Manufactured homes evolve beyond bad rep
Mobile homes and the parks where they reside often get a bad rap for being old and ramshackle.
But manufactured housing has come a long way.
You might drive by a new manufactured home with a garage, porch and pitched roof and not realize it’s a descendant of the trailer.
And don’t forget, trendy tiny homes fit into this category as well. Most tiny homes are built on an assembly line.
Getting excited about trailers
“Manufactured homes have evolved so far and can be an important part of the answer to our affordable housing dilemma,” said real-estate analyst Mark Stapp, director of the master of real estate development program at Arizona State University.
“But there’s still a silly notion about the quality of the homes. How we can get past that is what we need to work on.”
A new manufactured home, including the lot, can cost about $100,000 less than a house built on the lot, according to industry estimates.
“The most efficient way to build a home is in a factory,” said Kevin Clayton, CEO of the nation’s biggest manufactured house builder, Clayton Homes. “We don’t build cars outside.”
Clayton, whose company is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, said only about two 30-gallon containers of waste are hauled away after manufacturing a home.
Moving past the trailer rap
The manufactured housing industry is looking for a better way for people to differentiate new modern factory-built homes from the trailers of the 1950s and ’60s.
New manufactured homes don’t look like the rectangular tin trailers from half a century ago, but the houses still get opposition from neighbors.
“There’s some public perception carryover to new manufactured housing,” said Alan Stephenson, planning and development director in Phoenix, which eased its guidelines on manufactured homes in 2010. “Some love it, and some not so much.”
Financing factory-built homes
Financing has also been a problem. But mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they will start backing loans for the homes if they have characteristics such as regular houses built on site. Clayton said that to meet those guidelines, homes should have garages, covered porches, drywall, wood cabinets, pitched roofs and high energy efficiency. Those features and new loans could make the houses easier to buy and resell.
An aerial view of Longhaven Estates, a manufactured home park in Phoenix.