It may be hard to believe, but seemingly swank Orange County is the manufactured housing capital of California. Although it's third in population, more new mobile or manufactured homes were sold to dealers here last year than anywhere else in the state. All told, 406 factory-built homes were sold to Orange County dealers in 1996, 39% more than the 293 sold in 1995, according to the California Manufactured Housing Institute.
And as the local housing market continues to recover and land becomes more expensive, industry experts predict sales of these affordable homes will continue to increase. In the first four months of this year, 150 homes have been sold.
"The housing market is improving and our product is being accepted by a much broader market," said Robert West, president of the industry trade association.
Most new sales across the country are to people who buy the land the house will sit on. But in Orange County and places like the Santa Clarita Valley where land is expensive, most buyers live in a mobile home park and pay rent.
But a note of caution: Rents have spiraled up at some parks even during the housing recession, making once-affordable deals steep. And it's become harder for some owners to move when costs get too high. Most manufactured homes now contain more permanent elements including foundations, stucco, tile roofs and garages.
Melinda Fulmer covers real estate for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at firstname.lastname@example.org