In many parts of the country, some homeowners choose to purchase a mobile home to live in. These can provide low-cost housing that many can afford. Today, these homes are built to much higher standards than those of the 50's, 60's and 70's. In many cases, these residences present a good alternative to site-built homes. Here in Florida we have many retiree subdivisions that are filled with beautiful manufactured homes. Owners love the great facilities and lifestyle that these areas afford.
Frequently these mobile homes will be placed on rental lots where the homeowner owns the actual living structure and a landlord owns the land under the home. At the onset, this arrangement is cheaper for the homeowner since all he has to do is buy the home. But later on the costs accumulate as the monthly rent goes higher and higher. And the rules of the parks are normally set by the landlord, not the homeowners.
Another disadvantage is that mobile homes on rental lots are considered to still be vehicles (at least in Florida), and instead of appreciating, they tend to go down in value as they age, just as a motor home, travel trailer, or car does. If the homeowner does not like it, what can he/she do? Not so easy to pick up and move a home, even if it is a mobile home.
However, there are occasions when owners get fed up with paying monthly rent on the lots or just want to own their own bit of real estate. There are other times when homes on rental lots get repossessed by a financing company or bank. They then remove the homes and sell them on the resale market. A bit like used cars.
Unfortunately there is a snag for those who do this and the owners who follow them. Our local mortgage people have informed me on numerous occasions that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, USDA, VA, and other "conventional" providers of financing will not lend money on a mobile home if it has been moved from its original location (rental or owned lot) to a new location. That is a big "no-no". I am not sure what their rationale is, but those are the facts as I know them.
And here is another twist. If the mobile home is a single-wide or is a double-wide mobile that is over 30 years old, you will again likely have trouble getting conventional financing for it.
In our area, when this happens, we usually find that one of our local banks like the First National Bank of Pasco County can often assist us. They will normally lend money to buyers and then keep the mortgage "in house" and not sell it on the secondary market. That way, they set most of the rules and can finance homes that the big boys cannot.
So if you are listing or selling a mobile home, be sure to check on whether or not it has ever been moved after it was place on its original lot. If it has, it might be a good idea to disclose this to any buyers agents. Otherwise you could have an unhappy buyer who has expended good money on inspections, fees, surveys, etc only to be told 3 weeks into the transaction that the bank will not lend him/her money due to the fact that the home has been moved from its original location.
Here in Florida a pretty good way to tell if a mobile has been moved is if you see colored yearly registration stickers in the windows like the ones below on the left. These indicate that at one time the home was on a rental lot and the owners were paying yearly fees. If the home has the RP tags like you see on the right, they indicate that the home is now likely on a lot that the homeowner owns. And perhaps it is the original lot. Just ask But if you see both stickers on the home, or just the yearly ones, your radar screen should light up and you should ask some questions and get some confirmations.
As I said, these homes can still be financed and they may be in excellent condition. A home inspection can help you in that regard. They may even have newer and better tie-downs than they did originally. Who knows?
But it is important for your buyers and sellers to know the difference between buying a home that is on its original site and purchasing one that has been brought there from another location. That latter fact can be an issue that is best handled right from the start.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida