How’s that for a question? Do home buyers even need the product our industry is offering?

Yes, the country needs manufactured housing. Now more than ever. Single family home inventories are at all time lows, and prices are at all time highs. And to add a cherry to that affordable housing crisis sundae, rates are at a ten year high, and all signals point to a continuing rate increase. That makes those record high home prices seem even higher, because the payments are higher.

As we all know, manufactured housing is a more affordable alternative to traditional site built housing, so increasing access to manufactured housing makes all sorts of sense in the current economic environment, right?

Not according to some county officials in Tate County, MS.

What’s going on with mobile homes in Tate County, MS?

I’m glad you asked. In an effort to increase tax revenue anticipating growth, Tate County has restricted access to both manufactured and modular homes in the AR-1 (Agricultural Residential) zone. According to a consultant hired by the county, “manufactured homes are not taxed the same as site-built homes and depreciate in value much more drastically from year to year.” Their theory seems to be that restricting access to manufactured housing will cause home buyers to purchase site built instead, and pay more taxes.

That theory makes the assumption that the price and quality of site built housing is in line with manufactured housing.

But maybe, like I asked above, they don’t need manufactured housing? Maybe, in Tate County, MS, there is an abundance of affordable site built housing and home buyers are looking at a tremendous selection of great site built homes at a great price? Let’s look at the data and see.

According to Redfin, the median home sales price in Tate County, MS is $236,000. That’s well below the US average of $374,900, so it’s looking good so far.

The median household income in Tate County, MS, according to the US census, is $41,423. That’s also well below the US median ( $67,521). That’s not good. Based on current rates, terms, etc., a Tate county household making $41k per year can afford a $150,000 home. That’s $80,000 less than the median home sales price in the county. The typical Tate County family cannot afford, or even get close to affording, the typical Tate County home.

But wait…maybe $236,000 is the median, but there’s a lot of home inventory in that $140,000-$160,000 range, and the median family has SOME sort of option.

Nope. As of the writing of this article, in Tate County, a county with 28,000 people and 10,000 households, there are TWO homes for sale under $160,000.

What happened?

Tate County is not an anomaly. It’s facing a perfect storm of low inventory, high prices, increasing rates, and an increasingly difficult regulatory environment.

Here’s the data on home prices and price per square foot in Tate County. This is the same across the country, in counties large and small – home prices are higher than they’ve ever been, and the price per square foot is through the roof. Affordability is a HUGE issue.

And inventory? It’s the lowest it’s ever been. Just look at the grey line for 2022 – it’s nearly falling off the bottom of the graph. How can a local government think that the time to restrict access to ANY type of housing is during the period when housing is least available?

What’s the next step?

Tate County, MS is not unique in its perception of, and approach to, manufactured housing. Thousands of counties across the country are attempting to restrict access to manufactured housing, denying its residents access to a high quality, affordable home.

To fix the problem, we need to change the policy maker’s opinion of manufactured housing. Even those that support it still have a negative feelings towards it. Just look at the quote below from the Tate County Supervisor, Tony Sandridge. He’s fighting AGAINST the restrictive regulation, but even he isn’t very high on manufactured housing:

“Nobody wakes up in the morning and says ohh I want a mobile home. People do what they can afford,” Sandridge said. “I plan on them changing it [restrictive MH regulation] because we are going to fight tooth and nail.”

We know our industry makes a great product. We know our industry can help millions of Americans live a wonderful life in a beautiful home. We just need to tell them about it. We can educate policy makers until our faces turn blue, but if their constituents aren’t interested, they won’t be either. The solution is to create the demand for manufactured housing in the markets, and the lawmakers will respond.

For example, if 70% of the residents of Tate County, MS wanted to live in a manufactured home, do you think there would be legislation restricting access to MH? Of course not. We need to make all prospective home buyers aware of how amazing a manufactured home is, and the policy makers will follow.

Awareness comes from marketing. And the good news? We have FREE resources to help with your marketing. Click the link below to read all of our free marking articles to help you reach your markets and tell prospective home buyers how amazing your homes are.

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