The Mobile Home Glossary: Common Industry Terms Defined
Simple Definitions for Fancy Mobile Home Words, Phrases, and Acronyms. (a.k.a.The Guide for Translating What Your Mobile Home Sales Rep May Tell You.)
There are a lot of words and phrases we use here in the mobile home industry that aren’t terms often heard in other parts of home and work life. We use them so much though, we forget other people might not have a clue what we’re talking about.
So today I’ll define some of those words, hopefully providing a useful reference for all you guys out there who might be nodding along with your manufactured home rep while they might as well be speaking a foreign language.
A “mobile home” built in or after 1976 according to US HUD Standards. Technically, no one has sold a new “mobile home” for almost 50 years, but the name sticks around.
The most commonly used name for a “manufactured home.” The term was made “obsolete” when the new HUD code for mobile/manufactured homes went into effect in 1976, but hey, who doesn’t call Velveta “cheese,” and “American Cheese” may technically be a “whey product” (not actual cheese), but don’t tell my Grandma that.
You can call them what you like. At the end of the day, just know the paperwork will say it’s a “manufactured home,” and that is what the factory is going to build. If you don’t mind, you will still hear us generally use the term “mobile home.”
Same thing as a “mobile home.” This really gets back to the origins of manufactured housing when the lack of housing post WWII meant a lot of young families had to live in what were essentially recreational trailers.
Even if they are still called “trailers,” they are not meant to transport on a regular basis. Try to park this trailer right the first time, and leave it there.
These homes are the same as manufactured homes EXCEPT they are built to local building codes and placed on a permanent foundation. These homes are built in the same factories, generally have the exact same options, and are still way cheaper than contracting a “stick built” home on your property.
This home is a cross between a Manufactured Home and a Modular Home. They are built in factories according to the current HUD code, BUT they are appraised as if they are a modular, get loans as if they are a modular, and get insured as if they are a modular.
You may hear them referred to as MH Advantage homes because the program Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac put together for loans for these homes is called the MH Advantage program. The cost is usually a little higher than a regular manufactured home, but less than a similar modular home.
A Home under 400 square feet. Well, there is no universal definition for “Tiny Home,” so if it feels like 400 square feet, you can call it a tiny home, we won’t tell. Some “Tiny Homes” are built to RV code that can withstand more moves than a regular mobile home. They are made to be light, have axles and tires, but unlike a regular RV, they are not meant to withstand as much travel.
VOG refers to a Vinyl Over Gypsum Wall. VOG walls can come in several different patterns.
Tape and Texture
Tape and Texture wall refers to traditional drywall covered walls that are taped and mudded at the seams (so you don’t see the seams) with texture added on top of the board (and under the paint) so it isn’t a boring, perfectly flat wall.
Mobile Home Dealer:
In order to purchase a mobile home, you must go through a mobile home dealer (or dealership). Much like cars, you can’t buy directly from the factory; you have to buy through a dealer. Some states require mobile home dealers to be licensed, such as in Texas, they will have a RBI license proving they are currently registered as a dealer.
The Retailer/Broker/Installer license in Texas is issued after a Mobile Home Dealership has gone through the necessary training and paid all fees to the TDHCA (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs). This number should be clearly posted on the exterior of the mobile home dealership. In addition, each hired sales representative will have a separate license issued by TDHCA after they receive training and pass a test administered by the state of Texas.
TDHCA: the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
TDHCA is responsible for the oversight of the manufactured home industry as well as programs to end homelessness and create affordable housing.
HUD: US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The government agency for affordable housing, non-discrimination, and overseer of FHA loan insurance and requirements. HUD provides the building code for all new manufactured homes built since 1976.
A small metal plate with a serial number for each manufactured home section providing a unique HUD identification. If it is a double wide mobile home, there will be one plate for each section of home.
A form filled out at installation of any mobile home in Texas to notify TDHCA and allow TDHCA opportunity to inspect the site before it has been skirted.
A statement of ownership of property or asset. Once your home is installed, a title application can be completed to show you own your home. If you have used a loan to purchase your home, the title application will come with the closing paperwork and will be filed by the title company. In Texas, the title is called the “Statement of Ownership Application.”
If you purchased your home with “cash,” your mobile home dealer will see that the title application is made. It usually takes about three weeks from the time the TDHCA office receives the application until the title arrives in the mail.
The factory is the manufacturing facility where your home is built. It is kind of like a giant room where several homes are getting built at the same time.
If you want a better look at a factory, there is a 3D factory tour at the bottom of our page talking about the Clayton Athens facility.
The offline date is the day the factory expects your home to come “off the line.” Wait! Before you get your hopes up, your home won’t be delivered until several days after the offline date, and if the weather doesn’t cooperate, it may even be a few weeks!
These offline dates provided by the factories are usually pretty accurate, but, again, they are not your delivery date nor your move in date.
“Shippable” is when a house can be transported (shipped), to your property. Sometimes a house is ready for transport the moment it comes offline, but others have certain optional upgrades (like rock siding) that requires a curing (hardening) time before the house can be moved to your property.
The delivery date, or sometimes just delivery, is when the mobile home is transported to your property. Delivery happens after the home is offline and the home site is properly prepared. Delivery dates can fluctuate based on weather conditions, driver availability, and distance from the factory to the home site.
The delivery date is NOT the move-in dates. After the house is dropped off, there needs to be setup.
Set or Set-up:
“Set” is short for set-up. Set-up is a part of manufactured home installation process where the home is blocked, leveled, and tires are removed from the home. A set of temporary steps will be brought to provide access to the home and, if your home is a singlewide, the installation process is nearly complete.
This is one of the terms that those of us long familiar with the mobile home industry tend to throw around thinking everyone knows what we are talking about.
After a double wide mobile home is delivered and set at the home site, it will need to have a trim-out. This is the term used for when a crew comes in and finishes assembly of your home by adding the last few pieces of siding, trim, and whatnot.
Key Point: It is important to note you should not move any personal belongings into the house before your dealer tells you the trim-out is complete, and you can move in. A work crew will have a hard time working around your stuff, plus your stuff could get covered with dust, if you start moving things in too early.
A chattel loan (pronounce “cha-tel” loan) is a loan for a mobile home only, unlike a mortgage, which is for the land AND the home.
“The Bank” is another term that isn’t always used in its most “proper” sense within the industry. “The Bank” is an easy way to say “your lending company,” whether it is a bank, credit union, financing company, or another type of lender.
Most folks use what are called third-party financial institutions to get loans for your mobile home. While that sounds funny, the biggest lender for chattel loans is 21st Mortgage, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which just so happens to be the same company that owns Clayton Homes.
Most banks are happy to give you a mortgage, but few like making chattel loans, so even though we may say “the bank,” just trust we are using the lender that will give you the best loan terms.
When you apply for a loan, there is the “quick check” and the “deep dive” check. After filling out a credit application, based on some easy to obtain information, such as your income and your credit score, lenders will give you a thumbs up or thumbs down on the loan. If you get an initial “thumbs up” go-ahead, then you are “pre-approved.”
Attached to the pre-approval are “conditions” (see below). Conditions are what needs to happen before your pre-approval becomes a full approval. It sounds scary, but as long as you told the truth, there’s no mistakes, your situation does not significantly change, and didn’t forget to share a really important piece of information, you are likely to be approved.
One of the benefits of working with an experienced sales rep is that they can look over your application before it goes to the lender to see if there are any obvious errors are items for concern.
Conditions are nothing more than the “conditions that need to be fulfilled” in order to verify the lender feels good about giving you a loan. This will be paperwork such as your last couple of paycheck stubs, last year’s taxes, and other documents the lender wants to be sure they can give you a loan.
After your loan paperwork has been processed and the bank is satisfied with all of the provided conditions, your loan will go into a process called “underwriting”. Underwriters recheck everything you sent in plus loan terms, interest rates, loan amounts, etc. and re-verify the loan is ready to be approved.
Closing is the date and the process where you sign all the loan documents and other paperwork to purchase your mobile home. Once you sign these documents, your home will be ordered with the factory and any pre-delivery site work will be completed.
“Site Work” is the work done on your property (your “site”) that isn’t the home itself. It includes pre-delivery work, such as clearing brush, putting in a base pad, or installing a septic system. Site work also includes stuff done after the home is delivered, such as adding a deck or garage.
Principle/Interest/Taxes/Insurance. PITI makes up what most people call their “loan payment,” but it goes beyond just paying for a loan. Usually the lender will require you “escrow” (set aside money in an account) a month’s worth of property taxes and property insurance to ensure you always have those two bills paid up.
MHIT is Manufactured Home Inventory Tax, a tax for homes delivered from a dealer’s inventory to a Texas address. Unlike sales tax, this tax should be very small, between $75-$200 added on to the total sales cost of your home price.
Purchase Agreement (PA):
A purchase agreement is a document created by your mobile home dealership that plainly says what home you are buying along with any additional upgrades, improvements, and warranties you’ve agreed to purchase. It will cover the costs for everything you are buying and reflect any deposits or trade-ins. This document should be signed before your closing and you should retain a copy to compare to your final closing documents. It is really important that you ensure the Purchasing Agreement is accurate, so it won’t hurt to double and triple check it.
Similar to a purchase agreement, your spec sheet is the order confirmation for the options selected in your mobile home. Reputable sales reps will go through your final spec sheet in order to confirm line by line that every option and decision has been properly conveyed to the factory before submitting it as the final specifications for your home build.
It is in everyone’s best interest to go over the spec sheet carefully. You don’t want to have the home delivered with the wrong options, and your sales rep doesn’t want the headaches of trying to fix a home that was ordered incorrectly. Take your time and help ensure the spec sheet is right.
A “site inspection” is when the piece of land (site) where your home will be delivered is inspected. This will be ordered early on in the home buying process. A site inspection checks for a number of things at your potential home site including over-hanging limbs, fencing, permits, and flood-zones. An experienced site inspector will schedule a time with you to visit your property and discuss all things related to the delivery and installation of your manufactured home.
Here’s a term that basically refers to any construction or installation being completed at the home site to prepare it for both the home and human habitation. Some “improvements” include water and electric utilities, base pad, decks, skirting, and septic.
A base pad is the area of ground leveled, graveled, and compacted to provide a well-drained, stable area to set your mobile home on. Depending on the type of loan you received for your mobile home, your base pad might differ from the traditional caliche gravel type. You may also be required to install concrete runners.
Skirting (a.k.a. underpinning) is the material used to fill the gap between where the mobile home is set and the ground. Mobile homes are set using cinder blocks under the beams of the home and therefore can have a 2-4 ft opening underneath depending on the ground level. Skirting insulates and protects the underside of a home and is crucial for energy efficiency. It also helps keep critters out from under your house AND it makes your home look a whole lot better.
Utilities refer to exactly what it sounds like—all utilities used to power and live in a home: electric, water, and septic. Check out our blog on what to look for when buying land suitable for utilities and the costs associated with installing them.
This is another term for setting up utilities, or you are being “hooked up” to the utilities. It is most often used in reference to connecting to existing water lines. We normally recommend hook-ups are done by a trained professional.
A disconnect box is a box with an electrical disconnect, almost always for your air conditioning when it comes to your mobile home. It allows the HVAC professional to disconnect the electricity for the external air conditioning compressor without going into your house.
If you want air conditioning, you must install an A/C disconnect box. They are sold at your local hardware store, and the size of you’re A/C unit will indicate what size box and wire will be required.
If you are unfamiliar with electrical, the electrician hired to connect the electric to your home will certainly be able to accomplish this task for you.
Tie-downs are anchors used during setup to “tie down” your house to the ground adding stability to the home. Tie downs aren’t always necessary or required, depending on the wind zone, base pad, and loan type.
“Wind Zones” are regions determined by the FEMA letting people know what are the highest likely sustained wind speeds to be expected in your area. Building and set requirements are more stringent the higher a wind zone the home is being place in to protect you and your home.
A punch list is a list of cosmetic issues made once a home has been delivered, set, and trimmed out. The punch list is best made just before it is due, giving you the most time to notice any defects.
A Cosmetic Warranty is a factory warranty that covers any cosmetic defects in your home. It is typically a 90 day warranty and is good for only a one time service. Dealerships coordinate the service work with contractors and are then able to bill back the factory for the work, as long as it is covered in the warranty.
Not including cosmetics, most factories issues a one year warranty on structural and utility use of the home.
Some dealerships will offer 10-12 year service contracts for purchase to extend the factory warranty mentioned above. These contracts often cover basic items such as utilities and appliances. Most also include a deductible to be used. Service contracts are through the dealer and NOT from the factory.
This is typically how a home site is referred to if it is property not part of a mobile home community.
Mobile Home Community:
Mobile home communities (a.k.a. mobile home parks) are permanent home sites to install a several manufactured homes and that typically come with similar amenities to that of apartments such as pools, dog parks, laundry areas, and rec rooms. Mobile home communities are owned by a private or corporate entity and you, the mobile home owner, leases the land your home sits on.
Renter Owned Community
A renter owned community is a mobile home park where all the mobile home owners have shared ownership of the land their homes sit on.
Single Wide Mobile Home:
A “single wide” is single section manufactured home. These homes are typically 14-18 feet in width and 50-80 feet in length. They do not require trim-outs and are less expensive than doublewides due to over all size and cost of transport.
Double Wide Mobile Home:
A “double wide” is a two section manufactured home. You can’t transport a 32 foot wide home down the highway, so the home is built into two sections, transported, and joined together at the destination property. The home is “double” the width of a single wide (get it?). I know, not really that complicated, right?
The hitch is just like it would be on a trailer, it is the attachment point connecting your home to the transport truck. The hitch can generally be removed before skirting if cosmetically undesirable.
Wheels and Axels:
The wheels and axels are the exact same thing you find on a regular trailer, only sized for transporting your home. The wheels and axels are removed during set-up in order to place the blocks under the home. They are not typically left with the homeowner.
And that’s about it, guys. Be sure to let us know if we missed a term you would like defined and we’ll add it in for you! Follow the links to some of our previous blogs for more in depth explanation of the steps and processes in purchasing a mobile home.