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6 Tips for a Smooth Manufactured Home Purchase

A manufactured home purchase can be stressful. There are so many decisions and choices to make!

In this article, we share 6 tips to help make your manufactured home purchase as smooth as possible. Another article, Manufactured Home Warranties and How to Handle Issues After the Sell, may also help you.

Manufactured Home Sales Tactics

You’ve heard the horror stories of a manufactured home purchase: someone buys a home and it turns out to be a living nightmare.

High-pressure sales, financing nightmares, installation errors and warranty problems are the most common issues during a manufactured home purchase. There’s plenty of examples and horror stories online, all you have to do is search ‘manufactured home complaints’ and you’ll have enough reading material to keep you busy for days.

Nothing is perfect and it’s really easy to forget that you don’t hear about all the good manufactured home purchases that went well and site-built homes have the same kind of issues.

One small, seemingly insignificant, error can lead to a multitude of issues down the road and that’s true with any building project.

Commission-Based Salespeople

Commission-based sales in the manufactured housing industry should have been dropped decades ago. It aligns the industry with car dealerships and we all know the reputation they have. A licensing program for salespeople, with bonding, would keep the bad apples out of the barrel.

How to Avoid Issues

Avoiding issues during a manufactured home purchase can be tricky. There’s a lot of details you need to know about. How do you get the best price, the best home and the best experience possible and walk away with a smile? Knowledge is the key! Doing your due diligence and researching as much as possible will reduce headaches and expensive setbacks and make the process a more rewarding one in the end.

Of course, some people experience a wonderful manufactured home buying process and speak nothing but positive things about the experience.

I don’t want to ruffle feathers but I’ve read the statistics and listened to many stories and many aren’t pretty. There are still good companies out there and they want to help you find your affordable dream home.

You have to research and do your homework to find them though and that’s what this article is all about: giving you a little more information about some issues that people face during a manufactured home purchase.

1. Know the High-Pressure Sales Tactics

This is probably one of the biggest issues facing anyone that is looking to buy a new manufactured home. There’s a mistrust of salesman and there’s a reason for that mistrust; we’ve all heard the stories of the lies, the misrepresentations and the bogus promises that have been made to get a sale finalized and get your signature on the contract as soon as possible. You have to buy the home that suits you, not what the salesman wants to sell you.

2. Follow Your Gut

The first rule is to always follow your gut. If the salesman is telling you that he will get fired if they don’t write up an application or talk to you in their office, leave.

If they offer enticements to sign a contract, leave.

Finally, if you have a nagging feeling like something isn’t right but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, leave. It’s really that simple. A true professional will want to help you and they will understand that by helping the buyer they will be helping themselves.

3. Know the Dealers Profit Margin and Your Budget

Dealers make a profit margin of between 18 to 26% over wholesale price, not including installation costs. You shouldn’t spend more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing. You must factor in taxes, maintenance, and insurance.

4. Know the Homes Transporters, Installers, and Finishing Carpenters

Due diligence is absolutely necessary with this part because most of the complaints and issues stem from transit and installation errors. If you are buying a new home, transportation and installation are usually added to the price of the home. 

I’ve read that 80% of all after-sale manufactured home complaints stem from poor installation. That means that 80% of the complaints are absolutely avoidable.

2 Types of Installers

The dealer can either own the truck and employees the team that will be moving and installing your home or they can just contract another company out.

Ask for a list of current buyers, call them and ask questions about how the home was installed, set up, and connected. You should check the BBB and look online for complaints.

Many times the complaints will be filed with the contracting company and not the dealership. So, make sure to check the contractor’s name as well as the dealership. If you find several complaints regarding past installations you must speak up. The dealer can’t force you to use a contractor. There’s some red tape that may be encountered with this though. Some manufacturers insist that you use their people or your warranty is voided. See? It’s a messy situation and requires a lot of research and due diligence.

The installation of a home can include all or some of the site preparation, utility connections, and drainage installation. You want the best company possible to handle the home. Improper handling and setup of the home are usually found to be the cause of many issues down the road.

If the home isn’t leveled properly or isn’t tied down properly you could face some serious problems in the future.

5. You’ll Not Notice Problems Right Away

The biggest post-sale complaint on manufactured homes is cosmetic complaints. Things like sticky windows, improperly installed floor covering or trim work that looks like a 2-year-old did it.

Chances are you are not going to notice all this stuff right away.

6. Know the Warranties

Warranty issues are where the remainder of the complaints about manufactured homes come from.

There are 3 types of warranties: manufacturers written warranty, the express warranty, and the statutory implied warranty of merchantability.

Written Warranty

A written warranty protects you against loss from “substantial defects” which is anything except cosmetic damage. It usually expires within 1 year.

Express Warranty

If the salesman promised a new deck if you bought last years model that’s an express warranty. If it persuaded you during your purchasing decision but was not fulfilled then the law was possibly violated and you may be entitled to some type of damage.

Implied Warranty

Implied warranties state the home must be suited for the purpose of which it was designed for. It doesn’t protect against specific defects but it is often the best protection you have. It covers things that the express and written warranties wouldn’t.

Some warranties have too much red tape and many things that can void them. Also, some warranties only cover non-cosmetic issues but then go on to state that doors and windows are cosmetic.

Some won’t cover any issues that arise from improper setup and installation but it was the dealer that had chosen or recommended the contractor that installed the home. Learn more about manufactured home warranties here.

Summary

These are just a few things to consider and keep in mind when purchasing a manufactured home.

If you are buying a used mobile home then there’s a whole other set of issues and concerns. Just a little due diligence and knowledge can make the difference between a happy experience and a bad one.

If you’ve had any issues, whether good or bad, let us know about them in the comment section below. Maybe your story will help someone in the future. Below are some articles I have written about the buying process of mobile homes whether new or used. You should check them out if you are a future homeowner:

As always thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!

Image source: McComb Home Center – FB Marketplace

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Crystal Adkins Adkins

Crystal Adkins Adkins

Crystal Adkins created Mobile Home Living in 2011 after buying a 1978 single wide and searching online for mobile home remodeling ideas but finding very little. Today, it's the most popular resource in America for mobile home information and inspiration and has been visited over 40 million times.