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Mobile vs. Manufactured vs. Modular

The 3 M’s of housing… Thanks to Hollywood, all three words used to conjure up the same visual in my mind. I thought of Jim Rockford of the The Rockford Files. This was my favorite show growing up. He used to live in a mobile home in a parking lot in Malibu, CA. I once won a radio show call-in contest for trivia about his Firebird. The question? What was Jim Rockford’s license plate number? The answer? 853 OKG. But alas, I digress… This is after all, a blog about real estate. Back to the 3 M’s.

Visually, the 3 homes may look alike. Structurally, they are built the same way (they are all built in factories and brought out to the lot in sections). But, that is where the similarities end.

Mobile and Manufactured homes are built to standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Modular homes are built to state and local building codes. When sold, Mobile and Manufactured homes are considered to be no different than a motor vehicle. On these structures, you’ll find a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) just like a car. And like a car, these structures are considered to be “Personal” property. Modular homes on the other hand, are considered to be “Real” property just like stick built homes (built on the property).

Financing a Mobile or Manufactured home is more difficult than financing a Modular home. In fact, unless the seller has taken steps to convert the home from personal property to real property in a process called “title elimination“, it can be nearly impossible to find a bank who will lend on a mobile or manufactured home. Financing a Modular home is much easier and no different than if the home were built on the lot. The revised codes of Washington (RCW) section 65.20.040 outline the process for title elimination.

Bottom line –

There are serious financial and legal differences between Mobile / Manufactured / Modular homes. Be educated. Know what you are buying. And if you get the chance to watch The Rockford Files, look for his license plate…

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  1. Carolena

    Interesting to know.

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