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Saving the Middle Class

Affordable Housing has been a hot-topic issue since before the housing crisis and has become even more of a burning issue since the fall out.  Affordable Housing has always had its share of the housing market but demand is on the rise.  Overall home purchases are down for the ninth straight year in a row and home ownership has dropped to 65%, the lowest it has been since 1995.

Since the housing crisis there has been a strong trend toward apartment rentals, friends rooming together, and moving back in with mom and dad.  The percentage of 25-35 year olds living with their parents is at 36%. This was a slow and steady trend for the least four decades that jumped from 32% to 34% in just the two years of the 2007-2009 recession, and reached its peak in 2012.

Bill Matchneer, a lawyer and former council member for the CFPB, states that manufactured housing is a dire need in the affordable housing market and that its increase in market share is inevitable.  As most of us know the mobile home industry has had a stigma against it from historical quality issues and the disparity of land leased communities.  Due to the HUD code, set in place in 1976 and revised in 1994, the quality standard of manufactured homes has taken tremendous strides in both structural and environmental impact quality.  Bill Matchneer is quoted, “The modern manufactured home is equivalent to site-built at about half the price”.  On the topic of land lease communities, Paul Bradley of ROC USA and organizations like it are helping to increase the quality and appraisal value of homes in land lease communities by assisting residents in the purchase of the community.  ROC USA consults with residents, helping them to form a co-op to purchase the community as well as lending the co-op the necessary funds to purchase at affordable rates.  These co-ops are also given some preferential treatment such as being allowed the first offer when their community is put up for sale.  Studies have shown that communities owned by residents have higher property value, more stable rental fees, and maintain a higher quality of living than their counterparts.  Megan Neff of NextStep, an organization that works through a channel of non-profits, is also helping to increase structural and lending quality by creating a connection between the needs of buyers and the vision of manufacturers.

Datacomp Appraisal Systems, having conducted an appraisal study comparing manufactured homes to site-built homes, came to the conclusion that the old adage of “location, location, location” equally applies to both housing categories.  Datacomp, with no bias toward either industry stated, “When properly sited and maintained, manufactured homes will appreciate at the same rate as other homes in surrounding neighborhoods”.  This revelation of appraisal values is important to understand as the majority of middle-class wealth is comprised of home ownership.  Studies from the Federal Reserve show that homeownership is the cornerstone of middle-class wealth.  The average middle-class home owner has a net-worth of $194,000.00 about 36x that of their renting counterparts who have an average net-worth of $5,400.00.

This information poses some serious questions about the manufactured housing industry.  The first and most obvious question is, “Can manufactured homes save home ownership?”  The second question, only visible when examining what home ownership in America truly represents, “Can manufactured homes save the middle-class?”

June 3, 2015 Posted by | General Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment