Mobile Home Investing Red Flags

After you have successfully closed a few mobile home deals you may find it necessary to NOT hire an inspector or contractor to inspect your mobile home properties before you purchase them. With a mobile homes’ simple shape, structure, and a “what you see, is what you get” construction, these homes typically show potential obstacles and warning flags if you know where to look.

What follows is a list of mental-notes to make when walking through your next investment mobile home.

Water Discoloration or Dark Spots on Ceilings: Many times walking through mobile homes you are going to see signs of past water spots, current water leaks, and other damage on the interior ceilings. Once you have identified a discolored area of the ceiling check to feel if that spot is damp. If so, when was the last rainstorm? Question the owners and double check repairs were completed to code to fix the water source leak. If possible, lift up the existing damaged ceiling panel and check to feel if the insulation or interior ceiling space is damp, and make sure to make any needed repairs. Wash hands.

Pipes Not Going Anywhere: Immediately after I purchased and resold a nice looking mobile home back in 2005, I heard from the new owner that the bathtub pipes and toilet pipes underneath the mobile home led straight to the ground under the home. It turns out the metal pipes that ran underneath the mobile home connecting the toilet and tub TO the sewer where cut and removed. So now, any water or fluid that left the bathroom landed squarely on the Earth below the home. This whole embarrassing incident could have been avoided had I bent down and with a flashlight looked to see if all the pipes below the home led safely to pipes below ground.

Drainage Slope: During a heavy rain do you know if the ground underneath your next mobile home would retain or shed water. The ideal situation is for the land underneath your home, if not a solid slab, to be slightly sloped towards the nearest drainage ditch or sewer. Your goal is to avoid stagnant water underneath the home for any reason.

Outlets That Do Not Work: Many older manufactured homes built prior to 1971 use aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring is known to oxidize and deteriorate over time. This deterioration can cause bad connections and electrical shorts. Electric wiring problems can become a money pit so keep a close eye on electrical issues on all older mobile homes as they can be indicative of large problems to come.

Puffed-Up Cabinets and/or Floors: Almost all mobile homes are susceptible to water damage in the wet areas of the mobile home; also in ceiling corners and under exterior windows. Many older mobile homes that still retain their original flooring in the bathrooms and kitchen will suffer from minor issues of “Puff-Up Floor Syndrome”. This wood-expanded area of the water damaged floor and/or wall section is due to inexpensive particleboard or Oriented strand board (OSB) being used in construction to keep costs low. It is inevitable that overtime, sinks will overflow, drains will get clogged, and dishwashers will leak, but it is important that once the water source is fixed the wood damage, puffy floor, mold, and mildew are halted and cured as well.

In conclusion, remember it is oftentimes the obvious problems that pass right by us unnoticed. Bring a flashlight, camera, and pair of gloves while going to first appointments with sellers. Often times we investors get so excited to close another deal (with dollar signs in our eyes) we overlook simple and obvious warning flags. Keep your eyes open and stay profitable.

Start collecting 1 mobile home at a time,

–              John Fedro

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