Carson, CA

Affordable home strategies for families in Southern California

Don Simkovich

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Some seniors in Carson, California are in the process of searching for new homes this year after a real estate developer purchased their mobile home community and announced plans to turn it into a mixed-use development.

Spectrum News One covered the story that broke October 2020, about two months before California’s AB 2782, a state bill aimed at adding more protection for residents in manufactured homes.

There are about 560,817 mobile and manufactured homes throughout California, according to the state’s Department of Finance, and many are located throughout 5,041 parks. Most residents are older than the general population.

Mobile home parks at a glance

The top ten largest mobile home parks in the state are found in only seven different cities and four of those are in Riverside County, Orange County and Los Angeles County:

  • Hemet (Riverside County)
  • Eastvale (Riverside County)
  • Westminster (Orange County)
  • Sylmar (Los Angeles County)
  • Calimesa (Riverside County)
  • Sunnyvale
  • San Jose

Seniors who live in manufactured homes in communities have to pay homeowner association dues and will have to comply with ordinances passed by their communities. The long-term benefits include a low cost of living, especially for those who have sold homes in higher priced areas and can enjoy the financial rewards that come with downsizing.

Other options for seniors include living in quality manufactured homes on land that they’ve purchased outside of a homeowner’s association.

But seniors aren’t the only ones living in manufactured homes.

Affordable homes for all ages

Miguel Torres, owner of the Mobile Home Factory in Northridge, sells homes throughout the state, in Arizona and even in Mexico. Families from their mid-20s to seniors in their 70s and early 80s are buying the homes because existing home costs in Los Angeles County and elsewhere in the state are prohibitive.

“You can have a home with an acre of land with a home fully installed for $350,000 to $450,000 in parts of the county,” says Torres. “In the Central Valley or up north, you may be paying as little as $250,000. It depends on how expensive the land is.”

Torres also sells Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs) for homeowners to have on their backlots. A two-bedroom, two-bath unit will be less than most apartment rentals and can create income for the homeowner.

Quality manufactured housing

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Manufactured homes are typically less than half the per-square-foot cost of site-built homes. Latest figures from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) show manufactured homes cost, on average, $55 per sq ft while site-built homes are usually around $114 per sq ft.

But how is the quality?

Manufactured homes are built using 2x4s and 2x6s for interior walls and are as comfortable, attractive and durable as a home made with traditional construction.

“A lot of existing homes use 2x4s,” says Torres

The MHI notes on its consumer page that the technology used in the factories “allow manufactured home builders to offer a variety of architectural styles and exterior finishes that will suit most any buyer’s dreams while allowing the home to blend in seamlessly into most any neighborhood.”

Sizes of manufactured homes can range from 780 square feet up to 2,900 square feet to fit a large family.

The MHI has a list of financial institutions and builders available to research.

Where will you locate?

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Buying land that you can develop is a feasible option for affordable and enjoyable homeownership. That’s especially true For California residents who are looking to relocate outside the state.

“Owning your land can reduce property taxes and building a newer home or living in a modular or manufactured home will also reduce costly home maintenance expenses,” says Sandra Cantu of Cantu Land Plus.

She’s a real estate professional who networks nationally to connect those selling land with those looking to buy property.

“You don’t have to live in the middle of nowhere, either,” Cantu says. “You can live quite comfortably near a growing metro area or near a college town so you have access to good health care and cultural events like plays and concerts.”

So where are Californians moving to?

Texas is the most popular destination by far with 82,235 Californians having uprooted to migrate there according to U.S. Census numbers in 2019. The Lonestar state also has 3,194 mobile home and RV parks, ranking behind California and Florida.

The next most popular destinations for former Golden State residents are Arizona (59,173), Nevada (47,322) and Washington (46, 791).

Land is an asset, although property in rural areas won’t appreciate as greatly as parcels closer to suburban tracts. However, Sandra says land ownership can bring peace of mind and lead to a reduced debt or debt-free lifestyle for seniors.

The National Association of Realtors reported that in a one-year period from October 2018 to October 2019 land costs for commercial and residential use rose two percent with steady growth into 2020.

The good news is that for seniors and other families living in Los Angeles County, or other parts of Southern California, placing a home you own on land that you own is a pathway to financial stability.

All images taken and supplied by Miguel Torres, The Mobile Home Factory.

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I interview entrepreneurs, and dig into the news around Southern California, giving a voice to business owners, artists and more. I also co-write the thriller novel series Tom Stone Detective Stories.

Pasadena, CA
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