TOP 10 THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN PURCHASING A USED MOBILE HOME
People’s pockets are hurting. Really hurting. Housing prices are on the rise. Affordable housing is in high demand, and high priced. The mobile home industry provides the most affordable housing option there is, and even those prices are getting too high. To buy a new mobile home, 14x70 3 bedroom 2 bathroom, it’s going to cost you between $80,000 - $120,000. That’s with a credit score of 620, having employment, and being able to put a 10% deposit down. Those requirements may not seem like much, but if you’re struggling to pay $125.00 a month lot rent, then a $8,000.00 - $12,000.00 cash deposit seems impossible. So, for some people the used mobile home option is the most realistic route.
But you have to be careful when you’re treading in these waters. The mobile home industry is composed of sharks. Nothing but sharks. That will drag you in deep waters and drown you for a dollar. They have no problem selling you a tadpole and telling you it will turn into a frog if you just add water. Which is technically true, but not true at all. So, before you go out to purchase a used mobile home, these are the Top 10 Things you should look out for:
DOES THE HOME HAVE TO BE MOVED?
This is the question that starts everything off. If you had planned to move the mobile home, this wouldn’t apply to your situation. But if you didn’t, this can be an opportunity for you to save thousands of dollars in transportation and installation fees. Either way you choose to go, it’s good to know, because it gives you options. And if it does have to be moved…
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO MOVE IT?
People sell their mobile homes for all types of reasons. But the main reason that I’ve come across is that they want the home moved, but they don’t want to pay for it, so whoever buys it, will pay for it to get moved. Sometimes a seller will cut the price drastically, if the buyer can get it moved faster. But this scenario can quickly turn into a headache if the mover doesn’t get the home moved in the timeframe they said they were going to move it. I’ve seen situations turn ugly.
There were knives pulled.
Buyers should always get the home moved in the timeframe that all parties agreed on.
It makes the world a better place.
- CAN IT BE MOVED?
Sometimes deals are too good to be true. Sometimes your eyes are larger than your stomach. You buy a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom for $500.00, and you think you’re the person that got the good end of the deal, until you hear the laugh of your mover when you ask him, “Can this home be moved?” A deep laugh. It’s then. And only then, that you realize that the person who sold you this home, knew it couldn’t be moved. The point is further hammered home when you’re unable to reach the seller. Despite calling. Calling. And calling. Leaving message, after message, after message.
The person went ghost.
He’s probably been selling that “mobile” home over and over again for years. Who knows how much he has made off that home? He’s probably somewhere selling it now as I type this.
Today’s Lesson: Some mobile homes are too old to be moved. No mobile home mover worth his axles is not going to touch it. They don’t want to risk it exploding on the highway (It happens more than you think.). If the home has to be moved, bring a mobile home mover with you to inspect it, before you purchase it.
- HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BE MOVED?
If it has to be moved, it is best to know how much it cost to be moved before you buy it. Whatever that number is, add a couple thousand to it, so you can have some cushion, in case things start to run over. And things will run over. To transport and install a single wide mobile home (14x70, 16x80) is going to cost you between $6,000.00 -$8,500.00. To move a double wide (24x60), it’s going to cost between $15,000.00 - $20,000.00 (The reason the cost is much higher for a double wide is because they have to split the double wide in half and move it in two pieces, then put it back together again.). And that’s with nothing going wrong. These costs have to be added to the price of the mobile home. And if the mover needs to bring extra attachments to be able to move the mobile home expect to pay more. Make sure that your mobile home has these items, before you even try to schedule a mobile home mover:
WHEELS: Located underneath the mobile home. Make sure you have them underneath there. If not, the mover will charge you $20.00 - $30.00 a wheel if they have to use their own.
TONGUE: Located in the front of the mobile home. It’s the iron, triangular shaped hitch used to hook the mobile home to the truck. If it’s missing it can cost you between $600.00 - $1,000.00 to get a new one welded on.
AXLES: Located underneath the mobile home. If these are missing, the mover will charge $40.00 -$50.00 a piece to use theirs.
Expect to pay a lot for the transportation and installation of your mobile home. It usually exceeds the amount of the actual mobile home.
This really applies if you’re moving the mobile home to property that you own. You have to make sure that you can put a mobile home on that property. Every parish and county has different rules and stipulations, and they follow those guidelines by the book. Most local governments don’t like the aesthetic of mobile homes, and will fine you any chance they get. Don’t make it easy for them. Make sure you have the proper permits and they are up to date.
If you’re moving your home into a mobile home park, this wouldn’t apply to you. The owner of the park takes care of all the permits because they own the property. All you have to do is get approved by the park owner to move into the park.
- WIND ZONE OF THE MOBILE HOME
This primarily applies to the states near The Gulf (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas), because of the regular occurrence of hurricanes. The wind zones of a mobile home are Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3. With Zone 3 being the strongest against heavy winds, Zone 2 being moderately strong, and Zone 1 being the weakest.
The closest you are to The Gulf, the stronger your mobile home has to be against strong winds. All of these states near The Gulf have a wind zone map, so you can see what zone your area requires. You can find the wind zone of your mobile home on the data plate, which is located underneath the kitchen sink cabinet door. You can also locate it on the title of the mobile home. Parishes and counties are very strict about mobile homes being placed in their proper wind zone area.
For example, a Zone 2 and Zone 1 mobile home can’t go into a Zone 3 area. But a Zone 3 mobile home can go into a Zone 1 or Zone 2 area. A Zone 2 mobile home can not go into a Zone 3 area, but can go into a Zone 1 area. A Zone 1 mobile home can only stay in a Zone 1 area, but a Zone 2 and Zone 3 mobile home can go in a Zone 1 area.
Know the wind zone of the mobile home you’re buying. You would hate to buy a home you can’t even live in.
- MOLD AND FIRE
If you’re looking to purchase a used mobile home, and it’s had fire damage, run. If it’s had mold damage, run faster. I’ve seen individuals purchase these types of homes time after time, because it was selling for an extremely low price, and they thought that they could repair the damage, but the only thing that was left to repair was their ego.
Don’t do it. No matter how sweet the deal may seem. Mold is too expensive to remove. And the smoke from a previous fire can stay in the walls long after the fire, causing further damage that is very expensive to repair.
Make sure the floors are good. If not, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny to repair them. The floors are the second most expensive item to repair on a mobile home. Not only that, but if the floors are weak, and have been rotting away from flooding and leaks, you might not even be able to move the mobile home. Literally. Mobile home movers wouldn’t even touch it.
The most expensive item to repair on a mobile home is the roof. If the home has roof damage, just turn around and walk away. If you don’t, you’re going to spend between $10,000.00 - $20,000.00 getting it repaired. And you have to repair a damaged roof. There’s no way around it. Just putting a blue tarp over it, is not a permanent solution, and will lead to further damage. The leaking that comes from rain, runs down the walls, causing mold, which can run down to the floors, causing floor damage.
It’s a never ending cycle of repairs when the roof is damaged.
- THE TITLE
Here’s the most important rule when purchasing a mobile home: Make sure that the person that’s selling you the mobile home, owns the mobile home. The mobile home industry is extremely cutthroat. Sellers do not have a problem selling you a home that doesn’t even belong to them. And buyers don’t have a problem purchasing a home that they know doesn’t belong to the seller.
A mobile home is technically considered an automobile, so the only way to prove that the person who is selling it owns it, is if their full name is on the title. That’s the only way. Once that’s been verified, and you feel comfortable with making the purchase, you and the seller can head to the notary’s office and get the title transferred over to you.
If they don’t have a title, or don’t have the title in their name, don’t do the deal. Because you could be waking up to the sounds of a mobile home mover coming to take “your” mobile home away because you don’t legally own it.
If a person wants to purchase a traditional home, they have resources such as real estate agents and realtors, even wholesalers to help them with the process. Due to the generally lower economic status of mobile home residents, these real estate professionals don’t want anything to do with this demographic. Leaving these individuals more susceptible to getting scammed, by people who are looking to take advantage of individuals who are trying to meet the milestone most adults want to meet, regardless of their economic status: HOME OWNERSHIP.
So, this list is for anybody who is navigating through these murky mobile home industry waters trying to achieve their version of The American Dream.