Unless you are a daily or regular visitor to one of our websites, odds are excellent that you will learn several things about mobile homes and manufactured home living by reading this evidence-based article. You or a friend may own a manufactured home, and you may still learn several useful things about manufactured homes that are important to affordable home seekers, public officials, and others. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve owned multiple homes over the years, including conventional ‘site built’ houses in nice or new middle-class neighborhoods. Like tens of millions of other Americans, there were times I’ve rented housing – including apartments, townhouse, single family, and even a studio that today might be called a ‘tiny house.’ I’ve only lived in one actual mobile home and that was decades ago, closer to the ‘mobile home’ era. Most of the factory-built homes I’ve lived owned or lived in have been HUD Code manufactured homes. That ‘mobile home’ was provided by an employer. It was located in a land-lease community as were some of the manufactured homes, past and present, that I’ve lived in. Currently, my family and I live in a manufactured home permanently sited on privately (personally) owned land. Over the years, there were homes that were financed, but others owned ‘free and clear’ of any mortgage. Given some 30 years working in several segments of the manufactured home industry, my experience and insights have understandably been described as those of an authentic manufactured home industry expert.
With that background, I can candidly say that a person, couple, or family cooks, cleans, eats, lives, works, and loves much the same in a manufactured home as in a conventional site-built or ‘stick built’ house. When billionaires and millionaires, the famous and actors think it is ‘cool’ or hop in a counter-cultural sense to own a manufactured home, it should be obvious that acceptance of manufactured living ought to follow.
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Sky High Opportunities – Stevie Nicks, Lawrence Welk, Kid Rock, Elvis Presley, Art Linkletter, Mobile or Manufactured Home Living, 2020 and You
As a publisher that has interviewed and spoken with hundreds of manufactured homeowners, the sum of my experiences produces a unique and rare combination of insights and understanding. As the co-founder and now principal (but not only) author at MHLivingNews and MHProNews, my perspective and that of my family are therefor well suited to write about affordable manufactured housing from several different expert angles.
Unique and Positive Experiences in Manufactured Home Living
I can speculate on why neighbors living in manufactured homes have often been superior to those we knew when living in conventional housing. But that is one of several interesting and objectively true insights worth mentioning because that has been my experience. There is a kind of comradery between many manufactured homeowners something like that shared between RVers.
We bought another manufactured home a few months ago. We met most of them, but don’t yet know all of our new neighbors well. But those we do know are good, down to earth, hard working or retired folks who are honest people happy to jump in and lend a hand. Our neighbors are – wait for it – neighborly! Imagine: neighbors who are friendly.
At least two of our neighbors previously owned conventional ‘site built’ housing. They have each mentioned in conversation how much they love their manufactured homes, as do we, even if they may not always use the correct terminology in describing their home.
As an interview with a popular and respected retailer we produced revealed, ‘most’ of their manufactured home buyers previously owned a conventional house. So, one takeaway is that conventional housing owners pondering the manufactured home option or what manufactured home living means to them ought not fear what they don’t experience themselves.
My mind flashes back at times to two media types who were interviewing me for Moxie Magazine. The subject was a manufactured home community (MHC) upgrade project I was providing management support for at the time.
We were sitting in a model home during the conversation/interview. As we spoke, one of the two ladies suddenly began to cry. I was caught off guard. What’s wrong, I asked?
She explained that her husband and she had purchased an older conventional house the previous year. This occurred up north. The utility bills were high, she said. There were a lot of repairs and upkeep. By comparison, she explained, the home we were sitting in was brand new, had full warranties, and was energy efficient. Important to her and her spouse, she said the manufactured home cost less. Had she known what she learned during our short time together, she explained that they would have gone with the manufactured home. Fast-forward and the article that they produced about the project read more like an advertorial than a news story (see the second image in the collage at the left).
Greener, Save Time, Money
The environment is well served by manufactured homes. There is less waste during construction. Many building materials used in manufactured homes are renewable and are similar to the materials used in conventional construction. Manufactured homes require less time to build once the home is started than conventional housing. Why? Because the home is built indoors in a controlled environment that allows for construction year-round. Like a car on an assembly line, the home moves from station to station until it is finished. It is inspected several times during the course of construction. Third-party inspectors as well as plant-inspectors are part of their methodology. Less waste, buying materials in bulk, and lower labor costs combine in favorable ways for affordable housing seekers. Living in a manufactured home is obviously a proven way to save money on an appealing home. By the way, when I personally sold a manufactured home, I told customers to expect some post-installation service. You are moving a home down the highway until it reaches its destination. While the exact percentage is disputed, most manufactured homes are not moved once they are installed. Manufactured homes are not RVs, they are not ‘mobile homes.’ While obviously similar to conventional housing, there are differences that when they are properly explained make good sense.
Third-party research supports the experiences and insights mentioned herein. Quality, durability, appeal, and value are routinely among the reasons given by those who own a manufactured home as to why they bought one. High satisfaction among those who experience manufactured home living is a common and often overlooked reality.
In comments to other researchers, media, or directly to us (MHLivingNews/MHProNews) it is that balance or ‘mix’ of appealing features, good value, and savings provided by manufactured homeowners to explain why they bought their home. In that mix is the reality that payments on a new or newer manufactured home can be less than what renting a similar sized house or apartment would be. Additionally, comparing the features, cost, and value of a manufactured home to older and ‘similarly’ priced existing conventional homes routinely favors the manufactured home option too.
These are flashback videos and prices have risen since they were made. But the styles of homes and broad brush facts remain as valid now as when these interviews and videos were initially made. MHLivingNews has been providing evidence-based news and insights on manufactured homes for over a decade. MHProNews has been published since October of 2009.
Understanding the Challenges
That snapshot is not meant to convey the notion that manufactured home living is perfect. There are no perfect housing options at any price point. That said, there are, for examples, evidence-based allegations of ‘predatory’ brands operating in manufactured housing just as there are ne’er do wells in conventional single family or multi-family housing. This platform and our MHProNews sister site have for years pulled back the veil on troubling issues, so we don’t just do ‘good news’ articles. More on the topic of predatory behavior in MHVille are unpacked and explored in reports like the ones linked below.
Decades of Expertise
Besides owning and living in a manufactured home, I’ve personally sold hundreds of them over the years.
I’ve been involved in management and consulting projects that collectively involved the sale of thousands of manufactured homes.
I’ve worked at locations that had problematic leadership with less than grand customer satisfaction before I arrived. My goal in those situations was to learn what was going wrong and get to the heart of what was needed to correct the problems. In my experience, even unhappy customers can quickly become allies by starting with good, honest, two-way communications. Following mutual understanding, by following up with corrective action – i.e.: simply doing what is right consistently and as rapidly as possible – happy residents resulted. When people are treated fairly and honestly, they often tell their friends about the positive changes and about their satisfaction.
With that backdrop, to save time and for other reasons, the home we recently bought was preowned. It was already installed on a foundation system and the property included a two-car carport, storage buildings, swimming pool, three decks, security and other features. In the still hot central Florida housing market, those features we have would have cost roughly double or more what we paid had we purchased a similar-sized conventional ‘site built’ house.
As a neighbor’s kind words quoted in the headline reflected, we’ve done some updates since moving in. We have more improvements and upgrades planned for the next few months. Some of those indoor and outdoor projects already underway.
One of our neighbors who knew the home before and after we bought this residence exclaimed “You took a mobile home and turned it into a palace!” She and her spouse are among the gracious and supportive neighbors who happen to love my wife’s taste in furniture and decor. Our son turned 16 in this home.
From North to South, the Good News About Manufactured Home Living
I’ve owned and lived in manufactured homes in Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Florida. Professionally and personally my travels have taken me to 47 states, including Hawaii. There my family and I witnessed a multi-section manufactured home shipped to the Big Island on the deck of a large transport vessel. From New England to California, from central Canada to every state in the Great Plains, Southern, Central, Midwest, Mountain States, and Atlantic coast of the U.S., without bragging, the range of experiences we have puts us in a unique and arguably rare category. The word ‘expert’ is not bragging or exaggeration.
That said, Polk County, Florida is home to an estimated 753,520 interesting people as of 2021, including popular ’law and order’ Sheriff Grady Judd. More on him perhaps another time, but for now, every neighbor we asked thinks highly of him and his deputies’ work. Florida has become one of the ‘go to’ states from other parts of the country. This part of the country reportedly has one of the highest percentages of mobile and manufactured homes of any part of the country. That means that it is common to see manufactured homes and conventional ‘site built’ housing ‘side by side’ along streets, highways, and in neighborhoods.
On our street, a new conventional house is under construction. That site-built house is surrounded by manufactured homes. Diagonally across the street from our home is a site-built house. This where we live peacefully with our neighbors. That said, this area and so many others around across the country could be a fascinating place to do research if someone was so inclined.
My son and I recently visited our congressman’s office. We met with two of Representative C. Scott Franklin’s (FL18-R) team members and a third kindly took the photo shown in the collage below. They know we are political independents. They could not have been much nicer. They sent this card and photo to us as a thoughtful memento of our visit.
We spoke about manufactured home related topics. But we also had a conversation about issues related to AMAC.us. As one of over 2.2 million AMAC members nationwide, with over 7200 AMAC members living in this congressional district (FL-18) alone, their interest in senior and manufactured home related topics appeared to be sincere and genuine. We’ll plan to update readers on specifics we discussed another time.
There is a widespread affordable housing crisis in America. Most people don’t realize that studies by nonprofits, LendingTree, and federal agencies reveal that manufactured homes appreciate at a similar, and sometimes faster rate, than conventional housing does.
Unpacking “Manufactured Homes as an Investment” LendingTree “Mobile Home Values Are Rising Faster Than Single-Family Home Values”—When do Mobile and Manufactured Homes Appreciate or Depreciate?
There are good reasons for people to use the correct terminology.
The terms mobile home, trailer house, and manufactured home are not interchangeable.
Most don’t realize that despite the negative stereotypes and hype, manufactured homes are statistically very safe.
‘Debunking Manufactured Housing Myths – Get the Facts,’ Says Mortgage Giant Freddie Mac’s Research – FHLMC Counters, Clarifies Claims About Trailer Houses, Mobile Homes, and Tiny Houses
Many don’t know that a brand-new manufactured home can cost about half what a conventional ‘stick built’ house does, but nevertheless share the benefits of home ownership with more costly site-built housing.
There are no known surveys on this next topic, something the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) should arguably have researched years ago. But my hunch is that even most members of Congress don’t know about the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000’s “enhanced preemption” provision. MHI says they support its enforcement. But if so, they oddly don’t have on the public side of their own website that terminology according to their own search tool on the date shown. Why? Follow the money trail. Certain bigger brands think that limiting affordable housing helps themselves.
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See the instructions below the graphic below or click the image and follow the prompts.
By contrast, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has numbers of articles and posts on their website about “enhanced preemption.” They also have a copy of a letter from lawmakers to HUD that explains the legislative intent of the bill.
The reason these topics matter is because there is an affordable housing crisis in America.
According to research by Freddie Mac, most Americans would consider buying a manufactured home.
New Freddie Mac Research Brief Says Majority of Consumers Would Consider Purchasing a Manufactured Home Most Have Good Perception of Manufactured Housing – Facts & Analysis
As mentioned earlier, millionaires and even billionaires own a manufactured home, either as a primary or getaway residence. If they can buy whatever kind of home they want, doesn’t it obviously speak well of the manufactured home option that they picked manufactured housing instead of conventional construction? Some people are wealthy AND like being frugal. The CBS News video posted below is an example of that from a few years ago. Although they make some terminology mistakes, the thrust of their video is quite good.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Frugal: Manufactured Mansions Take Their Place in the California Sun
That being so, it may help explain why during the Obama-Biden Administration university level federally commissioned research reflected that manufactured homes in urban areas appreciated side by side with conventional constructed housing.
Official U.S. Census Bureau Cost & Size Comparisons of New Manufactured Homes to New Single-Family Site-Built Homes – Facts for Shoppers, Affordable Housing Advocates, Public Officials, Investors & Researchers
“Preliminary Tornado Data 2021 National Weather Service, III.org–Surprising, Hopeful Facts for Affordable Housing Seekers” – Impact on Conventional Housing, Mobile Home, Manufactured Homeowners
There are some things that were true about older mobile homes that aren’t true about manufactured homes. That’s one of several reasons why the terminology matters. Manufactured homes EVOLVED from the mobile homes and trailer houses-built decades ago. The graphics above and the facts linked below are useful to clear up confusion on what ought to be a simple matter to understand. Trailer houses are not mobile homes. Mobile homes are not manufactured homes. Simple, right? Just as cars have evolved, so too has factory-built housing. Because manufactured homes (unlike mobile homes) are federally regulated, there are safety and consumer protections provided that are not found in often far more costly conventional housing.
Which Is It? Is it a Mobile Home or a Manufactured Home? Visual Guidance Planned by AP Stylebook for Reporters/Journalists Useful to General Public, Public Officials, and Researchers
We need federal and state lawmakers, along with other responsible public officials, to step up and do investigations into why good laws passed by Congress in a widely bipartisan way that aimed to support more affordable manufactured home (MH) ownership are not being properly enforced. The evidence and research we’ve seen indicates corruption inside and beyond the MH industry.
It is time that bigotry, ignorance, and prejudice against manufactured homes is ended. The solution to the affordable housing crisis is hiding in plain sight. And while some news publications have done helpful reports, there is obviously much more work that mainstream media needs to do. Because if mainstream media were consistently and persistently doing their job correctly, we’d have millions of fewer renters, and millions of more taxpayers who own a manufactured home.
These remarks may be described as this expert’s informed opinion. But the case can be made that every aspect of these remarks are demonstrably true. Yes, if good laws were properly enforced, millions of more people of even modest means could own a manufactured home for less than the cost of a rental payment. It is past time to take an important part of the American Dream and Make it a Reality. ###
Are You or Someone You Know Among the 25 Million Renters Who Could Buy a Manufactured Home Today? Freddie Mac Study ‘Identifying the Opportunities to Expand Manufactured Housing’ by Aw, Brown, Yea Examined
Affordable Housing, Conventional Housing, Mobile Home, Manufactured Home, and Modular Housing Conundrum – What U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Research Revealed
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.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
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 MHLivingNews.com. 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: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
Recent and Related Reports:
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.
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