Buying a Mobile Home?
Florida's Nasty Surprise
For a state that feels the need to warn people not to drink from the gas pump or reach under the lawn mower while it's running, Florida is strangely silent about the greatest risk to your investment when buying a mobile (cough) manufactured home.
While you're getting your ducks in a row sitting down with park management, real-estate agent, mortgage broker, the huge ignored elephant in the room is, "Change of Land Use".
Haven't seen, "Change of Use" in the promotional literature?
Well it all comes down to the park owner accepting an offer to sell the land the park is on for a different use such as another big box store selling cheap underwear or more townhouses/condos.
Now you would think this might not be so bad, they'd have to buy you out or make it worth your while to move.
The sad truth is Florida Statute 723 allows the landowner to sell you a manufactured home in the park on a Monday and tell you he's accepted an offer and you have six months to get out on Tuesday.
Actually you have no protection from "Change of Land Use" at any time. It can come out of the blue whether you've just bought or finally paid off your home expecting years of low land only rent when retired.
Sure the owner can choose to sell the park to the dwellers, what bank wouldn't loan ten million dollars to people who live in mobile homes?
At the time of writing the State Relocation Fund will pay a pitiful $3,000. for a single or $6,000. for a double wide's moving expense. Your out of pocket will be double that.
All relocation money goes to the trucker. You pay for moving and storage of everything you own including major appliances, lodging, meals, waiting for a new certificate of occupancy, moving back in. Infrastructure such as concrete driveway, patio, steps, skirting, screen room and carport don't make the move or survive it.
If half the home takes a lean as it bounces down the road it might never go back together right again. If the walls and ceiling are drywall, every seam will split. Good luck with the roof.
If you refuse to be intimidated into moving, you will be evicted and the sheriff will move the contents of your home to the nearest public land such as the side of the street.
No one will be legally responsible for what happens to you or your possessions. However, you will still be responsible for the rent / mortgage for as long as you retain ownership, you just can't live there.
If you abandon your home you can apply for a single payment of $1,375. for a single or $2,750. for a double wide, pennies on the dollar and you still owe the mortgage !!!
You can lose virtually your entire investment while the people in state government who should protect you are the ones writing these sad laws. Local officials who should be protecting you from rezoning are inviting the developers and redevelopers to fix the low tax return on mobile home property values. Judges who have only seconds to decide housing cases think you live in a travel trailer or RV you can drive to another park.
Think you are lucky not to be buying your manufactured home in Florida? Most states are worse, no money, less time !!!
Pretend you are invulnerable owning a house? Foreclosures for not paying excessive Home Owner Association fines and their asociated legal fees are at a record high in states such as California.
America is a wonderful place full of opportunities if you are willing to work hard, but unfortunately it is also full of opportunities for people to take advantage of bad laws to rip you off.
What can you do? Write elected officials and consumer affairs demanding honest housing laws that protect people's investments from opportunists. The elderly are in special danger of being taken advantage of. When buying a mobile / manufactured home demand the contract pay you the fair market value of your home in case of, "Change of Land Use" or find a way to buy your own land with the house.
Don't be a victim of Florida's nasty surprise for mobile
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