Mobile Homes

5 Industry-Specific Words All Mobile Home Investors Should Know

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As an active real estate investor and/or mobile home investor, it is important to know common words and terminology used on a daily basis. This article will cover the lesser known words that may only come up sporadically while investing in manufactured housing.

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5 Industry-Specific Words All Mobile Home Investors Should Know


This is the uniquely designed truck used for transporting, towing, and sometimes re-leveling a new or used mobile home. This specially designed truck often has the capacity to use hydraulics to lift and maneuver a mobile home into its final exact destination quickly and easily. This piece of equipment is typically owned by your local mobile home transport companies.


A mobile home is typically pulled down the highway by its tongue. A mobile home’s “tongue” is the V-shaped metal piece on the front of the mobile home that allows it to be pulled by a truck. There are two types of tongues. The first is welded on and is permanent. The second is bolted on and only installed when moving the home. As used mobile home investors, we oftentimes do not have the ability to pick and choose which type of tongue our mobile homes have. Either type of tongue will be satisfactory if the mobile home needs to be moved.


Pro Tip: Concerning welded-on tongues, look for any broken weld or rust that might suggest that the tongue cannot pull the home safely. Concerning bolted-on tongues, make sure the tongue is present and accounted for (it’s usually found under the home for safe storage).

Roof Flashing

Roof flashing is the metal strip that keeps exterior water from coming in between the roof and the walls (including the ventilation pipes in the roof) and where they meet. Almost all mobile home roof flashing is a thin gauge sheet metal held to the roof with a sticky sealant.

Related: 3 Common Misconceptions Investors Have About Mobile Home Repairs

Damaged roof flashing will allow water to permeate inside the exterior walls of the home. After months and years of continual wetness within a mobile home wall, there may likely be serious mold and/or wood rot developing and destroying the wall from within.

Pro Tip: Roof flashing can be a very complicated thing to fix. You will know this by the persistence of roof leaks after you have attempted to fix the damaged flashing. Before you begin to work on any roof, make sure you are competent in the repairs or are using an experienced professional to help solve the problem. Identify the problem and remove and replace the damaged materials.

Heat Tape

Heat tape is the technology that keeps the water lines from freezing and bursting during freezing weather. Heat tape wraps exterior/interior water lines and normally runs throughout a mobile home.

There are typically two types of heat tape used in mobile homes. Both are fairly similar. The first type looks like an average extension cord that is wrapped around water pipes to keep them above the freezing temperature point. The second type of heat tape found is a silver coil that is cut to fit the water line and attach to a plug at one end. From personal experience, this second type typically lasts longer.


Vapor Barrier

A mobile home’s vapor barrier is a black plastic mesh material located under the insulation under the mobile home. The vapor barrier usually spans the mobile home from end to end and from side to side. A mobile home’s vapor barrier has a few main purposes. This material helps to keep your utility bills low, plus it adds protection to your plumbing to help keep pipes from freezing in colder states. This vapor barrier also assists the insulation in helping to keep harmful vapors from entering into the living areas of the mobile home.

Related: The Top 5 Reasons Investors Are Loved & Hated Within Mobile Home Communities

Pro Tip: Your mobile home’s vapor barrier material should not be torn or missing. You will see this underneath your investment mobile home. A sagging vapor barrier could be a sign of water leaks and moister damage. Simply remove and replace any damaged material underneath the home. Vapor barriers can be installed and secured with a simple heavy-duty staple gun.

In conclusion, mobile homes are more similar than they are different. Many of the same terms and phrases used in traditional homebuilding will be used for factory built homes as well. In the future, if you ever have a question about a certain word or the unclear meaning of any terminology, never hesitate to speak up and ask for clarity. Clarity is the only way to invest with knowledge and safety, so make sure to get your questions answered promptly. Continue investing and reaching out to help local sellers daily.

Have any words you’d add to this list?

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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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    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks John for the tips. Having lived in mobile homes a fair bit growing up I naturally try to avoid them now. The new ones are much nicer and much safer. I only have one in my portfolio now and I have probably spent too much fixing it up. I hope to sell it with a lot and move that money into other properties. I do like the nice cash ratio of price to income, I just worry at how easy they are to damage.
    Ed Emmons Specialist from Milford, ME
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Another deceiving problem that looks like roof leak can be caused by people putting plastic around skirting and leaving it all summer. If there is no cement slap and no plastic on the ground, the condensation will actually wick up the walls and look like a roof leak along side of trailer. Trailers need to breathe underneath in warm weather.