Considering buying a manufactured or mobile home? Before you take the plunge, there are a few things you should know and some research you should do. Here is a list of some important things to consider before you start to shop.
1. Know where you want to live.
Do you want to purchase a brand new home and have it moved to a site? Or are you looking to purchase a preowned home? There are a wide variety of options for manufactured home living. Some homes are on land you own, others are in communities where the land is leased and you pay a monthly fee. If you wish to own your own land, your first step is to check on your local area zoning laws – these vary by area. You will also need to look into water, electric, gas and sewer connections with local utility companies. If you move into a manufactured housing community, these will be taken care of for you. In addition, communities frequently offer many other amenities like pools, clubhouses and snow plowing, (Each community is different, so check with the managers to see the benefits of each one.
2. Plan ahead for how much home you’ll need.
Consider how many people will be living in the home, their ages, their requirements and how the rooms will be used. Do you have small children? Need a home office? Have a lot of overnight guests? Before you start home shopping, take some time to think about your current – and future needs. Manufactured homes come in a wide variety of designs. Square footage can be from 900 to 2,500 square feet – make sure you have the room you need.
Tip: Manufactured Floor Plans.com is a great site to learn about home floor plans and new homes.
3. Research selling prices for homes in your area.
Once you know the size of the home you need, the next step is doing some basic research to see how much mobile homes are selling for in your area. There are a number of simple ways you can do this from driving through communities, looking online on sites like Craig’s List or MHVillage, or checking out your local newspaper.
Tip: After you have done your search for homes in your area on MHVillage, the next step may be to purchase a Market Analysis Report. ($7.95) A Market Analysis Report will tell you not only what current homes in the area are selling for, but what past homes have sold for as well. It also includes local census information and a list of local communities and manufactured home retailers.
4. Figure out how much home you can afford.
Once you know the cost of homes in your area, use a mortgage calculator to get a rough idea on a monthly payment. But wait! You aren’t done yet – if you want to live in a manufactured home community, you will also have to figure in lot rent, and if you are buying land to put the home on, that will add on to the cost of the home – and don’t forget basics like the cost of utilities! Planning ahead and looking at your monthly budget and comparing that to the costs of owning, will help you decide on how much home you can afford.
Tip: Vanderbilt has a simple mortgage calculator for manufactured housing you can use.
5. Know your credit score.
If you are going to finance your new mobile home, the first thing your lender will look at is your credit score. If you are moving into a community, they also may your require credit score. Don’t be surprised by something that may be on your report. Get a copy, know your score, and work on cleaning up any misinformation that may be on there.
Tip: There are a number of sites that offer credit reports online, (be sure and read the fine print before you order one, some include monthly services.) Lexington Law specializes in helping people raise their scores to the levels they need.
6. Make a checklist and check it twice.
So, you have figured out where you want to live, what mobile homes cost, and that it fits in your budget. Now is the fun part! Before you start looking at homes, sit down with your family and make a checklist for what you want in a home. Just spend time brainstorming – the sky is the limit. The goal here is to make a huge list of everything that is important to you and your family.
Then it is time to scale it down. First go through your list and mark each item as a “Want” or a “Need.” For some households having two bathrooms might be a Want – for others it will be essential! Then go back through your list and rank all the Wants on a 1-5 scale, from most important to least. Then do the same with the Needs. This list will then become your checklist. Once you have this in hand, you can save yourself a ton of time by looking at homes that fit the most important of your Needs. Rewrite up your checklist and take copies with you when you go through house and compare it – how does it fit your Needs list? How does it fit your Want list? This step will prevent you from falling in love with a home that isn’t practical for your family.
Tip: When you are ready to start your search, MHVillage.com has over 28,000 manufactured homes for sale listed on their site – nationwide!
7. Consider neighborhoods, school districts and other amenities.
Remember the phrase “Location, location, location”? This is something you will want to think about when you decide to start searching for a mobile home. Think about your family’s needs – do you need to be close to shopping, bus lines or employment? Are you looking for a vacation property near water or other recreation? Knowing the best area for you to be located will help you narrow down your search.
Tip: If you have figured out where your ideal location is, but don’t see a home for sale there now, you can use the the MHVillage Ideal Home Search tool to automatically email you when homes are listed. Just fill out the type of home you are looking for and the area you are searching in, and MHVillage will let you know about new listings that meet your needs. Plus, the Ideal home Alerts are absolutely free to use!
8. Talk to Community Managers.
If you have decided to purchase a home in a land lease community, the first thing you will want to do is talk to the manager. Managers can tell you about the area, the amenities that the community offers and about available homes. Note – each manufactured home park has different rules and regulations, and most have a application process. This is just one more reason to talk to the manager – you don’t want to make the mistake of falling in love with a home before you have approval from the community!
Tip: Need more information on what to ask? There is a great article in our newsletter on 7 Questions Your Must Ask Your Community Manager Before You Purchase Your Home.
9. And finally, if you aren’t planing on staying in one spot, don’t buy.
Though manufactured housing is an affordable living solution for many, there are still a number of costs involved in purchasing a home, moving in and getting settled. If you are planning on staying in one place for awhile, these costs make sense, but if you might need to move at any time – or want to keep stay flexible, renting might make more sense.
Tip: You can search for mobile homes for Sale or Rent on MHVillage.com. Just go to our Search Page, and under listing type indicate whether you want to find Homes for Sale, Homes for Rent, or both!
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