Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Inspecting a Mobile Home Part II

After you've inspected the inside, you're ready to inspect the outside. When inspecting the outside of a mobile home, make sure you inspect the entire home all the way around.

The first thing you'll want to check is the structure of the home. Usually, homes have two kinds of siding depending on the age of the home. They are:

1. Wood
2. Aluminum

If you are inspecting a home with wood siding, feel the wood and make sure there are no soft spots. If there are soft spots, determine how the problem occurred. How is moisture getting to the wood? Do the gutters (up above) need to be replaced?

On my first deal, I looked at a home with wood siding. It had soft spots on parts of the wood siding, it looked like a few boards needed to be replaced. I brought in 5 contractors to look at it to determine the problem. I found out the gutters (up above) needed to be replaced. The gutters had holes in them (yes, the home was over 10 years old) and when it rained the water would just go through the holes in the gutters running the side of the home. Over time, the water seeped into parts of the wood siding thus creating the soft spots I found in the wood.

If you find some soft spots when inspecting a mobile home with wood siding, determine how many boards need to be replaced and the labor it would cost to fix it. Regarding working with contractors, you can work with them either by having them provide the materials and do the work, or you provide the materials and you just hire out the labor. I will have an article about working with contractors here down the road.

The other type of siding mobile homes tend to have is aluminum siding. Usually, aluminum siding requires less maintenance and attention than wood siding homes. Make sure there are no rusty spots and all the siding is in place. Be sure to watch out for gaps in the siding which may allow weather elements such as water, sleet, snow, etc, into the home.

After you determine the condition of the siding, next thing you'll want to check out is the roof. Ask the seller when the last time the roof was replaced and/or re-sealed. Usually, if they are re-sealing the roof it's best to do it every 2-3 years. Ask the seller if they have had any leaks and/or other problems with the roof and be sure to write things down.

When inspecting the roof, I like to take a step back to see the top of the roof. Make sure things look in tact and in order. Watch out for any gaps or anything that may look like they have patched things up. If you see anything that stands out, point it out to the seller and ask them to explain what you are noticing.

Check out the gutters (up above). The gutters need to go all the way around the house. Again, ask the seller when the last time the gutters have been replaced and if they have had any problems with them. It's very important to make sure the gutters are working properly so the water is being routed properly when it rains.

Next, you'll want to check out the a/c unit. Have the seller turn it on (from the inside). Make sure it is working properly. Again, ask the seller when the last time they changed it and if they have had any problems with the unit. (You'll notice you'll be asking these same questions over and over again as you inspect each part of the home).

Look at the windows. Make sure there are no broken windows and they keep away the outside elements. You'll also want to check out the skirting - make sure it's in tact. If there is no skirting, ask the seller why and how long it has been unskirted. (If you are inspecting a home in a mobile home park, usually it will be skirted per the rules of the park but not all the time).

Go all the way around the home inspecting all the things up above. Jot down anything you notice that may need some work. Point these items to the seller and ask them if they are going to do anything to fix it up.

Lastly, be sure to obtain the serial number of the home. This is important so you can check to see if there are any liens and the seller is the owner of the home. You'll have to check with your state to determine which agency regulates Manufactured Homes. Usually, the serial number is on the back of the home. If you do not see a serial number, ask the seller. With very old homes, usually the serial number would be on the title.

Once you've completed your inspection and jotted down all your notes, ask the seller how much they think each item would cost for the things that need fix up work. If they do not know, just ask for an estimate of what they think. Then, ask the seller if they would be willing to fix it up themselves or give you a discount for selling "as-is." This will come in handy when it comes time for negotiation.

Depending on how comfortable you feel, you may want to bring in some contractors to give you estimates on the fix up work. After looking at several homes, you'll start to feel more comfortable with estimating the fix up work involved.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Inspecting a Mobile Home Part I

Before you decide to buy a mobile home, you will need to make sure you have taken the necessary steps to inspect it throughly - inside and out. Know what you're buying before you make the purchase.

Most of the information about the home can be obtained before you even leave your doorstep. When talking to the seller on the phone, here are a few questions to ask that will help you decide whether or not you want to take the trip out there to inspect the home:

1. How old is the home?
2. What is the size of the home?
3. How long have you lived there? (If they have lived there less than 3 years, usually I find the home to be in poor condition)
4. Tell me about the inside of the home. Is there any fix up work involved? How is the plumbing, electrical, a/c, etc?
5. Do they have pets? What kind of pets?
5. What known issues have you had? Have you done any repairs lately?
6. Tell me about the outside. How's the roof? Have you had any leaks? When was the last time you replaced the roof?

Ask as many questions as you can beforehand. Depending on how much fix-up work you want to do, decide whether or not you want to proceed. (If you are new to the mobile home business, I highly recommend going out and inspecting as many homes as you can just for the experience).

Before going out to the home, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and the appropriate footwear. (No open toed shoes here!) If the home is located out in the country, sturdy shoes or work boots work well as there may be mud and/or dirt terrain. Also, I've had to spray on a coat of insect repellant when going out to the country. One last thing, be sure to bring a flashlight just in case there are some hard to see places. Last of all, you want to bring a notebook and pen. Be sure to jot down all your notes during the inspection!

When you get to the home, greet the seller and pay attention to everything. Let the seller do most of the talking - you'll be surprised how much you'll find out about the home by just listening and observing.

Personally, I like to start on the inside of the home. Let the seller walk you through. Again, let them talk. The seller will probably have some stories to share with you about the different areas of the home. Be sure to ask a lot of questions. Remember, you are the one with the most interest as you are the one buying. Act as if you were going to live in the home yourself. (If you are going to live in the home, the more you need to be diligent with your inspection).

Usually, the seller starts in the living room area since it's closest to the entrance to the home. Pay close attention to the ceiling - are there any water spots? Ask if there have ever been any leaks. Also, look at the carpet. What is the condition of the carpet? Any water damage? If so, ask what the seller plans to do to fix it? Look at the walls. Are there any holes or patches? Point out anything to the seller that may look like it needs fix-up work. Ask the seller what they plan to do. Will they fix it? Or, are they willing to give a discount if you take it "as-is?"

Next, the kitchen is usually the next area since its often near the living room. Check all appliances - refrigerator, dishwasher, etc. Make sure they are all in working order. Ask the seller which appliances are staying and which ones they are taking with them. Check the plumbing. Run the water and make sure there are no leaks under the sink. If there is a leak, point it out to the seller and ask how long it has been going on. If you see a bucket or small bowl underneath the sink, it's a red flag. There may have been plumbing issues for quite some time. Again, ask the seller what they will do to fix the problem.

After going through the kitchen, the seller will probably take you down the hallway towards the bedrooms and bathrooms. On your way, check the heating and a/c unit (if applicable). Find out the make and model as well as the age. Is it the original unit that came with the house? Or, did they replace it? When was it replaced? Have there been any issues with the heating and or a/c unit? If so, what are they and what will the seller do to correct them?

If you see a laundry area when going down the hallway, ask the seller whether or not they will be taking their washer and/or dryer. Usually, sellers do take their units with them but there are other times they do not. If you are able to buy the mobile home with the washer and dryer unit, it adds value.

Next, view all the bedrooms. Again, pay attention to the ceiling and carpet looking for any watermarks. If you see any watermarks and/or water damage, point it out to the seller and ask how it got there. What will the seller do to fix the problem? If not, are they willing to discount the price? Look inside all the closets. Make sure all the lights work. Look underneath the beds and behind furniture to make sure there are no hidden holes or damages to the floor and/or wall.

Once you've inspected the bedrooms, you're off to inspect the bathrooms. Again, pay close attention to the ceiling and carpet (if any) looking for any water spots and/or damage. Flush the toilets. Make sure they are working properly. Run the tub. Run the water and check underneath the sink to make sure the are no leaks. Again, if you see a bucket underneath the sink it is a red flag. There has been on going plumbing issues here. Also, check the cabinet underneath the sink. Make sure the wood is sturdy and it is not rotting and/or coming apart. Usually, this is the case with particle board wood and/or wood that has water damage (i.e. leak from pipe).

After you have inspected the inside of the home, make sure you have written down everything you have noticed. If there is a back door, open it and make sure it works. This will take you outside and you will be ready to inspect the outside of the home.