“Some 20 million Americans live in mobile or manufactured home dwellings — that’s about the same as the population of New York City and São Paulo combined. These residents form the foundation of a $7 billion construction and real estate industry, according to a 2014 report from the market research firm IBISWorld.
“But this world exists on the fringes of the legal and economic systems most Americans take for granted. Between a mostly cash purchasing economy; a loan, insurance and tax structure that’s far from the norm; and a tradition of ownership that leaves many residents in limbo — Is it a house? A home on wheels? Do you pay taxes? Get tenants rights? — the whole world lacks stable scaffolding. This market, full of those with “transient incomes,” exists in a perpetual limbo, in an in-between state between known factors, explains MIT real estate economist Albert Saiz. Case in point: As the rest of the housing market is recovering from the 2008 financial crash, the manufactured home industry is plagued with bankruptcy and growing at only about a quarter of the rate of the rest of the market. Which, of course, induces a vicious cycle: skittish investors, even tougher loan situations.”