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Mobile Home Values Are Rising Faster Than Single-Family Home Values — Here’s Where They’re the Most, Least Expensive
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With home prices still hot across the U.S., many Americans may be considering alternatives to the traditional single-family home. Some may purchase a less expensive condo or townhome, while others may go for a mobile home.
But are mobile homes less expensive than single-family homes, and do they appreciate the same way? To answer these questions and determine where mobile homes are the most and least expensive, LendingTree used U.S. Census Bureau data to compare the median price of mobile homes and single-family homes in each of the nation’s states, except for Hawaii (see the methodology for why Hawaii was excluded).
Not only did we find that mobile homes are generally far less expensive than single-family homes, but the median value of mobile homes increased more quickly in 27 states than the median value of single-family homes over the same five-year period.
- Nationally, the median value of a mobile home is $53,300, nearly $190,000 less than the median value of a single-family home. Although they’re worth considerably less, the median value of mobile homes increased by 39% from 2014 to 2019, 6 percentage points more than the 33% increase in the median value of single-family homes in the same period.
- Mobile homes cost the least in Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio. Across these states, the median value of a mobile home is less than $25,000. To put that into perspective, the median value of a single-family home in these states is more than $150,000.
- Mobile homes cost the most in Washington, Oregon and California. Washington is the only state where the median value of a mobile home is higher than $100,000 ($125,400), though Oregon and California are also relatively pricey with median values of $93,500 and $91,400, respectively. Regardless, mobile homes in these states are still considerably less expensive than single-family homes.
- The difference in price between a mobile and single-family home is the largest in California, Massachusetts and Colorado. In these three states, median-priced mobile homes cost $477,100, $343,300 and $337,800 less than median-priced single-family homes. On the other end of the spectrum, the differences in median prices in Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia and Oklahoma are less than $90,000.
- The median value of mobile homes rose most significantly over the five years in Nevada, Oregon and California. In these states, median mobile home values increased by an average of 96% from 2014 to 2019. This increase is almost twice as much as the average appreciation of 50% seen in the median value of single-family homes in the same three states.
- Though the median value of mobile homes increased from 2014 to 2019 in nearly every state, it fell in Delaware and Kansas. Respectively, median mobile home values fell by 11% and 7% in each state, while single-family home values increased by 14% and 24%.
States where mobile homes are the least expensive
No. 1: Nebraska
- Median mobile home value: $21,800
- Median single-family home value: $172,700
- Difference in median mobile and single-family home values: $150,900
- 5-year median single-family home value appreciation: 29%
- 5-year median mobile home value appreciation: 8%
No. 2: Iowa
- Median mobile home value: $23,300
- Median single-family home value: $158,900
- Difference in median mobile and single-family home value: $135,600
- 5-year median single-family home value appreciation: 19%
- 5-year median mobile home value appreciation: 15%
No. 3: Ohio
- Median mobile home value: $24,900
- Median single-family home value: $157,200
- Difference in median mobile and single-family home value: $132,300
- 5-year median single-family home value appreciation: 22%
- 5-year median mobile home value appreciation: 13%
States where mobile homes are the most expensive
No. 1: Washington
- Median mobile home value: $125,400
- Median single-family home value: $387,600
- Difference in median mobile and single-family home value: $262,200
- 5-year median single-family home value appreciation: 46%
- 5-year median mobile home value appreciation: 62%
No. 2: Oregon
- Median mobile home value: $93,500
- Median single-family home value: $354,600
- Difference in median mobile and single-family home value: $261,100
- 5-year median single-family home value appreciation: 48%
- 5-year median mobile home value appreciation: 96%
No. 3: California
- Median mobile home value: $91,400
- Median single-family home value: $568,500
- Difference in median mobile and single-family home value: $477,100
- 5-year median single-family home value appreciation: 38%
- 5-year median mobile home value appreciation: 85%
What are the drawbacks of buying a mobile home?
Though the relatively low cost of a mobile home can make them appealing, buying and owning one isn’t without drawbacks.
For example, while the value of mobile homes does appreciate over time, some owners may find that reselling can be difficult. Further, securing a loan for a mobile home can be challenging, as many lenders view them as riskier investments than a loan for another type of house. It can be especially tricky and costly for borrowers with poor credit scores or those trying to buy a mobile home on land they don’t own.
These drawbacks — in addition to other downsides like needing to pay trailer park or land access fees — may be enough to discourage some buyers from considering a mobile home, even if they find the price of said home appealing.
All that said, a mobile home could be a good investment depending on who is buying the property and their needs. As long as a buyer understands what they’re doing, a mobile home could provide a good blend of affordability, convenience, safety and shelter.
Tips for finding affordable housing
There are plenty of ways to make finding an affordable home — mobile or not — a little bit easier. Here are three tips:
- Shop around for a mortgage lender before determining what kind of home you can afford. Price shock is all too common in today’s hot housing market, and seeing how expensive homes are can make some would-be buyers shy away from attempting to get a loan. Fortunately, rates remain near record lows, and some buyers who shop around for different lenders to find the lowest possible rate on a mortgage might find their dream home isn’t as unaffordable as they once thought.
- Think about renting instead of buying. While there are some exceptions, renting a home is usually much less expensive than buying one. If you’re looking for a home but don’t have the cash, renting can still be a great option.
- Separate fact from fiction. A would-be mobile home buyer might worry that living in a trailer park is unsafe or that the value of their house won’t appreciate over time and, as a result, end up pursuing more expensive housing. Many of these preconceptions are often untrue. In fact, trailer parks are often relatively safe compared to other neighborhoods, and the value of a mobile home can increase over time. By learning more about alternative housing options — like mobile homes — you might find that they’re more appealing and a better fit for you than you thought.
Data in this study comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey with one-year estimates — the latest study available — as well as the 2014 American Community Survey with one-year estimates.
Hawaii was excluded from our study due to insufficient data on mobile homes within the state. While mobile homes do exist in Hawaii, trailer parks were forbidden by strict zoning laws until recently. As a result, there’s insufficient data to meaningfully estimate the median value of a mobile home in Hawaii, especially over five years.
Per the U.S. Census Bureau, a mobile home is defined as “a movable dwelling, 8 feet or more wide and 40 feet or more long, designed to be towed on its own chassis, with transportation gear integral to the unit when it leaves the factory, and without need of a permanent foundation. These homes are built in accordance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) building code.”