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 www.MHBay.com. 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 www.MobileHomeUniversity.com.