Are you considering a move to a new mobile home in Florida? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll guide you in your research as you talk to other mobile homeowners in Florida: Think about how you’ll prioritize price and luxury, get to know the relevant laws, find places to shop, look into different manufacturers, and think about natural conditions in your area.
Once you’ve done your research you can arrange financing and insurance, then sign a contract on your new home. Once the site is ready and the home is delivered and installed, you’ll be ready to move in.
You’ll get to know how to buy a mobile home in Florida so you’ll have a new home base for enjoying the sunshine in no time.
First, a quick note: we use “mobile homes” and “manufactured homes” interchangeably here, since both are frequently used, but “manufactured homes” is the current and preferred term.
Here are 8 key steps help you to buy a mobile home in Florida properly.
Table of Contents:
- Step 1: Chat with Current Owners in Florida
- Step 2: Think Cost and Lifestyle
- Step 3. Look into the Laws in Florida
- Step 4. Locate Nearby Sellers
- Step 5. Explore Different Manufacturers and Product Lines
- Step 6. Ponder What Nature Can Throw at You
- Step 7. Make it Official: Finance, Insure, and Sign the Contract
- Step 8. Get Ready, Get Set, Get Your Home!
- Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Mobile Homes in Florida
- 1. How much does a mobile home cost in Florida?
- 2. What are the requirements to buy a mobile home in Florida?
- 3. Is it safe to buy a mobile home in Florida?
- 4. Are There Zoning Restrictions for Mobile Homes in Florida?
- 5. Are mobile homes legal in Florida?
- 6. How many mobile home communities are in Florida?
Step 1: Chat with Current Owners in Florida
Talking to your future neighbors is a great way to learn about the benefits and shortcomings of a manufactured home. You might find residents who tell you a manufactured home is the best way to live a great life on a budget in Florida.
There are plenty of possible neighbors to choose from. The U.S. Census Bureau claims there are 854,599 manufactured homes in Florida.
Just how many is that? Of all the housing units in the state, manufactured homes count for about 8.8% statewide, a higher percentage than the 6.1% nationally.
The popularity of mobile homes in Florida, combined with the state’s #3 ranking in terms of population, results in a lot of manufactured home sales every year. In 2019 alone, 7,819 new manufactured housing units were shipped to various destinations in Florida.
When we count the number of manufactured homes financed, using data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, we find that Florida comes in second in the US for its number of manufactured home loans (2018 data). The same data points to two Florida counties that make the top 15: Polk County (sixth) and Lake County (14th).
A very large number of Florida’s manufactured homes are located in manufactured home communities (also called mobile home parks). In fact, Florida has about 5,100 of these communities in all (source: MHvillage.com). While many of those parks are open to all ages, many others are retirement communities for those aged 55 and up.
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Step 2: Think Cost and Lifestyle
There are two main reasons to select a manufactured home as your next abode: total cost and lifestyle.
Mobile homes are well known to be less expensive than site-built homes, but do you know why?
Manufactured homes are built inside a factory, protecting the work from weather-related delays and avoiding long drives to various job sites. Since the homes are assembled in one place, supplies can be bought in bulk and warehoused onsite.
Additionally, the uniform method of construction allows builders to become experts in their areas so they can work more quickly and with fewer errors. For cost-effectiveness, site-built homes can’t hold a candle to manufactured homes.
What do consumers get from this efficiency? You get a better price. The Manufactured Housing Survey says the average manufactured cost only $84,213 in the Southern part of the US in 2020. Meanwhile, the median overall value of homes in Florida is $245,100.
You might also choose a manufactured home for the lifestyle you get. Your home may be smaller in size and easier to maintain, and you can live in a community where you can share a variety of services and amenities with your neighbors. There may even be great social opportunities!
If the mobile home life is for you, and especially if your budget agrees, a manufactured home may be a great choice for your new Florida home.
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Step 3. Look into the Laws in Florida
The Florida Bar publishes a helpful online pamphlet about buying a mobile home; it’s one of many resources where you can get acquainted with the law. Among the advice is this:
“Have knowledge of the state and local laws pertaining to mobile homes – for example, every new mobile home must carry a warranty of at least one year. The manufacturer or dealer is required to correct any substantial defects in materials or work quality that may appear within that first year of your ownership and must do so within 30 days of receipt of written notification of the claim. Also, make sure the model you plan to buy was built to perform in the area in which you wish to live.”
The government body overseeing the manufacturing home industry in Florida is the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). This department is responsible for licensing dealers and manufacturers and for managing titles for manufactured homes.
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Step 4. Locate Nearby Sellers
When you’ve started your research, the next step is to find a few places to visit where you can walk around and tour some different units. It will help you get a sense of what you want and need in a home.
If you’re in the market for a pre-owned home, you can find listings online on typical real estate sites or mobile home-specific sites.
If you’re buying new, it’s time to check out a few dealerships.
Just like buying a car, you can buy a manufactured home at a dealership. You’ll have an opportunity to look around the lot and see the different types of home on offer. Your sales representative will be able to answer many questions.
Don’t settle for the first seller you visit; you’ll want to see at least a few different retailers so you understand how the whole process works and how the homes differ.
Be aware that dealerships come in two flavors: independent sellers (who may sell a variety of brands) and factory dealers (who sell from just one manufacturer).
One more place to look is at the community where you want to lease a lot. Sometimes park owners will have models available for you to buy.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department operates the occupational licensing program for dealers and salespeople in the state, making sure they have completed all necessary learning and requirements.
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Step 5. Explore Different Manufacturers and Product Lines
After doing a few tours, you’ll have a better idea of what you need. Then it’s a good time to read up on the manufacturers that sell in your area and all the products they have to offer.
Thanks to the HUD code, every builder needs to meet certain quality and safety standards. From there, though, they vary in style, layout, pricing, appearance, customer service, and the type of warranty they’ll supply.
Luckily for would-be owners in Florida, there are lots of manufacturers who sell in the state. Here are some of the best known:
- a) Buccaneer Homes
- b) Cappaert Homes
- c) Cavalier Home Builders (Clayton)
- d) Chariot Eagle (Cavco)
- e) Clayton Homes
- f) Deer Valley Homes
- g) Destiny Industries
- h) Fleetwood Homes (Cavco)
- i) Giles Industries (Clayton)
- j) Homes of Merit (Champion)
- k) Jacobsen Homes
- l) Live Oak Homes
- m) Nobility Homes
- n) Norris Homes (Clayton)
- o) Palm Harbor Homes (Cavco)
- p) Platinum Homes, LLC
- q) Ritz-Craft Corp.
- r) River Birch Homes, Inc (Southern Energy Homes – Clayton)
- s) Schult Homes
- t) ScotBilt Homes, Inc
- u) Skyline Corporation
- v) Southern Energy Homes, Inc. (Clayton)
- w) Sunshine Homes, Inc.
- x) TownHomes, LLC
- y) TruMH by CMH (Clayton)
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Step 6. Ponder What Nature Can Throw at You
When you research the construction of various homes, don’t forget to take into consideration the particular conditions in Florida that will work against your home. You want to buy a home that is well built to handle them.
Florida’s hurricanes are one of the biggest challenges to any home in the area. Roofs need to be securely attached and walls have to be strong. Luckily, manufactured homes have stood up very well to hurricane-force winds since HUD updated its wind safety standards in 1994 following Hurricane Andrew.
An Energy Star home can be a great option if you want to reduce your utility bills or your impact on the environment, and you can find Energy Star packages from many different brands. Since your home will likely have a single story with long exterior walls, it may be pricier to keep cool in the heat and humidity unless it’s well insulated and tightly sealed.
Much of your home’s strength will come from being properly installed and anchored to the ground, so it’s worth checking on the licensing and reputation of the team that will install it.
If you have questions or are worried about particular weather or environmental challenges, be sure to bring up your concerns to your sales representative and/or your installation team.
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Step 7. Make it Official: Finance, Insure, and Sign the Contract
Once you are ready to buy a home, whether it’s used, ready-made on the lot, or a new model with all the customizations you want and can afford, you will need to decide how to pay for it.
If you have the money on hand, perhaps from the sale of your current home, you can buy your mobile home in cash. More likely, you’ll be looking to finance the purchase.
When buying a manufactured home, you may qualify for a traditional mortgage in certain cases (generally requiring you to own the land), or you can take out a chattel loan. A chattel loan is for the purchase of expensive personal property.
About 65% of loans for manufactured homes in Florida are Land/Home loans, compared to about 35% chattel loans, as of 2018 data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
You’re not required by the state of Florida to purchase mobile home insurance, but it is still important; without it, you could risk a huge loss if something happens to your home. It may not be your decision, anyway, if you’re taking out a loan, because your lender may require insurance.
Once you have lined up financing and insurance, it’s time to sign your name on the contract. You’re on your way to your new Florida mobile home.
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Step 8. Get Ready, Get Set, Get Your Home!
Site preparation can vary greatly; if you’re moving into an existing lot in a park, there may be little or nothing to do. If you’re putting the home on private property, though, you might need to clear trees, level the site, pour a foundation, add a septic system, and more.
Generally, two or three months will pass from the beginning of your process to the week your manufactured home arrives at the site and gets installed. You’ll have a final walk-through before you’re given the keys. Then there’s nothing left to do but move into your new Florida manufactured home!
Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Mobile Homes in Florida
Before purchasing a mobile home, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, seek legal advice if necessary, and inspect the property carefully to make an informed decision. When buying a mobile home in Florida, there are several frequently asked questions (FAQs) that potential buyers often have. Here are some common questions and their answers to help you navigate the process:
1. How much does a mobile home cost in Florida?
The cost of a mobile home in Florida can vary widely based on several factors, including the location, size, age, condition, and any additional features or upgrades. Here’s a general price range for mobile homes in Florida:
Used Mobile Homes in Florida: Older mobile homes or those in less desirable areas can be relatively affordable, often ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 or even lower.
Newer Manufactured Homes: Newer manufactured homes, especially those built to higher standards and with modern amenities, can cost significantly more. Prices for new manufactured homes can start at around $50,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the size and features.
Luxury Manufactured Homes: Some manufactured homes in upscale communities with premium features and larger sizes can exceed $100,000 and go well into the six-figure range.
Land Costs: Keep in mind that in addition to the cost of the mobile home itself, you may need to factor in the cost of land if you are not purchasing a mobile home in a park. Land prices can vary greatly depending on the location within Florida.
Mobile Home Parks in Florida: If you plan to live in a mobile home park, you’ll likely need to pay monthly lot rent or lease fees. These can vary widely depending on the park’s location and amenities. Monthly lot rents can range from a couple of hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars.
It’s important to note that these prices are subject to change over time due to market conditions, so it’s advisable to consult with local real estate agents, mobile home dealerships, or online real estate listings to get up-to-date information on mobile home prices in the specific area of Florida where you are interested in purchasing. Additionally, if you plan to finance the purchase, the interest rate and terms of your loan will also affect the overall cost.
2. What are the requirements to buy a mobile home in Florida?
When buying a mobile home in Florida, there are several requirements and considerations you should be aware of. These requirements can vary depending on various factors, including whether you plan to place the mobile home on land you own or in a mobile home park. Here are some general requirements to consider:
Financial Requirements: Sufficient funds to cover the purchase price of the mobile home and any associated costs (e.g., taxes, insurance, maintenance).
Creditworthiness: If you’re financing the purchase with a loan, you’ll need a good credit history to qualify for financing at favorable terms.
Insurance: While mobile home insurance is not legally required for the mobile home itself, it’s highly recommended to protect your investment. If you own the land, you may also need homeowner’s insurance.
Property Location: If you plan to place the mobile home on land you own, you’ll need to ensure that the property is zoned appropriately for mobile homes. Zoning regulations vary by city and county in Florida.
Mobile Home Inspection:
It’s advisable to have a professional inspection of the mobile home to identify any structural or safety issues before finalizing the purchase.
Land Lease or Purchase Agreement (if applicable): If you’re placing the mobile home in a mobile home park, you’ll need to sign a lease or rental agreement with the park management. Be sure to review and understand the terms and fees associated with the park.
Permits and Regulations: You may need permits to install a mobile home on your land, and there may be specific regulations governing the installation process. Check with your local building department for guidance.
Age Restrictions (if applicable): Some mobile home parks in Florida have age restrictions, so inquire about these rules before purchasing.
Residency Requirements (if applicable): Some mobile home parks may require proof of income or other qualifications to become a resident.
Financing Pre-Approval: If you plan to finance the purchase, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a loan before shopping for a mobile home. Lenders will have their own requirements for loan approval.
Legal Assistance (if necessary): In complex transactions or when dealing with legal issues, it may be advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate or mobile home transactions.
Title Transfer and Registration: Ensure that the mobile home’s title is properly transferred to your name through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You’ll also need to register the mobile home.
Please keep in mind that the requirements and regulations related to mobile home purchases can change over time, and they can vary depending on your specific location within Florida. It’s essential to research and consult with local authorities, real estate professionals, and legal experts to ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements and regulations when buying a mobile home in Florida.
3. Is it safe to buy a mobile home in Florida?
The answer is Yes! It’s safe to live in a mobile home in Florida. However, the safety of buying a mobile home in Florida, like anywhere else, depends on various factors, including your due diligence, the specific location, the age and condition of the mobile home, and the regulations in place. Here are some considerations to help you assess the safety of buying a mobile home in Florida:
Research and Inspection: Conduct thorough research on the mobile home you’re interested in and have it inspected by a qualified professional. This inspection should cover structural integrity, electrical systems, plumbing, and other safety-related aspects. A comprehensive inspection can help you identify potential safety issues.
Compliance with Building Codes: In Florida, manufactured homes (mobile homes built after 1976) must meet strict building codes, which include safety standards. Ensure that the mobile home you’re considering is compliant with these codes. You can request documentation to verify compliance.
Location: The safety and desirability of a mobile home’s location can vary widely. Investigate the neighborhood and surroundings to ensure they meet your safety and lifestyle preferences. Look for crime rates, proximity to essential services, and flood zone information.
Age and Maintenance: Older mobile homes may require more maintenance and could have safety concerns if not properly cared for. Consider the age and maintenance history of the mobile home. Newer manufactured homes tend to have higher safety standards and energy efficiency.
Insurance: While mobile home insurance is not legally required for the home itself, having insurance can protect you in case of accidents, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events. It’s a good idea to obtain insurance to safeguard your investment.
Local Regulations: Research local zoning and land use regulations, as well as any restrictions in mobile home parks. These regulations can affect the safety and usability of your mobile home.
Park Management: If you plan to place your mobile home in a park, inquire about the park’s management and safety measures. Ask current residents about their experiences regarding safety and security.
Natural Disasters: Florida is susceptible to hurricanes and other natural disasters. Consider the mobile home’s resilience and the availability of storm protection measures when purchasing in this state.
Legal Assistance: If you have concerns or questions about the legal aspects of purchasing a mobile home, consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate or mobile home transactions.
In summary, buying a mobile home in Florida can be safe if you approach it with due diligence and awareness of the factors mentioned above. Careful research, inspections, compliance with regulations, and thoughtful consideration of location and maintenance can help you make a safe and informed purchase. Consulting with professionals in the real estate industry can also provide valuable guidance.
4. Are There Zoning Restrictions for Mobile Homes in Florida?
The answer is Yes, there are zoning restrictions and regulations for mobile homes in Florida. These regulations can vary depending on the specific city, county, or municipality in which you plan to place or purchase a mobile home. Zoning regulations are typically governed by local governments and are designed to control land use and development within their jurisdictions. Here are some common zoning considerations for mobile homes in Florida:
Zoning Designations: Local zoning ordinances often designate specific areas or zones where mobile homes are allowed. These zones may be called “mobile home parks,” “manufactured home districts,” or similar names.
Age Restrictions: Some areas may have age restrictions on mobile homes. For example, a particular zone might permit only newer manufactured homes (those built after a certain date) and restrict older mobile homes.
Lot Size Requirements: Zoning regulations may specify minimum lot sizes for mobile homes. These requirements can vary, and some areas may require larger lots for larger mobile homes.
Setback Requirements: Setback regulations dictate how far a mobile home must be positioned from property lines, roads, and neighboring structures. These setbacks are designed to ensure safety and aesthetic compatibility.
Foundation Requirements: Some areas may require mobile homes to be placed on a permanent foundation, while others allow homes on piers or blocks. The type of foundation may affect zoning compliance.
Accessory Structures: Zoning regulations may also cover accessory structures such as carports, sheds, or decks attached to mobile homes.
Density Restrictions: In mobile home parks, there may be limits on the number of mobile homes per acre, which can impact the park’s overall density.
Utilities and Services: Zoning codes may require mobile homes to have access to essential utilities such as water, sewer, and electricity.
Zoning Permits and Approvals: In many cases, you’ll need to obtain zoning permits or approvals from the local government before placing a mobile home on a property. This may involve submitting site plans and meeting other requirements.
It’s crucial to check with the local planning or zoning department in the specific area where you intend to place or purchase a mobile home to understand the zoning regulations that apply. Regulations can vary widely from one municipality to another, so what is permissible in one area may not be allowed in another.
Additionally, if you plan to live in a mobile home park, the park’s management should provide information on any zoning restrictions or requirements that pertain to the park’s residents. Consulting with local authorities and professionals in the real estate industry can help you navigate these zoning regulations effectively.
5. Are mobile homes legal in Florida?
The Answer is Yes, mobile homes are legal in Florida, and they have been a popular form of housing in the state for many years. However, it’s important to distinguish between different types of manufactured homes and mobile homes, as there are specific regulations governing their construction, placement, and use in Florida.
It’s important to research and adhere to local regulations and requirements when purchasing, placing, or living in a mobile or manufactured home in Florida. In general, newer manufactured homes are built to higher safety and energy efficiency standards, and they are more likely to comply with current building codes. Older mobile homes may still be legal, but they may have different requirements.
6. How many mobile home communities are in Florida?
As of last update in May 2023, Florida has over 1,620 mobile home parks to choose from. Florida is known to have a significant number of mobile home communities, often referred to as mobile home parks or manufactured housing communities. The exact number of these communities can change over time due to factors like development, closure, or changes in ownership.
To get an accurate count of mobile home communities in Florida and to find specific information about them, you may want to consult local housing authorities, the Florida Manufactured Housing Association, or use online real estate listings and directories. These sources can provide up-to-date information and help you locate mobile home communities in the specific area of Florida where you are interested in purchasing or residing.
Florida is unique in many ways, but the basic steps for buying a manufactured home here are the same as in the rest of the country. If you want to learn more about the process, be sure to read 10 Key Things to Know Before Buying a Manufactured Home and 8 Key Steps to Buy a Manufactured Home.
Before long you may be joining the many happy manufactured homeowners in the Sunshine State.
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