Investors: Avoid Costly Errors With These 5 Mobile Home Transport Mistakes

Investors: Avoid Costly Errors With These 5 Mobile Home Transport Mistakes

5 min read
John Fedro

John Fedro has been actively investing in individual mobile homes since 2002 and in parks since 2016. Additionally, he’s been assisting other mobile home investors since 2006.

Experience
Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a four-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to his cash-flowing portfolio. Since these early years, John has gone on to help 150+ sellers and buyers sell their unwanted mobile homes and obtain a safe and affordable manufactured home of their own.

Years later, John keeps to what has been successful—buying, fixing, renting, and reselling affordable housing known as mobile homes. Like almost every long-term investor, he’s made more mistakes than he can count. John discusses many of them on his blog and YouTube channel, where he shares his stories, experiences, lessons, and some of the experiences of other successful mobile home investors that he’s helped.

John has written over 300 articles concerning mobile homes and mobile home investing for the BiggerPockets Blog. He has also been a featured podcast guest on BiggerPockets and other prominent real estate podcasts, authored a highly-rated book aimed at increasing the happiness/satisfaction of average real estate investors, and spoken to national and international audiences concerning the opportunities and practicality of successfully investing in mobile homes.

John now spends his time actively investing in individual mobile homes and acquiring parks. He focuses on enjoying his time and partnering with other investors around the country to grow their own local mobile home cash-flowing portfolios and reputations.

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As an active mobile home investor, it is not a question of if you will move a mobile home but rather when. Many mobile homes and manufactured homes can be purchased and remain where they sit without any issues. However, there are unique advantages and disadvantages to mobile home transport.

Sometimes, it’s even required. For instance, some mobile homes are advertised as “must be moved.” In these cases, the sellers want to install a newer mobile home on their land—or even upgrade to a site-built home.

And while mobile home transport may seem as easy as hitching the home up to a truck and pulling it down the road, there are more steps to the process. Between physical limitations, costly mistakes, legal setbacks, and general human error, there can be a number of mistakes that may happen along your journey. Don’t make these mistakes during mobile home transport.

Related: 4 Common Mobile Home Title Issues (& How to Fix Them!)

1. Not asking for referrals

Expect disappointment from unvetted mobile home transportation companies. I have heard lies, I’ve been the victim of theft, and I’ve been taken advantage of multiple times. When having a company completely pick-up, move, and set up an entire investment property, make sure you’re dealing with reputable, honest, and qualified people.

Pro tip: Reach out to local mobile home parks and dealers for their recommendations. Make sure to call at least three to price shop and get the best offers. Many moving companies will have in-house electricians and plumbers to connect all utilities and even your home’s HVAC system.

2. Failing to pull permits

Most areas require pulling permits to both move and set the home up in a new location. In some areas, you can move a mobile home with very little red tape or restrictions. However, some cities and counties have age and size restrictions—and as the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to call your local permit office and check. You may also be required to obtain electrical, plumbing, and gas connection permits.

Luckily, many movers handle this process for you. The local mobile home park or city you are moving to should be able to point you in the direction of the permit office or local contractors/professionals that can connect these utilities and pull permits on your behalf. If you’re not moving to a pre-existing mobile home park, still make sure to ask around for competent electricians and/or plumbers.

Pro tip: Make sure to call multiple movers to ask them what services are included and what prices they would charge to move a 14 x 70 mobile home 50 miles or less. This will give you a good gauge as to who is offering what price and what is included for this money.

Related: 7 Must-Check Items When Inspecting a Mobile Home

3. Not knowing laws and zoning regulations

Before pulling permits, call the local zoning department in the area where you will be moving the mobile home. You are calling the zoning department to find out what restrictions are placed on used mobile homes being moved into the city, county, parish, or township. For example, some cities may allow only homes 20 years and newer. Others may have size, construction, foundation, or wind or snow rating restrictions.

Pro tip: Ask the local zoning department about setbacks on the proposed property. If this is private land you own, you will need to know what distance the home must be from the edge of the property. However, if this mobile home is being moved to a pre-existing mobile home park, the park manager will typically already understand the setbacks and tell you and your mover exactly where the mobile home should be placed.

4. Skipping the utility connection

Make sure to correctly connect all utilities once the home is moved. Some mobile home transportation companies offer a “one-stop shop” when it comes to moving and connecting the home to utilities. Other manufactured home transportation companies will tell you to outsource these connections to a locally licensed electrician and plumber.

Call around to compare prices with various electricians and plumbers. (Many contractors will pull permits directly for you where applicable.)

Pro Tip: Few mobile home transportation companies reinstall mobile home skirting after moving. They will tie the home down securely to the ground so the mobile home is up to code, but you’ll need to add skirting (or hire someone to do so).

This isn’t typically included because often the mobile home will be placed at a completely different height from the ground than the previous location. This means all new skirting must be cut and installed. Skirting materials and costs will vary.

Related: 5 Common Exterior Mobile Home Repairs (& How to Handle Them!)

5. Ignoring park rules

Typically, a single person or group owns a mobile home parks. These owners determine the moving rules and procedures. As an investor, you should know if the community requires mobile homes to be or have:

  • Vinyl siding
  • Built after a certain year
  • A specific length and width
  • A deck at all doors
  • A carport
  • Tongue and hitch removed
  • A shed
  • Curb appeal and landscaping.

6. Not asking the right questions

Before calling a moving company, make sure you’ve asked yourself (and your team of experts) the appropriate questions.

Does the home really need to be moved?

Moving a mobile home is a fairly easy and straightforward process—most of the time. However, if you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a mover, then why bother? Make sure that you will make a good return on your money after the home is moved.

Over the years, I have met a few investors who transported mobile homes for no good reason. These investors over-analyzed one or two insignificant flaws in the existing mobile home park. They then paid thousands of dollars to have the homes transported and set up elsewhere. But as an investor, you won’t be living in this mobile home—so don’t make a judgment on your future buyer’s behalf.

If a park is willing to work with you and allow you to invest within their walls, keep the home there and aim to keep a friendly relationship with management. This will likely lead to more deals within the park.

Who will pay for the move?

As mobile home investors, we make money in the long run renting, collecting payments, or selling the property. However, there’s another way to make (or save) money while mobile home investing. There are mobile home parks all across the U.S. that offer “move-in incentives” if you move a qualifying mobile home into their community.

This means that if you choose to move a good-looking mobile home into a park and agree to keep the home in this community for a certain number of years, the park offers discounted or free lot rent for a certain period of time. Alternatively, they may offer to pay for part or all of your move and setup.

Pro tip: Ask local parks about move-in incentives and their restrictions are for new or used homes coming into their community.

Is it the right time of the year to move?

For readers located in cold, snowy states, consider the time of the year when purchasing a mobile home that must be moved. No, mobile home transport isn’t impossible in winter—but its’s best to wait for warmer weather.

Pro tip: Time of the year shouldn’t make or break a mobile home sale. However, alert the seller and negotiate that the remain in its current location until the weather warms. In situations like this, there should be zero or minimal holding costs.

In all reality, when you are working with a competent and experienced mobile home transportation company, the process of relocating a manufactured home is simple and easy. Do your research—put in the time and energy to vet local mobile home transportation companies now before you need the help.

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