Many retirees, first-time owners, and eco-conscious couples opt for a mobile home instead of a conventional one.
Is it better to buy a mobile home in a park where you get a ready-built community?
1. What is a Park Home?
Once there was a strong stigma attached to living in a trailer park, the implication being that you were either unemployed or too poor to live anywhere else.
Today’s higher quality manufactured homes and desire for a debt-free lifestyle means more people opt for a mobile home as a better choice.
On a mobile home park, you own or rent the structure, but the landowner retains the title to the land.
You rent the plot of land for your mobile home, complete with access to utilities and typically community facilities.
2. What Are Your Options for a Mobile Home on a Park Site?
The options available to you depend on the park regulations, but typically you can:
- Rent a home owned by the park.
- Rent a home from a third party.
- Buy a home directly from the park.
- Buy a house from an owner living in the park.
- Move a home from the manufacturer directly to the park.
- Move a home bought from a third party to the park.
In practice, your buying options tend to be limited. You can buy a mobile home already in the park, or a manufacturer can install it on a vacant park lot.
A quality park tries to keep the standard of housing at a set level to encourage quality occupation.
3. Pros of Park Life
The advantages of opting to buy a mobile home on a park lot include:
- No property taxes – although part of your lot fee will consist of an amount to cover your share of the property tax.
- Ready access to utilities – the park has serviced lots, and the utility companies deal with bulk supply.
- Recognized address – typically, you can expect a mailbox and a site office to accept deliveries for you.
- Defined community – parks cater to retirees with age restrictions or communities of interest with women only or other criteria.
- Community facilities – luxury trailer parks may include a sports facility, meeting places, and health centers.
- Maintained landscaping – the park will deal with trees, grass, flower beds, and communal roads.
- Minor neighbor nuisance – you don’t have communal walls, and depending on the park layout, you have plenty of privacy but without isolation.
- Quick to move in and get connected if buying a mobile home in the park.
Park communities typically have less crime than equivalent conventional housing areas. Most people in a park get to know and look out for their neighbors.
Parks are not places where strangers pass through and hang around.
4. Cons of Park Life
Everything has some downside, and living on a mobile home park means:
- Vulnerable to having the land sold and eviction or extreme rent rises – increasingly park communities can buy out the owners, and some states impose protected rents.
- Park rules may be restrictive – manufactured house needs to be painted a specified color, no pets, and no children staying overnight. The precise rules depend on the park.
- Maintenance of facilities is dependent on the people who run the park – excellent parks are well run, but others let the property run down.
- Park may apply restrictions to selling your mobile home and take a commission.
- Park may be in a remote location with few local facilities.
- Attitudes are changing, but there is still a stigma about living in a trailer park in some areas.
The significant issue with park life is the ownership of the land.
If the current owner decides to sell, you have no control over who takes on the park or how they approach making money from your occupancy.
Investment companies are buying up parks because the high cost of moving a mobile home and shortage of new site approvals means they have a captive customer base.
Some Park rules specify that you can only sell the mobile home to the company rather than directly to a third party.
This feature restricts the price you can get on sale because, typically, the formula involves depreciating the home on age rather than condition.
5. How to Buy a Mobile Home on a Park?
The first stage before looking at any mobile homes if you intend to live in a park is to research the available parks:
- Park rules – try and get a copy of the complete terms and conditions and ensure that none of them will give you future problems.
- Does the owner live on-site?
- Is there a site office, and is it staffed?
- Does an investment company own the park or a co-operative?
- What are the community facilities?
- What are the lot fees, other charges, and is there a formula for increases?
- What are your options for buying and selling?
- Are there reviews or community forums talking about the park?
After your preliminary research, it is worth visiting the park to assess how the community feels:
- Is the park landscaping well maintained?
- Do you have access to all the utilities, Wi-Fi, and waste disposal?
- How large or small are the plots?
- How much privacy do you have from your neighbors in the park layout?
- Are the access roads well maintained or full of potholes?
- Are the promised community facilities accessible and well maintained?
- Do the park residents look after their mobile homes?
- Do you think you can live here?
If you opt to live at a mobile home park, the park is an essential part of the mobile home purchase.
Before you investigate your buying options, check that you understand how the park operates, potential future changes (are the owner elderly and likely to sell soon?), and assess general livability.
6. Buying a Mobile Home on a Park
Whether you buy a used mobile home or a new one directly from the manufacturers, you still go through the due diligence process.
If you buy directly from the park, you still want to engage an independent legal professional to handle the transaction.
You need to check:
- Warranties – a standard 60-day habitation warranty or a more enhanced one?
- Extra fees – does the price include connection to utilities, or is that extra?
- Certificate of title – you own the structure, and there is a transfer document.
- Lot contract – specifying your rights and obligations.
- What do you get in the sale – appliances?
Before you part with your cash, it is worth having a professional survey for condition and habitation because once you own the property, you are responsible for repairs and maintenance.
The areas of concern are the structure and the roof.
7. Before You Move
When you finalize the sale and take ownership of your mobile home, you can move in straight away, but you may want to spend a week or two redecorating if that timescale fits your needs.
Repainting walls and relaying floors is much easier if you are not living in the property, which applies to any home.
The amount of work you need to do to make your mobile home habitable depends on the age and condition and your preference.
A newly delivered manufactured home is ready as soon as you move in your furniture.
Your pre-move checklist:
- Source appliances and furniture as necessary (check out what to buy for a new home).
- HVAC services – you may have this done as part of the sale process.
- Utility connections and contracts.
- Change of address notifications.
- Put together a moving-in kit – cleaning pack, first meals, and essential toolkit.
- Arrange packing and delivery of your possessions on the due day.
Moving into a mobile home is identical to any other move; you have to hang your curtains, arrange your furniture and unpack all your boxes.
Is It Better to Buy a Mobile Home on a Park?
Whether renting land on a mobile home park vs. buying your own land is the better option depends on your area.
States like California have limited land availability and are prohibitively expensive. In this case, your options are limited to the available parks for easy accessibility and affordability.
Land in other states may be plentiful and cheap but remember to check your zoning rules and state regulations. Not all land will let you plant a mobile home, even if you own it.
Is it better to buy a mobile home in a park?
It depends on what is available in your area and what you want from your mobile home. Parks give you a mobile home friendly offer with utility connections and a ready-made community.
In some regions, the trailer park may be your only viable option for a mobile home.
Sometimes it is better to live in a park, and sometimes it may suit you to own the land beneath your home for future security.