On November 27th, the Napa Valley Register published a frontpage article
captioned “Mobile home market is hot.” Since then I have had several
questions about the pros and cons.
Many people still have the impression that mobile homes are metal boxes on
wheels. But over the years, manufactured homes have not only increased in
size they have also increased in the quality of the structure and their interior
amenities. If you were blindfolded and guided into one of these homes, you
would not believe that you were not in a stick-built home on a foundation.
And like single family homes, they vary widely in their location, size, and
quality of the interior finishes. Some even have garages.
For example, sizes range from approximately 650 square feet to 2,000 square
feet. Most have central heating and air conditioning instead of the “swamp
cooler” box on top of a metal roof. And speaking of roofs, most are now
composition shingle roofs now.
Location is as varied as any housing development. Not only are there
differences between the communities in Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville,
Napa, and American Canyon, there are differences is the desirability of the
location of the lot within each “park.” Some of the considerations are views,
landscaping and size of private outdoor space, road noise, and proximity to
Clubhouse amenities can be as minimal as a small office space, to as inviting
as upscale hotel amenities. Swimming pools, hot tubs, exercise equipment,
pool tables, card tables, comfy chairs around a fireplace, meeting halls, and
community kitchens add to the feeling of community. And when times return
to folks feeling safe to gather in groups, barbeque parties, bocce tournaments,
bingo, and potluck holiday events will emerge again. In the meantime, some
have Tai Chi, Zumba, and Exercise classes in a socially distanced way, or
outdoors on a sunny day.
But let’s talk about money. Isn’t the space rent exorbitant?
It is a tradeoff. Since you are leasing the space where your home sits, there
are no true property taxes. There IS a tax bill, but this has replaced the
former annual state “tags” for each modular unit (If you have a double wide
home there used to be a tag for each). The valuation is based on the age and
size of the home, not the purchase price. For example, a $200,000 mobile
home could be only $400 a year. So, the space rent is a trade-off for the
combination of the community amenities and the greatly reduced annual
Here is one more important thing to consider. Since manufactured homes on
leased land are not “real property” they are treated differently in estate
planning. I am not a tax professional, and I am not an attorney. Please make
these professionals part of your decision-making process.
These “mobile home parks,” especially the ones for those that are at least 55,
have become real communities. Walking paths and quieter streets increase
the opportunity to chat with neighbors, comment on Christmas decorations,
or just ask if someone is feeling alright.
If my 40 years of selling homes in this beautiful valley can save you time and
money, please pass this tip to your friends.
If you have a question do not hesitate to ask me.