Can I Afford a Mobile Home?

This article appeared on SF Gate and was written by Meribeth Phipps.

Mobile homes are known to be priced substantially less than traditional stick-built homes. This makes them attractive to homebuyers needing a little more space but are unable or do not want to spend more for a home. Manufactured homes today can be beautifully equipped with designer features, appliances and layouts and are said to be better built than in previous years. It's important to carefully study specific factors when deciding if a manufactured home is the right fit for you and your checkbook.



Much like a traditional home loan, your lender will factor in your monthly income and debts to determine what price of home you can afford. The amount of payment allowable per month based on your income is called your "debt-to-income ratio." Once you've got the green light, you can begin to shop for a home that fits your budget. For an average sized mobile home, the price can be between $45,000 to $85,000, depending on age, manufacturer, size and amenities.

Loan Programs

Loan programs for manufactured homes are not only more scarce than conventional financing, they can be more expensive as well. Manufactured home loans can have higher interest rates and lender fees, shorter terms and higher monthly payments than traditional home loans. Make sure you find a lender that offers competitive pricing for your manufactured home loan, and also be sure to check its fees, rates and your expected down payment amount.

Land Costs

Whether you opt for leased land, or choose to purchase a lot to place your home on, the additional cost must be factored into your total budget. Leased land will come with a monthly rental amount, while purchased land can be bought with cash or included in your home loan. Don't forget to calculate a total monthly payment that includes your land costs or space rent and insurance when budgeting for your new home.

Property Taxes

In addition to other recurring monthly charges, you will need to account for property taxes on your mobile home. Before July 1, 1980 California taxed manufactured homes the same way it did vehicles. But the law changed at this time and mobile homes are now subject to property taxes. Owners of homes built before July 1, 1980 can select whether their home is taxed as property or a vehicle. Manufactured homes set in parks are only taxed on the home itself, while manufactured homes on private land are taxed on the home and land combined.

Set-Up Fees

Homes that are new or need to be moved can acquire even more additional costs with set-up fees, transport costs, city utility connection fees and lot preparation fees. Private land may require installation of a septic system, and additionally a well could be necessary to supply water to your home. You may want to contact local authorities such as the health department, city or county building and zoning departments or specific contractors to obtain an accurate bid for your set-up costs.