Affordable Housing – why consider manufactured homes in community parks?

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Affordable Housing – why consider manufactured homes in community parks?


I have had many opportunities to work with listing/purchase of manufactured homes in various community parks (in the DFW area) and find that there are many false/bias perceptions about this type housing.  It’s important to understand the differences between the terms “mobile home”, “manufactured home”, and “modular home”.  Often these homes are called ‘trailers’. [Likely due to the connotation of homes that can be moved via trailer or as a trailer.]

A “mobile” home is a factory-built home prior to 1976 (there were no standardized construction standards);

A “manufactured” home is a factory-built home constructed after 1976 (to highly regulated standards set by HUD (department of housing & urban development);

A “modular” home is a factory-built home constructed after 1976 (to highly regulated standards often higher quality than stick-built homes) and usually with permanent foundation (constructed in sections and assembled on-site).

For a fuller explanation of these differences see: https://www.claytonhomes.com/learn/home-buying/mobile-manufactured-and-modular-homes-defined

When I talk to folks about these homes some of the key objections (and negative perceptions) that I hear:

  • They are poorly constructed – since 1976 (as mentioned above) manufactured homes have been built to high standards set by HUD which control:
    • Design & construction
    • Body and frame requirements
    • Thermal protection
    • Plumbing and electrical
    • Fire safety
    • Energy efficiency
  • They depreciate in value – this is highly related to the community in-which they are located.  The old term concerning purchase of homes – ‘location, location, location’ still applies for manufactured home communities. For a top-notch community, such as Harston Woods in Euless, TX, homes generally appreciate.  Like all homes – which are a significant investment – the homeowner needs to maintain (and update) the home (over time).  For homes that are well-maintained – generally their value goes up in-step with the economic factors that affect the area in general.
  • The cost of the land lease makes me uncomfortable –
    • The land lease covers amenities in the community – typically the land lease costs do include amenities in the subdivision such as:
      • Community Pool(s)
      • Community fitness center
      • Park(s) & playground(s)
      • Walking trails and dog/pet areas
    • The land lease – makes possible for the homeowner to move the home to another location (such as land that they purchase) if they so desire.  They can take their investment with them.
    • The land lease – allows control over the subdivision; whereas in most traditional subdivisions (even those with HOA’s) it is not possible to restrict – in these subdivisions the following is possible:
      • Can restrict home ownership from those with criminal background or offenses
      • Can restrict homes from being leased or rented (implying the subdivision is comprised of homeowners only)
      • Can restrict home ownership from those not financially able
      • Can enforce community guidelines (folks not adhering to community guidelines (such as maintenance of their homes) can be ejected – they must move their homes out of the subdivision)
  • The type of community is less desirable (crime, schools, etc.) – this aspect certainly does exist in some manufactured home communities (as well as many stick-built subdivisions) but when we consider top-notch communities (such as Harston Woods/Euless) we find excellent communities with low crime rates, excellent schools, and zero criminal offenders.  Compare to other communities and you’ll find that Harston Woods is an excellent, family-oriented, community:

*note this registered offender does not reside in Harston Woods

How affordable are these homes?

Typically, manufactured homes in the DFW area are going to be priced lower than $150K (for the house itself).  [Manufactured homes range in price as low as ~$40K for older homes up to ~$150K for new homes.] Land lease prices are typically in the ~$500/month range.  Some key considerations:

  • Property tax – typically property taxes for manufactured homes are significantly less than stick-built homes; as little as 1/3rd the cost of a stick-built home.  For instance, a $150K stick-built home in the DFW area will have property taxes of 2.5%-3.0% ($3,750-$4,500 or $312-$375/month) depending upon location.  Versus a similar priced manufactured home at less than $1500/yr (or $125/month).
  • Note – manufactured homeowners (on leased land) in Texas can claim their home as a ‘homestead’.
  • Price-per-square-foot is significantly less for a manufactured home – one gets more ‘bang for their buck’.
  • The Living experience – In comparison to townhome/condo or apartment living – the manufactured home sits on its own independent lot – not stuck directly besides, below, or above another residence.

A comparison of condo/townhomes & apartments versus manufactured homes (in Harston Woods) based on size, age, and price-point investigating different types of homes that cost less than ~$1700/mo:

NOTE: significant differences between price-per-sq-ft per month; the least expensive home type is the manufactured home. In comparison – condo/townhomes & apartments in the same price range are older & smaller.

Manufactured homes are a viable solution for many homeowners and considered a huge solution to the ‘affordable housing crisis’ that exists in communities today :


Purchasing new construction manufactured homes – when one investigates new manufactured homes they will find homes with many of the typical features that we find in new construction of stick-built homes:

  • Open floorplans utilizing sheetrock walls, crown molding, quality flooring and materials:
    • Granite and/or formica counters
    • Stone/tile – flooring, shower surrounds (with accents), fireplace (with ornate mantels)
    • 9-ft ceilings; vaulted ceilings; trey ceilings
  • Kitchens with amenities like:
    • Stainless Steel appliances
    • Large Islands & pantries
    • Farm sink & modern fixtures
    • Quality cabinets; stone/tile backsplash
    • Pendent & can lighting
  • Energy efficient low-e windows, doors, insulation, and HVAC systems
    • Airtight construction
    • R11-R33 insulation
    • Energy efficient water heater & (SEER 14/15) HVAC systems
  • MBaths with amenities like:
    • Dual vanities & hard/formica or granite counters
    • Large jet or soaking tubs & separate showers
    • Low-flow toilets
    • Large walking closets
  • Home warranties which includes structural and mechanical aspects
  • Pier & beam foundations secured using the Oliver Technologies design method

See this great article about how manufactured homes are constructed: https://www.mhvillage.com/blog/how-are-mobile-homes-built

Here’s a couple of videos showing the construction process:

Additional info: https://www.claytonhomes.com/our-building-process

Tax writeoffs – some may believe that there are no tax benefits when owning this type home – not so (I always recommend that folks rely on advice from their CPA/Accountant/Attorney first) – see this great article about tax writeoffs for these homes: : https://www.triadfs.com/news/do-home-ownership-tax-breaks-still-apply-to-manufactured-homes]

Some pictures of new modern manufactured homes:

This is not a staged model – this is a picture of an actual home that I’ve listed; one can see some of the features that I’ve listed above prevalent in this home
Also, an actual home that I’ve listed

Conclusion – the general observation is that one can purchase a much newer, larger, manufactured home for less cost/month and ultimately still can gain value appreciation and autonomy.  An apartment has zero value appreciation and townhome/condos, for the same price, are generally going to be older and smaller, and is experienced more like apartment living.

Note also MH Industry Trends & Statistics – we find that 90% of manufactured homeowners are satisfied with their homes and 38% of those anticipate never selling their homes (while 62% plan to stay for at least 10 or more years). Check out other interesting survey results from manufactured homeowners – https://www.mhvillage.com/pro/data-infographic-manufactured-housing-industry-statistics/