How to buy a manufactured home, including choosing size, floor plan and features, cost and financing, moving and delivery of a manufactured house.

Manufactured homes may have generous, airy interiors. Photo: Clayton Homes Clayton Homes

Are you in the market for a manufactured home? If so, you will discover that many are sold through retail centers that are independently owned and operated or operated by the manufacturer. In some states, these houses are purchased from a manufactured home community developer or through a real estate agent.

Be sure to shop around. Retailers are all over the map when it comes to products and services. Most are happy to help you select your home and its features and place your custom order with the factory. Coordinating delivery and installation is generally the retailer’s responsibility as well.

Be sure to ask about the warranty coverage provided by the retailer for the house’s transportation and installation. Get these terms in writing. The retailer may set up your insurance and financing, and once you’ve moved in, may be your contact for warranty service.

The most reliable way to find a retailer is to ask friends or other homeowners for recommendations. Or, you can look in the telephone directory under manufactured or mobile homes, or do an online search for prescreened modular home builders. You can also contact your state manufactured housing association for names and addresses of retailers and manufacturers in your area.

As you would with any major purchase, check the background of your potential retailers and manufacturers at your local Better Business Bureau and regional consumer protection agencies.

Choosing a Manufactured Home

If you’ve concluded that a manufactured home is the right choice for you, consider the following issues:

What size home and floor plan do you want?

Manufactured Home Bedrooms

Manufactured home are available in a variety of different sizes and floor plans that include spacious living rooms, family rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, fully equipped kitchens, and utility areas.

Depending on the total area of your home site, you can select a single-section or larger multi-section design. The sizes of available homes vary from about 900 to 2,500 square feet and can be customized.

What features are available?

With most homes, you can design your interior to include custom cabinets, walk-in closets, recessed bathtubs and whirlpools, and wood-burning fireplaces. Also, with most manufacturers’ computer-assisted planning, you will have quite a bit of control when selecting variations of floor plans and decor.

You can also choose from a selection of exterior designs, depending on your budget and style. Most exterior siding comes in a wide array of materials and colors including vinyl, metal, wood, and hardboard. Oftentimes exterior features such as awnings, patio covers, decks, and steps are also available.

How much can you expect to pay for a home?

Homes can cost anywhere from $15,000 to more than $100,000 depending on the size, features and floor plan.

What financing options are available?

Your first resort for finding financing is usually your retailer. You can also look for local lenders, but be careful when entering into long-term loans. Many options for manufactured home financing exist. Loan terms and downpayments are similar-usually 5 to 10 percent of the home’s sale price and loan terms from 15 to 30 years.

Many lenders offer fixed and variable rates, and most also tender programs that allow you an opportunity to “buy the rate down” (reduce the interest rate by paying an extra fee at the outset). Oftentimes traditional mortgage financing can be arranged if you decide to purchase the land where you place your home.

What other costs should you expect?

Your mortgage payments may be your biggest expense, but you’ll have an array of other regular and periodic payments. These might include property taxes, land rental fees, utilities, insurance, and maintenance. Modern manufactured homes are built in accordance with new national energy standards established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These energy conservation standards help to reduce your monthly energy costs.

How much maintenance will your home need?

If you purchase a manufactured home, you will typically receive a homeowner’s manual that outlines maintenance requirements.

Where will you put your home?

If you buy a manufactured home, a key consideration will be where to put it. No doubt you will be choosing between building on private land or in a land-lease community that is designed and intended for manufactured homes.