Jen, don't buy into attempts to discourage you from purchasing a "Manufactured Home". Yes, it' true managers can and in many cases do raise rents at their whim. But that's where you have to do your homework. Here's some information I'd like to share with you that may help you make a prudent buying decision.
You really should start with the park manager. You will have to fill out an application and be approved by them before you even make an offer on a manufactured home in a rental park. At this time you will know what their rental rate increases are.
If the home isn't located in a rent control area then most managers will adjust the rent annually according to the "Consumer Price Index" (CPI) which can vary between 1 to 3 percent depending on inflation and a few other variables.
Very few manager/owners tend to gouge their residents unless they're dealing with the burden of deferred maintenance, infrastructure issues or high vacancy problems. But this you could determine yourself simply by driving through the park/development and observing the vacancies, homes for sale and speaking directly with some of the residents who may be outside.
Be sure to have it thoroughly inspected by an experienced MH inspector and not just any home inspector as there are several nuances with MHs that you don't have in a conventional site-built home and most home inspectors not familiar with these nuances will not even know what to look for.
Make sure the inspector crawls under the home and thoroughly inspects each and every pier and pad assembly for rust, deterioration and decomposition if steel and for decomposition if concrete as homes close to the ocean can be severely impacted by salt.
They should also make sure the home is level by checking all the doors and windows to make sure that they are not swinging or sticking and that all the strike plates on the doors are properly aligned and the doors close soundly.
The inspector should also inspect the steel mainframe for rust and decomposition as well. I can't tell you how many mainframes we've had to repair that were suffering and in some cases even failing from rust and deterioration related issues.
Be sure and have the inspector check for rips and tears in the vapor barrier under the floor. If there are openings in this membrane it could allow the insulation under the floor to become compromised and even fall on the ground.
Openings in the vapor barrier are also a great place for rodents and cats to habitate and reproduce. We've eradicated countless critters from these cavities over the years and it's not a very pleasant experience.
Finally and very importantly make sure the home has a California State Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) certified earthquake resistant bracing system (ERBS) as most areas in California are classified as a Zone 4 earthquake area which holds a high probability of risk for a seismic event..
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