Image of multi-color mobile homes.

A Complete Guide To Buying A Mobile Home

Victoria Araj7-Minute Read
UPDATED: June 01, 2024


In most parts of the country, the cost of living has skyrocketed over the past decade. For the right person, a mobile home offers a way to own a living space at a fraction of the cost. Approximately 20 million Americans live in mobile homes and enjoy the benefits of a cheaper place to live, potentially without a reduction in quality or investment value.

If you’re interested in buying a mobile home, there’s a lot to consider. Purchasing a mobile home is different from buying a traditional site-built home, especially when it comes to financing. While there’s a lot to learn, you may soon decide that a mobile home is the right choice for your lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know before buying a mobile home, including the types of mobile homes available, the costs and available financing options, along with the pros and cons of this housing style.

What Is A Mobile Home?

Mobile homes are homes built in a factory and transported to a piece of land. As its name suggests, you can move a mobile home. However, these homes are often semi-permanently located in one place for a period of time.

But, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the term “mobile home” is outdated. As of 1976, they are called “manufactured homes” and are built to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Manufactured homes are also built according to the HUD code, and on a permanent chassis. These manufactured homes are different from the original version of mobile homes from the 1950s and 1960s.

Types Of Mobile Homes

Mobile homes can be built in different sizes. The most common descriptions for mobile homes are:

  • Single-wides: These homes are usually 14 – 18 feet wide. They are typically long and narrow in shape. The rooms in a single-wide do not connect through any hallways.
  • Double-wides: These homes are double the size of a single-wide, usually around 28 – 36 feet. Some of the rooms in a double-wide do connect through hallways.
  • Triple-wides: These homes consist of at least three units with multiple bedrooms and more space than single- or double-wides. They are transported to and assembled at a destination and are often mistaken for standard, site-built homes.

Choosing A New Vs. Used Mobile Home

When it comes to choosing the right mobile home for you and your budget, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want to purchase a new manufactured home or an existing one. These homes come in a variety of models and sizes, so it’s important to research the size, layout and features you desire before searching for either a new or existing mobile home.

Owning Vs. Renting Your Land

There are two options that you can choose from when selecting land for your mobile home. You can either purchase a plot of land for your home to reside on, or you can rent land from a mobile home park or a manufactured home community. Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to factor the price of either one into your total cost.

How Much Do Mobile Homes Cost?

There is a wide range of prices available for mobile homes, though they’re almost always cheaper than homes built on-site. In October 2021, the average sales price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $407,700. At the same time, the average sales price of a manufactured home was $106,800.

Why are manufactured homes so much less expensive than on-site homes? The lower price is due to how materials are procured and how the homes are produced. Companies that produce manufactured homes can buy materials in bulk, receiving better costs. Plus, there is less material wasted when building a mobile home. Then they’re manufactured on an assembly line at a central location, meaning you’re getting economies of scale on labor. They’re also built faster than a site-built home, meaning you could be in your new place faster than you expect.

Hidden Cost of Buying A Mobile Home

When it comes to buying a mobile home, there may be some unexpected fees associated with homeownership that you will need to factor into your overall costs. These costs can add up quickly when you consider that they extend beyond the cost of customizing and adding on to the mobile home you select.

One of these costs you’ll want to consider is the monthly fee to rent a lot. If you choose not to purchase a plot of land for your home to reside on, you’ll need to pay this rent to a park owner.

If you obtain a loan for your purchase, you may also be required to pay for mobile home insurance. Much like traditional homeowners insurance, mobile home insurance can help protect you and your lender in the case of damage from a fire or a natural disaster, or loss from theft.

How To Finance A Mobile Home

When it comes to financing a mobile home, you’ll want to start the buying process by determining if your home is a mortgage or another financing option is right for you. The truth is that many mobile homes are unable to meet the requirements needed to obtain a mortgage. Since mobile homes are considered personal property instead of “real property,” the options provided by loan lenders are limited. While chattel mortgages and mobile home loans are available to finance a mobile home purchase, they contain more stringent requirements on the type of structure that qualifies for a loan. Because of this, many buyers turn to other forms of financing for their purchase.

Personal loans are flexible and there aren’t many restrictions as to what they can be used for. Because of this, they’re often a great choice for financing the purchase of a mobile home when the property doesn’t qualify for a mortgage. The application process is typically much faster than it is with a mortgage loan as well, so you could potentially be in your new home fairly soon. Once you’re approved, you can expect your personal loan funds to arrive within 1 – 7 days, or potentially within the same day if applying with Rocket LoansSM same-day funding*.

The Pros And Cons Of Buying A Mobile Home

As with any major purchase, it’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of buying a mobile home. Let’s review some of the pros and cons of buying your own mobile home.

The Pros Of Buying A Mobile Home

  • They’re more affordable than traditional housing options. As mentioned above, mobile homes are a low-cost housing option that makes homeownership more attainable. Plus, mobile homes cost less per square foot than traditional houses, so you can stretch out for less money.
  • The home’s location is flexible. As its name suggests, one of the perks of owning a mobile home is being able to bring it to new locations. Mobile home owners have the option to pick up and move their house from one semi-permanent spot to the next, which is a popular trait among homeowners who enjoy a change in scenery.
  • The home’s quality is federally mandated. Since manufactured homes must meet the structural and quality standards set by HUD, homeowners can rest easy knowing that their mobile home is up to code.
  • Mobile homes are quickly constructed and installed. As opposed to the long construction timelines of traditional homes, mobile home buyers can expect the building process to take anywhere from 2 – 4 months.

The Cons Of Buying A Mobile Home

  • You still have to find and pay for land. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for mobile home owners to find available land with proper access to utilities, especially in suburban areas. If you choose to purchase a lot within a mobile home park, you still have to pay rent on the land.
  • There are stringent lender requirements. Since mobile homes are considered personal property instead of “real property,” the options provided by loan lenders are limited. While chattel mortgages and retail installment contracts are available to finance a mobile home purchase, they contain more stringent requirements on the type of structure that qualifies for a loan.
  • They are smaller than traditional homes. If you’re committing to living in a mobile home, you have to be prepared to sleep, eat and work in a smaller space. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to remodel your small space to make it functional as well as cozy.

Is Buying A Mobile Home A Worthwhile Investment?

A common criticism of mobile homes is that they don’t increase in value. Or, at the very least, they don’t appreciate at the same rate that a traditional site-built home does.

But new data from a government report rejects that common assumption. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a report that shows that price appreciation of mobile homes may increase at the same rate as site-built homes.

You might be more concerned with current affordability rather than focusing on the investment of your home, but it’s good to know that it may end up being a similar investment to a traditional home.

Final Thoughts: Should I Buy A Mobile Home?

Mobile homes offer a great alternative to traditional homes. Whether you’re on a tight budget or just want to live in a home that has been built differently, mobile homes might be a great choice for you.

If you’re ready to explore your mobile home financing options, start by applying for a personal loan with Rocket Loans today.

*Same day funding is available for clients completing the loan process and signing the Promissory Note by 1:00 p.m. ET on a business day. Also note, the ACH credit will be submitted to your bank the same business day. This may result in same day funding, but results may vary, and your bank may have rules that limit our ability to credit your account. We are not responsible for delays that may occur due to an incorrect routing number, an incorrect account number or errors of your financial institution.

Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.