Economist EJ Antoni ‘Understated by Feds Through-the-Roof Housing Inflation Crushing Would-Be Homeowners’–Conventional Housing Unaffordable But Manufactured Homes Still Reasonable for Millions

According to WCNT a year ago, research then showed that 61 percent of Americans could not afford to buy a house in this current market.  Since that report, mortgage interest rates surged to their highest levels since 2002, per Copilot. The average 30-year rate jumped from 3.22% in January to a high of 7.08% at the end of October1. That sets the tone for Part I of this article which provides facts and commentary by economist EJ Antoni. Part II will compare conventional housing purchase and rental affordability, or the lack thereof, with the typical prices for a new manufactured home.

Part I


Understated by Feds, Through-the-Roof Housing Inflation Is Crushing Would-Be Homeowners

EJ Antoni @RealEJAntoni / February 14, 2024

Business headlines say that inflation is down, yet countless Americans are struggling, particularly with finding somewhere affordable to live.

How do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory notions? First, lower inflation means prices are rising slower, but still rising. Second, housing inflation is being undercounted by official government metrics as much as 4-to-1.

The consumer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is designed to measure the cost increase of a common basket of goods. Surprisingly, though, it doesn’t include the cost of housing.

The CPI tries to capture consumption, but not anything considered an investment, which would include a home and any improvements to it, like installing a swimming pool. Similarly, things like the chlorine tablets used to maintain the swimming pool are also excluded since they’re considered part of an investment.

This isn’t a trivial fact, because when the price of those tablets skyrocketed more than 200% in 2022, that increase was nowhere to be found in the CPI. This is just one example of how the index undercounted the increase in the cost of living for many Americans.

While it doesn’t directly measure the cost of homeownership, the CPI does try to estimate it by looking at renter surveys. Basically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the responses in these surveys to estimate not only the change in the cost of renting, but also the change in the cost of homeownership through a category called “owner’s equivalent rent.”

If the cost of rent increases at the same rate as the cost of homeownership, then this methodology should theoretically create an accurate measurement of the increased cost of housing overall. The problem today is that the cost of homeownership has risen much faster than rents over the past three years.

Although rents are at a record high today, the premium to own a home vs. renting one has never been so large before. According to the CPI, rents have gone up 19.5% over the last three years, and the more-encompassing shelter component of the CPI has risen 19.4% over the same time.

According to the National Association of Realtors, however, the median sales price of existing homes is up 23.7% in the past three years. And interest rates on mortgages have more than doubled in that time, increasing the monthly mortgage payment even more.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta compiles a monthly homeownership affordability index, which estimates the cost to own a median-price home and compares that with the median household income. The index looks at not just how much a homeowner would need to pay in principal and interest, but also homeowners’ insurance, taxes, and personal mortgage insurance.

In January 2021, the median price of a home was just under $300,000, while the interest rate on a 30-year mortgage was 2.7%. All in all, it costs $1,600 a month to afford a home, which is 28% of the median household income. That’s one of the most affordable ratios since the Atlanta Fed started keeping track of this metric in 2006.

By November 2023 (the most recent period for which figures are available), things had deteriorated. In just under three years, the price of a median home shot up to $363,000, while interest rates were 7.4%. Taxes and insurance also skyrocketed, helping drive the monthly cost of homeownership to an eye-opening $2,831.

That’s a 77% increase in just three years or four times the increase in rent counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It now takes 43.9% of the median household income to afford a median-price home. But note that this is before-tax income. After taxes, it takes well over half of the median household income to own a median-price home.

The stratospheric cost of homeownership has led many American families to cut corners wherever possible. That’s why 18 million Americans today are doing without homeowners insurance. The untenable cost of living has forced them to roll the dice on their financial futures.

But neither the exorbitant cost of owning a home, nor the drop in insurance coverage is incorporated in the CPI. This undercounting of inflation is a key reason why so many people disapprove of the economy despite the official metrics improving. Flawed statistics won’t help cover your unaffordable mortgage.

Originally published at Provided to MHLivingNews by the Daily Signal, which published the above at the link here.

EJ Antoni is a public finance economist and research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget ##


Part II – Additional Information with More MHLivingNews Facts and Analysis

Per Copilot the following.

BingCopilotAI-Screen1.3.2024MHLivingNewsOn February 16, 2024, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed FHA mortgage—a popular choice for buyers seeking guaranteed government loans—stands at 6.44%This is a slight increase from the previous week’s rate of 6.40%1. Keep in mind that mortgage rates can fluctuate, so it’s essential to stay informed and consult with a financial advisor or lender for the most up-to-date information. …”


> “What is the latest average price in the U.S. for a new manufactured home per the U.S. Census Bureau?”


BingCopilotAI-Screen1.3.2024MHLivingNewsmore recent data from March 2023 indicates that the nationwide average sales price for a new manufactured home has increased slightly to $128,3003.

Keep in mind that these figures represent an overall average, and actual prices can vary based on factors such as location, size, features, and specific home models. If you’re considering purchasing a manufactured home, it’s advisable to consult local real estate listings and work with professionals to get accurate and up-to-date pricing information…”


> “Using the current 30 year fixed rate FHA Title II mortgage interest rate, the national average price for a new manufactured home and $100,000 for the price of an improved home site, with a minimum down payment what would be the math for the monthly payment on a new manufactured home? Don’t include taxes, MIP, or insurance, as those can vary by location.”


BingCopilotAI-Screen1.3.2024MHLivingNews…Let’s calculate the monthly payment for a new manufactured home using the given information:

  1. Loan Amount: The loan amount is the total cost of the new manufactured home, which includes the national average price for the home and the price of the improved home site. Let’s denote this as L:
    • National average price for a new manufactured home: $128,300
    • Price of the improved home site: $100,000
    • Total loan amount: L = $128,300 + $100,000 = $228,300
  2. Down Payment: You mentioned a minimum down payment. Let’s denote the down payment percentage as D%:
    • Assuming a minimum down payment, let’s say D% = 3.5% (typical for FHA loans).
    • Down payment amount: Down Payment = D% × L
  3. Loan Term: We have a 30-year fixed-rate FHA mortgage, so the loan term is 30 years.
  4. Interest Rate: The current interest rate is 6.44%.

Now, let’s calculate the monthly payment using the formula for a fixed-rate mortgage:

…Therefore, for a 3% down payment on this mortgage, the down payment amount would be approximately $6,849. Keep in mind that this is an estimate, and actual terms may vary based on specific lender conditions and other factors. ??…

Therefore, the estimated monthly payment for the new manufactured home would be approximately $1,432.84. Keep in mind that this is an estimate, and actual terms may vary based on specific lender conditions and other factors. It’s always best to consult with a mortgage professional for precise calculations tailored to your situation. ?? …”


> “What is the cost of a 3/2 rental house?”

BingCopilotAI-Screen1.3.2024MHLivingNewsAs of February 2024, the median rent for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath single-family rental house across the United States is approximately $2,000 per month1. Keep in mind that rental prices can vary based on location, local housing markets, and other factors. If you’re specifically interested in rental rates for this type of home, I recommend checking local listings and consulting with real estate professionals for precise and up-to-date information. ?? …”

So, as this brief look reveals, even with taxes, mortgage protection insurance (MIP), and property insurance, some person or family could potential buy a new manufactured home on land for about the same payment as renting a three-bedroom two bath home. Third-party research that debunks the typical concerns are found below.




See the related reports for manufactured home shopping tips.






Flashback video with real estate professional whose husband is a custom conventional house builder. The prices of homes are higher now, but the percentage of savings are much the same. 

Linda.Hazelhoff, Real Estate Associate Broker, Kalamazoo, MI from Manufactured Home Living News.





To get our free x2 weekly industry-leading emailed news headlines in seconds, click here or above.
We recommend that news tips NOT use company, nonprofit or organizational emails or cell phones. To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP or COMMENTS in the subject line.


For those who want to better understand why manufactured housing is underperforming during an affordable housing crisis, check out the deeper dive report linked below.




That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ### (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

How quickly they grow! Our son is about the same height as dad now. On that occasion recalled by this photo, all on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested in the discussion of manufactured housing-related issues in our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included a copy of the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHLivingNews and MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for

Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.

Connect on LinkedIn:

Recent and Related Reports:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.





Check Also


NBC Regional Lex18 News and Spectrum 1 News Both Spotlight Modern Manufactured Homes as Part of Affordable Housing Crisis Solution – Pros and Cons Analysis of NBC Lex18 Video-Report

During the recent Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) conference, a modern manufactured home was placed …