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 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.
A written warranty protects you against loss from “substantial defects” which is anything except cosmetic damage. It usually expires within 1 year.
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 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.
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
18 thoughts on “6 Tips for a Smooth Manufactured Home Purchase”
I bought a manufactured home to replace my 1963 mobile. Was lucky to get a calhome loan to help…finally moved in January 2018 and within a handful of weeks, was having breathing issues. Took some time, lots of doc appointments and tests before I learned of for,aldehyde poisoning. Spent money for a bunch of air purifiers, plants, and follow all recommended protocol for assisting in cleaning the air but ten months later the formaldehyde and voc readings are still much higher than the recommended levels. I’m in Ca and the company, Karsten, assures me they are CARB 2 compliant. Apparently it’s no one’s fault that while all the research proves this stuff is dangerous, some of us are still getting really sick because they continue to dance around the issue. Others may not know they too are being affected until years later. As a solo parent, I am so very concerned about my present and future health in this house…
I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble! I know that manufactured homes have to meet much more stringent codes for gases than site-built homes but that’s about all I know. Could you maybe be allergic to the new material in the home (carpet, gypsum?).
I’m pretty sure as long as the builder uses the state-approved materials and the off-gassing is within a set rate they won’t have to do anything. Please keep all records and write a formal complaint before your 1-year warranty is out..Best of luck! Sorry, I can’t help.
My mother bought a mobile home yesterday and it is a nightmare. She walked through it couple weeks ago and she said it was nice. So decided to buy it. She went to pay them yesterday and get the keys. After she paid them. She went through the mobile home and realized there was so much stuff wrong with the mobile home. That was never mentioned. The whole bathroom has plumping issues and needs to be fixed. Also the whole floor needs to be replaced because it has been soaking in water for who knows how long… and that just the beginning. They took off all the panels thru out the whole mobile home. Random holes cut out all over that was all covered up with furniture when she did her first walk through. The had holes in the bedroom walls that they ducktaped and painted over. At this point we just need to find out if she can get her money back
I’m so sorry this has happened to your mother. Most used mobile homes are sold as-is so you likely would have a hard time getting your money back. I’ve read that in some states there is a 24-48-72 hour time frame from purchase that you can get out of a contract or transaction. Maybe look into that?
We paid cash for a MH the dealer said was a 2014 model and he hand wrote 2014 as the manufactured year on the sales agreement. Two months later when we asked to see the move-on permit it shows the year as 2013. The MSO also shows it as being manufactured in 2013. We have not taken delivery of it and refused to sign the form to put the title in our names. We want to nullify the agreement and get our money back but the dealer refuses. What can we do? Please give us any advice you can. I am 76 and my wife is 69…..thanks
I would be hesitant to accept a home that’s a year older too! Good catch! If you can. read this article: Buying a Manufactured Home: Warranties and How to Handle Issues After the Sell. The last part of it, titled What to Do If You Experience Issues has a list of all the state agencies that may be able to help you.
Thank you so much for this article! We keep going back and forth on whether buying a new manufactured home is what we want to do. After seeing so many horror stories it makes me sick to my stomach with nerves. But this article is actually empowering and full of wonderful advice that makes me have confidence that as long as we ‘know what we’re doing’ going in- we won’t have many issues.
That being said- I’m probably going to find a lawyer to read over everything before I sign and explain in honest simple words what all it means!
That’s a smart thing to do Jessica! I’m certainly not a big fan of how manufactured home dealers have treated customers. Our only protection is knowledge!
You may want to read this article as well (I wrote it for about.com but it has a lot of good information): http://manufacturedhomes.about.com/od/Manufactured-Homes/fl/The-Insiders-Guide-to-Manufactured-Home-Dealers.htm
Good luck to you!
I wish I had done research before we signed the dotted line. We certainly been though hell and back with the owner/salesman of the park we are in. We did not see our home until it was here. Only pictures. We ordered things we wanted but we unaware of all the options available. So the salesman gave us the minimum of interior options. Horrible carpet, lighting, fixtures, bath tub surrounds. All horrible. Then it was placed on a lot that water drained through so we have a lake everytime it rains in our front yard. We have no recourse. We did not research. We have put all of our money into upgrading our home. Lots of time and money. Now a YEAR later, we have leveling issues. Ceiling and tile shower cracking, loud squeaking floors. I would never have done this had I known.
So sorry you’ve had such an awful experience Christine. Hopefully, you can put all those terrible experiences behind you and turn it into a dream home!
Thanks so much for reading MHL!
Nice tips, Crystal! I definitely agree about the installation and transporting issues. So many things can happen during a move. In the past, I’ve had to add trip insurance for the transport — it’s better to be safe than sorry!! If there are trees and/or other debris along the way or at the site, it can be problematic if the transporter is not careful. Large tree branches brushing up against the home and/or the roof (especially those with shingles) can lead to some damage. Also, I’ve found some nail holes that have been problematic for the roof shingles used to secure the tent during transport. If not looked at carefully, the small holes in the shingles could be an issue down the road with weather conditions involving water (i.e. rain, hail, snow, etc). Enjoyed the write-up, thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you so much for the great tips!! I never even thought about trip insurance! It is one of the best protections you can get, especially if you live in the mountains or you’re placing a home in the woods with a newly made road (living in WV, I’ve seen some beautiful country homesteads with a double wide sitting in the middle of it and you can’t help but wonder how they got it there..lol).
I’ve watched my parents go through an ordeal in the late 80’s with a new double wide. The installers just really didn’t care and slacked in every way possible so I’ve always been a bit wary of them all. Why they can’t follow the directions provided to them by the manufacturers is beyond me. Nailing the sheeting to shingles and not the frame is a clear sign that the installers and transporters don’t care or at the least, don’t know what their doing.
Appreciate you taking the time to share those great tips with us!
Interesting article Crystal. We’ve looked at new homes on dealer’s lots and never experienced a high pressure sell. Thanks goodness because that would turn me off big time.
Hi Shirley! I think they are a lot more rare these days. Back when the industry was booming (mid-90’s) it was such a crazy time and there was a lot of money to be made on commissions and a lot of competition. Now, only a handful of companies own everything. Plus, the annual unit sales went from 300,000+ to only 50,000+ so everything has calmed down and the ones selling homes are in it for the long hall so they treat the customers right.
I’ve heard some crazy stories though..lol..Hope you are doing well!
Great article! Another key thing to keep in mind is the Title. Many manufactured homes have a title. While doing a transfer of property recently, our lawyer told us he has so many mobile homes and manufactured homes that people have tossed their title or not kept track of where it is. This can be a nightmare for a buyer.
Relatives of ours recently sold their home on the lake and bought a double wide. They put a bunch of money into remodeling while the FHA was doing a search on the home for the financing process. They had moved in and payed money toward the principle each month as “rent” so they could move in sooner before the mortgage went through. It took months to get a title, and once the title came through, the FHA had already grown tired of waiting. They also found in their research that the double-wide had been on another property and was moved…they were not told this and the FHA won’t touch a home that’s been moved. Ultimately, they lost $8,000 of their nest egg.
BUYER BEWARE! Especially when buying a used manufactured home.
Hi Bethany! Thanks for sharing and letting us know about the titles. What a horrible thing to have happen. You know, there’s so many horror stories out there that I often wonder why the industry (manufacturers, dealers, financiers, insurers, etc) can’t do better. There needs to be a streamlined protocol for the entire process so stuff like that doesn’t happen.
PS..I’ve heard some amazing stories that prove there’s good people out there that do their jobs and care about the homeowners,too though. (I didn’t want to be too negative..lol)
Hi Crystal! I am in the market of buying a manufactured home and all of these horror stories are scaring me a bit. Does it even make sense to buy one at this point? I love the value for the money, but where are the places that actually are good and decent and do a good job? I live in Texas now and just want some guidance.
Buying a new manufactured home does seem like a hit or a miss these days. Quality control apparently went out the window ages ago. There are some dealers that go above and beyond. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of doing business with any of them in southern WV (thankfully, the worst dealer shut down a few years ago). I’ve heard good things about a dealer that is called Bainiff (I think) in TX. They have a podcast and I like what I’ve heard – they seem honest and want to change the way manufactured homes are sold. (I’m not sure about the name but I’m positive it starts with a B). Fortunately, being in TX you have the entire industry in your back yard and can be picky about who you deal with. There are more factories in TX than any other state.
Best of luck!