One of the primary challenges facing U.S. urban and suburban governments is the growing need for high-quality affordable housing. Manufactured-home land-lease communities have played a tremendous role in housing Americans and remain the housing choice of many people, whether because of their affordability or the lifestyle they offer. Over 9 million households with 18 million people live in manufactured homes, and 45 percent of manufactured-home buyers earn less than 80 percent of the area median income. In 2009, manufactured housing accounted for 43 percent of all new homes sold for under $150,000 and 23 percent of all those sold for under $200,000. Since 1989, manufactured housing has accounted for 21 percent of all new family homes sold.
Manufactured homes are built to a national, preemptive building code comparable to local or state building codes. The affordability of manufactured homes comes through the building process itself. The homes are built in quality-controlled environments and use the latest building technology employed by full-time, skilled workers. They are built from the same materials site-built homes use, but because manufacturers buy and store the materials in large volume, the economies of scale play a much larger role in consumer cost savings.
Financial benefits also can be realized from leasing land while owning one’s own home. The buyer of a home in a manufactured-home land-lease community owns the home but leases the land where it is located, making the initial dollar investment much lower than for housing purchased with land costs included. Also, with leased land, real estate taxes are paid by the community owner and are included in the monthly land rent. The individual homeowner only pays taxes on the value of his or her home, usually in the form of personal property tax.
Many manufactured-home communities provide lawn maintenance, a pool, a clubhouse, cable television, storage facilities for recreational vehicles and boats, and playgrounds—services that are usually included in the rent for the homesite, along with maintenance staff costs, freeing homeowners from much of grounds upkeep.
Even in today’s economy, these communities are seeing stable occupancy and potential for growth.