COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Texas Real Estate Research Center) – In contrast to Texas’ manufacturing industry as a whole, the state’s housing manufacturers surged with confidence in May, according to the latest Texas Manufactured Housing Survey (TMHS). The business-activity and company-outlook indices increased for the fourth consecutive month to their highest levels since 2021.
New orders and production continued to rebound after last year’s correction.
“After a productive spring season, housing manufacturers expressed broad-based optimism for the second half of 2023,” said Wesley Miller, senior research associate at the Texas Real Estate Research Center (TRERC). “This sentiment stands out against other manufacturing subsectors, where faltering orders and activity have forced a more cautionary tone, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve’s Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.”
“Higher interest rates impact industries differently,” explained Dr. Harold Hunt, senior research economist at the TRERC. “For example, higher mortgage rates reduce housing affordability, and some prospective buyers leave the site-built market and enter the manufactured-housing sphere.”
In addition to the wave of new orders for manufactured homes, May marked the first uptick in sale prices for 2023. TRMS respondents expect prices to grow over the next six months, but that expectation includes the price of raw materials. Housing manufacturers also anticipate labor costs to increase, but they plan on expanding payrolls to expand production.
Supply chains have been stable, and respondents expressed an improvement in the overall level of uncertainty.
“The industry had to navigate through most of May with the uncertainty of whether the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing were going to take effect on the last day of the month as scheduled,” according to Rob Ripperda, vice president of operations for the Texas Manufactured Housing Association. “The DOE published a proposed rule back in March asking for input on delaying the implementation, but confirmation of a later compliance date was not announced until May 19th, just 12 days before the changes were supposed to take effect.”
The TRMS reflected this development, with the regulatory-burden index holding firmly in positive territory, but its corresponding six-month-expectations iteration trended downward.
“Manufacturers will have to wait and see what the final compliance procedures will ultimately be, but once those rules are finalized, they will have 60 days to get their single-section production lines ready and until July 1, 2025, for their multi-section homes,” Ripperda said.
All TMHA members with manufacturing facilities in the state were invited to participate in the sentiment survey, and the survey panel represents 89 percent of HUD-code homes produced in Texas.
Funded by Texas real estate licensee fees, TRERC was created by the state legislature to meet the needs of many audiences, including the real estate industry, instructors, researchers, and the public.