What are your goals? What are the other homes in the park like? Will the older one detract from the overall impression given? I don’t think it’s as much a matter of not taking on more debt as how much will each decision affect what you are trying to do. The older home will not rent for as much as the newer one, so what kind of tenants will it draw and how much of an effect will that have overall? If there are lots of other homes like the older one already in place then one more wouldn’t hurt. But if it sticks out like a sore thumb and shows you are putting anything in, it may start to have an overall negative effect.
The older home is already 30 years old and how many more years can it produce income? No matter the answer, the newer one has 20 more years than the older one so there is more money to be made for someone on that home. Even after paying the new one for 10 years there are still 10 more years of free and clear income on it at a much higher rate than the older one. Then again, the older one could be paid off in a little over 2 months…a little slant towards the money now vs. future side.
I know I have rambled and there are advantages to both sides. That’s why you posted, I know, but I generally don’t want to see homes in my subdivision older than 2000 now. If I was selling maybe I would just fill up with whatever but since I was leaning towards operating for a while, I want it to be towards the nicer/newer side. I think there is still enough of a market for nicer compared to anything goes… But I think you will find a split on this topic so it still comes down to how it affects overall goals.