Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Changing Demographics Baffles Most Modular Home Factories and Builders

A short time ago I wrote about modular factory management and modular home builders not caring enough to learn who is buying their homes. Many of them continue to assume that things haven’t changed in the past 30 years.

Young people get married, rent for a couple of years and then buy a home. They live in it for 11.7 years and build a bigger home until they retire and downsize. The homes are 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, with a living room, dining room and kitchen. Laundries are either in the basement or on the second floor.

That scenario is being challenged by a changing population. Today married straight couples make up less than half of all US households and singles without children and couples, both gay and straight, living together are now the norm.

Modular factories just don’t seem to have a clue while builders are meeting with fewer married straight couples. Too bad the factories don’t care.

Another new reality is the emerging market for rentals. Some modular factories are beginning to hire commercial sales specialists that know how to go after the rental home developers which is a good thing but the small modular home builder is not getting in on this market. I know many factory owners will only give the builder a referral fee just to turn over the name of a local developer. The factory pays the builder for the first project but not for any others from that developer. The builder is upset and rightfully so.

Many start-up entrepreneurs and corporate employees are finding working from home a great way to increase their productivity. No longer is turning the Den or the spare bedroom into an office enough. Some of these stay at home people need larger, dedicated office space and sometimes a separate entrance and bath. How many builders fail to ask if the home buyer is working from home in the initial meeting only to learn that it is a big deal when the second or third meeting takes place? Forget to ask what the home buyers’ pain is and you will lose the sale.

It’s not too late for the factory folks and the builders to begin asking “who is my buyer?”

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