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A complete guide to mobile homes

Published on November 30, 2023

Buying a mobile home is one of the easiest ways to acquire property in today’s real estate market. Beyond the attractive purchase price, this type of home is rapidly gaining in popularity for many other reasons, while only having few disadvantages.

The housing crisis and the rising price of single-family homes are leading a growing number of buyers to take an interest in this type of property, which has been well established in the Quebec housing market for about 50 years.

Here’s everything you need to know about mobile homes.


What is a mobile home?

In most cases, a mobile home is a rectangular one-level dwelling. It can be built on a towable chassis, a temporary foundation made up of concrete blocks or piles, or a permanent foundation. Designed to be hooked up to public utilities and lived in year round, mobile homes are subject to the same building standards as regular houses.

Mobile homes look like a trailer from the outside and like a house or an apartment from the inside. They usually have between one and three bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a bathroom. The main features of nearly all mobile homes are a large window at the front and a porch leading to the front door, but there are many different models. Some have a finished basement, which increases their living area.

Mobile home with a balcony

While mobile homes are often grouped together in both urban and rural areas, they can be found in single-family home developments in the city or on a variety of property types in the country.

The difference between a mobile home and a tiny home

The main difference between the two types of housing is the size. A tiny home is 500 square feet or less, while a mobile home can vary between 600 and 1,200 square feet. They are also different shapes. A mobile home is generally a rectangular single-storey building, while a tiny home often has a loft beneath a gable roof.

How long do they last?

There are no exact statistics on the average useful life of mobile homes. Some sources suggest that they can last between 30 and 55 years, but there is reason to believe that newer models will easily exceed that. Units built before the 70s are hard to find on the market, which could indicate that earlier models have a limited life span. It all depends on the quality of the construction and the maintenance that was done over the years.

The 5 advantages of mobile homes

Mobile homes have many practical, economic, and ecological advantages.

1. Low asking price

The biggest advantage is that mobile homes are cheaper than single-family homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, and condominiums. For example, the median price of a mobile home in Quebec was $183,500 as of November 10, 2023, according to DuProprio.com.1 In comparison, the median prices of single-family homes and condos were $381,626 and $373,166, respectively, in Quebec in October 2023.2

The inspection fee, down payment, mortgage payments, welcome tax, and municipal and school taxes to be paid on a mobile home will therefore be lower. This makes buying a mobile home one of the less costly ways of acquiring property. It is possible to buy a mobile home even on a relatively low income with little savings.

Aerial view of mobile home park

If renovations are needed, the work will also cost less than for another type of home. Whether the roof needs to be replaced, the windows changed, or the exterior cladding refreshed, it will take less material and fewer hours of labour because the work is less complex.

2. Little maintenance

A smaller living space requires less interior and exterior maintenance. Not only are there fewer rooms to dust, but there is also only one bathroom to clean! Outside, there is a smaller cladding surface to maintain, shorter rain gutters, fewer windows, and, in many cases, a smaller lot than a more traditional home. All of this can save mobile home owners time, money, and effort.

3. Reduced energy costs

Having a small living area also means lower heating and air conditioning costs, provided the home is well insulated. Since most mobile homes have an abundance of windows, it should cost relatively little to light the rooms. In addition to saving on energy costs, owning a mobile home helps owners reduce their ecological footprint.

4. Potential increase in value

With rent prices going up, the demand for affordable housing keeps growing. That means that mobile homes have a certain potential to increase in value over time, especially given that the cost of purchasing them is low at the moment.

“The closer they are to cities, the greater their potential to increase in value. This is especially true for strong structures on a good foundation.” – Julie Poulin, real estate coach at DuProprio

What’s more, these structures are relatively easy to renovate and add on to, which raises their value while improving occupant satisfaction. There are ways to assess the value of a property and how much it will gain in value according to the work done.

5. Community

Buying a mobile home sometimes involves joining a community of people who share the same reality. Some mobile home parks or similar residential areas offer facilities such as a playground, a swimming pool, a convenience store, or even a daycare. Often attracting young families, these communities give the opportunity to forge friendships. They are also generally safe, which explains why they are popular with seniors.

Two people walking their dogs in a mobile home park

The 3 disadvantages of mobile homes

Of course, it’s not all rosy! The potentially limited useful life of older mobile homes raises some concerns. You have to consider both the pros and cons, but the disadvantages of this type of housing are far from insurmountable.

1. Living space

Mobile homes generally have a smaller living area than single-family homes, semi-detached homes, and townhouses. They also have less storage space, which can be a challenge, but there are ways to optimize a small space.

2. Room configuration

Many mobile homes have the same configuration or floor plan as the limited structure does not allow for tons of variation. Buyers looking for a unique home will be difficult to satisfy, although original touches can always be added.

3. Proximity to neighbours

Many mobile homes are located on particularly small lots, which means the owners will be in close proximity to their neighbours and will have to live with neighbourhood noise.

Advantages and inconvenients of mobile homes

Buying a mobile home

Thinking of buying a mobile home? Here’s what you need to know before you take the next step.

What to know before buying a mobile home

The most important thing to know is who owns the land the mobile home is on or will be placed on. Many units, noticed for their unusually low price, are installed on a leased lot. Be sure to go over the terms of the lease with the owner: what is the price, how long is the lease for, what services are provided, and, above all, does the mobile home need to be moved? You will see this condition in several property listings, with the purchase price adjusted accordingly. Renting a mobile home lot appears to vary between $200 and $350 per month.3

Down payment required

If the mobile home is located on independent (not leased) property, it is possible to obtain a mortgage payable over 20 years provided that it is insured by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. In that case, a down payment of 20% is required, unless you have mortgage loan insurance, in which case you can borrow with only a 5% down payment.

On the other hand, if the mobile home is located on a piece of land for rent, the buyer must obtain a personal loan from one or more financial institutions, like when buying a car. Interest rates on personal loans can exceed 12%.4

View of a mobile home with a balcony

Price of a mobile home

Mobile homes in good condition usually sell for between $50,000 and $300,000.5 The considerable price difference is due to the status of the land (leased or owned), the size of the lot and of the building, the work that has been done, and the location.

How much does a new mobile home cost?

It is difficult to get a precise number from manufactured home builders, but models of a size similar to mobile homes sell for between $200,000 and $250,000,6 depending on the finish and the chosen inclusions. You have to add the purchase price of a piece of land to this amount, the expenses related to the sanitary facilities if they are not provided by the municipality, and the usual transaction fees.

Find a mobile home on DuProprio.com

You can find mobile homes for sale on DuProprio.com in just a few clicks.

Now that you have all the information, you will be better equipped to decide if a mobile home is a good option for you, or if you prefer to save up for a more traditional type of property.

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1. Median price of mobile homes for sale in Quebec listed on DuProprio.com as of November 10, 2023. 2. According to the JLR.ca Real Estate Radar for Quebec during October 2023. 3. Rental prices of the lots for the mobile homes listed on DuProprio.com as of November 10, 2023. 4. According to the interest rates in force for personal loans at Desjardins as of November 10, 2023. 5. Mobile home prices on DuProprio.com as of November 10, 2023. 6. Prices of new modular homes sold by Maisons Usinée Côté that are roughly the same size as mobile homes.