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MOBILE HOMES GROWING NEW ROOTS IN UTAH’S BOOMING HOUSING MARKET

SHARE MOBILE HOMES GROWING NEW ROOTS IN UTAH’S BOOMING HOUSING MARKET

Burke Blaser didn't feel financially established enough several months ago to purchase a site-prepared house, so he and his wife, Jennifer, opted for a mobile home that carries a lower house payment and lower debt.

After a year in their 1,100-square-foot mobile home at 11253 S. Hidden View Drive in the Crescentwood Mobile Home Park, Burke said, "This is just where I want to be."Blaser is one of the growing number of people who are going with manufactured housing in lieu of "stick-built" houses built on foundations. Manufactured houses include those built in sections in a factory and shipped for placement on foundations and mobile homes built in a factory, transported to their destination on wheels and set up.

Rather than get into an apartment, Blaser and his wife decided to build up equity in their mobile home, which eventually will be sold when they get into a regular site-built house.

Meanwhile, life in the mobile home park goes on, and Blaser said it's like any neighborhood. The Blasers pay a monthly park fee that covers the sewer, snow removal, water and garbage collection and use of the swimming pool and clubhouse. Coupled with their monthly payment for purchasing the mobile home, the two still are below the cost of a regular house and most apartments.

Their mobile home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a front deck and a carport, most of the items found on "starter" homes.

Although manufactured housing appears to be a forgotten way of overcoming the housing and apartment shortage in Utah, Blaser knew about mobile homes and manufactured houses because his father, Stephen Blaser, is president of Care Free Homes, 3260 S. Redwood Road, and president-elect of the Utah Manufactured Housing Association.

Burke's knowledge of the manufactured housing business came from his father and, unlike many people who have never considered a manufactured house, Burke didn't hesitate to get into one.

Even real estate agents are calling Stephen Blaser and Bob Stutz, marketing director for Electronic Payment Systems Inc., 3006 Highland Drive, a company specializing in financing manufactured housing purchases by people with previous credit problems.

Because banks usually don't loan money on personal property (mobile homes are considered personal property), Stutz said specialty firms have captured the money lending in this area. Stutz said because Utah is considered a good state for manufactured housing, many people are now considering it as an alternative to a conventional house.

Stutz said EPS was formed in 1989 to service loans held by the Resolution Trust Corp., the agency liquidating the assets of the failed savings and loan institutions. He said loaning money on manufactured housing to people with previous credit problems helps borrowers overcome their financial woes and build equity in some property.

In addition to the lower monthly payments, the interest on the loan is tax deductible, so a person builds equity and the loan is paid off much quicker. Stephen Blaser said most mobile homes in parks cost under $25,000 with the average being $18,000. At that price, they are usually paid for in six to seven years.

Stephen Blaser said since 1976 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development set the standards for manufactured housing, building codes are similar, so a manufactured house built in Indiana meets Utah building codes. He said many people believe a manufactured house is built better than a site-built house because of the continual inspections in a factory.

Also, many communities have changed zoning that previously kept mobile homes confined to mobile home parks. He said many people can't tell the difference between a manufactured home and a regular site-built home once the pieces are put together.

A native of Ogden, Stephen Blaser lived most of his youth in Logan, graduated from Utah State University in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in accounting and received a master's degree in business administration from USU in 1970. He worked for an accounting firm in Salt Lake City and Phoenix and started Care Free Homes in 1972.

He has sold mobile homes and manufactured houses in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.

Stutz is a Bloomington, Ind., native, but grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from the University of Utah in 1964 with a degree in business and finance. He has worked for J.C. Penney, Ole's Home Improvement Centers, Home-crafter's Warehouse Inc., Kmart and was self-employed and ran specialty retail stores in Los Angeles for two years.

He has been in Salt Lake City with EPS for six months.