The Washington Post
A factory-built solution to affordable housing?
Manufactured homes are garnering interest but caveats exist
Manufactured homes get a fresh look, but experts have some concerns.
As if dealing with a pandemic weren’t enough, young professionals Eryn Street and Jonathan Fuss last year decided to move from Long Beach, Calif., to Sacramento, so Street could go back to college. But before any of that could happen, the couple — she’s a critical care nurse and he’s a telecom engineer — needed an affordable place to live.
Like many parts of the country during the pandemic, Sacramento’s housing market was on fire, with a median sale price of $380,000 in July 2020, up from $348,500 the year before, according to Realtor.com. That was far too steep when combined with tuition. Even renting was out of reach — homes in the couple’s desired location started at $3,000 a month.
Then, Street’s mother suggested an alternative: a manufactured home, a factory-built structure on a metal frame that’s transported to a homesite.
They looked at five or six models before finding one they liked, a three-bedroom, two-bath unit built in 1992 and listed for $109,000. Their loan payment, utility bills and $660 lot fee at their mobile home park total about $1,500 a month.
“I didn’t know a lot about manufactured homes,” said Street, 33. “I was surprised by the flow of the home and love the design. It was being remodeled with new flooring and appliances,” and the plumbing and electrical lines were also new.
Living in a mobile home park has also been a pleasant surprise, she added. “We love our neighbors and it’s really quiet.” It’s an all-age park with cultural diversity, another plus. “We’ve met several neighbors. Everybody’s really sweet.”
There are approximately 6.7 million occupied manufactured homes in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Low inventory of single-family homes is driving more buyers to look at