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What to look for when buying mfg/mobile home?

CatScat55

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Everyone I talked to told me not to buy a manufactured home. I had the home exactly 2 years and made 65k off it. It was out of town and in a absolutely beautiful location. Make sure you have a good roof, and get the best paint you can buy on it and you will be just fine. If you have to live in a trailer park than I get it but I would rather purchase some land with it in a cheaper area. Being in a trailer park really limits the potential of your investment and I think you can only move them so many times before it becomes very hard for someone to finance. Put a good foundation under it and you will be set.
 

SUPER X

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2020 Palm Harbor Bellingham model. 2100 sf. Double wide unit. $ 143,000
Block skirting - $ 6500. Foundation stringers site work and concrete $ 12,000. ATT Septic system - $ 23,000 - Gutters - $ 1,440. All county permits were $ 7,000. Electrical and water varies, ours was expensive coming up the hill 450 feet. We did a lot of the work ourselves, building the decks and all and most of the excavation work.

The home is tight, well insulated and energy efficient. We had the standard electric furnace in it, and will put a heat pump in it soon. Probably another $ 4,000 but the wife wants her AC in the summer.

We owned the property already. Palm Harbor is a pretty well built home, but the dealer is a real piece of crap. Homes Direct out of Redmond. They required us to pay half at the time of order and half when the home was completed at the factory. The home got here, had a damaged cabinet and a couple of other minor issues. Took them 3 weeks to get it set up for us to get utilities.

They were supposed to have cleaners clean it, they came and sweep the floor. The carpet layers took 4 days to lay the carpet. Trim workers did a bubblegum*y job. Crown moulding unfinished. We would call and they would take days to get back to us, cancel appointments, not show up Tired of dealing with these azz clowns, so I am taking it up with their corporate office and offer them a chance to compensate us for having the stuff fixed as I do not want their scum bag tweaker "contractors" in my house. If they give me one bit of sh*t I will file a CCB complaint.

I should have balked and raised more of a fuss about full payment, since we did not hold anything back by their contracts, and I see why they do that so they can screw you on the quality control issues. I would have held $ 5,000 back on final payment at least to make sure they actually fixed the things. Maybe other dealers are different, but these seem like they are one step above gypsy flakes really.

Ordered on the 17th of August, arrived on site on October 31, we moved in December 20.

View attachment 677821

Did you install the look out /sniper tower in the back yard ?
 
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A few thoughts - maybe already mentioned - from someone who used to work in the manufactured home factories (50 years ago) and now lives in one (made in '97).

1) Not all homes are equal. Do a lot of research on the make, model, manufacturer and dealer.

2) Buying used? Has the home ever been moved? You don't want one that has been moved even once. The more times it has been moved the less value it has and the more likely it is to fall apart.

3) These homes do not appreciate in value like a stick built home. You will be lucky if it holds the value you paid for it. Mine, a quality custom triple wide made by a quality manufacturer, has more or less stayed stable, losing very little tax assessed value over the past 8 years.

4) They vary in quality and value a lot, especially by when they were made. The ones back in the 70s were mostly POSs and even the quality ones back then can't compare to what is made now. If you are buying new, then go and take a factory tour of different manufacturers and see the assembly line - if you are sharp you will probably notice differences - especially in materials and how the walls are made. E.G., the better ones use 2x6s for the walls rather than 2x4s. I am pretty sure mine was made with 2x6s.

5) Buying a used one? Have it inspected. Take along a carpenter's level and look at whether the floors are sagging and whether the walls are vertical/plumb. Is it installed on a concrete pad or gravel or dirt? You want concrete. Is it still on axles/wheels? Run - don't walk away.

6) If you are looking at new and have the land, consider a modular home - it is still manufactured, but these are a step up in quality and the modules are put together on your land.

7) There are tax, ownership, insurance and mortgage implications. E.G., a mortgage lender will charge a higher interest rate (quarter to half a percentage), insurance will be more.

8) The roofs, even on the quality ones, will not be as good as most stick built homes. The trusses/etc. are not designed to take as much of a load.
 

BillM

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We have one--new in 1999. We put it on our own land. High end triple wide, right at 2,000 sf. 2x6 walls, 30 lb snow load roof. We have had new roofing, new paint, replaced a couple of windows. One thing to be aware of----Insurance companies draw a line at 15 yrs. Before that the insurance was really reasonable. After that it went up quite a bit.
At some age, companies will refuse to insure a manufactured home.
 
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Last month I sold a place that had a mobile home on it. Had numerous buyers that could not get financing as bank would not even consider it with a mobile home. I finally demolished the mobile home and sold it without. Mobile home is not the same as newer manufactured home (I can’t speak to those cuz I’ve never had one) of course but personally I would go with a stick built house that needs fixing over a mobile home. Resale will be much better unless you fix it poorly or make a weird layout when remodeling.
 
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I just bought 4 new 3 bedroom/ 2 bath Fleetwoods as an investment/development and I was pretty impressed for the price. I have build my own stick built houses before, are they the same ? No, but the new ones being built now are WAY better than the older ones. Mine feel very solid, have 2x6 walls, all tape & textured 1/2" sheetrock, solid wood door-ed cabinets, PEX plumbing, and the insulation is R30 in the floor, R21 in the walls, and R49 in the ceiling ! It gives me the ability to offer a house for sale at a WAY cheaper price than if I had to stick build them. Plus when set up the right way on footings and concrete skirts, they are fully finance-able and converted to "real property"on their own land.
 
OP
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There are some really, really nice/high quality, large, with slide outs in used travel trailers for a whole lot less cost than mfg. homes and are very comfortable and portable.

Cost less in insurance too.

Often, people buy these trailers new and use them once in awhile, finally realize they don't use them often enough and sell them for far less than the cost than they paid.

Just an idea...
I had one in the 80s. Worst mistake was getting in a Park. They can /and do/ raise rents often. Where are you going to get the $$ to move out?
My 2c own the land, or don't go this route.


If "mobile" would be expanded to include RVs, that might be a different situation.
Due to my current situation I need a "stable" home and having 4 very young kids cramped up in an RV is just not ideal. I remember many years ago living in a 700sf apartment with just two kids was unbearable. The "choking" feeling of being there was overwhelming and we tried to stay out as much and as long as we could. This is the reason why I want to avoid an apartment as much as possible. The monthly payment would be about the same and at the very least I can recoup some of that money back if I decide to sell in the future, whereas the apartment is well.......none.
 

bbbass

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I am a retired home inspector...

There are a few diff between a "mobile home/trailer" and a "manufactured/modular" home that IMO you need to know while still looking around.

1. No foundation typically under a trailer home... instead, you will see skirting. IMO a stable house needs good feet under it. Therefore, a modern foundation is mandatory.

2. General quality of build

3. "Trailers/mobiles" are difficult if not impossible to insure nowadays.

4. Roof slope on trailer is much less and therefore doesn't shed snow as well

5. Poor quality, low efficiency windows in "mobile/trailer"

6. Wall thickness that you could throw a cat thru... often 2x3 exterior and 2x2 interior with paneling instead of drywall that manufactured homes will have. Today's manufactured homes have 2x6 exterior walls. The roof on a mobile is not very thick, the roof on a manu/modular is thick enough to have insulation that is up to modern code.

7. Trailers/mobiles are very poorly insulated. Energy efficiency is low and heating/cooling costs are high.

8. Aluminum wiring in older units of both types but it can be mitigated with modification by using approved connectors.

9. Plumbing supply and DWV lines of mobile/trailer... the gray supply lines (polybutylene) are vulnerable to freezing as well as leakage at the connectors. The connectors can be upgraded.The waste lines going thru the roof can be too short to be above snow loads, but that maybe not a big concern in Portland.

There is more. My best advice is to look for a quality manufactured home, and after a brief screening (you can use this link if you want.. go to the main page and then download the pdf for Standards of Practice Standard of Practice | American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI ) and after making your offer, obtain the services of a Certified, Qualified, Experienced, Home Inspector. NEVER BUY A HOUSE W/O GETTING IT INSPECTED BY A HOME INSPECTOR...it is no guarantee nothing will ever fail, but it is usually a good (visual only) screening, more than you or a realtor can do!

In my experience, most problems in older homes of any kind are related to poorly done homeowner modifications, and deferred maintenance. Even contractor work, if not done properly, can be problematic. And work done w/o permit. Any disclosure of either/any should have your antennae up!

PM me if you need more...
 
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OP
V
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I am a retired home inspector...

There are a few diff between a "mobile home/trailer" and a "manufactured/modular" home that IMO you need to know while still looking around.

1. No foundation typically under a trailer home... instead, you will see skirting. IMO a stable house needs good feet under it. Therefore, a modern foundation is mandatory.

2. General quality of build

3. "Trailers/mobiles" are difficult if not impossible to insure nowadays.

4. Roof slope on trailer is much less and therefore doesn't shed snow as well

5. Poor quality, low efficiency windows in "mobile/trailer"

6. Wall thickness that you could throw a cat thru... often 2x3. Today's manufactured homes have 2x6 walls

7. Trailers/mobiles are very poorly insulated. Energy efficiency is low and heating/cooling costs are high.

8. Aluminum wiring in older units of both types but it can be mitigated with modification by using approved connectors.

9. Plumbing supply and DWV lines of mobile/trailer... the gray supply lines are vulnerable to freezing as well as leakage at the connectors. The waste lines going thru the roof can be too short to be above snow loads, but that maybe not a big concern in Portland.

There is more. My best advice is to look for a quality manufactured home, and after a brief screening (you can use this link if you want.. go to the main page and then download the pdf for Standards of Practice Standard of Practice | American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI ) and after making your offer, obtain the services of a Certified, Qualified, Experienced, Home Inspector. NEVER BUY A HOUSE W/O GETTING IT INSPECTED BY A HOME INSPECTOR...it is no guarantee nothing will ever fail, but it is usually a good screening, more than you or a realtor can do!

In my experience, most problems in older homes of any kind are related to poorly done homeowner modifications, and deferred maintenance. Even contractor work, if not done properly, can be problematic. And work done w/o permit. Any disclosure of either/any should have your antennae up!

PM me if you need more...
This is great information. Thank you!
 
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I understand your problem and the need for space. My son lives in a mobile home in a nice trailer park with newer homes. Location, location, location is important.

Beware! Parks do limit the age of trailers.

His advice is to rent - do not buy!

He lived through a Cat 2 hurricane last year only to have a large Oak limb fall on his roommate's car and his car this spring. His roommate's car took the big hit and was a total while my son's car was only dented.

An internet search for "What I need to know before buying a used mobile home" got a lot of hits. Here is the first one with a 27 item checklist... Mobile Home Checklist: What You Need to Know Before Buying One

Good luck.
 
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You will need to decide whether you will have a place for resale when your circumstances change that will be able to qualify for a loan, or whether your buyer will need to pay cash. That decision will drive you selection of price and model year. The 10 year limit on financing comes quick.
 
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Unfortunately new mobiles are still very expensive. If you know building trades and do some work or can only be the general contractor one alternative is an inexpensive stick built. Tuff Shed will deliver and erect a shell in 3 days for about what you would pay for materials. TuffShed.com. I have done it. Permits take the longest.
 

bbbass

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An internet search for "What I need to know before buying a used mobile home" got a lot of hits. Here is the first one with a 27 item checklist... Mobile Home Checklist: What You Need to Know Before Buying One
Good basic info, pretty much... but I would highly disagree with the author that the term "mobile" and manufactured etc are interchangeable today. In that there are many many "mobile" homes out there and the differences between the two are not small. Only laymen or the ill-informed use these terms interchangeably and IMO the author is not doing shoppers any favors with this kind of disinformation.

Rule #1 = CAVEAT EMPTOR
 

bbbass

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I forgot one other thing to look for; cracks in the walls, especially where halves of the double/triple wides are joined, especially if the home is not on a concrete pad.

Good point.

However, those would generally be considered cosmetic signs of minor settling and typical of any lived in home... unless there are other indications of instabilty. If the home is adequately supported, ie all the jacks are even, the joining bolts have not slipped/pulled, and the home is sitting equally on the foundation, they can be easily repaired with flexible, paintable caulk.
 
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Good point.

However, those would generally be considered cosmetic signs of minor settling and typical of any lived in home... unless there are other indications of instabilty. If the home is adequately supported, ie all the jacks are even, the joining bolts have not slipped/pulled, and the home is sitting equally on the foundation, they can be easily repaired with flexible, paintable caulk.
Too true. Our home is a 1920s built lath and plaster craftsman. Can you say cracks? ha ha. When remodeling large areas I just put on 1/4 drywall for ceilings etc to save time rather than dealing with individual cracks.
 
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Good point.

However, those would generally be considered cosmetic signs of minor settling and typical of any lived in home... unless there are other indications of instabilty. If the home is adequately supported, ie all the jacks are even, the joining bolts have not slipped/pulled, and the home is sitting equally on the foundation, they can be easily repaired with flexible, paintable caulk.
Stick framed houses settle too. But the cracks can be symptoms of the foundation/et. al. not being sound. Most manufactured homes are built on a steel frame, and that frame generally will be very stable. But double and triple wides are multiple frames joined together, and one frame may be on a support that is not equal in support/height to the others.
 

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