5 Mobile Homes Pitfalls to Avoid

by | BiggerPockets.com

Once you have closed a few deals you will find it not necessary most of the time to hire inspectors or contractors to inspect your mobile home properties before you purchase them.  With their simple shapes and what you see is what you get construction, these homes allow for anyone knowing what to look for, a leg up to potential obstacles and warning flags.

The following is a list of mental notes to make when walking through your next mobile home investment.

Pipes leading nowhere: Shortly after I purchased and resold a nice looking mobile home back in 2005 I heard from the owner that the bathtub and toilet pipes led straight to the ground underneath.  The metal pipes where cut and stolen to sell for money.  So now any water or fluid that left the bathroom landed squarely on the Earth below the home.  This whole embarrassing incident could have been avoided had I bent down and with a flashlight looked to see all pipes below the home led safely to pipes below ground.

Ceiling Spots: Many times walking through mobile homes you are going to see signs of past water spots or other damage.  Evidence of past water damage could be previous ceiling repairs or currently existing water spots.  Check to feel if a spot is still damp.  If so, when was the last rain storm? Question the owners and double check repairs where complete, to fix the water source.  If possible lift up the existing damaged ceiling panel and check to feel if the insulation or interior ceiling space is damp, and make sure to make any needed repairs.

Slope: In a heavy rain storm how would the ground underneath your home retain or shed water.  The ideal situation is for the land underneath your home, if not a solid slab, to be slightly off level in order to move water away from the home.  Your goal is to avoid stagnant water underneath the home for any reason.

Puffy Floor Syndrome: Many older mobile homes that still retain their original flooring in the bathrooms and kitchen will suffer from “Puffy Floor Syndrome”.  This water damaged floor and wall section is due to inexpensive particle board being used in construction to keep costs low.  It is inevitable that overtime, sinks will overflow, drains will get clogged, and dishwashers will leak, but it is important that once the water source is fixed the wood damage, puffy floor, mold, and mildew are halted and cured as well.

Electrical shorts: Many older mobile homes built before 1971 use aluminum wiring.  Aluminum wiring can oxidize and deteriorate over time, causing bad connections and electrical shorts.  Electric wiring problems can become a real money pit so keep a close eye on electrical issues on all older mobile homes as they can be indicative of large problems to come.

Remember it is sometimes the most obvious problems that pass right by us unnoticed.  Often times we investors get so excited to close another deal, or our first deal that we overlook simple and obvious warning flags.  Keep your eyes open and stay profitable.

– John Fedro

Photo: scaredy_kat

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.

5 Comments

  1. As a former mobile home repair person, the first thing I check for is front and back door jams
    along with the floor area next to them for soft spots. Then all window sills for water damage. I also checked all ceilings for cracks, water stains, seperation and all plumbing areas. It only takes a few minutes to this and will tell you what condition the home is in. I personaly would not even look at a mobile if it dosen’t have a 3-tab roof, wood sideing or double pane windows.
    You can, with a little efford, find them for 30-40 cents on the dallar and make pretty good cash flow or sell on a contract ( Lonnie deals).

  2. John,

    This was a nice read.
    As you know, I do not invest in mobile homes.
    However, I am very interested and always like to learn more about the mobile home business.
    You do a great job in articulating your experience in mobile home investing to the BP readers.
    Keep up the great work!
    Neil.

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