Modular homes, also called manufactured housing, are built in a factory, and must meet construction standards as set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Many modular homes are constructed as independent units, which may be combined with other modular units to create custom home designs. Manufactured homes were originally built on axles so that they could be moved from property to property, and were therefore called mobile homes. However, the term “mobile home” is nearly obsolete today, considering more than 95 percent of these homes are permanently affixed to property. Purchasing a manufactured home is not the same as purchasing conventional housing. Follow these steps to buy a modular house.
1. Decide on the type of home you want. There are a number of things to consider before you shop for a modular home, so that you know what you are shopping for.
- Square footage pertains to the size of the home. Larger modular houses are generally a combination of more than 1 manufactured housing unit. Units may be anywhere from 400 square feet (37 square meters) to 2500 square feet (232 square meters).
- The floor plan encompasses the layout, as well as the number of levels, a modular home has. For example, you may want the master bedroom on 1 side of the house, and the guest rooms on the other side of the house, or you may prefer to have only living spaces downstairs and bedrooms upstairs.
- Design aesthetic. You will have to choose the outside finish of your modular house, and some finishes may cost more than others. For example, you may choose between vinyl siding, wood, brick veneer or hardboard, and you may opt to add designer touches like bay windows, awnings and pitched rooflines.
- Upgraded options will cost you extra, and can include anything from energy-efficient appliances to storm windows.
3. Shop around. There are a number of ways you may go about finding a modular house of your liking.
- Retail sales centers are a one-stop shop when it comes to choosing, buying and placing your modular home. When you visit a retailer, you are able to tour models, sit face to face with a salesperson who can answer all of your questions, go through an extensive list of manufactured housing features, customize your home to your wants and needs, choose a lot, obtain financing and order your home. Retailers also handle the home’s delivery and set up on your property, and handle your warranty.
- Developers of manufactured housing communities may have a number of homes for you to choose from, and as well may be able to refer you to sources for financing.
- Real estate agents are a great source if you are in the market to buy a used modular house.
5. Obtain financing. When purchasing a modular home, the process of acquiring a mortgage approval is different from that of applying for conventional home financing. Not only do you have to prove your own credit worthiness and ability to repay the loan, but your home, and the property it is to be placed on, also has to pass a rigid inspection to ensure it is up to lender standards.
- Search online for retail sales centers and call them to ask for information. They should be able to send you a catalog of their modular home offerings that you can look over to get an idea of the type of home you want to buy.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau before doing business with a manufactured housing retailer. The retailer will be handling so many aspects of your purchase, and will also be responsible for handling any subsequent issues that arise with either the home or the warranty, so it is important that you know you are working with a reputable business before you make a commitment.
- Check the home’s energy package to make sure it is appropriate for the climate zone you plan on placing the home in.
- Be aware that if you are purchasing a new modular house, you are not only responsible for the cost of the home and the property, but you will also have to account for the costs of constructing a foundation for your home and hooking up utilities on your property.