CommunitySelling a Modular Home: What to Do Before Listing Your Modular Home with a Professional Real Estate Agent

Selling a Modular Home: What to Do Before Listing Your Modular Home with a Professional Real Estate Agent

We are having a serious problem selling our modular home. It is not a manufactured home constructed on a metal frame, but a wood-framed home that was stick-built in a factory. The problem began when someone made an offer on our house. The offer was $50,000 lower than our listing price, and the agent of the person making the offer told our agent that because our house is a modular, it is only worth the offered price. Our agent then claimed she didn't know it was a modular, even accusing us of hiding this detail when in fact we did tell her is was modular on day the listing agreement was written at our house. Now our agent believes what she is being told by the other agent.

To get to the bottom of this, we hired a professional appraiser to identify the value of our modular home. The appraisal came in at $10,000 less than our listing price. Now our agent says the appraiser was wrong because he didn't compare our house only to other modular homes, and she has made us sign an agreement to drop the listing with her.

We believe our home should be sold just the same way that any other home is sold, and that is not any less valuable because it is modular. We do have a conventional 30-year mortgage. The builder of our home agrees with us but our agent thinks the builder is telling us this because we bought the house from him.

We want to sell our modular home for a fair price but also want to make sure it's listed correctly with the next company. What are the rules for selling a modular home?

The Money Pit Answer

Your real estate agent is totally off base about selling a modular home!  Modular homes are actually constructed quite well and should have an identical value to homes built on-site. In fact, since modular homes are constructed in a factory, they may even be better constructed than those built in the field. Factory automation delivers superb accuracy for cutting and assembly, and the home is not subjected to any of the effects of weather while it is being built.

Modular homes can be built in sections and joined together on site, or they can be built in panels, where one wall at a time is constructed and then assembled on top of a floor frame that is constructed on site. Some years ago I hosted a week's worth of television segments about panelized homes that were built for Habitat for Humanity. I can tell you firsthand that those homes were built as well if not better than any I had seen in my many years of hanging around construction sites.

It was smart of you to hire an appraiser to provide an estimate of fair market value for your modular home. The fact that it came in $10,000 under asking does not trouble me, because that may just be a reflection of market conditions. In this market, you may very well end up negotiating a final price under the asking price anyway. If you want any further assurance of quality, hire a professional home inspector and have him or her do the very same home inspection that would be done for a potential buyer. To find a good one, go to the web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) at ASHI.org. 

The home inspection report, together with the appraisal, should be placed into the hands of a competent, professional real estate agent who understands selling a modular home and can properly and enthusiastically represent you all the way to the closing table.