George Allen / EducateMHC Blog Mobile Home & Land Lease Community Advocate & Expert

February 22, 2024

Here’s the 400-Square-Foot Subdivision House

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 1:15 pm

Blog Posting # 781, Copyright 23 February 2024. EducateMHC

Know This! HUD-Code manufactured housing (‘MH’) is federally-regulated, performance-based, affordable, attainable factory-built housing! And land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities & ‘mobile home parks’) comprise the commercial real estate (‘CRE’) component of MH! And EducateMHC is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and information resource for these two business models. Access EducateMHC via (317) 881-3815; email:, & visit to order Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry. This is the sole MH-focused professional property management text in print today! And SWAN SONG is a history of land lease communities & official record of annual MH production totals since 1955; and my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven – describes personal combat adventures in Vietnam as a USMC lieutenant, a 45 year entrepreneur business career in MH & community ownership & management, and as an author & freelance consultant.

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master, is the only emeritus member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (’MHI’), a founding board member of MHI’s National Communities Council (NCC’) division, an RV/MH Hall of Fam enshrinee, MHInsider editor at large & columnist, Vietnam combat veteran & retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines, as well as author/editor of 20 nonfiction books & chapbooks re MH, communities, business management & prayer.

Here’s the 400-Square-Foot Subdivision House

This past Sunday (18 February 2024) the New York Times, in its’ Sunday Business section, featured a lead article titled ‘The Great Compression’, subtitled: ‘Thanks to soaring housing prices, the era of the 400-square-foot subdivision house is upon us’, penned by Connor Dougherty.

My first thought, before even reading the lengthy article, was: ‘400 square feet? Why that’s HUD-Code manufactured housing territory! How is this a new concept (i.e. 400 square feet subdivision house), let alone different from and or similar to our type factory-built housing already in place?’ Well, here’s some of what I learned from that New York Times feature.

“Several colliding trends – economic, demographic and regulatory – have made smaller units…the future of American housing, or at least a more significant part of it. Over the past decade, as the cost of housing exploded, home builders have methodically nipped their dwellings to keep prices in reach of buyers. The downsizing accelerated last year, when the interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage reached a two-decade high, just shy of 8 percent.”

“The shift is a response to conditions that are found in cities across America: Neighborhoods that used to be affordable are being gentrified, while new condominiums and subdivisions mostly target the upper end of the market, endangering the supply of ‘starter homes’ in reach of first-time buyers.”

So, what are housing designers and builders doing to ensure this ‘400-square-foot subdivision house’ concept continues to materialize? Some are designed and built as two-story homes. And “Builders are substituting side yards for backyards, kitchen bars for dining rooms, even shared yards.”

So, where did the writer of this article find ‘400-square-foot subdivision homes’? In Redmond, OR, and Elm Trails in San Antonio, TX. There was no mention of Tiny Houses until the final paragraph of this feature.

All this got me to thinking.

The model post-WWII suburb in Levittown, NY, featured 750 square foot houses. Today, that size has increased to 2200 square feet – to accommodate families with three children. And now, moving further into the 21st Century, we’re reading, seeing and hearing of 400 – 900 square foot homes, for empty nesters, divorcees, and couples without children. Interestingly, these ‘small footprint’ homes are oft two stories with one car driveways out front. Oh, and get this, in many instances these 20’ X 20’ houses feature 20’ X 20’ attached garages – which double as ‘family rooms’ and gathering places for one’s neighbors.

Where is the HUD-Code manufactured home, especially the CrossMod design in this discussion? It’s simply not present. Why? IMHO, this is what our industry and realty asset class leaders should be discussing – at their meeting earlier this week in Amelia Island, FL. Was that the case? Not that I’ve heard. Someone want to tell me differently? Do so via

On a Related but Different Matter: $

Previous paragraphs described a whole new type of housing (@ 400 square feet) apparently intended to compete with HUD-Code manufactured housing – by size and cost per unit. However, what was not covered in those same paragraphs was the continuing scarcity of personal property financing (a.k.a. chattel capital) for ‘home only’ mortgages on new manufactured homes sited in land lease communities nationwide.


The RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2024 will be inducted at RV/MH Foundation’s annual banquet on Monday evening, 19 August 2024, in Elkhart, IN. Will you be present? I will! Sure hope you decide to be among the crème de la crème of the manufactured housing and recreational vehicle industries that day and night! For more information, visit their website or phone (574) 293-2344.

If you haven’t been to the RV/MH Hall of Fame facility during the past few years, you need to go. Why? Because now, besides the popular RV exhibit hall, the MH exhibit hall is now open to visitors – and it’s well worth touring!

Powered by WordPress