Manufactured housing may be the solution to Phoenix, AZ’s affordable housing problem. According to AZ Central, factory-built houses have become more popular and prevalent in Phoenix than in any other metro area in Arizona.
Phoenix is home to approximately 85,000 manufactured houses. In recent years, mobile homes have grown in popularity because of their affordability compared to other housing options.
In fact, a movement is currently underway in Phoenix to increase the number of manufactured homes in existing neighborhoods and new communities.
A conference was recently put together by Mark Stapp, a real-estate analyst and director of the master of real estate development program at Arizona University, and the Arizona Department of Housing. The Arizona Department of Real Estate was also involved with the event.
At the conference, Stapp and other Arizona housing advocates discussed how they could change the thinking that surrounds affordable manufactured housing.
“Manufactured homes have evolved so far and can be an important part of the answer to our affordable housing dilemma,” said Stapp. “But there’s still a silly notion about the quality of the homes,” said Stapp. “How we can get past that is what we need to work on.”
The director of the Arizona Housing Department, Carol Ditmore, says that although many people are skeptical about manufactured homes, manufactured housing could be what the state needs to create affordable options in Arizona’s new-home subdivisions and infill projects.
Industry estimates report that manufactured homes, including a lot, costs approximately $100,000 less than a standard home would cost if built on the lot. This would mean mortgages would be significantly lower and more affordable for Phoenix families, who already pay $500 on average every month for their water and sewer bill alone.
“The most efficient way to build a home is in a factory,” said Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Homes. Clayton Homes is the biggest manufactured housing builder in the United States. “We don’t build cars outside.”
What’s more, Clayton says manufactured homes also create less waste. Approximately 17% of everything printed is considered waste and that’s only paper. Clayton says only 60 gallons of waste is created per every manufactured home.
So if manufactured housing is more affordable and more eco-friendly, why aren’t American families excited about the idea of using them as affordable housing alternatives?
The answer is the trailer’s reputation.
The manufactured housing industry says it’s trying to find a better way for people to differentiate between modern manufactured homes and trailers from the 1950s and ’60s. The average manufactured home today isn’t a rectangular tin trailer, but can be made with a variety of layouts with one of the one-quarter of the U.S. has, although it’ll be slightly different compared to site-built homes.
“There some public perception carryover to new manufactured housing,” said Alan Stephenson. Stephenson is the planning and development director in Phoenix. “Some love it, and some not so much.”
But, it isn’t only public perception that’s keeping some Arizonans from investing in manufactured housing. Financing is also a problem.
Yet, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage giants, say they’ll begin to back loans for manufactured housing when the manufactured homes have characteristics similar to on-site houses.
To meet those guidelines, Clayton says, manufactured homes would need to be highly energy-efficient, have covered porches, garages, drywall, pitched roofs, and wood cabinets. These characteristics would make manufactured housing more popular and easy to be resold, giving homeowners the ability to build equity.