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The Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home {Under any Circumstances}

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I grew up in a mobile home park. Prairie Village, #59, to be exact. We didn’t own our mobile home. I think my parents probably paid about $200 total in rent (including lot rent). If they paid any more than that in the 80’s they were getting ripped off! The only reason to buy a mobile home is for the land it sits on. Let me explain.

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The Difference Between a Mobile Home and a Stick-Built Home

A mobile home, also known as a manufactured home or sometimes a double-wide trailer, is a home that has been built to be moved to a buyer’s desired location and anchored there. If you’ve ever seen huge semi-trucks driving down the interstate with half of a home, it was carrying a mobile home to its final resting place. Mobile homes used to be very affordable options, as opposed to stick-built homes. Now, you can easily spend double what you could on a stick-built home for a mobile house with all the “bells and whistles”. A mobile home is considered personal property…not real estate. Mobile homes depreciate (go down) in value. They will never go up in value. I don’t care what anyone says. They’re a glorified car payment, and we all know that car payments don’t enhance your wealth.

Stick-built homes are built on a parcel of land, starting with permanent concrete or block foundation, and are built to a specific code for your area. They’re inspected from the electrical to the plumbing, roofing, and flooring and everything in between to ensure everything is up to code and meets quality standards and building requirements. Stick-built homes at the same price point of manufactured houses are usually much older, so they may be outdated. A stick-built home is considered real estate, or real property. Unless we’re in a depression or recession, real estate should, in theory, go up in value, or appreciate. Case in point: I purchased a home for $204,000 in late 2014, and we just had it appraised (February 2018). The current value after a $7,000 renovation is $240,000! We now have a good amount of equity in our home, but you can bet that would NOT be the case had we purchased a mobile home.

Mobile Home Salesmen are Snakes

I have a friend who called me one day on her way to look at mobile homes. She was making the 8-hour drive to Burleson, Texas to meet with a sales lady at Factory Expo Home Centers. I asked her what in the world she was thinking and pleaded with her not to buy a mobile home. She ensured me that this salesperson offered to pay for a hotel stay so that they could come check out the inventory. {Here’s where my panic attack started} The only reason to buy a mobile home (in the salesperson’s eyes) is to cut them a huge commission check.

You wanna know the reason the sales lady offered to pay for a hotel stay? She had already closed my friend. I explained that to her, saying that when you have so much invested (a 16-hour round-trip drive, hotel stay, plus time invested), you’re more than likely going to feel obligated to make a decision. In this lady’s mind, she was going to make a sale that weekend, so once I explained that to my friend, she assured me she would never make that decision without asking my advice first. WHEW!

NEVER MAKE THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL DECISION OF YOUR LIFE BECAUSE YOU FEEL OBLIGATED OR TOO INVESTED

(For example, your mindset is “we’ve already looked at 20 houses…let’s just pick one already”). The 21st house you look at could be the one for you. So don’t settle! And this is coming from a former Realtor®!

You wanna know what happened the next day when my friend visited Factory Expo Home Centers in Burleson, Texas? The sales lady had told her every lie under the sun to get my friend to drive there. The mobile home was cheaply built, with ugly particle board walls, and many of the “upgrades” my friend thought she could get simply “weren’t possible without the mobile home falling apart on the drive to its new home”. My friend thought that she could make upgrades to the kitchen, such as granite countertops and oak cabinets. Let me tell you something about upgrades in a mobile home.

You’ll pay a huge markup for upgrades in a mobile home. For example, the granite you wanted so badly may have cost the mobile home distributor $2,000 in materials and installation, but they will probably charge you triple that (at least). They will upcharge you for every single upgrade imaginable!

If you’re not going to listen to me about the only reason to buy a mobile home, at least don’t buy the upgrades from the manufacturer. Buy the base model and fix it up yourself. You’ll save thousands of dollars, and you’ll still lose your ass by not listening to me in the first place, but you’ll lose less money if you do the upgrades yourself, paying cash, and by shopping around locally. Trust me on this!

So What is the Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home?

The only reason to buy a mobile home (under any circumstances) is for the land it is sitting on. Will Rogers once said, “Real estate is the best investment in the world because it is the only thing they’re not making any more.” It’s so true, y’all! Land is scarce, and it’s getting more expensive! Once the world is completely developed, there will be no more building unless you remove the existing structures or change them. Land doesn’t depreciate like mobile homes. In fact, the land will never depreciate! As it becomes more and more scarce, the values will continue to rise.

If you find a parcel of land (especially acreage) in a good area with steady values, that is the only reason to buy a mobile home. Buy the land, live in the mobile home while you prepare for a build. Or buy the land with a mobile home to use as a hunting property. Either way, the land is where the value is…not the mobile home.

If you’re looking for an incredible Realtor® in the Springfield IL area with lots of listings for sale, get in touch with my friend Deb Sarsany, of the Deb Sarsany Team at The Real Estate Group, in Springfield Illinois. She is the best of the best and will take extra good care of you! I used to work on her team. Aren’t we the coolest?! 🙂

I must say our real estate branding was on point! #debsarsanyteamforlife

 

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Comments

  1. I once stayed a couple of weeks in a mobile home, but didn’t know much about them otherwise. Where I live, developers are buying every home on the block, knocking down the existing houses, and building mega mansions. It kind of makes me sad because I love the older Spanish architecture and the mansions all loo the same. But I definitely understand land being scarce. Especially since I live in a city.

  2. I currently live in my 40′ RV. I travel full time and have the most amazing life. So there is that reason to buy a “mobile” home too. 🙂

    1. Well, of course! There’s so much freedom that can come from that! 🙂 I’m sure you save a ton of money by living in an RV as well!

  3. Land seems like a great reason to buy a mobile home! I’m sure some people that can afford it could take great advantage of it as well

  4. I am super biased against mobile homes because in Florida with hurricanes… no. However, I completely agree with your point about the land. Land in South Florida is a gold mine!

    1. Oh girl! I grew up in a trailer house in the Oklahoma Panhandle (Tornado Alley)! I know all too well the fear of the elements with regards to mobile homes. And yes…South Florida has some of the best investment potential imaginable!! Some of that land could be sold to developers for millions down the line! You never know!

  5. Great post, I considered buying a mobile home for the affordability but even that doesn’t seem like such a great idea anymore!

    1. As a former Realtor® and person who’s lived in a mobile home, you’re better off renting a mobile home. They aren’t expensive to rent, and it’s not throwing money away as long as you’re not squandering the rest of your income! 🙂

  6. mobile_home_dude

    The picture you show is of an Airstream Travel Trailer, not a mobile home, so I got suspicious right away of your “facts” even before I read the article.

    I also wonder if you advised your friend that if she wanted upgrades that are heavy in weight, she would also need to upgrade the floor joists, or that maybe her upgrades should be to the roof, joists, exterior walls, etc. instead of interior decor.

    Mobile home walls are NOT particle board. They are thin gypsum board with a decorative paper or vinyl facing. People who write articles should use the correct terminology, no matter how small the detail. Otherwise, smart readers may wonder how many of the big facts are also incorrect.

    Ive always been curious: why is it considered acceptable to lose over 50% of a motor vehicle’s price within 5 years, but if you buy a mobile/manufactured home and it depreciates, you’re bad with money and possibly a loser and should be embarrassed for having made such a foolish purchase? Does anyone know who made the decision a long time ago that any home you own should appreciate in value and if it doesn’t you’ve done something wrong.

    Why yes, I do live in a single-wide manufactured home. No, I will never get back most of the money I spent, but then again, my car is worth way less than 50% of what I paid for it and it’s not nearly as old as my “mobile home”.

    mobile_home_dude

    1. You obviously are an advocate for mobile home living. And that’s fine. But I sell homes for a living. There’s a reason most banks don’t lend on mobile homes (unless on a solid foundation and other terms). They are not a good investment (unless you get them dirt cheap and can earn a solid ROI by renting them out) or you are buying it for the land to build on. You do you! I’ll keep sharing what I know!

      1. Lisa

        “You obviously are an advocate for mobile home living” You “obviously” read Mobile Home Dude’s reply as an attack on you and your beliefs/opinions and the article you wrote instead of the rebuttal it actually was. Your article was clearly written without solid knowledge or facts as someone who “sells homes for a living”. In fact, the tone of the entire article is promoting the purchase of real estate, stick built homes and yourself and realtor friends. I read the article and while I disagreed with many of your “facts” and comments and would have just shaken my head and moved on. What caused me to comment here was the attitude that came through quite loudly in your esponse to Mobile Home Dude, as well as the fact that you deleted a “spammy link” in another comment without giving an explanation. So, you “do you” and keep using your blog to promote yourself and those of us who happen to come across your articles will do what we do – dismiss uninformed self serving twaddle and move on with our lives.

        1. Whoa…you’re really upset about this. I never realized mobile home living was such a hot-button issue. Have a nice day.

        2. By the way, this blog is my own personal blog so I can and will talk about any and all subjects that I am passionate about (including mobile homes being a poor investment). And my comments section isn’t the place for debate or for someone to drop a link to their article selling their products. I hope that explanation satisfies you…

      2. Cheryl

        Most manufactured homes are set up on a permanent foundation nowadays.

        1. You are correct about that, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a manufactured home and not comparable to a stick-built house in terms of quality. An appraiser will not use manufactured homes as comparables to stick-built homes when appraising property.

  7. Kyle

    Uninformed author! See rebuttal here: Sorry! Spammy link removed**

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