Houses as Durable Goods

Matthew Iglesias, writing in Slate magazine, notes that durable goods—appliances, furniture, vehicles, airplanes— are primarily mass-produced in factories because that is the most cost-effective way to produce the least expensive product for the consumer, and the highest wage for the worker. Some of these products occupy space in homes, which could be considered the epitome of durability. The typical new site-built home is in a neighborhood where the homes look like they came from an assembly line. As MHProNews has learned, the recent housing downturn resulted in part from innovations in mortgage brokering that consumers did not understand or benefit from, but returned a healthy profit for the lenders. Iglesias writes: “But while the technology exists to build houses in factories and then deliver them to the location, it remains marginalized in American life by negative attitudes and legal impediments. And yet there are a bunch of reasons to think that manufactured houses (and the related sector of modular houses) is a more dynamic sector with more prospects for productivity increases and wage gains than is conventional single-family homebuilding. It’s time to return to developing affordable housing the old-fashioned way: finding more efficient, cost-effective ways to make the houses, rather than more efficient ways to make the loans.” For the complete article, please click here.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia–new manufactured homes ready for shipment)

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