What Was That About Mobile Homes Being A Bad Value For Consumers?

A recent article in Realtor.com is forcing those who criticized mobile homes as investments for consumers to eat their words. It seems that the facts are quite different than what the media has portrayed for the past several years.

Fact #1: Mobile homes have appreciated faster than stick-built homes

Here’s what Realtor.com had to say:

LendingTree compared the median prices of mobile homes and single-family homes in all states except for Hawaii using the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data available between 2014 and 2019. Analysts found that while mobile homes are far less expensive than single-family homes, their median values escalated faster in 27 states than that of single-family homes over the same five-year period. The median value of a mobile home was $53,300 and they have appreciated 39% from 2014 to 2019, according to the report. That’s 6 percentage points higher than the median appreciation of single-family homes.

You may recall that John Oliver claimed that those who bought mobile homes were being duped into making a purchase that went nowhere but down. Of course, he made that assertion without any actual data. The numbers prove him to be completely wrong.

Fact #2: Mobile homes cost a fraction of stick-built homes

Once again, here’s what Realtor.com had to say:

And mobile homes are a fraction of the price, costing about $190,000 less than single-family homes.

If new mobile homes cost around $50,000, then that’s nearly $200,000 less than the price of a new single-family home. And that’s a really big deal. Homebuyers who cannot nearly approach the cost of a stick-built home can find refuge from rental home and apartment living thanks to mobile home park owners across America.

Fact #3: These two facts will ever change going forward

If you think these first two facts are just a fad, then you are not looking realistically at any of the statistics or trends in America. Stick built homes are never going to go down in price, as shown in this chart.

Historical Median Home Value

For the past decade, stick-built homes have been on a near vertical ascent.

New mobile home prices, by comparison, have gone up only slightly during this period, and that’s despite the new burden of supply-chain increases in materials. While stick-built homes cost over $100 per square foot to build, mobile homes cost only around $25 per square foot.

Fact #4: You’ll never hear a single media group apologize for lying about this

On the heels of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”, many other media outlets trumpeted his false claims that mobile homes are bad investments for buyers. I have done many interviews on this topic and regardless of what anyone in the industry says – and regardless of the actual facts – the narrative that mobile home buyers are “suckers” are all that makes it to the final article or video product. Of course, there’s no way that the media can accept this actual stats as they have invested decades in furthering the claim that mobile home park owners are “evil” and prey on mobile home residents like the Monopoly top-hat character. We’ve been trying to change that narrative for years but to no avail. I’m sure even these stats from Realtor.com will be swept under the rug. But the fact that mobile homes are GREAT investments for the residents is simply a well-documented fact.

Conclusion

Thank you, Realtor.com. You have finally set the record straight regarding the superior appreciation and price-point of mobile homes in mobile home parks. Our customers have known for decades that this unique housing option offers superior financial traits and a price-point that no alternative can touch. Thanks for pointing this out to all the naysayers.

Frank Rolfe has been a commercial real estate investor for almost three decades, and currently holds nearly $1 billion of properties in 25 states. His books and courses on commercial property acquisitions and management are among the top-selling in the industry.