Many homeowners across the country have seen spectacular gains on their investments amid the pandemic, though the soaring values have created a growing obstacle for would-be buyers. An extreme alternative for those who want to break free from renting is to hit the road in a recreational vehicle, as portrayed in the Academy Award-winning “Nomadland.” But between that lifestyle and the conventional American dream lies another option: the mobile home.
Mobile homes, unlike RVs, function the same as traditional stationary homes, except they can be moved to another site. And like traditional homes, they’ve seen their values rise steadily, according to a study by LendingTree. In fact, the study found, mobile-home values increased faster than those of traditional homes between 2014 and 2019, including in 27 out of 49 U.S. states. (Mobile homes were generally not allowed until recently in Hawaii). Though the timeline predates the pandemic, it shows that the return on investment has long been comparable.
The study, which used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, found that the national median value of a mobile home in 2019 was $53,000 — about $180,000 less than a traditional home. That was a 39 percent spike over the median value in 2014, while traditional homes rose by 33 percent over those five years.
Much of this depends on where you’re buying. In some states, like Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio, a mobile home could be had for less than $25,000, while in Washington, which had the highest mobile-home values, the median value was over $125,000. In Nevada, the value of a mobile home more than doubled over the five years; Delaware and Kansas were the only states where the value dropped.
This week’s chart shows the states with the most expensive mobile homes, and those where the changes were greatest between 2014 and 2019.
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