Tips on Buying Mobile Homes Vs. Modular Homes

Written by amber keefer
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Tips on Buying Mobile Homes Vs. Modular Homes
Prefabricated homes come in all sizes and price ranges. (Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

One reason people buy mobile and modular homes is because they are more affordable than a traditional site-built home. Buying a used mobile home can be even cheaper than renting. Affordability, in addition to higher quality products, accounts for much of the growth in the manufactured home industry. Both prefabricated mobile and modular homes must meet U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development building code standards for construction, safety and shipment.

Problems With Design

The major difference between a mobile home and a prefabricated modular home is that a mobile home is a single-section housing unit, whereas a modular has multiple sections. Both types of manufactured homes come in a variety of sizes. Mobile homes can have more problems with the roof, floors and around the windows and doors. Look for a design with a shingled roof that hangs over the edge of the home. This helps prevent rainwater from getting inside the walls. Modular homes often have problems where the sections are joined together. Vinyl siding is a practical choice for either type of manufactured home, but particularly for a multi-section modular unit where water can be absorbed at the seams and joints.

Price and Size

Single-section manufactured homes cost less to buy than a multi-section home. A home that offers additional square feet of living space is going to cost you more; therefore, triple-section homes are more expensive than double-section homes. Although larger modular homes cost more than single-section mobile homes, prices for manufactured homes in general range from 10 to 35 per cent less per square foot than for a traditional home built on site, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute. In 2008, the cost per square foot for a new single-section manufactured home was £22.40 compared to £27.8 per square foot for a multi-section manufactured home. The cost per square foot for a new single-family site-built home was £57.5. Most multi-section modular homes average about 700 square feet more than a single-section mobile home.

Depreciation or Appreciation

The rate at which a manufactured home depreciates depends on how well you maintain the home and whether it is located on a rental lot or land you own. Manufactured homes sitting on real estate do not depreciate the same as a manufactured home located on a rented lot. Both mobile and modular homes situated on land tend to increase in value, just as a conventional home does. Either a mobile or modular home can increase in value and be worth more if it is located in an attractive neighbourhood where the site-built homes are appreciating in value. Other factors that can affect the value of a manufactured home include the age of the home, the original price you pay for the home, current supply and demand, and the housing market where the home is located.

Manufactured Home Changes

Because of recent design innovations, manufactured homes are attracting a broader market of home-buying consumers. Prefabricated homes with increased ceiling height and better roof pitch help these homes blend in with neighbouring stick-built homes. Modular units now offer two-story models, giving home buyers more living space at an affordable cost. Another advantage of buying a multistory modular home is that it can be completed in less time than it takes to construct a similar site-built home. Modular homes are available in split-level, Cape Cod and ranch style models that will fit into any neighbourhood.

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