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Before You Buy a Mobile Home

What Is a Mobile Home/Manufactured Home?

A mobile/manufactured home is a dwelling which is built on an integral chassis in a factory, transportable in one or more sections, and which is eight feet or more in width. All single family mobile/manufactured homes manufactured since June of 1976 must be built in accordance with the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and must display a label certifying compliance. One of every three homes constructed in Florida is a mobile/ manufactured home.


What To Look for When Buying a Mobile Home/Manufactured Home

As with any significant purchase, you should shop around for the mobile/manufactured home of your choice. Compare cost, floor plan design, and interior and exterior décor. When you are shopping for a mobile/manufactured home, don't hesitate to find out the details its construction methods and materials. A reliable dealer will be happy to explain them to you. Be sure that all warranty and appliance instruction booklets and home owner and set-up manuals are in the home. Beware of a new mobile/manufactured home that does not display a label certifying code compliance. (All single family mobile/manufactured homes must bear a certification label, which is displayed on the rear of the home. A label is required for each section of the home.)


What About the Dealer?

If you purchase a new mobile/manufactured home, the dealer must be licensed with the Division of Motorist Services, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Used mobile/ manufactured homes may be sold by licensed dealers, real estate brokers (if the land is included in the sale), or the owner may sell his or her own mobile/manufactured home just as with a site built home.


Tag and Title

In Florida, a mobile/manufactured home is a motor vehicle and requires a certificate of title as proof of ownership just as your car or truck does.

There is a separate title document for each section of your mobile/manufactured home (there is one title document for a single-wide mobile/manufactured home and two title documents for a double-wide mobile/manufactured home). If your mobile/manufactured home has been paid for in full, you will receive the title(s) from Division of Motorist Services headquarters in Tallahassee. If there is a lien on your home, the lienholder will receive the title, and hold it until the lien amount has been paid. In either case, Florida law requires the dealer to apply for the title within 30 days of the date of sale.

If you own the land on which your mobile/manufactured home is located and home is permanently affixed to the land, you may declare the home to be “real property” (RP) and have it placed on the tax rolls of your county. Your taxes would then be paid in the same way as conventional homestead taxes are paid. If you rent the land on which your home is located, or if your home is not permanently affixed to your land, you must purchase and display a decal each year for each section of your mobile/manufactured home.

If you are uncertain as to whether your home is permanently affixed to the land, you should contact your County Property Appraiser who will make this determination. If your mobile/ manufactured home is real property, failure to place it on the county real property tax rolls may result in back taxes and penalties being assessed against you, so it is important to make sure your mobile/manufactured home is classified properly.


What if You Need Service?

Florida law requires both the dealer and manufacturer to warrant a new mobile/manufactured home for one year from the date of delivery. If your home needs service during this time, contact your dealer. He will arrange for repairs with his own employees; or, if the work is the manufacturer’s responsibility, your dealer can assist you in notifying them. If you feel that the dealer and/or manufacturer are not responsive to your problems, you may file a complaint with the Division of Motorist Services (DMS) in Tallahassee. DMS has the authority to require that repairs be made to your mobile/manufactured home so that it will be in compliance with HUD standards within the first year of purchase.


Financing and Contracts

There are many sources for financing your mobile/manufactured home in addition to dealer financing. As costs will vary, you should shop around for the best finance and insurance plan. Be sure you understand what your costs will be.

Also be sure that you understand which items on the contract are your responsibility, and which items are the dealer’s responsibility. Check that they are clearly defined. Do not leave any blank spaces on the contract, and be certain that all items which you and the dealer have agreed to are covered by the contract. Do not rely on oral agreements. Read the entire contract before signing it, and be sure to save a completed copy for your records.

If you place a deposit on a home and do not complete the sale, you may forfeit part of your deposit, depending on your contractual agreement. If the purchase is contingent on the sale of your present home, this condition should be noted on all copies of the contract and initialed by both parties. If the dealer is to retain the “running gear” (the wheels, axles, and other mobilizing hardware) from your home, this must be stated on the contract.


How to Choose a Park

Before investing in a mobile/manufactured home, be sure you have a place to put it. If you are considering residing in a mobile/manufactured home park, visit various parks and compare what they have to offer. Among your choices are (1) renting the lot, (2) purchasing the lot, or (3) condominium or cooperative parks. In each case, prior to agreeing to anything, be sure you read and understand the terms of the lease agreement and the rules and regulations of the park, as you will be expected to abide by them. Further information can be found at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation website.


Tie-Down (Anchor) Requirements

All mobile/manufactured homes are required to be tied down in accordance with the specifications provided by the manufacturer. In the case of a used home, and in the absence of the manufacturer’s tie-down instructions, the home must be tied down in accordance with the specifications provided in Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles specifications Rule Chapter 15C-1, Florida Administrative Code. Each county and municipality is responsible for ensuring compliance with the tie-down regulations through permitting and onsite inspections.


Used Mobile Homes

The selling dealer is responsible for fulfilling the terms specified in the contract. The title will show the correct model year of the mobile/manufactured home. If the home is purchased from a dealer, the dealer must apply for the title on your behalf within 30 days of the date of sale. If no dealer is involved, follow the same procedure as you would to transfer a motor vehicle title. The county tax collector office will be able to answer any questions you might have concerning title transfer.


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