Reviewing CBS News Report, “Long Live the Mobile Home”

So, the McMansion is dead, long live the mobile home?” That was the question CBS Sunday Morning asked designer Jennifer Siegal – who is known for turning the image of ‘the trailer house” on its head. Her reply was “Absolutely.”

This CBS News video was previously featured here some years ago, but it is time to bring it back for a fresh look. Since first posted, it has had hundreds of thousands of views. It attacks and to a useful degree stabs at the unjust “trailer house” and “trailer trash image.” CBS showed the actual trailer houses from the post World War II era, vs. the modern manufactured homes of today.

The difference is stark and favorable to modern manufactured homes.



What their video doesn’t do is identify the correct terminology or why that matters. Perhaps the best one sentence summary of why correct terminology should always be used is the one by attorney Steve Duke, found in the quote with images below.


Here’s your short guide to proper terminology. Trailer houses, started in the 1930s. Mobile homes, in the 1950s to the early 1970s. Then came manufactured homes, after 6-15-1976. By the way, untold numbers of older mobile homes have been updated to standards that make them a good option for many too.


The following graphic spells out the differences and evolution from trailers to mobile homes to manufactured homes at a glance.


Here’s your short guide to terminology. Trailer houses, started in the 1930s, mobile homes, in the 1950s to the early 1970s, then came manufactured homes after 6-15-1976. Cars evolved. Phones evolved.  Trailers evolved into mobile homes and then into manufactured homes.  There is a difference.


This next quote from the Nation Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), which reports that manufactured homes are safer than a mobile home, and a bit safer against fires than a conventional house, is useful too.




While the data is about a year old, so prices on conventional houses and manufactured homes alike have risen, the principles behind this next infographic remain the same. It also reminds first time or returning readers that scores of millionaires and even some billionaires personally own a manufactured home. If it is good enough for the rich and famous, a point that CBS made in their video above, isn’t it obviously good enough for the masses of Americans too?


Notice, pricing on homes can shift day by day, sometimes, down, but generally up. The data shown is deemed reliable as of the time the infographic was first produced. Serious researchers should always double-check current information from reliable sources.


In the past year, we have spotlighted the National Association of Realtors (NAR) important third-party research in 2018 into manufactured homes several times. This pull quote from Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton, Certified Business Economist speaks volumes. She pointed out that manufactured homes can and do appreciate. That’s another reason why correct terminology matters.


See her full report with an article found at this link here. Among her research findings data-takeaways? Millions who rent could own their own manufactured homes.



A bank camera video of a tornado sweeping away a conventional ‘site built’ house across the street from it in mere seconds.  It is a sobering reminder that no form of conventional above ground housing is completely safe in such a powerful storm. When a conventional house can get wiped out in seconds, why are people afraid that living in a manufactured home might be a risk?  The only ‘completely safe’ place during a tornado is in an underground shelter.




There are deaths annually in conventional housing, mobile homes and sometimes in manufactured homes too. But federal data makes it clear that the numbers are a tiny sliver of a fraction of a single percentage point. You are many times more likely to die in a bathroom accident in a conventional house by about a factor of 70 than you would from dying in a tornado that hits a manufactured or mobile home. The report linked below gives the details, and shows an entire neighborhood of conventional ‘site built’ houses wiped out, but also damage and destruction in a manufactured home community too. But it is all explained by facts, not emotional hype, and shows interviews with experts and homeowners whose homes survived the windstorms.



So Cororaton’s words, based upon solid independent research, also goes to the heart of a common, and misplaced fear. While a direct hit by a tornado might devastate any house, old mobile home or seriously harm a manufactured home too, the video above reflects actual research by engineers and insurance companies into just how durable a manufactured home is.

MHLivingNews is about evidence, not mere opinion.

Yes, you can find examples of a manufactured home that is damaged, as the video above reflects. But as Democratic and Republican lawmakers who studied the issues found, contemporary manufactured homes make far more sense than other forms of so-called affordable housing.




Finally, HUD Secretary Ben Carson made the point in this last video that reveals just how durable and attractive a modern manufactured home can be. He didn’t say they were tornado proof, but he did say that they are resilient.



We’ve spent a lot more time in the past year dealing with public policy issues or other hot-button topics than previously, although we have always done some level of those kinds of reports on MHLivingNews. The reason we’ve stepped up the policy or scandal related in part is because the debate about manufactured home living has heated up. When people use emotionally charged language, or show only part of a story, it is good to step back and get more facts.

We have shown both sides of those stories for years, as this deeper dive by a manufactured home resident leader reveals.


This linked report is about a happy manufactured homeowner, who he and his wife previously owned a site built conventional house. While happy with their home, he does have concerns about some problematic management practices. The report explores that in depth. MHLivingNews has long advocated do you home work about the business or community you consider living in before buying. Do business with a white hat company, not those accused of black hat business practices.


When you go back to that CBS News video near the top of this article, there was no hint of concerns about fires or windstorms. Why not? Because what was true in the mobile home era that ended the day before June 15, 1976 has not been true since. No housing is 1000% risk free. That said, for over 4 decades now, part of why terminology matters is because manufactured homes are safer by design than the mobile homes or trailer houses of yesteryear. If we can just get more Americans using the correct terminology, that would be a good thing.



Actively retired Rev. and businessman, Donald Tye Jr., grew up in a pre-HUD Code factory-built home that he and his wife still own. He says that federal law should be enforced, so that more can take advantage of modern manufactured home living, instead of being ‘warehoused’ in big housing projects. 


Nothing is changed until it is challenged. We got to know the Tye family, as we have so many others who are happy to own an affordable home made in a factory.


No business or profession is without its flaws. If you are pondering a new, more affordable home, it just makes sense to do your homework.  Hundreds of articles and videos on this site can help in that process. “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Lifestyle news, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)

LATonyKovachGoodBipartisanshipShouldalwaysBepredicatedBenefitallhonestindustrymembersnotslectfewquoteMHLivingNews(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

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 Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member 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:

Related References:

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


Check Also

DontLetAmericanDreamOfHomeOwnershipSlipAwayNAHB-NAR-MHI-MHARRfederal-IndependentFactsIncludingManufacturedHousingData1995 toAugust2023ChallengesAndSolutionsMHLivingNews

Don’t Let American Dream of Home Ownership Slip Away-NAHB, NAR, MHI, MHARR, Federal and Independent Facts Including Manufactured Housing Data 1995 to August 2023 Challenges and Solutions

On October 12, 2023 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new report entitled …