Dealing with rehabbers

I have an abandoned mobile in my CO park that needs rehabbing. I have no interest in owning the home, although I’m in the process of bonding for title of it. I also don’t want to put the money into rehabbing it myself.

What are the specifics in selling this to a ‘rehabber’? I have concerns regarding the length of time he’ll take to do it, should I charge lot rent while he does it, insurance liability, background check …

What are the steps you guys take to make sure everyone’s happy?

We have experienced this situation several times.

With our first such home we made the mistake of letting the ‘rehabber’ live in the home. Not surprisingly in retrospect, it tuned out he was not a ‘rehabber.’ He was a ‘freeloader’ looking for a very inexpensive place to live. Needless to say, the repairs were not made, and he disappeared into the night after a few months living in the trailer, leaving it in slightly worse shape than he found it.

So we now agree up front with the rehabber as to what will be a reasonable amount of time to get the job complete (1 month should be plenty for most any trailer). We do not let the rehabber live in the home until the work is complete. During this initial month, he pays no rent. We sign a purchase and sale agreement up front specifying the purchase price of the trailer. The purchase price is usually some combination of cash and agreed upon improvements to the trailer done to a ‘professional grade.’

Only once the work is complete (and any monies paid) is the purchase and sale agreement fulfilled, and we process the title into his name.

If he fails to get the work done in the prearranged reasonable amount of time, then he starts paying rent (still without owning the trailer). You can then decide if/how long you want to let this situation go on with him paying rent, but not owning the trailer. He may well abandon the job if he can’t live in the trailer, but is obligated to pay rent. Worst case scenario is you take back an improved trailer and try again with another rehabber. Best case is the rehabber is as good as his word and you’ve improved your park physically and financially and you have one less home to own and maintain!

To your continued success,


We have sold homes to two different rehabbers. One lived in the home and is still in the park. The other one put a tenant in (who stopped paying rent after a couple of months; yet the rehabber made good on the lot rent) after getting the home livable. Both situations worked out, yet we don’t want anymore subleasing and so are now only would sell to a rehabber who would live in the home, and those who can take a real beat up home and bring it back to life are difficult to find.

Wonderful advice, and greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

  • Robin

I have had a couple of homes in my park rehabbed by individuals as well. In addition to most of what Jefferson has indicated I have one additional condition. The contractor is not permitted to live in the home. It must be sold when completed.

I also set basic expectations for the rehab on the exterior as well. Vinyl siding, skirting material, exterior colours, landscaping, stairs, porches etc. I don’t care about the inside as only the outside is of value to the park but I do confirm before hand what their plans are as I want the home to sell for the maximum price to insure the best quality tenant buyer.

I have found this to be important in order to get the best quality rehab possible. From experience I learned that generally any individual wanting to live in a park is not successful at what they do and is likely not good at rehabbing. Low quality standards etc. The best quality contractor is one that is successful doing it for a living and will want to sell to make the profit.

That makes perfect sense, Greg. Would there be a particular way of advertising this home to attract such a buyer?

Just wondering…Would it be worth it to put Vinyl siding on an old 60’s/70’s mobile home to make it appear more modern, attractive & rentable. IE: what would the cost be for something like that & is it difficult to find someone to do it.

Vinyl siding generally runs $2,000 - $3,500 per house, depending on size. We’ve not gone that route. We are however about to paint some houses (TSP power wash, base layer, top layer gloss) for about $1,250 per home. We hope to make a few extra bucks on the homes painted, buy mostly improve the park’s image and make it easier/quicker to fill new homes we are bringing into the community.

It’s difficult to calculate the exact ROI on exterior painting. But we’d be interested to hear from anyone that has been able to quantify it.

I have painted and installed vinyl siding on renos in my park. Painting older homes is basically putting lipstick on a pig. Although if it is in really rough shape paint does make an improvement. Possibly more sell-able or rent-able but I do not believe it increases the return.

Vinyl siding is in my opinion the way to go if you are at all interested in improving the overall quality of the community. Paint simply makes a home look painted while siding ratchets it up a notch.

Having said that I do not rent my homes they are strictly for resale and my goal is to price them as high as possible to attract the highest quality resident to the community.

Installing the siding myself generally costs between $1000 and $1400 for materials. Painting maybe $300 - $500.

If you decide to hire a contractor to complete the rehab work on your behalf, I’d recommend you hire one who carries both general liability and workers compensation insurance. If they don’t have these things, make sure you are saving enough to make it worth the risk that you may end up getting stuck with their problems - injured employees, electrical work that hurts tenants…

So very important – no one steps foot on my property without it, and must show their current policies to the manager before any work is done.

That’s real smart. Our overall loss numbers for those in the business of selling manufactured homes reflect that about 1/3 of all losses are caused by subcontractors. For park owners, the % is less than that but still significant. When you hire/work with financially responsible business partners, you’re generally not sitting alone at the defense table in County Court.

Rehabber bought a home in my park directly from the tenant. I wouldn’t pay the tenant’s way high price for the condition. Rehabber asked for 2 months rent free while he fixed it up. Said he would try to sell it to someone who would keep it in the park if I gave him two months otherwise he would take it out immediately. If it didn’t sell in two months, he would pay rent.

I went for it. He sold the home to someone who is taking it out of the park.

So I have another vacent lot. Looks like he buys homes in parks and resells them.

Protect yourself agains this if you can.

Greg, I just bought a park with a huge number of 60’s/70’s POH’s. Would you be so kind as to let us know where you can get vinyl siding so cheap. I would love to re-skin a number of these oldies.


What city/state are you in? What was the age/price of the home?


Hi Jefferson

Gulfport MS

Lots of 60’s & 70’s uglies

Current rent: 2bd: $500-$550, 3bd: $575-$650

Also, given the fact that there is already a water proof metal skin, I assume that it might be ok to use a thinner vinyl skin. Is that correct.

Under the circumstances, can you tell me how thick or what grade of vinyl skin I could get by with.

Many thanks


William -

Alas, I am not a repairman, and do not know exactly in what thicknesses vinyl is manufactured or what recommended installation thicknesses are. Your logic sounds correct that you should be able to use thinner product, but I’d ask a few siding men in your area for their opinion. But keep in mind, that vinyl siding tends to get blown off. That is why we do not use it in our properties in Oklahoma. Your homes being in Gulfport means they are ‘ground zero’ for hurricanes, so I might exercise similar caution.

Also, to your original problem of having a rehabber sell the home out of your community, move-outs are more common with older mobile homes. FWIW, we’ve experienced about one move-out (and fortunately one move-in) annually in our community in Oklahoma City. Nearly all have been older homes.


Thank you for that comment. I did not even consider that. I’m wondering if anyone else has had any experience with vinyl siding in hi wind areas who could share their experice with us.

I was wondering, if anyone knows, are there any problems associated with putting vinyl siding over the mobile home’s metal siding, ie possible mold or mildew due to a double vapor barrier, or should it be ok?

I am up in Ontario Canada. I have no idea what you pay in the US but I would expect it to be less expensive if it is like any other product. Canadian prices tend to be higher.

Regarding your other inquiries I have never considered vinyl siding in different thicknesses. It all appears to be the same thickness up here.

As for mold issues there is no problem as vinyl siding is not a vapour barrier.

Installation of new siding is tricky on older homes and should only be installed with screws to be done right- no nails.