Mobile Homes

4 Widely Believed Mobile Homes Myths (& Other Common Fallacies)

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management, Mobile Homes, Real Estate News & Commentary, Landlording & Rental Properties, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Marketing
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Mobile homes typically receive such a bad stigma for being such a decent type of affordable housing that keeps so many Americans safe, protected, warm, comfortable, and happy.

The purpose of this article is to help shed some light on the common misconceptions we hold about factory built housing and a few other incorrect facts we seem to view as truths. This article idea came about while speaking to a few fellow investors at a recent real estate investing club meeting.

What we discovered was that during our grade school years, we were all subjected to negative stigmas and perceived outlooks when it comes to mobile homes. As with many other misguided lessons we were directly taught or came to learn through osmosis in school or at home, your mobile home outlook has likely been corrupted all these years.

This negative outlook you may be holding onto has likely cost you potential profits by not allowing you to even consider investing in this under-realized, affordable real estate housing niche.

4 Common Myths We Believe About Mobile Homes

1. Mobile homeowners are poor.

While riding the bus home from grade school, I remember the negative stigma and unkind words the kids of the local mobile home park had to endure. Us SFR kids didn’t know anything about these mobile home kids, their parents, or their lifestyles. All we knew is that something was different, and different was apparently something to be teased.

For the past 12+ years investing in mobile homes, I have seen adult investors still holding onto their childish roots by assuming all mobile homes and mobile homeowners are valueless, lower cultured, and/or poor. While this is sometimes the case with mobile homeowners, it is also sometimes the case with single family home owners (and investors) as well.

2. Mobile homes are not valuable.

Value comes from supply and demand. The ultimate value a mobile home’s worth is what a buyer is willing to pay for the subject mobile home at a particular time in a particular location.

Related: 5 Creative, Profitable Ways to Increase a Mobile Home’s Value

Each of these bullets can be expounded upon in great detail, and this one is no different. Mobile homes are bought and sold daily — sometimes bought and sold by motivated buyers and sellers, and other times bought and sold by owners and buyers willing to accept top dollar for the property due to any number of external factors.

3. Mobile homes are destined to be blown away or destroyed soon.

A big objection I hear about mobile home investing is simply from ignorance. Taking the first step and owning a “moveable” investment scares many investors. I mention ignorance above because only with experience and/or the advice of a trusted mobile home investor, dealer, and/or owner can a newbie mobile home investor understand that their investment can be a safe one when properly purchased.

Factory built housing has changed dramatically over the past 40 years. If a tornado or hurricane bears down on a mixed neighborhood of site built homes and factory built homes, the entire neighborhood is going to see some damage in most cases. Insurance helps curb most worries; however, the simple fact is that mobile homes, when properly taken care of and secured correctly to the site’s foundation, are safe and more than adequate shelters from most natural phenomena.

4. There are very few mobile homes around me.

Mobile homes are located in every state and in almost every town, except for Hawaii and the District of Columbia. Factory built housing accounts for roughly 8% of the homes you and I drive by on a daily basis.

Most of these manufactured homes are attached to the private land the owner of the home, not inside the mobile home parks that many of us first think of. This is a choice that these land owners have made: to remain in a comfortable home and also keep their cost per square foot at a fraction of the cost compared to similarly sized site-built homes.

Bonus: 3 Other Commonly Taught Myths

1. There is no gravity is space.

While watching astronauts take giant leaps for mankind on the moon or drift in space around the International Space Station, it’s easy to assume there is no gravity in space. At the height above Earth that satellites and the ISS orbit remain, there is still a majority of the gravity we feel here on the surface of Earth.

The reason it seems astronauts are weightless in orbit is because they are in a constant state of free-fall as they orbit the Earth. While walking on the moon, astronauts are no longer in free fall and so they are subject to the moon’s gravity, which is about one sixth the strength of Earth’s.

Related: The Top 6 Reasons Mobile Home Investing Sucks (and How to Get Around Them)

2. Germs take five seconds to infiltrate dropped food.

This one seems silly; however, if you have ever mentioned the “Five Second Rule” in the past, then it has affected your life in some small way. Most of us have the understanding that once a dropped chip or piece of food hits the ground, it has been contaminated by some degree of germs, foreign pathogens, dirt, and/or bugs.

The simple idea that counting to five has any bearing on germs waiting to pounce on your food is nonsense; yet this common saying incorrectly makes its way into most of our minds from time to time.

3. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space.

Roughly 5,592 miles long, the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made object on Earth, and it is often said it can be seen from space, even from as far away as the moon. Both NASA and even China’s first astronaut have said this is not possible.

The Great Wall is narrow and irregular, measuring about 32 feet wide on average and can be hard to distinguish from the surrounding environment. Seeing the wall from the Moon would be equivalent to seeing a single hair from roughly 8,000 feet away.

What are some common misconceptions or myths (about real estate or anything else) that drive you crazy?

Leave me a comment below, and let’s discuss!

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a four-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to...
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    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Great article. Can you shed some light on financing mobile homes and what lenders would be open to finance?
    Leslie A. Real Estate Investor from Houston, Texas
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    John, Thanks for continuing to inform others about the mobile home niche. The misconceptions drive me crazy, but leave loads of opportunities for those who know better!
    Karen Rittenhouse
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    I still can’t get past the fact that you can’t see the Great Wall of China from space…..
    Gordon Eisenberg from Waxhaw, North Carolina
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Great article John. There is an incredible amount of misconception and negative connotations with anyone (even an investor) having anything to do with mobile homes. I’ve had several people look at me like I fell out of the wrong side of the bed when I explain that I buy, fix up and owner finance trailers. They assimilate me with the Jerry Springer crowd. Owner financing is also another income stream which can turn into a nice monthly annuity for many years. It is important to do a background check on the people who are considering to “Rent to Own” along with a healthy down payment of between 10-20%. Make sure the potential buyer has enough skin in the game to conduct them self in a ethical manner and make their financial commitment to you. Also be sure you pay the property taxes (not your potential buyer) and get reimbursed by them which you will put in your contract. I knew a very intelligent person in the mobile home business who left this responsibility to the person living in his mobile home. About 14 months later when the investor did not receive his check he called and was told by the home dweller that someone else now owns the trailer because it was bought at a tax lien sale and the property taxes never were redeemed. The home dweller ignored the tax bill which arrived on multiple occasions. I definitely have more confidence in myself paying the bills than someone else.
    Jerry Lucker Flipper/Rehabber from Seattle, WA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    The myths are what make money for those that know the business. Myths keep a lot of people out of this unique niche so there’s less competition. The fact that mobile homes in parks are usually considered personal property instead of real estate/real property is enough to cause many investors to look down their nose at this very profitable housing type.
    Kelley B. Real Estate Investor from Mesa, AZ
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Mobile homes, properly tied down, are perfectly safe in high winds. In 1981 we were in a new double-wide when the winds reached a measured 94 mph, broadside, for almost an hour. The wife and I laid down in the hallway thinking that we would soon be rolling out across the plowed field beside our lot. The home did was squeak a little as it flexed but it held up fine. We sold the home soon after that but since then, I have never worried about the construction quality of a newer manufactured home. Tornadoes show no mercy to any home. It just seems like mobile home parks tend to be in ‘tornado alleys’.
    Sean T. Rental Property Investor from MA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    5 second rule……. explains everything! Thanks for the article!
    Gene Hacker Investor and Home Inspector from Lake Isabella, CA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    I have owned somewhere between 15 and 20 mobile homes over the past 10 years, some were flips and some I held as long term rentals. I have also inspected over a hundred mobile homes for buyers. I own more than 10 today so I think they can be a good investment but they have some serious downsides that people should be aware of… From my personal experience, manufactured home generally are built with lower quality materials than the average stick built SFH. This hold true even with the newer mobiles built to hud standards. Look the issue with Polybutylene plumbing…it was in most mobile homes during its hayday…and rarely used in site built home (at least this is the case in my area), Even newer mobiles almost always use of particle board for sub flooring which basically falls apart when exposed to water. I inspected a home a few month ago where someone had fallen though the bathroom floor in home less than 10 years old. I find subfloor issues in jsut about every mobile I inspect. Older homes had even more issue, aluminum branch wiring is a common issue (again much more common in mobile homes than site built). Any new “cost saving material” will be used in mobile homes and often that ends up being very costly in the long run. The other big issue for me is quality of tenants. I have a much harder time renting mobiles and finding decent tenants. On the surface it looks like its better cashflow but after considering all the much higher turn over, my stick built homes come out ahead. There is also the issues with lending. As far as selling for terms in parks or “lonnie deals” named after Lonnie Scrugs who wrote the book on the subject…, I have done a few deals like this but at the end of the day the yield may be high but the total profit is pretty tiny. For all the work and time, I would rather do bigger deals (even with much smaller yeilds) still produce much larger profits. And it sucks having your investment controlled by park managers. Anyone that has done this aspect of investing will likely have stories of shady managers costing them time or money. I had a manager that denied my buyer, and later I found out that they sold them one of the park owned units on the other side of the complex. The manager knows they have the investor on the hook for space rent…they are not quick to approve buyers. I also had a deal where the manager allowed me do a Lonnie deal, several years later my buyer moved away and gave it back to me, the new manager would not allow the same deal. I threatened to sue but eventually just walked away. There is easier money out there. That said I think lonnie deals are a great first investment for people starting out. The yields can be high and the numbers can be very small so there is not much risk.
    Leslie A. Real Estate Investor from Houston, Texas
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    I agree on the particle board floors. Whoever thought that was a good idea in the first place should be shot! Lol. Also the thin walls. I live in one and my kids are frequently putting holes in them.
    Amy A. from Portland, Maine
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    My great grandfather started one of the first dealerships in Maine in the 1950’s and my father also had a successful manufactured home dealership. I know firsthand the snobbery around mobile homes and it’s really a shame. Yes, there is a wide range of quality, but now they are all built to the HUD code. They are built with very little waste and are easy to heat. They were green before green was cool! What’s killing the industry around here is the proliferation of government guaranteed, low interest, no down payment loans. Often, manufactured homes do not qualify for this type of financing. People of modest means used to be the primary buyers of manufactured homes, often saving up and paying with cash. Buyers had pride of ownership because they had worked and saved for it. Now, as a society, we are skipping that step.
    Bill Neves Flipper/Rehabber from Vancouver, WA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    What a BONUS! I always thought it was a 3 second rule. I have 2 more seconds now. Thank you! More people are moving to part time work and cannot qualify for a loan. Supply and Demand. Less loans = higher rents. Higher rents = frustration and wanting to ‘own something’. Mobile homes are one way people can ‘own something’. They can’t control the park rent but they can keep it at bay, and control half of it, by owning the home and renting the space. Or find a contract for one on land. But most people can’t or won’t do that. Mobiles are a great biz.
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Agree about the particle board subfloor. Though it is not QUITE particle board — mine was “repaired” with particle board before I bought it, which made for some lovely scary-feeling squishy spots. Those extra few soft spots (combined with “real” soft spots, and dog pee, mold from a pipe burst) made for one heck of a deal on the purchase. They were very easy to fix. Replacing the plastic sinks with “real” ones, and a few other “real house” features have definitely upgraded the place and made it feel closer to stick-built. I hope to eventually erase most of the manufactured home cues as I upgrade it.
    Ben Cunningham
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Okay, firstly in my house my dad taught me it was only three seconds, not five. Five is waaaaay too long, but three? That dropped chicken nugget is still totally safe. 😉 All kidding aside, I really like seeing articles like this. The first home I ever rented on my own (after years of slogging my way through apartments) was a manufactured one, and I have very fond memories of that house, the community, and the time I spent there. I’d recommend them to anyone. Well, anyone who doesn’t mind dealing with the occasional unfair preconception.
    Silvia Durango from Bronx, Philadelphia , New York, PA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I have learned to respect mobile homes because of my sister. Her husband and her purchased a mobile home in a fairly descent park with lots of amenities like a pool, laundry and parking. For the $700 a month which includes water, is certainly not a bad deal. After Super Storm Sandy hit New Jersey, she feared that the park where the mobile home is located would have been hit as it was zoned A but not much water damage. And my sister was happy to get back to her home sweet home.
    Sandy Rivers
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    I\’m one of the many people who thought mobile homes meant you were poor. I\’ve been raised watching shows or movies that had that stereotype, so I always thought that was the case. However, thanks to this article I now know that is just a common myth and I don\’t think I have to judge someone because of it. Thanks a lot for this bit of insight on mobile homes!
    Sandy Rivers
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    I\’m one of the many people who thought mobile homes meant you were poor. I\’ve been raised watching shows or movies that had that stereotype, so I always thought that was the case. However, thanks to this article I now know that is just a common myth and I don\’t think I have to judge someone because of it. Thanks a lot for this bit of insight on mobile homes!
    Michael Minuto
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Whoever thinks about mobile homes in such an old fashioned way should really go up and read about the tiny house movement. You can see some of the self storage container homes that these people living in actually very well stocked and built with a lot of purposeful intention in mind. That’s the only way that you’ll really be able to survive in such a small space if you ask me!