Buying a mobile home is an exciting process, but it can also be stressful. As with any real estate investment, purchasing a mobile home should not be taken lightly. Before you get the keys to your mobile home, whether it’s new or used, you’ll want to take plenty of time to do your homework and make sure that you’re making a smart purchase.
Before you lay down any of your hard-earned cash on a mobile home, take your time to do thorough due diligence on your potential purchase. This may involve consulting with a real estate agent, working with a home inspector, and meeting with the seller to answer some very important questions about the home, its construction, and its history. With all the facts at hand, you can make an informed decision on buying a mobile home, it’s value, and what potential maintenance and repair issues you’ll be responsible for in the future.
For anyone considering buying a new or previously-owned mobile home, make sure that these are the questions that you ask before you buy. Getting the right answers can save you thousands of dollars and a lot of stress down the line. Ask these top 10 questions before making any mobile home purchase:
How Old is the Home?
You may purchase a brand new mobile home, in which case this question is not applicable, but for any previously-owned home, it’s a very important point to consider. Before the previous owner hands you the keys to your new mobile home, you’ll want to have a clear picture of its construction timeline and it’s provenance after the time it first came onto the market.
Why is this important? Just like when you buy a used car, you want to know how many previous owners there were before you, if there was any damage or replacements made, and what it’s overall history is.
As a new owner, you’re now responsible for the mobile home that you are purchasing, so it’s a smart idea to have a strong understanding of the home, when it was built, and how many previous owners it’s had.
Knowing the age of the mobile home can also offer you clues on what trouble spots or issues the home may have. For example, if you can discover that the home was built in the early 1980s, you might learn that there was a widespread problem with plumbing components in the area at that time, and therefore you would take extra care to check the plumbing before making your purchase.
What Materials is the Home Made From?
In order to give your new mobile home the best care possible, it’s important that you understand the type of materials that you’re dealing with. For example, what is the siding made of – vinyl, wood, stucco, brick, etc.? What type of windows does it have? What type of flooring does it have – linoleum, laminate, vinyl, tile, etc.? What are the foundation and the plumbing pipes made of?
You want to make sure that your mobile home will be made well and be able to uphold any weather damages. A previous owner may not have the answers to these important questions, so this is a good time to bring in a reputable home inspector. These trained professionals are experienced in identifying building materials as well as construction styles, and they can provide a lot of insight into issues or provide ideas on how you can best care for the materials used to build your home.
Related: How are Mobile Homes Built?
What Condition are the Plumbing and Electrical Systems In?
Some components of a home, like the color of the siding or kitchen cabinets are easy to change and are considered cosmetic aspects because they don’t impact the structural integrity of the home. Others, like plumbing and electrical systems have more to do with the actual construction of the home, and they are areas that must be paid close attention to for health and safety reasons.
Obviously, it goes without saying that your mobile home, whether new or previously-owned, needs to have a properly functioning electrical system. This means you’ll have enough power to safely run all of your electronic devices as well as provide heating and light to the home, without maxing out or stressing the system.
When it comes to plumbing, a poorly functioning or ill-maintained system can lead to costly headaches for you and your family when the pipes fail, or it may lead to unsanitary living conditions if there is a sewer backup in the home.
Before you sign on the dotted line and purchase a mobile home, ensure that you have these areas examined by a home inspector who can give you the information you need to ensure that you’re making a sound purchase.
Related: When Sitework Goes Wrong
What Signs of Wear and Tear Does the Home Have?
Your home inspector can also take a look around the home for signs of wear and tear and old age that you may not be able to identify yourself. Some things, like peeling siding, failed window seals, loose hardware, or chipped paint are easily identifiable by the naked eye, and these don’t take an expert to spot them.
On the other hand, there are things that you might not be able to see as easily, like mold and mildew, worn out insulation, or issues with the foundation are all things that your real estate agent and home inspector will have more information on and are important for you to know.
No new homeowner ever wants to be surprised with enormous home repairs or maintenance costs, so having a clear understanding of these issues ahead of time will allow you to make sure you have room in your budget to accommodate the necessary repairs.
Can I Get a Proof of Title Certificate?
A mobile home can be a significant investment and it’s one that you want to treat with due respect. If you’re now the owner of a mobile home, it’s important to make sure that you have a proper deed or title transfer certificate that names you as the new owner.
Without this, there is no proof that you are the new registered owner of the home and this can lead to legal headaches. It’s always better in the long run if you ensure that your mobile home purchase comes with all of the necessary documentation that you need to have before any cash changes hands.
Does the Home Comply With Local Regulations?
Each city, town, state, or individual neighborhood will have its own set of housing regulations, and it’s important that you a) know what these are, and b) are aware of whether your mobile home meets them or not. It’s also important to understand the regulations of the particular trailer park your house is located in, if applicable.
These regulations and codes of conduct may apply to things like how many vehicles you’re permitted to park around the home, whether you can have pets, what hours are considered to be quiet time, whether smoking is allowed in outdoor areas, and other considerations.
Taking the time to understand these regulations allows you to ensure that you are able to comply with them and avoid any non-compliance issues down the road.
How Stable is the Home?
Before purchasing a used mobile home, you’ll want to look under the structure and see how it’s been set. Most mobile homes are set on a combination of masonry blocks and wooden shims. Less commonly, you will see mobile homes set on poured concrete piers or each pier resting on a black plastic pad. Although it is rare, there are also used mobile homes that have been set on permanent foundations (sometimes these are basements).
Another factor in the stability of your home is the tie-downs. In hurricane prone areas, for example, local building code will usually require a much higher number of steel strap tie-downs to ensure the home stays put in a storm. Even if you’re nowhere near the cost, every mobile home will have some number of steel straps to affix it to the foundation.
This knowledge will be helpful in determining what risks may threaten the stability of your home and what precautions you may need to take to ensure that your home is set up in the safest and secure way possible. This is also essential information for ensuring that you can move the home properly if you need to do that in the future.
Related: Choosing Land for Your Mobile Home
What Fees are Associated With Owning This Home?
The cost of a home – mobile or otherwise – is never as simple as what you may initially think. For example, if you purchase a new or used mobile home using a bank loan, there will be banking and administrative fees associated with doing so.
You will also need to look at where you plan on positioning the home on a more permanent basis and what the associated fees are with that decision. For example, each trailer park has a series of varying fees associated with living there. These may include things like groundskeeping and landscaping, pool maintenance, or security.
What Modifications or Additions Have Been Made to the Home?
It’s a good idea to find out which components of a previously-owned mobile home are original and which aspects have been replaced or modified. For example, you may purchase a 60s-era mobile home, but it might have all new electrical wiring or newly installed energy-efficient windows. Or you might buy a recently built mobile home that appears new, but you might discover that the flooring was replaced after a plumbing incident.
While these situations don't necessarily cause for alarm, they're part and parcel of becoming a new mobile home owner and knowing the history of your home.
It's important to note that many people choose to customize their mobile home with additions, renovations, and upgrades. Not only are these fun to learn about when taking a tour of a potential new home, but they'll make up a significant portion of consideration when determining resale value if you ever decide to sell. Knowing what additions and upgrades have been made will help inform your pricing strategy when selling the home to a new owner when you decide it's time to make a change.
Who Was the Builder?
While knowing who the home’s builder is may not be the most important item on your list, it’s still worth finding out if you can. Certain builders are known for specific styles or features, and the more knowledge you have about your mobile home, the more informed your decisions will be, whether that’s maintenance while you’re living in it or renting it out, or when it comes time to sell in the future.
In some cases, certain builders may be involved in legal cases that you’ll want to be aware of so you can ensure you’re sufficiently covered from a liability standpoint or that you’re able to become included in a case if it involves your particular style of home.
It may seem like these are a lot of questions to ask of your real estate agent, home inspector, mobile home park owner, or the seller, but rest assured that these are standard questions that any new owner is entitled to ask.
Before you make a purchase as significant and impactful as buying your next home, whether it’s newly constructed or previously-owned, it’s important to arm yourself with as many details as possible so you can make educated decisions. The answers to these questions will inform the price you’re willing to pay for the mobile home as well as whether you’re comfortable with your family living there and can sustain any potential repairs or maintenance issues. Finally, these answers will help give you the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve done your proper homework and due diligence before you sign on the dotted line and get the keys to your new mobile home.
With the right information, inspections, and consulting with real estate professionals, you can easily buy a mobile home that you feel safe and comfortable in. Once you get these questions answered, you can focus on the more exciting aspects of being the owner of a new mobile home! Once you’ve made a confident decision to purchase a mobile home, you can start picturing yourself and your family in it, or you can begin making arrangements to rent it out to another family.
Related: 8 Reasons to Buy a Mobile Home