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Recently I was asked to write an article for the local paper
here in Sussex County Delaware. After I finished it occurred to
me that this same type of article probably applies to most of
the nation. We all have to deal with discriminatory zoning, pre
conceived notions about "trailers", and probably have
some very nice developments of manufactured housing that does
not deserve this attitude. See if this sounds like where you live.
Manufactured Housing In Sussex
By George Porter
According to the Delaware State Housing Authority in 1993 there
were 914 new manufactured houses titled in Sussex County or 46%
of all new single family housing in the County that year. Manufactured
Housing is big business in Sussex and probably always will be.
Why?, because people like it. 1994 is expecting a growth of at
least 25% more than last year in spite of the roadblocks placed
in our path by the county government.
Did you know that in order to place a manufactured home on its
own land in an AR zoned area the law requires a minimum of 5 acres!,
with conventional housing you only need 1/2 acre. The manufactured
home also must apply for a variance and have a hearing before
the Zoning Board to determine if its' placement will adversely
affect the surrounding property.
In spite of this the industry is doing quite well. We are providing
affordable housing for nearly halve of the citizens and are developing
new areas for our customers to place their homes. The rental community
accommodates the majority our homes and Sussex county has some
of the finest in the United States. The Long Neck and Rehoboth
area contains communities with deep water boat slips, multiple
pools, restaurants, boardwalks, fishing piers, miniature golf,
shuffle board and a church. There are plans to soon build a community
with an 18 hole championship golf course in the near future.
Why are these homes so popular?, because they are attractive,
comfortable and affordable. They are very economical to heat and
cool and provide the perfect retirement home. As you well know
southern Delaware is very popular with retires and this home fills
their needs quite nicely. According to the National Board of Realtors
the average new single family home in the U.S. costs around $105,000.
Here in Sussex this figure is much higher in eastern Sussex and
just slightly lower in western Sussex. The median price of a new
Manufactured home is $25,000, 19% cost more than $40,000. Locally
the prices are a little more in the east and a little less in
the western halve of the county.
The business is doing well all over the country. As the Wall Street
Journal stated in a February 18, 1993 editorial, "manufactured
housing is fully a match for traditional 'sticks and bricks' construction
on-site" and that "manufactured housing can be a vital
part of putting an affordable roof over peoples heads."
Putting a roof over the head of people is what this industry does
best and given the chance can be a real asset to the citizens
For instance, we tax-payers are the ones that build public housing.
If we didn't build them out of "sticks and bricks" we
could house approximately 4 times more people for the same money
or, we could house the same people for 1/4 the cost using manufactured
housing. This is being done in many other states and it works
for them, why not here?
The ladder to home ownership is missing a few rungs. In order
to buy a conventional home in Sussex you need a down payment,
closing costs, application and appraisal fees, legal fees, and
the ability to make the payments.
In a best case scenario with 5% down plus all those other fees
you will probably need at least $10,000 in cash for settlement
on an $80,000 to $90,000 home and payments of around $600/month
for 30 years.
If you purchased a new single section manufactured home of approximately
950 square feet you would need about $2700 cash (10% dn. + titling)
and payments of about $250/month for 15 years. The conventional
home will probably be bigger and will not have lot rent BUT many
more people can qualify for the manufactured home and can move
in and start building equity. You can't build equity in an apartment
and you cant save the money very easily for a down payment when
you are paying apartment rent. You are also not establishing the
same credit rating paying apartment rent as you are when you are
building equity in a manufactured home. If you do decide to purchase
a conventional home the equity and your performance on the manufactured
housing loan will probably be what makes the move possible. Manufactured
housing could be the best friend conventional real estate ever
had, it provides the missing rungs in the ladder.
On the other hand you might not want those bigger investments.
Both of the adults in a young family might not have to be employed
to make the house payments and maybe one of the parents could
stay home and raise the children. Children that can be raised
by their own parents, you would have to think that would be a
major contribution to both the parents and the children. Affordable
manufactured housing goes a long way toward making that possible.
The old time trailer is long gone and the manufactured home of
today is on a par with anything available to the citizens of Sussex,