Mobile Homes are now too expensive to afford

Bloomberg news story

The Countess and I have been doing some driving further away and seeing the state of the economy and communities outside of the Charlotte bubble. Back in the 1970s, mobile Homes were everywhere, and promoted heavily on TV. They were an easy choice to add a mother-in-law house in the back yard, or a house in a rural area when farms were divided among children. At least inland from the coast, tornadoes and flooding are not a serious danger.

While we see trailers that are probably from that era, new mobile homes are not evident and the Blomberg story hints at why. Warren Buffett now owns the biggest manufacturer and pushing the market toward prices as expensive as stick built homes. It is not hard to find mobile homes selling for $150,000 without the land, site preparation or transportation to the site.

Freedom Homes of Troutman

Another factor is surely the willingness of FEMA to buy these things. Nothing increases the price of a product like competition from free government money. A shortage of labor is another factor. I wonder how many are being built outside of the United States already…

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10 Responses to Mobile Homes are now too expensive to afford

  1. Fred Stiening says:

    Here is a tip – if you’re moving a double wide, it is probably a good idea to split it back apart, or at least hire someone who knows how

    Iredell County is the home of Statesville, where I attended high school

  2. briand75 says:

    Minor – “Manufactured Home” is the parlance. This would be two prefab pieces of the final home. Each carried to the site on a trailer (“Wide Load”).

    A mobile home – which I have owned in the distant past – has wheels and is set on block or some other supporting foundation. They are very upscale in some cases, but there is precious little storage space.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      The semantics come down to property taxes. If the wheels stayed under the trailer, it was not a permanent improvement and generally considered personal property. Put it on a slab with permanent attachment on land you owned, and it is real property that was manufacured in a factory. Different states have had different rules over time, as people want to dump children on public schools without paying property taxes – directly or indirectly.

      There was a middle ground where the components were made in a factory but the parts shipped unassembled and put together by stick built builders.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        Here in NJ, the state with the highest property taxes, the trailers and manufactured homes are too close together to have a chicken in a cage in the backyard or a bee hive, so the residents whether with wheels or not, pay more than NJ liberal heros such as Hillary campainer and rock star Bon Jovi.

        “It’s nice that Obama supporter Bon Jovi has a foundation that builds houses for poor people, but at tax time, the musician labels himself a “farmer.” He pays only $100 in state property tax. And his tax dodge gimmick: raising honeybees.”


        If he learned anything from the Clintons, he and his entire family would be drawing a healthy salary from his “charitable” foundation. Someone must have told him not to include “Constitution” in its name or Lois Lerner would not have approved its tax exempt status.

    • TheChairman says:

      Four to be exact: Mobile, manufactured, BOCA/IRC (modular), and kit.

      Mobile vs manufactured is essentially a date (as stated by HUD) of June 15, 1976. After that date, ‘manufactured’ homes had to meet minimum HUD specs. ‘Mobile’ home refers to any unit built prior to the above date. Both are built on a permanent steel beamed chassis with axles and rolled to the site.

      In Arizona, until you ‘affix’ the mobile/manufactured home to the land, you’ll receive two property tax bills. After it is affixed, it is treated as real property. The problem is that most lots are not owned outright, but rented or leased.

      BOCA/IRC modular homes are considered to be affixed upon delivery and assembly. ALSO, financing of a modular is the same as site built, whereas manufactured homes are more difficult to obtain financing and insurance.

      Frankly, there are a lot of cheesy ‘stick built’ homes being constructed, so a well designed modular (or even manufactured) home may be more durable.

      We’ve been looking at either a modular house or a monolithic dome for a property in AZ, so I’ve been doing a lot of research. Good modular units are built to withstand 175 mph, and monolithic domes speak for themselves. One anecdote I read about (regarding modular); a group of workers watched a modular section separate from the truck and roll upon leaving the factory… it seems the modular section held together like a rock, with one worker saying: “try that with a stick built home.”

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        They have an undeserved reputation of being lower quality and in many instances are actually higher quality. I’d prefer a piece of housing made by computerized robots in a controlled setting of a factory than take my chances with the same unit being put together in the field by under trained immigrants that don’t understand much English, are under high pressure from a supervisor to finish quickly and working in the extreme weather dying for a bathroom or a lunch break.

        As you probably know, McMansions are starting to use manufactured sections but the pressure to impress the neighbors still requires something “special” and customized rather than the Levittown cookie-cutter approach.

        • TheChairman says:

          Europeans seem to be further along in modular units… more options, better design/build, materials, etc.

          I’m partial to a monolithic dome, but it requires more on-site prep, and the air-form needs to remain in place (i.e. blower/generator for weeks) until shotcrete is done.

          Site built houses in Arizona and Nevada (high density PUDs for example) can be shoddy… partly due to the pace of new construction over the past two decades. i.e. Know the builder’s history and their subs/suppliers.

  3. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    In silicon valley, workers are sleeping in their cars because the wealthy home owners paying 1970s property taxes make it illegal for the have-nots to build high density buildings – they would drive down the property prices of existing home owners.

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