Is it time for a factory home?

Hank Hayes • Mar 11, 2019 at 8:30 AM

NASHVILLE – This story is not about your daddy’s doublewide.

It is instead about a new generation of manufactured housing that is vying for a top spot in the affordable housing market.

A panel at the recent Tennessee Housing Conference tried to dispel all the myths and negative perceptions about manufactured housing.

“The (manufactured housing) industry has developed considerably over the last 20 years,” said Patrick Curry, project manager for Next Step, a nonprofit housing intermediary working to leverage expertise and relationships with the manufactured housing industry to bring affordable, sustainable homeownership opportunities to more individuals and families nationwide.

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., known as Freddie Mac, says it is bringing conventional financing to so-called CHOICEHomes, a new type of high-quality factory-built home that is built to U.S. Housing and Urban Development code, but with higher pitch roof lines, lower profile foundations, dry wall, energy-efficient features and additions, such as a garage.

The people more likely to be attracted to a CHOICEHome, according to Freddie Mac, are millennials, baby boomers and empty nesters looking to downsize, or borrowers who want the American dream but may have limited resources.

The six facts Freddie Mac is promoting about manufactured housing is that it isn’t a trailer; does have design options; is not unsafe; is not more vulnerable to natural disasters; isn’t confined to living in a trailer park; and isn’t made with cheap materials.

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency, which hosted the conference, also said it will finance a manufactured home with its Great Choice loan product. Manufactured homes, according to Clayton Homes, account for about 80 percent of all new homes costing less than $150,000.

“Affordable housing, obviously, can have impacts beyond the condition of shelter and have an effect on the quality of education a child is receiving and can affect your health,” said Ryan Wilson with Clayton Homes media relations. “The average monthly gross housing cost for a manufactured home is around $577 compared to $1,057 for a site-built home. In the 100 largest metropolitan areas, residents of manufactured homes spent about 40.5 percent less on housing costs than those living in non-manufactured homes in the same areas.”

Ecobee smart thermostats inside Clayton Homes, said Wilson, can connect to people’s smart phones, and units have Energy Star appliances and high-quality insulation.

“We partner with a lot of high-end brands,” Wilson added. “They are incredibly important to our overall mission.”