The average first-time guest to a manufactured home community is often surprised when their uneducated stereotypes prove to be erroneous.
Example: In the musical, The Great American Trailer Park, the author paints the manufactured home community as being inhabited by a plethora of underprivileged, lethargic and poorly educated people on the margins. The play’s main character, an exotic dancer, requires “a place to live that’s cheap and private where people got so many problems of their own they won’t much notice mine.”
Manufactured home communities are not a safe harbor for societies rejects. Primarily owner-occupied, manufactured housing units are overwhelmingly occupied by homeowners. More often than not retirees, these owners must be financially dependable, according to many state laws and community standards. Dramatically more affordable than the traditional stick-built home, many households within these communities have the necessary funds to purchase their units outright – while those with steady incomes qualify for home loans.
Seniors citizens specifically find that manufactured homes meet their financial needs.
Per a 2011 American Housing Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 28 percent of manufactured home owners are 65 years old or over. Today’s modern manufactured home communities provide seniors with resort living with a minimal price tag. Modern communities provide active schedules featuring festive dinners and special holiday events. Generally tight knit communities, these mobile home parks are incredibly easy to make new friends. And, because size matters there, these communities feature low-maintenance properties with small yards, allowing for today’s elderly to experience a sense of independent living. Provided a homeowner needs a handyman for a quick repair, there are always skilled neighbors to turn to for help.
Featured in the modern manufactured home community, seniors and their loved ones will find features that are often missing in site-built neighborhoods. Amenities include recreation halls, pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, putting greens and more. More often than not a gated community, Manufactured home neighborhoods offer a reassuring level of safe. Safety features include gated entrances, perimeter fences, lighting and 24-hour staff.
Top benefits of a manufactured home community
- Fiscally responsible: Manufactured home communities makes dollars and cents for retirees
- Snowbirds: With relatively low ownership costs, “Snowbirds” can seasonally migrate from colder climates to warmer ones on a budget
- Amenities: Many manufactured home communities offer access to communal spaces, pools, exercise facilities, shuffleboard courts and golf courses
Facilities in manufactured home communities can be better maintained than those in surrounding residential neighborhoods. In these tough fiscal times for local governments, public streets, sidewalks and recreational resources are falling apart, but owners of well-built and well-maintained manufactured homes seldom see the decay that can plague site-built neighborhoods.
Not all communities are equal – exercise due diligence
For those contemplating the purchase of a manufactured home and are considering relocating into a specific community, a good place to start exercising your “due diligence” is to talk with senior advocacy services in your state, county or city. These senior advocate organizations should have valuable information for your area and will know the bad actors in your community.
The homeowners’ association (HOA) is also a great source of information. Below are a few key questions to ask them:
- Have rents increased in recent years? If so, how much?
- What are the specific terms spelled out in the lease?
- Does the homeowners Association maintain the “common areas”?
- If the mobile home park is sold and you have to move, will you be compensated?
Like James Rockford, the old mobile home is an antiquated relic of the past. Since 1976, manufactured homes have been built according to a national building code and inspection system standards. Factory construction can exceed site-built methods. Over half are double- or triple-wide models, according to the American Housing Survey. These models match or exceed a typical single-family home in many real estate markets. Once installed on a site, manufactured homes remain in place. The American Housing Survey reports that less than 18 percent of all manufactured homes were ever moved from one site to another.