Mobile Home (RV) "flip"- Title questions (San Diego)

10 Replies

I've stumbled into the idea of flipping a mobile home (A mobile home RV might be a better description of this one). I'm looking for feedback on the process/feasibility for those that have experience. I'm in talks with a seller in South Bay of San Diego. It is a very run down unit. 

1) How does one acquire title of a mobile home? Can a title company transact the deal? 

2) What are the transfer fees/Closing costs associated with a transaction like this? 

3) Is a value-add on an old RV feasible? (I know construction but have admittedly never worked on an RV Trailer :)

4) Red flags to look out for? (how to check for liens, back taxes, ect...) 

Thanks in advance for your help. 

I can speak to my experience as a mobile home park owner in Idaho. I imagine in California you should factor in higher prices than I'm showing you below.. 

I have twice "flipped" a mobile home that I inherited from a tenant, and two other times have sold abandoned units that were in rough shape to flippers like yourself.

1. Mobile home titles are transferred through the dmv, just like a car. No need for a title company.

2. There shouldn't be closing costs other than title transfer fee and prepaying property tax (total under $50 in Idaho).

3. Can you add value? Yes, but with a caveat: 

   -FINANCING: Most people that you could sell the mobile home to won't have a lump sum of cash set aside in the amount that you will want to sell it for. Just like if you are flipping a regular house, your buyer will need to get financing. This can be much trickier with a mobile home than with a conventional house. if you can help solve that problem for them then you can sell it for a much higher price.

     -Two ways to solve the financing problem: 1) Provide seller financing. BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOU GO THIS ROUTE! The Dodd-Frank act passed after the great recession puts a lot of restrictions on what you can do. if you want to do this I highly suggest you read Lonnie Scruggs' book Deals On Wheels (which is a great presentation of the idea, but technically now illegal), as well as the supplement that Lonnie Scruggs and his attorney published a few years ago that specifically addresses seller financing mobile homes in relation to the Dodd-Frank act. Even more important, talk to a knowledgeable attorney! A lot of people will say you can't seller finance MHs anymore, but that technically isn't right, it's just a little more work. 2) You can help them find financing through an institution that has licensed mortgage loan originators. 21st century mortgage does this, for example.

As far as adding value to the property, it's the same as any other flip. Here's a case study we just went through:

We inherited a unit after an eviction that was in rough shape. I didn't want to suck up a bunch of my time with a mobile home renovation since I've got bigger fish to fry (parks), so I sold the unit to a friend who is getting into mobile home flipping for $3,500. He did a full renovation: paint inside and out, carpet, fixtures, cabinets, countertop, stainless steel appliances, etc. He went low end on the finishes, but they were new and still look nice. At the end he said he was in for $15,000 total, plus a lot of sweat. It actually looked really nice! When he listed it he got a lot of offers. he passed up an offer at $36,000  that would have required owner financing and instead took a $28,000 cash offer.. 

Good luck!

@Cory H. Thanks for the detailed info! All very good. As a park owner what are your thoughts: what prevents me from paying $$ for this mobile home only to have the park owner tell me I can't rent that space? Do I need to have the park owner write up the agreement ahead of time and put that along with title and my payment in an escrow account? Do I get a title company involved? 

@David Frandsen

As the park owner all I really care about is getting a good tenant that will pay their rent. I recommend talking to the park owner first and letting them know what you are trying to do. If you are making the home look nicer inside and out then you will improve the value of their park and they may be thrilled to have you!

You should establish the rules of engagement with them as well. Is it okay for you to rent the unit out to someone else? What requirements does your subrenter need to meet? If you sell the unit what requirements does the purchaser need to meet?

In our case whether they rent it or sell it I require that the tenant passes my property manager's background check before the sale. If they choose to sub rent it I want the rent check coming from the person who actually owns the home, not the rental tenant.

Each landlord is different though and nothing beats a conversation to figure things out!

@Justin R. did a mobile home flip a few years ago.  

@Cory H. response was very thorough.  The So Cal king of mobile home rehabs is Andy Teasley.  Lonnie Scruggs was his mentor.   He has so much knowledge in this area.  He indicates if he purchases park garbage, he typically negotiates some free pad rental.  You would be shocked at the price he pays for the home and how cheap his rehabs are.  He is often in for $5k total.  He appears to be working harder than I desire to work, but he is exceptional in his domain.

Good luck


Originally posted by @David Frandsen :

I've stumbled into the idea of flipping a mobile home (A mobile home RV might be a better description of this one). I'm looking for feedback on the process/feasibility for those that have experience. I'm in talks with a seller in South Bay of San Diego. It is a very run down unit. 

1) How does one acquire title of a mobile home? Can a title company transact the deal? 

2) What are the transfer fees/Closing costs associated with a transaction like this? 

3) Is a value-add on an old RV feasible? (I know construction but have admittedly never worked on an RV Trailer :)

4) Red flags to look out for? (how to check for liens, back taxes, ect...) 

Thanks in advance for your help. 

Dan is correct - I did flip a manufactured home about 4 years ago her locally.  There's a thread on BP from 2016 with lots of discussion, including numbers and about the questions you're asking.

The one I did was 90's vintage. Purchase $48k, sale $155k. It was in a park in Linda Vista (92111). The economics and park dynamics we're unlike anything anyone on BP was used to - space rent was about $1k/m, the space had a large landscaped backyard (larger than my personal SFR), and there was nothing transient about the park - these were homes that had nice decks and outdoor cooking and other stuff built onto them. I say this to point out that there are different products in the mobile home park space geared towards different customers - understand yours.

I also had to personally qualify with personal lifestyle information as a resident when I bought the thing.  There were strict rules about when we could work on the home, exterior materials, worker parking, etc.  The sale was handled by an agent who does just manufactured home sales (and financing).

i don't think I'd do one again, but it turned out just fine.  Learned a lot I didn't know before.

I'm no expert, but hopefully something there is helpful for ya.


@David Frandsen "flipping" an RV is like restoring a car. A mobile home is a permanent address with fixed wiring, fixed plumbing, etc. A mobile home can be moved, but not towed by a truck so it is not really that mobile. A mobile home uses more standard type construction methods, it is just manufactured in a factory rather than on site. An RV is completely different. RV is for traveling and recreation, mobile home is to live in as a primary residence in a fixed location. 

RV construction is much lower grade than a mobile home. An RV is built to last about 20 years. They develop leaks, bump out motors fail, generator fails, water pumps fail, appliances fail. Everything you buy for an RV is specialized and more expensive. You don't buy a standard fridge, heater, AC, etc. I would say being a mechanic is a better fit to work on RV than being in construction, but any person who is mechanically inclined can do it. 

@David Frandsen , you got a lot of good advise here. The 2 things I can add is that I can connect you to Andy Teasly if you like; send me a DM. He actually has a class on this coming up this weekend if you want to attend. Also, mobile home transfers in CA are done through HCD, not DMV.