The case for trailer parks

The average sales price for a manufactured home in 2013 was $64,000, according to the Census Bureau, while the average sales price for a single-family home was $324,000. The single-family site-built home includes the land, though, while owners of manufactured homes often have to still grapple with landlords and leasing issues. But the structure itself is nevertheless significantly cheaper: New manufactured homes cost around $43 per square foot; site-built homes cost $93 per square foot.

“In many areas, working class families are priced out of the market to buy homes,” said said Stacey Epperson, the president and CEO of NextStep, which connects the manufactured home industry with affordable housing groups. “But for us, homeownership is still part of the American dream.”

New Hampshire residents Wanita Ordway and her husband Kevin are once such working-class family: Kevin is a carpenter, Wanita is retired. They were looking at rentals, and then stumbled across a manufactured house last year that cost just $87,500 for the structure and the two acres of land it’s on.

It’s spacious, Ordway said, with three bedrooms, two baths, a fireplace, a family room, and a breakfast nook with an island in the kitchen. The kitchen is cheerily wallpapered with images of fruits, and the bathroom has ivy wallpaper. When Wanita asked the utility company to audit the house to see how much energy it used over the cold winter, she discovered it was too energy efficient to even qualify for an audit.