It’s been a busy few years for the people in the mini home and modular home business.
“[We get] probably one to two phone calls every day, someone loves the idea, wants it, but has nowhere to put it,” said Karl Rutherford, manager of Clark’s Modular Home Sales in Guelph as well as other mini home and modular home dealers in Canada.
Interest has increased as homes become less affordable.
“Seeing the housing prices in town here in Guelph for a fixer-upper, you're starting at probably $700,000 and up. For a 1,000 square foot modular home, you know, you're all in at $200,000,” explained Rutherford.
Along with more interest, he’s also seeing a shift in demographics
“We got a lot of seniors and retirees looking to maybe put one on the farm as a secondary home, but we also have a lot of younger people, [who] just can't afford [a home], so this is one option for them. Because it hits the price points.”
Karl Rutherford, manager of Clark’s Modular Home Sales, in Guelph, Ont. (Jeff Pickel/CTV Kitchener)
According to Rutherford, the demand for mini homes and modular homes is there.
“As far as supply goes, we can fill it no problem. We could do 100 or 200 [homes] a year.”
But what they really need is land.
“All we hear is we need more attainable housing and there's no help out there, we need someone to step up and start developing new mini home parks, we need it and it's just not happening.”
Melanie Jaffray is a realtor who works with clients at Mini Lakes Park in Puslinch Township.
She’s also seeing many of the same trends as Rutherford.
“In the last couple of years I've seen an increase in modular mini homes. They are a lower price range, so it's an opportunity for a broader range of buyers to be getting into real estate,” Jaffray said. “Seniors are looking to buy mini homes, but I have noticed in the past year I actually have first-time homebuyers.”
Her clients range from seniors to university students.
“It was never in demand as it is now for people to actually be pushing to develop these mini home parks,” Jaffray said.
“The sense is the considerable demand could be met by manufactured homes, and there are lots of manufacturers coming on line now to meet that demand,” said Mark Seasons, director for the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo.
Manufactured homes can be built in half the time, are less expensive and more energy efficient.
“Overall it’s a really clever response, and it does produce a high quality product for the consumer,” Seasons said.
But there are other factors at play.
Zoning and planning policy can prevent the development of these communities.
Seasons believes municipalities should seriously consider developing mini home communities and if they don’t, the province should step in.
“I think it’s a serious part of the solution package, and I think it might take provincial intervention expressed through the provincial policy statement that set out for municipalities to follow.”
Source: CTV News December 6, 2023