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3Ms continued

So what if you’re looking at a home, and you’re not sure whether it is a Mobile, Manufactured, or Modular home? What’s the next step if you’re interested in it, but need to know which one it is?

There are several things you can do to further investigate:

1. Take a walk around the entire home, looking for any tags that may be affixed on the exterior (usually near a corner of the home). If there is a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), it probably is a mobile or Manufactured home (note: See my previous blog entry for links to definitions).
2. Look inside the home. You may find a VIN tag inside a utility closet or someplace near where the utilities are located.
3. Call the Department of Licensing in Olympia. They can look in their records and tell you if there is a registered mobile home under the current owner’s name.
4. Visit the county’s Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES). In order to place a home on the property, the owner must have gotten a permit from the county. In the permit records, you may find information that specifies whether the home is a Mobile, Manufactured, or Modular. (note: don’t rely soley on the county records, as they can be wrong! I listed a home that was specified as a Mobile in the permit, but it was a Modular home).

If after all of the above steps you still don’t know, call the title company. They can send out a title inspector to the property who can make the determination. In fact, the title company is a critical factor in this process because if they state in the title report that it is a mobile home, your lender’s interest rates may be higher!

*It may seem redundant to state, but the above information applies mostly if you’re looking at a home on owned property, not in a “mobile home park”. By its very definition, a mobile home park will likely have mobile and manufactured homes located there.

**Another thing to be aware of, is that not all appraisers can spot the difference either! I’ve had a appraiser tell me that a home was a mobile (even though he couldn’t find a VIN), when it was a modular home.

Happy house hunting!

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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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