Buying a new manufactured home is no walk in the park. I wish I could say it’s a lot like buying a site-built home but it’s not. In fact, it’s completely different from buying a new site-built home because the majority of the protections that site-built homebuyers have simply aren’t there for new manufactured home buyers.
A new manufactured home buyer is left to their own devices to ensure that their new home is built, installed, financed, and insured properly. In this article, we’ll help you do that by sharing our best advice for new manufactured home buyers.
The Site-Built Home Buying Process
Buyers of a site-built home or even a pre-owned manufactured home on land through a Realtor have several protections throughout the home buying process.
First, you have a Realtor that is working on your behalf and only on your behalf. They have (or should have) no ties with the sellers or the bank. This ensures you are represented fairly.
Second, after the bid is accepted by the home’s seller the inspections will take place. These will be hired by the buyer of the home to ensure no affiliation to the seller or the seller’s Realtor occurs. There will be inspections done by licensed professionals for termites and foundations. A thorough inspection of the electrical and plumbing systems will take place. Every inch of the home is inspected and the buyer is given a booklet full of images and detailed descriptions of what the inspector found.
If any problems are found during the inspections the buyer will request that the seller repairs or replaces the issues before the money is exchanged. If the seller refuses, the buyer can typically walk away from the deal with nothing lost but time. However, most of the time the seller will repair the issues until the buyer is satisfied.
In short, the buyer holds most of the power throughout the site-built home buying process. Buying a new manufactured home is a completely different process. When buying a new manufactured home, the dealer holds most of the power which is one of the biggest reasons they are known to lie and manipulate buyers. They know the ball is in their court and they are used to having uneducated consumers that are easily manipulated and trusting.
Our Best Advice for New Manufactured Home Buyers
Our best advice for new manufactured home buyers is simple: hire 3 professionals.
First, hire an agent or manufactured home professional that will act on your behalf during the home buying process. Second, hire your own installers and make sure they are the best you can get. Lastly, hire an inspector that will inspect the home after it’s been installed and before the bank releases the money to the dealer.
With those three professionals, you are giving yourself the same protections as a site-built home buyer.
Hiring an Agent
When buying a new manufactured home from a dealer you don’t have a Realtor or any party working solely on your behalf and in your best interest unless you hire someone and most don’t. That’s why hiring a professional to help you through the buying process is our first piece of advice for new manufactured home buyers.
The salesperson is beholden to the dealer, not the home buyer. They are there to ensure the dealer makes the largest profit possible while still selling a home to you.
That means it’s up to the buyer to hire an agent or professional to work on their behalf during the homebuying process.
Hiring an Installer
Every new manufactured home must be installed but the builder conveniently doesn’t install their own homes (even though I believe they should). The buyer has to choose to use the dealer’s in-house installation crew or an outside crew that still gives the dealer a kickback. That’s why we always advise new manufactured home buyers to always choose their own installation company after doing extensive reference checking.
That means it’s up to the buyer to hire their own installation crew.
Hiring an Inspector
Our third piece of advice for new manufactured home buyers is to hire an inspector. The only inspections that are typically done are for the finance company and they just want to make sure the home that’s on the paperwork is indeed the home the buyers are getting. They rarely do an extensive inspection.
That means it’s up to the buyer to hire their own inspectors.
If you are in a state with a lot of manufactured homes like Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, or California it shouldn’t be too difficult to find either a Realtor or an agent that will help you find the best home at the best price. Typically, they will want to be paid a percentage of the sale price or a flat rate. In some cases, they will work a deal out with the dealer’s salesperson (but not often). Either way, it’s a good investment.
Hiring the best inspector is a lot like hiring the best contractor. You’ll want to look at references (and actually call them!), their experience with manufactured housing, and whether they have any ties with the dealership. A Google search is also a good idea.
You’ll want an inspection done just like they do with a site-built home with a few differences, of course.
First, the home must be checked for level so the inspector must own and know how to use a water level. The home should be checked on every corner and in the middle of the longest sides. You can learn more about water levels and checking a manufactured home for level here.
Extra care should be taken to inspect the marriage line if the home is a double wide. The grade of the land should also be checked. You can learn more about site prep and the HUD recommendations for grade here.
Our article, Learn Why a Manufactured Home Inspection is so Important, will help you choose the best inspector through the national associations and goes over several issues that are relevant to manufactured homes only.
Once you hire your inspector, be sure you are on the property when they do the inspection. This is also true for the installers. You need to be there when the home is pulled onto the property and as the installers are installing the home.
If you hire these three professionals your home buying process will be a much smoother process. If 80% of all warranty issues are truly caused by improper installation then hiring the right installer and getting their work inspected will give you the protection you deserve.