The Mobile Home Glossary: Common Industry Terms Defined
The Ultimate Guide to Translating Your Mobile Home Sales Rep
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.
Mobile Home: The term mobile home is technically improper, as the HUD code implemented in 1976 made the correct name for pre-fabricated homes built to transport and install on a home site “manufactured home”. At Braustin, we still use the term mobile home, though all of our homes are built to the Federal HUD Code at all of our factories.
Trailer Home:This is neither outdated nor official, but a simply a slang word for manufactured or mobile homes. These homes are transported in the same manner as a trailer (with a hitch and tires), but unlike trailers, or bumper-pull and fifth wheel RV’s, these homes are not made to be moved over and over again.
Modular Home: These homes look the same as mobile homes but are built to local site-building code. They typically are set on permanent foundations and generally have more requirements to be considered “modular”.
Tiny Home: To be classified a tiny home these homes must be under 400 square feet and are built to RV code. They are made to be light, have axles and tires, but unlike an RV are not meant to withstand as much travel.
Mobile Home Dealer: In order to purchase a mobile home, you must go through a mobile home dealer (or dealership). Much like cars, you don’t buy a car from the factory, but instead from a dealership. Certified mobile home dealers will have an RBI license proving their legitimacy.
RBI License/Number: The Retailer/Broker/Installer license 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 from classes and fees pertaining to selling the homes.
TDHCA: This stands for 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: Abbreviation for Housing and Urban Development. The government agency for affordable housing, non-discrimination, and oversees FHA loan insurance and requirements. HUD provides the code all manufactured homes are built to the standard of.
HUD Label: Every home built to the HUD standard will be given a HUD Label, a small metal plate with a serial number specific to its HUD identification. If it is a doublewide mobile home, there will be one plate for each section of home.
Form T: A form filled out at installation of any mobile home in Texas to notify TDHCA and allow them opportunity to inspect the site before it has been skirted.
Title: Once your home is installed, the title application can be completed. If you have used a loan to purchase than the title application, called the “Statement of Ownership Application” in Texas, will have been in your closing paperwork and will be filed by the title company. If you purchased your home cash, your mobile home dealer will see that this 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: This term can refer to any one of the number of factories in use by your mobile home dealer. The factory is where homes are manufactured. Instead of picturing the traditional factory with conveyor belts and giant chimneys, think more a large room where several homes are being constructed at the same time.
Offline Date: As your mobile home gets closer to completion, your sales rep will receive something called an offline date. This is the date the factory is expecting your home to be “off the line” of homes currently under construction. These dates are usually pretty accurate, but don’t always mean your home is shippable yet.
Shippable: Offline dates mean a home is out of construction, most often meaning it’s complete and ready to deliver to your home site. Sometimes, however, if a home has certain optional upgrades (like rock siding) the home might not be “shippable” as the adhesive must fully dry before being transported. So, ask if your manufactured home has an upgrade that may make it “offline” but not yet “shippable”.
Delivery: This one is relatively straight forward. Mobile homes are built to be transported as trailers (thus gaining the nickname trailer home) and, therefore, must be delivered to your home site. 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.
Set or Set-up: This is one of the terms that those of us long familiar with the mobile home industry tend to throw around thinkingeveryone knows what we are talking about. Home buyers tend to be unsure about what makes their home “set” or not.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. If your home is a doublewide, however, the home needs to have what is called a “trim-out”.
Trim-out: After a doublewide mobile home has been delivered and set at the home site, it will need to have a trim-out. This is the term used for the process of the two sections of the home being put together to look seamless both on the interior and exterior. For trim-outs it is important to keep furniture and personal items out of the home until after their completion to make the job go quickly and smoothly for the work crew.
Chattel: (Pronounced chat-ul) A chattel loan means you are procuring financing for the home only and does not include your land as collateral as well. Financing chattel will protect the land portion of your assets.
The Bank: This the general term used for the lending company you are using to help purchase your manufactured home. We use third-party financial institutions to procure loans on our mobile homes, and if you are not buying your home in full with “cash”, than you will hear this term a lot.
Pre-Approved:After sending filling out a credit application and applying to the bank for a loan, you will either receive a letter declining your loan request, or a pre-approval. Pre-approvals are given as a “Yes, if….”. This means as long as the information submitted on your application can be verified with proper documentation, your loan will be approved and moved to closing. This is why it is very important to use a knowledgeable sales team to apply to the bank for your loan, they can help catch any mistakes and ensure certain needed documents can be provided up front.
Conditions: This is the proper term for those “needed documents” I mentioned above. Conditions can be anything from a copy of your recent paystub down to the warranty deed on your land. Banks require various documents in their verification process in order to protect the money they are lending out.
Closing: After your loan paperwork has been processed and the bank is satisfied with all of the provided conditions, it will go into a process called “underwriting”. Basically, underwriters re-examine all submitted conditions, terms, interest rates, loan amounts, etc. and re-verify the loan is ready to be approved and sent to closing. Closing is the date and time when you sign all of the paperwork pertaining to the loan and mobile home you have purchased.
PITI: Abbreviation for the words Principle/Interest/Taxes/Insurance. PITI will be relayed to you in your final closing with all loan documents from the bank and will determine your monthly mortgage payment.
MHIT: Ah, another pesky abbreviation. MHIT is Manufactured Home Inventory Tax. Unlike sales tax, this tax should be very small, between $75-$125 added on to the total sales cost of your home price. This is a state mandated tax and should not be used to add thousands in taxes on to your home purchase.
Purchase Agreement (PA): A purchase agreement will be a document created by your mobile home dealership reflecting the home and any additional upgrades, improvements, and warranties you’ve agreed to purchase along with the itemized total. This document should be signed before your closing and you should retain a copy to compare to your final closing documents.
Spec Sheet: 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. At Braustin, our mobile home options are minimal, which keep your costs and headaches low.
Site Inspection: This will be ordered early on in the home buying process. A site inspection is performed to check 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.
Improvements: 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.
Base Pad: 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 have received for your mobile home, your base pad might differ from the traditional kind caliche gravel type and you may be required to install concrete runners.
Skirting: This can also be referred to as underpinning. Skirting 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.
Utilities: 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.
Hook-ups: This is another term for utilities. But is used most often in reference to the existing water lines that need to be “hooked up” to the water lines on your property installed by you or your hired professional. Hook-ups can also be in reference to the electricity as well.
Disconnect Box: Everybody in Texas needs an A/C, but before you can have one those, you must install what is know as 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.The disconnect box is a safety mechanism designed to prevent electrical fires.
Tied Down: You may here this term in relation to your home’s set-up. Tie-downs are anchors used during set that provide added stability to the home. They aren’t always necessary or required and depend on the wind zone, base pad, and loan type.
Wind Zone: A wind zone indicates the strength and force of wind prone in that area. Building and set requirements are more stringent the higher a wind zone the home is being place in.
Punch List: It sounds violent, but this is only a list of cosmetic issues made once a home has been delivered, set, and trimmed out (if a doublewide). The punch list is best made through four weeks of living in the home with all hook-ups completed so that the service team can order all necessary parts and complete work in a single visit.
Cosmetic Warranty: Home warranties are typically issued by the factory themselves, not the dealership. Dealerships coordinate the service work with contractors and are then able to bill back the factory for the work, so long as it is covered in the warranty. A Cosmetic Warranty is typically 90 days and is good for only a one time service. This is why a thorough punch list is so important.
Factory Warranty: Not including cosmetics, the factory issues a one year warranty on structural and utility use of the home.
Service Contract: Some dealerships will offer 10-12 year service contracts for purchase in addition to the factory warranty mentioned above. These contracts cover basic items such as utilities and appliances, and, like full-coverage insurance, require a deductible to be used. Don’t get the two confused, one is backed by the manufactured home factory, and the other by the dealership selling you the home.
Land: This is typically how a home site is referred to if it is a property separate from a mobile home community.
Mobile Home Community: This is pretty much a nicer term than “trailer park”. Mobile home communities are permanent home sites to install a manufactured home that typically come with similar amenities to that of apartments such as pools, dog parks, laundry areas, and rec rooms.
Trailer Park: An old fashioned and often derogatory term for a mobile home community. It’s where trailers were parked. Trailer Park. Get it?
Singlewide: A manufactured home made in only a single section. 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.
Doublewide: A doublewide mobile home means the home is made in two sections and is “double” the width of a singlewide. I know, not really that complicated, but I just want to be clear. Double wide homes are double the size and about double the cost of a singlewide. Choosing between the two requires careful consideration into the needs of you and your family both short and long term.
Hitch: The hitch is just like it would be on a trailer, attached to the frame of the mobile home to transport it from the factory to the home site. The hitch can be removed before skirting if cosmetically undesirable.
Wheels and Axels: The wheels and axels from the home transportation are removed during set-up in order to place the blocks under the home. They are not typically left with the homeowner.