Consumer FAQs

What are the differences between and manufactured home and a mobile home?

Mobile home typically refers to an older product built before the Housing and Urban Development Code (HUD) went into effect in June 1976. To help clarify some of the terms associated with manufactured housing, please refer to the following definitions:

Factory Built Housing

General term referring to any structure designed and built in a factory. These structures may be built to federal, state or local building codes and may be designed for commercial or residential use. In any case, construction begins in a factory and is completed after the building has been transported to its installation site.

Modular Home

These homes are built according to the same state, local or regional codes that apply to any residential structure. Construction of these multi-section homes begins in a factory. Once the home is transported to its designated site, construction is completed.

Manufactured Home

Refers to a home built in a factory to meet or exceed the federal code administered by HUD. The Manufactured Home Safety and Construction Standard (HUD Code) was originally adopted by Congress on June 15, 1976. Manufactured homes may be single or multi-section and are transported to the site and installed. The federal standards regulate design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality. The HUD Code also sets performance standards for the heating, plumbing, air-conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. It is the only national building code.

Is the HUD Code less stringent than state or local building codes?

No. While there are some differences between the codes, this difference has more to do with how the codes are intended to operate. While state or local building codes are basically prescriptive, meaning they prescribe what type of lumber or what type of electric wire must be used in the construction of the home, the HUD Code is more focused on performance, allowing the manufacturer to use products that are most compatible with the factory-building process as long as these products perform according to the guidelines established within the code.

Independent analysis comparing the state or local building codes with the HUD Code have found that “on balance, the codes are comparable” and “the net cumulative effect of the differences between the two codes is more likely on the order of hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands of dollars per unit.” The HUD Code is the more restrictive in situations such as ventilation, flame spread and structural loads.

Does a manufactured home appreciate in value?

Generally, a home is a great investment. Appreciation on any home – either site-built or factory-built – is affected by the same factors: the desirability and stability of the community, supply and demand for homes in the local market, and the maintenance and upkeep of the home. When properly installed and maintained, today’s manufactured homes will appreciate the same as surrounding site-built homes.

Are there limits on where I can locate or place a manufactured home?

Many cities and towns, still relying on outdated perceptions and stereotypes of “mobile homes” have zoning regulations limiting where you can place a manufactured home. However, more and more urban and suburban governments are recognizing that today’s manufactured homes are virtually indistinguishable from site-built homes and are allowing manufactured homes to be placed in their communities.

Before purchasing a manufactured home, be sure to check the zoning regulations in the area where you want to live.

Will I be able to insure my manufactured home?

Yes. There are several insurance companies that specialize in offering insurance coverage for manufactured homes.

What kinds of financing are available for Manufactured Homes?

Just as there are choices when you buy a site-built home, there are a variety of financing options for manufactured home buyers. Down payments and loan terms are similar – 5-10 percent of the manufactured home’s sales price for a down payment and loan terms of 15-30 years.

If you are buying a home and land together, or plan to place the home on land you already own, some financial institutions offer traditional real estate mortgages with similar interest rates. If you purchase your manufactured home separately from the land on which it will be located, the home will most likely be financed as a personal property manufactured home loan, usually with a higher interest rate.

FHA-insured and the Department of Veteran Affairs – guaranteed (called FHA and VA) – loans are available to manufactured home buyers. These types of loans may offer lower interest rates or lower down payment requirements. If available in your area, they require more paperwork during the credit application and approval process and, therefore, may take longer for approval than a conventional loan.

Are manufactured homes more vulnerable to damage from tornadoes and hurricanes?

While some joke that “mobile homes attract tornadoes,” there is no meteorological or scientific basis for this theory. In fact, the explanation for the reports of damage to manufactured homes from tornadoes is quite simple: manufactured housing is largely found in rural and suburban areas where tornadoes are most likely to occur.

As for hurricanes, valuable lessons were learned from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which destroyed or damaged thousands of site-built and manufactured homes. Now, in areas prone to hurricane-force winds, the standards for manufactured homes are equivalent to or more stringent than the current regional and/or building codes for site-built homes in these high wind zones.

Are manufactured homes more susceptible to fire than site-built homes?

Manufactured homes are no more prone to fire than homes built on-site. As a matter of fact, a national fire safety study by the Foremost Insurance Company showed that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire as manufactured homes.

Fire resistance provisions of the HUD Code include strict standards for fire retardation and smoke generation in materials, large windows in bedrooms, smoke alarms and at least two exterior doors which must be separate from each other and reachable without having to pass through other doors that can be locked. Site-built homes are required to have only one exterior door and no “reachability” requirement.

Can I make repairs/renovations on a manufactured home the same way you can with a site-built home?

While you should perform minor repairs and upkeep on the home, as with any home, it is advisable to hire a professional for more extensive repairs and renovations. Your homeowner’s manual outlines maintenance requirements.