clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Factory homes aren't tin-can trailers today

Manufactured homes are shedding any lingering effects from their 1950s image of tin-can trailers and are gaining in popularity throughout the Phoenix area.

The homes, built on a factory line then transported in pieces to a lot where they are assembled, accounted for 11 percent of metro Phoenix's new-home market in 1997.Last year, manufactured-home building in the Phoenix area broke all records when 3,479 were built, according to "The Pappas Report on Manufactured Housing." Last year's total represented an 11 percent increase over the previous year when 3,125 manufactured-home permits were issued. From 1995 to 1996, permits increased by 23 percent.

Manufactured homes have evolved over the past few decades. Many factory-built homes look like a typical tract home, except they are less expensive.

"I could barely tell the difference," said Renee Giarelli, who recently retired as an elementary schoolteacher back East. She bought a manufactured home and is moving into a community in Apache Junction.

"I am keeping my home in New Jersey and didn't want to spend a fortune on a second home in Arizona," Giarelli said.

Stephen Pappas of "The Pappas Report" said many new manufactured-home buyers are retirees.

He said a typical three-bedroom manufactured home in the Phoenix area costs $40,000 to $50,000.

The cost to buy or rent a lot for the home is extra. Rent on a typical lot in a new manufactured-home community is about $300 a month. Most developments rent their lots.

Construction of factory homes have set consecutive records the past few years just as Phoenix's traditional home market has.

Across the board, in all sectors, home building in the Phoenix area had a record year in 1997, with 31,715 permits for single-family tract and custom houses approved for metro Phoenix.

"The need for affordable housing is not being met by stick-built homes," said R.L. Brown, who publishes the "Phoenix Housing Market Letter." "Because of that, we will see a lot more manufactured homes go up across the state."

Once called mobile homes, manufactured-home builders have tried to incorporate tract home features. Some have vaulted ceilings, walk-in closets and sunken bathtubs.

Builders of manufactured homes save money by using an assembly line to build the homes. They don't have to pay plumbers, carpenters and electricians to work on sites across the metro area.