Living in a Manufactured Home Vs. Living in a Condo | HomeFirst

Living in a Manufactured Home Vs. Living in a Condo

Your choice in housing has never been greater, especially in urban parts of Michigan. Choices run from single-family, traditional homes for sale to duplexes and town homes, cooperative housing, apartments for rent, condominiums and even a wide selection of manufactured homes for sale.

So many choices and so many options. How do you decide between large or small, simple or luxurious and expensive or modest, budget-conscious dwellings? Well, it all comes down to lifestyle and affordability.

Although there’s no one lifestyle perfect for everyone, there’s definitely a perfect type of housing for your lifestyle. You just need to determine if your lifestyle is best suited to living in a single-family home or a duplex, or would it be better renting an apartment or condominium? What about purchasing a condo? Or maybe you are better off to be looking at mobile homes for sale in southeast Michigan.

If you’re like most people, your lifestyle will be driven greatly by your budget. That lifestyle and financial combination will determine the amount of space you can afford as well as what type of housing you’re going to settle on. For many, the cost of purchasing a single-family, traditional home is simply too high to consider. If that includes you, then you’re going to be investigating your other investment options. This will narrow down the location you want, the space and amenities you’d like and, ultimately, the most suitable housing you can afford.

Your choice may come down to examining condominiums for sale or looking into the vast variety of housing styles and living amenities available in manufactured homes. Without a doubt, both condos and manufactured homes deliver a better cost-per-area value than traditional site-built homes. Like most choices in life, there are pros and cons to each type of living, and the decision will come back to your expectations and your financial means.

Let’s say your choice is between a condominium and a manufactured home. Both have their pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them against each other, including some knowledge of what other forms of housing are and how condos and manufactured homes are set apart.

Here’s a look at the various housing options available in southeast Michigan that’ll put housing in perspective and help you decide if a condominium is best suited for your lifestyle or if you should settle in a manufactured home.

Single-Family, Site-Built Home

For generations, families have pursued the all-American dream of home ownership. For some, that meant a single-family, detached home that was site-built on its own piece of land separating it from neighboring properties.

This certainly is a sense of security as land ownership has always been categorized as “real property” or “real estate” which valued the land as an integral component, inseparable from the building. Other housing forms like mobile homes or condominiums did not include the land as a part of ownership and were devalued and less desirable in some people’s view.

The value of total ownership has changed over the years as the cost of land has severely increased in many locations. Higher density in urban areas forced land to be utilized in compact ways, giving way to clear title on the land, rather putting the ownership on the livable component — the building or residential unit itself.

While total home ownership may be freedom for some, it doesn’t come without a cost. It comes with a total responsibility in maintaining the entire house, inside and out, as well as upkeep on the grounds, the repairs to the structure and components as well as bearing the total tax burden that comes with single-family homes.

Today, many simply can’t afford detached homes, nor do their lifestyles allow or demand it. They look to other choices.

Duplex and Town Homes

Sharing land has been an affordable option for centuries, especially in cities where making the best use of density is paramount. Joining separate living spaces by common walls is a practical, space-saving and cost-saving option where it still allows land ownership but on a lesser scale.

A duplex is simply two site-built homes set on one lot and joined at the center wall. Each side is deeded as an individual property and offers similar security and freedom as a free-standing home. While construction costs are reduced by the common foundation and partition wall, the upkeep and taxes remain each homeowner’s responsibility.

Town homes are also known as row housing. There can be any number of units joined side by side with a tendency to stack the livable areas in two or three stories. Like a duplex, each unit carries a separate deed that includes “the land on which it sits.”

Town homes have similar characteristics to what might be offered in condominium living, but they are generally more spacious. They also have front and back yards. Townhouse complexes also may have communal belongings like amenity buildings, pools and playgrounds and will share maintenance tasks like grounds keeping and snow removal. Town homes also offer individual street access with driveways, carports or attached garages as well as having a bit of privacy with backyards that are screened from the neighbors.

Town homes have communal rules that are similar to condominium regulations as well, although they might not be quite as restrictive about what an individual owner can and cannot do with their property. A big advantage to town homes, as in condominiums, is the reduction of cost per square foot that’s capitalized by the dense use of common land and services.

Apartments and Condominiums

In many ways, condominiums or “condos” are like apartments. They’re built in blocks of many units and are stacked one on top of each other being joined by common halls, walls, floors, ceilings, roofs and integral parking areas.

Where many apartments can be quite luxurious, they’re never owned by the tenant and are occupied by a monthly rental agreement or perhaps a longer lease arrangement. Utilities like electricity and cable or internet service are normally extra in apartments, but water, sewer and all taxes may be included in the rent price. True ownership and a stake in equity are never part of an apartment deal, but they’re an attractive component in condominium living.

In most jurisdictions, condominium ownership is legislated by an act which defines ownership of the individual unit’s private area and also the resident’s right to ownership and use of common property. This can be parking, exercise areas, workshops or craft rooms, common meeting areas and even barbecues for cookouts.

A huge advantage to condo ownership is the low burden of maintenance and upkeep. There’s no need for concern about lawn mowing, painting, snow scraping and overall seasonal or long-term upkeep as it’s all included in a monthly fee that’s over and above the mortgage payment, civic taxes, utility costs and insurance premiums. Condo owners are free to enjoy a lifestyle where they don’t have to spend the time or energy to tackle jobs that single-family home or even townhouse owners are saddled with.

Location is another convenience that condo owners usually enjoy, and it plays right into their lifestyle. Condominiums are usually built in high-density areas within walking distance to shopping centers, entertainment facilities, restaurant-row and mass-transit stations. Their central location makes commuting time to work quick and easy for urban office dwellers which significantly reduces the costs of vehicle operation or even ownership.

No look at a condo option should be without considering the safety features the complex may have to offer. Most of today’s condo blocks have excellent fire warning and suppression systems as well as gated access to parking and the building as well. Alarms, video surveillance and even physical security officers are common.

While some condos can be quite pricey, their overall return on amenities and financial output are still far less than single-family, site-built homes or attached town homes. But there’s another side to condominium ownership and living that some people find challenging.

Condominium Legalities

All condominium buildings and complexes come with some sort of Homeowner Association, also known as an HOA. This is legislated by the state, county or city, and an HOA can be very restrictive for some people’s temperament and lifestyle.

An HOA is a legal, corporate board composed of elected officials or officers who are responsible for setting the rules of ownership in a condominium development. The HOA makes decisions as to the rate of fees that can be increased against the will of a single owner. They’re also legally enforceable. The HOA board may make crucial decisions such as when to replace the condominium roof and renovate the exterior, and they may even set simple restrictions like what window coverings to display and which seasonal decorations are allowed.

In a condominium, the land is not owned individually as it is in a single, detached home or even a townhouse. All land in a condo complex is common property, and the only individual holding is the interior of the unit itself with the boundaries being set at surveyed points at common walls, including where the private interior stops and the common exterior begins.

By law, all HOAs must keep written minutes and financial records that have to be provided to each condo owner. Before considering a condo purchase, part of your due diligence should be obtaining the recent HOA meeting minutes and even talking to individual residents who’ve been in the complex for some time. This may save a later case of buyer’s remorse.

Manufactured Homes

For those whose budget won’t allow purchasing a traditional single-family home, yet the semi-communal living in a townhouse or the micromanagement of a condominium seems unbearable, the obvious choice for lifestyle and affordability lies in a manufactured home.

One of the first obstacles to overcome in choosing to buy or even rent a manufactured home is getting over the perceived stigma of living in what may consider to be a “mobile” home situated in a trailer park. Some see manufactured homes to be substandard housing set in less desirable neighborhoods. Today, nothing could be further than the truth.

Gone are the days of poor-quality, factory-built homes that were towed behind vehicles and grouped into unregulated and unkempt parks on the outskirts of town. In fact, the term “mobile home” hasn’t been in use since 1976 when the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development completely revised and regulated the manufactured home industry by implementing the HUD Code.

The HUD Code is a highly successful program that prescribes high standards of structural integrity, safety, energy efficiency and accountability in homes that are assembled under tightly controlled and cost-effective factory settings. This ensures that not only are all new factory-built homes constructed of quality materials using sophisticated tools and highly skilled workers, but these manufactured homes are overseen by third-party inspectors who certify that each home meets the rigid government standards.

The improvement in quality, amenities and affordability in today’s manufactured homes often exceeds anything found in custom, site-built homes as well as some of the upper-end condominium units.

Today, you have a wide choice of floor plans, facades, sizes and styles of manufactured homes, whereas in a condominium, you’re restricted to only several different plans all in the same building. Custom manufactured homes even offer everything in the way of luxurious amenities that you’d find in most condos. Hardwood floors, granite countertops and Energy Star stainless steel appliances are common in manufactured homes, and you’d never find vaulted ceilings, front porches and stone accents in a condo.

Many manufactured homes are now set on foundations in owner-held land and classify as the same status as a site-built home, but the average cost of a manufactured home is upwards of twenty percent less. Manufactured homes are also found in dedicated communities that offer common property such as gardens, parks, pools and RV parking — with the additional security and maintenance that a condominium has for benefits.

Children and pets are other issue that condominium living might not accommodate. Most condo complexes have severe restrictions on the size and number of pets they allow, if they’re even allowed at all. Many condominiums also have age limits with most specifying an over-55 residency requirement. Limitations even extend to the number of visitors permitted, including the length of their stay. You’re not likely to find this cramp-in-your-style at a manufactured home community.

It all comes back to lifestyle and affordability. While condo living has perks that some find attractive, most of these positive aspects can be said for living in a manufactured home. This includes whether you rent in a manufactured home community or invest in ownership. As well, manufactured homes have a greater range of options than condos, yet they fall into a similar price range on a dollar-per-space ratio.

Truly, manufactured homes can provide the best of housing options you’d find in all single family, site-built homes, townhouses and condominiums. Whether you’re deciding on a condo or a manufactured home, remember that your lifestyle and budget are hard to adjust. You need to assess real value in housing that lets you live within your means. Manufactured homes are designed to do just that.

Your Place for Manufactured Homes in Southeast Michigan

At HomeFirstTM, we’ve developed incredible manufactured home communities located across southeast Michigan. If you’re interested in the comfort, affordability and flexibility of living in a manufactured home that a condominium just can’t provide,  schedule a visit to one of our communities.

There are 15 HomeFirstTM manufactured home communities in southeast Michigan, with locations in these cities:

  • Belleville
  • Lansing
  • Holly
  • Jackson
  • Mt. Clemens
  • New Haven
  • South Lyon
  • Milford
  • Whitmore Lake

At HomeFirstTM, we put you first.

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