A Detailed Overview Of Buying A Mobile Home vs A House

by Mar 1, 2019


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Nowadays, there are more options than buying an on-site built house when you are looking for your dream home. Mobile homes are a fantastic alternative. They are inexpensive and are now of a higher quality than ever before.

If you are looking for new housing, you should consider both of these options. One tried and tested method to make a decision is to compare and contrast the choices.

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The process and results for choosing one of these options are vastly different. That’s why we’ve written this guide to give you an overview of buying a mobile home vs. a house.




Buying a mobile home vs a house

House

Single unit homes are among the most popular forms of housing for families in the U.S. These homes are built on location, taking anywhere between three to twelve months.

Conventional homes are ones that are built on location. The structure is permanent and can’t be moved. With their durability and long life, it’s no surprise that they dot our neighborhoods. In the end, you will own both the house and the property that it’s built on.

You typically have to hire a builder or contractor. You also need to have plans drawn up for the structure. Additionally, you can buy the house already built. Or you can purchase a plot of land and have a home constructed there.

The interior of the home is exposed to the elements until the installation of the exterior walls, roofing, and windows.

Traditional, tried and true, site-built homes have stood the test of time throughout U.S. and world history.

Traditional house

Mobile home

Mobiles homes are a whole different ball game. They are built in a factory or warehouse by the manufacturers. Therefore, they aren’t constructed on location.

They are designed with a steel frame and chassis which allows them to be moved to wherever they are going to be parked. Manufactured homes are basically ready to go.

There are plenty of potential buying options with manufactured homes. One is to buy a used or parked home with the property. Otherwise, you can buy the ideal home for you from the manufacturers. Some parks rent out lots where you can park your own house. Or you can go all the way and buy a new home and some land to install it on.

Similarities between a mobile home and a house

Before we take a look at a more detailed explanation of their differences, let’s find out what stays the same.  

Purpose

The use to which you can put the house will stay the same. Mobile homes can be just as cozy as conventional ones. They can become the perfect place to live for you and your family.

Couple holding baby shoes

Manufactured homes can be adapted to suit your needs. Just as in a built house, you can buy or customize it to make sure that it has enough rooms.

Amenities

People often have misconceptions about the level of comfort that you can experience in mobile homes. However, you don’t have to sacrifice any conveniences if you go this route.

You can have all the amenities and utilities that you would in a conventional home. The only difference is that if you buy a manufactured home that is not yet parked, you will have to hook everything up like the power and water.

But once this is done, you will be all set.

Sizes

Traditional houses come in a variety of sizes. Their sizes are typically measured in square feet, and the cost is usually proportionate to the area. Budget and land area is the only real restriction on how big the home will be.

Mobile homes have become famous for their potential to help you downsize. They are forerunners in the trend for tiny houses. Their mobility, convenience, and low cost make them ideal for this type of lifestyle.

However, manufactured homes don’t necessarily have to mean tiny. They come in a range of sizes just like houses. They come in single-wides, double-wides or triples.

What’s the difference?

On the other hand, there are also many differences between buying a mobile home vs a house. Here are the main ones that you should consider.

TURN AROUND TIME

A site-built home can take three to twelve years, depending on how speedy the contractors work. Other factors such as weather and finances may play a part in delaying the home’s completion.

On the other hand, a mobile home can be built from the bottom up within days to two weeks. The mobile home’s short period of construction keeps the cost of the home within a range of greater affordability.

CONSTRUCTION PROCESS

Contractors build a house on-site, leaving it exposed to whatever whim the weather takes. A house is also subject to a variety of contractors and workers that will come to work on the various aspects of the house. You have no guarantee that theft won’t arise from this arrangement.

House under construction

Most of the mobile home materials are pre-measured and ready to be put into place. The manufacturing facility has crews dedicated to each phase of the construction process.

First, works build the steel frame put the walls in place. Next comes flooring. Then onward moves the home to other construction departments until the exterior is in place. One final inspection and the home is ready to be moved to a lot in a mobile home community, or to privately owned land.

RESTRICTIONS

Generally speaking, there are not many restrictions on site-built homes. Some states may have more or fewer regulations for each phase of the construction process. Usually, the law requires contractors to be licensed. Regular inspections throughout the process are another possible requirement.

However, mobile homes fall under greater restriction. They must meet the standards set forth by the HUD code. Different locales may have restrictions on whether a mobile home may replace a house. And if they are legal, your zone may make specific demands on the material used for your exterior and roofing. Specifics on installation are also something to look up when researching your area’s demands.

HUD laws are what have brought mobile homes out of their stigma and into a more positive light. The bar has certainly be raised and made them a worthy competitor against site-built homes.

Financing

First off, it is possible to secure financing for both options. You should be able to get a loan for either. However, the process for each is unique.

For a site built house, you will typically get financing for real property. These loans have a long term, low-interest rates, and tax deductions.

You could possibly get this financing for a mobile home but only if it is classed as real property, To do this, it needs to be permanently installed on property that you own.

Otherwise, it could be classified as personal property. This is typically given for moveable objects like cars. These loans usually have shorter loan terms and higher interest rates. But one benefit is that the deposit needed to initiate it is generally less.

As with other loans, the financing that is available to you depends on your credit score, the specific house and the policies of the financer.

Mobility

One of the unique features of mobile homes is that they can be moved. This is undoubtedly one aspect that will appeal to many buyers.

People are often put off by the permanence of choosing a location to live. You might not want to buy a house in case you want to move later. If this sounds like you, manufactured homes can be a way to get the best of both worlds. You can get the freedom of having your very own home with the possibility of change.

You should note that you will probably need to hire a company to do this. If you want more information on actually moving the home check out this article.

Advantages of a mobile home

1) Price

One of the most significant selling points of mobile homes is their price. Compared to traditional real estate they are extremely affordable.

Single wides cost between $20,000 to $40,000 and are on average 600 to 1300 square ft.

Double wides are the mid-size option. The typically measure between 2,000-2,500 square feet and still only cost about $60,000-$80,000. If you are looking for something even bigger there are triple or multi-wides which are around 4500 square feet. They cost about $100,000 to $200,000.

This creates a cascading effect where renovations, changes, and maintenance will mostly be inexpensive as well.

2) Customization

An excellent benefit is that there are manufacturers that offer custom built mobile homes. You can often choose between different appearances and layouts.

Additions and changes to the house can usually be done yourself and can cost less and take less time to complete.

3) Construction time

Manufacturers can complete a house in a couple of days. If it is a bit big or more complex, it will take a couple of weeks. This is still much quicker than traditional construction.

Construction worker holding a hammer on site

Typically, the buying process also takes less time. There are usually less negotiation and less complicated legal agreements.

They can be a great option if you are in a hurry.

4) The lot

This aspect can count as either a downside or an upside depending on your needs and perspective. Unlike conventional homes, you can buy a mobile home without the property of ground to park it on. Therefore, you might still need to get a lot.

The advantage of this is that you can park it exactly where you want and are able to.

Disadvantages of a mobile home

1) Moving

Moving a mobile home isn’t exactly a walk in the park. You will have to hire specialized movers to take your home to location. Luckily, there are more professional companies than ever that can help you.

But it will still mean extra costs that you need to factor into the final price. When you have parked it, you will also need to connect it to all the utilities.

You can circumvent this by buying a used mobile home or a new one that is already installed.




2) The lot

The potential downside of buying a park without property is that you will still need to find a place to park it. This will involve extra effort and extra cost.

3) Lifetime

Unfortunately, manufactured houses don’t last as long as on-site built homes. Older models that were constructed before the 1970s can last 40 years on average.

Today’s mobile homes have a life expectancy of up to 55 years. So although with proper care and maintenance they last longer than in the past it still isn’t as long as that of traditional real estate.

4) Depreciation

Another con is that most mobile homes depreciate over time. This means that they will lose value from the moment that you buy them. Usually, you won’t be able to sell it for as much as you bought it. However, depending on the location and certain upgrades you make to the home, this isn’t always the case.

Advantages of a house

1) Permanence

One of the most significant differences between the two types of property is their life expectancy. There isn’t a clear timeline for built houses. But they often last a hundred years or even more.

So if nothing unfortunate happens, they can last longer than you will be able to make use of it. In most cases, you don’t have to worry about needing to replace it because of deterioration or damage.

2) Equity

Another fantastic benefit is that on-site built houses don’t typically lose value over time. They won’t depreciate like other types of moveable property.

Instead, they usually increase in value depending on the market in the local area. Additions or renovations can mean that it will be worth even more.

Therefore, you can often sell the home for a profit. It also counts as a more permanent asset on your name.

3) Design

You will usually find more varied designs in built-homes than mobile homes. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes from round to more traditional square and rectangular structures. Because they don’t have to be moved, there are many potential layouts.

Disadvantages of a house

1) Construction times

One disadvantage of buying an on-site home is how long it takes to build. It can take months and even years to finish.

Empty calendar on a desk

Delays are common. Construction sites are exposed to the elements so things like bad weather can cause major setbacks. Problems with ordering building supplies or aspects like labor disputes can also have an effect.

This isn’t an issue if you are buying a home that has already been built.

2) Expensive

The median cost for built homes is no less than $200,000. You will typically pay between $70 to $ 200 per square foot. This is more or less the same as top-end manufactured homes.

Their cost is far more unpredictable than mobile homes. It depends on the location, size, and age of the house and the local real estate market.

3) Buying process

Construction isn’t the only thing that takes a long time with traditional homes. The actual process of buying the house can also take longer than with mobile units.

First of all, the process of house hunting can take quite a lot of time. You will probably have to drive around for hours going to visit sites and houses.

Secondly, buying a house usually involves a lengthy process of negotiation with the owner. Because the cost of these houses is higher, it might be necessary for you to ask for adjustments to the price. In the end, you have to make an offer and wait to hear if the owner will accept or reject it.

Once this is done, it is time to set up a contract. This can also involve a lot of back and forth between the parties and their lawyers.

is it a good idea to buy a manufactured home?

Some of you out there may be considering buying a manufactured home. However, you haven’t completely made up your mind. You may have some compelling reasons for taking the plunge. Plus, you might even have a financial situation that makes it possible (or even easy). But, you’re asking yourself – is buying a manufactured home a good idea?

We’re here to give you some advice for whatever stage of life you find yourself in.

IT’S YOUR FIRST HOME, AND IT’S A REALLYBIG DEAL

To begin with, let’s suppose you’re thinking about a first home. You’ve never purchased a home before. As a result, you’re nervous and excited. Of course, you could buy a stick-built house. But you’ve also been mulling over the idea of a manufactured home as your first property.

However, you want to do your research before taking the plunge. If you’re looking for a little more info on whether buying a mobile home could be a good option, take a look at How To Afford Living Alone In A Mobile Home Whether Buying Or Renting.

A WORD TO THE SINGLE & JUST MARRIED PEOPLE

If you’ve just tied the knot, congratulations!

Now, you may be trying to figure out if it’s time to move out of the apartment. Alternatively, you may not be married yet. However, you’re still thinking it may be a good move to acquire a place to call your own. Either way, we’ll assume you’re not independently wealthy. As a result, you’re wrestling with how to finance the transition to being a homeowner.

Married couple walking towards a house

Steve Gillman in his 8 Reasons Why You Should Consider Buying A Mobile Home posits that “People have this mistaken idea that you can’t get financing for a mobile home. Through HUD programs banks will loan up to $69,678 on a mobile home on a rented lot, and up to $92,904 on mobile home attached to a lot.”

For more on financing, check out our article: How To Find And Apply For Manufactured Home Loans. You might also want to check out Can I Get an FHA Loan for a Mobile Home?

AND THEN THERE WERE 3 (OR 4, OR 5, OR MORE)

Conversely, some of you may be long past the newly-wed or single season of life. Little people have joined your family, and space is at a premium. In your case, you like the idea of purchasing a mobile home for several reasons. But you’ve got one big question – will I have enough space?

According to Kara Zuaro it is possible. Their double-wide has 3 queen-sized beds and 14 bunk beds! Imagine all the people you could host in those quarters! Of course, if your brood isn’t that big, at least you have peace of mind knowing there’s no lack of space for your other belongings.

IS BUYING A MANUFACTURED HOME A GOOD IDEA FOR RETIREMENT?

Still, other prospective homebuyers are in yet a different stage of life. Perhaps you’re on the other side of their retirement party and weighing your options. You may also be wondering, “is buying a manufactured home a good idea?” Here are some things to keep in mind.

Mobile homes are affordable, which is ideal for those on a fixed income. They’re also more energy-efficient, which is good for your wallet and the environment!

Green energy lightbulb

Unlike an apartment, you can still have a yard and some amount of privacy.

Many mobile homes are located in 55+ communities. These parks cater to retirees, offering amenities and services to make life a little easier. Plus you’ll be surrounded by your peers.

For more on living in a mobile home park, check out: 7 Questions To Ask Before Signing A Lease With A Mobile Home Park and 5 Things You Need To Do Before Moving Into A Mobile Home Park.

A FEW MORE CONSIDERATIONS

While a mobile home can meet your needs in every stage of life, don’t forget to educate yourself about prospective drawbacks, too. One thing to consider is depreciation. Unlike traditional housing, mobile homes depreciate over time. You can learn more about Mobile Home Advantages and Disadvantages in this article.

MOVING FORWARD

Now that we’ve put some thought into your question, “Is buying a manufactured home a good idea?” you might have a few more things you’d like to know about. For instance, you may be thinking about giving a pre-owned home a chance. If so, take a minute to read over our 4 Things You’ll Want To Know Before Buying A Used Manufactured Home. And, if you’re ready to make your dream a reality, then stop by this one before you begin: Buying A Mobile Home Checklist | A Helpful Resource To Stay On Track.

Rounding up the options

Carefully weighing the pros and cons can help you to make the best decision for you and your family. The process of buying a mobile home vs a house differs significantly. So if it is your first experience purchasing a manufactured unit, it helps to do some research.

Once you’ve made your choice, it’s time to take a more detailed look at how to find and buy your dream mobile home. It is also a good idea to research some of the best mobile homes on the market right now.

What will you choose? Here we’ve arrived at the end of our analysis of mobile home vs house. It’s the last of our three-part series on mobile homes and their alternatives (trailertiny house, site-built home). We hope you found it to be an informative tour. While the mobile home is currently growing in popularity, all these homes carry their own special charm.






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