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How to Determine the True Value of a Mobile Home

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Mobile homes and manufactured homes offer tremendous value for those searching for an affordable place to live.

Mobile homes and manufactured homes offer tremendous value for those searching for an affordable place to live.

Looking for a Place to Live?

One of the best values in a home buyer’s market are mobile homes (MH) or manufactured homes.

  • Mobile Homes: A MH is usually found anchored on a lot inside a mobile home park. The park usually has the same amenities as a resort, and you pay a monthly lot fee, much like an HOA for a condominium.
  • Manufactured Homes: The same can be said of a manufactured home, but these are not movable once on a foundation. These units are much like a real home one would buy and usually are perched upon land owned.

Mobile homes usually have a life span, structurally speaking, of 50 to 75 years, depending on location and environmental conditions. They can be comparable to a real home; some are 2,000 square feet. It is really up to the owner. But, whatever is done inside, it is still an MH. Thus, when you buy one, the transaction is much like buying a car. There is no 30-plus day escrow. You still have property taxes and lot fees, ranging from $300 to $800 per month.

Major Differences Between Mobile Homes and Traditional Homes

The big difference is that MH values almost always depreciate, unlike real property that appreciates. That is because the MH owner does not own the land the unit sits on. Keep this in mind when you buy one. Be comfortable with breaking even or losing money if you need to sell. This will be the usual case; there are exceptions.

Advice on Buying an MH

Florida is a state full of MH parks. They are either age-restricted (55+) or not. If you want to live in a tropic-like area on limited resources, this is the best way to go. Once you buy an MH, most owners can landscape around the home as they see fit.

The trick in buying an MH is to find one that does not look like an MH from the street. Nearly all will have a carport, not a garage. Most will have a screened or glassed-in patio area called a “Florida Room.” This can be as big as 200 square feet. It is good for storage or to watch passersby, but don’t consider it a bedroom or living space.

Subjective Value

Location is important. Are the neighbors too close, or is there ample space between units? Decent back yard and front yard? Close to a lake or a pond with a view? These are the subjective items when determining overall value. How much more are they worth to you? They could add thousands to a selling price. Really nice landscaping is also important.

How to Determine the True Value

It can be said that most MH listings are overpriced, but again, location and market may dictate otherwise. Assuming the MH is in good shape, a ballpark reduction of 25% from the retail reflects the real value. But to get the real value, so you can make an offer with intelligence, obtain a NADA mobile home report from online sources (like insurance companies providing loans) or others. From the website, you enter the precise specs of the MH you are interested in.

Real-World Example

For instance, a 1973, 1,400-square-foot home situated on a plot with a nice side and back yard in the Clearwater, Florida, area was selling for $36,000. The lot fee was $550 a month.

The NADA report on that MH stated:

  • Basic Structure Value was $9,400. Being in Florida increased the value to $9,600. That was the retail value of just the home.
  • Since the home was in “good” condition, its value increased to $10,500.
  • Remaining physical life of the home was 43 years. The unit was in Pinellas Cascade Park MH, which is nice and maintained. NADA called it Standard. This increased the value to $12,000.
  • Additional features or repairs were nil. Either would increase or decrease the base value.
  • The final adjustment to this base amount was the Industry Standard of 1.5. When applied, the final overall value ended up at $18,000.

Clearly, when the agent determined the selling price, he simply doubled this amount to $36,000.

What Would Increase the Value?

The only thing that would increase the value is the MH park the unit is in. A high-end park would increase the value, as would new cabinets, kitchen items, or whether it was sold “furnished,” but the effect is subjective. If this home was 10-plus years younger (built in the '80s or '90s), the base value would be much higher.

This home, all things considered, could sell for $27,000 to $30,000, which would be a fair price given the market. If the home remains on the market for months, the seller is more apt to accept this amount since the monthly lot fees still have to be paid even if the unit is left vacant. Time is always on the side of the buyer.

But try to buy an MH built after 1976, when HUD mandated how construction was done.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Chris Schmidt on February 02, 2018:

Those values are complete over valued. It is nice for the seller to get so much money but the buyer ends up with all the Repair costs in the future.

The more you pay the higher the Commision is for the Real estate agent, and so on.

Trailers don't have that Lifespan what you wish.

Floors, Framing, Roofing, Plumbing, Electric, everything is stone old,everything will need repair.Besides that all the Owners before you did some patches and you will have to repair those. Today the prices from Repaircosts have explodet there is no cheap fix anymore in Florida.

Be aware of this..

One of the reasons things have to be brought up to the latest Code. That's a Catch

The real Value of a trailer from 1970 is 70 USD

You read right 70 USD. Until you are done you will face costs from at least 10 to 15 Grand, to make it livable

Trailer from 1980 Give the Guy 80 bucks , same as the Units from the 70 th.

Don't Overpay Its a Trailer.

Not a house gets blown away in the first wind

Disapointed with your dream possible but you ave yourself a lot of trouble

Why do we know this ? Because we repair them.

For 30.000 USD you can make a lot of Vacation where ever you want to.

You are not tied down to a Place that cost you every Year.

Chris Schmidt

Old Bald Guy on November 26, 2016:

If you know anything about determining the value of a used mobile home, why were you asking question after question about how to value a used mobile home on the "Lowell's Notes" article, entitled "Before You Buy a Manufactured (Mobile) Home" ?