Manufactured Housing

Issues Addressed:
Housing Costs Housing Options

What is it?

Manufactured homes are an important part of New Hampshire’s housing landscape, composing an estimated 5% of all housing units and households (American Community Survey, 2017–2021 5-year estimates). Manufactured homes, also commonly called mobile homes, are a type of housing that is prefabricated off-site and placed on a permanent chassis. These homes can be found on individual lots or in manufactured housing parks (also known as “manufactured housing communities”), where the homes are clustered together. They can remain with exposed chassis or can be made semi-permanent through placement on a temporary foundation and the addition of porches, screening, landscaping, and other design elements. Manufactured housing parks (“parks”) provide residents with land for their home, roads and parking, utility connections, and on-site amenities (e.g., indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, security systems, landscaping, laundry facilities, etc.). These parks are often owned by a landlord who rents access to residents, but they can also be owned collectively by residents, similar to a traditional homeowners’ association (HOA). The vast majority of manufactured home residents own the home itself, though they may not own the land it sits on. Manufactured homes and manufactured home parks tend to be more prevalent in rural areas than in more urban or suburban places.

Manufactured homes are often an affordable alternative to traditional site-built homes; they can be built quickly and efficiently, making them ideal for areas with high demand for housing. According to the American Community Survey (2017–2021 5-year estimates), the median monthly gross rent was $1,212 in New Hampshire, while the median value for all homes was $345,200. The median value for manufactured homes, however, was $74,700, making ownership possible for people of modest means. Affordability of manufactured housing in New Hampshire is significantly enhanced by state law that treats manufactured housing as real property, meaning that residential mortgage lending is available to purchase the units. Most states treat manufactured housing as personal property, requiring the use of more expensive consumer loans to facilitate purchase. Given their relative affordability, manufactured housing is one option communities can pursue to address their housing needs, though it is up to each community to decide how to address this housing type from legal and policy standpoints.

New Hampshire law requires that municipalities provide reasonable opportunities for manufactured housing and manufactured housing communities to exist. However, local land use regulations can impact the placement, architectural design, site design, and infrastructure for manufactured homes and manufactured housing parks. Historically, some communities have used zoning and other tools to exclude manufactured homes and manufactured housing parks. Others have used these tools to create more safe, attractive, and valuable manufactured home properties. With regard to zoning for manufactured housing park density, one approach is to treat it similar to cluster subdivision, where perceived density is greater than a conventional subdivision but open space is preserved. Increasingly, some municipalities have used zoning and land use regulations to protect existing manufactured housing communities, in an effort to preserve affordability and limit displacement.

The reality of manufactured housing today is quite different from Great Depression-era “trailer parks” or poorly built mobile homes of the past, but there remains a stigma around manufactured housing in public discourse. Today’s manufactured homes comply with rigorous construction standards and (typically) cannot be easily hauled. They are usually permanent (rather than “mobile”) homes, and residents are not typically transient. The legacy of poorly maintained mobile home parks with opportunistic owners also lingers in the public discussion, but such practices can be limited through local enforcement of standards, as well as resident ownership.

Manufactured housing communities are increasingly seen as good business for real estate investors. While this influx of investment can improve maintenance for some older communities, existing residents at some manufactured housing parks face unsustainable land rent increases and housing insecurity due to these changes in ownership. This can also lead to abandonment of the home or below-market sale of the home, often to the park owner. One alternative to outside investment is cooperative ownership by residents, who then manage the park collectively as a nonprofit. In this structure, also known as a Resident Owned Community (ROC), each resident owns a share in the park and has a say in decisions affecting the community. ROCs can lead to greater accountability and lower costs. Cooperative ownership provides residents with more stability and security, as the park is unlikely to be sold or closed. The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund was established in 1983 with a goal of providing loans for residents to form ROCs and purchase their manufactured housing communities. This first-of-its-kind program has since become a model for programs across the US. Today, there are 145 ROCs in New Hampshire, with nearly 9,000 affordable housing units. These communities can be a stable and affordable housing option for low- and moderate-income families, as well as older adults, veterans, and people with disabilities.

How can it help?

Manufactured housing parks can…

  • Provide less expensive housing options than site-built alternatives.
  • Respond to spikes in housing demand through the relatively quick placement of new units and increases in housing density with more flexibility than conventional development.
  • Create homes that are less resource-intensive and land-consuming than conventional site-built housing.
  • Provide lower-cost construction options for age-friendly housing, active adult communities, and cluster housing developments.
  • Count toward a community’s Workforce Housing “Fair Share” under certain circumstances.
  • Improve housing stability and provide a clear path to homeownership, especially in ROC-operated manufactured housing communities.
  • Instill a sense of pride and strengthen the social fabric through collective ownership (in the case of ROC-operated manufactured housing communities).
  • Prioritize living standards, maintenance, and security (in the case of ROC-operated manufactured housing communities).

Getting Started

  1. Assess the current use of manufactured housing in your community, including manufactured homes on individual lots as well as manufactured home parks. Consider the age, safety certifications, design, siting, maintenance, security, utility hookups, infrastructure, and amenities related to individual manufactured homes and manufactured home parks. Consider the members of the community that are served by manufactured homes, as well as manufactured housing’s place in the overall real estate market. Identify issues with manufactured homes in your community, such as the maintenance and safety of homes, access to infrastructure and amenities, threats from speculative investment and/or redevelopment, and more.
  2. Hold a community engagement process that educates the community on the present reality and potential of manufactured housing, as well as local and state regulation of manufactured housing. Use the engagement process to identify the community’s goals for and any concerns about manufactured housing.
  3. If undertaking a master plan, include recommendations about manufactured housing with reference to the above analysis and engagement.
  4. Consider zoning amendments that will align local regulations with your community’s goals for manufactured housing.
  5. Consider creating local design guidelines for new manufactured housing communities. While the state regulates design of the units themselves, local laws can specify how manufactured housing relates to landscaping, community layout, site design, and so on.
  6. Work with existing manufactured housing residents and owners to establish housing security for residents. Identify communities that may face displacement. Consider how resident ownership may create housing stability and, if needed, connect residents with nonprofit partners who can aid in the resident-ownership process.
A manufactured home on a semi-permanent foundation with landscaping in the Forest Park Estates, Jaffrey, NH.


  • Terminology around manufactured homes and regulation can be confusing. “Mobile homes” and “manufactured homes” are often used interchangeably in everyday speech. In a US regulatory context, the term “mobile home” is used to describe this type of prefabricated housing on a chassis built before 1976 and not subject to federal building standards. “Manufactured home” means this type of home built in 1976 or later, when safety and construction standards became regulated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Manufactured housing must meet these HUD standards, rather than comply with state or local building codes. New Hampshire defines “manufactured home” and “mobile home” with reference to the former’s certification of compliance with HUD safety standards, and the latter’s lack of certification.
  • Manufactured homes are sometimes divided into “single-wide” and “double-wide” groupings. Single-wide homes are smaller, are placed on a single chassis, and can typically be hauled as a standalone unit. Double-wide homes are larger (often twice as big as single-wide homes). They are built in multiple large pieces and hauled separately to their lot, where they are grafted together on-site. Double-wide homes can come in a variety of layouts and offer more flexibility than single-wide homes, though they tend to cost more.
  • Manufactured housing does not include homes that are prefabricated offsite, but placed permanently on a site and not on a chassis. This “presite built housing” is regulated like site-built housing, conforming to state and local building codes rather than the HUD standards for manufactured housing. These homes are often called “modular” or “panelized” homes.
  • Contemporary manufactured housing construction standards allow for home designs that are nearly identical to conventional site-built homes.
  • If manufactured housing meets the affordability standards of the state’s Workforce Housing law, then those homes can count as Workforce Housing in determining whether a community is providing its fair share of Workforce Housing.
  • Under New Hampshire law (RSA 674:31-32), communities must provide reasonable opportunities for manufactured housing to be placed in most residential zoning districts. They can meet this mandate in one of three ways or any combination of the three: on individual lots, in manufactured housing parks, or in manufactured housing subdivisions. For manufactured homes on individual lots, communities cannot place more onerous dimensional regulations, permitting processes, or other restrictions than other single-family homes (i.e., they need to be treated the same as conventional “stick-built” homes). If a community allows manufactured housing parks, they must also allow reasonable expansion of those parks. New Hampshire law also governs the operation of manufactured housing parks (RSA 205-A) and establishes a board that governs installation standards for manufactured homes (RSA 205-D).
  • Manufactured housing park ordinances can mirror cluster housing ordinances where density increases are permitted if certain lot size and open space provisions are met. 
  • As with all types of housing, utility provision for manufactured homes and manufactured housing parks can be challenging. Wastewater system alternatives can enable compact manufactured housing park development in locations where it may be otherwise impossible.
  • Though manufactured housing is not typically thought of as an appreciating financial asset, research has shown that manufactured housing appreciation is similar to site-built housing, and values for manufactured homes held as real property and site-built homes have risen and fallen in tandem for decades. Appreciation for manufactured homes on homeowner-owned land is largely indistinguishable from appreciation for site-built homes.
  • While manufactured housing is less expensive than site-built housing, newly built manufactured homes can still be expensive, especially for people with lower incomes. There are also up-front costs such as shipping the home to the desired site.
  • In New Hampshire, manufactured housing is treated as real property (rather than personal property like cars or boats), so New Hampshirites have more options for financing than residents of other states. Nonetheless, there are still fewer financing options for manufactured home purchases than for site-built homes. NH Housing and the Community Loan Fund have a novel program with Fannie Mae for Fannie to acquire mortgages for manufactured housing in the state’s Resident Owned Communities.   
  • Manufactured housing communities are typically privately owned, where an owner leases individual lots (with infrastructure access) to residents who own the actual structures. Like with rental housing, owners can set the rent, maintenance standards, and rules of the park. Incompetent or predatory park ownership can lead to high rents, poor maintenance, and lack of accountability. Residents may have few alternative communities to choose from, and they may lack the money needed to move their home to another location. (For semi-permanent structures, this can cost many thousands of dollars.) Residents may be at risk of a total loss in investment if the park is closed or they must move.
  • A trend has emerged in recent years of private equity firms and other investors purchasing manufactured housing parks. For the residents, a change in ownership can mean uncertainty about their future housing options, as the new owner may choose to evict tenants or raise rents beyond what they can afford. Increasing rent adds value on paper to the properties, which can lead to increased taxes for a municipality, but it also makes housing overall less affordable.
  • Manufactured housing residents are also at risk of displacement due to redevelopment into site-built housing when real estate markets heat up. Some communities have used land use regulations to protect existing communities, while others have provided relocation assistance to residents affected by redevelopment.
  • Under New Hampshire law (RSA 205-A:21), if a manufactured housing park owner has agreed to sell the property, they must notify tenants of the terms of the sale. Tenants have 60 days to match that offer, and the owner must consider the tenants’ offer. Massachusetts and Vermont have similar “first right of refusal” laws that allow residents the first chance to purchase manufactured housing parks.
  • The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund ROC-NH program provides financing, training, and technical assistance to help resident cooperatives buy and manage their manufactured housing communities.