Author Archives: Patrick Revere

Home for Sale

Tips for the New Home Buyer

tips-for-buying-a-mobile-homeIf you’re looking to purchase a manufactured home, whether it’s new or previously owned, in a community or on private land, there are a few things that people with experience want you to know.

Do your research. When a make, model or design is suggested, find out about the competitors. This holds true, too, for associated services, like financing, transport or setup.

For a previously lived in home, check the roof, water heater and furnace – these are expensive components to replace, and you should know that there is significant life left in them at the time you’re looking to purchase.

Think about drywall versus wall board. Step heavily on high-traffic areas to ensure the floor is solid. Check windows for leaks. Check skirting for holes and moisture underneath the home. None of this is very pleasurable, but all of it is necessary.

Being your own advocate is important.

Maralee Dougherty, of Leesburg, Fla., recently lost her husband and moved to a new home in a new community. She moved to a resident-owned community, so she could own the land beneath the home, and to a home that was a bit smaller in size. Beyond the expanded amenities in the new community, Hawthorne at Leesburg, Dougherty said the home “showed very well”, and that an inspector and friendly contractor helped assure her of the value.

The exterior of a new Champion home

“It’s very open,” Dougherty said of the new home. “The living and dining rooms are one big L-shape. A lot of the more expensive stuff has been replaced, including roof, windows and siding. There also was new laminate floors. Everything the previous owners had done, they seem to have bought the best.”

It’s always best that you watch for problems, or have someone you can trust do it for you.

David Murphy, of Las Vegas, Nev., said he prefers to live in an all-ages community as opposed to a senior park, and that he’s mindful of staying above flood level to help protect his investment.

“I like new-from-the factory,” Murphy said. “It is vital that the roof is sealed and taken care of. The home would be no good if it leaks on the beams… then the heat and AC need to be working well, with plumbing up to date and electrical up to date.”

On the more pleasurable side, every home shopper has a unique interest in amenities.

Pick your package

Bruce Thelen is director of sales and development for Champion Homes, one of the largest

The interior of this Champion home shows the design of the kitchen area has been a central focus for the maker.

makers in the market. He has detailed what Champion and its product designers have implemented in the way of customer demand.

“Our consumers want to see the features and color pallets and design elements that they see on HGTV, and that they see in higher price stick built homes,” Thelen said.  “We spend a lot of time figuring out features and colors that go into our homes while maintaining the price points everyone is accustomed to in our industry.”

Pink remains a popular color in Florida. Darker tones play well in the Midwest and Great Lakes, while much of the rest of the country is going to lighter brown-beige and off-white tones.

“We try to offer the consumer as much choice as possible,” Thelen said. “There are two ways we do that. One is in the actual design of the house. We create a ‘family of homes’, focusing on the living area, kitchen and bath. We perfect those as much as we can, and then build the remainder of the house around it in multiple dimensions.

The dining and main living area in a new Champion home.

“Maybe it goes from a three- to four-bedroom, or turns a 56-foot house into a 60-foot house,” he said. “We can offer the consumer this variation, along with three different bathroom designs and maybe certain cabinets, varying roof pitch or an optional dormer.”

Champion customers want to see built-in components – architectural designs that look somewhat like free-standing residential furniture. For instance, a kitchen island that uses table legs on one side rather than a full cabinet, or a fixed computer desk, or storage cubes in an entry “mud” room.

Customers want deep, stainless steel farmer sinks, “rainfall” showerheads, wide ceramic showers with no tub, and bright-open layouts.

And overall home design, inside and out.

“A cleaner and streamline look,” Thelen said. “We’ve really followed that trend. It varies somewhat by region, but it’s been more distinct in recent years.”

Legislative Update

Language to Preserve Lending for Manufactured Housing Passes House Appropriations Committee

Legislative language that would preserve lending for manufactured homes cleared another important hurdle, passing the House Appropriations Committee.

In March, Rep. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., along with 32 other members of the House, sent a letter to the appropriations committee imploring lawmakers to remove manufactured housing as a class from the increased protections designed by the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau.

“Since the CFPB’s Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (‘high-cost’) rules consider costs as a percentage of a loan, smaller loans, like manufactured home loans, often violate points and fee caps,” the letter stated. “Because of the resulting high-cost designation, many lenders have stopped making manufactured housing loans. It is crucial that the definition of high-cost loans is modified so that manufactured housing loans are not unfairly swept under the high-cost designation simply due to their size.”

Census data shows that nearly 20 million people in the U.S. live in manufactured homes.

The bill, H.R. 1699 – “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing”, resides in $20.2 billion Financial Services Appropriations bill that provides annual funding structure for the departments of Treasury and Judiciary, the IRS, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other related agencies.

The language will need to pass the full House before moving to the Senate and White House before coming law.

In a prepared statement, the Manufactured Housing Institute offered its support of the efforts.

“The successful inclusion of the language demonstrates positive momentum and follows inclusion of the language in the Financial CHOICE Act, financial reform legislation that passed the House of Representatives earlier this month,” the statement read in part.

MHI is the national trade organization representing the factory-built housing industry.

High Tech Home Shopping

Clayton Launches Home Previewer® Augmented Reality Mobile App

National homebuilder introduces new app with enhanced interactive functionality for homebuyers

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (July 10, 2017) — New home shoppers can now use augmented reality to visualize what their potential new home may look like on their land before they break ground thanks to the release of an innovative new app.  Clayton, a Berkshire Hathaway company and one of America’s largest homebuilders, announces the release of Home Previewer®, an iPhone® compatible app that allows shoppers to envision what a home may look like in 3D on their future home site.  The free app is available for download from the App Store®.

Clayton today launched its augmented reality home viewer.

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8011651-clayton-launches-home-previewer-mobile-app/

“We’re pleased to be one of the first builders to introduce augmented reality to the digital home buying journey,” said Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Homes. “Our homes now offer custom designs, innovative features and energy efficient upgrades. We are committed to being a leader in innovation for the home building community and will continue to develop the kind of technology that will support our customers throughout the experience.”

The Home Previewer® app, created by Boulder, Colorado ad agency Made, lets users digitally anchor a home model from a list of model choices to the future home location using augmented reality to make it appear as if it is actually there. Once the virtual home is anchored, the user can walk up to and around the 3D rendered image to view it from different angles on its future site. Users also have the capability to take pictures of the house in its physical setting and share them with friends and family.

Clayton intends to introduce a wide variety of digital tools that will be released in the upcoming year.  These tools aim to aid customers as they visit local home centers and tour homes on location with their mobile devices on hand, while making the home shopping experience fun, personal and informative. Home Previewer™ is the first mobile app of its kind in the manufactured home building industry. This is Clayton’s second mobile app offered to date, following the 2015 release of MyMobi Home Finder®, an application that shows prospective homebuyers the location and pricing of homes for sale so they can select which homes they would like to visit in person.

“We believe everyone should be able to have a beautiful, affordable slice of the world to call their own,” said Clayton.  “We see interactive digital tools like this Home Previewer® app as one way to deliver on extraordinary experiences for our customers every day.  We want our homebuyers to feel confident about the smart choice they’re making.”

Planned Communities’ Designed

The second installment in a two-part contribution to MHVillage by Equity Lifestyle Properties.

Stumping the Professionals

With so many advanced mathematical formulas and neat patterns for manufactured home communities, you’d think professional planners in other housing sectors could easily replicate a neighborhood design and get the same results.

They get close, Allan D. Wallis writes in his book “Wheel Estate”, but haven’t figured out how to create the strong neighborhood bonds and sense of community of a well-managed and thriving manufactured home community.

Planner Robert Bair, Jr., one of the authors of “Mobile Home Parks and Comprehensive Community Planning” , stated that mobile home communities might be the last genuine communities in America.

 

Manufactured home communities develop a close-knit neighborliness and camaraderie that is rarely witnessed in gated housing communities and planned suburbs. Simply put, residents in gated communities rarely talk to their neighbors. A third of homeowners say they haven’t met their closest neighbor and 20 percent don’t know their neighbor’s name.

Planners of the modern gated communities, with 4,000 square foot site-built homes, have been trying for decades to get the same results witnessed in manufactured home communities. They have mimicked a manufactured home community’s layout, offered the same amenities, and even used similar lot designs, but still have yet to figure how to foster the social interaction seen in a manufactured home communities.

Hillcrest community Clearwater, Fla.

Of course, community planners can only do so much.

The friendliness and neighborhood cohesiveness that forms so naturally within manufactured home communities says a lot about the people living in factory-built housing.

Popular Manufactured Home Community Designs

Community planners use formulas and algorithms to determine the layout of a manufactured home community. Lot size and home placement is especially important to create a thriving community. Experts have found a few home layouts that work well for manufactured home communities and most of us will recognize them.

Herringbone

The Herringbone design at Island Vista Estates in Fort Myers, Fla.

A community laid out in a herringbone design uses diagonal lots to create a cohesive community that maximizes land use. The herringbone is one of the most popular manufactured home community layouts in the U.S. but it isn’t in the top slot.

Perpendicular

The most common community design is the perpendicular layout. Homes are simply placed side by side. This allows for a front and back yard and allows one end of the home to face the road. The staggered perpendicular layout is similar but the homes are placed on opposite sides of the lots.

Zero-lot Line

The zero-lot line is used less often than herringbone or perpendicular layouts. This design places the home’s backdoor on the very edge of the lot to create a larger front yard, but only a walkway in the back. This design is great for communities that have awesome views such as a pond or beach.

Parallel

A parallel layout places the home’s front facing the road. This placement allows for large lots but requires the most acreage.

The Muramota Cluster

Muramoto Cluster

The Muramoto cluster design is unique. George Muramoto was a popular architect and consultant for manufactured home communities in the 1950s. He created a park design that places four homes within a cluster that share a single driveway. To the unknowing, the community may look scattered and unplanned, but every home is placed with intention. The pattern only reveals itself from above.

 

ELS writer Crystal Adkins has authored more than 500 articles about manufactured housing and has been featured on BobVila.com and USA Today.

Tiny House versus Park Model

There’s a lot of talk about tiny homes and how they relate to other types of housing.

It can get confusing, we’ve found, to compare and contrast tiny homes versus the park model home, for instance… particularly when you learn that definitions change with how the sun shines, and something to do, too, with grandma’s meatloaf.

Seriously, stick with us here.

 

Park Model

A regulated temporary living space designed for an RV park setting:

  • 399 or fewer square feet of living space (Fla. is 499 sf)
  • If on wheels and a chassis, can be towed on public streets, roads, highways
  • Cannot be bought with mortgage loan
  • Requires registration, tags and insurance like a vehicle
  • Ideal for RV park or blended RV/mobile home park
  • Purchase from maker for ease of registration, travel safety
  • Retail from $20,000 to $140,000 higher end

Curt Yoder is co-owner of Kropf Industries Inc., a Goshen, Ind. company that makes Park Models.

“What we sell is destination camping,” Yoder said. “We do not promote our units in any way to

Island Series Park Model

Kropf Park Model

be lived in. We’re strictly recreational use.”

On the other hand, tiny houses are primarily looked at as residences, even if second residences or guest houses, and are less-so regarded as a getaway property, like the RV or Park Home.

The problem with tiny homes as a primary residence is that many local ordinances and codes prohibit certain sizes and residential placement. If allowed, they’re typically permitted as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) for the rear or side of a property.

A tiny house on rural land most often is less challenging, but requirements exist in all but the rarest scenario.

“This makes some of the tiny home builders want to register as an RV, but then they want to say it’s lived in rather than seasonal, and that becomes the ticking point,” Yoder said.

“Similarly, over the years, we’ve had manufactured home dealers want to sell park models,” he added. “You’re trying to sell a home next to a recreational vehicle, and it doesn’t work out that well.”

Tiny House

A lifestyle concept embodied by a small home that can fit an MH community:

  • 400 to 999 square feet of livable indoor floor space
  • Some can be smaller dependent on siting and local regulations
  • Anything smaller than 200 square feet is a shed
  • Larger tiny home dimensions cannot be towed for recreation on public spaces
  • Larger units can be hauled, if permitting and consumer/public protection is in place
  • If on permanent foundation, can be primary residence
  • Difficult to finance with mortgage loan, but possible
  • No vehicle registration, tags or insurance
  • Can be insured as personal property (chattel)
  • Ideal for private land, back property guest home
  • With the skills, you can build it yourself
  • Cost differs on preference, from $8,000 self-built to the luxurious limit (Think Italian marble everywhere)
Texas Tiny Home

From HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters.

Shawn Fuller is sales manager at Tiny House Outlet, a division of Legacy Housing.

“Our tiny house stuff has just run away. It’s insane. I’ve never been on a wave like I’ve got surging now,” Fuller said.

Fuller has several models of tiny homes, and has developed an app that allows a customer to

choose features and specifications, get financing, and have the home delivered all on the handheld device.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about tiny homes,” Fuller said. “A true tiny home has to be less than 399 square feet. If it’s bigger, you trigger all the federal guidelines on home construction. The biggest difference between a tiny home and true park model… I don’t know any park model manufacturer that’s not building to ANSI code.

“The only manufacturer I know of that’s building a tiny home with no code is Legacy, and that’s our product out of Commerce, Texas,” Fuller said.

Tiny House Show Colorado

Tiny Home Jamboree, Colorado Springs in August 2015.

What’s more

The dividing line in an odd way – because it works in both directions – is 400 square feet. In this sense, the definition changes as much as it does with square footage depending on how the home is being used and where it’s placed.

The “on wheels” consideration for tiny homes is a big divider – a tiny home on wheels (THOW) is typically going to be 399 square feet or less, sometimes much less.

“If you get much bigger than 20-30 feet long, you need a one-ton truck to move it, and not too

Tiny House on private land

“Weelhouse” from Tiny House Northeast.

many people want to do that,” Isa Bauer, owner of Tiny House Northeast, said. “You’re talking about a group of people who want to live in this home year-round for the sake of a smaller carbon footprint, and that doesn’t fit well if you’re using a giant truck to haul the home.”

If a tiny home is fewer than 200 square feet and stays put, which many are, a predominant number of municipalities and other local governments will consider the structure a shed, and therefore unregulated.

This is the backyard grandma house, the meditation hut, the art center, the kid playhouse. You can plug in a TV, radio or computer, run a small AC or heater, and have a desk and bed, but likely will be without plumbing and running water.

The Final Word

Back to the direction of sun and grandma’s meatloaf.

Didn’t think we’d forget, did you?

Yes, Yoder said his designers, builders and inspectors subscribe to what he calls the “only true way to measure a park model”.

“When sun is at high noon, anything that casts a shadow off the home, including overhang and what else, is measured, and those are your dimensions,” Yoder said.

And Fuller, in comparing his tiny homes to the industry – It’s a matter of giving the customer what they want… Price point and a level of quality.

“The start of the whole tiny home thing was like grandma’s meatloaf,” Fuller said. “You don’t know what’s in it, but we know it’s good. We love to eat it. My tiny homes are like the Cracker Barrel meatloaf. It’s good, and we like to eat it, but it’s not really like grandma’s.

“Not everyone can get grandma’s meatloaf,” Fuller said.

“Grandma’s meatloaf” tiny home is available from Fuller at $25,000. The Kropf Island Series Park Model can be purchased for $54,000, depending on the retail outlet, and the “Weelhouse” from Tiny House Northeast is $35,000.

Affordable Housing Update

National Nonprofit partners to expand efforts in Texas

Nonprofit organization Texas Community Builders, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Business and Community Lenders (BCL) of Texas, is demonstrating the potential of delivering affordable, energy-efficient housing in Texas’ rural communities with factory built housing through a partnership with Next Step Homes, LLC and Clayton Homes.

A model home in La Grange, Texas, will serve as an example of what is possible for teachers, first responders, families and individuals of moderate income levels, and more searching for higher value, lower cost homeownership opportunities to promote asset building.

Rosa Ríos Valdez, CEO of Texas Community Builders, said, “We are proud to work with our partners to offer a model for affordable, energy-efficient housing that will be replicable in communities across Texas.”

City officials, economic developers, and members of the public will be invited to an open house and tour of this model home to explore the future of sustainable housing. An open house for home buyers and the public will be held on Saturday, July 8, with a second event for developers, real estate professionals, and officials on Friday, July 21.

Please visit nextstephometour.eventbrite.com to RSVP for the July 21 event, or nextstepopenhouse.eventbrite.com to reserve a spot for the public event.

Pricing for 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes starts from $149,000, including the land. Homes are highly customizable with optional features and a choice of layouts, and are built on a permanent foundation to ENERGY STAR® standards. Homes will be available for purchase or order as early as August 2017.

“This is a great opportunity to show the benefits of factory-built home,” said Stacey Epperson, president and founder of Next Step. “Working with Texas Community Builders, we hope to provide sustainable homeownership opportunities for more hard working Texas families.”