Is a Mobile Home the Right Home for You?

Is a Mobile Home the Right Home for You?

I've been selling Mobile Homes at the beach for 15 years and I can tell you there are people who mobile homes are perfect for and others not so much. 

When I first visited Southern Delaware my girlfriend told me we should buy a mobile home for the summers?  In my mind I pictured pit bulls, cars up on jacks, Earl, Randy and Joy,  meth-heads and run down 1960's singlewides. She talked me into driving through Pot Nets Coveside in Millsboro (Longneck) and my preconceived notion of what mobile home parks looked like was instantly smashed. What I saw were expensive newer cars, boats costing more than most of the homes, large yards, doublewides that looked like ranch homes and the great big beautiful Rehoboth Bay with boaters and fishermen scattered about as far as they eye could see with Dewey Beach and the Rehoboth Beach Watertower in the distance.

I bought a summer house in that community two weeks later for less than what I made in three month on an Air force Sergeants income. If we had wanted to buy a traditional stick built house with those views and water access it would have cost $700,000 or more.  We bough a 19 foot boat and had a great summer at our beach house. The following year we decided we'd rather be closer to Rehoboth Beach and sold the Pot Nets house (for a profit) and purchased another "Beach House" in Rehoboth Bay MHP.  At that time we were still just "Summer Residents" but spending so much time at the beach we decided we really liked it down here and decided to move down full time. I rented out my house in Dover near the Air force base and we moved down full time. Living here full time, we realized that ground rent was not a great investment and we started looking for a regular house. After about a year of looking we found something outside of town on ten acres and I've not lived in a mobile home community since, but I can tell you I do miss a number of things from my time in the mobile home communities. 

1. I miss the living on the water. You can't live on the water in the area in a stick built  home community for under $800,000.

2. I miss having a Marina in my community. Again, it's nearly impossible to find a stick built community with a marina for less than $700,000. While I can still rent a boat slip miles from where I live now, it's not the same as walking out the back door and hopping into the boat.  I sold the boat after leaving Rehoboth Bay MHP because it was a pain in the rear to trailer it to and from the bay. 

3. I miss having low housing payments. I went from owning a mobile home outright where all I had to pay were ground rent payments of around $550 each month. I went from that to a $2500 monthly mortgage payment.  

The big downside to the areas leased land mobile home communities is that you can't claim ground rent on your taxes and the money you spend on ground rent, you will never get back. Long term, they are not a great investment unless you consider them an investment in lifestyle and fun. If the overall economy is good, used mobile homes hold their value. Band new mobile homes are a bit more like new cars, in that they loose a good deal of their value in the first five years, but after that it levels off. Your best bet if you don't like loosing money is to search for a Mobile Home that is 5 to 15 years old, older than that and you may be looking at some expensive repair bills if the owners have not stayed on top of maintenece issues. Like everything else, you get what you pay for. I've purchased used mobile homes for as little as $2000 but then had to put $25,000 into them to make them livable. (I still flip mobile homes when I can find good deals). 

If you're new to the area and want to "try it out" before you move down full time, Mobile Homes are a great way to get a feel for the area. If you want a affordable "summer beach house" in a waterfront community, Mobile Homes are a great choice. You can have the same water views and marina as the guy who spent $2 million on his stick built waterfront home in RBYCC.
If you only have 10 year to live, Mobile Home are a great way to live at the beach for a lot less than most people are paying. If you're looking for ammenities that low cost housing communities never have, Mobile Home Communities are a great choice as most have pools, community centers, walking trails and are well maintained. If you're looking for a 55+ community with a sense of commradery with your neighbors, we have a few mobile home communities we'd highly recommend. The only real negative to the areas leased land mobile home communities is that the ground rent will never end and the fees tend to increase a little bit every year. 

Discussion

#1 By dave reichert at 3/5/2018 1:00 PM

insightful,honest and useful article.

Well done Mr Brown

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