Mobile Home News
News / Consumer

Some Facts to Ponder About Home Owners

Len Bonifield, - Saturday, January 13, 2007

Each year Foremost Insurance Co. completes a study of the mobile home industry. The facts in this column came from QUICK FACTS 2007, a pamphlet published by the Manufactured Housing Institute. The study is based on the year 2005. The results of this survey are based on more than 19,000 respondents nationwide.

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is a nonprofit national trade association representing all segments of the manufactured and modular housing industries. Foremost Insurance Co. has been one of the leading insurance companies insuring mobile homes throughout the United States.

Readers, please keep in mind that these figures came from a national survey and not from Florida alone. I would surmise that a survey of Florida-only owners of mobile homes would show a dramatic difference since Florida is one of the prime states for people looking to retire. A substantial segment of the Florida market is over age 55, living in communities, both land-leased and resident owned.

According to the 2005 Foremost Study mobile home owners are becoming more technologically advanced. Ninety-one percent have a personal computer in their home. Seventy-nine percent have a cellular phone and 33 percent have a fax machine. It is interesting to note that 95 percent of respondents use their computer for e-mail, and 59 percent use the Internet to pay bills. Eighty-three percent use the Internet for entertainment and 89 percent for information research. Sixty-seven percent use it for purchasing items. The jump in usage over the past six years is dramatic; for example, the 1999 report said that only 31 percent use a computer for e-mail.

The survey points out in dramatic fashion one of my favorite pet peeves: What do we call the homes we live in?

Fifty-seven percent of 19,400 respondents said they called their home a "mobile home". Sixteen percent said that they live in a trailer. Do you believe those figures? Seventy three percent of people living in a mobile home do not know the right name for the home they live in.

How can we expect the media to use the right terminology when the home owners don't know the right name? The industry must do a better job of educating buyers of mobile homes.

Who lives in mobile homes? The survey found that the head of household in 28 percent was younger than 30. Twenty percent were between the ages of 30 and 39; 25 percent between the ages of 40 and 49. Twenty-five percent were between the ages of 50 and 59. Sixteen percent were between the ages of 60 and 69, while 8 percent were over the age of 70. Forty-nine percent of all heads of households were over age 50.

Sixty-four percent of the heads of households are employed full time, 7 percent part time, 19 percent retired and 10 percent are not employed.

What about annual household income? Nineteen percent had annual income less than $19,999. Twenty-one percent had incomes between $20,000 and $29,999. Eighteen percent had incomes from $30,000 to $39,999, and 43 percent had incomes over $40,000, with 27 percent of those having incomes over $50,000.

In 2005 the average sale price of a multi-section mobile home was $68,000 with 1,725 square feet of living space. A single section home in 2005 had an average price of $33,800 with square footage of 1,080. The price of the homes includes typical installation cost.

How does this compare with site-built homes in 2005? The average sale price of a site-built home was $297,000 with 2,414 square feet of living space. When the price of the land was deducted from the site built home the average price became $218,781.

The site built home cost $90.63 per square foot, whereas the multi-section mobile home cost $39.77.

The affordability of today's mobile home can be attributed directly to the efficiencies emanating from the factory-built process. The controlled construction environment and assembly-line techniques remove many of the problems encountered during traditional home construction, such as poor weather, theft, vandalism, damage to building products and materials, and unskilled labor.

It is no wonder that with the technological advances, modern designs, and the ability to customize for the buyer, more are turning to the mobile home industry.

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