15 Big Pros and Cons of Buying a Mobile Home

Mobile homes, which are sometimes referred to as “trailers” or “manufactured housing,” are structures that get built in a factory setting. The manufacturer then places a trailer chassis on the final product that allows them to be moved. You will see the final product placed in parks designed for mobile homes, on leased land, and sometimes on owned property.

Mobile homes give you the option to live in one unit. You can add new modules to your home at any time as needed to expand, which means your house can grow with you. Most manufacturers offer a variety of different floor plans from which to choose so that you can receive a customized experience with this choice.

You can purchase a mobile home for about 50% of the cost of a stick-built house in most areas. When you live in a tight housing market, the issues with depreciation you’ll find with these structures are not as problematic either. That means you have a legitimate investment to consider.

If you’re looking for a new house, then these are the pros and cons of buying a mobile home that you’ll want to review.

List of the Pros of Buying a Mobile Home

1. You can qualify for financing with a mobile home.
The same financial factors that go into the decision for a mortgage will play a role in your personal property loan for a mobile home. You’ll need a solid credit score, a stable employment history, and a few years of tax records to prove that you have a reliable income. A down payment of any amount will help to reduce your interest rate, while your debt-to-income ratio can help a lender to determine what the best lending products are for your situation.

Once you get past these hurdles, you’ll discover that the monthly cost of living in a mobile home is typically much cheaper than managing a stick-built house. The average mortgage in the United States is $1,030, whereas you can get into a double-wide for $350 and a monthly lot fee that’s less than that amount.

2. There are more choices for luxury options.
Since you’re spending less on a mobile home, you have the option to afford more luxury items that the factory can install for you. That means you can pursue hardwood flooring, granite countertops, and upgraded fixtures to whatever your budget allows. Each upgrade comes at an additional cost, but it is one that most households can manage without difficulty.

If you decide to pursue this option, then you might want to think about removing the chassis from your home. Whether you choose a single, double, or a manufactured product, taking away the mobility can give you more stability.

3. Some mobile homes qualify for traditional lending products.
If you decide to remove the chassis from your mobile home, then you should speak with a lender about the options you have for a mortgage. Permanence is the primary issue that banks and credit unions have when issuing this type of loan. By setting it into a permanent slab, you can relieve those concerns.

That means you have the potential to qualify for FHA, VA, and conventional mortgage options when choosing a mobile home for your family. Your lender will let you know about the specific requirements they want you to manage as part of the lending process.

4. Mobile homes are a plug-and-play living option.
If you decide to live in a mobile home, then you can place the structure on almost any property so that you can have a place to live. The installation process is extremely fast with this housing product, allowing your contractor to hook up everything in a few days. Everything comes ready to go from the factory, so it is only a matter of hooking it up to the local utilities. Most people can move into a brand-new single or double in less than two months.

Although the shape of the mobile home is often pre-determined, you have layout options from which to choose. Your manufacturer can give you an idea of what your choices are when you start looking at the available home designs.

5. You can’t beat the affordability of a new mobile home.
The cost of a mobile home varies based on where you decide to live. Opportunities in rural Kansas are going to be cheaper than those found in California’s Bay Area. When you look at the median price of a single-wide in the United States, the cost is about $51,000 for something straight off of the factory floor. If you step up to a double-wide, then you’re still below $100,000. Even triples and manufactured housing comes in below $250,000.

Most families can save between 30% to 50% off of the cost of their home when they choose this option over a stick-built house. If you’re not sure about the final price, you’ll discover that buying in late winter is a lot cheaper than finding something in mid-summer.

6. You have more versatility with a mobile home.
When you decide to live in a mobile home, then you have a variety of short- and long-term options that become available. You can start small on your own property and then upgrade to something larger when the time is right. Some manufacturers give you the option to add more floor space to your property based on modular connections. Although there are standardized dimensions that the industry follows, you can still customize many of your selections. You can make it a mobile or permanent structure.

That means you can take your home with you if you need to go to a different site with some complex logistics helping you. It also means you can stay put if that’s what you prefer.

7. The strength of a mobile home is comparable to stick-built structures.
If you purchase a mobile home, then you’re buying a structure that meets stringent code requirements based on federal law. The United States established specific rules for manufacturers to follow in the 1970s to ensure higher safety levels. Every property must meet these rules before modules can leave the factory floor.

You may have some specific issues to manage if you live in high-risk areas for severe storms. Shelters are often available in “trailer park” communities, but you may need to install something specific if you use your own land. Each unit comes with a seal that proves it meets every requirement, so ask your contractor about this information during the installation process.

8. Life is often quiet in mobile homes.
If you live in a single-wide, then you might not experience this advantage very often. When your home is something larger, then you can take advantage of the code requirements for each module. Each one must be independently insulated, which means there is more soundproofing available in every section. That means you have more options for privacy if you decide to pursue this living arrangement instead of a stick-built structure.

9. You will live in an energy-efficient home.
Mobile homes are so energy efficient today that many of them are Energy Star certified as an entire unit. Although this advantage might not be available in older models, you’ll find appliances, windows, and insulation all work together to reduce your utility costs. If you prefer living in the trailer-style option, you’ll see skirting options up to code that fit into this category. You can have water-saving fixtures installed by the factory, LED lighting, and other modern features that promote the affordability of this lifestyle.

10. Mobile homes are a low-risk installation.
Contractors can quickly install a mobile home on almost any foundation. As long as you have a concrete slab available, you can move in without much delay. There are fewer problems with theft or damage with this choice, and you can meet tight moving deadlines when necessary. When you add in the fact that it’s cheaper than an apartment in many areas and you get to control the space, the advantages of buying a mobile home are always worth taking under consideration.

List of the Cons of Buying a Mobile Home

1. The value of a mobile home depreciates quickly.
When you purchase a new car, its value immediately depreciates the moment you drive it off the dealership lot. That principle also applies to mobile homes. What you pay for this structure is not going to be the value you receive the moment the product leaves the factory. Land generates value based on the improvements it receives, so the nature of this product makes it more of a personal possession than an actual investment. Any increase in value typically comes from the underlying property rather than the mobile home.

2. Mobile homes can be more expensive to finance.
It can be challenging to obtain a mortgage for a mobile home. You can take the chassis off and install it on a concrete pad in some areas to qualify for traditional lending products, but most owners need to pursue a different kind of loan. It is a personal property loan, sometimes called a “chattel” loan, and it comes with a shorter term and higher interest rate than a mortgage.

If your lender decides that your mobile home can still be moved, then it won’t be a permanent construction. That means you won’t qualify for a mortgage. Your contractor can give you whatever options are available to change this disadvantage, but it will come at an extra expense.

3. Mobile homes are smaller than most houses.
The average size of a mobile home is about 20% smaller than what you’ll find with a stick-built structure. If you are a budget-conscious shopper who is looking at a single-wide trailer as an affordable living option, then you’ll have a long and narrow living footprint. Most homes in this category are between 600 to 1,300 square feet in size, but all of them must be 18 feet wide or less to qualify for this designation. They must also be 90 feet or less in length.

The most common size of a single-wide is 15 feet by 72 feet, whereas a double-wide is usually 26 feet wide and 56 feet long. Most owners accept this disadvantage because it allows them to move into a home almost instantly, even if it gets set on a concrete foundation. Then you can look at future expansion efforts as your needs change.

4. Negative stigmas still exist for mobile homes.
Modern production methods have altered the idea of what it means to live in a mobile home, but you’ll still see prejudices against this option in some parts of the United States and around the globe. Some people see them as being a dangerous choice. Others think of them as the only option available to individuals with limited income. They even have a reputation for harboring criminal activities.

This disadvantage is changing in many neighborhoods as the quality of mobile homes continues to rise. Even so, you will also still see some fundamental biases present in some zoning requirements and building laws.

5. You must have some kind of land available for a mobile home.
Most people who live in a mobile home will rent a lot for their new house. That means you don’t own the land, but you do have ownership over the structure. You might be paying 2-3 different monthly costs when choosing this option, pushing your expenses upward toward the price of a mortgage for a stick-built structure.

If you have your own land that you want to use for a mobile home, then it must have utility services available to complete the installation. That includes a sewer hookup or access to a septic tank. Then you’ll need to check to see if there are any deed restrictions in place that could limit the kind of structures that are permissible on your property.

Conclusion

When reviewing the pros and cons of buying a mobile home, you’ll discover that this option gives you a cost-effective alternative to a stick-built house. It provides you with a similar lifestyle quality that can help you to raise a family safely.

Several factors must be considered before making a final decision. There are laws that impact the value of a mobile home, rental costs that must get factored into the cost, and regional issues that can influence your decision. Living in Tornado Alley makes some families look at the idea of living in this structure differently than someone on the West Coast.

Once you have reviewed each key point from a personal perspective, you’ll be in the best position possible to know if buying a mobile home is the right choice to make.


Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.