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A Complete Guide To Buying A Mobile Home

4-Minute Read


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. And while there’s a lot to learn, you may soon decide that a mobile home is the right choice for your lifestyle.

What Is A Mobile Home?

Mobile homes are prefabricated homes that are 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But, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the term “mobile home” is outdated. As of 1976, they are now 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.

Mobile homes can be built in different sizes: single-wide, double-wide and triple-wide. Single-wide homes are usually 14 – 18 feet wide, and double-wides are double that: 28 – 36 feet. Triple-wides consist of at least three units, transported to and assembled at a destination. They are often mistaken for standard, site-built homes.

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 May 2020, the average sales price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $368,800. In December 2019, the average sales price of manufactured homes was $86,400.

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.

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

  • 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.
  • Location flexibility. 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.
  • Federally mandated quality. 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.
  • Fast construction and installation. As opposed to the long construction timelines of traditional homes, mobile home buyers can expect the building process to take anywhere from 2 to 4 months.

The Cons Of Buying A Mobile Home

  • Availability and cost of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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.

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