Should I Sell or Rent Mobile Homes?

So you’re looking into the concept of investing in mobile homes to make a high rate of return on your money. There’s no question that the demand for affordable housing is definitely working in your favor. But should you rent or sell those homes? That’s a great question, and one worthy of some discussion before you decide.

The SAFE Act

Enacted in 2008, this law requires you to get a mortgage license before you can create mortgages on mobile homes. Dodd-Frank, enacted in 2010, further regulates what you can and cannot do when selling a mobile home and carrying back financing on it. If you sell a mobile home (except for a cash sale) and carry back the financing, you will be subject to these laws, and must stay in conformance with them. This has led many mobile home investors into renting rather than selling the homes. For more information on the SAFE Act laws in your state, consult your state’s Manufactured Housing Association. The SAFE Act has no impact on renting mobile homes.

Dealer’s License Requirements

If you sell more than a certain number of mobile homes per year, you are also subject to obtaining a mobile home dealer’s license. Consult your state’s Manufactured Housing Association to see what the laws are. If you rent mobile homes, you do not need a dealer’s license.

Foreclosure vs. Eviction

When you sell a mobile home and carry back the financing – and the buyer defaults on the note – then your only recourse is to file for foreclosure. This can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. In some state, it can take 6 months to a year to obtain the foreclosure, and cost thousands in legal fees. When you rent a mobile home, you only have to file for eviction. An eviction, by comparison, can be completed in 60 days or less, and costs a few hundred dollars.


When you sell a mobile home, you are responsible for certain warranties of condition and title. When you rent a mobile home, you are only responsible for what are called “the minimum habitability laws”, which specify such things as that the heater works.

Repair & Maintenance

This item definitely appears to be in the favor of selling the mobile home. Mobile homes are normally sold “as is” and you do not do any maintenance on the home.  If the toilet breaks, it’s the buyer’s problem. However, if you carry the financing, there is always the chance that the buyer will default on the mortgage and, when you get it back, you find the home was destroyed due to a plumbing leak or other repair item that the tenant never completed. So there is some amount of argument on whether ot not you are helping yourself by not staying on top of repairs as the landlord. When you sell a home for cash, then this issue does not apply.

Quality of Tenants

Those that think of the property as theirs make the best tenants. And nothing makes it more “yours” than buying it. This makes the tenant a “stakeholder” in the business, and they will generally keep the property in a better condition than a mere renter who does not plan on living there that long.


There is no right or wrong answer to the question “should I rent or sell the mobile home”? But you will probably be able to clearly see what works best for you after considering the issues involved. Educated decisions are the best ones.

By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through


Some of the best deals on used mobile homes can be obtained by buying them as bank repossessions – also known as “repos”. These are homes that were purchased and lived in, and then the buyer defaulted on their payments to the bank, and the bank foreclosed on the home and now offers it for re-sale. Repo homes allow you to buy a newer home for a low price.

Find the lists of homes

To start the process of buying a repo home, you have to find a list of homes to work from. You can find complete lists of all repo homes from the biggest mobile home mortgage companies (21st Century, Vanderbilt, etc.) at These lists are your initial inventory of targets to work on.

Know a good deal from a bad deal – become an expert on values

Before you are ready to start buying a home, you need to become a quick expert on valuations. You have to know the difference between what’s a deal and what’s not a deal. The best way to gain this skill is to pour over the homes and their asking prices, and then cross-reference that with NADA value guides and the prices of homes you see being offered by private individuals on MHBay. For example, if you see a 2003 Clayton 3/2 being offered by a private seller for $26,000, and a NADA value on that same home of $31,000, and you can buy that same type of home from the Vanderbilt repo list for $18,000 but needing work, and then deciding it needs only $2,000 of rehab, then you know that the repo is a good deal. If you don’t know what anything’s worth, how can you know if you are getting a good deal or not.

Avoid homes with expensive problems to fix

Almost all repo homes will require some degree of remodeling before you can move in. The key is to find homes that need only inexpensive cosmetic repair, and not substantial, expensive structural repair.  Watch out for items like black mold, sagging ceilings – any evidence of water intrusion, which is the #1 cause of structural issues. You can paint a wall yourself, but you can’t replace the electrical system.


Repo homes are often sold at discounts to the asking price. So you can’t be a good buyer until you are a good bargainer. If you need to, read a book on “how to negotiate”. Or maybe watch some videos on that topic on Youtube. You cannot ask what the price is and then way “I’ll take it”. This is America, and we like to haggle – and every seller knows it. Sellers will normally price homes a little higher than they will actually take, just because they know that people will make lower offers.  So think “garage sale” and never pay the asking price.


Buying repo mobile homes is not difficult. And it’s not hard to get a great deal. But, like anything, there is a skill set required. But it’s well worth the effort, as you can save thousands and thousands of dollars in this manner.

By Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 150 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through

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You win or lose, when buying a mobile home, on the front end — how good a deal you get. So to make a good purchase, it’s important that you know what to avoid as much as what to seek out. So here’s a list of what you want to avoid when buying a used mobile home.

#1: Frame damage

If the frame is bent or broken, the home cannot be moved down the highway. Additionally, it will lead to other problems like leaking. You cannot afford to buy a home with structural issues at any price. Period.

#2: No title

A home without a title is a complete nightmare. You have nothing to prove that it belongs to you. You also have nothing to prove that it belongs to the guy that you’re buying it from.  And that means that you also have no chance to sell it or get a loan on it, as you do not have the required title. Although it is possible to get a new title on mobile homes – assuming you have the right credentials – it can be very tedious and take up to a year.

#3: No affirmation of wind-load or snow-load

If you are buying a home in an area of the U.S. that requires certain minimum wind-loads and snow-loads, then you have to make sure that you are buying a used mobile home that qualifies. This is not something that you can leave u to chance, as there are significant liability issues involved. In addition, you will not be allowed to bring in a home that you cannot prove meets these requirements.

#4: Rotted exterior

Rotted exterior panels are normally as a result of a product known as T-111. This was a poorly designed concept – effectively a pressed coardboard panel that completely rots in the event that moisture gets inside the protective coating (which seems to happen every time). Not only is it expensive to fix these issues, but it can also be the cause of water intrusion into the rest of the home, leading to rot and potentially black mold formation

#5: Evidence of interior ceiling water damage

Interior moisture can also be the result of roof leaks. The best evidence of these leaks is a sagging, stained and/or detaching ceiling. Although a coat of Kilz can hide the stain, the sagging nature will still be observed. Moisture and a mobile home do not get along well together, and homes that show signs of significant water intrusion should be avoided.

#6: Rotted floors

The final source of moisture inside a mobile home is from plumbing leaks and/or tenant abuse. This will be evident in warped and rotted flooring. This will require removal of the carpet and/or vinyl, replacement of the wood or particle board, and then putting the flooring material back. While this is expensive, what’s more expensive is what’s happened in the areas you can’t see, like behind the walls. We cannot emphasize enough that you should avoid mobile homes that appear to have been the subject of water intrusion.

#7: Bad floor plan

While most modern mobile homes seem to follow basically the same room flow, there are still some models that are lesser than others. One of the biggest differences is the size of the master bedroom. The floor plans that most people favor skew much o the home’s square footage into the master bedroom. Small bedrooms can be a real turn off.

#8: Plumbing problems

Leaking pipes are expensive to replace, and have probably already done a sizable amount of damage before they were discovered and/or repaired. Leave homes with such issues to another buyer, as leaking pipes can turn a good deal into a nightmare fast.

#9: Electrical problems

For the same reasons as plumbing leaks, electrical issues are not only expensive to repair, but can even result in a deadly fire. You have enough problems without taking on the responsibility of fixing and worrying about defective wiring.

#10: Price

Everything revolves around price when buying a used mobile home. The whole purpose of buying a used home is to save money over a new home. So don’t overpay for that used unit. Demand a real deal, not just a slight discount. Your happiness in what you buy will be dependent on what you pay, so that’s priority number one when shopping for a used mobile home.


Avoid these issues when you’re shopping for a used mobile home, and you will be very glad you did. Buying a used mobile home can be a great investment – as long as you don’t buy a lemon! Be a smart shopper, and everything will work out fine.

By Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through


One of the biggest design developments in mobile homes is the invention of the double-wide. But the double-wide is not always the right kind of home – you have to analyze whether or not it’s going to meet your goals. So let’s take a look at what the primary considerations are in making that decision.

Initial Cost Considerations

New double-wides are always more expensive than singlewides. That’s because they are traditionally larger, and definitely complicated to put together. Among other design differences, a double-wide has interior load-bearing walls, while a single-wide does not. So if you are trying to buy the least expensive type of mobile home, then a double-wide is pretty much always the wrong decision. If, however, you are trying to buy an expensive mobile home, then double-wides can range in price to well over $100,000.

Cost to ship and install

Not only is the double-wide more expensive on the front end, it’s also more expensive to transport and set up. It costs nearly twice as much to move and set up a double-wide than a single-wide – but that makes sense because it requires two different sections, right? The cost to move a double-wide a long distance may be downright impossible to justify. Typical move and set-up on a double-wide can run $10,000, while a single-wide is only around $5,000.

Floor plan

OK, the double-wide always wins in this category. Double-wides have the ultimate floor plans, since they have so many different directions to place interior walls. Many double-wides follow the designs of traditional stick-built housing, and it may be hard to even spot the differences. For room flow, size of rooms, etc. you cannot beat the double-wide.

Re-Sale Value

Buyers love double-wides more than single-wides. But that’s not a fair question, because they also know that they are more expensive. When you factor in the cost, the playing field becomes more level. You may find a buyer for your single-wide for $24,000, but how hard do you think it is to find somebody ready to spend $48,000 on the used double-wide? So keep it in perspective.

Lifestyle Considerations

Although the double-wide is more expensive, maybe you are willing to consider that extra cost an investment in your family’s quality of life. There’s nothing wrong with that analysis. Many things in life are weighed, not just on price, but on what you get for the dollar and what you do with it. Based on just dollars and cents, we would all shop at the Dollar Store and eat from the value menu at McDonalds.


A double-wide might be a good choice for you and your family, or it might be a terrible choice. Only you know what fits your needs. But make an educated decision regardless of which you select.

By Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through


So you’re buying a mobile home and need to figure out where to put it. Should you put it on raw land? Should you rent a lot inside a manufactured home community? There’s no right or wrong answer. Except the one that’s right for you.

Financial Requirements

From a financial perspective, the mobile home park lot has less up-front cost, as it already has utilities and infrastructure (like a road, parking pad and patio). Raw land may require you to install water, sewer, electric, parking pad, etc., and that can run tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases. So the first question, when you are considering raw land, is what it will cost to make it “move-in” ready.

Hidden Costs

There can be other hidden costs when buying raw land to install your mobile home, other than what you can see. Don’t forget that you will have to have a real estate closing, and that’s going to require a title company charge, a survey, and other expenses.  Plain and simple, buying land to develop into a home site is capital intensive, and you have to be ready.

Repair & Maintenance Concerns

In a mobile home park, the park owner must provide all utilities and road repairs. You are only liable for repairs to your home. However, when you own the land, you’ll have to be ready to fix anything that breaks, such as the water line, sewer line, power line, driveway, etc. That’s all part of land ownership. So make sure that you have those numbers in our personal budget.


The overriding benefit to owning your own land is that it’s in a location of your choice, and not predetermined by the location of the mobile home park. This means that you can be by the lake, or by town, or wherever you want to be and can find land for sale.  Buying your own land opens up a whole lot of freedom and options for where you end up living. And that’s worth a premium to many people. It is important to note, however, that many cities do not allow mobile homes on lots within the city limits, and mobile home parks may be the only game in town if you want to be in a certain city or school district.

Financial Considerations

When you own the land, you eventually pay it off. When you rent the lot at the mobile home park, you never own it, so the rent continues forever. However, it’s not that simple. When you pay off the land, you still have to pay the property tax and repair and maintenance.  So it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison if you just use the park’s lot rent vs. your land payment.


There are millions of people who have chosen to put their mobile home inside a mobile home park. And millions more who have elected to put it on raw land. There is no right or wrong answer – only the answer that is right for your individual needs and goals.

By Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through



Being a good shopper is a virtue. But, to get a good price, you have to look through a lot of inventory to find that one great deal. When we say “cheap”, we are talking about buying it for less than its actual value, not buying a home of poor condition. So how do you find enough cheap mobile homes for sale to find that diamond in the rough? Here are some suggestions.

Understand that price is not the only factor

Before you begin your quest, you must first realize that there is more to buying a cheap mobile home than price alone. If you buy a mobile home for $5,000, and then have to put another $5,000 into renovations, it’s not really cheap, right? You have got to be looking at the condition of the home as part of that overall purchase price.

Find a deal, not a nightmare

There is no shortage of sellers that want to mislead you on the home’s condition, and to unload on you their home that is a total lemon. So again, you have to be proactively on your guard against the potential threat of being taken to the cleaners. Don’t get so excited about that $2,000 mobile home that you overlook the fact that it has no title, or that the frame is broken. Don’t get carried away by low price alone.

Drive through mobile home parks

One great source of cheap mobile homes is simply getting in your car and driving through mobile home parks, looking for signs in yards and windows that say “For Sale”. Make a giant list and then starting calling the owners and seeing what they are asking. And don’t take their initial claims of asking price as the true story of what they will take for the home.  Many a mobile home has been purchased from the owner for 50% or less of asking price. These people are not mobile home dealers, and they just want to get it out the door – more like a garage sale than shopping in a store.


Consult the advertisements in the local newspaper under “mobile homes for sale”. Again, you should find at least 10 to 100 homes at any one time in this manner. And these are just like the homes you found while driving through the parks; they are very willing sellers and highly negotiable. Some of the best deals have been things like sellers who are trying to settle an estate, or have to move immediately to take a new job. When you find a motivated seller, put on your best negotiating personality and see how low you can go.


Just like a newspaper, Craigslist offers a list of mobile homes for sale that you can call and try to negotiate good price on.  Remember that the key to any search for a cheap home is volume – the more deals you look at, the better your odds.

MHBay and other websites

The internet revolution has ushered in the ability to look at hundreds of mobile homes simultaneously. Go to and other websites to find potentially cheap mobile homes. On MHBay, you will also find a list of “repo” newer homes that are now in the possession of the banks, such as 21st Century Mortgage and Vanderbilt. If you are looking for a cheap newer home, these lists are essential. The only drawback to repo homes are that the sellers are not normally as aggressive at price cutting – but there are still plenty of really great deals to be found.


When you mine for gold, one of the most important factors is moving as much dirt through your sorter as you can, to increase the odds of finding that nugget of gold. The same is true with trying to find cheap mobile homes. If you follow these suggestions, you will have no trouble literally hundreds of mobile homes are sale immediately, and finding the ideal cheap home will not be difficult.

By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through


So you’re selling a used mobile home. Do you hire a broker? Do you do it yourself? How do  you find a buyer? In today’s world, selling a mobile home on your own is not that hard, if you know the correct steps.

Get it ready to sell

A big part of successful selling is in the advance preparation. Before you even run that first ad, you must have the home, at a minimum, ready to sell. That includes 1) yard mowed and clean of debris 2) solid stairs and/or deck to access the home 3) door that opens easily with working lock 4) house immaculately clean and smelling good 5) interior walls painted or cleaned 6) exterior painted or cleaned 7) skirting 100% installed 8) a sales contract already printed and ready to sign. The time to start work on the home is not when the first customer calls, or as you get out of the car to show them the home.


We have a tremendous amount of success with simple classified newspaper advertisements. You simply put your ad in both “mobile homes for sale” and “mobile homes for rent”, so that you cover all the bases. We have found that most everybody looks to the largest metro newspaper when making big-ticket purchases like homes, boats and cars.


This is a great resource because it not only has great traffic, but is free. You get a lot of response from Craigslist, but you also get a lot of weird calls, so be sure to screen the customers to make sure they are legitimate and not wasting your time.

MHBay and other on-line resources

This is the final stop on your marketing campaign. These websites have devoted followings with potential home buyers. The great thing about these sites is that the people who come to them are definitely real shoppers looking to buy a used mobile home so. Unlike Craigslist, there is very little wasted effort.

Be Easy to Buy From

Many sellers shoot themselves in the foot by being impossible to work with on days and times to show the homes, or refusing to negotiate effectively. Some even fail, once they have a real buyer, to timely produce the sales contract, and lose the buyer to another seller. If you are not going to be 100% committed to selling the home, then don’t bother advertising it.


Selling a used mobile home is not that hard. The demand has never been higher. The ability to hit millions of potential buyers has never been easier. All you have to do, to be successful, is follow the road map we just showed you, and you can be successful immediately.

By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through


Just as important as knowing how to buy a mobile home correctly, is knowing how to sell one. There is indeed an art to maximizing value and minimizing time spent on the market. A little time and cost on the front end will yield big dividends in terms of the money you will realize upon sale.


Any good buyer will be able to spot significant repair issues. So instead of trying to hide them and losing sale after sale, it’s easier and more efficient just to fix them now and get it over with. If the plumbing leaks, fix it. If the hot water heater is broken, replace it. When a buyer finds that you have been try9ing to hide the defect they will lose trust in the deal and move on to the next.


Make sure that the exterior is free of any rotted panels, and that everything is fastened down and straight. A fresh coat of paint will work wonders, but so will washing the exterior down with bleach. Remember that first impression is extremely important, and if the home looks bad on the outside – even if the inside is fantastic – it will be a complete turn-off for the customer.


For starters, the interior needs to be clean and smell good. This is an easy starting spot. If the interior smells of mildew or pet odors, it is unlikely that a buyer is going to come forward. You can do wonders with a plug-in air-freshener, a vacuum cleaner, some Windex and Formula 409, and some elbow grease. You will also gain immensely from painting interior walls and, if necessary, replacing carpet or vinyl. Use the “golden rule” here: would you buy the home if you were the buyer?


Small details cost very little, but have a huge impact. Make sure that the exterior windows have shutters. These cost only around $20 a set.  Make sure the door opens and closes easily, That the lock works. That the cabinet drawers open. That the toilet flushes. These are small things that can ruin a sale, or cause a price reduction far in excess of the cost to fix them.


Selling a home effectively requires advance preparation. Follow these tips and you should have no problem selling your mobile home at a good price.

By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through


A common issue with any mobile home buyer is “should I buy new or used mobile home?” There is no right or wrong answer. However, it is important that you know the facts, so that you can make an educated decision that is the right one for you and your family.


Of course, the single biggest consideration is price. If the price were identical, everyone would buy new, right? So there are two key considerations: 1) how much can you afford to pay and 2) how much of a premium are you willing to pay for a “new” home?  In most areas, a new mobile home is going to cost over $30,000. If you’re budget is $10,000, then the answer is easy. However, if your budget will allow for either new or used, then the important consideration is value for your money. Obviously, you can always pay less with a used home over a new home. But there are more than price considerations.


New homes, in general, have better floor plans. The manufacturers have done a terrific job of improving the quality of the product, and new homes general reflect modern tastes. However, if you do not need to have the subtle improvements of floor plan – and are just happy with having the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms – then a used mobile home may be the right choice.


New homes have different color choices and wall textures than older homes. To some people, this is a big deal. To others, it may be of no concern at all. At the end of the day, a white wall is a white wall. And, of course, you have the freedom – and money – to change the colors and carpets on a used home to match your tastes 100%.

Re-Sale Value

New homes always sell for more than used homes (assuming similar condition). So new homes always win the battle of maximum re-sale value. However, there is something else to consider, and that’s the depreciation from what you pay for the home. If you pay $40,000 for the new mobile home, and sell it for $30,000, then you lost $10,000, even though it sold for more than the used home that sells for $15,000 but you bought for $17,000. Rarely can new homes go up in value, but it is fairly common in used homes.


Buying a mobile home can be a difficult enough decision, but is even more complicated when having to decide between new and old. Make sure to cover all your bases and consider every angle before making a decision. There is no right or wrong, so the decision will be based on your individual needs and goals.

By Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe is a mobile home park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also leads regular Mobile Home Park Investing Bootcamps through