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

January 31, 2024

Year 2023. A Lousy Year for You too?

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 9:05 am

Blog Posting # 778, Copyright 2 February 2024. EducateMHC

Parallel Perspectives. 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 (‘CRD’) component of MH! Educate MHC is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and text resource for these two related business models. Research EducateMHC via (317) 881-3815; email:, or visit, to order Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry. This is the sole MH-focused professional property management text in print today! 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 and community ownership/management, and life 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 Fame enshrinee, Vietnam veteran & retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines, as well  as author/editor of 20 books & chapbooks re MH, communities, business management & prayer.

Year 2023. A Lousy Year for You too?

By the time you read this blog posting Friday or Saturday (2 or 3 February 2024), the Institute for Building Technology & Safety (‘IBTS’) – HUD’s scorekeeper for manufactured housing production, will have reported the MH production level for December 2023. At that point I’ll add their data point to the year to date (‘YTD’) figure MHI, MHARR & EducateMHC already know, then let YOU know, via our monthly MH production & stock market report, just where we wound up for year 2023. My guess today is we’ll be roughly 22 percent below where we were this time last year, likely around 95,000 new MHs. That’s DOWN from 112,886 new HUD-Code homes produced during year 2022. A lousy year for MH!

How will our MH total compare with our sister industry, recreational vehicles? Well, the RV industry, this past week, announced their year 2023 production total of RVs to be at 313,000 units, DOWN 36.5 percent from where they were the year before. So MH is not the only industry in a free fall right now. A lousy year for RVs!

Yes, discouraging year end results for both industries! Prospects for improvement during year 2024? As a perennial optimist I’d like to think so; but as a realist, I think not. Why? This is a presidential election year, and given the present uncertain state of our national economy, I think both industries will be exceedingly fortunate if they can match their respective year end totals in 2024 with those in 2023; no better, no worse. Next week’s blog posting will contain the year end MH production total for year 2023.

Anecdotally, there’s an urban legend from years past (i.e. post 1972 when RV/MH Hall of Fame was founded), that the two pairs of letters, ‘MH’ & ‘RV’, would be featured in a sequence indicating which industry was enjoying the most production success at the time, e.g. MH/RV Hall of Fame or RV/MH Hall of Fame. However, as I research and pen the history of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, I’ve been able to document that fable. Hmm. But it does cause one to wonder: Perhaps it should it be the MH/RV Hall of Fame for a while’


Well the online edition of ‘Visions in Leisure & Business’ is available for you to read! Simply visit There you’ll find a whole series of articles focused on various aspects of recreational vehicles. As you likely know, from past blog postings during 2023 I researched and wrote ‘RVs as Affordable Housing’ for this academic journal. And Al Hesselbart, retired historian of the RV/MH Hall of Fame penned a brief history of the RV industry. For those with business interest in recreational vehicles, I’m confident you’ll find this to be an informative and helpful tour of our sister industry.

5Barriers for Entry-level MHomeownership

Were you part of the buzz last week when Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (‘JCHS’) published their new study titled ‘Five Barriers to Greater Use of Manufactured Housing for entry-level Homeownership’? It was hard to miss, as everyone was talking about its’ content and possible influence on HUD-Code manufactured housing and land lease community development. Here’s a brief summary of the content (For more, go to

Introductory paragraph. “The sharp rise in home prices and interest rates over the last few years has pushed homeownership out of reach for millions of renters, as documented in our ‘State of the Nation’s Housing 2023 Report.’ Under these conditions, it is more important than ever that affordable homes are available for entry-level homeownership. Manufactured housing offers just that, thanks to lower production costs; indeed, the construction cost of a basic single-section manufactured home is roughly 35 percent that of a comparable site-built home. While the savings for larger homes is smaller, it is still significant, with a double-section home costing 60 percent, and a CrossMod home (which most closely resembles site-built housing) costing 73 percent of comparable site-built homes.”

Parenthetically, while I see and kinda understand the industry’s aggressive marketing of CrossMod homes; until we document and publish the actual number of such units produced year-by-year, I think we’re guilty of ‘gaslighting’ prospective home-buyers about the alleged popularity of this line of new homes. *1

OK, here’re the barriers to greater use of MHs for entry-level homeownership:

“Negative Perceptions of Manufactured Home Quality.” Pre-HUD homes (i.e. pre 1974) continue to taint MH public perception, while contemporary new MHs are akin to site-built homes. Edit: How do we, as an industry, escape the grim reality of economically-challenged homebuyers and renters having ‘nowhere else to go & live’, other than to become homeless?

“Restrictive Zoning and Land Use Regulation.”  As an industry we are ‘so used to’ NIMBY, LULU, & BANANA.*2 Even state laws preventing outfight exclusion of manufactured housing are oft burdened with other barriers, e.g. roof pitch, foundation heights, site sizes, setback requirements, and more. Edit. How many in our industry live in manufactured homes?

“Market Conditions.” While ameliorating restrictive zoning & land use regulations is vital, favorable market conditions like lower land costs, lower density development, and lower household incomes are equally important. That’s why the nature of local housing markets is so critical to the development of raw land into land lease communities and scattered site building.

Edit. Is our local housing market amenable to affordable housing of all types, especially MH?

“A Unique & Limited Supply Chain.” Noted by JCHS: “…homebuyers purchase a home from a retailer but are required to find land on their own….” & “Developers…must learn a new set of specialized skills related to getting local approvals, siting homes….” With only 140 factories nationwide, delivery is an issue. Edit. Where to go? Many land lease communities are now full.

“Access to Mortgage Financing.” Conventional real estate financing available only to homes on homeowner-owned sites and MHs permanently affixed thereto. Personal property loans, a.k.a. chattel mortgages, have limited availability for homes sited on leased realty, e.g. in land lease communities. Former feature more attractive terms; latter have higher rates and shorter terms.

Already ‘commentaries’, about this study, have arrived at our offices, suggesting additional barriers to greater use of MHs for entry-level homeownership. These include: lack of land development initiatives on the part of land lease community owners/operators and by factories; lack of national marketing effort by and among the Big Three-C manufacturers *3; and no effort on the part of HUD to promote manufactured housing – the very housing type they regulate, to the home-buying public; and, the list goes on….

So, what do you think? What are other barriers to greater use of manufactured housing for entry-level homeownership? Let me know via

End Notes:

  1. Gaslighting. On line definition = “A colloquialism. Manipulating someone into questioning their own perception of reality.”
  • NIMBY = ‘Not In My Back Yard’; LULU = ‘Locally Unwanted Land Use’; & BANANA = Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody!’ And there is YIMBY = ‘Yes In My Back Yard’ when local regulatory barriers to all forms of affordable housing disappear. Quoted from ‘SWAN SONG’, available from EducateMHC
  • The Big Three-C HUD-Code housing manufacturers: CAVCO Industries, Clayton Homes, & Skyline-Champion, who together, enjoy more than 70 percent of the national manufactured housing market share.

George Allen, CPM, MHM


How does one pen a personal note on a social media platform like this? I don’t really know, even after posting nearly 800 blogs during the past 15 years. Yes, we started blogging round about year 2009. Anyway, I’m going to give it a try in the following paragraphs.

From time to time during last year (2023) and before (Since I retired mid-2021), business friends and acquaintances have come to me personally (Like during the Louisville MHShow last week), via correspondence, and otherwise. All asking me why there isn’t a dedicated forum like this one (i.e. weekly blog via EducateMHC) associated with and hosted by national trade advocates like MHARR or MHI? I have no answer to that question.

I’m an Emeritus member of MHI, as well as founding board member of their National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division (circa 1996); also a longtime and bona fide friend of Danny & Mark at MHARR. But neither body has ever asked me to write in their behalf. And who knows, perhaps I shouldn’t – even if asked. Since 1980 I’ve enjoyed self-published platforms like the ‘Allen Letter’ & ‘Allen Confidential’, as well as columns in the now defunct ‘Manufactured Homes Merchandiser’ magazine and ‘The Journal’ tabloid.*1 In all these I was careful to pen truths, as a pundit, about our industry and realty asset class, along with my opinions on various matters. Sure wouldn’t want to compromise that freedom unless need be.

As I often do here, ‘What do you think?’ Do our national trade advocates need an alternative to their bland routine messaging to members, words from someone who’s been an entrepreneur businessman, ‘with skin in the game’ in this ‘double dual business environment’ for the past 40 plus years – or leave matters just as they are?*2 I’d like to know your thoughts on this matter, and I’m somewhat sure MHARR and MHI would as well.

OK, now I’ve said it. Will leave it well alone unless and until I hear back from you and or ‘others’.

End Notes.

  1. My Allen Legacy column in every issue of ‘MHInsider’ magazine is of a different composition; i.e. MH industry & land lease community matters and individuals from an historical perspective.
  • ‘double dual industry’ = manufacture and retailing of HUD-Code housing, and the development & operation of land lease communities of all sizes in all locales.


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