After two years of spiking real estate prices, mortgage rates, and rents, the housing affordability crisis in the U.S. is more apparent than ever. Policymakers, economic experts, and regular U.S. households have been searching for tools to alleviate the pressure of housing costs. Expanding manufactured housing is one possible solution.
The category manufactured housing includes housing units that are prefabricated in a factory and then transported to their ultimate destination. Because these units tend to have simple designs and materials that make them efficient to produce, they are often significantly less expensive than site-built homes. A 2021 report from the Manufactured Housing Institute found the average cost per square foot of a manufactured home was $57, less than half the $119 cost of a site-built home.
For lower and middle income families, this more affordable option has significant appeal. Currently, 22 million Americans live in manufactured homes, and manufactured homes represent around 1 in 10 new homes constructed in the U.S. each year. And the quality of manufactured homes has increased as well, with better materials, greater energy efficiency, and improved designs.
Manufactured home shipments have approximately doubled in the last decade, to around 120,000 per year. While today’s figure remains well below historic peaks, the growth over the last decade represents a reversal of decline that began in the late 1990s. The manufactured home industry suffered with homebuyers able to easily obtain mortgages in the housing bubble of the early 2000s but began making a comeback in the recovery from the Great Recession.
While manufactured homes remain relatively low-cost, the growing demand for manufactured housing–and for housing in general–has pushed prices higher in recent years. Since 2014, the average sale price of a manufactured home has grown by 79.4%, approximately equaling the 77.5% increase for all homes in the Zillow Home Value Index over the same span. Prices have risen even more steeply for manufactured homes just in the last two years amid the red-hot real estate market and supply chain challenges for manufacturers.
Manufactured housing varies in popularity across the U.S., but the South stands out for its higher concentration of manufactured homes. Fast-growing, high-population southern states like Texas, Florida, and North Carolina lead in the total number of manufactured home shipments annually. But as a share of all new single-family homes, top locations include lower-income states like Mississippi, West Virginia, and Kentucky whose residents may be more drawn to manufactured homes as an affordable option.
The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Manufactured Housing Survey (MHS), the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permits Survey, and Zillow’s Home Value Index data. To determine the states investing most in manufactured housing, researchers at Construction Coverage calculated manufactured home shipments as a share of all new single-family homes in 2021 (the sum of manufactured home shipments and single-family housing units authorized by building permits). In the event of a tie, the state with more total manufactured home shipments was ranked higher.
The analysis found that in Utah, 1.2% of all new single-family homes authorized in 2021 were manufactured units versus site-built. Out of all states, Utah is investing the 4th least in manufactured housing. Here is a summary of the data for Utah:
- Manufactured homes as a share of all new single-family homes: 1.2%
- Total manufactured home shipments: 283
- Total site-built single-family home permits: 24,423
- Average sale price of manufactured homes: $99,200
- Median price across all homes: $574,570
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Manufactured homes as a share of all new single-family homes: 9.5%
- Total manufactured home shipments: 105,772
- Total site-built single-family home permits: 1,115,360
- Average sale price of manufactured homes: $87,000
- Median price across all homes: $349,816
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website: https://constructioncoverage.com/research/states-investing-most-in-manufactured-housing-2022