Is manufactured housing the solution to the housing shortage?

Manufactured home kitchen

Many predicted a strong housing market in 2020, and other than a dip this spring due to mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns, the housing market appears to be stronger than ever. With loan interest rates at near historic lows, potential buyers are battling limited housing inventory and high prices, causing homebuyers to offer over asking price or getting into bidding wars. It’s the perfect storm for a housing affordability crisis. So, what is the solution? Manufactured housing.

MMHA Member Donald C. Westphal of Westphal Associates is seeing a strong need for affordable housing options in all areas. Westphal contends, “You just can’t build a house in an affordable manner using traditional construction. Manufactured housing IS the solution.”

Manufactured housing is built with the same materials you would find in a site-built home, but the process is quite different, explains MMHA Director Darren Ing. He elaborated, “First, the manufacturers are able to buy materials, windows, doors and appliances in bulk at significant savings. Second, the home is constructed and managed by the facility’s full-time skilled workers, carpenters and on-site inspectors, saving time and resulting in consistent quality. Third, homes are built in an indoor, climate-controlled environment, allowing manufacturers to avoid delays related to weather conditions, as well as damaged building materials and theft, which can be costly. All of these benefits result in a process that saves the buyer both time and money, and produces a high-quality home.”

The demand within the manufactured housing industry appears to be across all price levels, from starter-home to fully customized homes. One area of value in manufactured housing continues to be the single-section homes within land-lease communities, with starting prices that are well-below traditional site-built homes. Westphal commented, “We are seeing a lot of interest in single-section manufactured homes in the $40,000-$60,000 range.” But notes the other end of the spectrum is in demand as well, “We’re also seeing retirees looking to downsize, and choosing higher-end communities, and buying large homes with expansive features and garages.” Homes may run in the $100,000-$130,000 range, but still very affordable compared to similarly sized and appointed site-built homes.

And “appointed,” they are. MMHA Member Jay Ciokajlo of Champion Home Builders, Inc. remarked on the design of today’s manufactured homes, “The options and amenities we are using today are the same you will find in many newly designed homes, including ceramic tile showers, barn doors, luxury kitchens with granite countertops and the latest appliances. We are able to achieve the same look and feel at nearly half the price per square foot of a site-built home.” With the option to place homes on private property, manufactured homes can offer a faster and more cost-effective option for homebuyer who had planned a custom build on their own site.

Westphal concluded, “Homebuyers need to consider manufactured housing … to actually get to a community, tour a model home or even just look at photos online. The homes are beautiful, with the floor plans and features that buyers want, for a much more affordable price.”

Industry Partners