Manufactured Home Living: The Odd Contempt

Let’s face it, we’ve all at some point made fun or heard someone make fun of Mobile and Manufactured Homes. Heck I’ve even name called Mobile Homes before I started selling them. We’ve all heard the slang “Trailer Park Trash”, “Tornado Bait”, “Tractor Trailer,” and so on.

Growing up, I automatically equated Manufactured Home Living as being for lower class misfits and trouble makers, that may or may not visit OZ now and then. With such negative connotations surrounding Manufactured Homes, it’s easy to see how the industry gets a bad rap.

“People see what they want to see and what people want to see isn’t always the truth.”

Roberto Bolano

Where did the Manufactured Home Living Stigma come from?

The mere mention of the words ‘Mobile Home’ is often followed by a condescending smirk, along with a deer-in-the-headlights look, a nod, a smile and a patronizing “That’s nice” or “Oh…wow.” And even on rare occasions we’ve witnessed flat out contempt at the very idea of the topic.

In a previous blog I wrote “4 Truths About ‘Trailer Park’ Living” I examined four of the biggest misconceptions about Manufactured and Mobile Home Living. I will touch a couple of those points in this blog, but for a more in depth explanation, I recommend reading that as well.

I came across this video in which someone asked about Manufactured Homes. While I was watching the conversation, something Mr. Ramsey said made my eyebrows raise. He commented on how growing up he always referred to Manufactured and Mobile Homes as “trailers” and that some are just “cars you sleep in.”

Now, after close to a decade of selling, buying and listing Manufactured Homes, we’ve gotten quite used to those reactions and remarks. And to be fair, most folks are is surprisingly uninformed on this topic and are strictly looking at it through the Real Estate Investing lens and not really delving into the Manufactured and Mobile Home community and industry.

Now, I’m not licensed to get into the psychology of the feelings people have on this topic.

I am however licensed (in both Oregon and Washington) to get into the homes in which causes these particular reactions. So, if you’re one who feels that Manufactured and Mobile Homes are simply ‘cars you sleep in’, plop down on my couch, while I get out my pen and pad. while we try to find the root of the issue, together.

How we perceive success?

One time or another we’ve asked ourselves “What is Success?” For some the existential and internal journey that one goes through in order to become they best possible version of who they are is the measurement of success. The ugly truth is that for many, success is measured on the stuff we own and how much of it we have.

The perception of living in a “Trailer” does more damage to our ego than most want to admit. I’ve had real conversations with people who would prefer to throw money away paying rent on an overpriced 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment or home rather than stoop down to living in a Mobile Home.

This perception problem is probably one of the biggest hurdles we have had to overcome when talking about Mobile Homes and Manufactured Home Living. Both with others and with ourselves as business owners.

“Trailers” just aren’t the same as a “Real” Home.

One of the points opponents of Manufactured and Mobile Homes make, is that stick built homes are worth more on a piece of land than a Manufactured Homes, and they are absolutely correct.

Most Stick Built homes have deeds, while Manufactured and Mobile Homes have Titles. I won’t bore you by getting in the all the differences between the two, but if you’re interested here’s an article from Audrey Ference I found on that goes into more depth on Deeds and Titles. But in short, most deeded properties include both the structure, and the land the structure is fixed on.

On the other hand, the manufactured and mobile homes that we buy, sell and list, have titles attached to them and are generally separate from the property it is located.

If you look at both of those differences, it only makes sense that deeded that includes both the land and structure, are going to be worth more than a titled home that doesn’t.

Honest Truth About “Trailer” Value

One of my favorite statements about Mobile Homes is “Trailers depreciate in value like a car.”

While I could get upset and get take offense to that nonsense, I instead remind myself, that I’m privy to the statistics we see in the industry and the Mobile Home Market in general. But, you don’t need to know the numbers if you understand the most important point of economic theory, Supply and Demand.

We have countless examples of Mobile and Manufactured Homes that we sold for 15,000 to 45,000 six or eight years ago, that sold for $125,000 to $165,000 the past two to three years.

Believe it or not, it’s simple economic math. Supply and Demand

If the housing market has an influx of buyers, and not enough homes to sell, the prices of those homes will increase because the market dictates it. This is a universal law of economics which covers all industries, even the Manufactured Home Industry.

Of course, just like with Stick Built homes, everything depends on the location, condition of the home, number of bedrooms, etc. But saying “trailers” lose value like a car is just ignorance masquerading as fact

The Forgotten Buyers

As I previously stated, and agreed that the opponents claims that the Traditional or Stick Built home CAN be worth more than Manufactured Home’s, there are a couple of things missing from this logic.  For a lot of these folks a Stick Built home isn’t in their immediate future.

Some of our clients need to fix their credit before they can be approved for a traditional loan. Some have decided to save more money for a bigger down payment to keep their monthly loan payment low when they eventually decide to purchase. And some just don’t want to add a monthly payment of $1,500 to $2,500 a month to their current debt. (Of course we live on the West Coast where our housing prices are ridiculously high.)

Whatever the reason our buyers had, they were smart enough to realize that you can still own a home;have an affordable monthly payment, and enjoy the pride and freedom of home ownership.

Are Mobile Homes and ‘Trailers’ for everyone? No. Is my experience with Manufactured Homes on the West Coast going to be the same as someone living in the Midwest? Absolutely not.

Topics: manufactured home living

Angie Surratt
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