Need Affordable Housing? What About A Mobile Home?

Mobile homes have a less-than-stellar reputation, deservedly or not. I know my own mom always warned me against them by saying they were just tornado bait, which was enough to make me leery of even stepping foot inside a friend’s mobile home growing up. But if you’re not irrationally afraid of tornadoes, a mobile home might be a great housing option if you’re on a tight budget or looking to save money, writes Michigan Telephone.

The biggest advantage is that whether you currently own a home or are renting an apartment, you can get far more bang for your buck with a mobile home. Single wide mobile homes (even ones of recent manufacture) can often be had for under $10,000 used, in a mobile home park.

You’ll also be building equity in something you can re-sell, and—if you find a good neighborhood—mobile home parks tend to have low car traffic, meaning your kids can have more freedom outside.

As for the biggest disadvantage: oh look, a tornado.

It’s not really true that tornadoes are attracted to mobile home parks, but it is true that when a tornado his a manufactured home community it generally leaves a real mess, and what that attracts is news crews and their cameras.

“The affordable housing option you may have never considered – but perhaps should”
(Photo: mattza)

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  1. dohtem says:

    Find me a good mobile home neighborhood that isn’t filled with seniors and I’ll take on.

    • coujo says:

      @dohtem: seniors or white trash rednecks….

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        @coujo: Oh, they don’t just have white trash. they have all kinds of trash.

        Of course there are some decent ones.

        You could also buy one of these and put it on your own land somewhere. I saw a kinda nice double wide on 6 acres with lake front once.

    • Jeff-er-ee says:

      @dohtem: If this catches on, the way things in the housing market are currently, your request may not be too hard to fill.

    • G.O.B.: Come on! says:

      @dohtem: “Git off mah lawn.”

    • TheObserver says:

      @dohtem: I’d rather live WITH and AMONGST seniors that amongst wanna be thugs and trashy types that care little about cleaning up their areas or pride in appearance/sefl.

      • Real Cheese Flavor says:

        @TheObserver: When living in a community with a large amount of seniors it’s pretty much a given that you’re never going to be awake at 3 A.M. on a weeknight because the people next door to you are partying.

    • lmarconi says:

      @dohtem: I used to live down the street from a mobile home park with a bar called Hemlocks in the center of it. My dad used to call it “urban planning”…

    • Anonymously says:

      @dohtem: I have this friend that lives in a mobile home park that’s pretty decent. It’s in a nicely wooded area, they have a community center, pool, and park.

      There are a few oddities to be found, but overall it’s just a nice community.

      It costs ~$350 a month for lot rent, water, sewage, and taxes. Everything runs on electricity (no gas) and that costs ~$120 a month. Houses in the surrounding area pay $300-$400 per month just in property tax.

      • Anonymously says:

        @JohnQPublic: I forgot to add that they require a criminal background check to be allowed to move in, which seems to prevent the seediest of individuals from living there.

        • col1999 says:

          @JohnQPublic: Whereabouts is this? Is it anywhere near Chicago? I have no problem with mobile homes at all, and if there’s a nice place with them, I’d like to know about it.

          • Anonymously says:

            @col1999: Pittsburgh, PA. There are a lot of crappy trailer parks here though! I think this one is a little nicer than most.

            Some people might say that an upscale outhouse is still a shit hole, but if you can get past the stigma of being “trailer trash”, it’s nice.

  2. feralparakeet says:

    As long as you realize that you’re buying a disposable house, I guess it would be ok. But it’s not going to last you forever and will eventually need replacing.

    But this does give me occasion to post a link to this AWESOME commercial:

    • msquier says:

      @feralparakeet: I guess they don’t show that commercial in the Huntsville, AL market (Cullman is about an hour or so from Huntsville) because I haven’t seen it yet and I’ve lived in the area for 18 months.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @feralparakeet: going off topic for a sec:
      I love this commercial too. If it (and the one before it for the multi-racial furniture store) had been an authentically made local spot, I would have posted it. But since it’s part of a larger viral marketing scheme for a small-business-services company, I decided not to.

      Viral marketing or not, it’s an awesome commercial. Watch the making-of too for more fun details about Robert Lee.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        @Chris Walters: It’s still a real local business, just not a locally-produced ad for the local business. I don’t see the harm in the fact that MicroBilt signed on to expand the series beyond what two guys with a camera could do without a deep-pocketed sponsor. It’s kind of obvious, considering that the production quality of the of the Cullman ad is about 10 times better than anything that came before. (The Cullman ad is the first one sponsored by MicroBilt; the earlier ones were just Rhett and Link on their own.)

        It’s not like they’re trying to hide anything. It’s still about bringing attention to local businesses. Do you think Cullman Liquidators has the money to pay for an ad like that on their own? If MicroBilt gets their name out there too (allegedly, they provide services for small businesses), what’s the harm?

        • Michael Belisle says:

          @Michael Belisle: Ooops, Cullman Liquidators wasn’t the first in the sponsored series. The first was released earlier this month for Ray’s Mid-Bell Music of Sioux City, Iowa. I thought it sucked, so curious readers will have to find it on their own.

    • Brazell says:

      @feralparakeet: meh, those Rhett & Link videos are all over-produced fakes.

    • JohnDeere says:

      @feralparakeet: my 1995 doublewide is built better than most homes built in the last 10 years.

      • magstheaxe says:

        @JohnDeere:

        My parents used to rent out an old trailer on part of their farmland. After my mom died, I looked into replacing it, since the trailer was about 50 years old and starting to fall apart.

        I was STUNNED at the quality of the mobile homes I saw. I talked to some people who’d bought homes from Clayton Homes over the past five or six years, and they confirmed that the homes were of exceptional quality. I even talked to a man who refurbishes mobile homes and he showed me all of the work that they do.

        The stereotype of the cheap, low-quality mobile home may have been valid a few decades ago, but from what I can tell there have been a heck of a lot of changes in the industry. The salesman at Clayton Homes told me a lot of those changes were driven by gov’t regulations (safety standards, consumer protection stuff, etc.) and some were driven by Warren Buffet, who bought their company a few years ago. Now a “manufactured home” is equal quality of many of the contractor-built homes you buy, if not actually better–and for roughly a third to a quarter of the price.

        I would serious consider buying a mobile home if I already owned the land.

  3. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    Anything can be tornado bait in tornado alley. In the Pacific NW, a well-insulated mobile home is often a much better choice than an old, drafty house.

    Where I live, we hit 110f in the summer and -10f in the winter – insulation and weatherization is extremely important!

    • Dondegroovily says:

      @Ursus Maritimus: Where in the NW does the temp range from 110 to -10? That sounds more like Fargo or something, not Seattle, or even Pasco.

      • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

        @Dondegroovily: Not exactly 110, but here in British Columbia we’ve had highs of 104 in the summer, and the same areas hitting -22 in the winter.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: British Columbia? Canada?!
          Yeesh, to hell with worrying about weather extremes. If I pitched a trailer in Canada, it’d be the least of my problems. Your blackflies are large (and greedy) enough to lift the whole damned thing up and away so they can feed it to their young later. As a snack.

      • heart.shaped.rock says:

        @Dondegroovily: I live in the North Central part of Washington and Ursus described our climate exactly. Not all of the PNW is dreary and rainy. Some places have four seasons and areas of eastern WA are actually considered to have desert climates, including Pasco. Who knew…

      • samurailynn says:

        @Dondegroovily: I live near Portland, OR and the previous year’s temperature range has been about 110 down to 10. So, not quite as cold as -10, but cold enough for me.

        And my old drafty house definitely needs more insulation. However, I do still spend less on gas and electricity than my parents modern modular insulated home.

  4. kateblack says:

    They might be worthwhile if you live in an area with few natural disasters and own nothing of value.

    Those things are flimsy as hell, and a social worker friend who frequents the parks on business told me burglaries are rampant.

    • XTC46 says:

      @kateblack: Do you think that mayber burglaries are rampant becasue its in the same neighborhood that needs frequent vists by a social worker and not becasue of flimsy housing material?

    • pop top says:

      @kateblack: A lot of mobile home manufacturers make great products. It’s just like building a house; you have to know the product and know the material or you’ll get something cheap and flimsy.

  5. Onion_Volcano says:

    Plus, you have cool neighbors like Randy and the Mustard Tiger. Oh the hijinks they get into.

  6. Brazell says:

    This article wins the most words to say so little award. It’s pages and pages long of the most obvious garbage (“go to your mobile home community on a pleasant day…”).

    The strange blog name, to the overly common WordPress template, to the weird articles, makes me think it’s a spam blog grabbing stuff from Associated Content.

  7. tricky1 says:

    The only thing that is different in my head is you own the (mobile)house…yet your still paying rent to have it parked in the lot in the park. Granted I guess it’s not much different than paying property taxes.

    • DH405 says:

      @tricky1: Then buy some land somewhere. It’s cheap enough in some areas.

      • humphrmi says:

        @DH405: It’s not always that simple. Permanent house owners tend to not like mobile homes in their neighborhoods. In suburban areas, at least those that allow mobile homes, you can usually only put a mobile home in a licensed and zoned mobile home park that charges rent. Zoning gets more lenient out in the sticks, but usually way way out in the sticks, and by the time you get that far out, you’re almost better off buying a house anyway.

        • frodolives35 says:

          @humphrmi: Here in TN you see crappy mobile homes (we call them trailers ) next door to nice 150000 brick homes. You can buy a very nice house down here for 150000. Oh yah theres probably a church within 2 miles also. But who cares what peoples homes look like we all still smile and wave to strangers while driving down the road and the bbq is the best in the world.

          • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

            @frodolives35: hell yah! I grew UP in a trailer with an addition… it was clean, nothing special, and my parents were damn proud to be able to own it after the sucky life they had up to that point.

            No one should EVER look down on a person living in a trailer, who works an honest day, lives clean. A home is what you make of it-

            I’d rather live next to honest people in trailers than Bernie Madoff in a mansion.

    • lmarconi says:

      @tricky1: It’s not just mobile homes though, there was a “house farm” in my hometown that worked on the same system. It looked like a cheap suburban development (maybe they were modular homes?) but I found out later when my parents were downsizing and looking to buy a small home in town that homeowners in the development only own the house and rent the land – I always though it was really strange set up, interesting to know it was just borrowed from trailer parks.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      @tricky1: think condo, only the original purchase and monthly payments are a lot cheaper.

  8. Dondegroovily says:

    Another thing about mani-homes – often times you don’t need to be in a park. Washington State has a law that says Mani-homes made after 1995 can go in any neighborhood where single-family homes are permitted and neither HOAs or local govs can stop it. Of course, in this case, you still have to fork over over $100,000 for a utility-connected lot.

    • bombhand says:

      @Dondegroovily: I’m not familiar with the term “Mani-home,” but if it’s a shortening of “Manufactured home,” then I feel the need to point out that many manufactured homes aren’t actually mobile these days. They’re often just homes built in pieces and then assembled on site. In terms of looking “classy,” most of them are on par with the crappy design and construction jobs on-site builders are doing these days.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      @Dondegroovily: Maybe they should specify that mobile home means trailer. They are intended to be hooked up to a truck and moved. They come with wheels. A prefab or manufactured house is not the same thing. Those are intended to be installed on a lot. They are moved in pieces because they are built in pieces. They don’t come with wheels and once installed they aren’t meant to be removed.

      • mac-phisto says:

        @thisistobehelpful: i think the confusion comes when you start talking about double-wides, triple-wides, etc. those are also frequently trailers that come with wheels, but are assembled into one, largely immovable object.

        it’s also important to note that the distinction between modulars & mobile homes is much smaller than you may think & only really exists b/c of antiquated tax classifications. for example, what is the difference between a double-wide with the wheels removed & installed on slab vs. a modular installed on slab? virtually nothing.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @Dondegroovily: HOAs can probably still keep lower-end mobile and manufactured homes out with minimum square footage requirements and architectural covenants. Bloody busybodies.

  9. Dondegroovily says:

    @feralparakeet: Disposable? Says who? Go to any mobile home park and you will see lots of them built in the 60s and 70s.

  10. sifr says:

    In the SF Bay area, mobile homes, used, go for $200k and up (to about $450k). The only reason they’re even an option here is because a falling-down crack den runs about $300k here.

    • DH405 says:

      @sifr: I think you’d find that it’s more of a case of the land being sold and the home being thrown in as a bonus.

      • Gragorin says:

        @DH405:

        Um, no. That’s for a mobile home that’s in a Mobile Home park and requires rent. I’ve seen plenty of mobile homes that were literally almost falling apart and they were still wanting about $150K for them during the boom. Those same places are still around $50 to $75K now..

        • mac-phisto says:

          @Gragorin: where did people get the money to buy them? most lenders won’t provide traditional home financing for mobiles.

        • pot_roast says:

          @Gragorin: Don’t forget the utilities & space rent. My sister in law lives in a mobile home park in San Jose, CA. They’re paying $1200/mo for space rent & utilities (they’re rolled into one bill) and that’s on top of the mortgage they’re paying for the $175,000 prefab/mobile home. (It’s a doublewide)

          We’re paying less than $175k in Texas for a brand new house…that doesn’t have wheels.

          • mac-phisto says:

            @pot_roast: let’s put things in perspective here, though. the median home price in san jose is somewhere around $500k & the median income is $75k – 80% higher than the national median.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      @sifr: I was wondering about these things holding up in earthquakes and the like.

      Any experience with this?

      I would think that the only thing that could happen is that they fall off the blocks/foundation, but hurrican straps and the like would probably help prevent that.

      of course you furniture and stuff would shake around regardless.

      • secret_curse says:

        @The Porkchop Express: “of course you furniture and stuff would shake around regardless”

        Yes, Captain Obvious, that does indeed happen during an earthquake…

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          @secret_curse: Thanks, General Sarcasm. I know that would happen, I was wondering about the actual structure. Given that it would be a little more “flexible” than a block home I would think all the movement would cause less damage to the home. Not sure if there would be much difference in regards to wood frame homes.

          Just wondering man, damn.

  11. H3ion says:

    I always will remember being in South Carolina and driving past mobile home parks where each mobile home had a three meter dish. That mobile home park had more dishes than NASA.

  12. Dondegroovily says:

    The mobile-ness is sometimes an advantage as well. When my Grandma’s mobile home was threatened by a river that was changing course (and was a mile away 30 years ago), she simply moved the home to my uncle’s property. Nothing was destroyed except the road.

    The river changed course so quickly that they put the barricade at the end of the road on wheels.

  13. diasdiem says:

    If you have a plot of land of your own, a mobile home isn’t actually that bad. Especially if you fix it up. This one couple I know have a double-wide that is actually really nice on the inside, and they’ve fixed it up a lot on the outside, build a deck and patio and everything.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      @diasdiem: My aunt and uncle did this. They had a double wide that they ended up building so much onto that you couldn’t even tell it had been a mobile home at one point. Looked great, and ended up being a pretty

    • rocketbear79 says:

      @diasdiem: One of my friend’s mother and step dad lived in a double wide on the front of 90+ acres of inherited property while they built a new house further back. It was a really nice home, with a deck, a pool, and a sun-room built onto one side, and since it was only the two of them living there I could never understand why they were building the mansion further back on the property.

    • lmarconi says:

      @diasdiem: I think it’s super awesome when retired seniors fix up RVs and then just drive around the country in them. A great aunt and uncle of mine live in their RV full-time (when it gets cold up north, they head to a spot in Florida) and rent their primary residence.

  14. hypnotik_jello says:

    Can you get DSL or cablemodem?

    • DH405 says:

      @hypnotik_jello: Sure. Some parks have those connections.

    • ktetch says:

      @hypnotik_jello: I lived in one for a while, after my previous landlord got foreclosed on and didn’t tell us until 3 weeks before the sale date.
      Had 8Mbit DSL from AT+T, even though it was RIGHT out in the sticks (we’re talking a single general store open 9-5 is the only thing within 10 miles) in Georgia. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, for $425 with water and trash included, and even with all electric, $70 was as bad as the monthly electric got.

      Ok, the trailer wasn’t the newest, but it was clean, and most of the park were families. And unlike many parks, the owner (a nice old man) lived there too. During the weekends, he’d even wander around the park, keeping an eye on the kids, and making sure people weren’t making messes, or could grab him if they needed to speak to him, or that everyone wasn’t being a pain. Wasn’t a bad place to live and bring up kids, really.

  15. eric? says:

    The rent for a lot in a trailer park is $500ish / month and you’re paying the $10,000 for the trailer: I don’t see how that’s a good deal.

    • tattooedjennyrose says:

      @eric?:

      Around here the lot rents are around $250 a month in most cases…so if you have a mortgage that’s even $300 a month that’s still cheaper than an apartment in this area, with at least a bit of a yard.
      If I was to move to a park I would go for a co-op park, as you tend to have more of a role in deciding the bylaws and such. But mobile homes are generally a pretty good investment, around here at least!

    • JohnDeere says:

      @eric?: my trailer park rent was only $180/month. and that included buying the trailer.

  16. Arketh says:

    Up until I was 18, I never lived in anything but a mobile home, so I’ve got some experience with them.

    “Flimsy as hell” – Only if you’re buying a low quality one. Poor quality is just as common in houses. Quality building construction is something you should look for no matter what you’re buying for a home.

    Now, on trailer parks… well, yeah, I can’t really defend them that much. They tend to go the direction of any lower cost housing.

    That being said, not all mobile homes are found in those places. Depends on the by-laws of where you live.

  17. Orv says:

    You aren’t really building equity. Mobile homes go down in value; it’s like trying to “build equity” by buying a car.

    Now, if you own the land it’s on, you might build equity in that. But if we’re talking about a mobile home on a rented lot, you’re going to lose money on that.

    • lockdog says:

      @Orv: Thank You. I noticed the error right away. You might be building equity in the trailer as you pay off the loan, but the value of the trailer is depreciating at the same time. With a house you stand, well, at least a better chance of the value of the home appreciating as you are building equity.

      On another note, I once heard it explained that mobile homes are to today’s rural poor what log cabins were for the last several hundred years. Sort of makes sense to me.

      That said, while mobile homes, especially older ones can be of dubious quality, another type of inexpensive housing, manufactured homes are amazing. Exceptionally well built (far better construction than a home built in-situ) and fairly affordable. Plus, once assembled, no looks of condescension from your neighbors, as they are indistinguishable from any other house.

      • Orv says:

        @lockdog: Yeah, I’ve known people who did the deal where they bought some land, put a mobile home on it while they saved up to build a house, then either sold the mobile home or used it as a residence for a hired farmhand. That makes sense.

        Buying a mobile home on a rented lot with the idea that it’s somehow more cost-effective than renting an apartment, on the other hand, usually doesn’t make sense.

        • FigNinja says:

          @Orv: I think it can be better than an apartment depending on the market. If you pay $10,000 for a mobile home and pay $300/month rent and the same size apartment would’ve cost you $800 to rent, then the savings will pay for the mobile home in 20 months. Then you have $300/month rent. You might even be able to resell it at some point depending on the age and quality. I’m sure the math varies all over the place but the point is that the break even point might be close enough to make it advantageous.

          Yes, it depreciates like a car but owning is better than leasing there, too. At the end of the loan, you have a car that can be resold and that may last you a good many years longer. At the end of the lease, you have nothing.

    • bobloblawsblog says:

      @Orv: but it seems to be a decent middle-ground – between renting and home ownership.

    • K-Bo says:

      @Orv: I have heard that if you build a foundation under it, and take care of it, they maintain value ( not gain ) I don’t know if it’s true or not, but even if it just maintains value, you are better off than renting.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        @K-Bo: Yeah, I doubt they depreciate as quickly or severly as cars unless you just trash it. And with proper care, they probably do HOLD value.

    • Anonymously says:

      @Orv: The question I have is “does it really matter if you’re not building equity?” You can invest money outside of your home, you pay much less than mortgage interest + property tax on a home, and you still have the benefits of owning your home.

  18. Hitchcock says:

    Where I live in California, a decent 1 bedroom apt is about $950/mo. The ghetto mobile home park (right next to the freeway, bordering an industrial area, no grass/laws) wants $900/mo rent for a space big enough for a single wide.

    Doesn’t make sense.

    That said, a modern, quality double wide (just like cars, there’s different brands and different built qualities), can be quite nice and tend to hold their value a lot better than older/cheap homes from the 70/80s.

  19. Tracy Ham and Eggs says:

    Forget Mobile home. Manufactured and prefab homes are where the deals are at.

  20. buckykat says:

    Mobile homes depreciate – they will lose their value over time. Actual homes will appreciate over time. (Yes, I know the real estate market bubble burst but over long periods, you have much more opportunity to make money with an actual house as compared to a double-wide.)

    • rdm says:

      @buckykat: …and because of that very reason it is harder to get approved for a mortgage on a mobile home than a stick-built.

    • CFinWV says:

      @buckykat: This. The whole “build equity” statement in the article confused me. Not to mention depending where you live they can be a b*tch to sell. A friend of mine has been living in a doublewide for a number of years and they desperately needed some repairs. They tried to get home improvements loans and such but mobile homes don’t qualify for them, she was floored. So basically they need to make repairs on something that doesn’t have the same value as an actual house, but they live in it so it needs to be done. So it’s definitely not the same as making improvements on a house.

  21. Musician78 says:

    I have a mobile home in a pretty nice park. I am currently looking for a house though. I think due to the housing market’s collapse I may be here a while now that I have negative equity.

    Oh well it’s a house (or a roof over my head anyhow). I regularly tell people that I am going to put a rusted ’82 Camaro up on cynder blocks in my front yard. Maybe an ancient couch and a bullet hole ridden refrigerator.

  22. dotkat says:

    Lilliput! Most mobile homes are like Lilliput. You can’t buy standard “home repair” parts to repair a mobile home. For example: door knobs, bath tubs, faucets, closet doors, etc. All parts have to be purchased from a mobile home supplier (in order to fit the Lilliputian dimensions) at 3 to 10 times the cost of the same item at a regular home store. That, for me, is enough to make me either pay rent or purchase a real, stick-built home.

  23. humphrmi says:

    I lived in mobile homes for most of my childhood. So I have some perspective on it.

    I lived in four mobile home parks in my childhood and with one exception, when I visit any of the old parks I lived in, they are all ganglands now. They’re all dumps.

    I never once got hit by a tornado, but the issue with mobile homes is a bit more nuanced than your home being turned into toothpicks. They are generally drafty, and built with a focus on light weight for hauling. As a result, the floors are generally particle board with linoleum on top, the walls are usually just panel boards with insulation between them, and because they are manufactured rather than built by hand, you usually find lots of places where floor doesn’t meet the wall right or the window frame doesn’t fit. As a result, you never really feel completely sealed off from the elements.

    Also bear in mind that if you think you can resell it, before you move into a park, find out if the landlord also sells mobile homes in the park. You don’t want to end up competing with your landlord to sell your unit later.

  24. MaytagRepairman says:

    My parents own a mobile home park and I’ve had several other relatives own mobile homes as well. They can be had for cheap but you have to know it isn’t going to be a pleasant experience.

    First, used ones can be had for the price of a used car but they are still declining assets.

    Second, trailer parks are filled with people who have either low incomes or legal problems that typically keep them out of apartments and these people are going to be your new neighbors. When my parents first bought their park they had a multi-month battle to evict drug dealers. The people running your trailer park might not be as nice as my parents and don’t care who live there.

  25. Snakeophelia says:

    This was SOP where I grew up, in rural SC – you got married and you bought a mobile home, and lived in a trailer park for a while. You took good care of the mobile home so that it would hold its value. Then you bought some land, moved the trailer onto the land, and then build your house and sell your mobile home. Much better than throwing money away on rent.

  26. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    when i applied for a mortgage to buy my first house recently [credit union, 1st homebuyer's, 100% financing] manufactured and mobile homes were specifically excluded from the loan offers.
    there was actually a very nice one [it had a fireplace, my current house doesn't] that was for sale but i would have had to get a different type of mortgage and have 20% down.

    never thought i’d run into a situation where a manufactured home was beyond my means when a larger site built stick structure wasn’t!

    • Orv says:

      @catastrophegirl: Not surprised. From the bank’s perspective, the odds are high that you’ll be upside down on the mobile home if they have to foreclose, because it goes down in value so fast compared to a stick-built home. That makes the loan riskier and they want a higher rate and a larger down payment to compensate.

      Actually, this is often true of any kind of unconventional home. I had a friend once who bought a concrete geodesic dome, and had a really hard time getting financing.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @catastrophegirl: Yes, I bought my first home 3 years ago. First looked at a very nice looking mobile home (cherry wood cabinets, deck, detached garage, etc.) on its own 1/2 acre lot. Traditional mortgage lenders won’t touch these properties though. But there are a few companies out there that specialize in manufactured home loans. The kicker is, at about 10-11% interest on average, it’d take years to build any equity on the land, never mind the depreciating home.

      Ended up buying a modest 1000 sqft. traditional home on a fairly small lot, which I thought would be out of my budget. But even though I paid about $20K more for it than I could theoretically have bought the manufactured home for, my loan terms are better, the payment is lower overall, and despite the housing collapse, the value of the property has likely appreciated somewhat since I moved in.

      Ironically, I probably would not have been able to qualify for this place now since the collapse of the credit market. But I’m in no real hurry to go anywhere, my mortgage is still less than most rents in the area, and once things level out in real estate a bit, I should be in pretty good shape to move into a nicer place.

  27. BrazDane says:

    Just a few things to look out for, if you are considering a mobile home. I am speaking from my own experience trying to buy one, but ended up in a regular house instead.

    Mobile homes do not appreciate, they depreciate over time. This means borrowing money to buy one is expensive. The cheapest loan my wife and I were offered was 9% on a 15 year loan. For our house we got a 5.25% 5-year ARM – which essentially meant we could afford twice the house for our monthly payment.

    Mobile home parks charge a lot fee, which can be substantial. There are no deductions for this, and they can raise it almost as they see fit.

    There are often severe restrictions on what you are allowed to do or put up outside – no fences, etc.

    Watch out for garages that are home-made and not to code.

    Finally, consider your neighborhood. In a privately owned park where you rent space for your mobile home, you may not have the same rights regarding noise from your neighbors, such as their dogs, etc.

    Finally, consider how easy it will be to sell it again when you want to leave. Even if you don’t live there, you are still responsible for the lot rent, and if anything happens to you mobile home, you could get caught on an expensive bill trying to get it demolished and disposed of.

    Other than that, yeah, a newer mobile home can give a lot less work than a comparable old house.

  28. MickeyMoo says:

    Are these types of mobile homes different than the ones that FEMA had so many issues with in New Orleans? (Mold, Formaldehyde, etc? I’m seriously not trolling, I am curious for personal reasons.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @MickeyMoo: Not necessarily. Add the paneling and pre-fab cabinetry typical in a mobile home is likely to emit formaldehyde, especially in the first 3 years or so. Your climate (heat & humidity) will have a great impact on the rate the stuff is released as well.

      Of course, folks who recently bought new traditional homes thinking they’d largely avoid these issues ended up with toxic drywall from China instead.

      Buyer beware!

  29. cmdrsass says:

    Another downside in owning a mobile home is being called a racist redneck by snooty left-wingers all the time.

  30. CFinWV says:

    @Dondegroovily: And they’re valued appropriately.

  31. nocturnaljames says:

    They are cheap and you will get more space for your $$$ than an apartment, and more privacy. Don’t plan on getting much equity.. honestly they aren’t worth much more than a new car, and the problem is your park fees for the land are going to far outweigh any payment you have on the actual place itself. So you are still throwing most of your money down the drain as you are with a rental, except with a mobile home you are stuck with a greater commitment.

  32. Jacquilynne says:

    Another factor in the depreciation of mobile homes is that they aren’t, in many cases, all the resaleable or movable. Moving those things is an expensive pain in the ass, and so your market for selling them is pretty much limited to people who want to live where you currently live. Plus, many mobile home parks simply won’t accept used units — if you’re moving something in, it has to be new — so even if someone wanted to buy and move it, they’d have limited choices.

    I grew up in a town where half of everybody lived in a mobile home, including my family (though you’d barely know by looking at it, given the number of additions that went onto the thing), so I’m not particularly biased against them, but the perception that they’re cheap, freeing, etc, can be a little untrue.

  33. wcnghj says:

    A mobile home? No thanks.

    A used mobile home? No way.

  34. Dondegroovily says:

    If buying in a mobile home park, be careful to find one that is resident-owned. Here is Bellingham, WA, a developer bought a park, evicted everyone, and then went bankrupt, leaving the poorest of the poor homeless for nothing.

  35. Michael Belisle says:

    @Michael Belisle: OK, now I’ve done enough research to find that they were all sponsored by MicroBilt. I also watched some awesome local-local commercials, and I can see what makes them different from a Rhett and Link ad. So I’ll concede that I can understand the justification for “authentically-made local spot” now.

    I still hold that there was never any intent to deceive. The series concept is still admirable since they are in fact real local businesses.

    Please carry on. Talk amongst yourselves.

  36. halcyondays says:

    Terrible idea. Mobile homes depreciate in value to the point of worthlessness after a few years. Site-built homes will at least be worth something.

  37. Heresy Of Truth says:

    I had a mobile home for seven years. It was in a senior park that recently went to all ages. It was great. I had a view of a duck pond, deer to watch, and great neighbors.

    I redid the whole interior, and sold the mobile home for slightly more than I paid for it. It got my husband and I through college for super cheap lot fees monthly, instead of rent or mortgages.

  38. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    A friend of ours had a mobile home and won a settlement so they decided to fix up their 30 year old mobile home. FAIL. I implored them to sell it for what they could get and buy a small house because big checks don’t come around often for those working retail/manual labor and a 30 year old mobile home cannot be turned into anything that will appreciate.

  39. FDCPAGuy says:

    Modular homes built on purchased land aren’t bad! They don’t look like trailers and can go on conventional financing. Look here for examples of what some nicer manufactured/modular homes look like.
    [www.claytonhomes.com]

  40. arkangel says:

    Speaking from personal experience, there’s a potentially expensive drawback to living in a mobile home: It can be difficult to do your own repairs. We were forced to miss work and call a repair service because we couldn’t buy a new front door, hot water heater, or toilet water supply hose that fit what we had anywhere. I don’t know if that’s the case with all mobile homes, but it’s definitely true in our case.

  41. BobSalawalatski says:

    I want to buy one of those cheap Home Depot sheds (probably one of the ones with two floors) and finish the interior like a house.

    And then add an air-conditioned garage with room for several cars.

  42. jretzer says:

    A friend of mine is a self-styled “slab lord,” owning a couple of trailer parks in Florida. When you factor in the rental price of the slab and hookups, they’re not such a good deal, but they make a ton of money for very little effort for the landlord.

  43. EightIsEnough says:

    If you are willing to settle for the quality and design of a mobile home….you can build it yourself cheaper than a manufactured home. A box is a box is a box.

  44. Red_Eye says:

    What horrible Advice! I’m with Dave Ramsey on this one, a mobile home will always go down in value and is generally a bad investment. If you have no other options its ok, but to count on a mobile home for building equity is a lot like investing in saltines, and storing them outdoors. The longer they are out there the less likely you will get $$$ for them. Same holds true for ‘investment’ in a mobile home.

  45. rtwigg says:

    A true manufactured home, built in a factory instead of on site, is the same of better quality and stability as a traditional site-built stick-built house. The building materials never lay out in the weather and the same crew does the constructing day after day. Very high quality at a typical 40% savings. Mobiles homes are NOT the same as manufactured homes.

  46. Nytmare says:

    With a mobile home you usually have to pay lot rent, but the amount should be far lower than a regular house mortgage + real estate taxes payment.

    Mobile homes stop being mobile very quickly. There is a risk you’ll lose the home with little or no compensation if you’re kicked off the land when the mobile home park is bulldozed for a new strip mall.

  47. vladthepaler says:

    It’s a MOBILE home. If a tornado is coming, get out of the way.

  48. JGKojak says:

    Actually, in the midwest many mobile home parks are in low-lying flat areas and are slighly more vulnerable to a tornado moving across the open land than a housing development in the hills, for example.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @JGKojak: Tornadoes eat stick-built homes too; also brick, stone, etc. If the tornado is big enough, anything will be damaged / eaten.

  49. profmonster says:

    I grew up in one. The one I grew up in was purchased new, but made of such shoddy materials that it quickly fell apart. The connections for the water heater leaked terribly, so that Mom’s bedroom floor was wavy (and later, dangerous). As someone above said, you still have to pay lot rent (for where the trailer is parked), and those rents go up every year. Also: the neighbors are in the same dire financial straits that you are, and may not respond to those dire straits as reasonably/well as your mom has. I.e., I lived around drug dealers and hoods. The turnover is high, as people seem to realize their mistake, and get out as quickly as they can. My mom was not able to sell her trailer when it was paid off, as it had depreciated in value so badly. She had to pay someone to haul it away. I wouldn’t touch one now – I would rent instead. Thank god we both got out.

  50. temporaryerror says:

    According to SNopes, and others, Mobile homes aren’t named because they are mobile but rather because that is where they were first build (Mobile, Alabama)
    [www.snopes.com]

  51. admiral_stabbin says:

    What about tossing a mobile home on some rural land? That’s even cheaper in the long run, less concerns about neighbors, more freedom, etc.

    A friend of mine did that after high school. Admittedly, the land was gifted to him from family (~30 acres a mere 10 miles outside of the western suburbs). He had enough money left over to build a large garage that was twice the size of the double-wide trailer he lived in.

    I considered a having a contemporary modular constructed on some rural land when shopping for a house a couple years ago. I still wonder if not doing it was the right choice…

  52. PermanentStar says:

    “I’m happier than a tornado in a trailer park!” (From Mater in the movie cars, if you didn’t know)

  53. P_Smith says:

    I’ve suggested mobile homes in the past and some didn’t like it. Funny how things change when Consumerist says it.

    The best thing about quickly buying out and owning a mobile home is that you stop making payments – no more rent, no more mortgage. Then you can bank and invest the money. Using the following site:

    [www.moneychimp.com]

    I calcuated saving $800 per month (a typical monthly payment for rent or a mortgage) at 4% using simple interest.

    In five years, you would save $54000. And in eight years, you would save $92000. You could buy a small house outright for that much, or at least, get a very small mortgage.

    Another question: Why weren’t moble homes brought up in articles on spending and image, on why people buy expensive things to “keep up with the Joneses”? Isn’t one’s ome considered part of that image/spending cycle?

  54. RalphyNader says:

    Unseen cost will add up with a mobile home. Park fees get to be about $300 a month plus most insurance companies don’t want anything to do with this type of risk. If it is 10+yrs old expect to pay a lot of premium for very little coverage.

  55. hi says:

    How bout a FEMA trailer complete with poison so you get sick.

  56. fusilier says:

    I have a mobile modular home! I don’t call it a ‘trailer home’ because.. it’s not. And I don’t live in tornado valley, so no problems with that.

    It was $80k brand new–I pay $600 a month for it and the land. That’s cheaper than renting and I get a whole house out of it AND I’m not throwing money away renting.

    We’ll eventually have to move to a bigger home once we start a family, but for now this is just right. :)

  57. sykl0ps says:

    I grew up living in a mobile home on property. The home is still standing, and with maintenance (like any other house) it is still in good condition at 25+ years old.

    I know a lot of them look like crap. Some people don’t want to put money into what they call a throw away home.

    Living in Florida I see a lot of really old mobile homes still being occupied. So I’m not really sure if the idea about them being such a death trap is real or it’s just easy to show a tightly packed home parks destruction on TV to give that idea.

    My thought on mobile homes is that you can get twice the house for half the cost. They are being built better and nicer. I was in one the other day that had high flat ceilings, crown molding, real textured walls, good name appliances, plenty of really nice extras. I was quite impressed.

    as for tornadoes and hurricanes… I don’t really want to be in ANY home that is underneath the storm.

  58. MrEvil says:

    A mobile home has been giving my mom a roof over her head for several years now. She bought a house sitting on 10 acres. Turns out the house had a defective HVAC system and managed to infest the entire thing with black mold. The house is uninhabitable. My mom was able to score a used mobile home for a few thousand dollars and have it moved onto the property and hooked up to Electric and water. She sold her old home and has been waiting on something to come of this lemon home she bought. Odds are it’s going to have to be rehabilitated like homes flooded on the Gulf Coast.

  59. jkramer48 says:

    I’ve been reading comments about mobile homes, and the parks they are put into. I can’t believe all the negative comments about both. We bought a double wide home about 6 years ago; it was used, but only a couple of years old; it is now worth lots more than we paid for it. (homes similar to ours have sold in this neighborhood, so we have a good idea of what it would sell for). We added a double car garage, and planted lots of perennials. It has a good sized yard with trees. Our mobile home park is very strict; before you can move in you get credit check, background check, need references, can’t have any felonies or serious misdemeanors in your past (or have immediate family with these offenses), and have to sign an agreement which is about 25 pages long. Everyone in our park must abide by these rules, or they are out. It is a beautiful park; most homes have garages, some have all season rooms, or porches. Everyone maintains their property well (in the rules) and it is a quiet secure place to live. The homes here are mostly very high quality (costing as much as $100,000).
    People who have sold homes here did well if they had their homes for over 5 years, and kept them in very good condition; as the prices of the new homes goes up, it makes the older ones easier to sell. In our area, the single wides don’t sell as easily, and it seems that they do depreciate a little more than the double wides. Our lot rent is 270 a month which incudes water, sewer, and garbage fees. This is less than what we were paying for property taxes and water/sewer fees at our previous home.
    I do believe that if you are careful, compare models and quality, you can get a good home which will last you as long as many of the stick built homes. Same for the mobile home park you choose; look for one where the homes and yards are well kept, and the management cares about the people who live there. Our park does not accept homes over 5 years old, but I have been in mobile homes in our area that were built in the 60’s and 70’s. Some of the better quality homes that have been well maintained are still in good shape. Others do look dreadful, so I understand why people think mobile homes are trashy, because some of them are.