MARKET PULSE – Don’t overlook mobile home market demand

Don Fenley 

Mobile homes used to be the undisputed red-headed stepchild of the housing market, but that’s changing. Last year, there were 513 mobile home sales in the counties the Northeast Tennessee Association (NETAR) monitors. While that accounts for only 7% of last year’s existing home sales, there’s more to the story.

They had a median sales price of $185,000. That’s $69,000 less than the annual median price of an existing single-family home. It’s more than enough to grab the attention of cost-conscious buyers.

According to the Census, there are 32,283 mobiles home in the Tri-Cities metro areas, plus another 7,237 in Greene Co. and 1,731 in Johnson Co. They account for 12% of the region’s housing units.  Local and U.S. outlooks are for that to increase.

There were 26 local mobile home sales in January. The median sales price was $184,000 and the average price was $210,000. Why was the average so much higher? It was a skew because of a double-wide sale that came with a little over 19 acres of land on Boone Lake’s main channel. It went for a little over $1 million.

Extra land is often common with mobile home sales and a growing number of newcomers want more elbowroom.  

While local homes have seen substantial price increases, when you look at prices 100 miles from here, the region is still very affordable. That’s one of the things that keeps the region high on the Emerging Housing Market Index. It’s also a factor in outlooks that say local counties are East Tennessee’s “markets in high demand.”

Some of the same dynamics driving higher single-family home prices are doing the same for mobile homes. Still, demand is increasing.

Headwinds for mobile homes is stigma and zoning. Most who oppose them because they have preconceived ideas about the residents and the effect on neighbors’ home values. There are examples that support that, but they’re not limited to mobile homes. Housing of any type in a upkept state of appearance and repair effects neighboring home values.

NIMBY and outdated ideas will likely continue to cloud the mobile home market, but what is clear is increasing consumer demand in a market starving for inventory and affordable housing.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at