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Mobile Home Tips
updated: May 14, 2014, 4:15 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

A recent post got me thinking about mobile/manufactured homes. Do any Edhatters have any experience/knowledge with buying one, finding a good park to rent space, what the best "parks" are, what the upsides and downsides are, etc.? I'm considering going this route so I can finally, maybe, own my own home and not have to rent anymore!

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 518947 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 04:21 PM

One thing I know you need to consider with buying a mobile home, even one where you own (i.e., have a mortgage on) the land underneath:

If this is to be your "final residence" before you die, and you think you might need to do a reverse mortgage to support yourself when income and health start failing, make sure that you will be able to GET a reverse mortgage. There may be some issues relating to the fact that it's a mobile home, that you are perhaps renting the space underneath the mobile home, or that maybe the mobile home park you live in doesn't allow reverse mortgages.

Otherwise, a mobile home can be a good stepping stone towards a house purchase later on.


 COMMENT 518950P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 04:27 PM

some friends bought a lot in a Los Osos park and tore down the old coach, replaced it with one they got through a broker in Nipomo (now in SLO). It is lovely; light and airy, laid out well, room for furniture. The only drawback is they had to build a lockable shed as they only have a carport. They really love it, and liked the broker. You might check them out for a dry run, get the lowdown.



 COMMENT 518968 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 05:08 PM

If you're considering renting a space in a park, you might own the house, but not the homestead. What do you gain? Factory-built homes - mobile homes, modulars, or manufactured housing - don't hold value like site-built. Staples and glue last a while, but generally lack the durability of decent conventional construction. Beware industry hype about quality and compare stud size/spacing, fastenings, foundation, roof structure, wall thickness, windows, seismic standards, etc., not just paint and pretty appliances. Getting a loan and insurance can present big problems compared with conventional housing. As the owner of a highly depreciated "modular" in another state, I'd recommend that you stay away from them. Here in CA you can spend a huge amount on a 'trailer house' and still not have a place that's your own from the ground up.


 COMMENT 518977 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 05:25 PM

I know that in Rancho Goleta you own the property. Some of the others you just pay rent.

Some people are very happy with their manufactured homes. We are. But if you want spacious land and a big house & garage, you'd be disappointed.

Just my 2 cents.


 COMMENT 518991 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 06:12 PM

It was the only way we could back home to SB. Currently in our park the older ones (1978) are going very quickly in the price range of $275-325. One really nice older one just sold for $500,000 cash. We bought an old one and then put a new one on. We love living back home and don't care really what they sell for as we will be carried out of ours. Silvercrest is the way to go as they will move walls, doors, fireplaces (as they did for us) etc and you get to go to the factory to see yours being built. We had the new one moved all the way over on the lot line and put in a double car garage which is really starting to catch on. We are the 7th garage in our park.


 COMMENT 519024P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 07:25 PM

I have both built and rebuilt modest homes, along with building additions, re-wiring and other major projects. Before that I worked with my Dad and Uncle who were both construction contractors. I've also lived in and worked on modular factory-built homes and even some older "single-wide" trailers (with wheels and license plates).

The mention of Silvercrest is worth noting, because I've been to their factory and seen many examples of their homes. While a few other manufacturers are comparable, theirs (compared with other brands of any given vintage) have consistently impressed me most.

I doubt that many site-built homes come even close to the robust construction in new modular homes. Keep in mind that in addition to all the relevant standards and codes, these homes are built to travel on the freeway. In new homes, especially from Silvercrest, there's no longer any truth to the once relevant assertion that modular homes "lack the durability of decent conventional construction." Also keep in mind they're standardized, unlike "conventional" that often falls far short of "decent" construction. It's too bad zoning codes haven't kept pace, because many people are paying more and getting less for site-built homes.


 COMMENT 519025P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 07:27 PM

We, and all we know here, love living in our SB park. Advice though, if you intend to put a new one in, get it soon as we are beginning an apparently long fire season.
We tried to get a new one just as the San Diego County "Fire Siege of 2003" happened, 15 wildfires throughout Southern California that month. It was the largest wildfire in California history. Because we needed some adjustments to a plan in order to fit our unusual lot size, the company (Silvercrest) kept putting ours to the side as they sold the cookie-cutter ones in droves to people who needed them to live in while rebuilding their homes.

We ended up keeping the older model and remodeled that instead. So it has some advantages (lower tax base, adjustments we really love) - and some disadvantages (not so spiffy in all places as the new ones). Ours is lovely though! 1600 sq.ft., 2-bed, 2-bath, lots of space - with an amazing view.

The system where you buy an older one and replace it with a new one is referred to as "a pull-out" as in pulling one out. Many people still buy them and keep as is, they are great as is. The realtors know which bank does loans (just one), and we found insurance was easy through our company (USAA) who has a carrier we get through them, no problem.
Good luck!


 COMMENT 519036 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 08:26 PM

I have learned so much about mobile/manufactured homes, mobile home communities in Santa Barbara and Goleta, mobile home manufacturing companies, financing, all the pros and cons of every aspect of the subject and more...from Jeff Oien and Julie Barnes at Village Properties Realtors. Jeff lives in one and is an encyclopedia on the subject. There is a lot to learn on the subject so take it slow and explore.


 COMMENT 519060P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 09:35 PM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned tornados or other natural disasters. It seems that mobile home parks are magnets for them.


 COMMENT 519062P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-14 09:45 PM

Yeah. I'd be worried about a tornado if I bought a mobile home in Santa Barbara, too. Don't want to have your home blown away.


 COMMENT 519071 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 07:06 AM

Thanks everyone (OP)! These were really helpful comments and it's convinced me this is the route to go especially knowing a realtor lives in one! I'm not worried about tornados either lol


 COMMENT 519096 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 09:12 AM

When was the last time anyone heard of a tornado in Santa Barbara County? Really?


 COMMENT 519114 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 10:19 AM

Goleta has a couple of nice MH parks on Ward Drive and Winchester Canyon. The neighborhoods are great and much more affordable than stick frame homes.
Although it's true that you may not be purchasing the land, as is typical with this area, these homes sell for more than their actual 'value' and continue to go up. So if you can't afford to get into a stick frame home, at least you can build equity by purchasing a mobile home. It will likely sell for much more later on.
ONE SUGGESTION: Get park approval ahead of time. Realtors will tell you you can purchase the home without it, but I've had friends that went into escrow and then found out they had to wait 2-3 weeks for park approval before escrow closed. If you're serious about this, why not get it done first so you'll be ready to jump on a deal when it becomes available.


 COMMENT 519139 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 11:16 AM

You need to be very careful. A manufactured home may be built well like some Silvercrest models but transportation and installation are critical. Installation contractors can often take short cuts and do substandard work because they are paid a flat rate for instalation. Any difficulty they encounter will not be paid for by the manufacturer and will cut into their profit. It can be difficult to get the installer or the manufacturer (often they are far away) to come back and fix or correct things that go wrong even if they are covered by a warranty. Although we have no tornados here we have earthquakes. Manufactured homes are most often installed on stands or piers holding them up because if attached to a solid foundation they would no longer be a "mobile" unit covered by a host of laws for that type of home. Just like tornados, these homes are highly suseceptible to significant earthquake damage.


 COMMENT 519155 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 11:50 AM

114 response here. I live in one that's been in place for over 30 years. It's seen its share of earthquakes and is still in place despite the old pier system it rests on. New homes are on the same type of pier system but also have earthquake bracing to help stablize it. A quake is just as likely to do damage to a stick frame home or condo to a mobile home. And despite the fact that quality can be a variable, most of the newer homes (even the cheaper ones) will last many many years.


 COMMENT 519174 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 12:54 PM

I wouldn't mind downsizing to a mobile home...


 COMMENT 519309 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 06:12 PM

We lived in an older mobile home for a year and my boyfriend's parents own two. The best park in town in my opinion is Rancho Goleta - gorgeous lake, love the pool/hot tub and all the homes are nice! You own both the home AND the land, but do pay dues much like an HOA. We lived at the Winchester park mentioned above and it has a combination of old and new houses. You pay space rent and it increases every time the home is sold. I caution against moving there as the last 5 homes that have been up for sale were bought by the property owner, demolished and a new one was put in and listed at almost 400k. They all look the same and we have a feeling they will eventually try to buy them all out like this.


 COMMENT 519326P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 07:28 PM

Be sure to inquire about the management/ownership of any mobile home park before you buy. Some owners are predatory and overbearing and some have their tenants interests foremost. The upkeep and facilities differ greatly so choose wisely because they impact the value of your home. A mobile home has lots more privacy than a condo (no common walls). Family park or Senior park can make a big difference in marketability. Good luck.


 COMMENT 519374 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-16 06:44 AM

Only thing I'd really be worried about is trailer park trash neighbors.


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