What to look for in a used mobile home in Florida!

For whatever reason, you’ve decided that acquiring a mobile home in Florida is the way to go for you. Good on you! We’ve done that and never looked back. There are things to you might want to consider: What to look for in a used mobile home in Florida! Information on this page includes:

  • -what lot fees and rental agreements mean to you
  • -consider all the costs; utilities, waste fees, water costs, insurance etc
  • -home renovation costs whether desired or desperate
  • – and much more!

As we’ve talked about on other pages on this site, you’ve now done your homework. You have researched the areas where you might want to have a Snowbird home whether on line or visited the area at least a couple of times to be sure you’re happy with the surroundings and to ensure that the amenities of the park and the town/city are in keeping with your needs.

Now, a mobile home in a park that you like is for sale and you might want to buy in. What’s next?

Buying the home

Can you afford the cash outlay? Traditional sources for funding are out. Banks do not lend money for mortgages on mobile homes, at least, none of the many we investigated would.

Non-traditional lenders seem to shy away from mobile home financing as well. Over the years I suspect toomany folks have bought mobile homes, and when times got difficult, rather than dealing with the home, they just walked away, leaving the lender on the hook.

You will most likely need to underwrite the cost of your home yourself, unless the park itself has options (not likely).

Lot fees and rental agreements / licenses

The up front investment in a mobile home in Florida can either be one where the park owns the land under the home, and the buyer simply pays rent for that land, or they buyer buys the home and land outright. For reasons outlined on this site, we opted for buying a home where the lot was owned by others, and the home was acquired by us.

Time for a close look at that park’s rental agreement if you haven’t already done so. Here are the things you will want to consider:

  • How much is the monthly rental and will your budget handle that, in particular, if it’s necessary to convert funds from another currency?
  • What does the rental fee cover; utilities, groundskeeping, pool upkeep (if there is one)?, other recreation facilities in the park, taxes?
  • How often has the monthly rental / lot fee increased since the last change and is an increase annual if that trend continues, will you be able to afford to pay that fee in the years to come?
  • What happens if you miss a monthly lot rentaly payment? Forgiveness period, additional charges, punitive collection process?
  • What happens if you suffer significant financial setback and you can no longer afford to rent (or own a home) in that park? How to you extricate yourself and what are the costs involved?
  • What happens if communal infrastructure needs rebuilding or major repairs? Does the park have a reserve fund for these costs, or will the homeowners in the park be assessed a share if that happens, and what then if you cannot afford or want to pay?
  • A mobile home is considered a “vehicle” and as such will have to be licensed and the license displayed in the front window of the home. Not a huge cost, but another one to consider.

Utilities and other costs in the town/city and the park?

It all depends on your budget, of course. For us, we wanted to know up front all of the costs involved, so the additional costs we investigated included:

  • Internet options (what kind, what sources, what rates)
  • Cable TV (what sources, what rates)
  • Large item and garbage pickup costs (typically you will want to renovate the home to make it yours, and getting rid of “stuff” is becoming harder and greater cost and if the cost isn’t included in the park, who provides the service and how much?)
  • Water costs (if the park doesn’t inlcude water costs (drinking / bathing & watering gardens / lawns)
  • Drining water treatment if applicable (Is the drinking water palatable. They’ll all say the water is safe, but increasingly the chlorine content and degradation of water pipes leads to some pretty unsavoury smelling and tasting water)
  • Annual insurance for home and liability (we were surprised to learn that our mobile home, being older, would not qualify for full insurance until we did some major improvements so we ended up paying heavily for basic insurance that would not cover the replacement of the home in the event it was destroyed – until such time as upgrades were made. Also, be prepared to pay a significant premium for mobile home insurance, way over what would be paid for a traditional bricks, mortar and basement type home)

Necessary home renovation / upgrades

As we found out after the purchase, our home needed to have major upgrades in the plumbing and electrical system to qualify for full insurance, even though the home was functional as it was.

Even if repairs are not necessary, folks want to make the new home their own, and that involves significant cash outlay depending on the needs and wants of the new owner.

Plus…

  • are the applicances sound – in particular, the AC. Florida gets very hot and humid, and life without a well functioning air conditioning system can be difficult for those not accustomed to that level of discomfort – new central air for the small home will be $5,000 plus
  • over the six years we’ve now owned our Florida home, we’ve replaced the hot water tank, the stove, the dishwasher and the refrigerator, all of which failed during those first few years
  • the outside of the home will need painting every few years
  • the roof needs to be carefully checked before purchase. A “roof over” is the way to go, but expect to waterproof even that every few years
  • landscaping, lawn cutting and bug spraying – whether you do it yourself, or you hire a service, you and the park will want the outside of the home to look presentable, if not downright beautiful
  • driveway maintenance – the Florida sun is very hard on older driveways, and they tend to crack often due to the underlayment being sand that shifts in the torrential seasonal rains – driveway maintenance will become or may be an issue

None of the above are necessarily punitive, yet you do want to be aware of potential financial issues to ensure that they do not negatively affect your comfort and enjoyment in the home one you have acquired it.

Other things to consider when buying your home in Florida

  • when you decide to sell, what’s the average time for homes in that park to resell – it’s going to happen one day, that’s for certain
  • what is the house sitting on – by that we mean, is the home on blocks, and are those blocks on some sort of footing – sand shifts easliy in Florida, and a home that’s not installed soundly may shift, sag damage the home, and make windows/doors difficult to operate
  • is the house “tied down” – ever heard of hurricanes? We’ve (our house) has experienced 3 since we bought the place, and we weathered each well, because the house was tied down, and the park ensured that ALL homes met hurricane standards. This is important! Your home will be hit by a hurricane if you are in Florida, it’s only a matter of time
  • you may want to have the wiring inspected by an electrician before you buy – we opted for a panel upgrade for peace of mind after acquisition and better insurance rates was one of the benefits
  • consider the home plumbing – is it 30-40 years old? If so, you WILL have water leaks, it is inevitable. Consider a plan to upgrade the plumbing over time as we have done, not always in response to a leak, but sometimes  🙂
  • what the homes nearby like? Do you want them or their owners to be neighbors

There will be other issues relating to the specific home you seek, where that home is located, and differing local regulations, both civic and park owner related.

Good luck with your Florida home acquisition. Add a comment or question if you wish. We’ll be happy to try and answer.

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Carl
Carl
August 11, 2021 7:52 pm

Thank you for this informative article, We are a retired male gay couple and have decided our best option is a MH in Pompano Beach. We have visited the park we like 7 times and it is the park for us. So many questions we did have, you have answered. Hopefully we will be able to purchase in 2022, we… Read more »

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