For years, America has been in an affordable housing crisis. With home prices rising, more Americans are either moving in with family members or trapped in an expensive renting cycle. Those who can afford to own their own home often settle for smaller, more expensive homes that are sometimes farther away from work.
In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the rate of U.S. home ownership declined by 62.9% – which is the sharpest reported decline since the figure first started tracking in 1965. And renters don’t fare any better. According to a report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies in 2013, nearly half of all renters can’t afford their rent.
The nuts and bolts of the affordable housing issue are complex, though many economists will say it comes down to high demand for homes with low supply. Construction rates cannot keep up with the need, and there are not enough laws that provide pricing protection for low- and middle-income Americans.
This is where manufactured homes come in as the most viable solution. Manufactured homes are constructed more efficiently, more affordably, and far more quickly than their stick-built counterparts. This alone should make manufactured housing an easy answer to the short supply of livable homes in America.
And yet, despite that fact that these affordable housing solutions are structurally safe, attractive and produced with all of the same materials as stick-built homes, manufactured housing still faces an unjustified stigma in America. The truth is, common myths about manufactured housing just don’t hold up against the elegance and integrity of their modern designs.
So, how exactly are these homes the answer to such a pervasive and long-held problem in America? Let’s explore.
Prefabricated homes differ from site-built homes due to the way they are constructed. Manufactured homes are constructed in off-site, climate-controlled factories, through processes that have been refined and streamlined.
Not only does this allow for construction to continue independently of unexpected weather events, it also requires less labor, less time, and less energy use.
All said and done, a prefabricated home can be built and ready to ship in just weeks, with simpler designs taking only days. By comparison, homes constructed on-site can take anywhere from three to nine months, and that’s without significant interruptions. Manufactured housing’s quick and efficient build process goes a long way in ensuring the supply is there to meet the demand for affordable homes.
It’s well understood that on-site construction activities can be costly, wasteful, and inefficient. Building homes in factories circumvents these problems by reducing wasted materials and making efficient use of machinery to use the minimal amount of energy and manpower.
Manufactured home factories purchase materials in bulk. The materials can then be stored indoors, protected from the elements until they are used. And since they order the exact sized materials every time, there’s almost never any waste. In the event that there are any excess materials, those too can be saved and repurposed for custom home builds.
Labor costs are also lower compared to site-built homes, due to the fact that manufactured homes take much less time to create.
All of these factors mean lower upfront building costs, which ultimately translate to large savings for the homebuyer. According to the Manufactured Housing Institute’s 2018 Industry Overview, manufactured homes cost $58/square foot less than the average site built home.
Due to the cost-saving and efficient building process, manufactured homes can be constructed with all of the same quality materials as site-built homes, and still be sold at a fraction of the cost.
According to the United States Census Bureau, manufactured homes account for 70% of new homes in the United States that cost less than $150,000. Clayton
This means that the large majority of homes in America that are affordable to low- and middle-income Americans are manufactured homes. Yet, while the volume of manufactured homes produced has increased year over year for the last decade, they still only house less than 10% of the United States population.
Fortunately, this can change quickly. Because of the ability for quick construction, custom-built manufactured homes can be available to the consumer in as little as six weeks. As long as there is available land, there can be available homes.
Let’s not forget also that the affordability of a home extends beyond its sticker price. Whether you are renting or buying, there are other factors that contribute to the overall cost of living. The hidden savings of manufactured homes lie in their efficiency. Many modern manufactured homes come Energy Star certified. This means they come with highly effective insulation, tightly constructed ducts and advanced window coatings to lower heating and cooling costs. The homes also come with Energy Star certified kitchen and bathroom appliances to lower electricity usage.
All in all, there is a tremendous solution to the affordable housing crisis in manufactured housing as more people embrace the safety, beauty and livability of these affordable homes.
Manufactured homes still need a place to live, and the cost of land in many metropolitan areas can be quite high. Land-lease communities exist as a solution to this problem. Within communities like UMH’s manufactured home communities, people can own their home as an asset while renting the land it lives on.
This makes homeownership even more accessible. Individuals purchasing homes in land-lease communities don’t have to pay for land, and they don’t have to pay to place the home. UMH’s team lends their expertise and can place the home more quickly and more efficiently.
And for those who do not have a down payment or who have no interest in purchasing a home, many UMH manufactured home communities offer affordable rental units.
To find out more about UMH’s manufactured home communities, or to find a community near you, check out our community finder tool and start planning your journey to homeownership, today.