The decision to buy a mobile home can be a difficult one. Mobile homes don't have the romance that the traditional brick and mortar homes may have nor do they have the longstanding history. While the difference between appraising a mobile home generally follows the same guidelines as any other property, you need to make sure that you get an appraiser that specializes in the subtle nuances of mobile home appraisal.

Manufactured vs. Modular Homes:

The appraiser must know the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home. While both of them may be 'mobile' the difference is in how they are constructed and transported to their final location. Modular homes are usually built using traditional construction methods but can be shipped in pieces on a flatbed truck. Manufactured homes on the other hand are built on a permanent chassis with wheels and a hitch. Once the home is placed on its foundation, the chassis is removed leaving the home behind. It is at this point that the home becomes 'real property' and its appraised value is determined.

Why Is the Difference Important?

To the average layman, the difference doesn't seem to be a big deal but it should be important to the appraiser. Mobile home developers build manufactured homes based on HUD standards so they have a completely separate method of mobile home appraisal. In the appraisal process, they must also include details about the manufacturer, how well the home blends in with the new neighborhood, and serial numbers. The value of the property being appraised will be mostly based on how close the manufacturer aligns the construction with HUD building codes.

The Appraisal Process:

There is much more involved in determining a mobile home appraisal than you might initially think. In addition to having knowledge about construction methods and all the intricacies of a traditional house, they must also be familiar with the NADA Manufactured Housing Appraisal Guide, know the new cost approach to appraising a home, know how to compare a mobile home to a traditional home, and know how to calculate other costs associated with mobile homes. For this, they must have specialized knowledge that goes well beyond what a traditional home appraiser must know.

If you're considering buying a mobile home or you're looking to sell yours, it is important that you choose a qualified appraiser to value the property. While the laws and regulations surrounding the valuation of a mobile home are more extensive, once an appraiser has acquired the additional knowledge, the work involved should not be any more complicated than any other appraisal job. However, before you choose a specific appraiser for the property in question it is important that you determine that they understand the additional laws and regulations surrounding the job. This will be the only possible way to know if you're getting an appraisal that will be close enough to the true value of the property. Remember, your appraisal will help to determine if the bank will finance and guide you in making the best deal possible so choose your appraiser wisely.