Manufacturing a new real estate market

Posted by on June 20th, 2018

Like tiny homes, manufactured homes are emerging as a possible solution to the current housing shortage.

For those with low-to-moderate incomes, who don’t want to sleep in a tiny home bed that folds out of a closet just above the kitchen sink, the manufactured home might make a more palatable choice.

Previously referred to as mobile homes, manufactured houses are built in a factory, and transported to a site on a flatbed truck – not to be confused with pre-fab homes, which are transported in pieces and mostly built on-site.

New manufactured homes cost a median of $73,800, or about a quarter the cost of new homes nationally, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau. That might be just the remedy for first-time home shoppers who are having trouble saving up a down payment.

But regulatory restrictions on zoning and financing make manufactured housing less appealing to many buyers.

Industry data shows that despite construction advances, the number of units shipped fell from 242,000 per year in the mid-1970s to just 92,000 in 2017.

Under the direction the FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to purchase an additional 6,000 manufactured housing loans over the next three years, pumping about $500 million into the industry.

Called the “Duty to Serve” program, this effort is targeted toward high-need rural parts of the country.

Freddie Mac calls them “a critical source of affordable housing.” In fact, more than 17 million Americans currently live in the country’s 6.9 million manufactured homes, according to Census data.

The median household income of those living in manufactured homes is about $30,000 a year, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute. That’s about half the national median.

Ben Carson, secretary of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has also called for a review of manufactured home regulations to help more low-income borrowers.