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Used Mobile Homes

By - 2008

Why buy used mobile homes? My first home was a mobile on a small lot that I bought for $19,500. Even with the mortgage payments it was cheaper than renting. I paid it off quickly and later sold it for $45,000, so you can obviously live cheap and build equity. (Buying in a park can be the equivalent of cheap rent, but this discussion is about mobiles that are on real estate.)

The advantages of mobiles over traditional houses are clear for young people starting out. First of all, it may be the only option. Also, in addition to the lower initial price, you get simpler, cheaper maintenance, lower monthly payments, less property tax, less for insurance, and possibly even faster equity build-up (I explain this in another article). Mobiles have their own unique problems though, so be sure to check for these before buying one.

Problems With Used Mobile Homes

The age of a mobile home may make it tough to finance. Even if it can be financed, it may be at a very high interest rate. Be sure to check into this before making an offer, and take the higher payments into account when comparing your options.

The age of mobiles is also a big factor when it comes to getting insurance. Some older homes may just be uninsurable. Don't buy before you know that you can obtain insurance at a reasonable rate.

Some mobiles built before 1976 have aluminum wiring. This can be a fire hazard because the chemical reaction between the aluminum and other metals cause the wiring to break down, eventually leading to sparking inside the walls (not a good thing). Remove the two screws on on any of the electrical outlet or switch covers, and look inside with a flashlight. If the bare ends of the wires are silvery looking, they are probably aluminum. You may have to rewire the home to get it insured.

Watch for stains on the ceilings. Mobiles are prone to leaks. If it is a wet day and the stains are dry, the leaks have probably been repaired, but if there are many dark stains, at least ask how long the roof leaked for. Short term leaks that were quickly repaired may not have done much, if any, damage to the supporting beams. If the roof is seriously sagging there may be rotten wood up there.

Watch for wavy walls and crooked door frames. If the mobile is twisting or irregularly settling, the walls will sometimes show it. It may also show in the door frames. Is the gap over the doors straight in relation to the frame?

Test for spongy floors. Many older mobiles used particle-board for floors. If the floor gets wet, it warps and rots. Step hard here and there to test, especially in the bathroom. I have rebuilt two bathroom floors in mobile homes. Around the toilet is the usual place you'll find problems, because of the condensation from the toilet running down and soaking the wood around it. Is the toilet sitting straight or leaning?

Most problems in a mobile can be resolved, and for much less than in a traditional house, so if there are problems, you may want to see them as an opportunity to make a lower offer. You could also just avoid the homes with problems. In any case, there's no reason to give up on owning your own home due to high prices. Just look for used mobile homes.


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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Used Mobile Homes