Looking to buy a manufactured home in Colorado? Get started by having a few conversations with other owners. Consider whether your priorities make a mobile home a good choice, find out what you need to know about local laws, identify a few places to shop, and browse the websites of the manufacturers.
Once you’ve decided, line up your financing and insurance, sign on the line, and get your site ready. When the home is delivered and installed, you’ll be ready for the manufactured home life.
Overwhelmed? There’s a lot to learn. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to buying a manufactured home in Colorado. You’ll be moving into your new home faster than the weather can change from a heatwave to a blizzard!
Here are 8 important steps you should know before buying a mobile home in Colorado.
Table of Contents:
1. Talk with Colorado Homeowners
The best people to tell you about buying and living in a mobile home are the people who have already done it. (By the way, we’ll use “mobile home” and “manufactured home” interchangeably, since they’re both in common use. Technically, though, any home built according to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code since 1976 is a “manufactured home.”)
There are plenty of experienced owners to talk to; according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 97,976 such homes in Colorado. With their combination of value, price, and lifestyle, manufactured homes are a popular choice. About 4.0% of all housing units in the state are manufactured homes, and nationally the rate is even higher—about 6.1%).
With Colorado’s population of about 5,893,630 people, those numbers indicate that many people are buying manufactured homes each year. Manufactured Housing Survey data show that in 2019 alone there were 780 new mobile homes shipped to locations within Colorado.
Colorado on the whole is not a hot spot for manufactured homes—according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, the states where the most manufactured homes are financed tend to be in the South and in coastal areas—but when counties were ranked, one Colorado county made the top 15: Weld County, at number 12.
Some homes are located on private land throughout the state, but many others are clustered in manufactured home committees. There are about 599 of these communities throughout Colorado (source: mhvillage.com). Some are available to the general public, while others are retirement communities specifically built for seniors aged 55 and up.
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2. Think Costs and Benefits
If you’re considering a manufactured home instead of a site-built home, it probably comes down to two key factors: price and lifestyle.
Price is the category where manufactured homes win big. The method by which they’re built—indoors, in a central location, according to a streamlined set of plans—means they can be built in less time and for less money.
Building indoors removes the scourge of weather delays and prevents theft and damage to property. Another benefit is bulk purchasing—because products in the line use the same materials and supplies can be warehoused, it’s cost-effective to buy in quantity.
Consistent building techniques and plans also lead to better-trained, more experienced workers who don’t have to drive out to a different job site every day. Overall, it is far more cost-effective to construct a manufactured home than a site-built one.
Because it costs less to produce these homes, it also costs less for you, the consumer, to buy them. According to the Manufactured Housing Survey, the average manufactured home in the West cost just $103,463 in 2020. By comparison, the median housing value in Colorado is around $394,600.
For some it’s not about—or not just about—the price tag. Many homeowners enjoy the lifestyle provided by a manufactured home. Unlike an apartment, a manufactured home doesn’t share walls with the neighbors, and homes tend to be easier to maintain and keep clean. Manufactured home communities can offer the types of amenities and the community interaction that many seek.
If the lifestyle appeals to you, or if your budget is more in line with factory-built than site-built, a Colorado manufactured home may be the best home choice for you.
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3. Research Regulations in Colorado
In Colorado, regulation of the manufactured home industry falls under the Division of Housing’s Building Codes and Standards Section.
In general, manufactured home regulations fall into two categories. One comprises all the parts before you own the home: manufacturing, sales, and installation. The other category includes ownership and regulation of mobile home communities.
Before you buy your home, the BCS is responsible for reviewing and approving any plans for construction and design. Once the home is built, the BCS inspects and certifies the home. Finally, when the home in installed, the BCS inspects the installation and issues a certificate of occupancy.
The Colorado state legislature passed House Bill 1309—the Mobile Home Park Act—in 2019. This bill added protections for owners of manufactured homes. Since the bill’s passage, the BCS has also been responsible for handling any disputes that may arise between you and the mobile home park where you live.
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4. Find a Dealership, or a Few
When you’re ready to take a look at a few homes, you’ll first need to find a few dealerships near you. You may also want to visit some existing homes for sale, if you’re considering pre-owned.
A manufactured home retail location, similar to a car dealership, will have a selection of models to choose from. You’ll be able to tour it and see some of the options and upgrades that are available. You can also talk to the sales representative about how their process works—but don’t get sucked into price discussions until you’ve done plenty of research. It’s best to shop around rather than falling for the first home you like.
Dealerships may sell more than one brand of home; these are known as independent dealerships. On the other hand, they may sell only one manufacturer’s products; these are factory dealers. Each has its benefits. Independent dealers will be able to compare across manufacturers, but factory dealers may have deeper knowledge of their products and how they are made.
When you’re shopping, don’t forget to check out any communities where you may want to lease a lot. You’ll be able to find out what the restrictions are on the homes there, and sometimes the community will have its own homes for sale on site.
The Colorado Manufactured Housing Licensing Board is the governmental body responsible for the occupational licensing program of manufactured home dealers and salespeople Colorado. People working within the industry must pass appropriate checks and complete education requirements.
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5. Compare Your Options: Manufacturers and Models
After seeing a few homes for yourself, you may have a short list of manufacturers that you’d like to explore further. As you know, all builders follow the HUD code, but there are still a lot of differences among different brands and the products they offer. They may have different warranty and service policies, not to mention different layouts and styles, quality levels and prices.
Here are some of the better-known manufacturers who serve the state of Colorado:
- a) BonnaVilla Homes
- b) Cavco Homes
- c) Atlantic Homes (Champion)
- d) Titan Homes (Champion)
- e) Clayton Homes
- f) Fortune Homes
- g) Fleetwood Homes (Cavco)
- h) Highland Homes
- i) Karsten Company, Inc.
- j) Kit Homebuilders West LLC
- k) Oak Creek Homes (American Homestar Corp.)
- l) Redman Homes (Champion)
- m) Schult Homes
- n) Skyline Corporation
- o) Southern Energy Homes, Inc. (Clayton)
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6. Consider Local Conditions
Not all homes are designed to suit all geographical areas, and your sales representative should be able to tell you how the homes they sell are suited to the area. While manufactured homes are built indoors, they’ll be tested against the elements every day once they’re installed.
Colorado snowstorms can pile feet of snow onto a building, so make sure that the model you choose is equipped with a high-quality roof that can hold the weight.
It’s also worth considering an energy-efficient home as qualified by the Energy Star program; many manufacturers offer these packages as options. The length to width ratio and, typically, the lack of a second floor mean a lot of your home will consist of exterior walls, which can make it expensive to heat your home if it isn’t sealed and insulated as well as it could be.
Having your home properly installed is critical for ensuring that your home can withstand the Colorado weather. Check to make sure your installation team is licensed, and make sure they are well regarded in the local market. Never hesitate to ask questions if you’re wonder how your home is built to stand up to high winds, flooding, or other weather events.
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7. Get Ready to Make It Official
Congratulations! you’ve found the perfect home. Now it’s time to figure out how you will pay for it. If you’re lucky enough to have a pile of money sitting around, you can pay for your home outright. For most, though, some kind of loan will be required.
It is possible to get a conventional mortgage for a manufactured home, particularly if you also own the land. The benefits include longer terms and lower interest rates.
For many, though, a chattel loan will be the best option. Chattel loans are for personal property and are also used for RVs, boats, and planes. They tend to have slightly higher interest rates, but you may need to put less money down.
Besides financing, you’ll need to arrange mobile home insurance. The state of Colorado does not require it, but your lender probably will. In any case, it’s the best way to protect your investment against loss or damage. Shop around to find the best rates.
Once you’ve done all your research, found the home of your dreams and perhaps customized it to your liking, and arranged financing and insurance, you’re ready to sign the contract that will make it all happen.
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8. Ready, Set… It’s Here!
You’ve signed the contract and the order is placed. Now you have to prepare your site. If you’re moving into a mobile home community, the lot is probably almost ready for your home to be hooked up. But if you’re placing it on private land, there may be more prep involved. The site may need to be cleared and leveled, a septic system installed, a driveway and foundation poured, and more.
When the big day arrives, your home will be towed down the highway to its final location, where the installation process will happen. Finally, after a walk-through to make sure everything is in order, you’ll take the keys. Then you can move into your new Colorado home.
When you buy a manufactured home in Colorado, you’ll follow most of the same processes as buyers all over the country. If you’re looking for more information about manufactured homes and the process of buying them, be sure to check out 10 Key Things to Know Before Buying a Manufactured Home and 8 Key Steps to Buy a Manufactured Home.
Before you know it you’ll be joining the many satisfied owners of manufactured homes in the Centennial State.
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