What is mobile home flipping?
Flipping a mobile home on land means that the home is either a manufactured home or a mobile home that sits on a property that you own—rather than in a park or on land you have to pay rent for—AND you are buying and selling it for a profit.
Flipping mobile homes can be VERY lucrative.
And a big plus is that in most parts of the US, there’s much less competition than in the category of flipping single-family residences.
People get “turned away” from it. Thinking there’s no money, or that there are no buyers, or that you can’t get a loan on it, or that it’s too hard.
All that is false (except for the loan part, but that’s more of a small obstacle that can be worked around which we’ll explain later.)
If there’s a market for mobile homes (which in most parts of the US there is), then you could make a killing off mobile homes.
And in this guide, I’ll be showing you a complete run-through of how to do it, with BOTH homes where you own the land, and homes where you have to pay a land lease.
To show you how lucrative it can be, check out this video of Ryan Pineda, an investor, showing how he made a killing with mobile homes recently:
Let’s dive into the rest of the article…
Mobile home VS. Manufactured Home
Before we get into the nitty gritty we have some essplaining to do.
You’ll hear these two terms used interchangeably (for the purpose of this guide, Mobile homes will ALSO mean manufactured homes). But they are technically different. A mobile home is built PRE- 1976 (June 15, 1976). While a Manufactured home was built POST June 14, 1976. This affects the ability to obtain a loan which we’ll talk about later.
On land vs in a park
When we say “mobile home on land” what we mean is that you OWN the land the mobile home sits on, as opposed to having to pay a lease on the land your mobile home sits on. “In a park” means it’s in a mobile home park where you pay space rent (lease).
Finding deals (both on land and in a park)
There are two ways to find these deals:
- Via an agent and/or MLS
- Off-market, direct to seller.
We won’t touch too much into the first option because it’s self-explanatory. However… for mobile homes we HIGHLY encourage you to find your own deals off the market.
Mobile homes are often much less expensive than singly family houses. BUT, they can be expensive to fix up if you don’t know what you’re looking for. A “deal” on the MLS usually doesn’t come with a big enough margin and buffer for you to make any money and keep your investment safe. Mobile homes require a bigger margin when buying. We’ll go over the formulas for buying later.
To find off-market deals, you’ll be using the same marketing techniques as SFR (single-family residence). Marketing and sales are no different. As a print shop, we’ll “unbiasedly” give our .02 cents in using real estate handwritten mailers to find these ;).
Here are some other methods for finding mobile homes deals off-market:
- Networking with park managers (park managers are the eyes and ears of the park. They know where the sellers are before anyone else. Developing a relationship with them can mean years of deal flow)
- Social media marketing (showing your local area what you do and that you buy mobile homes and fix them up)
- Direct Mail (Mobile homes have the advantage that they are usually clumped together in small tight spaces. You have parks (land owned and leased owned — we’ll cover that later), and you have neighborhoods that are just mobile homes. You can easily blanket a neighborhood of 200 homes with direct mail. The upside to direct mail to mobile homes, is that there are more motivated sellers (typically) than in SFR)
- Networking with local real estate agents and mobile home dealers (again, they are typically the “funnel” for most of the deal flow in the area. The upside, is that there are A LOT of licensed agents that have no clue what to do with mobile homes. You can be their “go-to” person
To get a detailed guide on using direct mail for mobile homes, subscribe below:
Finding mobile home deals vs SFR deals
If you focus on finding mobile homes, in most areas, you have 2 very unique advantages over SFR investors. That is that there are FAR less competitors in this space, AND there are more motivated mobile home owners than SFR.
The reason there are more motivated sellers in this space are a few:
- Typically lower income (and lower income brackets tend to have more financial problems)
- There are fewer buyers (Because most of these homes can only be purchased with cash — we’ll cover that later — that restricts an owners selling ability)
- Longer days on market (Not always true, it varies from market to market and if you’re dealing with mobile homes on land vs in a park—But if there are fewer buyers, than it takes longer to sell)
Mobile homes on land
This functions a lot like single-family homes but with a few differences. What we mean by “mobile homes on land” is that you OWN the land the mobile home sits on. There are many parks out there where you don’t own the land your home sits on and instead you have to pay a lease.
These are obviously better in terms of wealth creation, but we’ll cover later on to make mobile homes in a park very lucrative as well.
Exit strategies for mobile homes on land
Flipping and selling retail
Just like with single-family residences, mobile homes on land can be fixed and flipped and sold on the MLS. We’ll get into a section later on how to fix these which are a little different than SFRs.
Many investors like to buy mobile homes on land and rent them out. A BIG reason is that their prices are much lower than SFR’s, BUT the rent income is almost equal to SFR’s. So it makes the ROI much greater.
Here’s an example:
As you can see… the cash flow is nearly the same. But the initial investment is dramatically less than a house. This gives you a greater ROI, and leaves you with more cash to purchase more cash-flowing assets.
Here’s an investor that shows you how to make passive income, holding mobile homes on land:
Obstacle – Getting a loan
A big obstacle to these is your ability for your retail buyer to get a loan on a mobile home that’s PRE 1976. As mentioned earlier, a manufactured home is one that was built on June 15, 1976, or newer. A MOBILE home was built PRE June 15th, 1976 (for the purpose of this article, we use “mobile home” to signify both manufactured and mobile homes, but they are different).
Since finding a cash buyer for these aren’t difficult (because the ROI on them are much better than SFR), you can easily find a handful or less of cash buyers and just keep selling the contracts to them.
This date is significant because the federal government stepped in and created a “standard” for how mobile homes have to be built; placing codes and safety requirements going forth from that date.
This has a huge impact on lending ability, and your ability to flip it. Either way, wholesaling mobile homes can still be done.
Here’s a video of Rick Ginn, of “Flip with Rick”, explaining how to make $20K a month flipping mobile homes:
Getting a loan – mobile homes vs. manufactured homes
- Manufactured homes have a larger selection of lenders to choose from.
- Mobile homes have a very limited selection of lenders to choose from.
- Mobile home loans have harder requirements for the borrower.
- Mobile home loans sometimes have larger interest rates.
- Mobile home loans sometimes have larger down payment requirements.
Manufactured home on land
If your manufactured home is on a permanent foundation, then that opens the doors to many more loan options — but it MUST sit on a permanent foundation, and must be considered “manufactured” (I.e. Post June 14th, 1976)
Here’s a video showing you what a permanent foundation looks like:
Types of loans for mobile homes and manufactured home
- Fannie Mae – Conventional loan only for manufactured homes on land with strict home criteria
- Freddie Mac – Conventional loan only for manufactured homes on a foundation with strict home criteria
- VA loan – only for manufactured homes on a foundation
- FHA loans – only for manufactured homes on land, not leased land (not in a park).
- Chattel loans – used for mobile homes and manufactured, whether or not you own the land.
- Personal loan – A last-ditch effort to get a loan on a mobile home.
Flipping to an end buyer
As you can see, whether or not your mobile home is on land, AND whether or not you have a permanent foundation (which can always be added in as a cost of your rehab), greatly affects the selling ability of your home.
If your end buyer can’t get a loan, when you try and sell it, it dramatically lowers your buyer pool.
There are a lot of inventors who hold these homes instead. If it’s a difficult home to sell because loan options are decreased… they’ll just hold it and collect rent (or note payment which we’ll discuss later)
Alternatives to a loan
Since many mobile homes are difficult to obtain a loan for, most are sold for cash in the retail market.
There is another alternative to selling it for cash.. And that’s selling with seller finance terms. We’ll discuss this later.
Comping mobile homes on land
“Comping” means you’re looking for a similar property that has sold, to come up with a price you can sell (and buy) at.
You have to look at similar properties that have sold in the last 6 months (sometimes you have to look at the full year if there isn’t enough sold data to look at. Make sure that if you’re going to sell the property without a permanent foundation, you only look at properties that sold without a foundation, and vice versa, to get accurate pricing.
Make sure you only look at manufactured homes NOT single-family homes because that will throw your pricing way off — that is a constant mistake of real estate agents.
Much like SFR, you’ll be using rules of thumb like the 75% rule (minus repairs) if you plan on flipping it. However, we do recommend that you have a bigger buffer due to unforeseen repairs like bad subfloors (which we’ll cover later)
Flipping Mobile Homes in a Park/Leased-Land
This strategy scares lots of people away. However, it CAN be very lucrative with the right strategy, which we’ll show you here.
Essentially, this is NOT real estate investing. Because you don’t OWN the land. It’s much more like “car investing” but with the added bonus of most mobile homes don’t move and stay in one spot.
The Trail Blazer
There is one person who spearheaded this strategy and made it publicly popular.
His name is Lonnie Scruggs. And his strategy has been popularly called “Lonnie Deals”
Here’s what his book looks like, which you can find on Amazon:
The basic investment strategy
- Buy a mobile home in a park for cash at 50% (minus repairs) of ARV.
- Pay cash to the motivated seller
- Coordinate with the park manager
- Pay rent space while you find a buyer (some parks will let you fix and sell without paying rent space)
- Sell inside the park
There are multiple ways to sell the property, so we’ll go into a few of the strategies below:
Strategies to sell
Flip for cash
This is the simplest mode of selling. Just find a cash buyer (when we say “cash buyer” it refers to an owner occupant with all cash to buy) with $20k-$100k in cash (depending on the cost of the homes in that park).
The pros to this are that it’s SIMPLE, and you get a nice check at the end of it.
The cons to this are that you lower your buyer pool, and increase the number of Days on the Market to sell.
While selling for cash… You might come across someone who has pre-qualified for a chattel loan and can pay via loan. The end result is the same: a fat wire into your bank account.
This is what Lonnie Scruggs is famous for.
This is basically Note Creation.
The basics are this:
- Pay cash for a home (using the same buying formula as above, 50% MAX (minus repairs) of ARV.
- Find a buyer willing to make payments to YOU
- Ask for a down payment.
- Collect every month until paid off.
Why would anyone want to do this rather than find a cash buyer?
- The park may have a VERY long Days on Market to find a cash buyer (it’s a lower-income park)
- Passive income (you get a maintenance-free check every month — you’ll never have to clean a toilet)
- Bigger ROI (you can get huge returns if you play your cards right)
Here’s a video explaining it further:
Wholesaling mobile homes in a park
Although much harder to pull off than wholesaling mobile homes on land or SFRs, it CAN be done if:
- You find an escrow company that does assignments on mobile homes in a park
- The park approves (parks can be sticklers on this, and can be a PITA to work with)
Every state is different in how they transact mobile homes. There are not many escrow companies that DO transact mobile homes, but most of these transactions are done OUTSIDE an escrow (middle person), and rather inside the office of the government entity that governs mobile homes.
Again, each state is different, so it’s better to learn how it works in your state, then design a plan where you can wholesale and get paid an assignment fee.
Rehabbing a mobile home
Rehabbing a mobile home is slightly different than a single-family residence. And what you upgrade is going to greatly depend on the market, the location, and what park it’s in.
For example, if your mobile home is in a 55+ residential park, where it’s more of a high-income, luxury, park you’re going to want to add a few nice upgrades to keep up with the other homes being sold there; an upgrade for senior assistance like a handicap ramp.
But if you’re in a lower-income park, where they don’t care if it’s laminate countertops or granite — and the other homes being sold all have cheap laminate counters — then it might be a better idea to reduce your cost of rehab and use Laminate countertops
(or on the flip side… if there are a lot of homes competing with yours, and upgrading to granite isn’t that much more, you can add granite to give you a better edge over the competing homes for sale).
So, as you can, knowing your market is important for choosing how you will rehab the mobile home.
Here are some “musts” to consider when rehabbing a mobile home:
- Roof — Many older mobile homes are metal roofs, and these leak frequently. To fix metal roofs, it’s just a special roof sealant that you paint over it, made specifically for metal roofs.
The type of contractor that can do this for you is a painter (that knows mobile homes), or a handyman (that knows mobile homes).
- Water damage — Older mobile homes often almost always have water damage inside. You want these sections replaced. These can be as easy as cutting out a section of the subfloor and nailing in new plywood, or as complicated as removing an entire window to fix the structure around it.
The type of contractor that can do all this is a carpenter.
- Subfloor — Underneath your carpet or your tile is the subfloor of the home. It’s made out of plywood. These often are rotted out. But you don’t need to replace the entire subfloor (unless the entire subfloor is rotted out), just sections.
A carpenter or handyman can fix this.
- HVAC — Many older mobile homes either don’t have HVAC or need a replacement. If you’re in the desert it’s IMPORTANT to have central air. If you’re in colder places it pays to have some sort of hearing.
See an HVAC specialist
- Exterior — In some parks, they will have a list of “musts” that you need to have fixed or installed before you can sell the home. These might be ramps or rails that MUST be installed. See the park manager to get this list
See a handyman and/or landscape specialist
- Plumbing — The plumbing usually runs underneath the home in the crawl space. Often, you might find a drain disconnected and all the sink water spilling onto the floor, causing a smell.
See a plumber or handyman to fix
- Odors — If cats and dogs lived inside (which is often with mobile homes — I don’t know why, but many mobile homeowners are also pet owners), you’ll get a nasty pee smell that is VERY hard to go away. You’ll have to spray strong odor removers, then use latex paint (as a primer) on the subfloors, walls, and ceilings to help seal any smells coming through. Sometimes the smell is coming from underneath, in the crawl space; apply a strong odor remover for those.
You can DIY, or a handyman or painter can do as well.
- Electricity — Older homes have the old aluminum wiring and old boxes. Call an electrician to inspect and see if anything needs replacing.
There are parks, where there’s a manager and an office, but the mobile homeowners are ALSO the land owners and there is no park rent. This functions a lot like HOA’s.
These can be great investments because the homes are very affordable and you own the lot.
Land Leasing — Becoming a mini mobile home park owner
I’m going to finish it up with this last section.
There’s a strategy in mobile homes where you can rent out the land your home sits on. In fact, if you don’t EVERY want to deal with toilets or tenants or turnover, you can utilize this strategy to make some very REAL passive income.
So just like the strategies above, you’re going to buy a mobile home (on land), at a discount. But you can do two options from here:
- Rent out the mobile home and the lot to a tenant
- Or… SELL the mobile home on seller financing, but rent the lot it sits on.
On option 2, Just like a park, you don’t OWN the mobile home any longer. You can sell for cash (or payments), so that you no longer are responsible for the home, and then collect payments for the land.
A caveat to this…
This might sound like the ULTIMATE passive income (and it is), but it doesn’t work in every location. For example, if you find a mobile home in a very nice, luxury community-owned park, you might be hard-pressed to sell a mobile home to someone and tell them: “Oh but you won’t own the land either”. It has to be in markets where they don’t care about owning the land.
To get more articles and emails like this…
And receive our free eBook, “Direct Marketing for Investors”, sign up below: