Leveraging Tech, Mobile Housing Startup Aims to Disrupt Market

  • By Alberto Pina
  • 02 May, 2017

Via Iris Gonzalez at the Rivard Report

The Braustin Mobile Homes team in San Antonio, Texas
(From left to right) Ernest Gomez, Jason Piña, Alberto Piña, and Mauricio Chacra of Braustin Mobile Homes at Geekdom.
San Antonio’s real estate market is hot – it ranks eighth on real estate website Trulia’s list of markets to watch in 2017 . That demand translates into a lower inventory of affordable entry-level homes. With San Antonio’s population projected to grow by 1 million by 2040, the need for affordable housing will be even more pressing.

That’s why Alberto Piña and his brother Jason founded Braustin Mobile Homes . Informally known as the “mobile home geeks,” the Piñas launched the unconventional startup in January as a way to help entry-level buyers achieve their dream of home ownership at considerable cost savings.

By leveraging technology, Braustin Mobile Homes has introduced what it believes is a disruptive model for selling mobile homes, creating a virtual mobile home dealership on the eighth floor of Geekdom that will be one of the featured stops on the upcoming SA Tech Trek April 25. The Rivard Report spoke to Alberto Piña about the housing startup.
San Antonio resident views new doublewide mobile home using VR goggles.
A Tech Trek attendee checks out a VR tour of one of Braustin's model homes.
Rivard Report: What’s your experience in the housing industry?

Alberto Piña: While the name of our company may be new to the manufactured home industry, our family has over 10 years experience selling and managing teams for big mobile home companies. My brother and I decided to start our own business where we could develop an approach more in line with the modern practices of e-commerce. When Jason and I founded Braustin Mobile Homes in January of this year, we developed our concept around many of Jonny’s ideas [brother Jonathan, who died after a motorcycle accident in 2015] regarding up-front pricing and an education-focused sales approach.

Four months ago we decided to venture out on our own and bring back the personal touch that only a small, family-owned and -operated business can bring. We were born and raised in San Antonio. South Texas is and always will be home. That’s why we love helping other families plant roots here.

Read the complete article on the Rivard Report's site - https://therivardreport.com/leveraging-tech-mobile-housing-startup-aims-to-disrupt-market/

A new doublewide mobile home outside San Antonio, Texas
The interior of a Braustin mobile home in Poteet, Texas.
Mobile home build site South of San Antonio
Aerial photo shot by a drone of a customer home site South of San Antonio.
Braustin Mobile Homes shares how technology is improving the manufactured housing industry in San Antonio
Iris Gonzalez and Alberto Pina at Fiest Tech Trek in San Antonio.

Iris Gonzalez is a contributing writer covering technology, life science, and veteran affairs for the Rivard Report. A first generation Cuban American, she is also a strategic planning consultant for nonprofit and government sectors and a docent at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Braustin Mobile Homes

By Jason Pina 30 Aug, 2017

For many people buying a home on a secluded, quiet piece of land with an amazing view is the ultimate goal. No neighbors, traffic, or noise. The tough part about making this dream happen is knowing which route to go to purchase the land and home together. This can be a very intimidating task.

Often, our team is asked how to go about this process so we put together a list of the options you will have as well as some tips to make the process go as smooth as possible.

1.) Buy land from a manufactured retailer

It is very common for retailers to have land they have purchased and will resell to customers. This process can get you land much faster without having to do all the additional shopping around. The down side to using this option is that the retailer has bought the land at the same price you could have bought it for but they now have thrown on their marked up cost to make a profit. If you have the time and patience to search for land then this would not be the route to go.


2.) Owner financed land

If you do not have the credit available to purchase land from the bank a great option would be to find a piece of property where the owner will finance the cost of the land with a low down payment. Depending on the seller you may pay a little more in interest but, in the future when you qualify you can get a loan from the bank for the land at lower rate. Owner financing the land will help you to own the land immediately. 

To get the seller to hold the land while you go through the approval process for the home you can leave a down payment, or earnest money (Always, make sure you get everything in writing). You do not want to finalize the purchase of the land until you have closed on your loan with the bank for your home.

One down side to going this route would be that you would not be able to finance all the land and utility work (base pad, water, electric, sewage, etc.) into the loan so this would most likely have to be paid from you out of pocket. A way to avoid this would be to find a piece of land where a home has been on before and that already has everything set up and ready to have a home delivered.


3.) Let a realtor help you find land

The ideal option when finding land would be to use a realtor that is familiar with the area you want to live. This route would prevent you from paying a higher interest rate for owner financing and keeps the cost low instead of paying for the retailer's mark ups.

To go this direction you would need a pre approval from the bank where you are getting the mobile home from. Let your sales rep for the mobile home know you want to have the land included with the loan of the home. You would need to tell them the area you want to live as well as the desired land size. With this information they will estimate how much the total project will be and get you preapproved from the bank.

Once you have the approval, a realtor can do all the hard work for you and narrow down a few options to look at. Usually the manufactured home retailer will have relationships with realtors they trust. If you decide to use your own realtor do not do an application with them, as most the banks do not work with manufactured home loans, and very few realtors are familiar with the manufactured home loan process. Let your mobile home retailer be the expert when working with the banks

Another positive when going the direction of having the land and home on the loan is that you can include most site and utility work needed. No need to pay a huge contractor bill upfront.


By Alberto Pina 10 Aug, 2017
Life can be frustrating at times. This can be multiplied when you are dealing with something that can change your life. Buying a home is a HUGE decision and will most likely be one of the most stressful and exhausting parts of your life.

I speak from experience since it was not that long ago that my wife and I went through the process of buying a new mobile home. Even though I have lived in a mobile home more than half of my life, the process of building our own was an eye opener.

For us, the shopping experience was probably our biggest point of frustration. My wife and I went to so many different shops and they were all the same. Do you have land? How much of a down payment do you have? Lets run your credit! The bank has an application fee/deposit to get numbers from them.

I couldn't understand the interrogation. I mean this is my home we were talking about. I know it's just a box to them but I planned on starting my marriage in this home and using this as an investment later down the line.  

Things changed when we found the right man who sold me our home. I felt that he really listened and understood the pit falls of how others try to do business. We felt comfortable and never rushed or pressured to make a rash decision. That made our decision of who to work with real easy.

The next frustration was dealing with getting conditions cleared. The bank asked for reasonable things like my ID, social security card and stuff. Then they needed to talk to my employer. At the time, I worked for the state so that took longer than I wanted to for them reach my supervisor, but it finally got taken care of.

Closing was easy just a lot of signing. I can't remember how many times I signed my name or initials. They explained everything and answered every question my wife and I had. Believe me there were a lot.

Then we just had to wait to get the home delivered. We went with a lot model due to time. We paid a little more but it wasn't much to get our home faster. We still felt that we got the best deal even after shopping the same home with other dealers.

Once the home got there I needed to get it connected and this is where my frustration peaked. Getting the water and septic was no issue. We did it ourselves with help from family and it was really just plug and play. The electric on the other hand was a different story. I had to wait on both my electrician and the electric company to do their parts. And one could not move forward till the other did their job. I thought it would take a couple days to get taken care but ended up being a couple weeks.

At the end of the day we finally got everything taken care of and the AC was set up. We had a fully functioning home and we loved it.

The frustration came mainly from my own impatience and with things that were out of mine or the mobile home company's control. Just like in life you are sometimes at the mercy of someone else time.

I love my mobile home and now know what to expect when I do it all over again when our family grows and we need more space. Frustration is all perspective, but if you can remember: Can I control it? Can I affect the outcome? If the answer is no then the answer is just time and hoping you picked the right company to take care of you/and your family through one of the most important financial decision of your life.

By Alberto Pina 02 Aug, 2017
We were honored to be featured in the San Antonio Business Journal.  They did not let us post the whole article, but here is how it started:
By Jason Pina 01 Aug, 2017

With the housing and rental market prices sky rocketing, more and more people are choosing to retire in mobile home communities. The idea has become so popular that there are now areas designated solely for people that are over the age of 55.

These retirement parks are truly amazing. Everyone there is living such a care free and relaxing life. The neighborhoods and quality are not like any other mobile home community. Fifty five and up communities, or as we call them "Winter Texan Communities," have all of the amenities that make you feel like you are on vacation.

Here is the Braustin Mobile Home top 5 reasons you should move into a 55 plus area.

Zero commitment

 You have zero commitment to the land. One year you decide to live in South Padre, the next you are living in a water front community next to a beautiful lake in the hill country surrounded by trees. You never have to go through the long real estate process of selling your land. If you do decide to sell your home and buy a new one the process is amazingly fast and easy. Most the time the communities will buy your home within a week without a need for a real estate agent.

Low maintenance

Yard and gardens are taken care of by the property management. No need to worry about trimming trees, picking weeds or mowing grass ever again.

Utility Cost

Most lot fees include water, sewage, and trash pickup. No property taxes either

Fast move in and no land investment

No need to go through the long process of having raw land developed. Everything is ready for you, the only item you invest in would be your home.


Almost all communities have fitness centers, pools, and frequent community events.


You have worked so hard your whole life, now is the time to kick off your shoes and live in a low cost, no maintenance area so you can use your nest egg to do any and everything you've always dreamed off.

Thank you for reading. If you are in the market for a new manufactured home and need an honest team to help you out with the process please visit our website at www.findmymobilehome.com to view our publicly posted, no haggle, upfront pricing.

By Jason Pina 19 Jun, 2017
Federal regulations require all manufactured homes to be built to a certain code, so most homes are structurally built the same. Because of that, people will purchase the less expensive starter home as their first place to live instead of buying a fully customized budget breaking house.

These home owners are smart, and realize there is no need to pay for the fancy bells and whistles that skyrocket the cost of their home, especially when they can do most of the work themselves with a little bit of time. In their mind it is best to choose a cost effective starter home that fits their budget and then add on the upgrades as their wallet and schedule allows. 

Our team at, Braustin Mobile Homes , has put together the 6 most popular DIY upgrades for mobile homes that really make them stand out.

1.) Decks and porches
By Alberto Pina 14 Jun, 2017
By Peggy O’Hare, Staff Writer For The San Antonio Express-News | June 13, 2017
By Ernest Gomez 06 Jun, 2017
With companies like Amazon, E-bay, and Car-vana , everything these days is moving towards the virtual experience. It didn’t always use to be that way though. Before the “Easy button” you had to decide to buy something, get up, get dressed, drive to the store and deal with a sales person. It was high pressure and at the end you sometimes wondered if you got the best deal.

Today virtual shopping is common place, but it wasn’t always so. When Amazon first came out they themselves didn’t expect to make money for the first 5 years. Virtual shopping was a new concept and they knew it. Consumers are creatures of habit even if there is a new, better way. New ideas take time to catch on, especially when it comes to folks parting with their hard-earned money.

Nowadays most folks are busy with work, family, or just wanting to relax with whatever free time they do get. They expect a buying process to be streamlined, efficient and designed in a way that can be done in the comfort of their home. Old school high pressure sales tactics are quickly becoming a thing of the past as consumers demand better.
Virtual stores created the ability for people to either buy what they already wanted at the click of a button or allow them for search for the best price on an item hassle free. In today’s market, convenience and comfort are the key to earning someone’s business.

Ecommerce has changed entire industries and the home buying experience is right there in the mix. Articles by the New York Times and The Washington Post have shown that stick built homes are using this approach to cut cost, and improve the home buying experience. New technology now gives potential home buyers the ability to look at homes from a different city, state, even country from the comfort of their couch.

Some companies in the factory built housing industry have begun to offer the same opportunity. While these companies still offer the traditional methods to physically see and feel the home in order to gauge the quality of the manufacture, they also allow customers to walk through homes with VR goggles like those offered from companies like Merge VR . This allows these companies to showcase a wide variety of model homes without the expense of all that inventory. In turn, that allows potential home buyers to get a lower price on their new manufactured home.

Just like any new idea, this concept will take time to gain traction, but its already in motion. Virtual dealerships such as Braustin Mobile Homes have worked with a number of families entirely online and over the phone to help them save thousands of dollars on their brand new manufactured home. By using new technologies, they work with folks to help them customize, build and deliver their new home direct from the factory to their home site.

Shopping today is in the consumers’ hands more so than ever before. Companies like Blockbuster have become relics of a past generation. The home buying process still has some archaic practices, but a brave few are dropping the stone axe and rock wheel for a way that allows them to better serve their clients by focusing on helping them instead of selling them.
By Jason Pina 25 May, 2017
The path towards owning a manufactured home can often seem like a very long and confusing road. There are so many obstacles you need to watch out for. Once you have the home chosen, you are ready to find the perfect location for your family to live.

To make this part of the process as easy as possible we at Braustin Mobile Homes put together the 8 most important questions to ask before you move into any community.

1) What are the promotions you all offer to new residents?

Almost every mobile home community offers some sort of promotion; you just need to know what to ask for. The most popular specials are below.

• Community pays for hooking up your electric, water, sewage, and AC disconnect box.
• Lower lot rent if you sign a longer contract
• Free skirting
• Free stairs or decks

If they don’t offer this work for free ask them who they recommend to do the job. These parks have had hundreds of homes moved into their location over the years and know who the best contractors are to do a good job and keep their renters happy.

2) What are the requirements for putting a home in this park?

It is easy to get excited about finding the perfect community to put your home and then be blindsided by the expensive requirements to live in the community. Often these additional costs are not something the bank can add to your loan last minute so it is best to find out ahead of time. Some parks require hard board skirting, decks on the front and back of the home, or even gardens in yard.

With these additional add-ons most communities give a timeline for when the work needs to be done. This can range anywhere from 30-120 days.

It is important to find out what the community wants the homes to look like. Do they have requirements on the year the home was built, exterior material, window placement? Find out before you put any money down on a home or waste hours or shopping. 

3) What happens when my contract runs out?

You may get an incredible deal for your first year of renting but if you aren’t careful to read the fine print and pay attention, there may be a giant price increase waiting for you that you unknowingly agreed to. If you plan to stay in the same community for many years you can probably sign a longer contract and get a discounted monthly rate.

4) Can I take a tour of the pool, playground, and common areas?

We all know that one friend where every time we go to their house the first thing they say is “Sorry for the mess, usually its clean.” It isn’t a coincidence; their house is never clean. Home communities are the same. If their community and common areas are not taken care of to your standards when you come to view the property, don’t expect there to be any difference when you move in.

5) Do you all allow pets?

Most communities have restrictions on the number and type of pets you are allowed to bring into the community. Some will only allow pets if they are considered “service animals” and will need documentation to prove this.

6) Who takes care of the hook ups?

People are so excited about picking out a new home, choosing their upgrades, and colors that electric, water, and sewage connections are completely forgotten about. Contractors can take a few weeks to complete this work and you do not want the home to get there and have no plans on how to hook it up so you can begin living in the home.

Communities either do the work themselves, require an approved contractor to handle the job, want the company that sold the mobile home to do it, or leave the decision up to the tenant.

*Make sure to ask the community management if there are any permits you need to take care of in order to get your water and electricity turned on.

7) After I finish the application, how soon does the home need to be moved into the community?

Coordinating the home building and there being a space available in the community can sometimes be a difficult task. That is why it is important to find how soon the home must be in the community after you complete the application for the home location.

If the community will only hold your location for 21 days but the home factory is saying it will take 60 days to have the home built you need to let the community management know so you all can come up with another plan that works for both of you.

8) Do you all give referral fees?

Once you move into your amazing home in your perfect location there is no doubt that you will have a friend or family member that will want to live in the same community. Be sure to find out what referral fees the community offers for you bringing business their way. It is pretty common for you to be offered up to $1,000 for your help.

Thank you for reading. If you have found the perfect spot to place your future home or have any questions and need an honest team to help you out with the home buying process please visit our website at www.findmymobilehome.com to view our publicly posted, upfront pricing.
By Ernest Gomez 23 May, 2017
Do you find yourself thinking, “I wish buying a mobile home was easier?” Buying a new home is certainly a journey, but that doesn’t mean it must be a difficult one. Below are some tips and warnings to help make this process a little bit easier and enjoyable.

1.) Shop Around

Times have changed and now you as the buyer have all the power. Use this to your advantage. Shop around online and visit several locations that catch your eye before you make a buying decision. It is important to price compare and dig into the details as to what exactly is included in that price. This is an exciting journey for you and your family, but try your best to not let your emotions get carried away. Take your time to do your research and do not allow yourself to get pressured. Remember its your home not theirs.

2.) Negotiate Price Not Monthly Payment

Mobile home companies are not the bank. Only a licensed loan offices can give you a true monthly payment. Estimations can be given but only a loan officer can give you the detailed information you need to make that educated decision. It is important as a potential home buyer to negotiate the actual price of the home and not the monthly payment. Since most companies in the factory built housing industry do not publicly post their pricing, it can be easy for a sale rep to increase the price of your home to meet your desired monthly payment. If you get the best price on a model you are interested in, then your monthly payment will be the lowest it can be on that home.

3.) Do Your Research

Information is out there, so trust the people who put the info in front of you freely. Nowadays the internet will tell you just about anything you need to know. Research not only where to get the home but the company that is selling the it. All homes are built to the same Federal HUD standard so what really makes the difference is going to be the company who sold it to you. Read the customer reviews . Not just the good ones, but the bad ones too. If a user gives a 1 star with no review it can be fair to assume a troll is at hand. If there is a bad rating with a valid negative review, that is something to look into further. Read to see how the company responds to the reviews, especially the negative ones. This will give you insight into how that particular company deals with problems.

4.) It Doesn't Cost Money to Talk To The Bank

Banks do not charge to run an application for a loan. There’s a long-standing myth that when buying a mobile home, you need to put money as a deposit/fee just to have the bank review you app. It’s just not true. The only case where you may want to put down a deposit is if you are wanting to purchase a stock model. In this case, you may be able to take the home off the market by putting a refundable deposit down with the company. It is best to keep your money in your pocket until you are comfortable with the final numbers from the bank and the company selling you the home.

5.) There Is No Such Thing As A Stupid Question

There is no silly question when it comes to deciding on the right home. If folks had all the answers then manufactured home retailers would not exist. It’s a house not a t-shirt after all. So don’t feel embarrassed or like you are a bother to the person who is helping you with one of the most important financial decisions of your life. A reputable dealer should freely answer any questions you may have. If they themselves do not know the answer, then it is fair to expect them to find it and get back to you. Asking questions not only helps you get the answers you need, but also helps you learn a little more about the company you are looking to do business with.

6.) Listening To “Uncle Joe”

Everyone has that one person who has bought a mobile home before and thinks they know how it is or how it should be. We live in a world of change and almost every industry goes through them multiple times a year. From an application form update to updated pricing, the manufactured housing industry goes through a lot. Your family “expert” may have insight as to what they went through when buying their mobile home, but to know exactly what is needed from the other side is a whole different story. Don’t allow others opinion let you miss out on a great home or working with the right team.

It is important to remember is that this is your family’s home. While you may not be the expert, you owe it to them and yourself to make the most educated buying decision you can. Do all the research you can both online and in person with a potential seller. For more information on the home buying process, download our FREE Home Buyer’s Guide by clicking the link.

As always, our team is happy to answer any questions you may have to help you make the right decision for you and your family.
By Ernest Gomez 12 May, 2017
Dear “Home Shopper” Me,

  It’s been 3 yrs now since you got to spend the first night in your home with you new wife. It’s been such a crazy ride. Who knew that just 3 years could bring so much change, joy and concern. I know you are stubborn and hard headed but I also know that you just want what’s best you and the Mrs. So listen up because what I am about to tell you will help keep you on track for what you both want in life.

About 5 months ago you started looking into a place to live. You both know living with 7 other people as newlyweds is not going to work for either of you. You’re going to consider apartments and see that it’s just not worth it. $1,100 a month for a 1 bedroom is just not worth it. Stick built house’s will come up but you already know that to be stuck in a 30 yr mortgage is not going to work. Especially when your wife loves to travel. That is her #1 desire other than being a mom and your wife. (You really are a lucky guy!)

You both will ultimately decide to stick to what you know - mobile homes . It just makes sense. You love the country life and space. Your parents purchased a manufactured home and never had problems paying the bills and keeping the lights on. You were never rich but they made it work. It’s going to take time so don’t get frustrated. You already know that your wife is a thorough person. That is going to help you both so much.

After what feels like forever you will finally find the right company and the right home. It won’t be the home of your dreams, but hey, you two are just starting. Remember your goals and starting with a fancy home and bill to match is not one of them. You will find a home that gives you exactly what you need and a monthly payment that you can afford comfortably.

The monthly bill will come every month like clockwork. Your wife knows the numbers so just keep working hard. Life is going to get interesting. Your lawnmower will break after you spend $500 to buy it. It’s going to be another $200 to fix it. But it will be ok. Although your wife isn’t working, you will be able to pay the bills because you choose to go with an affordable mortgage. Don’t worry about the lawn mower, she has been putting away money for “what ifs” like this.
You will start to build your deck and realize you need more material. Don’t worry, your bills will be low enough to account for that. Your wife is awesome and keeps things in order. She will soon be able to work and start looking for a job. Even better news…she will get the job, not far from you, which works because you will still only have one car.

She will only keep the job for about 6 months. Although it’s not very long, you will know and see that it’s not good for her. She will ask you if she can quit. Just say yes. Your job alone will be enough to pay the bills for now. You may eat a little less fast food, but you need to stop that anyway. Keep your head up. You have family that works at Bill Millers and they will help her get a job there. Just don’t forget you only have one car.

You will be turning 30 soon and won’t want this to be a typical birthday. You will plan a big trip. You and Liza will go to Russia, Turkey, Israel and Egypt. You will be very happy that you choose to go with a mobile home as opposed to renting or a stick built house. Enjoy every second of it.

You’re going to have to get surgery due to a work incident. Your wife will tell you that’s the last straw and insist that you quit. DO IT! You hate that job anyway and it will lead to one of the best decisions of your life. You will find your true calling helping families get into a home just like the guy who helped you and her.

Your wife will get the job. You will finally get that second car, but your wife will wreck the older car. She will be ok, just a little shook up. Don’t worry. You will have savings because you decide to buy the manufactured home yall looked at. You will be able to get a very simple car cash from a trusted friend. It won’t be pretty, but it will work like a charm.
The journey isn’t over. While you will enjoy what you do, the place where you work is going to go through a lot of changes. Several of your team mates will be laid off and you will find yourself wondering where the vision you all were chasing went. A couple of your old team mates will reach out to you. You are going to get an opportunity to start something from scratch. A brand-new company from the ground up. Take it! Your wife will be able to cover the bills. You will have an opportunity that you have always wanted. Make the most of it!

It is not going to be easy. You will have fun, but things will be very tight financially at first. There is light at the end of the tunnel. That will get more and more clear as you progress. While I didn’t tell you everything that will happen, just know you will make the right decision. You will decide to get that starter home. Anything else will prevent you from having the opportunity to travel. You will be glad you kept your mortgage low when you pursue your dream of starting a company. Your team will make front page news and momentum will quickly build. You’re in for a wild ride. Enjoy every minute of it.


Homeowner You
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