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Factory-Built Homes Appreciate
Fri 04/01/05 08:23:48 am
by LEN BONIFIELD

Last week's column quoted industry leaders about why they felt a factory-built home might depreciate. Let me dispel the myth that all factory-built homes depreciate. This is no more a fact than saying all site-built homes appreciate. There are many factors that determine the selling price of your factory-built home.

A nationally recognized consultant who writes frequently on our industry wrote: "If you go to Natalie Estates in Stuart and hundreds of other good communities in Florida, you will find 1970's parks where housing has appreciated greatly. California is another classic example of selling prices several times more than they sold for originally."

An association executive wrote: "As with all real estate, location and maintenance of the home play a huge role in determining the rate and extent of appreciation. In a community setting, location equates to amenities, location in the state, proximity to rivers, lakes coastlines, etc. In most average communities, homes that are 25 to 30 years old can be found selling for $15,000 to $30,000, when they sold new for under $10,000. It's not much, but it is some, appreciation. A recent newspaper article related a manufactured home for sale for more than $250,000 in Broward County. It is common to see 30-plus-yearold homes sell for more than $100,000 in the Fort Myers area."

Let me give you an example. My father purchased a park model around 1964 in the Fort Myers Beach area. He lived in that home until he passed away in 1995. He paid about $5,000 for 400 square feet of living space. Over the years he added a screen room and a small room for an apartment-sized washer and dryer. He had a roof-over. His lot rent in a community without any amenities to speak of was higher than my lot rent in a five-star community in the Lakeland area. That house sold for $18,000 in 1995. While you can't say the profits were huge the small house they lived in for 30 years did sell for considerably more than they paid. According to the gloom and doom experts in our industry he should have had to walk away and abandon his home.

Why did his home appreciate? Location in Fort Myers Beach was certainly a factor. The home had been well maintained with a few improvements. It was ideal for the couple from Wisconsin looking for a nice home, near the beach, in the Sunshine State during those winter months. Location, location location plays a major role in pricing of a home.

There are communities consisting of primarily older singlewides, with prices ranging from $20,000 to $70,000. It is almost a sure bet that if someone builds a doublewide at $100,000 or more in the middle of those singlewides it probably won't appreciate.

There was a three-bedroom home in a large manufactured home community that was purchased in 1996 for $87,000, and while the home was well maintained there were no major improvements. It sold in 2003 for $99,700.

Let's analyze what some of the factors are that would impact the value of your home.

  • The community you live in, or on privately owned land, where your home is considered real estate, not a mobile home.

  • What are the amenities of your community? How well is it maintained?

  • If you are in a land-lease community how does the lot rent compare with other communities? How do they compare with apartment or condo rentals?

  • What will be the new market rent required for the new owner?

  • How old is your home? Homes built post 1995 because of the new HUD Code construction requirements will increase the value.

  • How well has your home been maintained?

  • What is the supply and demand in your area? Are new homes available and how are they priced in comparison to your home?

    The perception that all factorybuilt homes depreciate is a myth. Yes, some will, but many will sell for more than the original sale price. Living in Florida is a huge advantage to us. We have two very strong associations (FMO & FMHA) working to improve factory-built housing. We have State Law, Chapter 723, that provides the best protection in the nation for people living in land-lease communities.

    Send questions or comments to Len Bonifield, 2914 Dollar Bonnet Lane, Lakeland, FL. 33810-2910. Or e-mail to
    [email protected] or fax to 863-853-8023.
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