The Difference Between Selling a Mobile Home and a Single-Family Home

Selling a mobile home vs traditional home
  • Selling your mobile home will be a different process than selling your site-built, single-family home, but it isn’t necessarily harder.
  • Manufactured homes are classified, valued, marketed and sold differently than traditional homes, so they require their own set of considerations.
  • There are a few simple things you can do to ready your home for sale before you list it, including refreshing it and doing some quick market research.

The idea of selling any large piece of property can be daunting. And the complexities of the modern manufactured home may create the illusion that selling yours will be even more difficult than selling a traditional single-family home. As we’ll cover in this post, it’s important to know that the mobile home market is much different from the site-built one, and though you will have to take a bit of a specialized approach, there is no extra work involved. In fact, the process may even be less stressful when all is said and done.

Before you dive into the selling journey, we want to help acquaint you with this niche. Understanding how selling your manufactured home will differ from selling your typical single-family home will help ensure that you get an accurate valuation and are able to properly market it, resulting in a maximum profit once you officially list it for sale. As the largest website for manufactured housing, MHVillage is here to guide you every step of the way, from the early stages of consideration to marking your listing as “SOLD.”

Difference #1: Technicalities

What to know: Mobile homes in land-lease communities are sold as personal property, while site-built homes are sold as real estate.

The first thing you need to know when comparing manufactured homes with traditional site-built homes is how the two are classified. Mobile homes situated in land-lease communities are considered personal property (chattel), whereas single-family homes are sold with the piece of land and are considered real estate. This matters for a wide variety of reasons, primarily in valuing the property (more information on that below) as well as in how the property is marketed. When the mobile home is on a rented piece of land, the deal is often considered a “lot lease” agreement. About a third of new manufactured homes are placed in mobile home communities, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), so a good portion of this market is sold as chattel rather than real estate. This seemingly minor technicality can have a big impact, because the homeowner’s association or administration of the community where the home is situated could have ultimate veto power over who can and cannot buy your home.

selling a mobile home guide

Note that if you own the land where your mobile home is situated and if it’s part of the deal, you will sell your home as real estate much like a traditional site-built home.

Difference #2: Valuation

What to know: Because they are classified as personal property and are often situated on leased land, mobile homes require a special valuation process.

The fact of the matter is that, though about 22 million people live in manufactured homes, they are still a small portion of the housing market, which means that regular real estate agents generally do not have the resources and experience to properly value them. Since many manufactured homes are situated in mobile home parks and communities where the land is leased, they require a special set of considerations and a different approach to valuation. We do not recommend partnering with a typical real estate agent when selling a home on leased land. So how does one get the value of their mobile home before selling, you ask? They obtain a detailed market-based analysis of their property, taking into account the comparable properties nearby, the location, and the condition of the home. This requires expert research and an on-site inspection to assess size, condition, and features. You may also obtain a high level estimate of your home by getting a mobile home book value.

differences between mobile home single family home selling

Difference #3: Location and Amenities

What to know: Location matters when selling both types of housing, but the mobile home park and amenities greatly affect the value of a manufactured home as well as its monthly maintenance fees.

Like a site-built home, the location of your mobile home matters greatly when evaluating value and marketing. In other words, the old saying location, location, location matters just as much in factory-built housing as it does in site-built housing. However, the nitty-gritties are a bit different. When selling a mobile home, the specific park or community is taken into account, with amenities—club houses, pools, golf courses, events spaces, security, etc.—driving up the price tag.

In this way, selling your manufactured home is more like selling a condominium or an apartment than it is like selling a single-family home. In fact, the location can impact the value of your mobile home by as much as 20 percent. It’s also similar to these types of communities because these amenities and perks affect the monthly maintenance fees or HOA fees—the better the amenities, the higher the fees. For the best results, you’ll need a certified mobile home specialist who understands the ins and outs of these extra costs.

Difference #4: Marketing

What to know: How and where you market your property should differ depending on if it’s a factory-built or site-built home.

Another key difference between these two types of sales is how they are marketed. It’s important for you to understand your target audience and specific market no matter what you’re selling, and the same goes for your manufactured home. It’s also important that you spend some time focused on marketing the mobile home community. Remember that the park is a massive consideration for almost all buyers in this sector, so be sure to place some emphasis on it so it stands out next to other mobile homes for sale in your area. 

It’s also important to remember that standard home-selling sites like Zillow and Trulia do not market specifically to mobile home buyers, whereas MHVillage does. For example, if someone searches Google for local manufactured homes for sale in your specific area, our website will come up before standard real estate sites. This helps your property sell faster and get more exposure, further maximizing the final sale price.

Steps to Take Before Selling Your Mobile Home

As long as you’ve taken the above into consideration, preparing your home for sale isn’t too different whether it’s a mobile home or a site-built home. Here are the important steps you need to take to get started.

Step 1: Clean, Organize and Refresh

cleaning a mobile home to sell

You want to get the most out of your property, so you need to set yourself up for success when showing. To do that, you must spend a bit of team cleaning, organizing and generally refreshing the interior and exterior of your home so it looks clean and fresh. A little spiffing up and you’ll be ready to host a successful open house.

  • Declutter Inside and Out—With trends like minimalism and KonMari majorly on the rise, your home’s interior may already be totally de-cluttered. If not, it’s time to purge. This step is important for helping to showcase the best features of your unit so that prospective buyers can get an accurate idea of their potential new home.
  • Depersonalize Wherever Possible—It’s hard for home-shoppers to visualize their things and their family in another person’s home when it’s extremely personalized. Remove photos, tidy up pet areas, and remove or neatly organize any kids’ toys so that any kind of buyer can get an accurate visualization of themselves living in your space. 
  • Make it Squeaky-Clean—Now’s the time to get to work deep-cleaning every square inch of your home, inside and out. Have the carpet cleaned, vacuum thoroughly, scrub down any surfaces, and mop the floors. Do your best to eliminate any lingering odors by performing deep cleans and using aromatic candles or diffusers to make the air smell subtly fresh.
  • Make the Necessary Repairs—Remember, even the smallest imperfections, breaks, messes and stains will translate to extra work for a potential buyer, so do your best to minimize them. Fix broken cabinets, repaint stained doors and spiff up any flooring or molding that may be cracked, peeling or discolored. You may even consider replacing big things like stairs, railings, appliances and windows.
  • Clean Up the Exterior—Your mobile home’s exterior is the first thing people notice. Make sure to replace any missing or damaged siding and skirting and remove any vehicle stains from the driveway. Power wash the exterior if necessary and spend some time pruning outside. Cut the lawn, trim the bushes, put down some fresh mulch and add some brightly colored flowers to planters on the porch.
  • Replace the Fixtures— One of the easiest ways to jazz up a home without a high expense is to replace the fixtures and hardware, including the light fixtures on the walls and ceilings. You can also swap out any knobs, drawer handles, drawer pulls and faucets to freshen things up fast.
  • Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint—Give any drywall a fresh coat of paint and cover up any wallpaper or borders to give the place a clean, neutral feel. If your home has wall panels (often made of vinyl-on-gypsum or VOG in manufactured homes), you will need a special paint to ensure that the color adheres. Learn more about painting vinyl mobile home walls for additional tips.

Step 2: Find Out What Your Home is Worth

find out what your mobile home is worth

Now that your space is showcase-ready, it’s time to seek out valuation. As previously mentioned, this can be a challenge, but you can start by doing a little bit of research on MHVillage and comparing and contrasting your property to others. Look at what other mobile homes in your area are listing and selling for, taking into account your home’s size, features and location. Next, order a MHVillage value report to get a general idea of how you should price your home. You may also consider having us perform a market-based appraisal so you get a highly detailed, accurate value.

Step 3: List Your Home on the Market

Your home is clean, appraised and revitalized. Now it’s time to list it for sale. With over $3 billion in manufactured homes sold annual, MHVillage is the best place to sell your mobile home online. Ours is the largest, most active website for manufactured housing and our listings show at the top of search engine results so they get much more traction from people searching in your area.

what to do before selling a mobile home

Partner with Us for Your Sale

If you’re here, you’re already halfway to a successful sale! We sell a total value of over $77 million each week, and there’s simply no alternative to MHVillage. With a free detailed seller’s guide, no sales commission and no hidden charges, there’s no reason not to make us your primary selling partner when listing your mobile home.

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