Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina sellers love the record-setting housing market. One real estate company estimates homes are only on the market for a week before selling, with many going over the asking price.
With a shrinking inventory and rising prices, more and more people can no longer afford to buy.
Manufactured home dealers say they offer an affordable alternative to site built homes, but the industry is struggling to grow its foot print.
“The prices of houses are just getting to be out of most people’s reach,” said home buyer Elizabeth Goforth.
Goforth sold her home in 2018 but struggled to find a replacement she could afford. Goforth said she was eventually sold on a manufactured house in Raleigh.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how really nice they are and updated,” she said.
According to Zillow, the average home price stands at about $300,000 in the Triangle. Compare that to $82,000, the average cost of a new manufactured house, although that doesn’t include land price.
For years, manufactured housing has carried a stigma of lesser quality, not as durable and with a value that depreciates over time.
Mark Bowersox, the president of the Manufactured Housing Institute, said things have changed.
“That’s been the knock, but the reality is that’s simply not the case,” said Bowersox.
“When we start building a floor, three days later, it’s going to be out the door,” said Champion production manager Tracy Thomas.
From the floor to walls to roof, Thomas said the construction team churns out models that meet federal building guidelines. She says the homes are more sturdy than in years past,
“We do a lot of strapping. You know, strapping the actual walls to the floor system,” explained Bowersox.
There are also modular units with even sturdier foundations and roofing that mirrors site built homes.
“I think one thing that’s misunderstood about manufactured housing is the durability,” said Bowersox.
These are not your grandma’s trailers. They now have a series of Housing and Urban Development code upgrades to materials, and they’ve become more efficient.
Robert Bulla is a top salesman for Clayton Homes, which touts modern kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and structures that are mobile (sort of). “So when I’m done anchoring it down, bricking around it and attaching it to its foundation, it’s permanently placed,” he said.
Despite the improving product and demand for more affordable homes, there’s limited opportunity because many communities have locked out new manufactured housing through zoning regulations.
“It’s the sense of not-in-my-backyard mentality,” said Bowersox.
“The stigma is real. The design can help remote the stigma,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin told WRAL Investigates when asked about manufactured housing.
Baldwin acknowledged the desperate need for more affordable housing. With proper community planning and design that incorporates manufactured and even tiny homes, she welcomes alternatives.
“If we could create on land manufactured homes, but people actually own their homes, they own the land. I think that could be a wave of the future,” said Baldwin.
Land ownership remains a challenge as some old mobile home parks get sold out from under renters. Another drawback is that 76% of manufactured homes are treated as personal property, like a car, so lenders only offer higher interest rates and shorter terms.
Buyers like Elizabeth Goforth are sold as the manufactured home industry tries to fill the gap on affordable homes with lower price points and factory efficiency.
“It’s not so much the money, but the quality of life you have,” she said.
While she’s sold, it will take time to knock down decades of bias when it comes to manufactured housing.
Supply chain disruptions and delays hitting home builders are also impacting factory built houses. Dealers said it can take six months from the time of purchase to get a manufactured home.
Read the full article here