Editorial: The Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home
This editorial is a rebuttal to an article I found on Pinterest titled, ‘The Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home (Under Any Circumstance).’
Remember how you felt when someone else picked on your best friend in school? It was OK for you to pick on her because that’s your best friend but as soon as someone else starts you get defensive? That’s exactly how I feel here.
I’ve been tough on manufactured housing salespeople. Four out five of my family members that have purchased a new manufactured home were outright lied to by a dealer. Plus, I’ve been reading about the poor experiences that readers have had for almost 8 years so I don’t trust many on the sales side of manufactured housing. I wish we could all just buy older pre-owned mobile and manufactured homes!
Let’s start at the beginning. As I was scrolling Pinterest I found this pin:
Of course, I clicked it!
The Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home (Under Any Circumstance)
The pretty Pinterest graphic took me to an article called ‘The Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home (Under Any Circumstance)’ and I read every word. Then I read every word again.
This article is tough on mobile homes! It’s almost vicious and I want to ask the writer “Who hurt you?” (I’m fairly certain whoever it was worked at a manufactured housing dealership).
The writer of this article is a previous Realtor and her blog is about blogging and finances. Admittedly, she is right about a few things. However, she’s a whole lotta wrong about a whole lotta other things. She states she grew up in a ‘trailer’ so I can’t help but wonder why she has such animosity toward them?
This seems like a near perfect example of the attitude and the misinformation that all of us mobile home owners have experienced at one time or another.
Get ready, I’m about to vent….I’ll share the quote from the article and then my thoughts and rebuttals.
Lie #1: Mobile Homes are only Considered Personal Property
A mobile home is considered personal property…not real estate.
Yes, a mobile home is considered personal property but they can be converted into real property. It’s not even that hard to do.
Lie #2: Mobile Homes Only Depreciate in Value (and are glorified car payments)
Mobile homes depreciate (go down) in value. They will never go up in value. I don’t care what anyone says. They’re a glorified car payment, and we all know that car payments don’t enhance your wealth.
Sourced data and factual evidence be damned, huh? Mobile homes absolutely can and do appreciate. Data Comp did a 2-year study that proved that more mobile homes gained value than lost. Gaining value is the opposite of depreciating.
Yes, of course, we all know that land is the ultimate factor but to say that mobile and manufactured homes can never appreciate is simply not true.
Car payments may not enhance your wealth but the car comes in pretty handy. We all have to work and we all need a home – you can rent a place and have absolutely nothing at the end of the lease or you can buy an affordable mobile home and recoup some (if not all) of your money.
Plus, any home that you can get your name on and make yours is a step up. Last I heard, up is a good place to go.
If mobile homes never increased in value why are all the investors buying them up? It may be that 20% of Americans make less than $20,000 a year and millions of baby boomers are retiring with monthly benefits averaging at around $1,400 per month.
Look at all the retirement communities in Florida where mobile homes are selling like crazy and all the mobile homes in California that are selling for millions of dollars.
Look at all these mobile home investors and flippers. They aren’t doing all that work because they are losing money.
Out here in the real world, a family can buy a pre-owned mobile home at a reasonable price and own a home and that’s a pretty awesome thing to own.
Life isn’t always sunshine and puppy dog kisses, some people don’t have a lot of money or the means to get it. Some people work their asses off and have one illness or wreck or some other awful thing that destroys their finances. Some people are just barely squeaking by with enough food to feed their family. For these people, buying a cheap mobile home is like buying a mansion – it’s a dream come true.
How dare you look down on that.
Buying our 1978 mobile home allowed my husband and me a chance to finally have something with our names on it. Something that we could have pride in and use as a stepping stone to a better life.
The bank wouldn’t touch us because we didn’t have a credit history (we hadn’t financed anything for over 15 years). We didn’t have any credit cards and our car wasn’t worth that much. The only way to for us to buy a home was owner-financing and thank goodness the seller gave us a chance to buy that single wide. Even though we bought it on a rent-to-own contract with a high-interest rate (8%), it enhanced my family’s wealth significantly.
If you’ve always rented because you couldn’t save up enough for a down payment or your credit score was too low, a little mobile home can be the most amazing and beautiful thing in the world.
It certainly was to us.
That little home completely changed our lives. It gave us a chance to catch our breath and helped us save money and get our feet back on solid ground after the recession.
It gave us pride and honor because we did that on our own (well, we were so broke we had to borrow half the $1000 down payment from Joe’s parents but we paid them back a couple of months later). That mobile home gave us just enough of a footing to work our way up. We paid the mobile home off in 18 months and talked the guy into selling us the land, too. Now, we own a cute little mobile home on a nice little lot in city limits free and clear.
We lived in that single wide for 6 years while only paying a $210 land payment and the utilities each month. In those 6 years, we were able to save money and get our credit score up.
We are doing much better now thanks to that little mobile home.
Lie #3: Mobile Home Salesmen are Snakes
Her next strike is at manufactured home salespeople.
Mobile Home Salesmen are Snakes
She’s not wrong about some of the salespeople. Manufactured home dealerships are notorious to lie and cheat. It’s a common issue and anyone that has read this blog knows how I feel about them. I speak about it in the article 30 Expert Tips for Buying a New Manufactured Home (Updated).
But, Realtors can be snakes, too!
Realtors work on commission just like a manufactured home salesperson. For every dirt deal you’ve heard about involving a manufactured home salesperson I can find one involving a Realtor.
Site-build homebuyers have protections that manufactured home buyers do not. You can walk onto a manufactured home dealership and walk off an hour later having bought a house with a $1000 monthly payment. With site-built homes, it takes weeks and inspections, attorneys, and bankers.
Any time a commission is involved it opens the door to a slew of questionable issues. That’s why I’m so against commission-based pay in the manufactured housing world. There simply isn’t enough overwatch or regulations to keep the salespeople honest.
Lie #4: All Upgrades are Bad
The sales lady had told her every lie under the sun to get my friend to drive there. The mobile home was cheaply built, with ugly particle board walls, and many of the “upgrades” my friend thought she could get simply “weren’t possible without the mobile home falling apart on the drive to its new home”. My friend thought that she could make upgrades to the kitchen, such as granite countertops and oak cabinets. Let me tell you something about upgrades in a mobile home….
If you’re not going to listen to me about the only reason to buy a mobile home, at least don’t buy the upgrades from the manufacturer. Buy the base model and fix it up yourself. You’ll save thousands of dollars, and you’ll still lose your ass by not listening to me in the first place, but you’ll lose less money if you do the upgrades yourself, paying cash, and by shopping around locally. Trust me on this!
A person should really understand how manufactured homes are built before they start giving out advice.
You will probably want to have upgrades such as doors and windows installed during the construction. Upgrades like this may require larger studs and a different outrigger design to hold the weight.
Related: Read about the 10 smart new manufactured home upgrades here.
If you upgrade the roofing you’ll likely need to upgrade the studs, too. That’s why you don’t pick out the cheapest home on the lot and start upgrading – it simply doesn’t work like that. Each home is perfectly engineered and specifically designed from the cambered chassis to the roof line.
Faucets and countertops are best done after the installation so yes, bypass those upgrades.
You’ll pay a huge markup for upgrades in a mobile home. For example, the granite you wanted so badly may have cost the mobile home distributor $2,000 in materials and installation, but they will probably charge you triple that (at least). They will upcharge you for every single upgrade imaginable!
This is how construction works. A supplier sells to the middle man that marks it up and sells it to the professional that installs it and also marks it up. Everything you buy has a markup. That’s how free markets and capitalism works.
Lie # 5: The only reason to buy a mobile home (under any circumstances) is for the land it is sitting on
The only reason to buy a mobile home (under any circumstances) is for the land it is sitting on….If you find a parcel of land (especially acreage) in a good area with steady values, that is the only reason to buy a mobile home. Buy the land, live in the mobile home while you prepare for a build. Or buy the land with a mobile home to use as a hunting property. Either way, the land is where the value is…not the mobile home.
Yep, land is awesome to own. However, having a little mobile home that’s been paid off on that land is a little bit more awesome. I like pillows better than rocks, don’t you?
Everything doesn’t revolve around profit margins and investments. Yes, it’s nice but I can assure you that when you are struggling to pay bills the last thing you are worried about is the appreciation ratio of an investment.
Most of us don’t even have $1,000 in our savings account and our credit scores are in the low 500s (and that’s OK – life happens). We should probably worry about paying for a home before we go talking to an investment firm about our vast land holdings.
Most people just make do the best we can.
So What is the Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home?
The only reason to buy a mobile home is if you need an affordable home with a ton of potential.
Or if you don’t want to be debt for 30 years.
Buy a mobile home because it will give you the freedom to travel or start that business you’ve always dreamed about.
Or, simply because it’s the right thing to do for you and your family and to hell with what anyone else thinks.
Manufactured homes aren’t perfect but they have given millions of us a good safe place to call home.
By the way, this is a mobile home:
This is a manufactured home:
And, this is an Airstream:
We’ve all dealt with these types of people – those that only see a home as an investment or a number on a spreadsheet and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there is so much more to life than the number on the bottom of a spreadsheet.
Every one of us that live in a mobile home has dealt with this type of negativity. We’ve all listened to some know-it-all’s financial advice. Yet, millions of people still live in mobile and manufactured homes, and perhaps that’s most telling. You can keep your (wrong) data and your misinformation about the home and we’ll keep all the money we’re saving. Deal?
Plus, I probably wouldn’t take advice from anyone that uses an image of an Airstream when talking about the perils of mobile homes. Airstreams are campers not intended for full-time living and they can cost more than a site-built home. Also, they have a cult following and can travel long distances so I’d probably leave them out of this!
As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!