For newlyweds or those planning a family, your home is where your offspring’s lives will start and where they will undergo most of their transition into adulthood. For families who are ready to have some kids, it needs to be a space that accommodates your whole family comfortably. If you are in or on the verge of retirement, it’s the place where you want to spend your golden years in peace and dignity.
Whatever you or your family’s needs are, there will be a home that suits you. You just need to be aware of all the options available, what you’re needs are, and exactly what you’re looking for.
Luckily for you, there is a wider range of mobile homes available than ever before. They come in all shapes and size and across the whole price spectrum. In this guide, we will help you get to know the different kinds of homes as well as try to pinpoint who will benefit most from which kind of home. Don’t compromise when it comes to your family.
What is a mobile home? Why consider a mobile home?
Technically the correct term for a mobile home today is manufactured housing. This has been the official term since the HUD code in 1976 when strict manufacturing standards for these types of homes were instituted. This was partly to clear the bad name of mobile homes and to distinguish them from real mobile home trailers and RV’s.
As you can tell from the name, manufactured homes are literally manufactured inside a factory. They are built in their entirety in the factory and then shipped on a big truck to the location where they sit on some kind of support or foundation.
There are many upsides to a mobile home. The financial ones are obvious. They are much less expensive than traditional stick-built homes and aren’t taxed as highly. Nowadays, their safety standards are comparable to stick-built homes, largely due to the HUD code.
Even in a park with lot rent and a mortgage, they tend to work out cheaper than renting a condo or apartment. That means you can live in a family size home, with all the creature comforts, for a modest price.
Top considerations when choosing a home for your family
Mobile homes come in three main size categories which we will look at in more depth below:
This is another fairly obvious consideration. Depending on your family and personal taste you could desire a vastly different layout from the family next to you. While more intricate layouts with certain room allocations may cost more than others, you really can’t put a price tag on living in a comfortable and accommodating home.
To illustrate just how personal the choice is, think about the kids’ bedrooms. If you have two kids, depending on their age, you could have them either sleep in the same room or they will each require their own. While one bathroom might be OK for a newlywed couple with a baby, once you have a teenager it becomes impractical.
Location could be even more important than size and layout. It doesn’t matter if you found the house of your dreams if there are no schools for your kids, it’s too far from your job or it’s in a bad neighborhood.
Most mobile homes are also located inside mobile home parks. If you move into one of these homes, you are also moving into the park itself and you should take care when scoping it out. Different parks have their own membership and ownership structures. Co-ops, 50+ communities and HOAs all work in different ways and place different responsibilities on their inhabitants.
You should also find out what amenities the park has, any extra fees or levies, services such as garbage collection or gardening, and rules regarding what you can or cannot do to your home.
If you’re looking at private property, then check the zoning requirements of the specific area. They might not allow mobile homes or have special requirements for them. It might also be very expensive or impossible to hook up utilities on the plot. This is where mobile home parks are handy as they already fulfill all these extra caveats.
Amenities or features
The rising popularity and development of mobile homes have led to an innovative and diverse industry. Today, mobile homes have moved beyond all looking the same with their boxy designs and flat aesthetics.
You can really get your hands on some remarkable manufactured homes with designer kitchens or bathrooms, jacuzzis, patio’s or stoops, and all kinds of other extras. The best thing is you can get a top-of-the-line mobile home and it will probably still cost you less than a decent stick-built home!
Some manufacturers specialize in storm-resistant homes while others specialize in designer kitchens. As the manufacturing process can be fairly flexible some even allow you to customize your layout before it’s built!
It would be very careless of us to not mention financing options. After all, it’s not all that simple when it comes to mobile homes. This is mostly a result of manufactured housing developing faster than lenders adapt, the stigma surrounding mobile homes, and their perception as something in between private property and a home.
Technically they aren’t real-estate as they have a chassis, axle, and wheels and can be moved. One way to get around this is if the home has had these removed, is permanently affixed to a permanent foundation, you own the plot of land, and it’s been reregistered as real estate with local authorities. It’s then considered real estate and you can apply for the same financing options as a stick-built home.
If the home doesn’t fulfill those requirements there is still hope! There are a few specialized financing options just for mobile homes:
FHA backed loan
The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) promises to cover your debt in case you become unable to make your payments. You still need to find a willing lender. Most apply for the FHA backing for you. The FHA has their own caveats you must meet and maximum amounts they are willing to cover.
VA backed loan
Works exactly the same way as an FHA backed loan except that it is sponsored by the Department of Home Affairs instead of the FHA. You need to provide a certificate of military service and meet their requirements regarding the time you served. They also have their own limits and conditions.
This should be your last resort. Chattel loans are like mortgages on private property. As such, their rates tend to be higher, their initials larger, and their terms shorter. However, they are the easiest to qualify for if you are a mobile home owner.
Most loans will require that you make a minimum down payment of around 5% of the home’s value. Terms are usually between 15 to 30 years and the interest rates are generally between 3-10% but these depend on a lot of factors such as your credit score and risk profile.
Different mobile home sizes and types
As we have mentioned, mobile homes come in three major categories. Except for differences in size and dimensions, there are also some other important factors to take into account specific to each type of home.
Single-wides are the smallest category of mobile homes. They are often too small to house entire families but are still a valid choice for anyone that has a very limited budget. They are assembled as one single unit in which it is also shipped to the location and then positioned.
Single-wides are 18 feet or less in width and 90 feet or less in length. This gives you an average square footage of 600 to 1300. That’s almost half the average family home size in the U.S. Now you can see why it’s mostly considered as accommodation for singles or retirees but even for the latter, it’s a bit small.
Most single wides have 1 or 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, an eat-in kitchen, and a small living area. Although, in some, the living area and kitchen are combined. As you can expect with such a limited amount of space, there isn’t too much variation available.
Two big factors that might turn off most prospective buyers is the fact that single-wides tend to have that stereotypical “mobile home” look. They are long and thin, much more so than stick-built homes and usually boxy in nature. Lastly, they are very hard to finance because of their nature. A chattel mortgage is pretty much your only option.
Double-wides are by far the most popular and the most common type of mobile home. They are also much more flexible when it comes to size, layouts, and room allotment than single-wides. They are very similar in appearance to site-built homes as they are shorter and wider as opposed to the lengthy single-wide designs.
Double-wides are constructed in two parts by the manufacturer. These two parts are hauled separately to the site and then combined to form a complete double-wide home. Double-wides are specified to be 20 feet or more in width and 90 feet or less in length. This translates to most double-wides having around 2000-2500 square feet of living space.
The average double-wide consists of 3 bedrooms, 2/3 bathrooms, and a combination of 2/3 of the following: a kitchen, dining room, living room, and washing room. As you can see, this makes these homes suitable for most families and can comfortably house a family of 4 for years and years. If you get a bigger model it should easily house up to 5 family members.
Double-wides usually cost around $80,000 brand new and between $20,000 and $50,000 used depending on the age, model, condition, and location. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. It’s also worth mentioning that double-wides are already much easier to finance than single-wides.
Triple-wides or multi-wides
Now we are getting to the big boys. Technically, the sky is the limit when it comes to triple-wides. They are still pretty rare compared to double-wides but are catching on as manufacturing techniques improve and people look more and more for a cost-effective alternative to traditional housing. They follow double-wides in looking much more like real homes than single-wides.
Depending on the size of your multi-wide they are manufactured and shipped just like double-wides. All three or more pieces are individually built and transported to the site before being combined on location. Triple-wides can be up to 50 feet in length and the width varies widely depending on the size and model. They can be anywhere up to 4500 square feet in size. That’s pretty huge.
These higher-end manufactured homes can cost anywhere from $100,000-$250,000. That’s already in the real estate range. There are even “designer” models that cost way more than this.
They usually come with 3-5 bedrooms, 3 or 4 bathrooms, and a nearly endless combination of other rooms such as one or more kitchens, living room, washing room, dining room, and a foyer. You can house your whole family, grandma, and some visitors with all that space.
Time to choose the right mobile home size for you!
We hope this article has helped you understand the different mobile home sizes available. And we hope you’re one step closer to purchasing the home of your dreams. As the place that you will spend most of your time in for at least the next couple of years, you should take your time and make sure that you choose the best one for your family’s needs. An accommodating and comfortable home is within reach!