Thinking of Buying a Used Mobile Home? 18 Steps For What to Watch Out For and How to Do it Right

If you are thinking of buying a used mobile home, there are things you need to watch out for. Buying a mobile home is not like buying a regular stick built. You need to know what to watch out for before you buy a used mobile home. Here are 10 things to watch out for when buying a used mobile home. These tips will guide you to make the right decision and/or how to negotiate in your best interest. Better safe than sorry. My seven years of selling used mobile homes has taught me a lot. I am now passing on that information to you so that you can make an educated choice.

1. Age. If your finances are tight, do not buy anything older than 1977. That is the cutout time for good financing and also the year a lender can determine if the used mobile home is a HUD home. 1976 and older were registered with DMV and not built to code. Therefor, lenders requires a 20% down on a 1976 or older. The term will be no longer than 15 years and the rate will be somewhere around 11-12%. That is a lot to pay. 1977 or newer requires only 10% down, you can get 20 years of financing and the rate is 1-2% lower. That is a much better deal. If the home is newer, the rate can be as low as 8%. Preferable, look for a home that is no more than 15 years old.

2. Park. Not all parks are approved by the lenders. Before making an offer to purchase, get yourself loan approved for that particular park. If the space rent is too high or if there are too many foreclosures in the park, lenders might say no to financing.

3. Rent control. Is it or is it not? Most parks are but some are not. If not, make sure yo fully understand what kind of yearly increase the park will impose on you. You might not mind paying that extra increase per year but each time the space rent is raised, the value of your mobile home WILL go down. Its like a car, depreciating. Still, it beats renting an apartment with people above, below, left and right.

4. Crime. Does the park have a security program? Is the park patrolled regularly by a security patrol company? If not, you probably should stay away. Yes, it is true, all residents have to follow the rules and regulations but if there is no security, many things can happen. A security patrol is a deterrent, crime will go elsewhere. Call the park manager and inquire. You can also call the local police office and ask for a crime report. Strongly recommended.

5. Pets. What is the parks policy? Your 80 ldb golden retriever might have a VERY hard time getting approved. Same for your pitt bull or any other so called “vicious breed”. Most parks will NOT approve them. There is only one park in the Santa Clarita Valley that will approve a large dog, even two. However, no “vicious breeds”. How stupid. Recently, I had a dog trainer with good credit, a large down payment and a German shepherd. That dog was the most well trained German shepherd but no, considered “vicious”. So are dobermans, boxers, pinchers, chows and a couple of more. Inquire with the park BEFORE looking at any used (or new) mobile home. Save yourself the time (and your agents) by finding out first.

6. Neighbors. Most people are nice. However, since you are going to be living in tight quarters (most mobile home spaces are small and set very closely together), go and talk to the neighbors. Both the ones next door and some a few doors down. The ones a few doors down are the ones that will tell you what REALLY is going on. Maybe the couple next door do not get along any more. Maybe there is an alcohol problem. Maybe the kids play too loud. You need to know. Drive by in the evening, hang around for a while. Do the same for the weekend. Spend an hour on a Saturday night, driving around the mobile home park, you will then now if this is a place for you.

7. Managers. Do they do a great job? Do they care? Do they make the residents follow the rules and regulations? Do they arrange get togethers every now and then? Any holiday dinners? Do they publish a newsletter to keep you updated? Do you feel welcome in their office? Most managers take great pride in their park and are happy to try to help you. Make sure that is the case.

8. Trash. An old toilet sitting at the end of a car port? Knee-high weeds? A car jacked up and being worked on in a carport? You do not want that. What you should want, is a clean, manicured park community where the residents take pride in their mobile homes and keeps their surroundings clean. A carport is not supposed to be used for storage (or a back yard). A shed is where you keep your excess belongings, period.

9. Mobile home values. Holding steady? Going up? Declining? Have your Realtor find out for you. Buying a used mobile home is very much like buying a used car. A seller can set any price but is it worth it? Please do not over-pay. If you need to finance your used mobile home, you are then in a much safer position. You are then required to pay for an appraisal to find out the REAL value of the mobile home. However, if you are planning to buy your mobile home for cash, watch out. No appraisal is required but I would recommend you pay the $400 to the appraiser. It could save you thousands. The choice is yours.

10. Health and Safety. What condition is the mobile home in? The basics should all be there. If not, it is the sellers responsibility to have it done. That includes;

A. Smoke alarms. Each bedroom needs one, that is the code. And, it needs to be working!

B. Water heater. Needs to be double-strapped and not with those tiny metal bands that has little wholes in them. Is there a pressure release valve? If it where to over-flow, does the pipe go underneath? Should not. It needs to extend out to the side of the skirting. Is the water heater closet dry-walled? Has to be. Any leaks?

C. Steps. Are they solid? No rips in the carpeting (trip hazard)? What about the railing? Is it loose? Can not be. How far apart are the rails? Should not be more than 4″ so that a small child can NOT get stuck in between.

D. Cooling system. Does it work? It is not really a health and safety issue but if it were me, I would insist on it or ask for a reduction in price. Who wants to live in a used mobile home, maybe with metal siding as well, and summer comes around and it is 105 degrees outside.

E. The furnace. When was it last serviced and how dirty is the pad? Take a good look and make sure it works. Have someone come and take a look at it.

F. Plumbing. Any leaks? Should not. Run all faucets and look underneath.

G. Electrical. Does all the outlets and the switches work? Make sure they do. GFI’s? You do not want the risk of being electrocuted. Both kitchen and bathrooms needs GFI plugs.

H. Roof. Any leaks? Look around carefully to see if there are any water stains in the ceilings or around the upper walls. How old is the roof?

I. Earthquake bracing. Does it have it? Bring a flashlight and open up the access door in the skirting. There should be (on a double wide mobile home), two in the front and two in the back. Compare them to the regular piers and jacks. Are they beefier? Bolted to the I-beam? They should be. Surprisingly enough, there are still some used mobile homes out there who do NOT have them. On top of that, it is not considered a health and safety issue and it is perfectly legal to sell a used mobile home WITHOUT them!

If you do buy a used mobile home without earthquake bracing and later on decides that it was not the smartest idea, a contractor will charge you about $5000 to install them. Not cheap. If it does not have it, ask for a price reduction and then order the escrow company to set aside $5000 to the contractor. At the close of escrow, your contractor will come out and install them for you. If you can have him install it the day BEFORE close of escrow even better. Because, if you just take a price reduction, you are going to be so busy moving and exited about your purchase of your mobile home. You’ll “forget” about the bracing and end up buying new furniture instead!

Ideally, you should hire a health and safety inspector who KNOWS how to inspect a mobile home

8. Once you are park-approved, it is time to schedule your health & safety inspection. You are free to use any licensed health & safety inspector for your inspection or I can recommend several to you. Besides the health & safety inspection , I would strongly recommend you have an electrician look over the home. Sometimes, a regular h&s inspector can not really know what’s going on. These inspections are not free and depending on who it is, they all charge slightly different. When we go to see the inspectors at your future home, please bring your check bock. Once the inspection is over, the inspector will go over his findings with you.

9. It is now 24-48 hours after that the health & safety inspection took place and now we are holding the report in our hands, going through it together. It is the sellers responsibility to cover any health & safety issues, such as electrical, plumbing, roof, smoke alarms, double-strapped water heater and so on. Anything cosmetic is just that, cosmetic and the seller does not have to do anything. However, you could always try to negotiate if you strongly feel there is something you want the seller to do and of course, I am there for you, every step of the way.

10. Termites? Pesky little critters and they are usually EVERYWHERE! We would absolutely want to have the home inspected for that too. We will get a written report with a diagram, showing their findings. Anything that they find that is classified as a SECTION I, has to be taken care of and hopefully, the seller is willing to do that. If not, it’s on you. I have a very strong opinion in regards to termites. That is, if I were buying a home, why should I have to pay for somebody else termite problem? I never lived there. I did not invite them. So, why pay? On the other hand, if I got the home at a very good deal, I would probably pay for it. It is your decision and hopefully we will not run in to this problem if the seller gladly pays. SECTION 2 are recommendations from the termite inspector of things that will need attention in the future and are not items that has to be taken care of now. Termite inspections are paid through escrow.

11. Time to order your appraisal. An appraisal will be necessary if you are going to finance your purchase, the lender will require it. This is an expense that can not be financed and you will have to pay it upfront either by meeting the appraiser at your future home or by simply writing the check to the appraiser and let me handle it for you.

12. Your loan conditions. When you first got pre-approved, we submitted certain papers to the lender. There might also be additional paperwork they are asking for and whatever that is, now is the time for us to do that.

13. Your home has now been appraised and hopefully, it did appraise. If not, we might need to either re-negotiate with the seller or you might have to come up with a larger down payment, whatever is the case or we might have to look for another home for you.

14. Your loan documents are now ready to be signed and there will also be additional paperwork from escrow to sign, such as hazardous disclosures. We live in earthquake country, there are massive rains sometimes and we get flooded. You might be close to a prison or maybe an airport. These things are hazardous, we all live with them. Escrow wants you to know this,and you already do. When you go to sign all this papers, please bring your cashiers check for the balance of the down payment. Before you do, I will give you an estimated closing statement so that you know how much to bring. There will be an overage, meaning escrow will ask for a little bit more, just in case. We do not want to delay closing escrow because they are a few dollars short (maybe they needed to over-night a package twice).

15. Time for us to do a final inspection of the home. We want to make sure that everything that needed to be taken care of, has been done. We will do a final walk-through together.

16. You are now going to go to your appointment with the park to sign your lease, read and sign the park rules & regulations and pay your space rent and deposit. This takes about 1 ½ hour. If this is in the middle of the month, escrow will pro-rate the space rent. Parks do not take partial payment, only full. The deposit is refundable after paying your space rent on time for 12 consecutive months. You can then, in writing, ask for it back.

17. The loan has now funded, the money has been received by escrow, every single piece of paper has been signed by all parties involved and escrow is now closed. CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE NOW A HOME OWNER.

18. I will give you your final closing statement from escrow and possibly a check too, together with the keys to the home, TIME TO START MOVING IN!

Again, congratulations. Let me know when the movers are coming, I want to order you some take-out and something to drink, you are going to be too busy and besides, who has time to cook while moving.

Bankruptcies and Buying a Home

A lot has been written about filing for bankruptcy. It’s not the first choice most people might make, but when there is no other choice you might have to consider this option. The question I hope to answer in this article is if it is possible after filing to obtain a home mortgage loan.

You can obtain a mortgage loan, but there is one important thing to remember. Most attorneys do not tell people when filing bankruptcy is YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY LATE PAYMENTS AFTERWARDS if you are trying to obtain home financing. This is a hard, cold fact. Most attorneys simply take your money and do the filing. They literally have turned filings into a high volume business.

If you doubt this simply open the Yellow Pages in your respective town or city and see how many ads scream out ” Bankruptcies Filed For As Little As $300!”. These lawyers simply don’t have the time to get personal because of the competitive nature of this particular legal arena. Now before some attorney out there reads this and gets excited let me state that there are still those lawyers who will take your case and give you all the counseling time you desire. Of course everything comes with a price. You decide what’s right for you.

Let’s assume you’ve filed and the bankruptcy has been approved. Fast forward a couple of years. You’ve recovered from whatever circumstance that caused you to file. You’ve managed to save quite a bit of money and feel ready to apply for a mortgage loan. Will a company take the risk on you? The chances are that you can get approved, but may have to live with a higher interest in the beginning of the loan. An interesting thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to get a home loan than a car loan after a bankruptcy. The reason for this is you cannot get in your home and take off for parts unknown. The bank knows it can at worst foreclose on your home and recover it’s loses.

One bright side of this sad subject is the fact that after a couple of years your credit should have drastically improved to the point where you can refinance the original loan at a much lower interest rate.

Before Buying A House, FIND, What You Want, And Need!

Since, for most people, the value of their house, represents their single – biggest, financial asset, wouldn’t it make sense, for potential buyers, to take the time, and make a concerted effort, to fully consider, what they need, and want, including their finances, etc? Before you should, buy a home, fully consider, and FIND, what you want and need, and, whether, you are making the wisest move, for you! With that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, why this is the smartest, sanest, and most necessary, approach, to proceeding, in your own, best interests.

1. Future; funds; features: It’s your future, so doesn’t it make sense, to proceed, in a wise way, which balances, both, the finest aspects of your logical, and emotional components? Many become emotionally committed to their perceptions of home ownership, and what, they perceive, it means and represents, but, do not pay, enough attention, to the funds, needed, both, initially, as a down – payment, as well as on a regular, monthly basis! In addition, they fail to consider, whether the features of a particular house, are the ones, they need, and can afford!

2. Imagination: The reason, so many houses, which are listed, on the real estate market, are staged, is to create an attractive, inspiring image, to potential buyers. Rather, one must proceed, with the imagination, to look beyond the obvious, and consider, whether, it makes sense for them, and, if they are getting, the most, bang – for – the – buck!

3. Neighborhood; needs; nuances: Ignore what others want, and focus on your personal needs, both, at present, and into the future! Consider, why you are opting, for this particular neighborhood, and if it serves your priorities, etc! How convenient is it, to, things, such as shopping, entertainment, transportation/ commuting, Houses of Worship, etc? Are the specific nuances, of your selection, those, which might, suit your best interests?

4. Deliver; discover; desire: Will the house, you choose, deliver, what you seek, desire, and prioritize? How much time, and effort, might you, expend, so you fully discover, the best personal course of action, both, in the nearer – term, and in the longer – run? Why do you desire, home ownership, at this time, and are you ready, for the responsibilities, etc?

Before you begin your quest, for a home, of your own, take the time, and make the effort, to FIND, what best meets your personal needs, and priorities, etc! Will you be a smart home buyer?

6 Tips for Home Buying Right Now

1. Get pre-approved for a loan.

Most sellers require a pre-approval letter along with your written offer. You should have it ready to go so that when you find the right home there is no delay getting your offer submitted. There’s a lot of confusion about pre-approved vs. pre-qualified… even Realtors sometimes use the terms interchangeably! But the pre-approval is the real deal. With a pre-approval, the lender has run your credit, and you will usually have filled out a loan application and provided documentation to the lender, who will then tell you the amount for which you are approved. With the pre-qualification, you will typically have provided some information verbally to the lender about your credit, income and assets, and the lender will give you a ballpark amount for which you are likely to be approved. Sometimes a pre-qualification letter will be sufficient; the main thing is to talk to a lender before you start looking at homes.

2. Decide if short sales and bank-owned properties are for you.

Don’t waste your time looking at properties that don’t meet your home-buying needs. Each of these types of sales has its own challenges for the home buyer, so it is important to know the basics of each and decide if either one fits in with your game plan. For example, if you need to get into a new home within a fairly short time frame, a short sale may not work for you, as they frequently take many months to complete. And bank-owned properties are often in need of work, which can add to the overall cost, or make it difficult to get certain types of loans. If you can be patient with a short sale, or have the ability and/or resources to fix up a bank-owned home, these could be excellent avenues to explore. If not, tell your Realtor® to skip the short sales and bank-owned houses.

3. Check out neighborhoods ahead of time.

One of the best things you can do at the start of your home-buying project is to take a weekend or two and cruise around various areas and subdivisions, especially if you are new to the area. Tell your Realtor which neighborhoods hold the greatest appeal for you – it will really help her understand the type of home you want and your taste in houses. Some buyers are looking for newer homes in areas with lots of families and kids; others prefer the quieter, “mature” neighborhoods. Fortunately, there’s something out there for everyone, and a real estate agent who has plenty of local area expertise and knowledge will be a huge help in finding those neighborhoods that are hidden gems.

4. Make time for house-hunting.

Don’t plan to only go to showings on the weekend – in this market that’s not a winning strategy. There is actually a shortage of well-priced homes in good condition, and the ones that are also in a desirable location sell almost immediately. If you’re serious about finding your dream home, clear the decks and be ready to jump when your Realtor tells you a new listing just hit the market that fits your requirements. And more importantly – be ready to make an offer if it is the right house. It could easily be gone in a day or two.

5. Don’t waste time on houses that are already sold!

Do you spend your spare time house-hunting on Zillow, Realtor.com or Trulia? Or driving around and calling about houses with signs out front? Then you’ve probably already learned that a huge number of those homes – which appear to be for sale – are not really available. They are very often “under contract” which simply means that another buyer made an offer that was accepted by the seller. These often still show as available on the public real estate websites, but in most cases the sale will close in a few weeks. Work with a Realtor® who will set up a custom search for you so you can focus on just those homes that meet your criteria and are actually still available.

6. And of course, the most important thing is to find a really professional and client-oriented Realtor!

A great agent will make your home buying experience smoother and more enjoyable. Get referrals from friends or family who’ve recently had a good home-buying experience, or call or email a few local agents. See which ones are responsive and return your call or email right away, and get a feel for how professional and knowledgeable they are about the local area and current market conditions. Also check out their commitment to their clients in terms of training above and beyond that needed to get a real estate license. Realtors® who work diligently on behalf of their clients have often invested in advanced training and designations such as:

  • GRI – Graduate Realtor Institute, only 19% of Realtors®
  • ABR – Accredited Buyer Representative, only 15% of Realtors®
  • CRS – Certified Residential Specialist, only 10% of Realtors®

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We hope these tips are helpful, and wish you success in your house-hunting!

A Buyer’s Guide To Home Buying: 5 Keys

Wouldn’t it be nice, if qualified, potential home buyers, would have a clear – cut, guide, akin to a cookbook, so, they might proceed, effectively and efficiently, on a regular basis, and, thus, make their best possible decisions. Since, for most people, their house is their single, largest financial asset, as well as a source of pride, and comfort, but, unfortunately, many consider the home buying experience, to be an extremely stressful, period of time. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly examine and consider, 5 keys to making the home buying experience, a better, more successful one.

1. Know the market/ competition, etc: One of the important reasons, I recommend, buyers hire a qualified, professional real estate agent, as their buyer’s agent, is the guidance and assistance, this individual will be able to supply. When a buyer begins, with realistic perception and understanding of the local market, he has a better idea, what is available, and how his needs, and finances, fit into that scenario! Is it a sellers or buyers market, or a neutral one? Knowing this, helps you understand, the best negotiating strategy, etc.

2. Be realistic: When one is ready, willing and able, to realistically, consider the possibilities, and market, he begins, with a realistic concept and idea, of what he might be able to afford, need, and prioritize! This reduces the stress levels, because there are fewer unfulfilled expectations, and running around, considering homes, which may be unaffordable, etc. When a buyer focuses on his needs, and priorities, and looks at realistic possibilities, the process, is consistently simplified, etc!

3. Structuring an offer – How to differentiate? You’ve gone through the process, and probably seen many houses, which you aren’t interested in! Finally, you believe you’ve found the right house for you. What’s the best way to secure it, if it is? In a buyers market, this is often less challenging, than in a sellers one! So, if you are in the latter type, it’s a good idea, to consider, the best way, to structure your offer, in a way, which differentiates you, from other buyers, and makes it more attractive to the seller, to sell their home, to you. Have you taken the time, and structured yourself, in such a way, so you have a better than average – sized, down – payment, as well as being pre – approved (not only qualified) for your mortgage.

4. Negotiating points, versus deal – breakers: Smart buyers recognize the difference between effectively negotiating, and what makes up a deal – breaker! One must know, what are your wishes, versus essential goals and priorities! Use the services of a well – respected, professional home inspector, and know, what items, are more significant.

5. Negotiating offers – priorities and approaches: When you begin with a professionally designed, Competitive Market Analysis (CMA), you will better recognize the difference between the listing price, and what might be a realistic offer. Everyone wants to get their deal, at the best possible price, but what that might be and represent, often depends on the local real estate market.

Hiring the right agent, for you and your needs, who understands your needs, goals and priorities, and will direct you properly, as a buyers agent, is the first step, a buyer should take! Then, you should listen to the individual, you’ve hired, consider these 5 keys, and proceed accordingly!