No, I Will Not Stop Using the Term ‘Mobile Home’ – Get Over It
I started Mobile Home Living in September 2011. I bought the domain name and published through a free blogging platform called Blogger.
And, I had no idea what I was doing. Looking back, it’s hilarious how naive and ignorant I was about both the manufactured housing industry and blogging.
How this site eventually found its footing and gained popularity will always be the 8th great mystery of the world to me.
Mobile Home Living was born when my husband and I bought a 1978 single wide in 2011. It needed updating so I searched online for mobile home remodeling and decorating ideas. There were only a few legitimate results and the idea to create a site that offered mobile home remodeling ideas and mobile home repair help was born. You can read more about it here. I had lived in manufactured housing my entire life but always new models.
I figured if I was looking for this information others were as well and I suppose I was right.
The Errors of My Way
By Mobile Home Living’s first anniversary I had already been contacted by a few people with the same complaint: I was contributing to the mobile home stereotype by using the term ‘Mobile Home.’
How could that be? One of my missions of the blog was to get rid of the mobile home stereotype!
By our fourth year, I had been contacted dozens of times about my choice of words. The complaints usually came from an over-zealous salesman or someone working within the industry (but rarely associated themselves with a company).
The argument was always the same; The words ‘mobile home’ conjured up negative opinions of the factory-built housing and by using the term I was contributing to the negativity. Never mind the dozens of gorgeous mobile homes on the pages of the blog that shows how gorgeous they could be.
No one bothered to mention WHY the words mobile home conjured up negative opinions.
New Rules, New Name?
In July 1976, a new federal law went into effect across the nation that regulated the construction and installation of ‘manufactured’ homes.
HUD, the government department that oversees housing and urban development, had worked with the industry to come up with a minimum set of standards that all homes had to meet.
The factory-built housing industry had basically run amok until those laws went into effect.
Poor construction and terrible safety issues plagued mobile homes. Of course, there were a few companies that offered a superior home along with good customer service but there were far more companies that only cared about profit and their greed disgraced the reputation of the homes and the industry.
These new guidelines significantly increased safety and construction standards for all factory-built housing and gave the industry an opportunity to shed their poor reputation. They were producing a completely different product from mobile homes, and that required a completely different name. Factory-built housing was to be called ‘Manufactured Homes.’
banishing the usage of mobile homes and replacing it with ‘manufactured home’ was so important to the industry that they advocated to have the name change written into federal law. They somehow enticed a politician enough to sponsor a bill (or a section of a bill).
The Housing Act of 1980 states that mobile homes were to be reclassified on a federal level as buildings instead of vehicles and that all mobile homes produced after 1976 were to be referred to as manufactured homes.
Literature printed or released by the federal government was only allowed to use the words manufactured home from that point. Unfortunately, this law changed very little because each state has their process and they weren’t willing to spend millions to have paperwork and departments retrained for a simple name change and reclassification. Most states still title mobile homes just like cars.
Taking a Stand Against this Mobile Home Stereotype Nonsense
I tried to play along after about the 10th email.
I changed the name of this blog from ‘Mobile Home Living’ to ‘Mobile and Manufactured Home Living.’ That lasted a couple of years until I realized I was still getting complaints and I was just complicating my life to try to make an entire industry happy.
I do make an effort to use the term ‘mobile home’ when referring to a home built before July 1976 and ‘manufactured home’ for homes built after that date.
Another Email? Oh, Joy……
Here’s the latest communication that I received just a couple days ago:
Your site is very interesting. Great site!
But….. you really need to drop the term “Mobile Home”. The reason is, it gives people the view that these are “Trailers” and not homes.
HUD changed it in 1976 to Manufactured Homes. If we as owners of these homes want to change all the misconceptions about these homes, the term “Mobile Home” must be eliminated across the board. It gives inspectors, insurance companies, banks, home buyers, etc. a total misconception of what these homes have become.
There is so much wrong information given to people by so called, “people in authority”, because they think these homes are “trailers”, and the term “Mobile” is part of the reason….along with those people not knowing or caring to know what is fact and what is a myth.
We as owners, need to start changing the misconceptions that has plagued these homes for many years. It is time to get the truth out about these homes, and helping our selves at the same time… just my opinion.
The Issue With All this Silly Name Changing…..
My issue with all this name changing is simple – you cannot change how people talk and you cannot change a product’s reputation by calling it a different name.
The mobile home stereotype isn’t going anywhere until the industry changes itself. They need to stop worrying about everyone else and take a good look at themselves and how they contribute to the mobile home stereotype much more than a hillbilly from WV writing on a blog .
If you look like a used car lot and you act like a used car lot, chances are, you’re going to do business like a used car lot, right? Right!
My ‘Official’ Reply
I’ve used the term ‘mobile home’ my entire life and I’m not stopping now.
The misconceptions of mobile homes are mostly true: some of the homes were junk, the buyers were preyed upon, families were sold homes they couldn’t afford.
It is what it is. Own it and move on…
The industry needs to focus on improving themselves and offering the best product at the best price possible and stop worrying about a term used by the people living in them or buying them.
One important step toward fixing the stereotype is to make better homes and have better customer service.
What Can the Industry Do to Get Rid of the Mobile Home Stereotype?
I find it a bit funny seeing articles on industry sites that actually have rebuttals for salesman and employees to use if they hear anyone using the words ‘mobile home.’
This multi-million dollar industry worries so much about what little bloggers are doing and what words are used in government literature but they haven’t changed the main things that keep the stereotype so alive and well.
I think if the industry wants to disassociate themselves from the mobile home stereotype and stigma they should stop selling their products like used cars first and foremost.
If they wanted to stop a stereotype about the homes being poorly built maybe they should stop selling poorly built homes?
We only want to enjoy our homes and we don’t care about the mobile home stereotype.
If you build a good home and create a good buying experience and stand behind your product, all 8 million or so owners living in mobile and manufactured homes across the nation will advertise for you better than any name change ever could.
So, this is me, the founder of Mobile Home Living, saying that I love my home and everything it has afforded me. It has provided us a better life! With no house payment, I have been able to give my daughter experiences I never had and that is a wonderful feeling.
I don’t care what you call it…I call it home.
Thank you so much for reading Mobile Home Living.