Are you considering a move to a new mobile home in the state of 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 to buy a mobile home in Florida.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Chat with Current Owners in Florida
- 2. Think Cost and Lifestyle
- 3. Look into the Laws in Florida
- 4. Locate Nearby Sellers
- 5. Explore Different Manufacturers and Product Lines
- 6. Ponder What Nature Can Throw at You
- 7. Make it Official: Finance, Insure, and Sign the Contract
- 8. Get Ready, Get Set, Get Your Home!
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.
With year-round warm weather and over 8,000 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder Florida is a prime vacation destination. Filled with wildlife, beaches, lakes, rivers, amusement parks, diverse entertainment options and much more, the population of Florida is growing with people that want to call Florida “home,” soak up the sun…
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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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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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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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)
If we look beyond the best-known cities, we will find many communities where you can own a piece of the Sunshine State and stay within our budget. Many of these offer not only affordability, but also low crime rates, good employment opportunities, housing availability, recreational opportunities and educational facilities…
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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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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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!
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.