Your Questions About the Basics of Mobile Homes, Answered

published Dec 26, 2020
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Credit: Mandy Holesh

Mobile homes historically have gotten a bad rap. But it’s not the ’70s anymore—and a mobile home isn’t just something that follows you where you go. It can be a well-designed house that meets all the same needs as a single-family home would. Plus, it’s cheaper, takes less time to build, and allows you to live in more expensive places for a fraction of the cost.

Kristina Morales, a realtor at Morales Team Real Estate, says that she sees them often in beachfront communities, where people want to live on the beach but wouldn’t be able to afford it with a traditional home. Before you take the plunge, it’s important to know what type of property you’re buying.

What is a mobile home?

“A mobile home basically is a home that’s manufactured in a factory, permanently affixed to a chassis, and then taken to the location of wherever the living space is going to be,” Morales says. Traditional homes, or what Morales refers to as stick-built homes, are the typical single-family dwellings with a poured foundation and possibly a basement. These are built on-site instead of assembled elsewhere and delivered.

Mobile homes are available in three standard sizes: single wide, which is between 500 and 1,100 square feet; double wide, which is from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet; and triple wide, which is more than 2,000 square feet. “It can be significant living space,” Morales says.

Credit: Atlaspix/

How much does a mobile home cost?

For that significant living space, you’re often paying quite a bit less than you would for a single-family home of the same size. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000, depending on the size, for a brand-new mobile home bought from a dealer, or less than that for a pre-owned one. With a pre-owned home, you won’t have to worry about hooking up utilities or choosing all of the finishes like you would with something built from scratch.

What about the land?

When purchasing a mobile home, it’s important to remember that you’re only buying the home itself—you’re generally not the owner of the property it sits on. That means there’s an extra cost: you’re going to have to pay rent for the land. This also means you won’t have to pay property tax on that land.

Unfortunately, because of this, a mobile home won’t appreciate in value like a typical house does. “They depreciate because they’re considered personal property,” Morales says. “A house has value because it’s attached to the land.”

What does a typical floor plan look like in a mobile home?

Just like with any home, the floor plan is going to vary based on its size. For a single wide, you’re likely going to have one or two bedrooms and one or two bathrooms. A double wide will have two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a triple wide will have even more of both.

There is one caveat to the floor plans, though. “With the single wide, you don’t have a lot of room to create interior hallways or separate the rooms,” Morales says. “When you go double or triple wide, it really gives you that more traditional feel for a home.”