Economic woes mean manufactured home sales spike

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News 14 Carolina
By: Bob Costner
September 7, 2010

GREENSBORO - The economy is helping to fuel a boom in the sales of modular and manufactured homes.

Patricia Hutchins' family moved into their first new home this summer.

"It's been a little over a month," said Hutchins. "We've really enjoyed it."

They shopped around for a traditional home, then looked at modulars.

"My husband is in construction. So he did some investigating on what type of materials were used," said Hutchins. "He said, surprisingly, that the materials were the same as stick-built."

And, the price was right.

"Literally we pay half of what we would have paid per month, if we had gone with a stick-built home," said Hutchins.

"People can afford $100,000 a lot better than they can $200,000 and we've got homes that start as little as $29,000," said Billy Peeples, the General Manager of Oakwood Homes in Greensboro.

That's reflected in sales.

"Since last year, we're up 28 percent," said Peeples.

Peeples says that the majority of their sales -- some 60 percent -- are modular homes. The rest is made up of traditional manufactured or mobile homes.

Economists say the spike in modular homes sales isn't a surprise.

"When the economy's weak, when incomes fall, certain products do pretty well," said Dr. Andrew Brod, with the Bryan School of Business at UNCG. "In that environment, it's not that surprising to see manufactured and modular housing do well, it's a lower priced alternative."

The experts say high-tech advances in appliance efficiency, insulation and even the fit of modular homes make them more cost effective to live in, in the long run.

Hutchins says her electric bill is about a quarter of what it was in her older rental home, which was smaller.

Modular homes are built in a factory, in several sections, and then are assembled on site. Hutchins' home was ready in less than a month.

"We paid far less for the modular home and we got far more square feet," she said.

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