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Mobile Home Ownership - The Lifestyle of Owners Who Live in Mobile Home Parks

Updated on October 16, 2017
MarleneB profile image

Marlene is a California real estate broker who has been selling property since 1989. California Real Estate License number 01056418.

Home is where the heart is.
Home is where the heart is. | Source

Mobile Home or Manufactured Home?

Although the general public classifies homes with wheels as “mobile homes”, The U.S. Department of Human and Urban Development (HUD) classify all mobile homes as Manufactured Homes. Manufactured homes are homes that are constructed at a factory and then transported to another location where the home is placed on a foundation to be permanently or semi-permanently mounted.

Personal Mobile Home Ownership Experience

My husband and I purchased a mobile home in a 55+ mobile home park to live in while our retirement home was being built on some property that we purchased six months prior to beginning construction. At the time construction started, we lived about a three-hour drive from the property. It became tiresome driving from our current location to the property to meet construction workers and to work on the property. We decided that we could oversee the development of the property better if we moved closer to the property.

Why Do People Buy Mobile Homes in Mobile Home Parks?

Living in a mobile home park gave me an opportunity to talk to people and receive candid responses to the question of why they decided to move to a mobile home park. I talked to residents about what made them decide to own a mobile home. They were eager to respond and their reasons were varied.

  • Cost: The majority of the people I talked to spoke about the low cost of ownership. They were able to pay cash and own their home free and clear. Space rent is lower than any mortgage they would have to pay for a contemporary single family residence.
  • Temporary: Some people said they were living in their mobile home as a temporary residence. They would live in the mobile home until they could save money to build or purchase a regular contemporary single family residence.
  • Seasonal: Surprisingly, a good number of people living in the mobile home park live there on a seasonal basis. For example, in the mobile home park where I lived, the majority of the residents are duck hunters who only live in the mobile home park during duck hunting season. For the rest of the year, the mobile homes remain vacant and ready to receive the owners for the next duck hunting season.
  • Community: Many people like the idea of living in a community that offers a lifestyle they can enjoy. Often, mobile home parks have community areas where residents can gather and spend social time together. This is especially true with the 55+ communities where the home owners enjoy being in the company of other senior citizens. There may be pools, spas, and other attractive amenities for the home owners to enjoy.

Enjoy swimming in the community pool.
Enjoy swimming in the community pool. | Source

Mobile Home Value

Most people believe that mobile homes depreciate like cars. This belief is not necessarily true. Mobile homes located in parks that have desirable amenities and are well-maintained tend to hold and often increase in value over time.

This is especially true for mobile homes built after June 15, 1976 when The U.S. Department of Human and Urban Development (HUD) began mandating and enforcing federal standards for the construction, design, performance, and installation of manufactured homes to assure their “quality, durability, affordability, and safety.”

This mobile home is designed with a modernized kitchen.
This mobile home is designed with a modernized kitchen. | Source

Mobile homes use to be built for easy transportation, keeping the weight lower. In the past, mobile homes were not built as well as they are built today. New rules and regulations require mobile homes to be built with better quality. Just like with contemporary stick built homes, it is not unusual to see open floor plans, vaulted ceilings, and skylights in the mobile homes built today, thus helping mobile homes hold appreciable values.

Naturally, supply and demand affect the actual market value of mobile homes, along with space rent and the age of the home.

The Trailer Trash Perception is Real

Since the day my family members heard that I moved into a mobile home park, some of them started referring to me as trailer trash. They were embarrassed that they had a family member living in a trailer park.

Perception:

In order to meet my personal retirement goals, I quickly had to get over the stigma that I personally associated with living in a mobile home park. Like many people, I considered mobile home owners to be (shall I dare say) “trailer trash.” However, since living in a mobile home park, I have come to my senses and I am here to say that the negative trailer trash connotation about people who live in mobile home parks is a myth. Mobile home parks are merely a community of people living a preferable lifestyle like any other community of people.

People who maintain negative references about those who live in mobile home parks have not taken time to learn about the new laws that require mobile homes to be built with higher standards. They have not done their research. Perhaps, they (like me) developed their impression of mobile home owners from watching too many television shows and movies depicting mobile home residents as irrational, flamboyant characters. Sure, as in any community, those type of people exist, but for the most part, homeowners in mobile home parks are responsible, kind-hearted, neighbor-minded folks.

Owning a Home in a Mobile Home Park

Before concluding, let me point out some major pros and cons about owning a home in a mobile home park.

Pros

Here are some common benefits to owning a mobile home.

  • Lower Cost: The cost of home ownership is usually less than owning a single family residence, condominium, or townhouse.
  • No Shared Walls: Unlike with a condominium or townhouse, you do not have to share walls with a neighbor.
  • No HOA: Generally, there are no Homeowner Association (HOA) fees.
  • No Property Tax: In many cases, you pay no property tax. Note: Sometimes, a home owner may register a mobile home on the property tax roll, thereby incurring a yearly tax fee.
  • Income Tax Write-off: Home ownership provides shelter and oftentimes, this shelter is an income tax write-off. Talk with your income tax accountant or attorney to verify whether or not you are able to write off your mobile home ownership.

Enjoy a relaxing moment on the putting green.
Enjoy a relaxing moment on the putting green. | Source
  • Community: Enjoy community living in a secluded area of like-minded people. This is especially true in 55+ communities.

  • Amenities: In many cases, mobile home parks include upscale park-like living with resort-style amenities such as pools, spas, tennis courts, golf, and more.

Cons

Here are some common negatives to owning a mobile home.

  • Financing: It is difficult to get financing. The amount required to put down on a mobile home purchase is greater than with a conventional home purchase. In addition, the interest rate tends to be higher and the loan term is generally shorter. The combination of the above factors result in a relatively high monthly loan payment.
  • Leased Lots: Most mobile homes in California are on leased lots. Just like with regular home ownership in a planned unit development, prospective owners must agree with the terms and conditions of the park. In addition, prospective buyers are required to be approved by the park manager prior to finalizing a purchase.
  • Rent Increases: Park owners are in the business of making money, so if you live in a mobile home on a leased lot, there is a possibility that over time the rent could increase beyond your capacity to pay.
  • No Sub-leases: Most parks do not allow sub-leases, so if you need to rent out your home, you may not be able to do so.

Should You Own a Home in a Mobile Home Park?

Mobile home parks have the ability to satisfy your need for shelter, privacy, and community living. Consider the following thoughts to help you decide whether or not owning a home in a mobile home park is right for you.

  • If you are over the age of 55 and do not have young people living in your home, then a 55+ community might be a good solution for you.
  • If you have young children who need a place to play, search for a mobile home community with parks and play areas for children.
  • If you want a place that offers privacy, look for a gated mobile home community. A gated community can offer the added security of containing young children and pets.
  • Additional privacy can be offered with a “premium lot.” A premium lot may not necessarily cost more, but it offers additional privacy in the sense that it does not contain public access utilities such as the gas and electric meters, septic tank, community fire hose, and more. Having utility access items on your lot means you must keep those certain areas of your lot accessible at all times. If you have a gate on your property, you would not be able to lock your gate because you need to have public access utilities accessible at all times.

    A lot that does not house public access utilities means you would not be bothered when the meters are read or the septic tank is emptied or when the fire department needs to use the fire hose, You would be able to lock your gate, giving you additional privacy and premium enjoyment of your home.

    Also, a premium lot is one that is located away from other disturbances, such as it is located away from the highway and away from the train tracks. It is also considered to be a premium lot if it is located near the community park.
  • What amenities are you looking for? Golf? Tennis? Swimming pool? Find a mobile home park that offers these amenities.
  • Lower priced homes may be found in mobile home parks that do not have special amenities. Since park owners do not have to spend additional money to maintain amenities, they can keep the cost of the lot down. If you do not need special amenities, then you may opt to look into purchasing a home in a lower priced mobile home park.

Choose a mobile home neighborhood that is right for you.
Choose a mobile home neighborhood that is right for you. | Source

Choose the Best Mobile Home Park for You

Look for and choose the best mobile home in the best community for you. Aside from the considerations listed above, look for homes on lots that have been improved by the people who already live or have lived there before you.

If you do not enjoy spending time maintaining a yard, look for lots with low maintenance landscaping. Look for lots with automated sprinkler systems.

A home that has been modernized or painted recently means you can be relieved of that chore for a while.

An air conditioning system is a real advantage in mobile home parks located in extremely hot or cold areas. Ask the homeowners questions such as the age of appliances and the roof.

Owning a home in a mobile home park should no longer have the stigma it once had many years ago. Pay attention to your needs and then choose the best mobile home in the best mobile home park that satisfies as many home ownership requirements as you need.

The Luxurious Style of Today's Mobile Home

© 2016 Marlene Bertrand

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