The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is auctioning off some of the 145,000 manufactured homes it bought in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to provide relief to those who were homeless after the storms. Although mobile home dealers are saying otherwise, FEMA insists its auction will not flood the market or create a drop in prices.
Calls to several manufactured home dealers and builders were unreturned but according to multiple published reports, many say consumers would rather buy a used FEMA mobile home than pay $25,000 to $40,000 for a new one.
FEMA told BUILDER Online that the agency, along with their partner, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), was being very cautious regarding the sales and have no intention of harming any businesses. The agency is trying to lower storage costs by reducing its number of trailers.
In addition to the auction, the agency also plans to donate some of the mobile homes.
"We do appreciate the fact that (mobile home) manufacturers sold us the units during the catastrophic response to (Hurricanes) Rita and Katrina," explained FEMA spokesperson Debbie Wing. "So they have had financial benefits because they sold us these units to begin with."
Robert Bosse of the Manufactured Home Owners Association of America told BUILDER Online that although he had limited knowledge of the situation, he says mobile home dealers are upset that they won't get the manufactured homes back, which would basically allow them to resell each item. When FEMA bought the 145,000 mobile homes in August and September of 2005, it spent $2.7 billion, roughly $19,000 per unit.
According to Wing, the mobile homes will be auctioned online through GSA's auction Web site www.gsaauctions.gov.