Jan Laughlin, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Morris, has a listing for $260,000, which is relatively rare in the Bend area.
It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage. It’s on more than half an acre in the unincorporated neighborhood of Deschutes River Woods, on a pot-holed dirt road. And it’s a manufactured home.
Manufactured homes are getting more attention in Central Oregon as a surging real estate market leaves behind many would-be buyers of traditional houses. Prices are up, and homes are spending less time on the market. The median price for homes like Laughlin’s listing, which include less than an acre of land in the Bend area, was $250,000 in the year through Oct. 31, according to the Central Oregon Association of Realtors. That was up 13 percent over the same period of 2016.
The same category of manufactured homes spent an average 75 days on the market, down 24 percent over last year.
“There’s a huge demand in that price range, whether it’s stick-built or manufactured,” Laughlin said.
While people who sell manufactured homes point out that they can be as safe and sound — and even as luxurious — as houses built on a foundation, there are some big differences in the way they’re built, which affects the availability and terms of loans.
“If everyone involved is knowledgeable, the process can go smooth,” said Mike Lavender, mortgage manager for SELCO Community Credit Union. “There’s lots of loan options out there, and good programs. Everybody has to have some knowledge and understanding going into it.”
Conventional loans are available for manufactured homes that come with land, but those sitting on rented lots are subject to a different set of rules, Lavender said. Buyers typically work with specialty lenders, and interest rates can be in the double digits.
Yet prices have gone up even for those manufactured homes, and one park is planning to double in size over the next five years. Cascade Village, a 55-and-older community on the north side of Bend, will add 80-100 new sites over the next five years, manager Jackie Elliott said. The owners are also planning a second clubhouse, indoor pool and pickleball courts, she said.
Elliott said she has a long waiting list for the 89-home community.
“These are set in concrete, and they all have garages,” she said. “This is not a normal park. It’s 55 and older, and it’s run very strict.”
People who rent one of Cascade Village’s new lots will be able to choose from among several model homes and customize it with features like spa showers and quartz counter tops, Elliott said.
“You can even get a rock fireplace in there now,” she said. “You can get crazy.”
Cascade Village residents rent their lots, which means financing isn’t widely available. Elliott said that’s not a problem though. She refers buyers to a specialty lender in Beaverton and, she said, 80 percent of the sales are in cash for prices ranging from $100,000 to $190,000. Many Cascade Village residents spend the winter in a warmer climate, she said, and a manufactured home is what makes that lifestyle affordable.
The median price of manufactured homes without land in the Bend area also has been marching up. The latest reliable data from the Realtors’ association showed the median price in the second quarter at $70,000, an 8 percent increase over the same period of 2016.
Lavender said SELCO is seeing two types of buyers for manufactured homes on land: first-time homeowners and dream-home builders. Sometimes a large acreage comes with a manufactured home, which the buyer sees as an affordable way to save up for a custom build in the future, he said.
“As long as it’s a newer home that has been well-cared for, then it’s all about the buyers’ wants and needs,” Bend real estate broker Katey Kelley said.
She represents the buyers in the pending sale of a manufactured home, built in 1992, on the east side of Bend. As first-time homeowners, the buyers wanted three bedrooms so they could have a roommate, she said, but it was difficult to find a stick-built home for under $250,000, she said.
The most common listing price range in the Bend area in October was $350,000 to $400,000, according to the Beacon Report from Beacon Appraisal Group in Redmond. There were 91 listings in that price range, compared with 28 for listings for $250,000 to $300,000 and two for $200,000 to $250,000.
Kelley said her buyers were always open to a manufactured home. Financing remains the biggest obstacle to manufactured-home transactions, she said.
Lavender said it helps to inform the lender right off the bat when a buyer is looking to finance a manufactured home. “That may completely change the loan program and terms,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, has a program for buying brand new manufactured homes, but lenders generally don’t participate in that program, he said. Veterans Administration loans can be used for manufactured homes with zero money down, he said, but the borrower is required to have a better credit profile than one would for a stick-built home.
The age of the manufactured home is a major consideration, as most lenders require the home to be no older than 20 years, Lavender said. “Older homes can be financed, but it becomes more difficult as we start to run into issues with the land being worth significantly more than the improvements,” he said.
Loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration are popular with first-time buyers because they can qualify with a low credit score and low down payment. Manufactured homes are eligible for FHA loans, but the program requires evidence of tie-downs, which are metal cables that wrap around the steel support beams underneath the home and anchor it to concrete set in the ground.
Laughlin, the Coldwell Banker Morris broker, said she expects that people looking at her listing in Deschutes River Woods will want to know about tie-downs, so she scheduled an inspection on Thursday.
Jeff Newberry, an inspector with The BrickKicker Inspection Services, put on coveralls, goggles and a headlamp before diving into the crawlspace of the home on Shoshone Circle. He said he inspects at least one manufactured home a week, and he thinks they get a bad rap.
“Some of these homes are in better shape than the stick-built ones, just because they were built right,” he said.
Tie-downs prevent manufactured homes from tipping over in high-wind zones like Florida, but Newberry said that’s not really a concern in Central Oregon. Manufactured homes can last 50 years as long as they’re not damaged by moisture, he said. Because the siding is susceptible to water damage, he said owners and prospective buyers should make sure the roof is sealed, and exterior paint and caulking is well-maintained.
It’s also important to check the crawl space for leaks, which won’t be visible because the insulation, electrical and plumbing systems are contained in a “belly wrap,” Newberry said.
As engineered buildings, manufactured homes aren’t meant to be modified by removing interior walls or piercing exterior walls, Newberry said. That kind of modification could affect the integrity of the home, and it disqualifies homes from financing.
But the fact that manufactured homes are supported by steel beams is an advantage, Newberry said.
“Even ones built in the ’70s,” he said, “you’re not going to see structural problems.”
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