A Review of Barriers to Greater Use of Manufactured Housing for Entry-Level Homeownership

Chris Herbert, Alexander Hermann, Daniel McCue, Chadwick Reed

Manufactured housing holds promise as an affordable form of housing that could expand homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income households. This report reviews the available literature to assess the principal barriers to greater adoption of manufactured housing, including lingering negative perceptions of the quality of the homes despite notable improvements in quality over time; zoning and other land use regulations that limit the ability to site these homes in many communities; market conditions that erode the cost advantage of manufactured homes; the unique nature of the supply chain for these homes that makes it difficult for consumers to obtain homes in many urban areas; and limits on access to affordable financing. The findings point to the need for multipronged efforts to overcome these barriers, given their interrelated nature. An assessment of market conditions at the county level identifies hundreds of counties where manufactured housing has great potential to provide affordable housing options for millions of renters who represent potential homebuyers, including a number of large urban counties where these homes are now relatively rare.