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What is Manufactured Housing?

Manufactured housing began as an offshoot of the recreational-vehicle industry in the 1930s, providing shelter for households with mobile lifestyles as well as temporary housing needs. Following World War II, housing shortages induced many households to turn to mobile homes for permanent shelter. Recognizing an opportunity, during the 1950’s the industry began designing and constructing units intended to be permanent shelters.Between 1993 and 1999, manufactured homes accounted for more than one-sixth of the growth in owner-occupied housing stock and today more than 17 million Americans live in manufactured homes. 

It’s no secret that a mobile home often costs less than a site-built one. The structures that were once primarily known as mobile homes have long been a less-expensive housing option. But most manufactured homes on the market today are a far cry from the single-wides and double-wides of the 1960s and ’70s.

Kevin Flaherty, vice president of marketing at Champion Home Builders, says that he is seeing manufactured homes in two key market areas, one at the low end of the market and the other at the high end.

At the low end, the key is affordability often purchased with cash. He says there has been a return to smaller units and even single-wide homes. “People are looking for a comfortable, safe shelter, and they’re not heavily invested in amenities,” he says.

At the other end of the spectrum, higher-end consumers are looking for the luxury finishes they would find in site-built homes, but they also want to save money and build more cost-effectively. Those manufactured homes have higher roof pitches than low-end models, as well as painted interior-wall finishes, wood cabinetry, granite countertops and all the amenities— “nothing different than you would find in a conventionally built home,” Flaherty says.

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