As we discussed in our blog post Manufactured vs. Site-Built Homes, buying a manufactured home is often less expensive and much faster than buying or building a traditional site-built home. These factory-built homes use the same high-quality materials, offer customizable, modern features, and are federally regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure durability, quality, and safety.
But the manufactured home buying process still includes several important and unique decisions, including home location, home financing, and delivery. Luckily, we’re here to help with four mapped out steps to buy a home.
1. Choose your home location
One major advantage to owning a manufactured home is that you can move it anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to move it all the time. So, the first step to living in your home is finding the perfect place for it—whether you’re setting it on a permanent foundation or not.
Manufactured home community
The perks of moving into a manufactured home community are seemingly endless—especially for new homeowners. These communities are already set up for all the needs you’ll have when moving, setting up, and maintaining your manufactured home. They can also offer added bonuses like included utilities and Internet, dog parks, playgrounds, and more. With a community by your side, you can also get help navigating many of the steps in this guide, including manufactured home financing, site preparation, and delivery.
Buying and owning land
Different from a site-built home, the price of a manufactured home does not include the cost of purchasing your own land. Though it will still likely be less expensive than buying a site-built home, there are a lot more steps, permits, and costs associated with buying and owning land.
The first step is making sure the land you buy is zoned for mobile homes, then you’ll have to obtain permits for moving and installation, connect to city utilities, and more. For more information on this, check out these tips for buying land for a prefab home.
2. Choose your home
In the world of manufactured homes, your options include renting, renting to own, building your own, or buying used. And the differences between these can affect cost, timeline, and more. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll stick to the various buying options as well as the various sizes and customization possibilities.
Single-wide, double-wide, and triple-wide
Manufactured homes come in various sizes from single-wide all the way to triple-wide. A single-wide manufactured home is a single section which offers a narrower construction and smaller square footage. A double-wide is two sections connected side by side resulting in a home that’s about the same size as the average single-family home. Triple and multi-wide homes consist of three sections connected side by side and range anywhere from three to five or more bedrooms. Choosing your size will depend on your needs, budget, and preferences.
Customization and design
When buying a new manufactured home, your customization and design options are endless. Similar to building a site-built home, you can choose modern finishes, add energy-efficient features, and more.
And unlike renting an apartment, this home is your own, so you can do anything you’d like whether that’s painting walls or making structural changes. Just remember, because of the federal HUD Code, all updates, changes, and additions made to a manufactured home will need to be done to HUD standards and be HUD certified.
New or used
The first noticeable difference between new and used manufactured homes is often the price. A new manufactured home is going to be more expensive, but it also provides the benefits of buying new: customizing and personalizing for your every need, adding the newest energy-efficient upgrades, less maintenance, and sometimes even home warranties from the builder. A pre-owned manufactured home can be more budget-friendly and, because it’s already constructed, you may be able to move in even sooner.
3. Think about home financing
Though purchasing a manufactured home is less expensive than buying other types of homes, it may still require financing. Luckily, there are plenty of financing options available.
Movable property, like a manufactured home, is most often considered personal property rather than real estate property. As such, the easiest manufactured home financing to get is usually a personal loan—especially if you’re not planning on utilizing a permanent foundation. This option includes homes located in a manufactured home community or any home you’re financing on its own without land.
FHA Title I program
The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, backs loans for mobile home vehicles through its Title I program. For this type of loan, interest rates are negotiated between the home buyer and a private lender, but be aware the typical home lender may not offer this type of loan. If you secure this type of loan, the interest rate is fixed for the entire loan term, and there are maximum loan amounts and terms whether you’re financing a manufactured home on its own, the manufactured home lot, or a combined manufactured home and lot.
If you’re choosing to place your home on a permanent foundation on land you own, you can typically finance a manufactured home with a mortgage. In this case, you can classify the manufactured home as real estate property, and you’ll likely get a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or government-backed mortgage.
Home loans for homes on leased land
While a home loan may look slightly different than a mortgage, there are options available which offer much shorter terms than the 30-year loan typically offered in the site-built market. Lenders who specialize in manufactured home loans are well versed in home loans located on leased land, like those in a manufactured home community.
4. Plan your home delivery
The process of manufactured home delivery varies depending on where you’re moving: into a community or onto your own land. Preparing your own land can take more time and more steps than moving into a manufactured home community where your site will be made ready for you and your home before either of you arrive.
When purchasing from a manufactured home retailer, make sure normal delivery is included in your purchase price, because this is not a fun DIY activity. Installing a manufactured home is a process that requires an expert, like your manufactured home retailer or a subcontractor who can install in accordance with both state regulations and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Need more information?
If you still have questions, or if you’re looking for a place to move, we have more than 70 communities in locations all over the country with additional resources for renting, buying, renting to own, and financing.