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Mobile Home Myths and Reality

Fire Safety

Myth: There is a traditional perception that manufactured housing is more vulnerable to fire than other forms of single-family housing.

Reality: The fact is that manufactured homes are no more prone to fire than homes built on site, according to an annual report released by the Oklahoma State Fire Marshall's office.

Similar studies have echoed the above statement made by the Foremost Insurance Company. A national fire safety study conducted by the Foremost Insurance Company shows that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire than manufactured homes. According to this study, the number of home fires is 17 per 1,000 for site-built homes, while only eight per 1,000 for manufactured homes.

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Storm Safety

Myth: Manufactured homes are particularly vulnerable to the destructive force of strong winds and tornadoes. Manufactured homes seem to attract tornadoes.

Reality: Hurricane Andrew struck the southern tip of Florida and the Gulf Coast regions of Louisiana in late August 1992 with devastating winds in excess of 150 miles-per-hour. The third strongest hurricane ever to strike the United States, Andrew was designated a Category 4. Thousands of homes, both site built and manufactured, suffered extensive damage and destruction from the force of the storm.

There is no meteorological or scientific basis to thinking that manufactured homes attract tornadoes. The reality is one of coincidence: most manufactured homes are located in rural and suburban locations, where meteorological conditions favor the creation of tornadoes. 

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 Energy Efficiency

 Myth: Manufactured homes are less energy efficient than site-built homes.

Reality: On October 24,1994 a new minimum energy conversation standard became effective. The new energy standards are resulting in lower monthly energy bills, a factor industry officials say will enhance the affordability of manufactured housing and, perhaps, improve mortgage underwriting terms. Improved home ventilation standards have also been adopted in conjunction with the energy standards, a step that will improve indoor air quality and condensation control in manufactured homes.

The new standards rely on computer modeling to identify the optimum cost-effective conservation level for a home located in any one of three regions in the nation. In developing the standards, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development followed Congress mandate to establish standards that "minimize the sum of construction and operating costs" over the life of the home. This emphasis on "lifecycle" energy costs is unique among national energy standards.

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Home Appreciation

Myth: Manufactured homes do not appreciate in value like other forms of housing. Instead, manufactured homes depreciate in market value, similar to the way automobiles lose value each day.

Reality: While there is no one easy answer, recent data seems to suggest that manufactured homes can appreciate just like other forms of housing.

Datacomp Appraisal Systems recently completed a study that looked at 185 manufactured homes in Michigan, comparing the average sale price when new to the average resale price several years later. The study found the average value of the home had increased by $190, from $26,422 new to $26,612 used. This average figure is misleading, in that 97 of the homes increased in value by an average of $2,985, while the remaining 88 decreased in value by an average of $2,822.

The only accurate conclusion is that some homes appreciate and some don't. Based on an analysis of 88,000 actual sales, Datacomp found that there are specific reasons why some homes appreciate while other depreciate. These reasons include:

         The housing market, in which the home is located, will have a significant impact on the future value of the home.

         The community, in which the home is located, has a similarly significant impact on the home's future value.

         The initial price paid for the home.

         The age of the home.

         The inflation rate.

         The availability and cost of community sites, which reflects the supply and demand influences on the home's value.

         The extent of an organized resale network, where an organized network will usually result in homes selling for a higher price than in markets without such an organized network.

The appreciation in value of manufactured homes comes back to the old real estate axiom -- location, location, location. When properly sited and maintained, manufactured homes will appreciate at the same rate as other homes in surrounding neighborhoods.

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Life of Manufactured Homes

Myth: Manufactured homes are not built as well as other forms of housing. Manufactured homes do not last as long as site-built homes.

Reality: Manufactured homes are built with virtually the same construction materials and techniques as site-built homes. The only difference is that manufactured homes are built in a factory environment, where building materials are protected from weather damage and vandalism. Manufactured homes are built to the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards; better know as the HUD Code, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).