Are Mobile Homes a Good Real Estate Investment?
Mobile Homes in RE
Real estate gurus on Youtube have been talking a lot about mobile homes recently. According to them, mobile homes are cheap to buy, rent easily, and can sell for seven figures in states like Florida, Virginia, and Texas. So are mobile homes really a good real estate investment? Let’s take a look.
First off, are mobile (or manufactured) homes even real estate? If you’re considering mobile homes as a real estate investment, know that the legal and financial implications (including whether you’d qualify for a hard money loan) vary greatly depending on if the place is considered real estate or personal property. And that depends on a few factors:
Permanent Foundation: A mobile home affixed to a permanent foundation is more likely to be considered real estate.
Land Ownership: If the homeowner owns both the mobile home and the land, it’s more likely considered real estate.
Titling and Registration: A mobile home titled and registered separately from the land, it is less likely to be real estate.
Local Regulations: Local zoning and land use regulations may be specific about real property designation. The intended use of the property can also be a factor.
If you’re wondering whether a specific mobile home is real estate, check with the county assessor’s office or a real estate attorney. If it’s not, you could consider converting it to real property. But before you go there, let’s review the Pros and Cons of mobile homes for investment…
Lower Cost: Mobile homes are typically cheaper than traditional single-family homes, making them more accessible if you’re not planning on financing a loan.
Lower Operating Costs: Mobile homes often have lower utility and maintenance costs than larger homes, which can help improve your cash flow, and/or attract tenants.
Quicker Return on Investment: Due to the lower upfront costs, and the likelihood of a quicker rehab, you may recoup your initial investment more quickly than with other flips.
Market Demand: As a rental, you’re going to be the cheap option. Since there’s always demand for affordable housing, a decent mobile home makes a solid rental investment. Depending on location, that “cheap” rent might be $600-1000 or more each month.
Financing Challenges: Securing financing for mobile homes is harder than for traditional homes. Lenders protect themselves by being able to reclaim a property in default. But if a home can be picked up and moved, that assurance is gone. So you might not be able to finance. And don’t forget, you need capital not just for the purchase but for the reno.
Low Quality: Don’t count on good bones—especially with property manufactured before the late ’90s. Many older models were constructed using shoddy materials, such as particle board, which deteriorates when exposed to moisture. However, mobile homes since the late ’90s are much more likely to be built with lasting materials.
Depreciation: Mobile homes tend to depreciate in value over time, unlike traditional homes, which typically appreciate. This makes it hard to build long-term wealth.
Limited Appreciation: Even good mobile homes have limited potential for appreciation, if they are located in mobile home parks or on leased land—a headache buyers don’t want.
Location Dependence: The value of a mobile home is highly dependent on the mobile home park it is in: If the condition of the park deteriorates, so does your rent/saleability. Mobile home parks may also have rules and fees that can affect your investment.
Mobile Homes: The Judgment
In sum, mobile homes might be a good choice for those with ready private cash, who are targeting affordable rentals and seeking a relatively quick return on investment. Owning an entire mobile home park might also stabilize your operating environment.
However, if you’re looking for appreciation over time, and want to maximize your ROI by using leverage, traditional real estate is still your best bet.
Consider, no one ever said, ”I dream of owning a mobile home!”—Long term, people want to find a house or apartment. And with the financing, tax and appreciation benefits of real estate vs mobile home property, the question to ask is: Where would you rather spend your money and mental energy?
This is not investment advice. It’s important to research thoroughly, and consult with legal, financial, and other professional advisors before making important investment decisions.