Camas, WA-based Kevin Burnside could have rested on his laurels.

When he initially penned "Buying A Manufactured Home" (Van der Plas Publications, $14.95) back in 1999, it was the only buying guide on the subject and it was a well-conceived and executed manual.

The just published 2002 edition still has little competition, but what's most significant is Burnside's impeccable timing.

After an era of bad loans and bloated inventories, the manufactured home industry is on the cusp of a come back.

Buyers are once again taking a hard look at manufactured homes and Burnside's updated guide is the timely tome they need.

Year-to-date sales of manufactured homes are down 2.7 percent, but June sales increased 5.4 percent over June 2002, according to Manufactured Housing Institute.

Thus far this year, manufactured home shipments are down only 5.3 percent from last year after shipment plunges of 28 percent in 2000 dropped to 23 percent last year.

"Now is a good time to buy and deal hard with these guys. They need to sell something. Somebody can go in and get a really good house for a good buy if you are willing to play hard ball" said Burnside.

Burnside initially wrote the book out of frustrations with the industry for too often ignoring consumers' needs and concentrating too much of the business of fast sales.

Since then, he says, a few things have changed in the industry and it's encouraging to see the industry becoming more consumer-accommodating, but the industry can do more.

Meanwhile, his book's new edition helps level the playing field by giving consumers some industry perspective, shopping insight and buying know-how.

"Don't get me wrong. I lived in them and I believe in them. The technology is there, the materials are there and the know-how is there. If people can get in and get education, then they don't have to be led around by the nose," says Burnside, a former manufactured home dealer who now works as a building and remodeling contractor.

To begin, buying a manufactured home isn't simply a matter of buying a manufactured home.

Along with shelter comes decisions about buying land or parking it in a manufactured home community.

If you buy the land and install the home properly it can become appreciating real estate with a title recorded as a matter of public record just like a site-built home. If, on the other hand, you simply rent the space, your home tends to depreciate much like the value of a parked car or truck.

Burnside also tells readers how to spot the best manufacturing techniques, how to get your manufactured home properly installed, how to check building codes and materials, how to handle financing issues, and how to bypass dealers who have no real interest in your housing needs.

With the flair of a best-selling novelist who knows when to add dialog to move his plot along, Burnside mixes literary flair with instructive do-it-yourself prose to make an easy read of a tough subject.

He also includes worksheets and option lists of factory installed options and then tells you what you need and what options you should avoid.

The book helps you set up flow sheets to guide you through the purchase of a home and land, or land only and it gives you a warranty check list and contract caveats to make sure you are covered.

With a federal and state-by-state list of manufactured home regulatory agencies and a glossary of industry terms, the complete book helps keep you from feeling like a rube when it's time to shop for a manufactured home.

"It's just a matter of being prepared and not jumping into the fray but getting an education. That's the main reason I wrote the book," he said.

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