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Mobile Home Facts You Should Know And Why

What is a mobile home?

“Mobile home” is the term used to describe homes built in a factory before June 15, 1976, when the HUD code went into effect. The industry used the HUD code as a catalyst to rebrand the homes as ‘manufactured’ instead of just ‘mobile’. These newly regulated homes were far safer and had much higher standards of quality compared to mobile homes. They weren’t so mobile anymore.

Before 1953, the term ‘trailer’ was used to describe the homes. As the homes progressed, it was necessary to use new terminology to describe the difference in travel trailers and the new permanent, factory-built homes that were being produced.

Are manufactured homes mobile?

Yes, manufactured homes are moveable but it will take specialized trucks and equipment so it isn’t easy (or cheap).

Only Manufactured homes can either be placed on a lot with a permanent foundation and leased or owned land.

You can move a stick-built home, too, so the mobility of a home has little bearing on the quality of construction. Putting a manufactured home on a chassis is simply a more convenient way to build a home in a factory.

Are manufactured homes permanent?

Manufactured homes can be sited on a parcel of land just as a home can be built there. In this case, they can be designed to be indistinguishable from conventional site-built homes. Manufactured homes can also be placed in a land-lease community where the home is owned and placed on leased land.

What is the difference between modular and manufactured homes?

Modular homes are built to the state, local or regional code where the home will be located. Modules are transported to the site and installed. A manufactured home is a house constructed entirely in a controlled factory environment and built to the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD code). The most recent amendment to the HUD Code is the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000).

Is it ok to use the word trailer?

Trailer is an outdated, derogatory slang term for a mobile home and should not be used. Likewise, the word ‘trailer park’ should not be used. The correct term is ‘mobile home’ or ‘manufactured home’ community or land lease community.

The term mobile home is fine but ‘trailer’ should be used for campers that you tow behind your vehicle or vintage mobile homes made before 1954 (when the Trailer Coach Association of America renamed themselves The Mobile Home Association).

Are manufactured homes safe?

Yes. Manufactured homes are built to the HUD Code which is a performance-based construction and safety standard. Homes are built to regional conditions. Research has shown manufactured homes can withstand weather events like hurricanes as well as or better than site-built homes.

Insurance studies reflect the fact that manufactured homes today are designed to prevent fires, and have features designed to inhibit and limit the damage caused should a fire occur. Therefore 99% of the things you think you know about a manufactured home is most likely false – they are safer than stick-built homes and have 50% fewer deaths by fire.

Are manufactured homes energy-efficient?

Yes. All manufactured homes have specific energy efficiency standards set by the federal government in the HUD Code. For example, manufactured homes built after October 1994 are required to be insulated to the geographic zone they are designed for, must have double-pane windows, and must have ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms.

While the HUD minimum standards are helping to reduce energy costs for manufactured home buyers, several manufacturers are building homes that exceed the minimum HUD insulation standards, and that have advanced energy-efficient ventilation systems to maintain healthy indoor air quality even with tight construction. Such homes use 30-50 percent less energy for space heating than homes built to the minimum HUD standards.

Several manufacturers are partners in the Energy Star program. An Energy Star qualified manufactured home is a home that has been designed, produced, and installed by Energy Star’s guidelines by an Energy Star certified plant. 

Is it more difficult to finance the purchase of a manufactured home?

Unfortunately, yes. Manufactured homes that are not attached to owned land are considered chattel.

Chattel is a real estate industry term used to describe property not legally tied to the land where it may be permanently sited. Loans on chattel may have fewer financing options and have higher interest rates than conventional property loans, but some companies offer competitive rates and terms.

Homes that are affixed to owned land are known as real property. Financing a manufactured home as real property is much the same as financing any other home. Because of their value as affordable housing, federal law mandates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide chattel loans for the purchase of manufactured homes, but those organizations have not lived up to their government mandate.

Many local governments restrict manufactured homes with zoning and land use regulations. Why? 

Because the stigmas and stereotypes associated with manufactured homes are alive and well. This also happens when personal opinion trumps proved facts and data.

Many experts think the specific language in the HUD code should prevent local governments from restricting manufactured home in their cities.

Many agree the federal law should prevent local governments from regulating the placement, appearance, definition, and construction of manufactured homes; however, HUD has not been active in enforcing preemption, leaving its full authority over these matters untested in recent years. The actual language of the MHIA of 2000 says that preemption should be broadly and liberally interpreted.

About Author

Ezid Barajas

Ezid is a sales & marketing specialist at Legacy Housing Corporation who enjoys helping mobile home entreupreneurs live their best life.
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