The BDN is exploring Maine’s housing crisis from every possible angle, from how it affects home prices, to what it means for Mainers across the state. Read our ongoing coverage here and fill out this form to tell us what you want to know.
Mobile and modular homes have long been a popular alternative to standard one-bedrooms in Maine for those looking to enter the housing market. But even they are getting pricey.
A review of the selling prices for mobile and modular homes, homes that are prefabricated and then transported to a site, in Maine’s six most populous counties shows that prices have spiked across the state since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Kennebec, Penobscot and York counties all saw significant price increases from 2019 to 2022, with typical homes in all those counties now costing $100,000 or more. The price increases are emblematic of the rising cost of housing across Maine in recent years but come in a sector of the market that has long served Mainers who may otherwise be shut out of owning a home.
It is also happening in a state that has the highest rate of mobile homes in New England and the entire Northeastern U.S. In 2020, 62,000 of Maine’s 747,000 housing units were mobile homes, or around 8 percent.
While the price increases haven’t been substantially different from those seen in other sectors of the market, lack of housing supply has driven up the price of even older, used mobile homes in Maine, said Aaron Bolster, president of Allied Realty, which sells homes, including modular homes, across central and western Maine.
“It’s been the lack of choices that the consumer has,” Bolster said. “A rising tide lifts all boats – the single- and double-wide mobile market is no exception to that.”
Many choose to buy mobile homes so they can downsize, either spacewise or financially, and it continues to be a great option for Mainers either buying their first home or looking to retire because of the lower cost of home maintenance, Bolster said.
The price increases have affected some sections of Maine more than others. In Cumberland County, mobile homes had a median sales price of $67,000 from January to May 2019. But during that same period this year, the median price was $168,500. With prices rising over 150 percent, it was by far the highest increase of the six counties.
Rural Aroostook County had some of Maine’s least expensive mobile homes pre-pandemic, with a median sales price of just $28,000 from January to May 2019. This year, that number during the same period was $108,500.
Penobscot County’s mobile home market saw a smaller increase. The median sales price from January to May in 2019 was $76,000. In the same time span in 2022, it was $100,000, the smallest increase of the six counties, though that number is still higher than the rate of inflation during that period. York County saw a median sales price increase of $77,000; Kennebec, $52,000; and Androscoggin, $34,000.
The median value for a mobile home in Maine in 2020 was $61,200, according to American Community Survey data, which was the ninth-highest in the country but only the third-highest in New England. Massachusetts, at $83,000, and Vermont, at $69,600, both had higher medians.