Country Lane Estates on Sabattus Street in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Homes, recreational vehicles, cars, trucks and mobile homes are all in high demand, with low inventory. The result is strikingly similar from category to category; if you want one you’ll have to wait.

It’s the new norm for the top two major purchases in most people’s lives — autos and homes — so get ready to compromise on what you want and be willing to wait for it to become available. In the case of mobile homes in the region area, that means you’ll have to wait for up to a year for a new one.

“Our demand is up and we can’t get product,” offered Sandra Hinkley, owner of Country Lane Homes on Sabattus Street. “So, kind of like the real estate market — there’s real low inventory — but people are looking to buy stuff and they just can’t find it. So, it’s kind of the same thing.”

Zachariah Brassard, general manager of Coastline Homes of Oxford, is already taking orders for 2023 because the five mobile and modular homes on his lot are not for sale, they are models for customers to see what they’ll be buying.

Mobile homes have long been seen as an affordable alternative to traditional housing, but acquired a less-than-desirable reputation as “cheap” in the 1960s and 1970s, prior to regulation of the industry by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“There’s nothing cheap about our product,” Hinkley was quick to interject. “It’s a home, it’s quality built, it has the same construction features you would find in a site build, like two-by-six walls, insulation values, energy efficiency — windows and insulation. It’s affordable but it’s definitely not that cheap terminology.”


The National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 charged HUD with establishing federal standards for the design and construction of manufactured homes to assure quality, durability, safety, and affordability. Since then, the industry has undergone a transformation.

Manufactured, or mobile homes, are attached permanently to a frame. Modular homes are fixed to a concrete slab or foundation with a basement just like a traditional home, and assembled on site.


Look inside today’s mobile home and you’re likely to find an open floor plan, kitchens with full-sized stainless steel appliances, plenty of cabinetry, central heating, washer and dryer hookups and at least two bedrooms and one bath — all in less than 1,000 square feet.

A kitchen in a new mobile home has an island, double sink and stainless appliances. Country Lane Homes

According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, there are 129 manufacturing plants in the country that produced more than 94,000 homes in 2019. That year, the average sales price was $78,500, without land — $52,400 for a singlewide, $99,500 for a doublewide.

Today, that singlewide mobile home will cost anywhere from 50 to-100% more.


Hinkley said a mobile home is still an affordable option. “Typically you can get into something for $80,000 for a brand new singlewide 2023 model year, two bedroom, two bathroom 14- by 66-foot all set up in one of our communities for $80,000 and up, depending on what other things you might want to have in the home.”

Industry research shows that about 40% of mobile homes end up in mobile home parks, ideal for people looking for less maintenance and a more community feel. The rest are placed on private property.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic most manufacturing plants shut down production. They still have not recovered, which has translated into a backlog of orders. For many dealers an allotment system was put in place to satisfy the still surging demand.

The living room in a new mobile home features an entertainment wall with cupboards and shelving. Country Lane Homes

“Demand has shifted to focus on singlewides without land,” said Brassard, who added he has already sold his allotment for 2022. Before the pandemic he would typically have about 12 homes on his sales lot — a mix of mobile and modular homes.

First-time homebuyers who qualify can apply for a Maine State Housing loan, which only requires 5% down and a credit score above 640. There is also a grant program where individuals or couples take the first-time homebuyers course and get money toward all their closing costs.



Brassard said land packages are simply not available in the Oxford area, the result of a combination of higher demand for land and a jump in prices, due largely he said to out-of-state investors gobbling up available properties. Modular home sales have slowed this year for him, with the cost of a new three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,400-square-foot home averaging $260,000. Add in the cost to buy a couple of acres, build a foundation, add utilities, install a well and a septic system and you can count on adding another $100,000 to $110,000 to the final cost.

Coastline Homes of Oxford can put you into a singlewide without land for about $92,000. Delivery will be sometime in 2023, but you’ll have to have somewhere to put it.

Mobile home dealers like Hinkley have a distinct advantage in that she has access to three mobile home parks owned by her family, with more than 450 sites. They are Country Lane Estates on Sabattus Street and Stetson Brook Estates on Heather Drive, both in Lewiston, and Maple Hill Estates on Elm Street in Mechanic Falls.

Renting a site in one of her communities runs $330 for a standard site, $345 for a preferred and slightly less at the park in Mechanic Falls. But, she cautions, site availability is dwindling. “We’re almost full, which is amazing, because I think the last time we were full was the late 1980s, early 1990s. We had a waiting list.”

In some parts of the country, rental rates in mobile home parks have been rising dramatically. The Washington Post this month cited an example from Forks, Washington, where rent at one park is going from $350 a month to $1,000 a month.

Hinkley, who also sits on the board of directors of the Manufactured Housing Association of Maine, said she’s not aware of extreme rent increases here.


“Our rental prices have stayed very reasonable, we haven’t gone up much in years,” she explained. “I think we did one two years ago, but we’re not going to do one this year … because we know people are still struggling.”

Not all mobile home park owners are so understanding and community-conscious. Private equity firms and investors are buying up mobile home communities. Some upgrade the parks and add amenities and then raise the rent accordingly.

Hinkley said she gets solicited by investors wanting to buy their parks all the time. Her response? “It’s not for sale.”


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge attends the Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall on June 10. HUD photo

The Biden administration has been pushing manufactured homes as an affordable alternative and announced a number of moves in May aimed at making manufactured homes more affordable. Among the key goals of the  Housing Supply Action Plan is to remove the long-standing requirement for mobile homes to be fixed to a chassis, which adds several thousand dollars to the cost.

Another is to open up lower cost financing through Freddie Mac and Freddie Mae. Mobile homes are not financed like traditional mortgages, which use the land and value of the home as collateral. Personal property or chattel loans, as they’re called, are secured by the value of the mobile home and tend to carry higher interest rates for shorter terms.


Earlier this month HUD teamed up with manufacturers for the Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall — a three-day event meant to focus attention on new building technologies and housing solutions to address the affordability and availability of homes.

“To expand access to affordable housing and homeownership, we must reduce the time and cost to build new homes,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said. “Innovation in housing design and construction technology is a vital part of this effort and one that HUD has advanced since its founding.”


For emergency rental assistance: Community Concepts, 800-866-5588 or

For first-time homebuyers: Maine State Housing, 207-626-4600 or

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