Manufactured housing is one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the U.S., and, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute, more than one in 10 single-family housing starts was a manufactured home in 2013.
Interested homebuyers should enlist the help of a qualified real estate appraiser to consider the advantages of purchasing a manufactured home over a traditional build and determine if taking the prefab route is worth the investment in the long run.
Are manufactured homes cost-efficient?
Depending on the region of the country, construction cost-per-square-foot for a new manufactured home averages 25 to 30 percent less than costs for a comparable site-built home. (As appraisers know well, cost does not necessarily equal value.)
But what about appreciation? Just like a traditional build, there’s no guarantee that the value of a manufactured home will always appreciate — that’s dependent on outside economic factors and varies by region. However, independent appraisal studies confirm that simplybuying a manufactured home won’t hurt resale value or reduce resale prospects compared to a site-built home.
What about quality?
Because manufactured homes are constructed in a controlled environment, the materials are protected from theft and weather-related damage. During this unique construction process, manufactured homes are continually inspected by a professionally trained third-party inspector.
Although the valuation principles for appraising manufactured homes are similar to traditional builds, buyers will want to seek out a qualified appraiserwho is knowledgeable and experienced about the prefab construction process, as well as the manufacturers’ and federal, state and local requirements for both construction and installation.
Which upgrades add the most value?
The floor plans and upgrades for manufactured homes have evolved over the years to include high-end finishes, vaulted ceilings, fully-equipped kitchens and walk-in closets. Just like a traditional build, the home can be customized to meet the needs of the buyer.
But buyers should know that because the total price of a manufactured home is relatively low compared to a traditional build, upgrades that add value should be inexpensive enough to justify the cost. For example, cosmetic upgrades — like higher-end cabinets and modern appliances — are budget-friendly and can make a manufactured home more attractive to buyers when it’s time to sell.
Also, installing energy-efficient upgrades can add immediate and long-term value to a manufactured home … just as it would to a traditional build. Buyers can locate real estate appraisers who are qualified to assess energy cost and energy performance in residential properties through the Appraisal Institute’s online registries of “green” appraisers.
Appraisers, what other advice do you have for consumers interested in buying a manufactured home?