Known also as mobile homes or house trailers, manufactured housing units are built in a factory, transported to sites, and installed. In 2000 one in every six single-family housing starts nationally were manufactured homes, compared to just two percent in 1950. Eight percent of the U.S. population resided in this unsubsidized form of affordable housing, which had roughly half the construction cost of site-built housing. Almost two-thirds of new units were located on private property, with the remainder in land-lease communities. Sixty-five percent of the 273,000 new manufactured housing units in 2000 were located in the South, with 12,300 located in South Carolina.
With almost one of every five households residing in manufactured homes, South Carolina led the nation with the largest percentage of its citizens living in manufactured housing. The 2000 census found 355,499 South Carolinians living in manufactured housing, an increase of about seventeen percent since 1990. Seventy percent were owner occupied, compared to eighty-three percent of single-family housing. Sixty-two percent of households were married, with seventy percent having two to four occupants. Approximately fifteen percent graduated from college, and twenty-six percent had some college education. Roughly nine of ten households used their homes as their primary residences, with seven percent used as second homes.
The primary attraction of manufactured housing was cost. Construction savings were achieved due to mass-production techniques, large-quantity purchase of materials, and the hiring of nonunionized labor. Manufactured housing has been criticized for negatively affecting neighborhood property values and for not appreciating in value. As a result of a 1976 federal Housing and Urban Development code, however, overall quality of manufactured housing has steadily increased, and several national studies have documented that manufactured homes appreciate in value, although not as much as site-built homes. Many manufactured-housing communities followed design regulations similar to conventional subdivisions; some manufacturers had housing prototypes that included steeper roof pitches and two levels. About seventy percent of new units were multisectional and might include such amenities as vaulted ceilings, attached garages, fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, or Sheetrock walls. In South Carolina, manufactured housing was taxed as real property, with assessors using an array of valuation criteria for assessment purposes.
In the early twenty-first century the future of manufactured housing nationally and in South Carolina was bright. Whereas loans for these types of housing were historically difficult to obtain because they were treated more like vehicle loans, federally insured and conventional long-term mortgage programs similar to those for single-family, site-built housing became available. Counties and municipalities were developing standards that encouraged quality manufactured housing and subdivisions, including regulations for minimum unit size, exterior materials, roof pitch, and other zoning and land-development standards.
“Manufactured Housing Now.” Urban Land (January 1996): 4–48.
Sanders, Welford. Manufactured Housing: Regulation, Design Innovations, and Development Options. Chicago: American Planning Association, 1998.
Van Vliet, Willem, ed. The Encyclopedia of Housing. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1998.