New homes took it on the chin during the mortgage bust, with starts sliding from more than a million in 2007 to as low as 435,000 in 2011, according to the Census Bureau. But for those who think this niche is the poster child for declining housing volume, it's not even close. Manufactured housing placements have dropped 85% from their market high.

The placement numbers (meaning a unit placed on a lot) for prefab homes dropped from a market peak of 374,000 in 1998 to just 52,800 in 2012. Volume rose a little last year, to 56,500, according to the Census Bureau.

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