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What is Manufactured Housing: Living in a Manufactured Housing Community

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What is Manufactured Housing: Living in a Manufactured Housing Community

Are you looking for alternative housing options? Wondering what manufactured housing is and how it works? 

The median home price in the United States is a whopping $374,900. Based on the fact that the US median income is $79900, at this price mortgages take more than 20% of a family’s income. 

And mortgages are not the only thing you pay for when buying a house… 

Manufactured housing on the other hand will cost less, with some manufactured homes starting at $57,700. The final cost will differe depending on size, location, or whether you go for a permanent foundation or not, among other factors. Nonetheless, it is still WAY lower than the traditional housing.

It comes as no surprise then that more than 22 million Americans live in manufactured housing. And the cost is not the only benefit, there are many more that we will talk about in this post later.

By the end of this post, you will know:

  • What manufactured housing is
  • What’s the difference between mobile and modular homes
  • What are its pros and cons of manufactured housing
  • What is a manufactured housing community and how are these communities managed 


What is Manufactured Housing?

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First things first - Manufactured homes are just like any other house you could live in. 

They aren’t mobile homes (more on this later,) or temporary housing. 

These are properties like any other, where you can live and raise the family. 

So what’s the big deal about them? Well, manufactured houses earned their name because of how they are being built. These homes are either entirely or primarily built off-site at a factory. Only after a manufactured house is completed, it iis then moved to the final location.

Some key identifiers of what a manufactured house are:

  • Built entirely in the factory and transported to the site of installation.
  • Installed under a federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • The federal standards regulate manufactured housing design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency, and quality. 
  • The HUD Code also sets performance standards for the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal and electrical systems.
  • As part of the HUD standard code implementation, each manufactured home requires to have a data plate.

Manufactured Housing vs Mobile Homes vs Modular Homes

You may have used or heard of these terms interchangeably, but they are all different. And if you are considering manufactured housing as an option, then it is important to understand the difference. 

First, let me tell you why the confusion happens so often. 

The current version of manufactured housing came about by high demand in housing by the veterans of World War II. 

The traditional home supply at the time was not enough for the returning veterans. The demand was eventually met by the trailer home industry that provided affordable and portable housing to the veterans. 

But the manufactured houses you can buy today have nothing to do with mobile homes. 

Congress passed the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act (HUD CODE) on July 15, 1976, making manufactured homes the only form of single-family buildings subject to urban development HUD.

Also, the term ‘mobile homes’ became legally obsolete in 1980 when Congress approved the use of the term “manufactured Homes” to replace “mobile homes.” 

Moving on to modular homes - they are a subset of manufactured housing rather than being anything different. They are factory built, just as manufactured homes but on a permanent foundation and hence are a little more expensive. 

Modular homes are also the bigger version of a typical manufactured home and divide into multiple sections. All of these sections are factory-built and then assembled on-site like building blocks, taking the size of a manufactured home up to 3000 square feet. 

This short video shows how a modular home comes together.

Another notable difference is that State law governs modular homes, but federal law governs manufactured homes. This can change sometimes depending on which state the home is in. 

The loans for modular homes are the same as for traditional homes.

Manufactured Housing - Pros and Cons

We have already talked about the median cost of traditional vs manufactured housing. Do note though that the fundamental concept of manufactured housing is about affordable housing, and so there are a lot of reasons why they cost way lesser than traditional housing. 

Here are some of them:

  • The manufacturers purchase materials and appliances for manufactured homes at a mass cost, lesser than a typical site-built home builder. 
  • Computer aid planning like 3D printing enables manufacturers to reduce material waste during production.
  • Manufactured housing construction is not disrupted by factors like bad weather, vandalism, and the enforcement of varying local and state laws.

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There are also a lot of other areas why manufactured housing makes more financial and practical sense. These include, but are not limited to:

  • MH take considerably less amount of time to build as compared to on-site constructed traditional houses. A manufactured home gets ready anywhere between two to seven days in the factory.
  • A new lot of manufactured homes are built under strict guidelines of energy efficiency and are therefore more eco-friendly than traditional homes. They are called energy star manufactured homes, and because of their focus on sustainability, recycling, and reducing material waste, homeowners end up enjoying:
  • Lower utility bills
  • More comfort in terms of consistent temperature
  • High-efficiency heating or cooling equipment
  • Independent quality checks, etc.
  • Since all manufactured housing is built in a factory under HUD manufactured home guidelines, you can always be sure of a certain amount of quality control in any manufactured home you buy.
  • You have the option of buying a used manufactured home that comes at a little more than half of a new one. The quality of a used home is definitely not the same as a new one, but it can be a great choice for families looking for budget options. 

Last but not the least, just because manufactured homes are factory cut, they are not run of the mill. Manufactured houses come in all shapes and sizes, and there is a great variety to choose from.

Here are some examples from Zeman Homes:

Zeman Homes build high-quality manufactured homes in a variety of beautiful designs, for conveniently located communities managed by them. Some house options include:

  • Sea Breeze, 2 bed 2 bath, 1,027 sq.ft.
  • The Aspen, 3 bed 2 bath, 1,456 sq.ft.
  • The Birch - 3 bed 2 bath, 1,493 sq.ft., etc.

Now, deciding to live in manufactured housing is more of a lifestyle choice. But let us also cover all the technical points which can be considered as downsides by some homeowners.

  • A manufactured home’s value does not appreciate over time like a traditional home but depreciates like a car. That is unless you own the land on which the home is, in which case, the land value may increase. 
  • In some cases, manufactured homes are not considered real estate, but personal property. This can limit and impact buyer plans and financing options. 
  • Depending on where the home is located, there can be a shortage of availability of land with proper access. This is mostly true for suburban and sparsely populated areas, not for all manufactured home communities. 

But wait, what is a manufactured housing community? 

What is a Manufactured Housing Community?

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Contrary to popular notions, there are a number of ways you can live in a manufactured home. Being part of a land-lease community is one of them and it has come a long way!

Let us look at what a land-lease community is and some other types of manufactured housing communities that exist. 

Land-lease communities or popularly known as trailer parks are the most popular setup for a manufactured home. The land in these communities is owned by an individual or a business and is given to manufactured house owners on lease. 

These communities are run by manufactured housing associations and these associations ensure the smooth running of these communities, along with providing facilities and amenities. We will cover this in detail in our next section. 

Resident-owned communities are less common in America but are increasing in numbers. In a ROC, homeowners join together and create a business entity to buy the land and take care of all the amenities and maintenance. So, the homeowners also become landowners too with greater freedom and some added responsibility.

Mobile home park chains

Think of these as a chain of communities that are owned by the same business entity, just like a restaurant chain. Centralized control means better standardization, protection against a bad landlord, better maintenance of neighborhoods, etc.

Budget communities

These are the same as land-lease communities but cater to a lower-income group. These communities provide a place to set up your home but not the other amenities that come with a regular land-lease community.

Retirement communities

One of the fastest-growing types of communities is the retirement communities, mostly designed for people aged 55 and above. 

Such communities cater to the senior lifestyle and are mostly set up in locations preferred by retirees, like Arizona, California, Florida, etc. Although they are spread all across America.

They range from budget to luxury, as seniors have better spending power, and can offer additional amenities/ activities like, community centers, tennis courts, bingo nights, dance nights, etc.

Luxury communities

Manufactured housing has come a long way, and offers some serious luxury as of today. A look at some of the top manufacturers’ catalogs will assure you that there is some amazing designer manufactured homes available out there. 

Such homes are set up in high-end localities and communities. One prime example is Paradise Cove, Malibu, California which is also home to Matthew McConaughey!


Specialty communities

The fact that manufactured housing is home to more than 6.5% of America’s population means that there is a variety of communities available. They can range from pet-friendly, to golf-centric, to LGBTQ-focused, etc.

Role of Manufactured Housing Associations

As we discussed earlier, living in manufactured housing is more than a budget-related choice - it is a lifestyle. 

The communities that you live in, as a manufactured house owner, are a place where like-minded people come together to live a life of comfort and peace.

All the types of communities that we discussed earlier are run by ‘Manufacture housing associations’, like Zeman Homes. They not only guide you and your family with the initial process of finding a perfect house and a community but also ensure that you live a great life in these communities. 

Manufactured housing communities not only provide a safe and affordable place to live but other resident benefits like: 

  • The lots on which manufactured homes stand, come pre-prepared as part of the deal and you just go and install your home.
  • A good land-lease agreement can be more financially beneficial than a monthly rent arrangement.
  • Most communities take care of on-site maintenance like sewage handling, lighting, and water issues.
  • Automation facilities like resident portals so you can make any service requests online. 
  • Amenities including, but not limited to:
  • Playground
  • Swimming pool
  • Fitness center, etc. 
  • You stay completely private and at peace, as you do not share your walls, ceilings, and floors with anybody. 

So, when you move into a manufactured housing community, you not just move in there to cut costs, but to maintain a certain lifestyle that allows you to be stress-free!

Therefore, as a manufactured home owner, it is worth paying attention to who is going to manage the community you are moving in. What kind of reputation that manufactured housing association has among homeowners and local governments. 

It can make a lot of difference in your day-to-day life.