Don’t you love getting a good deal?

When shopping for real estate, nobody wants to pay full price. As buyers looking for a bargain, we start with distressed properties, hoping to flip the property for a good profit spread. Seeing a substantial profit made over the original cost of the property gives you a feeling of satisfaction on such a smart decision.

Now add to that feeling of success the knowledge that you are helping out a seller who would lose everything if you didn’t act quickly. You’re also providing a future buyer a newly improved home, even though that person doesn’t make a substantial income.

Let’s talk about my area of specialty in real estate: mobile homes.

When I first started investing in mobile homes on leased land more than 10 years ago, I learned that many owners of mobile homes (or manufactured homes) who are leasing land in a mobile home community or private land are motivated to sell for a variety of different reasons.

Take a look at the following reasons why they would be motivated to sell cheaply and for a substantial discount:

They cannot afford to pay their lot rent and are facing eviction.

Let me explain this one a bit more. Let’s say the sellers own their mobile home free and clear. However, their mobile home is located in a mobile home park. They are obligated to pay lot rent each month to keep their mobile home in that park.

If they don’t pay rent, the park reserves the right to evict them for nonpayment per the landlord tenant laws for mobile home parks in that area. Considering that it can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 to move a mobile home, they are stuck. If they can’t pay their lot rent, how are they going to pay to move their mobile home?

They only have a certain period of time to remove their home. Otherwise, it becomes the park’s property. The park would then get the mobile home to do whatever it wants, with no payment or funds offered to the sellers in exchange for it. So the sellers will need to sell quickly before they lose everything.

Not everyone can qualify or get a loan for a mobile home. 

Financing options for new prospective buyers is limited, and many mobile homes cannot be financed, so that adds to the degree of difficulty for a distressed seller. A buyer would need to pay cash. If you have cash, can close quickly and are willing to do the much-needed repairs they couldn’t afford, you get an even better deal on a future mobile home purchase.

The seller does not have a free and clear title.

I cannot tell you how many times I have bought a mobile home when the title was in the possession of one of the following: bail bonds company, title loan company, “buy here pay here” lot and even a pawn broker.

In those cases, the seller has used the title as collateral for a loan and has not paid it off. If he or she loses the property to eviction or the entity in control of the title wants its money now, the seller will be anxious to cash out with some money rather than lose it to one of these sources.

There are more traditional cases, too, where the seller has a loan on the property and is about to lose it for nonpayment of the mortgage, so he or she will try to sell before the foreclosure process is complete. I have even bought a few mobile homes as short sales from local credit unions.

Make sure you protect yourself and know the whole history of the property before you buy a mobile home in this situation.

The sellers have a pending contract on a site-built home, but they need money out of their mobile home before they can close on a new home. 

The purchase contract on the site-built home will only allow them so much leeway before they will have to cancel that contract and possibly lose earnest money.

Even if they have saved up money for their new home, they probably don’t want to keep their mobile home for long, because they are still responsible for lot rent and fees until they sell it or else they will lose it to the park. Most people want to get rid of those extra costs as soon as possible.

The seller is having difficulty with park managers or park regulations regarding who can purchase the mobile home. 

There are a lot of parks that want to rent just land and not own mobile homes, so they have no problem with an investor getting a good deal, fixing up the home and getting them a better tenant in the park. You might even find a property manager who does not want to deal with an eviction or re-market the property and who will pass leads to you for free!

But some parks do want the homes, so you won’t be able to easily buy mobile homes in those parks. Don’t be upset if you are denied. In that case, you wouldn’t want to purchase a mobile home in their park anyway. Why? If it is in their park, they get dictate who goes in it. If you don’t play by their rules, you will pay. No really, you will pay!

Here is a situation I ran across a few years ago that illustrates this in greater detail. I was looking at a portfolio of mobile home notes and mobile homes. I went to check out the portfolio with the current owner.

We came across a lone mobile home in a midsize park located in Boise, Idaho. The park was well maintained and had an assortment of mobile homes in it. The home in this man’s portfolio obviously had been rehabbed and currently was for sale for a reasonable price.

I asked him how long it had been for sale. He said almost a year. Something was wrong here. I noticed the other mobile homes for sale in the community were listed by the park. I did some more digging and eventually found out that the park did not approve of his buying in their community, so they found reasons to reject every applicant he sent over. If he didn’t maintain the lot rent, he would lose his investment in the rehabbed mobile home, but as he kept paying lot rent, his margin shrunk each month.

So make sure the park you are buying in is willing to to let investors buy mobile homes in their park and that you read over their rules and regulations very carefully.

These represent only a sampling of the many reasons a mobile home seller would be willing to sell his or her mobile home with substantial discounts. Just because mobile homes are cheap, don’t assume they will be in a horrible neighborhood or need so many repairs that it will not be worth your time.

Many of the mobile homes I have bought over the years have been virtually move-in-ready, but I got them for a great price because I had cash and I could close quickly. The homes I did make repairs on and modernized looked great when finished, and I showed them with pride to potential buyers who were excited to move into a home of their own.

I smiled all the way to the bank, with more money to invest in the next mobile home.

  • Dawn Erling

    Dawn Erling has been in the real estate industry for 20-plus years, investing in mobile homes for more than 10 years. She is a nationwide professional speaker and trainer and co-founder of, which offers a variety of training programs and tools for anyone interested in investing in mobile homes on leased land, purchased land or entire mobile home parks. For more details, go to

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