A mobile home is typically viewed as a bad investment because mobile homes depreciate. This is only partially true. Mobile homes in parks do go down in value, but mobile homes on privately owned land usually go up in value, particularly if the land is in demand. In certain desirable areas, in fact, you'll find a preponderance of mobile homes: property around lakes, for instance, where people have been living in mobile homes as vacation or retirement homes. Sometimes these are places that once seemed a long drive from a metropolitan job center, but with more people willing to commute, more jobs in far-flung suburbs and outskirts of cities, and bigger and better highways, some of these areas see property values increase dramatically. Also, double-wide mobile homes tend to remain at the purchase value or even appreciate. Double-wide mobile homes are very common in retirement communities, where values continue to increase.
Mobile homes are cheaper upfront to purchase, and at about 1,100 square feet for a single-wide, living space is similar to a small two-bedroom house or relatively large apartment. A double-wide has about 1,700 square feet, making it as big as many houses.
You have several options for handling the mortgage. The least expensive option is to move the new home to a mobile home park, although you'll need to pay lot rental. Another possibility is to purchase a relatively inexpensive property where zoning allows a mobile home. With these options, you can keep the mortgage small, build equity faster and pay the loan off sooner.
Another option is to use the savings from buying a mobile home to purchase more expensive land. You may be able to obtain some choice property if you are willing to have a less expensive house. This is an excellent investment strategy as well, if you are in an area where property values are expected to continue increasing because of desirability, job stability and other economic factors. Property taxes and insurance also cost less for a mobile home than for a stick-built house.
Mobile homes are cheaper than a house to maintain in several ways. Fixing a mobile home roof costs less than fixing a traditional shingled roof, and adding a new roof over the top of the old one costs less than putting a new roof on a stick-built house. The furnace can be more reasonably priced because it heats a smaller living space and one floor only. Your heating bills will be lower because of the more compact space, particularly if you do some winterizing.
If you're looking at the mobile home as a short-term option (five years or less), you will most likely be able to sell it for at least what you paid for it, as long as you keep the building in great shape. A used mobile home will cost significantly less than a new one, so people will be inclined to buy a used one if it's almost like new. A mobile home also is a good choice if you own land and are planning to build there in the future. You can live in the mobile home while you're building the new house, and then sell the mobile home to be relocated.
If you own land, a double-wide and modular home both can be moved onto a basement. Also, many people buy a mobile home for recreational property and then move into it later as their main living place, sometimes for retirement. A mobile home can easily have a stick-built addition attached to it, and you commonly see this in areas that serve as vacation spots.