Sunday, February 17, 2008

Year in Review

With the start of the New Year, I've been reflecting on this past year being my first year in the mobile home business. What can I say? It has truly been a learning experience for me. I am thankful for all the people out there who have helped and supported me in this new venture.

Reflecting back on the year, I have learned many things and have made my share of mistakes. Though, I am grateful for seizing the opportunity and the experiences, both the good and bad.

In terms of my goals for financial freedom, I still have quite a road ahead of me. But, I know I can get there bit by bit. I take it all as a learning experience. With each opportunity I take, I am one step closer to creating another passive income stream which will get me closer to my goal of achieving financial freedom.

During this past year, I have learned the following:

1. The mobile home business is work - hard work.
2. Park managers are key.
3. When in doubt, ask. Though I may not know the answer, someone else does.
4. It's hard to find good people to work with. Hiring people is a skill that I have learned.
5. Without a support group, it is very difficult. Money is not everything. Cherish the ones who have been there for me.
6. Continue to learn. Be a lifelong student.
7. Have fun!

With the start of the new year, I am ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead. I have dedicated myself to continue and learn. In the end, it will truly be worth it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Moving a Mobile Home Part II

My last post talked about moving a mobile home from one location to another. But, what happens when the home has been finally set up in the park?

Once the mobile home has been set up in the park, usually it will undergo an inspection process via your local manufactured housing authority. This inspection is just to make sure the home has been properly moved, set up and installed at the new location. Remember, find out the process and what information is needed before the move. Usually, they require a form to be filed by the mover detailing the move and the new location. Check with your local manufactured housing authority for more details.

After this inspection process, you're ready to do the hookups (i.e. electrical, plumbing, and a/c). Remember, you should have already selected the contractors you will be working with beforehand. So, what order should you do the hookups in? Well, it really depends on your area. Its best to ask the contractors how its usually handled as their work will also require an inspection by your city. Usually, the department that handles inspections for the city is the permit department. The contractors you use will need to get permits issued by the city in order to do the work. Once their work has been done, it will undergo an inspection process.

The electrical must be done before the a/c (aka "mechanical") as the a/c will need power in order to work and undergo inspection. As for the plumbing, it can be done either before or after electrical. Both electrical and plumbing are important in getting hooked up asap. Some people have tried to market their mobile homes before getting the hookups done. I would not do this - most people want to try out the electricity and the plumbing before they make a commitment.

Once all the hookups have been made and inspection has passed, the next step is to go ahead and set up accounts for the utilities. Again, some people have marketed without having electricity or water on but it will set you back. If everything in the house is working, you'll be able to find more people interested and find someone quicker. Just my experience.

Besides the hookups, the next thing important things is curb appeal. Many people start on their houses from the inside and then work on the outside. Problem is not much curb appeal. Make sure the outside of the house looks presentable. If the siding needs to be replaced or painted, get it done. If the house needs skirting, get it done. Usually, when moving home you will need skirting in the new location.

Now, this brings us to the next question. How much work is needed? Well, it really depends on the person. In my experience, I don't like homes that need too much work - that's just me. By "too much work," I mean homes that have major problems - structural and mechanical issues. I don't mind doing some floor work or maybe having to patch up a roof. Anything, that involves the structural and/or mechanical integrity of a house is just too big of a job for me. Again, it really depends on the person and exactly how much work they want to tackle.

All in all, moving a mobile home can seem like a big feat. Like all things, the first time is always the toughest. After that, it becomes just like clockwork.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Moving a Mobile Home

Many people have asked me about moving mobile homes and exactly what is involved. I know, there are a lot of mobile homes out there that need to be moved. Really, how hard could it be?

Well, I'm going to tell you it involves a lot of time and energy. If you're planning to move a mobile home, be prepared to know how to manage people because it is going to require a lot of coordinating on your part.

Before you decide to purchase a mobile home and move it, you must make sure it is in sound condition for it to be moved - it must not have any structural issues. Otherwise, you will encounter problems. I will have another post on inspecting mobile homes later on in this blog.

Once you have decided and found a mobile home you would like to move, you need to have a place to move it. Right now, I only deal with mobile home parks and have existing relationships with park managers to help fill their lots. If you are looking to move the mobile home on a piece of land, make sure you are dealing with a mover who is experienced moving homes on land and the city requirements in the area once the home has been set. For purposes of this blog, I will refer to who I use - people who are experienced working with parks.

In choosing a mobile home mover, I start by asking the park managers who they use and prefer. Usually, they use people who also do business in other parks though this is not the case all the time. I obtain their phone numbers and call them - tell them the park manager referred me. Then, I interview them and ask them questions about what's involved in a mobile home move and how they do business. It's very important to ask questions - lots of questions. Listen. The mover will ask some questions like where is the home being moved to, does it have tires, axles and a hitch already, and when do you need to have it moved. Before you make the call, you have to have all these questions answered. Otherwise, you'll have to go back and find out. Then, get a quote and call the rest of the movers on your list. Always try to get at least 3-5 referrals. Then, you want to make sure the movers are licensed for moving and installing mobile homes. For this information, you'll have to check with the local manufacturing housing authority for your area.

Once you have obtained a few quotes, I always double check their rates with the park managers. Usually, they will know the going rate in the area since they deal with these issues all the time.

After you have confirmed the rates with the park manager, I always choose the person I feel most comfortable working with - it's more of a personality issue for me. Before I set the move date, I still need to get quotes on hooking up the electricity (once in the park), the plumbing, the a/c (if you have a central air unit) and the skirting (unless you want to do this yourself).

So, how do you know the going rate for these costs? Again, you will have to talk to the park manager, get referrals, interview and get quotes, confirm again with the park managers, and finally choose. Yes, it is a very lengthy process which involves a lot of time and energy. And, we haven't even moved the home yet!

Once you figure out all the costs involved to move the home, then you must decide whether or not it will be worth it for you depending on your purchase price and plans for the home. If buying as an investment, make sure all your numbers work out in your favor so you still can profit.

On moving day, you will need to make sure all the contents in the home are secured including big ticket items such as the stove and refrigerator. Make sure the water heater is secured and drained out completely. (I've heard horror stories from people who forgot to drain the water heater during a move - it ended up tipping over and water spilling all over the floor). Also, tape up the kitchen and bathroom cabinets so they do not flap open. Remove all drawers from the cabinets and set on the carpet. In the bathrooms, take off the top of the toilet lid and wrap in bubble wrap - set on floor in carpet. To confirm your work, have the mover come in and check before the move.

Once everything has been secured and confirmed with the mover, sit back and watch. You'll be in for quite a treat watching the moving crew break down the home, jack it up like a car, and put wheels on it. Guess that's why their called mobile homes!

Make sure you call the park manager as well to make sure the lot is ready for your home. Usually, the park manager will make sure the way is clear so the home can safely enter the park and be properly set.

Once the home has been moved to the park and has been properly set and tied down, you need to check with the housing authority in your area to see if any inspections (if any) are required. Then, you're ready to start the hookups (i.e. electricity, plumbing, and a/c).

Wow, they don't call it a job for nothing! I will make another post later about the process of getting the home ready once in the park.