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Living in your mobile home has awarded you a cozy, modest lifestyle, either as a snowbird retreat to escape the icy winters, a summer getaway to beat the heat, or as a primary residence to enable you to put money in the bank, but now you may be ready to move on and are wondering how to sell your mobile home.
Whatever the reason, you need to be savvy and strategic in your approach to get the best price for your investment. Follow these expert tips to increase the probability of a successful sale.
1. Know the difference between personal and real property when selling a mobile home
Many mobile homes are considered personal property (the legal term for this type of property is “chattel”) rather than real property, meaning they’re sold a bit differently from a typical house.
A mobile home may be considered real property if you own the land it sits on (depending on the state), and it’s attached to that land — usually, that means it needs a foundation, though some states have a pretty loose definition of “foundation.”
If your mobile home doesn’t fit the above criteria, it’s likely considered personal property. This means the home is treated as a movable asset, akin to an automobile.
When you sell a mobile home as personal property, you’ll transfer the title over to the new owner in the same way you would sell a car, while the land remains with its owner.
Collect these documents to sell your mobile home as personal property
When selling a mobile home as personal property you’ll need the following documents:
- Transfer of Title: You’ll sign your existing title over to the buyer and apply for a transfer of title. If you’ve lost it, you’ll need to order a replacement or duplicate title from the DMV or tax collector.
- Bill of sale: Your municipality and the buyer’s lender typically require a bill of sale to sell a mobile home.
- Notarized transfer of title: Lenders usually require a notarized title transfer with the seller and buyer present at the time of signing. Check with your department of motor vehicles or tax collector for their requirements.
- Taxes: You’ll need to provide evidence that your taxes are paid in full when you sell your mobile home. Some states like Georgia require owners to pay a personal property tax on manufactured homes while other states require an annual registration fee for personal property.
- Certificate of Occupancy (CO): You’ll need to provide a Certificate of Occupancy, which is proof your home complies with relevant regulations. The CO includes a fire safety inspection certifying that electrical wiring meets all fire codes.
If you own the land, consider converting to real property
Unlike personal property, real property means your manufactured home is affixed to land and not a movable asset. This classification offers various benefits including a combined tax bill for home and land, a higher resale value, and more financing options.
You’ll need the following documents when converting your mobile home to real property:
- The original HCD registration card;
- The most recent HCD certificate of title;
- Your decal number; and
- Serial number or vehicle identification number (VIN) documentation for each section of the home.
When you own the land where it’s affixed, the land deed and the mobile home title must both be in your name.
To legally classify your mobile home as real property, you need to retire the DMV-issued title (this process is known as “de-titling”) and obtain a warranty deed for the home and land.
The cost for de-titling depends on where you live. South Carolina, for example, “requires a filing fee between $500 to $700,” reports Sheila Newton, a veteran real estate agent expert serving Anderson, South Carolina who sells single-family residences and mobile homes.
2. Get a pre-listing appraisal to catch installation and inspection issues early
As the name suggests, a pre-listing appraisal is conducted before listing by gathering data to calculate a home’s value. “An appraiser examines the area’s topography and locates the HUD Data Plate/Compliance Certificate to verify the home conforms to HUD’s Model Manufactured Home Installation Standards,” says Mason Spurgeon, a seasoned and certified general real estate appraiser serving Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa.
Installation standards stipulate perimeter support pier locations, how homes should be anchored, and other legal requirements for HVAC, ductwork, electrical, plumbing, and drainage systems.
Appraisers also conduct a home inspection that can help sellers identify maintenance issues that could come up later and void a contract contingent on a buyer’s home inspection.
A pre-listing inspection can help point out any red flags, such as faulty wiring, plumbing leaks, and termites. “People mistakenly think mobile homes cannot have termites. They can,” Newton says.
3. Partner with a top local agent with experience selling mobile homes
Though selling a mobile home has its own set of challenges, working with a top local real estate agent can help you navigate through issues such as contract negotiations, disclosures, repairs and upgrades, housing improvements needed, and marketing to get to the closing table without delay.
HomeLight’s agent finder can help you identify and partner with local agents with a track record of selling mobile homes. Using a few details that you provide about your home, we will match you with the best agents for selling your property.
4. Expand your buyer pool with various financing options
Manufactured homes classified as real property can be financed by conventional and government-insured loans. In contrast, mobile homes classified as personal property can qualify for chattel loans, or utilize owner financing. Here are your options, depending on whether your home is considered real or personal property.
Federal Housing Administration loans are one of the toughest loans for buyers to get when it comes to real property mobile homes. FHA lenders require manufactured homes to be FHA-certified which requires a structural engineer stating the home has been affixed to the land correctly, according to Newton.
“If the underpinning is constructed of brick or cement, it usually requires mortar and pier work which runs around $3,500. However, if the underpinning is vinyl, expect to pay closer to $7,500 to add brick.” The good news: the cost to have a mobile home FHA-certified can usually come out of the seller’s proceeds at closing.
If you sell your manufactured home as real property to a military buyer, they may finance the home with lenders approved by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. A buyer’s VA mortgage can finance the home, along with any land and foundation improvements needed to meet VA requirements.
If your buyer isn’t able to qualify for a home loan but has the capital for a downpayment, you can offer an owner-financed home loan for your property. They’ll make the down payment and you’ll both agree on the terms for the life of the loan.
You’ll provide the title with the down payment and put a lien on the property until the buyer pays off the loan. Make sure to do a background and credit check before you consider this option –– and hire a lawyer to handle the details.
Chattel mortgage companies finance manufactured homes classified as personal property. Chattel lenders require a home inspection, but these loans are much easier to qualify for than traditional mortgages. Similar to vehicle loans, they come with higher interest rates than traditional mortgages.
5. Price your home based on the market and buyer demographics
A manufactured home costs 50% less per square foot than a stick-built home, which makes your mobile homes an affordable option for buyers.
However, low inventory in the housing market has contributed to rising prices for mobile homes, which is good news for sellers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the price for an average manufactured home increased from $81,900 in 2019 to $87,000 in 2020.
Understanding your buyer pool also makes a difference, especially when it comes to marketing. Leased and land-owned park communities can attract retirees who live in 55+ communities or families who live in all-age mobile home parks.
6. Increase the value of your mobile home with the following features
When pricing mobile homes, Newton takes features into account when crunching data.
“If you have a nice deck, or porch, or screened-in porches and sunrooms, that’s going to add to the value, of course,” says Newton.
Porches take away from the boxy look of mobile homes making them look more attractive if they’re kept up in good condition. If the finish is starting to fade or chip, apply a fresh coat of paint or stain.
Interior features like appliances and materials can also fetch a better selling price, including:
- Stainless steel and energy-saving appliances
- Hardwood cabinetry
- Drywall versus paneling or wallboard
- Energy-efficient windows
- New lighting fixtures
- Six-panel doors
Some of these items may not be in your budget, but new lighting fixtures can cost well below $100. When replacing cabinets isn’t an option, consider refinishing them and switching outdated hardware for something stylish. A set of 10 knobs costs around $30.
7. Sell your mobile home more quickly with these staging and landscaping tips
Ninety percent of homebuyers search online for traditional and manufactured homes before they book a showing with an agent, so make sure your home looks attractive in digital photo and video tours.
“There are some mobile homes that are so well done and kept up so well, it’s hard to tell it’s a mobile home,” says Newton. Follow these mobile home landscaping and staging tips to make a good impression.
Build a beautiful border with raised flower beds
A raised flower bed makes a colorful border to define your property line while giving your home visual appeal. Plant flowers, or herbs like basil and thyme, or even a vegetable garden.
Replace vinyl skirting with stone, brick, or cement
Vinyl skirting can easily tear from mowing and begin to look shabby. Choose a heavier material like stone or brick to not only make skirting last but also add beauty and texture.
Repair driveway cracks and replace damaged vinyl siding
Pulling up a property with a crack in the driveway or dented siding can deter buyers from wanting to come inside––or book a showing from their computer. Ensure to repair driveway cracks and replace damaged siding panels before taking photos.
8. List your home as furnished to attract seasonal buyers
If you live in a warm climate that attracts snowbirds looking for a second home, consider listing your home as furnished. Take the decor up a notch by decorating in the local aesthetic. If you’re by the beach, lean into that with a fresh and airy beach cottage theme, for example.
As with staging a traditional home, be sure to depersonalize your mobile home by removing family photos and similarly identifying items, to help buyers envision themselves and their belongings in your home.
Selling a mobile home provides new buyers an affordable option for homeownership. With the right information and selling tips in your possession, you’re ready to start the next chapter of your life with confidence and more money in your wallet, especially if you partner with a top real estate agent experienced with selling mobile homes.
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