There is a difference between “used” and “loved” mobile homes
How a mobile home is looked after by its owners plays a significant role in how well it ages. We’ve seen some used mobile homes from the late 80’s that look better than some from the early 2000’s. Because of the materials used in their construction and the way they are built, mobile homes do require a bit more regular maintenance than stick-built homes.
Because they consist of a lot of wood, water damage is a particularly big threat that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible, not to mention any damage that its structure might suffer from “settling,” being moved or exposed to the elements. These are usually small issues, but they add up over time.
An owner that cares for their mobile home will not only keep it up to date aesthetically but will also regularly look for these flaws and address them.
When the home becomes old enough, it will become fairly obvious which class of former “owners” the home has accommodated. Odd creaks, stains, outdated/cracked window or door frames, missing or broken roof shingles, worn paint, signs of water damage or electrical issues are good indicators. Some of these will be apparent while others will be detected during a basic inspection.
As it becomes more obvious, it will also start to impact the value more and more. This provides compelling motivation for owners to take care of their homes if there is a possibility they might resell it one day. Buyers will also want to inspect a home to avoid a lot of retouching once they move in or at least make sure the price is fair for what they get.
First impressions affect your bottom line
A lot of people still make the mistake of thinking that mobile homeowners don’t place any importance on luxury or aesthetics. However, times are changing and people are no longer only picking mobile homes due to financial constraints. Even if that is the case, these are people resorting to mobile homes because of the current affordable housing crisis.
They therefore still look for and appreciate some of the luxuries of a stick-built home. One of these is a home with curb appeal. Just like when you want to sell a piece of real estate, you should ensure that your house looks like a home from the moment browsers spot it turning into the driveway.
That means you should make sure that the following is in good shape:
- Window and door frames
- The roof
- The paint
- Porch or deck (if there is one)
Remember that this same first impression needs to extend to the house’s interior. You can immediately add on a few thousand to ten thousand dollars onto the resale value of your home if it looks relatively new and unscathed. Buyers will also see the value in living in a home that gives them pride in their neighborhood.
Buying a home might just be the start
This one is more for the buyers than the sellers. However, sellers should at least be aware of these factors as it might make it more difficult to sell their homes. And it’s an obstacle some buyers will need to overcome.
If your home is located on a private piece of land that you will want to keep, you need to be cognizant of the fact that a buyer will need to move the home. This is a very intense and expensive undertaking. The same goes for the buyer.
Since the average double wide costs around $70,000, moving it for $10,000 or more is a significant increase in your overall spending. It may even work out settling for a cheaper home that’s located somewhere more convenient.
Mobile homes are also unique in that they don’t necessarily come with a property attached. Therefore, most mobile homes, especially used ones, are located in mobile home parks. If you buy a mobile home in a park, you will still need to pay lot rent for the lot it’s occupying as well as any other levies or fees the park charges its residents. However, mobile home lot rent is still extremely affordable with most lots costing between $300-400.
Improvements can increase a home’s value
Many are still quick to dismiss the notion of making additions or improvements to a mobile home. For one, people don’t see the use of making costly and permanent changes to something they see as less valuable and temporary.
However, modern mobile homes are structurally very sound and are built to higher and higher standards. We don’t really know yet how long today’s houses will last, but some manufacturers guarantee their homes for up to 50 years and there is no reason to doubt that a well-cared for home will last much longer than that.
That means that you will still get plenty of opportunity as a buyer or seller to utilize any of these enhancements or to profit from them. Some of the more common improvements to make to a mobile home are:
- Installing a pitched roof or doing a roof over
- Upgrading the skirting to something attractive and protective
- Installing new light fixtures
- Upgrading the window or door frames
- Making the home more eco-friendly
- Installing new flooring, carpets or trim
You can even make prominent additions to a mobile home! Some of these include:
- Building a carport
- Building a porch/sunroom/screen enclosure
- Adding on storage space
- Adding on an entire room
All of these are relatively easy and common additions that can increase the asking price of a mobile home. If you are a buyer, a carport to protect your motor vehicles or a sunroom to relax in on windy days might also be highly sought after.
Just like with real estate, the price of a mobile home is heavily dependant on its location. The pattern of where mobile homes are more or less expensive also closely resembles that of stick-built homes. The same goes for lot rent in mobile home parks.
For example, you can expect to pay way more in states like California, Florida or New York than you would in Arkansas, South Carolina or Missouri.
Homes in mobile home parks are also usually a little bit cheaper, although not by much as by far the most homes are located within parks. You should also take the actual location of the home in question into account. A mobile home located in a park on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, like Paradise Cove in Malibu will cost significantly more. Mobile homes there cost millions of dollars and have been home to A-list celebrities.
Much more practical concerns also play a role. How far the home, or park, is located from the city or other conveniences like malls, schools, places of work will factor into the price. If it’s something you would look for in a piece of real estate, it counts for mobile homes as well.
Land is always a big factor
Land in the U.S. is incredibly expensive and getting more so every year. You can just take a look at this handy graphic by How Much to see how steep the incline in prices is. Again, the rate is largely dependant on the state and the particular location. However, the price has increased without exception.
Whether you believe that mobile homes truly depreciate in value or not, it’s undeniable that land is the better investment if you can afford it. However, it also means that we have reached the stage where your chances are good if a piece of land is worth more than the mobile home itself.
As a buyer, you will need to carefully consider what you want to do with the land if you sell your mobile home. Especially as it will have a huge effect on the price. Package the land with, and you might price yourself out of most buyers’ budgets. However, keep the land, and you may have to reduce the price of the home because sellers will need to move it.
In some cases, this has led to awkward situations for landowners as old and worn down mobile homes can quickly become a liability on a prime piece of property.
The type of mobile home plays a big role
Mobile homes can be put into three broad categories:
- Single-wides: These are the smallest manufactured homes that consist of a single section. They are usually very rectangular and around 1000 sq. ft.
- Double-wides: These are the most common size. They consist of two separate units that are attached. They are usually between 1600 sq. ft. to 3000 sq. ft.
- Triple-wides/multi-wides: These can consist of multiple sections. They can get massive with a size upwards of 4000 sq. ft.
Double-wides are by far the most common type of manufactured home and are considered to be the typical “family home”. Because they are so popular, they tend to hold their value much better than single-wides. Typically, a used double-wide sells for around $50,000-$60,000 while the typical, used single-wide can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000.
Triple-wides can get exorbitantly expensive at upwards of $100,000. However, they also have a much smaller market.
The “facts” surrounding depreciation
The jury is still out on whether mobile homes do, in fact, depreciate in value in the current market conditions. There is no doubt that as a form of personal property mobile homes stand a much better chance of consistent depreciation, and that their value would go down in time.
However, with housing prices soaring across the U.S., it’s unclear whether that is the case in current circumstances or whether mobile homes may also appreciate in value.
- Mobile homes do not depreciate as an immutable law of housing.
- The amount by which mobile homes depreciate depends almost entirely on market conditions.
- However, in most cases, a mobile home will reduce in value as soon as it’s not “new” anymore.
- As a very broad average, mobile homes can depreciate by up to 3% a year. However, this does not apply to all homes.
- One of the main reasons for their depreciation is stereotypes related to their quality and safety. In general, the safety of mobile homes has increased dramatically, and stereotypes are catching up.
Prices are seasonal
As crazy as it may sound, manufactured homes also follow the seasonal pricing trends of real estate. It’s common knowledge that prices are inflated during the middle of the year in the summer months. Part of the reason is due to families taking advantage of the holidays to hunt for a house and move together. This also fuels extra competition which leads to better offers from buyers who don’t want to be turned away. The simple supply/demand laws of economics take over from there.
Here, you can see how the seasons affect housing of all types in the San Fransisco area. Different states or regions might hit their peak at slightly different times, but September and October are considered to be the peak months where prices are at their highest. The winter usually has a prominent nadir or “rock-bottom” in prices. As you can see, this cycle is repeated consistently year after year.
During peak months, you could see prices go up by as much as 20% from the median and decline by the same amount during the off-season.
Stay well informed
If you’re a buyer or seller who wants to try and get an accurate estimation of what a mobile home is worth, we invite you to either check out our handy infographic or read our article on the subject. We hope that you find these facts about used mobile home prices useful, no matter which side of the fence you fall on. Information is key to get the best price whether buying or selling.