If you were to ask someone what the options were for affordable housing in Billings, you would likely hear these responses:
“You could get a trailer on the South Side”
“I think there are some low-income rentals near Montana Avenue”
“You might be able to get a basement apartment for a few hundred per month”
Or a variety of other answers along those lines. For some reason, when people think of affordable housing, they think of low-income housing. What they don’t realize is that affordable doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. And when people want something that is affordable, it doesn’t mean they can’t afford anything nicer. There are those who want to spend less on their housing costs, so they can spend more doing the things they love.
So, let’s abolish the myth that affordable means cheap, and take a look at some of the affordable housing options in Billings today.
Houses Aren’t All Built on Site
If you head to Google, and you start to search “Homes for Sale Billings” you will find a plethora of sites that list the majority of the options available. They will usually have a map feature so that you can find the house that is in the right location for you, and you will see that the average price for these homes is a little over $200,000. If you’re looking for affordable housing in Billings, you might give up your search right there.
Traditionally built homes, that is, those homes built on site, are often more expensive than a lot of the other options. One of the reasons is because the workers have to haul all of their equipment to the job site every day. Sometimes working conditions are less than ideal, and things tend to take quite a while. All of this drives up the cost of the home.
But there is a better alternative for those who are searching for affordable housing in Billings. Those websites that show you real estate for sale around town are only showing traditionally built homes. What they don’t show are manufactured homes.
What is a Manufactured Home?
There are a few different types of manufactured homes. But the primary aspect that sets them apart from traditional stick built homes is the fact that they are manufactured elsewhere, and then transported to the home site.
This helps you, the homeowner, in a variety of ways.
First, manufactured homes tend to be more durable than a traditionally built home. Because they are built in a controlled environment, and subjected to rigorous testing, these homes are a bit heavier duty. Also due to the fact that they must be transported, they have to be able to withstand high winds, and bumpy roads. The result is that you get a home that is sturdily built.
Second, the manufacturing process is a lot faster than the traditional home building process. The facilities where the homes are built are equipped with all of the tools needed. They have systems in place, and can move through the construction process much faster than a builder can build you a home (typical manufacturing process is 1 to 3 months, typical home build time is 6 to 9 months).
Lastly, because of the rigorous testing, the controlled building environment, and a variety of other factors, a manufactured home is often more energy efficient than a traditionally built home. Now this all depends on the construction, but when comparing the typical stick built home to the typical manufactured home, you get a tighter, more efficient home.
There are two basic forms of manufactured homes.
The Difference Between Modular and Mobile Homes
Modular homes and mobile homes are your primary manufactured homes. If you want affordable housing in Billings, and you want to be a homeowner, one of these will be your best choice. Now there is a big difference between these two types of homes.
The differences are in the construction process, and in the final location of the home.
Modular homes are built in modules. Each component is built, and then they are pieced together. Modular homes are often larger than mobile homes, and they look more like a traditional home when they are all put together and delivered to the final housing location.
The reason they look more like a traditional home is that they are set onto a foundation. A modular home is built in a controlled environment, but after it is delivered it doesn’t move from that spot. It is securely attached to the foundation, and that is where it stays forever.
A mobile home has some similarities to a modular home. It is also built in a controlled environment, but rather than being built in pieces and then put together, it is built completely in the factory. The mobile home is then transported to the location.
The biggest difference, however, is that final location. While a modular home is set onto a foundation, a mobile home is not. This means that the mobile home can eventually be moved if the owner would rather live in a different location. They can take their home with them.
Whether you choose a modular as your affordable housing option, or you choose a mobile depends on your situation and what you are looking for.
Why a Mobile Home Might be Your Best Option
There are times when a mobile home is your best option for affordable housing in Billings. Much of it has to do with what your budget is, and where you would like your home to be located.
A mobile home is the lowest cost house that you can buy. We have previously enjoyed mobiles on our lot that start at around $10,000. Let’s suppose that you are able to put 25% down, and then get a small loan to cover the rest; you would spend $2,500 up front, and then less than $150 per month for 5 years (based on a 60 month loan at 4% interest). Owning a home doesn’t get much more affordable than that.
There are some downsides to owning a mobile home though. For instance, you are constrained to putting your home in a trailer park that has open lots. While there are some plots of land that allow mobiles, generally the covenants exclude them.
The other pitfall is that since a mobile home is not secured to the ground, it is not considered real property (defined as immovable property). Thus it is harder to insure, and it generally won’t appreciate in value the same way a home with a foundation will.
Those two downsides may mean that you want to look at a modular home instead.
Why a Modular Home Might be Your Best Option
Let’s suppose that you already have a plot of land, but you don’t want to spend the high costs of building a new home on that land. This is where a modular home would be your best option for affordable housing in Billings.
A modular home only needs to have a foundation poured. Then, the house is set on top of that foundation. You instantly have a house that is considered real property, and you reduce the stress of construction considerably. Best of all, you didn’t pay nearly as much as it would cost to have a construction company come in and build everything for you.
Modular homes come pre-built if you like the styles that we have on the lot, or you can have one customized to your tastes and desires. The choices are endless, and you are only constrained by your imagination (and your budget).
Picking Between Modular and Mobile
The biggest factor on which form of housing you choose will be your budget. Mobile homes are going to be cheaper and offer a bit more flexibility, a modular home is a little more expensive but offers the perks of having real estate that will grow your net worth.
So how do you choose between a modular or a mobile home?
First, you must determine what is in your budget. If either one fits in your budget, then you can start narrowing things down.
Choose which one fits your needs. Do you want something that is a starter home? Something that can get you by as you save up to buy a bigger house? Then a mobile might be in your best interest.
Are you ready to commit to owning the house and the land? If so, then you will want to look at modular homes.
Regardless of which living situation you choose, you can be comfortable in your choice knowing that you didn’t pay the high costs of a traditionally built home, and you saved money by choosing some of the most affordable housing in Billings.
Affordable Housing in Billings Means Owning Your Home
When you rent, you are paying the mortgage for the landlord. If the mortgage has been paid off, then you are helping him or her make a living by supplying residual income. When you move out of the rental, you don’t get to take anything with you, and you don’t have any equity built up to show for it.
When you own your home, you are paying yourself. If you decide to move you can take your mobile home with you. If you decide to sell it and get something new, then you get to keep any equity that you have accumulated over the years (if you have lived in the home at least 2 of the last 5 years, you won’t pay any taxes on the first $250,000 ($500,000 if married) of gains that you make).
In Billings, owning your home is the best way to go (in many bigger cities it makes more sense to rent). Big Sky Homes offers affordable housing in the Billings market.
Why You Should Choose Big Sky Homes
We are a family owned business that has been serving the Billings community for nearly 3 decades. We understand the needs of Billings, we know what the residents of Billings want, and we can offer solutions to get them into their own home quickly.
If you are looking for a house in Billings, don’t spend the outrageous costs on buying a traditional stick built home. Instead, come by our lot at 750 Parkway Lane, and see what we have to offer. You will be surprised at how great these modular and mobile homes really are.