Mobile Home Investing: Design on A Dime

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There are many ways to beautify a home for sale or rent when money is tight.  Our goal as investors on a budget should be to maximize beauty and sales appeal and minimizing our spending limit.  I say, “The more money we keep in our pocket the better.”  Keep in mind the list below are mainly cosmetic fixes, anything structural, electrical, or plumbing related should be seen by a professional, as well as any skill level above your ability.

Bathroom ceiling and vanity light fixtures – Most mobile homes have a standard two to five horizontally built light fixture screwed into the wall just above the bathroom mirror typically made to resemble wood.   These fixtures tend to rust, tarnish and discolor very quickly.  In addition, the ceiling light may be an outdated glass bulb with single light fixture.  If either of these are the case in your used mobile home head to your local home improvement warehouse to pick up a few new chrome light sets.  The cheapest will usually do just fine.

Ceiling fans and lights – Installing ceiling fans into rooms that previously only had a light fixture can be done in under an hour by anyone that can read directions and use a screwdriver.  A cheap fan with light combo installed into each room makes for a wonderful selling feature.

Whenever I get a new place I like to give the new tenant-buyers the option for me to install the new fan/light combos in each room for only an extra $20-$40 dollar bump in their monthly payment.  This is a great little profit center I have found that pays for the materials plus hundreds more over time.

Linoleum floor squares – Linoleum square are typically sold in one square foot sections in hundreds of patterns.  They can be very inexpensive to purchase at any home improvement store.  On many older mobile homes these squares will be discolored, pealing off or very outdated.  Each square comes with a sticky backside. They are easy to cut with an ordinary pair of scissors to get around kitchen or bathroom corners.  The protective paper is removed from backside and stuck to the cleaned surface of the floor.  These make a huge improvement to any torn, ripped or stained vinyl/linoleum floor.

Prime all dirty walls Kills brand paint or any other oil based primer is ideal for covering walls with marker stains, smoke damage, discolorations and ugly paint jobs.  A nice clean neutral or off white primer covering the walls will unify the home, clean up the walls and leave a blank canvas for the new homeowner to imagine their favorite colors.  In my experience the size of the rooms seem to increase with a fresh off white paint job.

Potpourri or another pleasant smelling air freshener is  great way to add the sense of smell into the homebuyers’ experience.  When the prospective homebuyer or tenant first walk through the home they will smell something; whether it be normal neutral air, a foul smelling trash can, the fresh cut grass, mildew, fresh baked cookies or your sweet smelling $1 air freshener.  Make the homeowner enjoy the first smell and first impression of the interior the property.

Each of the following items should be kind to your wallet in exchange for a much faster sale and/or higher selling/renting price.  There are many more tips and tricks you can use with minimal cost.  Take a tour though new and used homes yourself to see what stands out good and bad.

– J. Fed

Photo: joebeone

About Author

John Fedro

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a 4-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to his cash-flowing portfolio. Since these early years, John has gone on to help 150+ sellers and buyers sell their unwanted mobile homes and obtain a safe and affordable manufactured home of their own. Years later, John keeps to what has been successful—buying, fixing, renting, and reselling affordable housing known as mobile homes. John shares his stories, experiences, lessons, and some of the stories of other successful mobile home investors he helps on his blog and YouTube channeland has written over 300 articles concerning mobile homes and mobile home investing for the BiggerPockets Blog. He has also been a featured podcast guest here and on other prominent real estate podcasts, authored a highly-rated book aimed at increasing the happiness/satisfaction of average real estate investors, and spoken to national and international audiences concerning the opportunities and practicality of successfully investing in mobile homes.


  1. J. Fed,

    Another solid post from you on mobile homes. I always enjoy reading these, as I know absolutely nothing about mobile homes, however, enjoy learning from you.

    In your post you mentioned that you found a profit centre in adding a fan/light combo for tenants at an increased cost of $20-$40 a month. Very cool idea. I like the way you think.

    Are there many of these other hidden profit centres that exist with mobile homes.
    For instance, do you do other thing for the tenant/buyer that enable you to increase the rent further?

    I am interested to hear from you.

    Onwards and Upwards,
    .-= Neil Uttamsingh´s last blog ..A message from the author =-.

    • John Fedro

      Hey Neil. Thanks for the support. I hope that everyone finds at least one thing interesting and useful to make money with what I have learned these past few years. There are many more of these little tricks, but I think 90% of them could be applied to traditional real estate too.
      1. Daily late fees are always a solid money maker.
      2. Daily interest rates versus annual interest rates (if you are selling a property with owner financing) is a huge benefit to you. If the tenant-buyer is typically late every month they could end up with a debt larger than when they originally signed your note. Contrary if they pay early they will speed up the pay-off process.
      3. I often lend money to my favorite and best paying tenant-buyers. I add on interest of course. Its just another way to make 20%+ on your money.
      4. The same thing I do above with lights and ceiling fans I sometimes do with garbage disposals. They are cheap and fast to install. This can add $20-$30 bucks every month.
      Let me know how they work for you. -John

  2. Nice post J Fed ,
    I like your thought process of generating an extra income from your little add ons and suggestions. My very first memories of this little tactic was when I visited McDonald’s as a teenager 25 years ago! They always did and still do now suggest “an add on” such as “would you like that Large” or “Would you like an apple pie today”
    As an employee , I know it’s one of the many profit tactic successes the company uses to drive top line sales and bottom line profits for little or no cost.

  3. Shirley Kelly on

    Great information! I am a strong believer that one can definitely design on a dime and be amazed at the results. Oftentimes, just a change here and a little change there will produce surprising results.

  4. I am curious, We own an older mobile home (1995) and I am wanting to update my kitchen and some other areas of the house. The thing that I am worried about is the resale value of the remodel. Is there equity in mobile homes or would it be a waste of my money to redo the kitchen/baths? I do not plan on living here forever so I want to make sure that I can get a fair price at resale! Thank you for any help that you can be!

    • Hi Krystle,

      Good question. And even better that you are asking before spending big money without much of a return. The answer boils down to a few points. I’ll explain in detail and you can take the key points that apply to you and your situation.

      First off, a 1995 is not too old at all. If the MH is locate in a mobile home park then you will not likely find a buyer that will be approved at a local bank to purchase your home for sale in the future. This means your future buyer will likely have cash in hand to purchase your home. Because there will likely be no bank there is obviously no appraisal and the buyer will likely pay what they think is a fair cash price for the home. In my experience if you spend $4k on the kitchen you will not get all this money back when reselling for all cash… but it may may it easier to resell in the future, which could reduce holding costs, stress, and marketing costs. If the kitchen has just minor wear and tear I would suggest to not make updates. However, if the kitchen is littered with soft spots due to water damage or very dingy and outdated looks then perhaps spending some money would be in order. Just be sure to not over update the home, just because you like granite counter-tops doesn’t mean everyone does and will pay for these.

      If you are selling all cash then the above advice is what I recommend. If you are selling the home via seller financing then you may complete repairs and recoup all your money and more.

      If the home is on private land then this update may be financed into the future sale, an appraisal will be used, and you will likely get most of your money back from the repair.


      P.s. In the future when you plan to sell your MH. Start advertising 6 months in advance to determine local demand and ball-park selling price so that you are not surprised when you need to sell.

  5. We need to replace a light fixture in the dining room in our 2001 mobile home. We don’t need to buy a special mobile home light? We can just go to lowes or menards and pick up any light we want? We currently have a ceiling fan, the fan part doesn’t turn off and is now making a grinding noise and we’d like to replace it with a chandelier. I guess I’m just confused, because things like door knobs and light switches you need to buy at a mobile home parts store..but not light fixtures, right? I just don’t want to buy something that won’t work in our home! Thanks in advance!

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