Is It Better to Rent or Buy a Mobile Home?
Growing up, we tend to hear about the pursuit of happiness and accomplishing the American Dream. This dream is often described as the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success.
Everyone’s version of success is a bit different from one person to the next.
If you asked me what I imagine when I think about the American Dream, I would describe it as becoming a better version of myself year after year, but that’s just me!
Some folks imagine it as becoming a doctor or a lawyer, some imagine making a change or an impact in the world, and others imagine it as owning a home with a white picket fence lining the perimeter of the yard. As you can imagine – the list continues.
Home ownership in general is a dream for many!
I know when I bought my home a few years back, it was one of my greatest accomplishments yet!
It is something some folks work towards for years before achieving, but I guess the question here today would be, is home ownership right for everyone? Is home ownership attainable for everyone? Is renting a site built home, mobile home or apartment any less rewarding?
To put it simply, for some it may just be more of a “not now” thing, and less of a “not ever” thing.
As a business, Braustin Homes sells mobile homes in hopes of housing more families in an affordable way. Aside from our mission at Braustin, we also recognize that home ownership is not always the best choice for every individual – right away. If it makes more sense to rent as a first step in preparation to buy, we completely support that!
In fact, let’s discuss the pros and cons of renting before buying, and since we specialize in mobiles homes, we’ll focus the topic on this home option.
Pro #1: Less Financial Commitment
I don’t know about y’all, but the idea of spending less or saving more is always enticing to me!
When you choose to rent a mobile home, you’re not required to pay a down payment upfront. However, in most cases rental companies require some sort of security deposit. This deposit can cover amenities like routine maintenance, first/last month’s rent, and in most cases a restoration fee to ensure that the property management can return the home into its original condition for the next tenant.
Now, all of that to say, compared to a down payment on a site built home, the renter’s security deposit is typically less in total.
As a bonus, when the lease ends, more often than not, a renter actually gets some of that money from the deposit refunded. Usually, you don’t have to worry about the costs of maintenance either, which also adds up over time, which means there is some extra money the renter can look forward to!
Pro #2: Not Tied Down
I know a lot of folks who enjoy relocating every-so-often. The idea of a constant adventure, moving from city to city, state to state, or even country to country can be a pretty exciting way to live life.
So, with that in mind, renting a mobile home does not have to be a forever type of living situation.
Typically, leases start at 12 months (1 Year), but can also be as long as 36 months (3 Years).
Think about how quickly the last year has gone by for a second. It’s almost like we woke up January 1st, 2021 – blinked – and now it’s suddenly rounding the corner to Christmas! Okay, maybe not as dramatic as that, but you get where I’m going.
Now imagine moving into your rented mobile home, settling in, and as quick as a snap, three years has passed! Maybe you’ve got a new job lined up in a different city, and you’re able to pick up and go now that you have chosen not to renew your lease agreement.
The time commitment while renting is truly short term overall, so there is opportunity to live in one location now and move to the next location once your lease expires.
A homeowner on the other hand, would have to go through the process of placing their home on the market and stage the home for showings all in efforts to sell the home before they are able to move and buy elsewhere.
Pro #3: Less Responsibilities
After a long week at work, I know I personally enjoy a little down time on the weekends. Maybe a little television, some delicious homemade food, and a nice comfortable couch to help relax and reset before the next work week.
But then I look outside and see that there are:
- Trees to Trim
- Weeds to Pick
- Grass to Mow
- Waste to Dispose
- Flowers to Water
- Pavement to Sweep
- Exterior Light Fixtures to Dust
- Gutters to Clear
I can continue on and on until the cows come home to be quite honest, but I think you’re starting to get the point I am trying to make here.
There’s a lot of upkeep that must be done as a homeowner!
I can either do it myself and lose most of my weekend of peace and serenity that I dreamt of since Monday morning or pay out of pocket for a service to come maintain it for me.
And like many folks, that is just too expensive to justify, especially as often as it needs to be done.
But man…wouldn’t it be nice? Well, it is pretty nice for renters!
In most cases as a renter, aside from the normal household chores and general spot cleaning, the property is maintained for you. Most of the items listed above can be requested or are regularly serviced depending on the mobile home community you reside in.
Again, this is all typically wrapped into your monthly rent payment, so nothing extra to worry about.
Pro #4: Perks Without Headache
Sometimes, the homebuying process can seem pretty extensive, especially if it’s your first time buying or if you are going on this journey solo. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have a supportive company backing your journey, much like Braustin Homes.
I know firsthand how it feels to go through it on your own. But I’ll be honest with you when I say, I did not really do my research on the process itself before diving headfirst onto home listing sites.
With base level knowledge, I knew I had to have money saved up, and decent credit, but I really hadn’t grasped all the requirements of buying a home in its entirety.
Here’s an Honest Look at What I Expected:
- Show Proof of Income, Savings, and Tax Returns
- Pay a Down Payment
- Sign a Few Documents
What Actually Happened:
- Find a Realtor
- Find a Loan Officer
- Competed on the Offer
- Paid for Multiple Inspections
- Negotiated Improvements
- Gathered Unfamiliar Documentation
- Locked in an Interest Rate
- Wired a Down Payment
- Signed 30+ Documents
Luckily, I had a really great realtor on my side, who guided me in the right direction with ease and, most importantly, was with me every step of the way!
Now as a renter, the overall process is a little less personal, but to the same point, it’s much less complicated. You will not have to deal with any of the items listed above, nor will you have to come in contact with nearly as many people.
In most cases, you’ll simply review and sign a lease agreement, pay a deposit, and move into a beautiful mobile home!
In just a few simple steps, it will be home sweet rental-home in no time at all!
Con #1: Rate Fluctuation
Now, like anything in life, the renting option isn’t always butterflies and rainbows.
Due to fair market value, rent payment rates may increase at your next renewal.
I remember back in college, it never actually mattered how well I kept my apartment, or how loyal I was to the complex by renewing my lease every year. My rent would consistently go up $100 to $150 every time my lease expired.
It was always so odd to me… I often questioned why I was being penalized if I still lived in the same unit, used the same amenities, received the same services, but somehow, owed more each year.
Well, little did I know, those yearly increases were based on circumstances that were out of my control. The rate was based on fair market value, which increased the cost of living.
But, this happens to homeowners as well, so it’s definitely not just a target on the renters back by any means!
Homeowners pay more each year in property taxes as surrounding communities develop and as insurance premiums climb. However, in most cases, homeowners have the option to prepay their taxes upfront, or incremental in addition to their monthly mortgage payment.
Paying upfront can sometimes be helpful as it decreases the amount added to the monthly payment.
For example, since my taxes went up due to a blossoming community developing around me, I chose to prepay my taxes, which was a little under $2000 this year.
Yikes! I know. It definitely hurt my pockets initially.
However, in doing so, it saved me from the additional $250 added onto my mortgage payment per month.
So, not the worst outcome… Like many, I’d rather just get it out of the way as soon as possible.
But in general, unless there is some sort of rent-control policy in place, the rate of your rent may increase at the time of renewal due to fair market value.
Con #2: Terms & Conditions
When you sign a rental lease agreement, you’re typically agreeing to a few things:
- On-time Monthly Payment
- Length of Residency Term
- Restrictions Regarding Pets or Remodeling
- Fines & Repercussions of Breaking these Conditions
A homeowner gets to write their own rules (within the law, of course).
If you want a bright pink living room, great, you go right ahead! As a renter, you have to abide by the terms and conditions set within the lease agreement because you signed the document.
Like any type of payment, your rent is expected to be paid in full by a certain date, right? That’s nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the same is expected of a homeowner. If you miss your rent payment, there may be a repercussion such as a late fee added onto the amount, and additionally a negative dock in your rental history.
The length of the lease agreement may become an issue if a life change occurs, and the potential need to relocate arises. You’ll have to either find someone to sub-lease and finish the term for you or break the lease altogether.
Either option out of your lease has its drawbacks as well, unfortunately.
Finding someone to finish your term as a sub-lease is complicated and can be a bit risky:
- You would have to find someone who needs a place to live for exactly that amount of time.
- You would have to make sure they were dependable; any missed or late payment is still reflected upon you and your rental history.
- They would have to keep the rental home in good condition in order to get the majority of your deposit back.
Breaking the lease is no better:
- You will be charged a significant amount, whether that’s a lump sum usually specified in the lease agreement or the rest of what you were expected to pay for that remainder of the lease.
- This will be added as a negative dock in your rental history and may affect your ability to rent where you want for a long time afterwards.
Regulations on pets is another thing to consider.
Do you have a family pet, or were you planning to add a fur-baby to the family eventually?
Well, pet policies are pretty normal for rental properties, which often specify:
- Quantity of Pets
- Type of Pets
- Size & Weight Limitations
- Even Zero Pet Tolerance
So let’s say, if you have three large dogs, a parrot, and a donkey that protects your chickens overnight, renting may not be the best choice for your situation. It really all depends on who you are renting from, and what is agreed upon within the lease. So that’s definitely something worth looking into before agreeing on a rented living situation.
Con #3: Repairs are at the Landlord’s Convenience
When something breaks and needs to be repaired in a home you own, you can call and schedule a service at a time convenient for you. If you rent, you contact your property owner, who may or may not be available.
Once the landlord finally gets around to contacting the right repair crew, often the service time is at the landlord’s convenience. It’s always fun to have the plumber show up three days later during little Jimmy’s birthday to fix the clog in the bathroom sink.
Let’s face it, the landlord’s profit comes before your family’s comfort in some renting scenarios, so most do not tend to bend over backwards to get things fixed unless whatever is broken is considered and emergency or may soon lead to additional damage to the landlord’s property.
Con #4: Return on Investment
When you buy a mobile home, the payments you make on your mortgage each month also go towards building principal and equity. On-time payments and consistency also help with building your credit score. Additionally, homeowners get the benefit of added equity from rising house prices.
So, what do you get as a renter for your on-time monthly payments?
Well, not principal and equity, because you do not own the home itself. Your money is going to a company who owns and manages the property.
However, there is a caveat here.
You may often hear that renting is “throwing your money down the drain,” but it isn’t always money and time wasted.
You’re still saving money as a renter – in the long run, due to the bulk of the financial responsibility belonging to the owner.
Also, you’re not losing out on building your credit.
Yep! You read that correctly, you CAN build your credit as a renter, contrary to popular belief.
As it turns out, paying your monthly rent on time each month can pay off after all! Services such as RentTrack and PayYourRent help by allowing folks who rent their homes to report their monthly payments to the credit bureaus.
This type of service could be worth exploring if you always pay rent on time and your credit needs some improvement. I certainly wish I had been aware of this option as I personally rented for 8 years and earned nothing in return.
For more information on building your credit, refer to our recent article called “Helpful Tips on How to Build Your Credit Score.”
Renting a mobile home offers flexibility, predictable monthly expenses, and someone to handle repairs. This is a great option for many folks who aren’t in the best position at the moment to purchase a home or for those who just aren’t ready to make that financial commitment.
On the other hand, homeownership brings intangible benefits such as a sense of stability, belonging to a community, and pride of ownership, along with the tangible benefits of tax deductions and building equity.
Is this achievable?
Of course it is!
Now, is it the right choice for everyone, every time?
No, and that’s also okay!
However, we want to remind our readers that starting with renting a mobile home as a steppingstone in order to prepare and save for the purchase of a mobile home is a great way to make that transition.
Renting doesn’t mean that you’re “throwing away money” every month and on the same token, owning doesn’t always build wealth “in the long run” especially if you aren’t prepared for the commitment you’re signing up for.
It’s really all about what makes the most sense for your family, and your circumstances. We don’t ever want to advise our customers to leap when they aren’t ready. That’s not the trust and transparency that we voice day in and day out.
We want what’s right for you, every – single – time! And we will be here for you through it all!
So that’s it: Is It Better to Rent or Buy a Mobile Home? Follow the links in this page to read more information on each topic. We would love to chat with you or hear about your experience on our Facebook page or through our Contact Form.