5 Reasons Why Manufactured Homes Have a Bad Reputation Revealed

Uncover the myths behind mobile home stigma and explore the surprising benefits many fail to recognize.

why do mobile homes have a bad reputation

Public opinion is beginning to shift around mobile homes, so much so that the language around owning and living in a mobile or manufactured home has changed.

Buying any home comes with risk and reward. But mobile or manufactured comes with a sometimes unfounded bad reputation.

Let’s cruise on through why mobile homes get a lousy rap and why they may be the investment for you.

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Why is there stigma around mobile homes?

Most drawbacks of owning a mobile home are attached to the super low price, which translates to lower quality – which isn’t always true.

The quality question

Wooden holiday chalet with veranda, freshly painted and well looked after in Wales, England.

The price of a home affects buyers’ perception of quality. Because mobile homes cost less, the assumption is that low-income housing. 

For some, the lower price tag means defective building materials and methods. But, those misconceptions are mostly unfounded. In fact, mobile homes are built with quality materials and according to high standards set by the government.

Non-potential buyers’ perceptions feed into the stigma of mobile homes, too. According to one survey, residents believed that manufactured homes brought down property value in a neighborhood just because they cost less than a traditional brick home.

The perception problem

The bad reputation of mobile and manufactured homes dates back to pre-1976 before Congress implemented the 1976 HUD Code. The mandate improved and standardized the manufacturing process for mobile homes.

Before the literal act of Congress, mobile home buyers were never sure as to what they were getting.

Many mobile homes built between the 1976 HUD code and the 1994 update had problems (leaking, AC failures). This led to a bad reputation and perceptions that mobile homes were low-income housing worth far less than newer, better-built homes.

Unreasonable expectations

Sellers and dealers don’t always educate buyers about what to expect and don’t explain that there are basically three tiers of quality – low, mid, and high.

  • Low-tier. Dealer lots have plenty of lowest-priced homes manufactured using inexpensive materials and more basic construction techniques. 
  • Mid-tier. Mobile homes in the middle use better materials and higher building standards. Some mid-tier mobile homes meet the buyer’s needs as much as a site-built home at sometimes 35% less cost.
  • High-tier. The most expensive mobile homes are built using the best techniques and stylish materials and allow for tons of customization.

Bad after-sales service

Dealers sell mobile homes and often do no follow-ups, even when complaints are involved. Lousy customer service can give any product a bad reputation.

The affordability of mobile homes and the industry’s limited competition doesn’t incentivize mobile home dealers to provide good customer service like with a vehicle. 

What are the upsides of a mobile home?

Once you look past the stigma, living in a mobile home has plenty of benefits

Price

Stick-built homes are expensive, while mobile homes come with a lower price tag. Modern mobile homes are built to be energy-efficient and have energy-saving appliances, which makes utilities less expensive.

In 2022, the average cost for a traditional home in the US was $527,500. During the same period, an 18 x 90 mobile home averaged $51,000 in price.

What is bad about living in a mobile home?

Brick-and-stick homes typically increase in value, while mobile homes depreciate the second they leave the manufacturer. But there is very little difference between living in a mobile home and a traditional home.

Environmental impact

Manufacturing a mobile home is far more efficient than stick-built homes and produces less wasted materials. 

Think of it this way – job sites are chaotic and messy, and waste materials are tossed into a dumpster.

On the other hand, mobile homes are built in the same location with access to the same supplies and building methods, reducing environmental impact.

On-site on time

Bad weather and extreme temperatures don’t delay mobile home manufacturing. Sweltering heat can shut down traditional construction daily during a rough summer month.

Why do mobile homes have a bad reputation?

The basis of the bad reputation that mobile homes have is perception. Before rules and regulations, manufactured and mobile homes weren’t made with quality materials and modern methods. Now, it’s about changing buyer and nonbuyer perceptions.

Flexible

You can’t just hook a stick home to a heavy-duty vehicle and take it across state lines.

Mobile homes provide buyers with the flexibility to relocate or sell the unit to a broader pool of buyers.

What are the downsides of a mobile home?

People don’t find many downsides to purchasing a mobile home.

  • Stigma. As discussed, people’s perceptions and misconceptions lead to this bad reputation that isn’t backed up with facts.
  • Depreciation. Mobile homes lose value quickly, though less so now than five or ten years ago.
  • Lot rent. You may have to pay the note on the mobile home and lot rent unless you own livable land.
  • Financing. Mobile homes are personal property like vehicles, so they aren’t financed like traditional mortgages.

FAQs about Mobile Homes’ Reputation

Why are mobile homes looked down on?

Mobile homes are often looked down on due to their mass-produced and industrial nature, which is a result of cost-saving measures. It is estimated that over ten million Americans, particularly young blue-collar workers, reside in these trailers. However, these parks face criticism because they prioritize affordability over the craftsmanship qualities typically associated with traditional housing.

What percentage of Americans live in mobile homes?

The cheap housing of choice for so many people is mobile homes, which make up 6.4% of the US housing sector and there are 8.5 million of them, slightly lower than the count in 2011, according to the US Census. The estimated number of occupants is around 20 million.

Should I flip a mobile home?

Flipping mobile homes can indeed be a profitable venture, although its success is contingent upon several factors including the prevailing market conditions, the initial purchase price, the expenses incurred during renovation, and the eventual selling price.

What are the benefits of a mobile home?

The benefits of a mobile home include the ability to own a home without the usual upkeep, as well as avoiding property taxes and land maintenance. Additionally, many mobile home park rental fees cover essential services such as water, sewer, garbage, and recycling pickup.

Why are mobile homes so popular?

Mobile homes are popular because they now come with modern safety and security features, making them a desirable choice. Additionally, they are energy efficient, leading to long-term savings on utility bills. Moreover, their updated design and durable materials make them more cost-effective to maintain and repair.

What is the stigma of living in a trailer park?

The stigma of living in a trailer park is that it has often been portrayed in the media as a private version of public housing projects. It is commonly associated with the perception of being inhabited by impoverished individuals and criminals, and managed by neglectful landlords who prioritize cost-cutting over proper maintenance.

Why do mobile homes have skirts?

Mobile homes have skirts to provide protection from animals, cold weather, snow, and water by covering the space underneath. The skirting also safeguards the plumbing system, preventing pipes or ducts from freezing during winter.

How can I make my mobile home nicer?

To make your mobile home nicer, you can enhance its appearance by installing a distinctive front door and coordinating architectural accents. Repainting or repairing the siding will also greatly improve its overall look. Additionally, sprucing up the skirting, replacing plain steps with a porch or deck, and getting creative with your carport will further enhance the aesthetic appeal. Incorporating plants and maximizing any outdoor living space will add a touch of natural beauty and make your mobile home even more inviting.

Why do people not like living in mobile homes?

People do not like living in mobile homes because they have to be situated in a caravan park where the land cannot be owned, only rented, making it a poor investment. However, it is worth noting that there are some well-maintained and attractive homes in these parks.

Are there any downsides to living in a mobile home?

Living in a mobile home can have downsides, such as the availability and cost of suitable land, the additional expenses imposed by manufactured home communities, and the limited options and higher expenses associated with financing.

Are you poor if you live in a mobile home?

Living in a mobile home does not necessarily mean that you are poor. Despite some of these states being among the poorest in the U.S., the prevalence of mobile homes does not always correlate with income. It is important to note that not all individuals residing in trailer parks are impoverished. In fact, there are numerous mobile home communities where living in such a setting carries no negative connotations whatsoever.

What are the downsides of living in a trailer park?

The downsides of living in a trailer park include having to adhere to rules concerning parking, hosting visitors, and maintaining the lawn. Failure to comply with these rules can result in eviction, which would require either selling your mobile home or hiring a company to relocate it from the park.

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