Purchasing Land for Your Manufactured Home: The Truth About Utilities
6 Questions to Ask About Your Future Land
Preparing land for your manufactured home is arguably one of the most difficult parts of the process. I believe this task can be made easier when a land/home buyer is armed with the right information. The best offense is good defense, and the same is true with preparing your land.
So today, in response to a question asked by one of our Facebook followers, I will discuss the different aspects of purchasing land for a manufactured home, what questions to ask, what is required to install your manufactured home, and some of the costs involved.
If you hopped on to a real estate website right now, you would most likely see hundreds of properties for sale in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. These properties would run the gamut from a modest half acre, all the way to a 500 acre ranch.
Unfortunately, though, acreage isn’t the prevailing requirement when looking to purchase land, especially if you desire a manufactured home on that land. You should, of course, find a property with the land space you are seeking, but keep your options open, because you might find that your dream property could actually become your worst nightmare.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself and your realtor when exploring prospective land. Keeping these in mind will hopefully ensure you consider all possible costs associated not just with the land—but with the preparation of the land to be a home site.
Knowing ahead of time just what you’re getting yourself into will help you at the negotiation table when making your offer and will absolutely protect you financially from digging a hole to throw money into.
Before I get into those questions, let me just say:
A knowledgeable, sincere manufactured home dealership can assist you in this process LONG before you are ready to buy a home. Make contact early in this process and use their expertise!
Suitable Land for a Manufactured Home
Okay, I’ll get to those questions now. Remember, doing this research is not for the sake of saving a couple hundred bucks, we are talking tens of thousands of dollars. We have seen too many home buyers who jumped into a piece of property and then did their research. The consequences can be truly devastating.
1. Is the property zoned for a mobile/manufactured home?
A lot of times this question will be answered right in the listing of the property—but not always. Ask your realtor or the managing real estate agent if a manufactured home can be installed on the property you are considering. Unfortunately, there are still many zoning restrictions, especially within cities, regarding factory built homes vs. site built.
2. Is it in a floodplain? IS IT IN A FLOODPLAIN?
Sorry, had to make sure you got that. Ask this question. Get a straight answer for this question. Because your property may be technically zoned for a manufactured home, but that doesn’t mean anything if in a thunderstorm it becomes the Rio Grande.
If being in a floodplain doesn’t outright disqualify you from installing a manufactured home, it will mean thousands and thousands of dollars in permitting, development, and months of extra waiting as you try to get straight answers from your county development office.
I am not trying to insinuate that seller’s or listing agents mean to be deceptive in their information. It really is a lack of knowledge, so it is up to you to require realtors to do some research in order to protect yourself from any unknowns.
3. Are utilities on the property?
There is a phrase used in land listings that really irritates me: access to utilities. This phrase means absolutely nothing. The moon has access to utilities if anyone wants to pay to get them there. You need to know if utilities are there, and, if they’re not, how far they are. Because they could be 500 feet or 5 miles!
4. Is there an electric meter with 200 amp service?
You asked if utilities are on the property, and your realtor said, yes! But now you need to get specific. There are few different ways this could be true: there is an electric pole with wiring, there is an electric pole with a meter and 100 amp service, and then there’s the golden ticket: an electric pole with a meter and 200 amp service.
See, if there is only a pole and wires you will still have to pay for the power company to connect you to service and install the meter. The cost can vary depending on what kind of power company you will be connecting to and every county/city is different. If everything is there, but it’s set up for 100 amp service, you might as well be starting from scratch.
Current code requires a 200 amp setup, so make sure you find out this information before you get to the closing table. To obtain connection to a proper, up-to-code, setup will be in the $600-$800 range, while installing everything new will be more in the $1,800-$2,000 range.
5. Is there an existing TAPPED water meter?
Again, it is very important to get specific about these utilities. Maybe there is a water meter on the property, but when’s the last time it had service to it? Is the old service even around anymore? How far will it be to obtain service?
This is a big one because the simple “tapping” of your water into the county service can range from $1,000 all the way to $7,000 plus materials. You can find these costs by calling the local provider or looking on their website. Having the estimate ready will mean thousands you can negotiate off the asking price of the land, if you want to go with that land after all.
6. Is there septic? How big and how old?
Having septic is another big plus when purchasing a property. But, you need to know what size home it was designed for and how old it is. Generally, if the septic is older than 20 years, it will need to be replaced. There are new laws and requirements, as well as systems designed for specific soil types.
And, if it is a newer system, was it sized to support only a two bedroom/one bathroom home or a four bedroom/two bathroom home. Trust me, you want the right size. That is not a mess you want to clean up.
The Price of a “Good Deal” on Land
As I mentioned earlier, these aspects can feel overwhelming, and can make your choices suddenly limited. The idea here is to not overpay for property you will then have to make habitable. You have to weigh the costs of utility installation against the cost of a “good deal.” A $15,000 acre can easily turn into a $50,000 acre once you’ve installed necessary utilities and septic onto it.
Would it have saved you the time, frustration, and confusion to have bought the more expensive property with the utilities already done?
Next week we will discuss what happens after the land is yours and it’s time to get serious about installing your manufactured home. If you have any questions that you want answered, be sure to drop us a note on our Facebook page and we will do our best to answer them!