You may or may not know it, but most mobile homes — or “manufactured” homes as the federal government call them — are built in factories, and not on the homeowner’s lot. But that’s going to change with a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rule that should simplify the process of getting a mobile home built to spec — right on your own property.
To set the stage, let’s review a few facts about mobile homes.
- According to SBI Energy, the mobile home market peaked at $10.6 billion in 1998. Since then, though, times have gotten tough for the industry, as its total revenues fell to $5.6 billion by 2006.
- The South is home to 56% of the mobile housing units in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey.
- FEMA shelled out $2.7 billion to purchase 145,000 mobile homes and trailers after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in August and September 2005, paying about $19,000 for the each unit. In 2007, the federal agency began selling many of those homes in mobile home auctions — some for as low as $12,600. FEMA had 60,000 trailers in storage nationwide as of 2007.
- The average price for a mobile home in the U.S. is about $62,000, according to the Census Bureau.
The new HUD rules come out at a time when many Americans are choosing lower-cost homes and properties as a result of the Great Recession. HUD is hoping to make the process of both building and buying that home a bit easier by allowing mobile home-building firms to actually build on the owner’s lot, without the approval of HUD.
According to an agency statement, the proposed regulations “would not apply when a major section of a manufactured home is to be constructed on-site.” Public comment to the new rule is due by Aug. 23, HUD adds. The federal agency doesn’t specify what a “major section” might be, although it does allude to plumbing and heating systems as potentially major additions to a mobile home.