Farmington is U.S. mobile home capital

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Farmington area has a claim on being the mobile home capital of the United States, according to a housing study released last month by the Census Bureau.

“The largest percentage of mobile homes as part of a metro area’s housing inventory was in Farmington, N.M., with 32 percent, followed by Yuma, Ariz., with 29 percent,” says the study titled “Physical Characteristics of Housing: 2009-2011.”

The study is based on the Farmington metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, which means it includes all of surrounding San Juan County, including the Navajo Nation. The high proportion of manufactured homes is likely a rural phenomenon.

Just more than two-thirds of the county’s estimated 128,529 population live outside the city of Farmington, scattered across roughly 5,500 square miles of typically rugged terrain, said Theresa McBee, president of the San Juan Board of Realtors. Manufactured homes could be the most cost-effective choice for a house in remote areas, she said.

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“We’re definitely not the only county with a high percentage (of manufactured homes),” she said.

Many manufactured homes sold at Clayton Homes in Farmington are bound for reservation land, said Tom Schadler, sales representative and project manager at Clayton.

“Price per square foot is a major factor,” he said. “A lot of ours will be under $40 a square foot. A high-end one might be $60 a square foot, which is still half what a stick-built (or conventional) home costs.”

At 26.7 percent, Lake Havasu/Kingman, Ariz., was the only other metro in the country to have mobile homes account for more than 25 percent. Doña Ana County shows up on a map as having 20 percent or more of its housing stock in mobile or manufactured homes.

Farmington shows up in the study again as having the third highest percentage of one-room housing units, at 6.5 percent, trailing Manhattan, Kan., at 11.7 percent and Myrtle Beach, S.C., at 11.6 percent.

No other cities in New Mexico are singled out in Census Bureau study.

Nationwide, the study provides the following breakdown of the housing inventory by type:

♦ 61.5 percent were detached single-family houses.

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♦ 5.8 percent were attached single-family houses, commonly referred to as townhouses or “row houses.”

♦ 8.3 percent were apartments in 2-4 unit buildings.

♦ 9.3 percent were apartments in 5-19 unit buildings.

♦ 8.5 percent were apartments in buildings with 20 or more units.

♦ 6.5 percent were mobile homes.

♦ 0.1 percent were house boats, recreational vehicles and vans.

Other characteristics of the national housing inventory were that 6 percent of the housing units were built since 2005, while 19.3 percent were built before 1950. The median number of rooms in a housing unit was 5.5.

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