UNITED STATES—For Travis Collings, the best part of growing up in the Paradise Cove mobile home park in Malibu in the late ’90s was surfing. “We grew up as a surfing family,” he said. “The mobile home park was like a playground for kids.” Even though their time at Paradise Cove was supposed to be temporary while their house was being fixed after a landslide, the park provided a bigger sense of community than he’d ever seen before.
Now 37, the born-and-raised Northern LA county native lives in an area sandwiched between the Santa Monica mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Three miles away and homes are going for millions. In Malibu, single-family homes start at $5 million. But Travis lives in the Santa Monica hills for only a fraction of the cost, at a mobile home park community called Seminole Springs.
“I never wanted to leave this part of the coast, and my parents still live in Paradise Cove,” he said. But he never paid much heed to the ebbs and flows of the housing market. With the surge in the housing market, his friends felt they were in the hot seat and had to buy a home. Some were paying millions for what was basically a tear down. To stay near Malibu and his parents, Collings started looking into alternatives. His brother bought a mobile home, a classic style home where he lived as a roommate. But when he started to look for himself, he was introduced to a new type of manufactured home provider in the area: Orbit Homes.
Rethinking the Manufactured Home Experience
Orbit Homes is challenging the classic design of manufactured homes by offering contemporary designs meeting federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) national codes. Unlike his brother, who was responsible for maintaining and upgrading his home, Orbit Homes include features and upgrades normally found in $1M plus homes. The homes are customizable to the buyer and can be installed on private land or in communities. The only permitting is to check the foundation and utility connections. For Collings, Orbit Homes provided a way to get a contemporary, stylish home at an affordable price.
“I started cracking the numbers, and I was finding that homes that were 15 or 20 years old needed a bunch of work,” Collings said. “Single family track homes were out of the budget and a condo for a reasonable price would be in the middle of nowhere away from my family.”
Collings purchased land that had been impacted by the Woolsey fire. “I found this mobile home park, and then Orbit Homes created an aesthetically pleasing and functional home,” he said. “Orbit Homes offered me the most beautiful home in my price range, in an area I never thought I’d own!”
Filling a Gap in the Housing Market
The housing market in the U.S., and particularly in California, has been on a torrent pace the past few years. In California, roughly 25% of households could afford to purchase a median-priced home, which is nearly $800,000. Given the stark year-over-year rise in house prices, the lack of affordability, and the desire during the pandemic to have their own homes, manufactured homes, like the ones created by Orbit Homes, are providing a much-needed resource for people like Collings looking for more affordable housing.
In places like California where prices for single-family residences and condos have spiked dramatically – with some of the most expensive cities on the coast from San Diego to San Francisco – more and more buyers are turning to manufactured homes. According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, in 2020 nearly 95,000 new homes were produced – accounting for approximately 9% of new, single-family homes. And with models from companies like Orbit Homes, these new mobile home parks resemble nothing of the parks of years past.
Redefining the Mobile Home Experience
Orbit Homes draws inspiration from different areas to create their contemporary designs. The homes are designed to bring people closer to the earth, with open floor plans, large windows in each room and patios.
Prefabricated housing isn’t a new concept—Sears famously sold homes through its mail-order catalog—but changing the concept of what a mobile home and park can be is something that is being redefined in the market. Much like those early Sears homes, Orbit Homes’ contemporary manufactured homes provide contemporary living for individuals and families that are experiencing barriers to the more traditional housing market. With waterfall islands, quartz countertops, electric fireplaces, and glass view walls, the style is reminiscent of a luxury home magazine.
Creating a Sense of Community
Contemporary parks now feature swimming pools, recreation centers, and tennis courts. It’s more beach community than city’s edge. Young families are now looking to mobile park communities as a good step in the home buying journey. It provides space and community while offering personalization that many buyers these days desire. Thanks to the affordability and livability provided by Orbit Homes, Collings is going to be able to live in this area between the mountains and ocean. This is all without breaking and providing the same sense of community that Collings experienced as a child.
“I love where I live,” he said. “I am living in my dream home.”
In addition to park options, Orbit Homes also serve as private residences. Orbit Homes installs homes as main residences on private land as an alternative to custom building a home.
“Primary residences are a key growth market for the contemporary manufactured home industry,” says Lauren Tucker, co-founder of Orbit Homes. “Many eco- and cost-conscious land owners are opting for homes installations instead of custom stick builds. Unlike expensive stick builds, contemporary manufactured homes have minimal ecological impacts on the land with an average six-month timeframe from build to install.”