Over 22 million people in the United States and countless more around the world are living in manufactured homes today. These properties account for 10% of the new single-family home starts that Americans create each year. Since the average cost-per-square-foot is less than 50% of what it is for a site-built house, the primary reason why families pursue this option is affordability.
Manufactured housing refers to a specific type of home. The components get built in a factory setting, and then the items are transported to the property on its own wheels. This setup fits the legal definition of a mobile home because it is built on a permanent chassis that allows for continued transportability.
You can choose from a single unit or a series of modules that get transported separately and then joined together at your property. Then it receives connections to local utilities, sewer, or septic system.
If you are in the market for a new house, then the pros and cons of buying a manufactured home are worth considering.
List of the Pros of Buying a Manufactured Home
1. Structural strength is equal to or better than site-built structures.
When you purchase a manufactured home, then you are receiving one built under the Housing and Urban Development codes adopted in 1976 in the United States. This code is the only federally-mandated and administered one that exists, and it was specifically developed to address factory production processes.
That means you can rest assured that the structure meets every standard for construction, energy efficiency, fire safety, and transportation. Every housing unit sold in the U.S. comes affixed with a red seal to provide that all of the requirements were met.
2. Manufactured housing provides a higher level of versatility.
You have long-term options available when choosing manufactured housing today. The basic structure is incredibly affordable, so anyone who owns an appropriate site can start small. Then you can expand the size of your home based on the additional modules needed at any given time. It is one of the fastest and least expensive ways to get out of the rental market. You can also use it while you build a more permanent structure in the future.
The versatility of manufactured housing also means that you can move the structure to a different site if needed. It can be a logistically complex issue, but this design allows you to transition to a new location if needed.
3. The affordability of a manufactured home is almost unmatched.
The average cost of a manufactured home is significantly lower than it is for a traditional site-built structure. This advantage makes it one of the largest sources of non-subsidized housing in the United States. At an average price of only $49 per square foot, there are high demand levels for this option in markets where traditional homes might go for almost $110 per square foot. That’s why a manufactured home can be the perfect starter house for families. You can choose to expand on it, or you can decide to sell it later on without losing too much of your initial value.
4. Manufactured homes fast-forward your construction timetable.
When you purchase a manufactured home, then you can move into the property a lot faster than you would if you built a new traditional house from scratch. Most contractors can complete the work in under 75 days, with some areas seeing move-ins happening in 60 days or less. If you have a specific deadline to meet for some reason, you won’t find a faster option than this one to live in a house on a property that you own.
5. The installation of a manufactured home is rapid.
Once you have the foundation in place for your manufactured home, a crane will lift it so that it settles into place. It doesn’t take long to hook up the utilities to the new structure, which means you can come home to your new place in no time at all. You can choose to live in a community that features manufactured housing or put the structure on property that you already own. Whatever the choice ends up being, you’ll discover that the ability to pursue the lifestyle you want quickly is worth the small investment you make for this housing option.
6. Manufactured homes are energy-efficient structures.
Manufactured homes are energy efficient and environmentally conscious today. HUD codes ensure that each structure achieves the highest outcomes possible in these areas by mandating upgrade insulation in the walls and under the structure. You also receive insulated skirting, a belly wrap, and windows that receive the highest grades. Your entire house could receive Energy Star certification because of these advantages.
You also have the option to pursue energy-saving features inside of the home. That means you can reduce water consumption with low-flow fixtures, use LED lighting, and have Energy Star-rated appliances installed throughout the property.
7. Living in a manufactured home tends to be quieter than other options.
Manufactured housing gets built as separate modules. That means you have less sound transference in many of these structures than you do with site-built homes because of the insulative qualities that the government mandates. It is a durable, quiet, and strong structure that meets needs while offering some privacy thanks to the individualization of the components.
8. Manufactured housing offers low-risk construction opportunities.
A manufactured home limits the risks that contractors face when building a structure. Fewer opportunities for theft, damage, or delivery delays exist because the components get transported to the property after being built. That means there can be a dramatic time saving experienced when choosing this option while you save money at the same time.
Less material loss often occurs when taking this approach because fewer items are needed to finish the structure. It limits waste, improves efficiencies, and provides a strong value for the homeowner when finished.
9. You can obtain luxury items for a cheaper price with manufactured housing.
If you want a high-end finish or a specific floor plan, then manufactured housing can get you what you need at a better price. That means you can get a granite countertop, a vaulted ceiling, or those hardwood floors because the factory can build them into your housing units specifically. Your final cost will be higher since these items cost more than the base products, but you can still fit them into your budget without much difficulty.
Once you have the modules delivered to your property and joined together, you can add a garage, deck, sunroom, and other features that make your home distinctive.
10. Manufactured housing qualifies for financing.
You can purchase a manufactured home today with financing that’s comparable to what you’d receive for a site-built home. Buyers might need to approach the lending process a little differently than with other mortgages, so it can help to have a trained agent working with you to find the best possible loan.
Your credit score, employment history, and tax records are going to play a significant role in the amount you can receive. Your down payment and debt-to-income ratio must meet current lender guidelines. Your lot (if you don’t own the property) and the manufacturer must be acceptable to obtain the loan. Once you get past these hurdles, you can qualify for FHA, VA, and conventional mortgages. Rural buyers might qualify for USDA mortgages, and specific loans that target independent tribes in the U.S. may also experience benefits.
11. You have plenty of options available for customization.
A manufactured home can become your retirement dream house, the perfect first home, or anything in-between thanks to the customization options that exist. Most factories allow you to customize the structure in almost limitless ways. This process includes a variety of building plans, exterior finishes, and interior layout options that can help you to create the right look. You might even have the ability to modify your roofline or change the exterior style so that the curb appeal matches your expectations.
If you love to cook at home, then the factory can provide you with a custom kitchen with all of the features you need. You could increase the size of your bathroom, pick unique colors, and even choose different materials to create the perfect outcome.
12. Contractors can benefit from the choice of a manufactured home.
When looking at the pros and cons of manufactured homes, it is easy to look at the advantages of the owner. The contractor can also experience several benefits when using this option. It tends to be a lot easier to find workers when you can do all of the framing, electrical work, and plumbing in a climate-controlled factory while on a regular shift. The wages earned from this effort are competitive with private practice, and you can get vacation time and other benefits that aren’t always available with independent contracting.
Satisfied employees tend to take more pride in their work. That means the consumer gets to enjoy a final product that meets or exceeds their expectations.
List of the Cons of Buying a Manufactured Home
1. You need to have land available to pursue this option.
When you live in suburban or rural areas, then there can be a shortage of suitable land available for manufactured housing. You must have existing utility services and proper access for this option to be useful. Some areas might have deed restrictions in place that require property owners to pursue site-built construction instead. Preparing the site in a sparsely populated region might make this option cost-prohibitive in some situations.
Even though previous restrictions are slowly being eased or eliminated, there can still be a lot of issues with this disadvantage. If you don’t have land, then you can’t have this home.
2. You’ll face the stigma of living in a “mobile” home.
Modern manufacturing methods have changed the concept of what it means to live in a mobile home, but you’ll still see a bias against this structure in some parts of the country and around the world. They are sometimes seen as being dangerous, offered to those without much wealth, or seen as a bastion where crime developed. The picture is changing in many communities as the quality of the structures continues to rise, but you will still see some inherent bias present in some zoning laws.
3. Lender requirements can be different for manufactured housing.
Manufactured homes can sometimes be classified as personal property instead of real estate. That means your buying plans and financing options might be limited when facing this disadvantage. Lenders offer a mortgage for what they consider to be “real” property, defined as land and structures with permanent construction. A home set on its own chassis doesn’t meet that qualification, even if it is set on a concrete slab. If it’s on wheels, then it can be moved. That means no mortgage.
You might need to speak with your contractor about removing the axles to your manufactured home to secure a mortgage. It will increase your costs, but this process will also open the door to more financing options in the future.
4. The long-term value of manufactured homes can be significantly lower.
When you compare the assessed value of a manufactured home compared to a site-built one, the outcome can be significantly less. That means your property tax bills are going to be lower, but it also causes you to get less out of the property over time. The appreciation rates of housing in this category are continuing to rise, offsetting this disadvantage somewhat. It may not be a problem in the future, but you will still want to evaluate this issue before settling on a specific property or building option.
5. Manufactured homes tend to be smaller.
If you decide to live in a manufactured home instead of a site-built one, then you’ll have about 20% less living space. Choosing the factory-built option means that you must transport the final goods from their construction location instead of building it directly at your property. Owners settle for less space because they get to move into the property quicker. If you’re thinking about downsizing, then this option can make a lot of sense. When you want to expand your family or you need more space, then other housing options might provide you with a better outcome.
When reviewing the pros and cons of buying a manufactured home, it is clear to see that this option isn’t right for everyone. Zoning regulations and permit restrictions might make it impossible to pursue this choice. When space is a vital consideration, you’ll find that site-built houses might have more to offer.
It all depends on your individualized circumstances. If you already own land with utility access, then building a manufactured house is a fast and affordable way to create a new home.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.