How to Buy a Mobile Home Without Breaking the Bank
So you want to buy a new home, but you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg. You have looked through the classifieds, and so far, real estate prices seem sky high. Maybe you have a small family, or will soon be starting one. The small apartments within your budget just won’t cut it.
Luckily for you, there is a solution that ticks all these boxes! Mobile homes. Many people have made the same choice and lived happily with still fat wallets. We want to show you how to buy a mobile home without breaking the bank.
Keep reading for tips on how to score a bargain, without ending up with a rotten apple. We will also point out all the costs you might not expect so you can properly plan for them.
Lastly, we’ll cover how you can finance your new home so that you can make your purchase within a timeframe and budget that suits your financial situation.
How much do mobile homes cost?
Before you begin to check for prices and shop for what could potentially be your dream home/investment for the near future, there is a burning question we need to answer first.
What do you need?
It is critical when you start contacting sellers, agents or realtors that you know what you are looking for. If you do not, it will be easier to fall into the trap of a pressure sale by a desperate seller or agent.
What do I need?
1. How big is your family? What do you want?
As you probably know by now, mobile homes come in 3 main size categories: Single-wides, double-wides, and multi-wides. Single- and double-wides are the two most common types, but multi-wides are catching up along with the increase in mobile home build quality and popularity.
Here are the 3 main sizes of mobile homes:
|Type||Dimensions||General layout||Perfect for:||Average price:|
|Single-wide||10-16 ft. X 42-90 ft. (600-1300 sq. ft.)||2 Bedrooms
1 Living room
1 Eat-in kitchen
|Young families. With older kids, sharing a bathroom is not ideal. With a baby or young child, space should be adequate.||Around $40,000 new.
|Double-wide||20-32 ft. X 42-90 ft.
(1000-2000 sq. ft.)
This type of home leaves over a 1000 sq. ft. of space for a kitchen, washroom, dining and living areas, divided in many different ways.
|Perfect for a full sized family with 2 or more kids. The 3rd bedroom can function as a guest room / personal space. Bathroom use should also not be a problem, and everyone can take their time!||Around $90,000 new.|
|Multi-wide||Varies X ∓50 ft.
(< 4500 sq. ft.)
A LOT of living space.
|Multi-wides can be made up of any number of sections and can grow to a humongous size. Should be more than enough space even for a big family, grandma and grandpa included.||$100,000 + new.|
The prices above are very rough estimates. Mobile home prices can range anywhere from $10,000 or less to over $250,000. There are many factors that play into the value, including:
- Age of the mobile home.
- If the home has ever been moved.
- The desperation of owners to sell.
- The condition of the home.
- Individual model with amenities/features.
You might be surprised at what some mobile homes include nowadays! Here are just some examples of what amenities to look for:
- Designer kitchens.
- Custom cabinets/walk in closets.
- Exterior designs (skirtings for example).
- Extensions (awnings, decks, patios and crawl space covers).
2. Land or no land, that is the question!
Another decision that will make a huge impact on the price of your new home is whether you also want private land or not. If you buy a piece of land or own your own, there are many other considerations you need to take in effect, such as:
- The value of the property.
- Whether utilities are already hooked up (e.g. water, electricity, sewage).
- The zoning requirements of the area.
Purchasing a mobile home and placing it in a mobile home park, often works out much cheaper if one or all of the requirements above are unmet. Even a once-off installation of utilities can drive up the cost dramatically.
When you stay in a mobile home park you will need to pay lot rent, which might also include other levies such as garbage pickup, gardening, etc. Lot rent is usually affordable, and most should be in the $300-$700 range. Compare that to the mortgage on a stick-built home or apartment rent, and you should save between $500-$100 per month with a mobile home’s down payment included.
A final note
As with many things, the key is to shop around and see what is out there. Manufactured homes come in a wide range of models, and thanks to computer-aided design each model can have many variations.
This short guide should give you a good enough idea of what you can filter out from the onset. Now we are off to find out how to buy a mobile home without breaking the bank.
For even more information check out this great guide by the Federal Trade Commission and Manufactured Housing Institute.
How to Buy A Mobile Home Without Breaking the Bank: Affordable Options
If you are looking for a deal, check out your local newspaper and take a look at different Internet listings. Not all bargains are too good to be true, and this can be particularly true for mobile homes. Below, we provide some tips when looking into repossessed mobile homes.
As always, if you see something suspicious, take caution and inspect the home properly before signing anything.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you purchase a mobile home
To buy secondhand is sometimes a scary option. Most times, you do not know the previous owner. You can’t tell how much they cared for their possessions, even their home. For all you know, the house was subjected to years of its owners turning a blind eye toward problems, or the worst case scenario, mistreatment. This is also why it is important to meet the seller (if they are still involved). Get an idea if the home was previously loved, or only lived in.
Have the mobile home inspected. Of course, you can do this yourself, by inspecting the list of items below. If you want to check the home for financing options, you can hire a certified inspector so that you can prove to your financier that the home is in an acceptable condition.
- Wiring (if the home is older than 1976 it should have been re-wired, along with a new breaker)
- Water leaks and plumbing
- Sagging floors or ceilings
- Openings (do all windows and doors open and close correctly?)
- The home’s foundation (look at the condition of the underside of the house, especially its pier and the plastic cover on the belly)
- The roof (flat roofs need to have been regularly re-sealed. Metal roofs should be dent free and the seams sealed.)
- Structural alterations or additions
- Check if the home is still level
Take time to find out why the home is on the market. Moving mobile homes can be prohibitively expensive. Owners might be desperate enough to sell their home for a suspiciously low price to keep from moving it.
If you want to buy a mobile home without breaking the bank, repossessed auctions might be your dream come true. When a home is repossessed, more often than not, the bank just wants to cover their losses.
This means you can score some great deals! Of course, since these are also secondhand homes you should apply the same amount of caution when buying. Make sure you can personally check out the home, have it inspected and certified, and find out about any outstanding financial commitments that could transfer to you.
You can even shop around for agents that specialize in repossessed homes!
How To Buy a Mobile Home Without Breaking the Bank: Financing Options
Financing is a vital part of purchasing a home at a price and rate that you can afford. For many people, it’s the only way to afford something in this kind of price range. We know shopping online for financing options sounds like a tedious process, but bear with it.
Due to the nature of mobile homes, financing can be a bit more complicated than brick-and-mortar real estate. There are a few factors that can make a mobile home almost impossible to finance:
- If it has been moved more than 1 or 2 times.
- If it does not meet HUD standards.
Here are some other factors that also impact financing:
- Is the home permanently anchored to the property with a permanent foundation?
- How old is the home?
- What is your credit score?
Another handy tip is to get preapproved for a loan or mortgage! Not only do you get an exact idea of the financial backing you can expect, but it can also be a strong motivation for an owner to sell to you.
Let’s look at some financing options
The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) falls under the Title 1 program and therefore includes mobile homes.
The FHA helps potential homeowners get a loan from lenders by taking some of the risks on their shoulders. If the homeowner (or borrower) cannot continue paying off the loan and ends up defaulting, the FHA steps in and pays the lender.
There are significant benefits to FHA loans:
- The borrower is not required to own the land.
- The loan is required to be fixed for the full mortgage term.
- The borrower must be allowed to lease the land for at least 3 years.
The FHA therefore technically provides something like insurance and not a loan. The FHA is taking on some risk so they will review the following:
- Will this be your primary residence?
- Do you have the capacity to meet your monthly payments?
- Your credit history.
There’s also a limit to the loan amount:
- For only the manufactured home: $69,678
- For only the lot: $23,226
- For the home + lot: $92,904
Another option if you plan on leasing the land is a chattel mortgage.
There are two unfortunate cons of a chattel mortgage loan:
- The interest rates are higher than an FHA loan.
- The terms are shorter, which also means larger monthly payments.
Even borrowers with good credit are looking at interest rates of +6%, while those with bad credit will find it hard to get below 10%.
VA Loans are very similar to FHA loans. The guarantees are offered by the Department of Veteran Affairs and also insure the lender in case of the borrower defaulting.
Homeowners are also eligible for VA Loans whether they own the land too or not.
- Borrowers can get a loan up to 95% of the manufactured homes price.
- The VA can then guarantee 40% of the loan amount, or the veteran’s available entitlement, up to $20 000.
An obvious caveat is that you need to be eligible for this type of loan and present a certificate of eligibility. Just like an FHA loan, the home also needs to be your permanent residence.
The financial requirements are also the same as an FHA loan.
It is possible to get a conventional loan on a manufactured home, but it is very hard, and there are not many lenders that provide this service.
Lenders that do provide this service have strict requirements. Usually, the borrower is required to meet a minimum down payment amount from their finances. They might also demand collateral. There is also strict risk assessment.
It is easier and more affordable for those who also own the land.
So let’s wrap this all up
In summary, here is how to buy a mobile home without breaking the bank:
- Make up your mind – Sit down and figure out exactly want you want, what you need, and prioritize each feature. Also, decide what price range is acceptable. Keep in mind:
- Whether you want a mobile home on private land or in a mobile home park.
- Whether you are willing to buy a second-hand home.
- What the absolute deal breaker is for you!
- Shop around – Take the time to get to grips with all the options, you might want to adjust your expectations in step 1.
- Try and get preapproved for a loan/mortgage
- Get to know the home – Meet the owner/agent and demand to inspect the home yourself. You should also at some point have it checked by a professional. Also, find out why it is being sold.
- Apply for financing
- ENJOY YOUR NEW BARGAIN HOME!
A few final tips:
- Beware of package deals: Package deals sometimes look like a convenient option. Many times the prices are inflated to catch unaware buyers.
- Warranties: Warranties sometimes seem like a great way to safeguard your appliances. However, sometimes insurance is more than adequate, service charges are too high
- Don’t fall for high-pressure sales: There is always another home. Don’t rush into a purchase, when a better and more affordable option might be around the corner!
And those are the “keys” to buying a mobile home without breaking the bank. So get out there and start looking! Whatever you’re in the market for, a mobile home may be the perfect option.