What’s the Difference Between a Mobile, Manufactured and a Modular Home?
As a real estate agent, I often get asked, What’s the difference between a mobile home, a manufactured home and a modular home? There seems to be confusion on the construction and many people think they are one in the same. When in fact, there are some major differences. The differences can affect a home’s price and its resale value. When you are in the market to buy or sell real estate, knowing the difference can help you make a more informed decision and can possibly save you some headaches.
A mobile home, also known as a prefab or trailer, is built in a factory and is permanently affixed to a steel chassis before being transported to it’s location. These homes were built prior to 1976 and had very little regulation as to it’s construction.
Today, most mobile homes are found in mobile home parks. Zoning laws for the particular area state where they can be placed. Once in awhile you will find a mobile home on some land in the country but most likely it is an older home that has been there for a long while.
Financing for a mobile home could be difficult depending on the lender, the age of the home and the condition. In some cases, cash may be the only option.
Manufactured homes are considered not permanent because it is built on a steel chassis with wheels attached. Therefore, it is able to be moved or towed. These homes are built completely in a factory. Homes built after 1976 are considered manufactured homes. In 1976 the MANUFACTURED HOME CONSTRUCTION AND SAFETY STANDARDS by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) became effective. These homes have to meet certain standards of construction, safety, and installation. However, since sometimes it is not placed on a permanent foundation, it may be more difficult to get it refinanced.
In the early days, a manufactured home was usually a single wide home. Today’s manufactured home can be a single wide, double wide or triple wide construction. It is built with a steel I-beam frame and it has axles and tires underneath. It also has a steel tongue for towing and is towed to the homesite on its own wheels. Typically the tongue and the wheels are removed once the home has been placed. It can be placed on blocks, piers or a basement.
When considering cost, manufactured housing is considered less expensive than modular homes. However, since sometimes it is not placed on a permanent foundation, it may be more difficult to get it refinanced. They also tend to lose value overtime. FHA is the typical type of loan used by buyers to purchase a manufactured home. FHA manufactured and modular homes are made by private lenders but are insured by FHA in case of default. They require 3.5% down payment.
If the home is placed on piers, rather than a permanent foundation, skirting can be placed around the home to make it more visually appealing.
Also something to consider is that mobile & manufactured homes sometimes can decrease in value over time.
Unlike mobile or manufactured, a modular home cannot be moved once built on a property. Modular homes are built off site in a factory in one or several sections; then transferred to the property and assembled on a permanent foundation. Modular homes are not regulated by HUD codes. They are built to conform to all state, local or regional building codes at their destinations. Then local building inspectors makes sure that the home meets their specific requirements and they make sure that all the work has been completed and the home is ready for occupancy.
A well built modular should have the same longevity as a stick built house. Most are typically built on crawlspaces or basements. These homes can be completely customizable to meet the modern needs of the buyer. They can be placed end to end, side by side or be stacked.
Both manufactured and modular homes are inspected upon completion at the site to ensure the safety of the home for it’s occupants.
Modular homes are treated by the banks the same as a stick built home. So they can be easily refinanced. They do not depreciate in value as the mobile or manufactured home does. Appraisals, insurance and taxes for modulars do not differ from stick built or onsite homes.
At the end of the day, the choice for which home you pick depends on price, quality, location and personal preference. Which one is right for you?
If you’re in the market to buy a home in Southeastern Indiana or want to know what your home might be worth, you might be interested in checking out this page.