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Old 03-21-2010, 07:38 AM
318 posts, read 870,305 times
Reputation: 212


I'm in college and live in a mobile home and love it. While local apartments cost $500+/month, my itty bitty $#itty trailer costs only $225, including lot rent. I'm going to college in the middle of nowhere, fyi, if you're wondering what's up with these prices.

Once I finish college I'll of course continue to rent until I find a job, and probably for at least the first two years after I work steadily, too. I've long believed that buying a conventional house would be too far out of my reach, regardless of whether I ended up making $20k a year or if I got lucky and landed a job making $45k that actually uses my degree. Buying a ritzy home is a huge investment, and it isn't liquid. Worst of all (imho), you have the dreaded mortgage payment. Anything over 1,200 square feet is way more space than I need, and almost all trailers come with at least 2 bedrooms in the event I end up with another member in the household (or needed to make a quick buck in renting a room).

Since I'll be graduating debt-free (woooooot!), I'm considering, once I have a solid job after graduation, saving $100/month towards buying a decent single-wide, or more if my budget can manage. I'm lucky that I haven't had any problems with my trailer thusfar (minus the sagging roof it had before I moved in). I'd estimate its street value to be maybe $2k; it's a 2/1 1980 12x42 and needs a new roof. That said, other than living in a trailer now I have no experience with them.

Even though they're dirt cheap, can a <30-year-old, <$10k single-wide potentially become a good investment for a frugal person like me? Or should I just buckle down and risk it all on some high-priced house with a $100k mortgage and property taxes?

Advice from anyone with experience with mobile homes would definitely be appreciated. I'm totally fine with the stigma that comes with living in a trailer park, but I don't want to invest in a form of housing that will nickle-and-dime me to death.


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Old 03-21-2010, 07:59 AM
Location: In America's Heartland
929 posts, read 2,092,490 times
Reputation: 1196
A mobile home will go down in value, much like a car. From that standpoint its not much of an investment. Is it a cheap way to put a roof over your head while you are in college? Probably is.
Just don't look at it as a good investment. A single family home would be a much better long term investment.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:30 AM
Location: On a Farm & by the sea
1,143 posts, read 2,874,111 times
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hey alamosa. I have some experience with mobile homes. A couple of my family members have owned trailer parks, even. They have made good money but there is a good bit of hassle handling evictions, etc... It seems that there is much more hands-on work necessary for rentals on the lower end of the spectrum. I've seen family and friends make a lot of money from accumulating all types of rental properties. To me, it makes the most sense to find a home with "nice bones" that just needs painting and superficial repairs (which you can do) to rent to families who may have been foreclosed on. 3/2 seems to be the most popular option, meaning you keep a high occupancy rate for the rental. Stay away from condo purchases unless they are close to a major university. Single family homes rent better than condos in general. Additionally, if you find a piece of land with a mobile home on it that is a "distressed" price, perhaps it would make sense to buy it and rent it as you look for a deal on a good house that has to be moved from its existing location. Those kinds of deals are more difficult to find but if the work was easy, everyone would be rich. Look around universities and hospitals expanding and buying land (with houses) around it. They don't care about the houses and you can pick it up for a song. Move it to your land, sell the trailer and, voila! You have your first rental property in your portfolio. Do this 3 or 4 times before you are 65 and you will have $500,000 or more to cash out at retirement.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:56 AM
318 posts, read 870,305 times
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Thanks for the quick response, and I apologize that "investment" was probably the wrong term to use; that, or I didn't explain what I meant.

Yes, of course, mobile homes quickly depreciate in value; otherwise these 10k houses (with new ones selling at 2x+ that) wouldn't exist. And of course, I wouldn't exactly pass down a mobile home to my children or anything, not that it would last that long anyway, nor would I be able to sell it for anything more (more like 1/2 or less) of what I purchased it for. Additionally, considering the markets for these homes, any nice investments that I make in the house will probably go down the $#itter once it's time to sell.

What I meant when I said "good investment for a frugal person like me," was, so long as I knew what to look for when buying the mobile home (e.g. floors, plumbing, wiring, etc) would it be far better than renting but less risky than buying a brick-and-mortar house? Or, regardless of how good of a bargain (in 1/2 decent shape) I could find, do mobile homes tend to drag people down with incessant repairs?

In other words, are they (post '76) a moderately reliable form of housing?
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:19 AM
Location: SoCal desert
8,091 posts, read 15,433,844 times
Reputation: 15038
Originally Posted by alamosakid View Post

In other words, are they (post '76) a moderately reliable form of housing?
Yes, IMO It's probably what I will buy as my retirement home - hopefully on its own land.

(Oh, and there's no 'stigma' attached to living in a MH Park!)

Here are some sites I read through

Mobile Homes... what to look for

Used Mobile Homes (http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/buying-mobile-home-2.php - broken link)

Consumers Union’s Tips on Mobile Homes

Top 10 Things You Must Look for when Buying a Used Mobile Home
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:34 AM
23,597 posts, read 70,402,242 times
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You would spend FAR more on house repairs over a period of years than the cost of a small trailer. A house roof replacement alone can run more than the entire cost of a trailer like you are considering. Many people fool themselves into thinking they are making money on the increase in valuation of their homes. They conveniently forget the cost of repairs, and ongoing costs of taxes and insurance. Once that money is deducted, a lot of homes are net losers - sometimes pretty and enjoyable net losers, but losers none-the-less.

If you are willing to look at your housing on an investment basis, one of the best things you can do is find an area a few miles outside of a major metropolitan area that is NOT within city limits, and does not have restrictions against placing a mobile home on the land. Spend the big bucks on the land, put the trailer fairly close to the road for power and other utilities, and then just wait for the city to expand and the land to appreciate in value. If you start early, a 20 year timeframe is not unreasonable.

The issues you will run into are security, heating cooling costs, and pests. The plastic skirting does nothing to deter rodents and bugs. Even a cinderblock skirting needs to be sealed. Don't bother insuring something like that. The insurance rates are outrageous and you are better off saving the money.

If you keep the land agricultural, you qualify for better property tax rates, and the taxes on a trailer are minimal. You will eventually want a cinderblock or other solid building for use as storage or a shop, but cost of that can be small as well. Remember that if you are buying land for investment, anything you put on it will likely be razed when the new owner (hopefully a giant shopping mall or major building) buys it.

The other "disadvantage" will be if you plan on dating. "Let's go back to my trailer" doesn't sit well with jewel encrusted maidens from the ritzy side of town. I'll leave it to your imagination just who would find such a place an acceptable "nest." You can use this to your advantage though, in driving off the high-maintenance frauleins, and searching for someone with values similar to yours.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:39 AM
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,954 posts, read 20,680,179 times
Reputation: 7193
Basicly, a trailer is only intended as cheap housing for those in need. A trailer should never be considered as an investment for any reason other than to free up money to save/invest for some other need.

The single most important thing you want to remember is don't spend the money you save by living , for short term, in a trailer. if you do that then you will trap yourself into a lifestyle you may not want.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:56 AM
Location: The Woods
18,358 posts, read 26,493,154 times
Reputation: 11351
You'd be better off building your own small house (get some wooded land, build a small log or timber frame place cheaply). Doable for under $10,000 (minus land costs), and better than a trailer.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:06 PM
Location: Oxygen Ln. AZ
9,319 posts, read 18,746,321 times
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There is a huge difference between a trailer and a prefab home and the prefabs can be just as appealing as a stick built home. I have long been interested in "kit" homes and small space living. There is a book called "Prefabulous" I cant recall the author, but the stigma is fading with modular/mobile homes of the past.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:13 PM
Location: Prescott Valley,az summer/east valley Az winter
2,061 posts, read 4,134,946 times
Reputation: 8190
housing is for living in~ not an investment!

That said housing in a mobile home probably will cost less in maintenance than comperable stickbuilt ~ and a cheaper way of providing yourself with a place to live~ take the money you save and invest it and you will be lightyears ahead of those that feel they have to live in a mcmanion so they can show off their wealth~ and in the years upcoming you will quietly be much better off financially!
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