Profile picture for user544378

Is This Modular/Pre-Fab House a Good Investment?

Hello, I'm looking at a house right now that seems to be perfect for my family of 4.  It sits on 3.5 acres with a pond, close to major highways, great schools, and lots of space. approx $150,000!

The problem (if it is a problem) is that it is a nearly 40 year old modular home.  Not a mobile home or trailer, but a pre-fab.  I've gotten a lot of mixed ideas about what we should do.  Of course the Realtor is saying it's a fine house, but he's got a motive (I'm not anti-Realtor, but let's be honest, he wants to make a sale, not show me 10 more houses).   

From everything I've read, modular homes can be as well-built as site-built homes, it's just that there is a bad connotation when someone says "modular home".  This place has a basement that doesn't leak, and is on a solid concrete slab foundation. Three bed, two bath, large kitchen, sun room.....I mean, it's pretty much what we're looking for, but we're not sure that if we're trying to sell it in the future if people will think the same thing we are thinking.

So after all that, here's the meat of the question:  If I buy this thing today, what are the chances that I will at least break even 20-30 years from now if and when we decide to sell it?  

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.  
  • May 06 2012 - Kansas City
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Answers (4)

Profile picture for the_country_hick
If you check at the town office/city hall they may have the information on file. It is always worth checking there on any property you re interested in. You can see maps showing the exact location and even look at soil maps (depends on each municipality and what they choose to get) and find other helpful information.
  • May 07 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Hello. There are different things that come to mind with modular houses buyer appeal and financing. When you go to sell, some buyers may avoid taking a look because when they hear modular.

You may have to look at the house a bit differently to get an idea of the lasting value. I would see how much just the land would go for in your area with maybe just power on site or at the property line. That will give you a base. If the land/improvements would go for 75K then you are paying about 75K for the house. That would not be a bad deal if it will work well for your family.

Also, look at the price for similar stick built homes. If the price you are paying is lower than they are selling for now you may be able to compete at a lower price when you go to sell to find more buyers in your market.

Finally, you may want to post another question in the mortgage section asking the Zillow lenders about possible financing issues for modulars in general. Some lenders have no restrictions, but others do so it is better to know up front about them. Also ask your insurance agent about the insurability modular homes. I know that my stick built home just got a bump on the insurance premium because it just turned 50 years old a while back.
  • May 07 2012
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Profile picture for user544378
Thanks for the response.  

How would I find the manufacturer on the house if the current owners don't know?  I'm guessing there's no tag hanging off the back.

As for the house, it's in pretty good condition, just a little out dated in the bathroom and kitchen.  The plumbing was replaced 4 years ago, new water heater, new windows, etc.  

The ONLY thing that alerted me about the house was the word "modular".  I had the same thoughts about site vs. factory built homes.  I too thought that modulars might be better quality.  

Thanks again!
  • May 07 2012
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Profile picture for the_country_hick
No one can tell you if you could break even, make a profit, or lose money in 20 years. The house could need massive work after being 60+ years old.

If the manufacturer was known as a quality builder back then being a modular should not be an issue. If it was a doublewide trailer the story would be very different.

If I wanted to buy a wood house and I saw a modular and a stick built I would expect I could find better quality in the modular. It was built precisely and not rained on during construction. It had quality control standards in effect. Who knows what kind of quality any stick built house is built with?
  • May 06 2012
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