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manufactured/mobile "home base"
Old 04-29-2010, 06:52 PM   #1
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manufactured/mobile "home base"

We've bought and sold a bunch of houses over the year, one of which was a late model ('99) mobile home when we lived in ultra-expensive Boulder, Colorado. I have to say that place was one of the quietest, lowest-maintenance and tightly-built places we've lived in.

We're considering establishing a home base in small-town Colorado where my mom lives. We very much want a "lock it and leave" lifestyle and want to tie up the minimum of cash but still have some comforts. Choices in our price range are a newer mobile home either on its own lot or in a park with cheap rent ($225-275/month) or a small, older home (1920's-1950's). Needless to say there are a lot of money pits out there. Of course I know that mobiles are depreciating assets, not investments, but as we found out the past few years the same can be said of many stick built homes. Am wondering if anyone else has experiences to share here.

Thanks!
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:55 PM   #2
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I recently looked at a retirement community which was entirely composed of manufactured homes, outside St. Augustine. Of course, it was a really nice development with $600 a month lot rentals. Homes ranged from 60's to north of 100.

I realize this is not exactly what you are talking about, but I definitely am considering it. What's not to like about income tax-free Florida?

Jim
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by frequenttraveler View Post
I recently looked at a retirement community which was entirely composed of manufactured homes, outside St. Augustine. Of course, it was a really nice development with $600 a month lot rentals. Homes ranged from 60's to north of 100.

I realize this is not exactly what you are talking about, but I definitely am considering it. What's not to like about income tax-free Florida?

Jim
The taste of the water?


HiJack Ho!!!!


My Mom went from a self built very idiosyncratic big house out in the sticks to a big Queen Anne that needed everything in Cottage Grove Oregon to an older doublewide in Eugene. The trailer was much less work, suited her needs, and looked out on a peaceful duckpond. Not bad if you don't feel the need to create in your domicile. See also the wandering Kaderlies.
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:27 PM   #4
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I think it is a great idea, especially for someone who travels a lot. It is very safe to leave such a place unoccupied compared to a regular home or even a condo.

The negative is lack of privacy, lots of park gossip!, and dealing with park issues. Personally, I prefer a long term setup with a park where the people that live there are the unit owners. The best set up is one where a corporation is the owner of the park grounds, and each owner is an equal shareholder of the corporation.

Some parks (esp. resident-controlled parks which I just mentioned) do not allow renters, only owner-occupied units. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your plans. Also, there are issues of lady X coming to live with Man Y, where Man Y is the mobile home owner. Technically, Lady X has to be classified as a "caregiver" to legally be allowed to live there long term or else made part owner of the place. A son or daughter who is not a certain age (usually at least 50) cannot (technically) stay for months at a time unless they are a caregiver.

Also, if you are sure you are going to travel a lot, you can more easily buy into a place with sometimes inclement weather -- for instance, Colorado if you know you will be traveling most winters, or Arizona if you plan to leave for the summers.

In the park I am familiar with in California (a resident-controlled and owner-occupied park), the city has a program allowing folks to improve their places. It is a beautiful park but most of the units are about 35 years old. Some folks cannot afford to make improvements. The city has a program where you can use a set of approved contractors to make various improvements and then the city recoups its money when you die or if you sell the place before you die via a lien. It really is a great idea. I know a 79 year old lady who just did this, with enough money to live on monthly but no savings, who just did $20K of improvements. She has no living children and so it was a huge win for everyone. The total monthly costs for the park are less than $300 per month, and that includes water, trash, and cable TV for the residents (the rest is operating costs plus paying the monthly payment on the land). Residents can park their RV there for $20 per month.

Also, oftentimes property taxes are quite low for these sorts of places (in the park above, typically less than $1000 per year). The newer manufactured homes, especially those built 1989 or later, are very high quality. I would plan to buy a structure that will last your lifetime(s). Even without the structure, the owner's space in a resident-owned park (essentially your share in the corporation) in a resident-owned park has a good deal of residual value although initial buy-in value is higher.

Kramer
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:58 PM   #5
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Kramer,

You make it sound like it is possible to retire in California. Amazing!
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Old 05-02-2010, 01:45 PM   #6
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Living in Florida I live near several mobile home communities . There are some really nice ones with newer models that are huge and there are some not so nice to awful places . I would look for a 55+ park that is upscale . They have so many activities . It would be ideal for a home base . The park close to where I live is a mixture of old & new homes . Several of them are on a canal and they have a marina , a place to park their RV's , a pool , a large activity hall , a woodwork shop and a post office .
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:32 AM   #7
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Kramer,

You make it sound like it is possible to retire in California. Amazing!
Ha ha Actually, as I think many have pointed at, one needs to examine their "financial profile" in regards to the various states when comparing finances. For instance, what hits you in California especially hard is high property values and high income taxes for those folks not in the top half of earners. So a manufactured home in California can make more sense than one might think since one is buying cheap property and if one has a below average income as do most retirees. Thus you are largely avoiding California's two highest costs relative to other states. Well, they also have high sales taxes (9.25% in the place I was talking about), but most retirees don't consume that much, and the tax is not on food or medicine. It is the high income guy raising a family that is really getting screwed in California, financially speaking.

Kramer
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:21 AM   #8
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Thoughtful and informative as always, Kramer - thanks!

You're right to emphasize how variable the situation with manufactured housing is state-by-state (and city-by-city). In "manufactured" I'm including both modular places on a foundation and cheaper but always lower-value mobiles. Obviously Arizona and Florida have the most variety and largest number of parks with amenities, but in our travels we've seen many other interesting variations on the theme. New Mexico comes to mind as a place where you'll commonly see a residential neighborhood with a $250,000 faux adobe newly-built home next to a mobile on a patch of dirt next to a modular on a foundation next to an old Craftsman. Not big on zoning down there - which I personally don't mind.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:48 AM   #9
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I saw a really nice modular at the Seattle Home show this year. Thoughtful design that would work on almost any site, rural or urban.
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Old 05-04-2010, 03:10 PM   #10
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My folks are snowbirds and bought a place in California in a mobile home 55+ 'resort' type park. The park is really nice. It's gated, beautifully landscaped and has 7 pools, 3 clubhouses, lots of activities, 2 ponds with ducks, etc. They have a mobile home on a foundation with a large deck. They love it. It's very easy to come and go from and fits their active lifestyle. They pay $200/month for association fees.

If you are using it as your home base, you may want to consider getting a 2 or 3 br mobile home instead of a 1 br if that is an option. My folks are very active when they are here so don't spend a lot of time in their place, but if they were cooped up there for long I think they would get a bit cranky with each other.
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Old 05-06-2010, 05:31 AM   #11
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We own and lived in a manufactured home in Tacoma, WA for the past few years and were very happy with it. Nice small park, owner lives on property, and good neighbors. Space rent is only $265 and includes water, sewer, and garbage, but no amenities (clubhouse, pool). A relative bargain compared to other parks in the area.

About 1450 sq. ft., it has a nice design, open floor plan, and cathedral ceilings in living/dining, den, and master.

We were very happy there and could have spent a long time (very convenient when we needed to leave--e.g., were in Sweden for almost 3 months over two trips in 2008).

But we're selling it now only because I took a job at the University of North Texas (in Denton, north of Dallas) last August. We hung on to it since it wasn't too expensive to maintain and weren't sure about how the job will work out. Not worth it for us to spend the $6000 or so per year for minimum maintenence (space rent, utilities, property tax, etc.) if we're not there, and it can't be sublet (nor do we want to deal with that from a distance).

We would have looked for a similar situation here quite happily, but the parks in the immediate area aren't nice and house prices in Denton never went up much (or dropped much). We're about to close on a 2100 sq. ft. house in a nice neighborhood with lots of mature trees (oaks, mostly) for $136,000, so it made no sense to go with a manufactured.

Billy and Akaisha have long had a manufactured home in AZ as their "home base," and it has worked well for them. Lots of advantages, a few disadvantages. Depends on your situation and what's available in your area.
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