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!

The Beginning

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.

Read about Pam’s Path to Debt-free Living in a 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.

Take a look at 10 Gorgeous Manufactured Home Models on the Market Today


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:

Smoker aritocrat vintage mobile home exterior 4

This is a manufactured home:

Clayton-blackjack-model-with-textured-ceiling-and-beams

And, this is an Airstream:

Airstream glamping-longhorn state exterior
The exterior looks so festive. (image from Glamping Hub)

Conclusion

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!

Get Expert Tips for Buying a New Manufactured Home Here

As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!

72 thoughts on “Editorial: The Only Reason to Buy a Mobile Home”

  1. Thank you so much for this article Crystal. I purchased a manufactured home and I absolutely love it. The average stick-built home in my area is around $450,000 and I couldn’t afford it, so I felt fortunate to be able to afford a manufactured home. I have not had any issues and the interior looks just like a stick built home. I can sense that people look down upon me when they learn I live in a manufactured home but I feel nothing but gratitude that I have a safe roof over my family’s head.

  2. Hi! My friend wants to sell us her land but the county says it will cost her $80,000 to sell it so we want to rent the land and get a manufactured home to out on it but how can we do the power lines, sewer and septic if the land isnt in our names ? Thank you, Christine and Bobby

  3. We just bought a manufactured home in Napa Valley. We wanted to stay here but didn’t want a mortgage when we go into retirement. Our manufactured home is bigger than our last home, we have two bathrooms now, a full-size laundry room, and the best kitchen of any of our past homes. I have to say that I am a convert.

  4. Please send me a email to show you my before and after. And yes of course they can go up in value and if manufactures would stop making them all look the same and look like a mobile home and people would learn how to take the “” mobile home out of the mobile home they look like every other home they are on they can be made unique modern Cottage contemporary however you would like to make them I love to show you mine it’s in St. Petersburg Florida Karen

  5. I lived in a brick and mortar for 30 years and could not get ahead in life but now I live in a mobile home and have renovated it to my liking all along while saving 30 k in cash compared to living in a brick and mortar home so you cannot tell me this is a better option to live in. I Know it is better for my family and me.

  6. Thank you, Maria!

    Do what’s best for you! Manufactured homes aren’t perfect but they can be the best choice for many families. If you have any questions just comment on any post and I’ll see it! Best of luck!

  7. Thank you so much for writing this. My husband and I are in the process of making that decision to get in a manufactured home. We were recently denied for a mortgage application and we just want to start somewhere. People have different situations and it is sad when people just box you in a category. Again, thank you for writing this and for standing up for us. I so appreciate you.

  8. Hi Geralynne (love your name),

    I bet your home is gorgeous and is only going to get better! Please keep me in mind, I’m always looking for homes to feature and homeowner stories to share. Hope you find the perfect property!

  9. I love Christmas and every year I try to come up with a different theme. I have a single wide and every since I have been in my home I have tried to figure out how to have a traditional tree. After investigating every nook and cranny, I finally accomplished the task. Feeling proud I would tell anyone willing to listen about my tree. One day another person asked me was I really able to put up a tree in such a tiny home. Crushed I told my husband about the comment. He laughed and reminded me it’s about the size of something but what you with it. He reminded me that in our home we have feed missionaries, we have nursed the sick, we have dried tears due to a broken heart and hosted dinner for those who would have spent the holidays alone. Everyone wants to feel valued and respected and where will I sleep tonight? Can become more of a luxury than a necessity. So to those of us who do not realize that events in our life are not always a chosen choice and all of life events can and do happen in a mobile home remember the mom with three children sleeping in a car or the man on the highway asking for food or tent city and remember thereby the grace of God go you.

  10. Hi Peggy, you are definitely living my dream life. I’d love to have about 4-5 acres so no one can be close to me that is on some kind of water (a creek would be fine). Having it paid off before I turn 65 would be a plus!

    So happy for you!

  11. I’m sorry that happened to you, Andrew. Financing and parks are my two biggest issues with mobile home living. If we could all just have our own property and get reasonable financing mobile and manufactured homes would be a better option.

    Since you are a growing family you may be eligible for an FHA loan and those only require 3% down and a credit score of 580. Those loans do cover land and new manufactured homes (and site-built homes). You may want to look into it. There are also programs that help you make that down payment (grants and loans).

    Best of luck!

  12. Louder ? for ? the ? people ? in ? the ? back?.

    Seriously though, I think the big divide here is a lot of people who buy stick builds are looking for an investment. Those of us who have mobile/ manufactured are looking for a home. One we can actually enjoy life in and still afford to actually live life while we’re at it.

  13. Hi Crystal!
    Thank you for your article! I’m a Realtor specializing in manufactured housing on leased and owned land and I encounter many of these misinformed opinions daily. In just under 5 years, I’ve sold 250 homes to some pretty amazing human beings who decided it was the right choice for them; I own one myself (a 1981 Marshfield that my husband and I are renovating top to bottom)!

    Being in a resort area (Rehoboth Beach Delaware), housing is ABSURDLY expensive here. Manufactured homes offer affordability not just to primary home owners, but also to vacationers. I don’t know of a less expensive way to have a home at the beach! And as far as depreciation? The data shows otherwise. I have yet to attend a settlement where people aren’t receiving a check for at least as much if not more than they paid, at settlement.

    Unfortunately, the stigma of living in a “trailer” is everywhere, perpetuated by people who are ignorant of the industry and the product. Many of my clients start out that way, and I welcome the opportunity to educate them. I hope they’ll in turn share what they learn with others and it will have a trickle down effect.

    I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences leading to your distrust of commission based salespeople. Commission real estate agents like me must satisfy our clients needs to make it to a settlement table. I work hard to be sure my clients have an incredible experience. The fact that I put as much effort and care into a manufactured home buyer as I do an $800k home buyer, is what has set me apart in our area. Many real estate agents refuse to sell manufactured homes, saying “they’re not real estate” or that the commission is too low to be worth their time. Funny– I see my job as helping people with their HOUSING needs, not simply selling expensive dirt! As a commission based person, my three kids and husband depend on me providing outstanding service; it leads to more business through the recommendations of past clients. Commission based or not, the person and their core values & ethics are what’s important here… not the way they receive their income. Work with honest people who have your best interests at heart, and you can’t go wrong! A side note: Realtors are not just real estate agents; we are real estate agents who are also members of the National Association of Realtors, and we follow a strict code of ethics. If you encounter a Realtor who is not practicing ethically, please report them to your state or local board of Realtors. We don’t want our organization polluted with people who don’t adhere to our standards.

    Thanks for providing such a great site! My clients and I really appreciate the work you put into being such an informative resource in the world of manufacture housing and what you’ve done to create this growing community!

  14. Hi,

    My wife and I just moved out of our first mobile home in utah. Neither of us had ever lived in a mobile home before, however, after reading from this site and some others we decided it was the best option. We couldn’t afford rent, and even if we could have the apartment would have been half the size of our manufactured home. We lived there for a little over a year and enjoyed the park and the home, but because the manager wouldn’t “approve” us to move from the single wide to the double wide next door we decided to move out due to our young growing family. I’m still not sure how she could not approve us to move, but not kick us or of the park. We hadn’t done anything wrong and always paid on time. That’s our frustration with mobile home living. The park owners/managers can make a huge difference. We still miss our neighbors

  15. Hi Crystal, thank you for standing up for us “trailer” owners! I started my married life and raised 2 kids in a single wide 1978 Fleetwood, which my uncle still lives in. My husband and I just sold our 2400 sf stick built house and bought a used 1700 sf doublewide that we have remodeled, with inspiration from your posts. We now have a beautiful home on a creek front lot with 5 acres behind us and a MORTGAGE FREE, DEBT FREE life! Nothing wrong with that at all…

  16. Hi David,
    I’m on the east coast and not at familiar with swamp coolers y’all use on the roofs but I suspect any of the portable air conditioners would work fine. They’ve gotten a lot better over the years. I’ve checked out the standing air conditioners that you just place in the room instead of a window and was impressed with the cold air they were pushing out.

    I’d go with a middle of the road unit (within your price range) with the best warranty and after-care policy you can find. Best of luck!

  17. Seems the author of the article didn’t make it as a Real estate agent, isn’t gonna make it as a finance adviser either and probably there is a host of other failures in her life. Once a bully always a bully. I have been a Real Estate Broker for 20 years, my husband and I had our own brokerage for 30 years and am ashamed when others in the profession sound off like that and make the rest of us look bad too. We sold our “stick home” and moved to a mobile home park to take care of my husband’s mother. We have a very comfortable and large mobile home. She has lived in mobile homes for over 30 years and I’m here to tell you they have improved tremendously in those years. Dr. Ben Carson, current HUD Secretary, recently publicly promoted what he feels is the answer to the affordable housing crisis we are experiencing. It lies in manufactured homes! I believe that’s our future talking. Thank you Crystal for your articles, I love reading your newsletter. Also, thank you for responding to that gal. She needs to wake up and look around.

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