Hat tip to Sol and daytrip for sending in news about Ikea/Ideabox collaboration, this from psfk.com:

Swedish furniture company IKEA, has collaborated with Oregon architectural firm Ideabox, to launch its first line of prefabricated houses in the U.S., named the “Aktiv.” The IKEA-themed dwelling is a one-bedroom home centered around space-saving furniture and products. The hip and modern house was outfitted taking into consideration the demands from Pacific-Northwest homeowners, and is designed to be eco-friendly.

It is equipped with facilities such as a dual-flush toilet and energy-star electronics. A combination of fiber-cement siding, corrugated metal, and a standing-seam metal roof make up the exterior of this all-in-one home.  It is 745sf.


According to Jim Russell, president of Ideabox, the complete home “brings all the fun and design of Ideabox houses together with all the function, design, and personality of IKEA.” The home will be furnished with a complete IKEA package that includes Tundra maple flooring, Pax wardrobes, and Abstrakt cabinets.  The Aktiv, Swedish for active, is expected to be priced at $86,500.


The Big Fear – Boomers Selling

From cnbc.com:

Baby Boomers putting their house up for sale could flood the market in coming years, while the younger generations may not be interested in buying, a new report says.

“It’s already happening in some states like Michigan,” says Rolf Pendall of the Urban Institute and a co-author of the report by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“Seniors there are already putting their homes on the market and the absorption of housing is less and creating more inventory,” Pendall explains. “There’s hesitancy on the buyer’s part.”

As boomers downsize because of retirement, finances, health or death, they’re expected to release some 26 million homes onto the market by 2030, according to the Policy Center paper.

The problem is that echo-boomers, or Generation Y—those born between 1982 and 1995—may not be buying up the inventory, says Pendall, whose retired mother is trying to sell a home and downsize.


Stylish PreFab

Hat tip to daytrip for sending this along from interiordesign.net:

The TED series’ 2012 conference last week in Long Beach, California was the backdrop for the unveiling of a new project from a unique collaborative team of designers and manufactures.

C6 is a prototype for an affordable, stylish, and mass-produced prefabricated housing unit—the first of its kind to boast a net-zero carbon footprint.

The project comes from the collective minds of New York- and Los Angeles-based architects Curated. and interiors specialists Jamie Bush & Co., in partnership with forward-thinking home builder LivingHomes and Brad Pitt-endorsed nonprofit Make It Right.


Back to the Future?

Here’s a tour of the modular we saw assembled back in February.  While many may have a concern about the quality of construction, it will be compounded by the noise and somewhat uncommon look inside:

Housing Containers

Hat tip to clearfund for sending this along – isn’t it just a matter of time before we’ll see these here being used for low-income and/or senior housing?

It seems difficult to overstate the versatility of the humble shipping container. Just recently we’ve seen it used to create a pop-up shopping mall and a touring kitchen; past sightings have included restaurants, pop-up health clinics, and hotel rooms.

The latest spotting? Citihub Mandaluyong, a dormitory in the Philippines that’s built from shipping containers and designed for low-income workers and students.

The brainchild of Manila’s Arcya Commercial Corporation, Citihub Mandaluyong is situated on a stretch of land in Mandaluyong along the Pasig River, according to a report on the Manila Bulletin. Four shipping containers make up the dorm, which includes separate air-conditioned housing and bathrooms for men and women. Pricing is just PHP 1,500 per month including water and electricity. (about $35US)

Besides fulfilling what’s clearly a pressing unmet need, Citihub Mandaluyong is also a perfect example of what our sister site would call a functionall offering — one that’s simple, inexpensive and designed primarily with low-income consumers in mind. It also seems ripe with global potential; one to emulate in your neck of the woods?


Buffett’s Modulars & Mortgages

Hat tip to Clearfund for sending this along, from Forbes.com:

Last weekend after Berkshire Hathaway released Warren Buffett’s annual letter, there were a flurry of  articles and blog posts hanging off Warren’s every word.  One part of his long letter that didn’t get a huge amount of ink was the section on Clayton homes, a big manufactured home company that Berkshire owns.

Here is Buffett’s excerpt on Clayton Homes:

At Clayton, we produced 23,343 homes, 47% of the industry’s total of 50,046. Contrast this to the peak year of 1998, when 372,843 homes were manufactured. (We then had an industry share of 8%.) Sales would have been terrible last year under any circumstances, but the financing problems I commented upon in the 2009 report continue to exacerbate the distress.

To explain: Home-financing policies of our government, expressed through the loans found acceptable by FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, favor site-built homes and work to negate the price advantage that manufactured homes offer.

We finance more manufactured-home buyers than any other company. Our experience, therefore, should be instructive to those parties preparing to overhaul our country’s home-loan practices. Let’s take a look.

Clayton owns 200,804 mortgages that it originated. (It also has some mortgage portfolios that it purchased.) At the origination of these contracts, the average FICO score of our borrowers was 648, and 47% were 640 or below. Your banker will tell you that people with such scores are generally regarded as questionable credits.

Nevertheless, our portfolio has performed well during conditions of stress. Here’s our loss experience during the last five years for originated loans:

Year Net Losses as a Percentage of Average Loans
2006 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.53%
2007 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.27%
2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.17%
2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.86%
2010 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.72%

Our borrowers get in trouble when they lose their jobs, have health problems, get divorced, etc. The recession has hit them hard. But they want to stay in their homes, and generally they borrowed sensible amounts in relation to their income. In addition, we were keeping the originated mortgages for our own account, which means we were not securitizing or otherwise reselling them. If we were stupid in our lending, we were going to pay the price. That concentrates the mind.

If home buyers throughout the country had behaved like our buyers, America would not have had the crisis that it did. Our approach was simply to get a meaningful down-payment and gear fixed monthly payments to a sensible percentage of income. This policy kept Clayton solvent and also kept buyers in their homes.

Home ownership makes sense for most Americans, particularly at today’s lower prices and bargain interest rates. All things considered, the third best investment I ever made was the purchase of my home, though I would have made far more money had I instead rented and used the purchase money to buy stocks. (The two best investments were wedding rings.) For the $31,500 I paid for our house, my family and I gained 52 years of terrific memories with more to come.

But a house can be a nightmare if the buyer’s eyes are bigger than his wallet and if a lender – often protected by a government guarantee – facilitates his fantasy. Our country’s social goal should not be to put families into the house of their dreams, but rather to put them into a house they can afford.


Pricing a Modular

How do you price a modular?

Are they nice enough that they deserve a new-house premium, or should there be a discount for being “not-stick-built”.  I think the price that buyers would be willing to pay depends mostly on what’s happening around the immediate neighborhood – here’s a tour around the one on Magnolia:

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