Selling a manufactured home on land is a bit different than selling a stick-built home. There are a few more inspections and requirements, not to mention finding a lender that will lend!
Here in the Auburn area of Western Washington, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of working through a few sticky manufactured home transactions over the last few months. Now, don’t get me wrong — working with the buyers and sellers was truly a pleasure! It’s just that there are so many different steps to be taken that sometimes clients can feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole process; and it’s so necessary to be the knowledgeable hand that helps guide the sale.
With a couple of caveats that every transaction is truly different and that different jurisdictions have slightly different requirements, here are a few starter points.
1. Not every manufactured home qualifies for traditional financing methods – only those built after June 15, 1976. Your home built on May 31, 1976 won’t qualify for traditional financing — you’ll need to appeal to a buyer that has all cash or some source of private funding.
2. Know that in order to get any sort of financing for the purchase of a manufactured home, the home must have gone through a title elimination process. A bit of background – when a manufactured home is purchased, it’s personal property – like a car or boat. Title is maintained by the Department of Licensing just like the title to a car. This is likely a testament to the fact that a manufactured home is towed down the road on its own axles and tires, which are then typically removed when the home is placed on its foundation.
That personal property title must be eliminated and the home married to the real property (the land) on which it sits. Home loans are for real property – not for vehicles.
3. Speaking of Foundations — this gets a bit tricky. Prior to 1996, manufactured homes were often trucked to their site and then set up on a series of concrete blocks. Those blocks often sat on poured or prefab cement slabs. Then tie downs were attached to the underlying steel beams that run the length of the home and subsequently secured to the earth or the cement slabs, or whatever. In our area, which is generally not subject to enormously high winds such as hurricanes, some homes were installed without the tie downs and just sit on the blocks.
Now then – bear with me – FHA and VA loans are often used for manufactured homes. It used to be that conventional funding was a bit more lenient with requirements, but I’ve found lately that conventional and FHA/VA requirements are similar. So here’s the thing. In 1996, HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) placed a requirement that all manufactured homes on private land must be secured to a “permanent foundation,” which they defined. These permanent foundations are designed to prevent the home from shifting or moving away from their supporting structures.
HUD guidelines state that compliance with the guidelines must be certified for all re-sales.
This means that a homeowner must ensure that the foundation system complies with the guidelines by hiring a licensed professional engineer to examine the current foundation structure and certify, in writing, that the foundation is compliant. If not, the homeowner must have the foundation retrofitted prior to sale.
4. One additional step can also be critical, and yet is so often overlooked by an existing manufactured home homeowner. Prior to adding anything to the exterior structure of the home, such as deck, porch, awning, an extra room, etc., you should have obtained an L&I permit in addition to obtaining the appropriate jurisdictional building permit (if required). That’s right – the Dept. of Labor and Industries must also permit and inspect your addition and certify that it meets the manufactured home standards.
See, manufactured homes are designed to be dismantled from their foundation and pulled down the road. That means all exterior structures surround the house must be self-supporting. For example, that deck must have supports and beams of its own – not merely attached to the home by means of a ledger board.
Similarly, electrical modifications, replacing your hot water heater, adding a wood burning or pellet stove, etc. must be approved by L&I. You’ll likely need proof of the modification. If you did not obtain the L&I permit before altering your home, you may need to obtain an L&I inspection before your home can be sold.
Absolutely your manufactured home can be sold. Paying attention to these 4 Critical Facts when selling your manufactured home can make all the difference in an easy sale!