Manufactured housing communities, consisting of factory-built, single-family homes that sit on leased land, provide a low-cost homeownership option. This report takes a comprehensive look at this little-studied type of housing in Delaware and finds:

  • The majority of manufactured housing communities in Delaware are in urban areas, primarily midsize cities and smaller towns. 
  • In aggregate, Delaware’s manufactured housing communities tend to be located in areas with higher shares of older adults and lower household incomes, compared with the state overall. This is consistent with the perception that these communities disproportionately house lower-income workers and retirees.
  • However, many of the state’s manufactured housing communities are located in desirable areas along the shore. Market pressures to reposition these communities as seasonal vacation destinations for higher-income buyers could threaten the continued affordability of this stock.

Although manufactured housing communities can provide a low-cost path to homeownership, they carry risks and drawbacks for homeowners. First, these homes have little wealth-building potential because owners can’t rely on stable or increasing land values to build wealth. Residents are also vulnerable to increases in lot rents and can be displaced if the property owner closes the community. In addition, since these homes aren’t eligible for traditional mortgages, homebuyers must rely on less regulated, higher-cost personal property, or “chattel,” loans.

This research provides information for policymakers and housing practitioners concerned about the shortage of affordable housing, who may consider opportunities to preserve, or even responsibly expand, access to manufactured housing communities.

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