NEW YORK – Aug. 11, 2014 – Manufactured homes often sell for more than $1 million in the Malibu, Calif., community of Paradise Cove. One sold for $2.55 million earlier this year, and another went on the market last month for $3.75 million.

The upscale manufactured homes feature hardwood floors, high-end appliances, granite countertops and other features, but the prices also have a lot to do with the community's location on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Conventional homes in the surrounding area sell for $20 million to $40 million, according to Prudential Malibu Realty's Michael Gardner.

Overall, the direction of new mobile homes tracks the trend in new single-family homes: bigger and better.

The housing slump pushed down sales of manufactured homes from 130,937 shipments in 2003 to 60,201 in 2013, reports the Manufactured Housing Institute. However, wealthier buyers now are entering the market for factory-built homes, mainly as retirees look to downsize and soaring single-family home prices in some markets make manufactured housing a more affordable option.

"A lot of the [upscale manufactured home] communities are very close to [Google, eBay, PayPal, and Microsoft], so it's a cool thing because a single-family [home goes for] $1.5 million, and then, next door, you can have a brand new place for a third or a fourth of that price," says Todd Su, owner and president of Advantage Homes in San Jose.

Mike Wnek, vice president of new business development at Jacobsen Homes in Safety Harbor, Florida, says design trends have tracked those in conventional site-built homes, with "a lot of movement toward bigger and more exotic appliances – a lot of side-by-side refrigerators, wall ovens, big islands with cooktops."

Source: Wall Street Journal (08/08/14) P. M1; Bonislawski, Adam

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