So, you’ve decided to go for the more budget friendly version of life and you’re ready to buy your first used mobile home. You have figured out where you’re going to put it or you’ve decided to live in a park, you know how much you can spend and what you want in it.

Now, the only thing left to do is actually find and buy the home!

One of the hardest parts of mobile home living is choosing the best home for you and your family from all the great choices in today’s market.

Don’t limit your options, look at as many different choices as you can. Search Craigslist, local trading papers, newspaper classifieds, local real estate channels, internet classifieds or even Ebay. The more choices you have the better chance of finding the perfect fit for your lifestyle. There have been hundreds of different models and layouts designed throughout the years, some will work for you and some won’t.

Buying a Mobile Home: First Impressions Count

First impressions will be one of your most powerful tools when buying a mobile home. You can tell if the home and the property have been well cared for and maintained. If you see that it hasn’t been cared for you need to be extra cautious. Unless you plan to completely gut a home and re-new it you’ve got to ensure you buy a sturdy and safe home while getting the most bang for your buck.

Inspecting the Mobile Home 

You have to to know, at the very least, the basics to make a good mobile home purchasing decision. Here’s a few things to look for when inspecting a possible home:

Will it pass all necessary codes?

There’s plenty of different codes that may have to be passed depending on your location. Transportation, structural, electrical, plumbing, foundation, and several others may have to be permitted for or inspected on.

  • New Wiring. If the home is older than 1976, it should have already been re-wired and a new breaker box put in place. If not, you will need to re-wire the home. HUD standards did not take effect until mid-1976 and those old aluminum wires are not safe. If the home is newer than 1976, check out the breaker box for ample, organized circuitry and check all the wall switches. They should all work and GFCI switches should be utilized at all water sources.
  • Water leaks. Look under every water source, look above and around windows and doors. Water will always be a mobile homes worse enemy.     

Does it have sagging floors or ceilings?

Sagging screams out that something isn’t right, usually that the home is un-level or that water has damaged the material and caused rot.

How’s the Plumbing?

Look for leaks at all water sources. Look at the water heater and the floor under it for leaks. Flush the toilets while running water in the sink, look for pressure loss. Look under the sinks and also the home to see if anything is leaking. Bathroom floors are the most commonly damaged and replaced areas. Some manufactured homes even had carpet in the bathrooms, an unsanitary practice indeed.

Do the doors and windows open and close properly?

If the kitchen cabinets or interior doors won’t stay closed (or opened) without help you may be in a home that is un-level. A mobile home that is not sitting properly will put stress on the home and ultimately destroy it.

What’s it look like under the home?

By looking for certain issues under the home you can save yourself a lot of issues in the future. Look at all the piers (usually cinder block) that the homes beams sit on. Every pier should be holding beam. If you see space between the beam and the top of the pier, the home could be stressed and compromised. While your there look for consistent plastic sheeting, no tears or holes.

Sealing a flat roof is a necessary routine!

What’s the roof look like? 

If the roof was not properly cared for, the home will suffer immensely. Each type of roof has its own issues to look for. Flat roofs need sealed on a regular schedule to remain effective. If you end up purchasing a flat roofed home, you will need to seal it immediately after the move. The trip will have caused the sealant to break bond. Metal roofing should be dent free and trimmed properly. All seams should be water tight and sealant used around all cuts. Shingled roofs require re-roofing eventually. Check that all shingles are in place and all angles and cuts are water tight.

Even more considerations..

There’s lots more to consider than just whats on this list. Buying a used manufactured homes is a big decision. To effectively use your purchasing power you should research as much as possible from several different sources. A post we wrote, “15 Tips For Buying A New Manufactured Home,” has some good points for both new and used home purchases.

With careful inspection and proper research, you can be guaranteed a solid and affordable home that meets your needs.

Living in a used manufactured home is a great way to save money and still live comfortably and stylishly. Making a great foundation to your future dream home or to peruse only as temporary shelter, an older manufactured home is a great choice for anyone under any circumstance.

If you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments. I can update the list and we will be able to help those looking to buy a used mobile home!

Thanks for reading Mobile Home Living!

16 Responses

  1. Joseph

    Since i’ve finally come to the conclusion that it is next to impossible to find a suitable lot for a new manufactured home, I’m seriously considering buying a used 1990 double-wide as my next home, IF i can get financing for it. Should be hearing from the lender this week who last week over the phone did not flat out say “no chance”. It pretty much has everything i want in a home (3BR, 2BA, EIK, a Sunroom, a deck, a HUGE storage shed and my own parking spaces). It’s close to work, my doctor and vet and still in the town in which i am currently renting an apartment. The lot rent is comparable to what i’ve encountered so far in the area. It’s about 90% move-in ready- just needs to be professionally cleaned before i sign anything. I guess my biggest opponent in all of this is myself. Is this REALLY the right choice for me? Does it really matter that this type of home does not qualify for first-time homebuyer incentives and the like? Does it really matter that i won’t own the land beneath me? It’s a great little place and i can see myself living there, adding my touch to it in terms of style. My dream is to have my own, detached, stand-alone, single-family home and given how limited my budget is, a used double-wide is about as realistic as i can get right now. And I have no problem with that as living in a mobile/manufactured home has appealed to me ever since visiting my Cousin in NM in her single-wide rental 15 years ago. Guess we’ll see what happens…

    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Joseph,

      You have a lot to think about! I’ve found that what is meant to happen will find a way. I’ll be the first to tell you that a site-built home is the best choice for a lot of families but manufactured homes have their place in the housing market, too..List out the pros and cons of each and see where that leads you.

      best of luck!

  2. Doug

    Hi, Doug here, I live in Washington State. I purchased a mobile home from a private party, they took payments with now interest. Now it is payed off and we/they are ready to transfer the title. Will I now need to pay sales tax on the purchase price when transferring the title? I have had to keep up on the property tax.

    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Doug,

      Every county and state does it different. I know with my owner financing deal the seller paid the taxes until the note was paid in full and then once it was transferred to me I was responsible. We did that simply because that’s what the seller wanted to do (so he could ensure the taxes were paid while it was in his name). Call your county tax department and they should be able to tell you.

  3. Krissy

    Hello, I’m trying to find resources in understanding how to purchase a pre-owned mobile home and if it’s possible to get financing on one? Also how much do you think a good down payment would be? Thank you

    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Krissy,

      There are only a handful of banks and financing companies that will finance an used mobile home. Most of the time you will only be able to get a personal loan (at higher interest rates) to buy a mobile home BUT if you can pay it off quickly it can be a great way to buy a home (if we'[re talking less than 10k). Otherwise, your other options will be buying land and combining the land and the mobile home together on a mortgage OR going through a dealer to finance at a high interest rate.

      This is one of the perils of used mobile homes. They are a great way to life affordable but you really need to be able to pay cash or find an owner finance deal like we did.

      Best of luck!

    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Debbie,

      A home that has been well-maintained will last for decades. It all depends on the condition. Make sure your home is installed correctly and level and it could outlive us all!

  4. Brenda

    Before you buy a manufactured home, check with your state and county. In my part of Illinois if its too old you have to demolish it. If you don’t have 29 acres you can’t move a single wide on it, only a double wide, and then only in the he country and then ONLY after you get the surrounding neighbors perk ssion for moving it there. And you thought your land was yours and that this was the good ole US of A.the home of the free….fergitaboutthat!..check BEFORE buying LAND or TRAILER!!!!!!!! And someparks will not allow additions as these are “permanent”. Carpe diem

    • Brenda

      Its 20 acres and its your neighbors permission. Sorry. My internet is on my phone and I can’t see while I am typing.

    • Crystal Adkins

      You’re absolutely right Brenda! Some areas are not mobile home friendly at all. In my town, you cannot install a single wide unless the property had a single wide on it before the town council changed the rules. If there is a single wide on your property and you pull it off you have one year to pull a new one in, otherwise it has to be a double wide or site-built home.

      Thanks so much for the tip!

  5. john horn

    Some times you can find a mobile home at low cost from someone that is trying to sale, so that it can be removed from their property, or like me luck out by finding a mobile home on my parent’s property. This home belonged to my father’s friend and I bought it for two thousand dollars, so yes shop and ask around. you may know someone that may know someone who may know where a mobile home is for less. I’ve been remodeling this home four year now which is okay with me I’m making it my home so keep that in mind when you buy a used home that it may need a lot or little work. How ever much work it need do a little at a time, it will all come together. Look at what furniture you have what colors you like and use them to create a theme. You don’t have to go out and buy all new stuff you can work with what you have already and don’t be ashamed to shop (Good well) (salvation Army) Flea market find out what days they bring out more clothes blanket, certain, blanket, towels, quilts, dishes etc… on those day you will find better and have more to chose from. Sometimes I’ve found name brands and lot of accents for my home. you will be surprised at what you find. and no one has to know where you got it.

  6. David

    Would I hire a conventional home home inspector to inspect a mobile home prior to sale? Are there special inspectors that just do manufactured homes?

    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi David! I’m not well educated in that area but I believe you need to find an inspector that specializes in manufactured homes. I’ve read some of the inspectors forums online and the consensus there is most seem to be ‘anti-manufactured home.’ Most posts are very negative toward manufactured homes and inspectors don’t like dealing with them and have outdated opinions.

      If you can, try to find an inspector that specializes in manufactured homes – maybe you can Google “Manufactured home inspection” for your area. This is the search results I got:

      Good luck and please keep us informed of your results if you can. It could help someone else. Thanks!!

    • Julie

      I found few home inspectors would inspect mobile homes. I didn’t get any sense of an “attitude” toward mobile homes. They just felt that some aspects of mobile home construction are different than stick-built, and they weren’t trained in those aspects. And I agreed with them.

      I finally found one professional home inspector inspected both stick-built and mobile homes. He advised me that he wasn’t certified in mobile home inspections (not even sure there is such a thing), but he grew up in and had lived in mobile homes most of his life, so he felt comfortable including them in his business.

      I also found an unlicensed, uncertified inspector by calling a local mobile home supply store and asking them if they could recommend anyone knowledgeable, which they could. Licensed or unlicensed, certified or uncertified, a guy who has been living in, moving, setting up, repairing, renovating, and servicing mobile homes for a few decades are probably better at inspecting mobile homes than many of the less experienced licensed/certified stick-built inspectors.

      The main advantage of the professional home inspector was that he gave me a nice, detailed, written report of the inspection, which I could use going forward to make repairs and improvements.


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