What No One Tells You About Buying and Owning a Mobile Home

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Most first-time homebuyers are only interested in single-family homes. However, in 2020, the inventory of homes for sale hit a record low. This is expected to continue for some time, meaning that buyers will have to deal with high prices and a low selection of homes to choose from.

As a result, more buyers are considering owning a mobile home. However, there are some important differences you need to know. Take a look at these first-time homebuyer tips for mobile homes.

Types of Mobile Homes

First, it’s important to understand that there are several different types of mobile homes to choose from. Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes, typically come in single-wide and double-wide sizes. Some companies also manufacture triple-wide mobile homes.

Single-wide mobile homes typically have a narrow frame, and the rooms are connected to each other instead of being separated by hallways. Double-wide mobile homes are approximately twice the size of a single-wide. They more closely resemble a standard single-family home.

Mobile Home Placement

It’s important to remember that you can’t live in a mobile home unless you also have land to put it on. This means in addition to purchasing your manufactured home, you’ll also need to either buy or rent land.

You may be able to get a “land-home package,” so you only pay one mortgage. If you’re thinking about planting roots in a more urban area, you may end up renting or leasing a lot in a mobile home park.  

Financing Options

The primary concern for many first-time homeowners is the ability to get financing. This is particularly true now that we’re facing a lack of inventory and now that housing prices during the pandemic remain steady.

It’s important to understand that mobile home loans work a bit differently than a standard home mortgage. While a mobile home may be the perfect starter home, you may also face challenges getting financing.

For example, if you’re considering purchasing a new single-wide, it’s almost impossible to get financing through a major lender. However, you may be able to get financing directly from the manufacturer or through a credit union.

For a double-wide mobile home, many lenders won’t offer financing for anything that’s more than 15-years old. To qualify for a government loan, the mobile home will need to be “original set.” This means that it can’t have been set up somewhere else and moved to a new location.

In most cases, your lender will also require a “foundation inspection” done by an engineer. The purpose of this is to ensure the home is set up according to HUD specifications.

Advantages

One of the major advantages of owning a mobile home is that you’re more likely to get a home at a price you can afford. Typically, the cost-per-square-foot is far less than a “stick-built” single-family home.

Instead of settling for a single-family fixer-upper, you can get a new energy-efficient mobile home for about the same price. This means you’ll enjoy a move-in-ready home that doesn’t need a ton of work.

Since the down payment requirement is based on the purchase price, you can typically get into a mobile home much faster as well. In some cases, you may be able to find a 100% mortgage that requires very little out-of-pocket expense.

It’s also possible to purchase a large plot of land and place a mobile home on it for use as temporary housing. Then, you can save up your money and build a permanent home on the land in the future. Many first-time homeowners appreciate this extra flexibility.

Disadvantages

While purchasing a mobile home may cost you less, it’s also important to note that you may end up with a higher interest rate than you’ll pay for a single-family home. Many lenders consider manufactured or mobile homes to be a higher risk.

Your mobile home will also depreciate at a faster rate than a traditional single-family home. Historically, housing that is priced separately from land doesn’t hold its value as well as traditional homes.

Mobile homes are classified as personal property rather than “real property.” This is another reason why they depreciate so fast. Much like a new vehicle, the moment your mobile home leaves the lot, it begins to lose value.

If you’re living in a mobile home park or renting land, you’ll also have to deal with a landlord and/or follow park rules. There’s also a chance that the owner of the land could end up evicting you or selling the property. If this happens, you’ll either need to move your mobile home or sell it and find another place to live.

It can cost several thousand dollars to move a mobile home. If you leave it where it is, there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble selling it. For many, this quickly becomes a lose-lose situation.

Finally, mobile homes often don’t stand up to severe weather in the same way a single-family home will. If you’re faced with a hurricane or other strong storm, you’ll likely have to evacuate. Since they’re placed on temporary foundations, they’re also more prone to damage from earthquakes or other natural disasters.

Is Owning a Mobile Home Right for You?

If you’ve been thinking about owning a mobile home, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting into. You’ll need to think about your land options, financing, and more. These mobile home buying tips will help ensure you’re on the right track, so you’re completely ready for your new adventure.

Whether you choose to buy a mobile home or stick with a traditional single-family option, there’s a lot that goes into maintaining your new purchase. We have many articles to help you! Take a look through our many expert tips today.

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