A New Home for $70k? The American Dream Gets a Remodel

Owning a home has long been considered an essential part of achieving the American dream. But with skyrocketing housing costs and stiffer borrowing requirements following the Great Recession, many have struggled to make that dream their own reality. In the midst of America’s ever-present housing crisis, a once-familiar, low-cost alternative to traditional site-built homes has reemerged—the manufactured home.

Demand for manufactured housing plummeted in the early 2000s as subprime loans made traditional home-buying more accessible. But since bottoming out in 2009 after a long period of weak demand, shipments of new manufactured homes have been increasing, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Nationwide, new manufactured homes still represents just 10 percent of all new single-family home starts, a number that has held relatively steady since 2009. But in certain areas, that allocation is shifting in favor of factory-built options.

In the past, manufactured housing was largely considered out of necessity—as a more affordable alternative to site-built homes. But today, the industry is working hard to shed that stigma by providing compelling high-end offerings. According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, most of the cost savings are the result of efficiencies in the factory-building process and economies of scale, not from the use of lower-quality materials. Additionally, technology advances in the factory have allowed manufactured home builders to provide buyers with a wide-range of styles and customizations to fit their needs.

Despite these improvements, the average price per square foot for a new manufactured home is still less than half of what traditional single-family site-built homes sell for. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the price per square foot (excluding land) of a new manufactured home in 2017 was $50.42, compared to $111.05 for a traditional home. That amounts to around $48,000 for a single and $93,000 for a double-wide factory-built home.

To see where manufactured housing is on the rise, researchers at Construction Coverage, a review site for financial products and software in the construction industry, analyzed the most recent data on new home starts from the U.S. Census Bureau. For each state, Construction Coverage calculated how much manufactured housing shipments increased from 2009-2017, and how that number compared to that of all new home starts (including both manufactured and single-family site-built homes). Here’s what they found:

The 15 States Where Manufactured Housing is on the Rise

New Hampshire Portsmouth H8CRP4

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15. New Hampshire

  • New manufactured housing growth: 1.92X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 133%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 70%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 392 manufactured / 2,711 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $100,500
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $276,425
Mississippi GD98DY

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14. Mississippi

  • New manufactured housing growth: 2.07X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 70%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 34%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 3,665 manufactured / 6,531 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $61,900
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $175,575
Indiana J3G61R

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13. Indiana

  • New manufactured housing growth: 2.47X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 180%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 73%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 1,694 manufactured / 16,075 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $58,500
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $163,187
Iowa JPXJN5

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12. Iowa

  • New manufactured housing growth: 2.84X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 126%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 44%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 470 manufactured / 8,067 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $73,400
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $168,375
Alabama FFM4T6

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11. Alabama

  • New manufactured housing growth: 2.93X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 165%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 56%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 6,046 manufactured / 12,233 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $68,200
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $190,695
New York Rochester JWD9CH

Photo Credit: Jeremy Francis / Alamy Stock Photo

10. New York

  • New manufactured housing growth: 3.56X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 36%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 10%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 1,429 manufactured / 10,361 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $71,300
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $347,683

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Maryland Annapolis HGEWH7

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9. Maryland

  • New manufactured housing growth: 3.56X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 204%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 57%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 851 manufactured / 12,384 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $88,700
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $302,920
Ohio Columbus P1R4RP

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8. Ohio

  • New manufactured housing growth: 3.59X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 221%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 61%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 1,912 manufactured / 16,153 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $62,500
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $152,092
Wisconsin H6H72B

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7. Wisconsin

  • New manufactured housing growth: 3.76X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 196%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 52%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 612 manufactured / 11,769 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $60,000
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $191,504
Michigan Lansing capitol J9HMN7

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6. Michigan

  • New manufactured housing growth: 5.11X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 1144%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 224%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 4,791 manufactured / 16,652 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $66,500
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $165,600
Pennsylvania Scranton BKCW9D

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5. Pennsylvania

  • New manufactured housing growth: 5.63X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 22%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 4%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 1,545 manufactured / 15,703 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $72,200
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $192,308

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New Jersey C5CFJK

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4. New Jersey

  • New manufactured housing growth: 5.64X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 251%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 45%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 471 manufactured / 10,148 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $87,300
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $302,704
New Mexico Santa Fe KCKJXF

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3. New Mexico

  • New manufactured housing growth: 5.76X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 27%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 5%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 1,253 manufactured / 4,114 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $75,200
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $219,066
Massachusetts Boston state capitol J9C0JC

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2. Massachusetts

  • New manufactured housing growth: 5.81X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 267%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 46%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 213 manufactured / 7,278 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $145,800
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $418,450
Nebraska Lincoln M2149N

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1. Nebraska

  • New manufactured housing growth: 10.30X all single-family home starts
  • Change in new manufactured housing since 2009: 226%
  • Change in all single-family home starts since 2009: 22%
  • New single-family homes (2017): 186 manufactured / 5,436 site-built
  • Average sale price for manufactured homes (2017): $71,600
  • Median list price for all homes (2017): $193,496

Methodology & Full Results

Data on new manufactured housing (shipments and sale prices) is from the U.S. Census Bureau Manufactured Housing Survey. Data on new single-family site-built home construction is from the U.S. Census Bureau Building Permits Survey. The median list price for all homes by state is from Zillow.

For each state, the change in new manufactured housing and the change in all single-family home starts (including both manufactured housing and site-built homes) was calculated comparing 2017 to 2009. Because new housing development bottomed out in 2009, it was chosen as the point of comparison. Using this data, states were ranked according to how much their change in new manufactured housing outpaced that of all single-family home starts. Hawaii, Rhode Island, Alaska, and District of Columbia were excluded due to insufficient data on manufactured housing.

While the U.S. Census Bureau provides average sale prices for new manufactured homes by state, it does not provide the same data for new single-family site-built homes. Because of this, the median list price for all homes (sourced from ZIllow) is provided for each state for comparison.

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