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Mobile home values are rising at almost as fast a rate as single-family homes, according to research published earlier this month by online lending platform LendingTree.
The median value of a mobile home grew at an average annual rate of 34.6% between 2021 and 2016, compared to 35.4% for single-family homes, according to a LendingTree analysis of US Census data.
But escalating values are where the similarities end.
Mobile home residents say that unlike single-family homes, typically homes that buyers buy as much as an investment as a residence, mobile homes get heavier over time. They can fall into disrepair, making them less appealing to potential buyers. And the private companies that own the land can lower the price when they offer to buy the houses.
Additionally, for many mobile home owners, choosing to sell now would mean entering an even tighter housing and rental market.
So even as the value of their homes increases, homeowners find that they are stuck.
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As NPR previously reported, large corporations have been buying up mobile home parks. They’re raising the rent for the land the mobile homes sit on, raising prices for typically low-income and elderly residents who say they’re not getting anything new.
“There are no repairs, there is no improvement in the guarantee of habitability“, said Yvonne Maldonado, a community organizer with the grassroots group Manufactured Housing Action, referring to a requirement in all leases that landlords ensure their properties are habitable.
Landlords in most states are bound by an implied “livability guarantee” that requires landlords to ensure that their properties are habitable. But Maldonado, who is also a resident of a mobile home community in upstate New York, said large private companies “often do a poor job” of providing services like snow clearing and clearing.
And inflation has been an additional headache.
“It hurts everyone,” Maldonado said.
For Holly Hook, a resident of Swartz Creek Estates in Michigan, considered selling her home when a new company took over the mobile park in 2018. But Hook soon realized the move wasn’t worth it. .
She had bought her house, second-hand, for $28,000, and the new company was offering her less than $10,000.
“It’s getting harder and harder to sell, and you’re actually losing value in a lot of cases,” Hook said.
Hook said she now lives with two roommates and they split the monthly rent for the land the house sits on. She said some of her neighbors, many of whom are seniors living on fixed Social Security payments, have had to cut back on their food and medications.
“The community used to be very laid back and people didn’t worry about paying rent because it was pretty stable for years and years,” Hook said. “All that relaxation and that sense of security just disappeared.”
But fearing reprisals from the company that owns the land they live on, almost no one in her community is willing to speak out, she said.
“A lot of people feel helpless,” she added.
The average sale price for a new mobile home was $124,900 in May, the most recent month for which there is data, according to the US Census.
“A lot of it is a shortage issue,” said Alyson Snow, a housing rights attorney who represents several mobile home owners pro bono and a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Diego.
During the pandemic, factories were slower to roll out the parts needed for new manufactured homes, and there were fewer builders, she said.
“These shortages have created fewer mobile homes on the market,” Snow said.
And there are other risks associated with any large purchase, Snow said. Buyers who take out bank loans often face high interest rates and hidden fees, she said. People buying used mobile homes should also make sure they receive proper inspections.
Additionally, because mobile home owners do not own the land their homes sit on, they constantly face the possibility of eviction.
“You are at the mercy of whoever is going to rent the land to you,” she said.
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