for new ‘site built’ (conventional) construction, according to published 2017 federal data, as shown.
“The U.S. Census Bureau said that the median price for a conventional site-built house in January 2017 was $317,400.” says Crawford. “Using the published 2017 FHA-level of down payment of 3.5%, that would equate to $7969.50 on that priced house” (Editor’s Note: the cost includes the lot).
Crawford noted that on both the example above and below, there are other costs – such as closing, taxes, insurance, escrow, etc. Those vary by location, lender, and for other causes. So, he kept these figures generic and simple for easy comparisons. Just be aware that there are other costs, which a lender and/or seller in your desired area can detail.
“Also in January 2017, the ‘average’ price nationally for a new manufactured home was $89,700. Presuming a home-site with improvement valued at $40,000, the total cost would be $129,700 for land and home,” said Crawford. “That would require a minimum of $4,539.50 down, and at the same rate and terms, would yield a $643.50 monthly payment.”
Again, closing, taxes, escrows, insurance, and perhaps other closing costs would apply.
So, the typical new house in January 2017 at today’s rates and a minimum down payment would yield a $1,590.90 monthly payment, vs. the average manufactured home sold in that same month and terms, would yield a $643.50 monthly payment.
Crawford notes that the median conventional house is normally larger than the average manufactured home. But you can also buy or custom order a single level, triple-section manufactured home with some 3,450 square feet of floor space. A more common-larger size manufactured home available in many markets are so-called 32x80s, which are about 2,330 square feet.
So, you can get ‘apples to apples’ in these comparisons. As we’ve previously reported – depending upon the part of the country – you can build a manufactured home with a partial or full basement, and with or without a garage.
While costs vary by state for both conventional and manufactured homes, the U.S. Census Bureau says that national averages show that a manufactured home is about half the cost of conventional building.
Those averages and other third-party data were used for the calculations and estimates on this article.
Crawford did not comment directly on these published errors by MHI, but has said previously in a video done before an audience that he only rates MHI “a 5 out of 10” in effectiveness.
Should MHI’s errors cause someone to stop considering the factory-crafted home option? Clearly, not.
Crawford – along with thousands of other manufactured home professionals from coast to coast – know that the lowest cost single family living option is with the factory-built home. Recall the federal GAO report cited above also said that manufactured homes are the most cost-effective form of housing in their monthly payment calculations too.
More Mainstream Media Reports Reflect the Need for Manufactured Homes in the Battle for Affordable Housing
Bloomberg, Realtor, HousingWire and Fox News are among the mainstream media outlets that have reported in the last year on why manufactured homes – what they often inaccurately call ‘mobile homes’ – ought to be considered to help solve the growing affordable housing crisis.
Generally, to get a similar price in a site built house as in a new manufactured home, you’d have to turn to a house built several decades ago, or consider one that needs updates and remodeling.
A manufactured home won’t work for everyone in every situation. But the more a person researches the facts, the clearer it becomes that manufactured homes just make good sense. Frugal millionaires own manufactured homes, as do people from almost every income level. Third-party research and federal data both point to quality and satisfaction with home owners.
The linked letter in the Gainesville Sun, shown below, reflects eye-opening admissions by university researchers that reveal that manufactured homes are much safer than was believed.
Knowing the source and reliability for your information is important.
We as trade publishers and others who address the issue of manufactured homes ought to cite their sources, use the proper terminology, and make sure that the public is getting the facts — not myths, exaggerations or mistaken opinions.
With no disrespect to MHI, but it would be wise for them to have someone that knows the industry and the facts to review their website and their downloads with a fine-tooth comb. They need to check for and correct inaccuracies, such as those shown in this report. Until MHI does so, if you’re ever using their website, keep an asterisk * in your mind to double-check whatever you read there.
Today’s manufactured homes are stronger, smarter, safer, stylish, and offer major savings. But don’t just take our word for it. After you’ve studied-up, go see them at a reputable retailer or community near you.
Seeing is believing. ## (News, Analysis.)
(Image credits are as shown).