What is the Difference Between a Mobile, Modular or Manufactured House?

Real Estate Agent with Dells Delton Realty

In Wisconsin there are many pre-built homes that are used as vacation homes as well as permanent residences.  Often these homes are called mobile, modular or manufactured interchangeably, but they are very different in construction and use.  The 2009 market has seen a reduction in interest by lenders to provide mortgages for some of these homes and it is therefore important to be able to recognize one from the other.

A mobile home is just that - mobile.  It will have an axle with wheels and a tow bar that allows it to be moved from location to location.  These homes are titled as personal property and are not real estate.  In Wisconsin, a Realtor can only sell two of these properties per year.

A manufactured home also had an axle with wheels and was towed from the factory to the dealer.  When purchased from a dealer the unit is towed to the building site and permanently placed on a foundation system.  The axle, wheels and tow bar are removed.  Since 1976 these homes have been built to HUD standards and have a HUD identification number assigned.  There are HUD plates attached to the outside wall that must be kept on the unit.  When sold, the appraiser will be required to take a picture of the HUD plates as part the real estate appraisal.  Manufactured homes can be one unit (single wide) or two units (double wide).  There will be a HUD plate and ID number assigned and affixed to each unit.

Manufactured homes are originally titled as personal property and given a title similar to any trailer that travels on the roadways.  When placed on the foundation the house becomes real estate and should be newly titled as real estate.  It is very important to keep all of the original paperwork and titles that come with the new manufactured home.  Upon resale the lender may require that the owner be able to prove that the home was moved to its current location new.  Many lenders will not offer a mortgage for a manufactured home that has been relocated.  The dealer should provide a certificate of origination upon sale and that certificate will be required by the appraiser upon resale.

Modular homes, in Wisconsin, are considered the same as custom (stick built) homes.  They are built in sections at the factory, delivered by truck to the building site and assembled.  These homes are built to local zoning codes and are subject to the same inspections as a custom built home.  Most lenders underwrite modular homes the same as custom built homes.


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