Sales of manufactured homes rising

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - While the housing market has been in a slump, one housing industry is enjoying an upswing. Sales of manufactured homes are rising.

Manufactured homes are houses that are assembled from pieces that are pre-made in a factory. The New York Times reports that manufactured homes made up nearly a quarter of all new homes sold for less than $200,000 last year.

George Brooks was considering having a new home built on his land, until he saw a manufactured home. He says it saved him thousands of dollars.

"We just weighed our options and we had a much better deal here price wise as far as square footage," Brooks said.

"A manufactured home is built inside, out of the elements, same components are used, same process is used. However, its an engineering production process. So we take advantage of savings of materials, savings of time, savings of labor," said Chris Nicely with Clayton Homes.

Clayton Homes, one of the country's largest manufactured home producers, says nationwide sales are up 22% this year and are even higher in Richmond.

"In our locations around the Richmond area, our sales have been up 34% this year over last, our traffic is up close to 80%, our application buying is up over 30%," said Nicely.

He says it's partly due to the federal homebuyer tax credit and partly due to homebuyers looking to save money.

"Homebuyers could experience anywhere from a 10% to 40% cost savings, he said."

Customers can choose the details, from countertops to floorplans, and manufacturers say they homes are just as durable as a home built on site.

"It is not the home of our mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers. It's truly a different product today than it ever was before," Nicely said.

Lenders say there's really no difference in mortgages.

"Most lenders see modular and stick-built homes as the same," said Jeff Coward with Virginia Credit Union.

The difference only comes when the home is considered "mobile," such as a true mobile home, or a modular home that can be moved.

"With a traditional mobile home, you might have a slightly higher rate, or slightly higher discount point," Coward said.

Pre-fabricated homes are also considered to be environmentally friendly. Manufacturers say they create much less material waste than a traditional building site.

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