Mobile Homes

Investors: Avoid Costly Errors With These 5 Mobile Home Transport Mistakes

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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As an active mobile home investor, it is not a question of if you will move a mobile home but rather when. Many mobile homes and manufactured homes can be purchased and remain where they sit without any issues. However, there are unique advantages and disadvantages to mobile home transport.

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Sometimes, it’s even required. For instance, some mobile homes are advertised as “must be moved.” In these cases, the sellers want to install a newer mobile home on their land—or even upgrade to a site-built home.

And while mobile home transport may seem as easy as hitching the home up to a truck and pulling it down the road, there are more steps to the process. Between physical limitations, costly mistakes, legal setbacks, and general human error, there can be a number of mistakes that may happen along your journey. Don’t make these mistakes during mobile home transport.

Related: 4 Common Mobile Home Title Issues (& How to Fix Them!)

1. Not asking for referrals

Expect disappointment from unvetted mobile home transportation companies. I have heard lies, I’ve been the victim of theft, and I’ve been taken advantage of multiple times. When having a company completely pick-up, move, and set up an entire investment property, make sure you’re dealing with reputable, honest, and qualified people.

Pro tip: Reach out to local mobile home parks and dealers for their recommendations. Make sure to call at least three to price shop and get the best offers. Many moving companies will have in-house electricians and plumbers to connect all utilities and even your home’s HVAC system.

2. Failing to pull permits

Most areas require pulling permits to both move and set the home up in a new location. In some areas, you can move a mobile home with very little red tape or restrictions. However, some cities and counties have age and size restrictions—and as the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to call your local permit office and check. You may also be required to obtain electrical, plumbing, and gas connection permits.

Luckily, many movers handle this process for you. The local mobile home park or city you are moving to should be able to point you in the direction of the permit office or local contractors/professionals that can connect these utilities and pull permits on your behalf. If you’re not moving to a pre-existing mobile home park, still make sure to ask around for competent electricians and/or plumbers.

Pro tip: Make sure to call multiple movers to ask them what services are included and what prices they would charge to move a 14 x 70 mobile home 50 miles or less. This will give you a good gauge as to who is offering what price and what is included for this money.

Related: 7 Must-Check Items When Inspecting a Mobile Home

3. Not knowing laws and zoning regulations

Before pulling permits, call the local zoning department in the area where you will be moving the mobile home. You are calling the zoning department to find out what restrictions are placed on used mobile homes being moved into the city, county, parish, or township. For example, some cities may allow only homes 20 years and newer. Others may have size, construction, foundation, or wind or snow rating restrictions.

Pro tip: Ask the local zoning department about setbacks on the proposed property. If this is private land you own, you will need to know what distance the home must be from the edge of the property. However, if this mobile home is being moved to a pre-existing mobile home park, the park manager will typically already understand the setbacks and tell you and your mover exactly where the mobile home should be placed.

4. Skipping the utility connection

Make sure to correctly connect all utilities once the home is moved. Some mobile home transportation companies offer a "one-stop shop" when it comes to moving and connecting the home to utilities. Other manufactured home transportation companies will tell you to outsource these connections to a locally licensed electrician and plumber.

Call around to compare prices with various electricians and plumbers. (Many contractors will pull permits directly for you where applicable.)

Pro Tip: Few mobile home transportation companies reinstall mobile home skirting after moving. They will tie the home down securely to the ground so the mobile home is up to code, but you’ll need to add skirting (or hire someone to do so).

This isn’t typically included because often the mobile home will be placed at a completely different height from the ground than the previous location. This means all new skirting must be cut and installed. Skirting materials and costs will vary.

Related: 5 Common Exterior Mobile Home Repairs (& How to Handle Them!)

5. Ignoring park rules

Typically, a single person or group owns a mobile home parks. These owners determine the moving rules and procedures. As an investor, you should know if the community requires mobile homes to be or have:

  • Vinyl siding
  • Built after a certain year
  • A specific length and width
  • A deck at all doors
  • A carport
  • Tongue and hitch removed
  • A shed
  • Curb appeal and landscaping.

6. Not asking the right questions

Before calling a moving company, make sure you’ve asked yourself (and your team of experts) the appropriate questions.

Does the home really need to be moved?

Moving a mobile home is a fairly easy and straightforward process—most of the time. However, if you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a mover, then why bother? Make sure that you will make a good return on your money after the home is moved.

Over the years, I have met a few investors who transported mobile homes for no good reason. These investors over-analyzed one or two insignificant flaws in the existing mobile home park. They then paid thousands of dollars to have the homes transported and set up elsewhere. But as an investor, you won’t be living in this mobile home—so don’t make a judgment on your future buyer’s behalf.

If a park is willing to work with you and allow you to invest within their walls, keep the home there and aim to keep a friendly relationship with management. This will likely lead to more deals within the park.

Who will pay for the move?

As mobile home investors, we make money in the long run renting, collecting payments, or selling the property. However, there’s another way to make (or save) money while mobile home investing. There are mobile home parks all across the U.S. that offer “move-in incentives” if you move a qualifying mobile home into their community.

This means that if you choose to move a good-looking mobile home into a park and agree to keep the home in this community for a certain number of years, the park offers discounted or free lot rent for a certain period of time. Alternatively, they may offer to pay for part or all of your move and setup.

Pro tip: Ask local parks about move-in incentives and their restrictions are for new or used homes coming into their community.

Is it the right time of the year to move?

For readers located in cold, snowy states, consider the time of the year when purchasing a mobile home that must be moved. No, mobile home transport isn’t impossible in winter—but its’s best to wait for warmer weather.

Pro tip: Time of the year shouldn’t make or break a mobile home sale. However, alert the seller and negotiate that the remain in its current location until the weather warms. In situations like this, there should be zero or minimal holding costs.

In all reality, when you are working with a competent and experienced mobile home transportation company, the process of relocating a manufactured home is simple and easy. Do your research—put in the time and energy to vet local mobile home transportation companies now before you need the help.

What would you add to this list?

Leave your comments below!

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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    Vernon Miller
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Your info is related to mostly putting mobilehomes back in a park. I would add they are more to the process than just ‘tieing the home ‘down. The new anchoring system has to be in place to pass city & county codes. Without the installation decal showing the home was properly set by licensed, insured and bonded installers, then no power gets turned on or water. My best advice is to leave the moving and installation up to the guys that are in the industry and do it everyday. Don’t be calling Uncle Bob with a John Deer tractor to help you move anything in today mfg home industry. Fines for not being properly licensed is brutal..
    Tyler Meredith
    Replied about 3 years ago
    I like that you mention the permits required when moving a mobile home and how it\’s important to have them because you start. It makes sense that having all the permits to build, install, and even ship the home before it starts would be helpful to ensure the process goes smoothly. This could be helpful to remember just so there aren\’t unnecessary complications that could postpone the home from being done.
    Bryce Armour Wholesaler from Grand Blanc, Michigan
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great article. I think a lot of people fail to realize the amount of work that goes into the planning stage of moving a mobile home. Understanding the need for permits, fines, etc are super important. I think this hits the nail on the head. ” Between physical limitations, costly mistakes, legal setbacks, and general human error, there can be a number of mistakes that may happen along your journey.” I’d add the following… Canceling utilities in advance and paying a licensed plumber and electrician to disconnect the home Removing skirting and storing it safely for transport Removing additions, decks, sheds, and air conditioning Securing windows and glass panes so that they do not shatter during the move Packing belongings and securing furniture inside of the mobile home Lifting the home off the ground to install axles and a hitch. Great article John!
    james tucker
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    you don t make mention if the uncovered side of doublewide needs to be covered with plastic.
    Taylor Bishop
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thanks for explaining some things that you should keep in mind when you are moving a mobile home. I actually didn’t know that you should talk to the local zoning department about the property and know what regulations you need to follow. I wonder if this could include plumbing options or similar items.
    Rodney
    Replied over 2 years ago
    We are having a 2017 palm harbor installed on our property. The installer asked if we want to keep the tongue? Should we keep it?We don’t plan to move it in the future. Enjoy reading your articles. Thanks.
    John Fedro Investor from Austin, Texas
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Hi Rodney, Thank you for reaching out and connecting. You can have the mobile home removed however I would encourage you to keep it right underneath the mobile home. The skirting will go around the mobile home so no one will even know that the tongue was cut off and is being stored underneath the home itself. This way if the home ever has to be moved it can simply be re-welded onto the frame without you having to buy a new tongue. With that said some movers will have their own tongues that they can weld on to your home as well if you decided not to keep this. I hope this helps and answers your question. If I miss something or did not fully answer your question never hesitate to comment back any time. All the best. Talk soon, John
    Debra Walker
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I live in Grant Pass Oregon and I cannot find the laws or ordinances that require a permit 2 remove a mobile home from a mobile home park. Could you from with this information please.
    Jeffrey H. from Houston, Texas
    Replied about 2 years ago
    I’m surprised a state license and insurance requirements didn’t make the cut. If the home falls apart on the road and kills people, I’m pretty sure you don’t want that liability and figuring out if your umbrella or homeowners policy covers it…
    Michael Maloney from Gold Coast
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I certainly hope that whoever has constructed or built a mobile home for you had considered all of these different factors when they drafted the plans. Honestly speaking, most people who do not have knowledge in construction or building would expect their contractors to know exactly what they are doing when they are building a house that’s capable of being transported across the country, or even down the road for that reason! If this were me, I’d make sure that the company jolly well better test the final product in front of my eyes before I sign the final cheque!
    Earl Windham
    Replied 8 months ago
    Check with your state for certifed movers that are bonded and licsend and insured.if not on the states list do not use them.also try to go with the movers with the most expereince.
    Carol Whetzel
    Replied 7 months ago
    Good Info....I'm trying to self educate about taxes. If buying used unit in 1 state, moving to another. Does unit remain personal property for owner in original state? Is anything required to be paid to state where unit is moved...say to leased land? Do you only have to pay taxes to new state if title is converted to real property? I'm considering purchasing used mobile home located in my state but it's titled in another state as personal property. Will I have any legal issues concerning taxes? This unit has been on the same property four years paying lot rent to private owner but no taxes to the state, I would assume because it's personal property in another. Am I correct?