By Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County Housing Ready Program Director, Housing North
With home prices rising faster than incomes it is even more important to look for housing solutions that meet the needs of our workforce. Between 2011 and 2018, home prices in Charlevoix County increased 38%. How can our local workforce afford to purchase a home when their incomes do not increase at the same rate? Often, renting is the only option. But rental homes and apartments are difficult to find in this area. Also, some prefer to own their own home.
What is a housing option that helps to bridge the gap of affordability between renting and owning? Manufactured homes are less expensive than site-built homes and can be placed either on private property or on rented lots within a manufactured home community.
Boyne City recently granted preliminary approval of a manufactured home community, called Fox Run. Fox Run will be a community with 145 lots for rent to owners of manufactured homes. The project applied and was approved for a rezoning of the land, which was previously approved for over 200 housing units. The site is in a residential area and within walking distance from downtown. The next step is for the project to be reviewed by the State of Michigan.
The first step of the process, a hearing of the city’s Planning Commission, indicated there may be some resistance to the proposal. At the public hearing for the rezoning of the property, the Planning Commission discussed many aspects of manufactured housing and some concerns about this type of housing. They voted to recommend denial of the rezoning. This action was a recommendation to the city council which, upon having two additional public hearings, they voted to approve the rezoning. They stated that their recommendation differed from the Planning Commission because the topics that the Planning Commission discussed in forming their opinion were not factors upon which a zoning decision should be based. The city council reviewed the required factors and came to the conclusion that this project should be approved.
On average, people who own a manufactured home on a rented lot pay a slightly smaller portion of their income on housing compared with a renter while paying slightly more than a conventional homeowner. This is a housing choice that fills a niche in the market. Prices range on new manufactured homes from around $50,000 and up. The developer of Fox Run says one company they work with sells homes from $55,000 to $125,000.
Loans for manufactured homes often have higher interest rates, higher minimum down payment requirements, and shorter terms because they are purchased like automobiles, with personal property or “chattel” loans. But there are few options for homeownership in this region in this price range and many people choose this housing type and to be part of these communities.
Fox Run will be the second manufactured home community in Boyne City. The existing recently received approval and has begun construction on their final expansion. The additional 19 units will bring this development to capacity of 170 units.