If you’re seeking home affordability, you may be looking at the cost to build a manufactured home. A new double-wide sold for an average of $159,400 in late 2022, whereas a new single-family home went for an average of $543,600 around the same time.
With such a gap, it’s easy to see the allure of manufactured homes. Yet the price of a manufactured home doesn’t tell the whole story. The land, site prep, any exterior additions, and financing all add to the cost to build a manufactured home.
If you want to take a serious look at what a manufactured home is really going to cost you, here’s what you should know.
What Is a Manufactured Home?
A manufactured home is built entirely in a factory and attached to a permanent chassis. Once construction is complete, it is moved to a lot of the owner’s choosing. The wheels are removed and the chassis is placed on a foundation; pier and beam is most common.
Assembly is completed by attaching the different sections, connecting utilities, adding any exterior elements, touching up the interior, and installing tie-downs.
Manufactured homes were called mobile homes before June 15, 1976, when Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) building standards began. The HUD code regulates home design and construction, strength, durability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency.
Standard dimensions make them easier to mass-produce in factories, resulting in quick construction timelines and lower costs.
Are these modular homes? No. Modular homes are also built in factories, but a modular home must meet the same building codes as a site-built home and has a permanent, standard foundation.
First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.
The Cost of Manufactured Homes by Size
Manufactured homes typically come in three sizes: single-wide, double-wide, and triple-wide. Each section is designed to fit down a highway, with the maximum width set at 16 feet, except in Texas, which adds 2 feet. A single-wide runs 66 to 80 feet long.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for a new manufactured home as of September 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD’s Manufactured Housing Survey:
• Single-wide. New single-wide homes usually range from 400 to 1,200 square feet and have an average price of $95,800.
• Double-wide. Double-wide manufactured homes typically range from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet and average $159,400.
• Triple-wide. With 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, these homes start at $200,000.
Anything smaller than 400 square feet may be considered a tiny house or a park model. Both are often classified as recreational vehicles, not meant for full-time living.
Additional Costs to Consider When Building a Manufactured Home
How much a manufactured home costs may look deceptively low. There may be costs beyond the sticker price, especially if you want to place the home on raw land and need a land loan.
In addition to the home, you might have to pay for utility connections, exterior additions, taxes, delivery, and setup.
You’ll also want to pay attention to rates and terms of loans you qualify for. Owning the land, or a plan to do so, almost always opens the door to more attractive financing options.
Related: How Do Construction Loans Work?
With a manufactured home, you have the option of renting or purchasing the lot.
• Rent the lot: Expect a monthly rate of $100 to $1,000. This doesn’t include additional fees from the homeowners association.
• Buy the lot: $0 to $1,000,000. Land costs depend on size and location; if you inherit land, you may have no cost at all. You might buy a small lot in a resident-owned park, but if it’s a co-op, you’re buying a share in the community.
If you’re buying unimproved land, you may also pay for site clearing and prep, a driveway, drainage, and porch, garage, deck, or other exterior additions. These can add quite a bit to the cost to build a manufactured home.
If you’re thinking of buying or building a house on raw land, you’ll need a way to connect to utilities. Common costs:
• Water or well: $3,750 to $15,300.
• Electric: $0 to $10,000. Some power companies can hook you up for free, while in other areas the cost can be $10,000 or more.
• Septic: $4,500 to $9,000. Manufactured homes in rural areas will need a septic system if there’s no sewer connection.
Delivery and Setup
Most manufactured home dealers include the cost of delivery and setup when you purchase a home. Some, though, leave delivery and installation for the customer to arrange and pay for.
At a minimum, setup for a manufactured home may involve:
• Hooking up utilities
• Testing connections
• Touching up interior elements, such as where two sections meet
• Adding skirting
If you want a garage, porch, deck, or other exterior structure, you’ll need to add these costs as well. Prices are national averages, as per online cost guide service provider Fixr.com.
• Porch: $15,000 to $35,000, but can be as low as $5,000 or as high as $50,000.
• Garage: $23,000 to $45,000
• Deck: $9,000 to $20,000
• Landscaping: $8,000 to $15,000
• Driveway: $3,460 to $6,910
You may need to pay sales tax on a manufactured home purchased from a dealer.
That is in addition to property tax you will need to pay each year if you own the land your manufactured home sits on.
Should You Build a Manufactured Home?
Proponents of manufactured homes tout their affordability, quality, and quick construction. It’s possible to build a manufactured home that is much less expensive than buying new construction of a traditional home.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau points out that whether the homeowner owns the underlying land affects many aspects of the financing “and can have major implications for the homeowner in terms of cost and security of tenure.”
If you plan to lease the land but feel comfortable absorbing any lot rent increases, then a new manufactured home could be a suitable choice. Some communities are downright upscale, offering pools, tennis, pickleball, golf, fitness centers, clubs for every interest, security, and camaraderie.
Do manufactured homes depreciate? Homes that are not high quality or affixed to a permanent foundation often lose value. A depreciating value also means homeowners may not be able to refinance.
But some data shows that well-maintained manufactured homes in attractive locations actually appreciate in value.
You might want to compare the expected total costs of different types of houses — including a townhouse, condo, and detached single-family home — with a used or brand-new manufactured home.
When financing a manufactured home, you’ll likely run into several options offered at the sales center. Just be aware that mobile home financing may be different from lending for other kinds of homes.
For one, manufactured homes typically have a repayment period of 25 years or less instead of the 30-year loan that you can obtain for a traditional home. This translates into higher monthly payments.
A new manufactured home attached to a foundation on land you own will be treated like a traditional home as far as financing is concerned. Lenders take into consideration how the manufactured home is titled and deeded. If it’s considered personal property, you may need a large personal loan.
A chattel mortgage is another option for personal property.
An FHA Title I loan could be another possibility. These loans are used to purchase a manufactured home, the lot the home will reside on, or both. There are loan limits.
See also: Mortgage Calculator
How much does it cost to build a manufactured home? Much less than a traditional home, but be sure you’re looking at all the costs involved. A lot of the total expense of owning a manufactured home will depend on whether or not you own the land.
3 Home Loan Tips
1. Traditionally, mortgage lenders like to see a 20% down payment. But some lenders, such as SoFi, allow mortgages with as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homebuyers.
2. Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.
3. When building a house or buying a non-traditional home (such as a houseboat), you likely won’t be able to get a mortgage. One financing option to consider is a personal loan, which can be faster and easier to secure than a construction loan.
How do you cut down on costs for a manufactured home?
Buyers can cut costs by choosing a standard floor plan, requesting less customization, or opting for a manufactured home that is already built.
How do you pay for a manufactured home?
Manufactured homes can be paid for with a personal loan, a chattel mortgage, a conventional mortgage, or a government-backed loan, depending on the homebuyer’s situation.
What are the best customizations for a manufactured home?
Popular custom finishes include coffered ceilings, fireplaces, built-ins, kitchen islands, upgraded appliances and fixtures, rain showerheads, freestanding tubs, and upgraded lighting.
Photo credit: iStock/Marje
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.