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 New Jersey and finds:

  • Though manufactured homes overall constitute a small segment of New Jersey’s housing stock, these homes are heavily concentrated in land-lease communities. Homebuyers in these communities have much lower incomes than site-built homebuyers in the state.
  • The vast majority of the state’s manufactured housing communities are located in urban areas, which range from small towns to midsize cities.
  • Manufactured housing communities in New Jersey are often part of moderate-income neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership.
  • Relatively high lot rents in New Jersey significantly diminish the affordability of this style of homeownership.

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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