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Jon Porrey's Blog

By Jon Porrey | Agent in Grand Rapids, MI

Manufactured Homes- What are they and Should you buy one?

Perhaps you live in a part of the country where mobile homes are plentiful and you have thought about buying a mobile home to either rent out, live in or flip for a profit.

First of all let’s define Manufactured, Modular and Mobile homes and see the difference in them.

Trailer- this is what you call something that you hook up to your car or truck and use it for hauling stuff around.

Mobile Home- Also great for Hitching to your car or truck, but with these you go camping, hunting, fishing, traveling, whatever, but it’s only temporary for dwelling as you wouldn’t want to live full time in one.

Manufactured Home (Single-wides or Double-wides)- Before 1976, traditionally, this is what you would call a “mobile home”.  They are certainly built better now than they were in the past, but are not easily hauled around anymore.  The test of whether you would call it manufacture or modular is this: did it come to the site on wheels that had to be yanked off?  Then it’s manufactured. Doesn’t matter if it’s lifted onto a basement, crawl space or just anchored down by ties, it’s manufactured.   So the major difference between Mobile and Modular is that a Mobile home is built on a permanent chassis with either a steel floor or one to four steel I-beams for support.  (four beams for double-wides) Since 1976 these types of homes have been required to meet HUD standards and will have a HUD DATA PLATE somewhere on the home and a data sheet somewhere inside the dwelling. Personally I have never considered a “mobile” type Manufactured home as a possibility for buying, selling, or renting out.  Now some have made money doing so, but this practice is fraught with dangers and liabilities.  First of all, when you buy a “mobile” type Manufactured home, history tells us that its value WILL go down.  So if you want to take a chance, you may be able to buy, fix-up and sell this type of home, but the profits will not end of being as large as you would like.


Modular Home- This type of home is yes, built at a factory but it comes to the site on the bed of trucks, usually more than one or two and is lifted and installed together with a crane. Even though we might call this a manufactured home as it is built elsewhere, Modular homes meet and usually exceed HUD standards for residential dwellings and the codes of the individual states where they may be put in place.  Thus when put together they usually cannot be pulled apart or divided into pieces put on wheels again and hauled off to another site.  Today with Drywall, Ceramic Tile, Wood Floors etc. these homes are rivaling stick-built homes in quality and durability. Many times especially with newer improvements in modular type Homes, it is very difficult to identify whether it is modular or stick built.

Now on with the count-down! And this is going to be easy!

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

MOBILE-Manufactured Homes- first of all, even if you are tempted, and the property is on a piece of land with either a poured crawl space or even a basement, don’t even look at anything built before 1994.  Since that year codes have required sheathing, Celotex type if your prefer, which was nonexistent with older models.  Since that year also HUD code has required manufacturers to use steel strapping, or a combination of steel strapping and structural rated wall sheathing for securing the exterior wall framing to the floor and roof systems.  But my recommendation is stay away, very, very far away from this type of manufactured home.

Modular Homes- Those with drywall interiors, full pitched roofing systems that when you stand at street level cannot be identified as any different from stick built dwellings are the only ones that I would deal with.  At least with these there is opportunity for increases in value and not decreases.   I rate them a guarded “BUY” based on condition and location.


Good hunting for those Foreclosures!


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