Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Selling the House IS No Solution

What you can buy with the proceeds of a sale is so much less than what you are leaving.


My strongest reaction facing infinite 11% or higher rent increases every year was to sell the house and buy something else, something on land that I own. I looked at a map, did some Googling, called a few realtors and started looking at houses.  Besides stick-built houses there are mobile homes for sale sitting on their own land. In fact less than 50 miles from where I live there are several mobile home parks where the residents own the land.

Seven Hills Members Club in Hemet is one such. A Youtube walk through of one of their houses
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ugfcC1vn1Y from 2011, no price given.


So I checked recent ads (April 2014). These houses sell for $140,000 to $250,000. Too rich for me, alas.

However, in the area there were mobile homes on land I could afford. I will not name the park, but the house I walked through had security bars on all the windows, the steel security front door had been jimmied and hung ajar. I didn't want to live there.

Some of the other "owner owned" mobile homes in resident-ownership parks had been bought up by a few individuals and were being rented out. Attempts to discourage or stop the practice had resulted in lawsuits with legal fees driving up the association dues to the middle 3 figures. The large numbers of tenant occupied mobile homes had resulted in increased crime in the area, a decline in property maintenance, and in general a lowering of the desirability of living in such a place.

Moving to the country


Another option was moving away from a city into rural areas where putting a mobile home on land is commonplace.

I viewed this house in Lake Isabella, 4 hours away from where I live now.


There was serious blight in the area as a whole, no shopping nearby. Were there hospitals or doctors? I didn't see any. People warned me away from the downtown area due to crime and drugs.

Meanwhile, people viewing my  home were not eager buyers. I was going to have to find a Plan B.
















Monday, November 25, 2013

When Space Rent Goes Up A Lot


RENT NOTICE HYSTERIA

We all agree mobile him park owners have a right to income on their investment.  Mobile home buyers also have a right to enjoyment of their investment, living in their own home.

In parks for seniors 55+ most of the residents live on fixed incomes, particularly those over 90. It isn't unusual for those closing in on the century mark to have outlived their savings and have social security $700 or less a month. If their space rent goes up to $500 a month or more, you see the problem there.

Additionally, elder mobile home owners may have occupied their home for 30 or 40 years with modest rent increases of 1% a year or less in keeping with the 1968 act providing for senior mobile home parks. This was changed in 1998 allowing mobile home park owners to raise rents with a 90 day notice.

An example would be the mobile home park where I live where rents were seldom increased until 2012 when a new manager took over. Since then rents on my space have been raised $100 a month in two $50 increases.

For the seniors living here 30 years it will be hard for them to move. Their choices are limited to paying, moving, having the coach moved out.

WHAT TO DO

Check your state laws regarding tenant law. There is a national law pamphlet, "Mobile Home Residency Law" for each year. There may be help there.  Also check for City Ordinances regarding rents. A list of California cities with mobile home rent restrictions is here. They have saved some people. In Calistoga California and other places City Ordinances have protected mobile home owners from ruinous rent increases.

If you have received notices of unfair rent increases a good place to start is The Fair Housing Council in your area.

Good luck to you.





Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mobile Home Style Landscaping

THE MANY STYLES OF MOBILE HOME LANDSCAPING

The way people express themselves decorating the exterior of their homes is distinctly different in mobile home parks compared with the yards of tract homes.  Crushed rock is a favorite mobile home yard feature replacing the lawn present in a tract house yard.
However even here there is a wide range of popular styles.

THE TROLL GARDEN CLASSIC


This is the classic mobile home park landscape design.  It is seen from north to south, east to west in every park.  You might almost say it sets the mobile home park apart from any other property style.

THE GEOMETRIC DESIGN

Replacing the Troll Garden as a favorite mobile  home landscape style is the geometric design displaying evenly spaced plants and statuary.  This is the most popular design in the park where I live.


THE BAROQUE

What keeps wandering the lanes of a mobile home park interesting is a row of predictable geometric design homefronts followed by a totally surprising, breathtakingly beautiful baroque landscape.



 
 
MINIMALIST STYLE
 

 
 
This is actually a deliberate style as mobile homes come with landscaping of some sort.  To achieve this zen-like emptiness requires vegetatation be removed and crushed rock added.
 
MORE STYLES
 
This does not exhaust the many styles of landscaping in mobile home parks.  The ingenuity of residents is inexhaustible.   A popular design elsewhere, but not in this park is the "country" style featuring old wheelbarrows, milk cans, and other items of byegone farm days.  There is no "Western" style here either with the wagon wheel a standard feature of that style.
 
Please feel free to comment in the comments section on your favorite style, or style where you live not mentioned here.  We are one.



Monday, October 7, 2013

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF IT IS A MOBILEHOME?


Can you tell a Mobile Home on land from a house built on the property?  This  double wide Mobile Home featured in http://hookedonhouses.net is an excellent example of hard-to-tell.

Not the Only One
The home in Kentucky is not the only showpiece mobile home.   

Many of the new manufactured homes are as large in square footage and with more amenities  than tract homes.  Mixed in a neighborhood it would be very hard to tell one from the other.

This home, displayed on http://inhabitat.com/green-guide-to-prefab-the-history-of-the-mobile-home-and-its-influence-on-the-modern-prefab/    is part of a series on how mobile homes have influenced modern prefab houses.  It would look right at home in any neighborhood.


Which brings up the subject of Pre Fab homes.

Modular Houses and Pre Fab
The line between mobile homes, modular homes and pre fab has been blurred forever. The sales brochure of a high-end Pre Fab home at http://Bluhomes.com extolls the steel construction saying:

"Steel provides the strength and durability required for high
performance in extreme weather conditions, including hurricane-level wind zones, heavy snow loads, high seismic zones and challenging soil and marine moisture environments."

Sound like a mobile home? This is what it looks like


So How Do You Tell If It's A Mobile Home?

You can't.












Friday, October 4, 2013

Mobile Home? Motor Home? Trailer?

DEFINING:  MOBILE HOME, MANUFACTURED HOME, MOTOR HOME, TRAILER


People use these words interchangeably.   Are they really all the same?  If not, what's the difference.  Are some words pejorative, others not?

TRAILER


Photo:  http://morguefile.com

This is a trailer.  Dictionary says:
trailer |ˈtrālər|
noun
1 an unpowered vehicle towed by another, in particular:
an open cart.
an unpowered vehicle equipped for living in, typically used during vacations.


The item in the picture is a trailer.  It gets pulled by a car or truck.   A trailer typically used during vacations does not look like a house.   It has no built on porch, attached stairs, no separate house-like roof, or landscaping as would a Mobile Home or Manufactured Home.

MOTORHOME


Photo :  http://morguefile.com

This is a typical Motor home.  It has an engine.  The dictionary says about it:
Motor home
noun
A motor vehicle equipped like a trailer for living in, with kitchen facilities, beds, etc.

The operative word here is "motor vehicle," it moves under its own power.

MOBILE HOME
Photo:  http://morguefile.com

Here is a Mobile Home on its way to a lot somewhere.  Most likely the lot will be in a mobile home "park."  The Mobile Home doesn't have a motor,  it is sitting on the truck bed being carried to its destination.

When it reaches its destination it will have stairs built to its doors with railings, maybe a porch, definitely landscaping.  It will have all the features of a home built on the site except with economy-of-scale built into the price.  Thus a mobile home is usually less expensive than a architect designed, contractor built home.

Okay, if now we know what a Mobile Home is, then what is a Manufactured Home?   Looking to the dictionary again for help with this one:

Manufactured Home
noun
(mainly in advertising) a mobile home.


In other words, it is a made-up name created by advertising people to fancy up  the words Mobile Home.


People can get into serious arguments about defining words like this.  I hope this blog makes everything a little clearer.

For a look at a mobile home that looks nothing like a mobile home, check out http://www.trailerwrap.net


Photo from http://trailerwrap.net

It's amazing what beautiful design can do.

If you have any questions about what is or isn't a mobile home, please write it in the comment section below.  I will answer you within 24 hours.  General comments on the post are very welcome as well.










Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I Inherited A Cat

WHEN CATS NEED SOMEONE

Living in a mobile home community of people all over the age of 55 means that sometimes we lose them.  There is a pattern of being healthy and active, then slowly things change,  marked by falls and visits to the home by paramedics on a regular basis.  Then they move in with relatives who can take care of them, or a care facility where professionals take care of them, or they pass away.

Over the weekend a neighbor passed away and her daughter appeared at my door asking if I would take her mom's cat?  Of course I would.  I had given her mom the kitten five years ago with the agreement that "if anything happens" she could return the cat to me.   And here it was.


Ginger has turned into a lovely cat who head bumps, and snuggles against your neck and ear.  She has a soft purr, more sonic vibration than sound.  She's very shy, cleverly opening the cabinet door to the towels to enjoy some privacy.

SENIORS NEED TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS IN ADVANCE FOR PETS

Actually, anyone can have an emergency where they need to be away from home for an extended period of time.  The best thing for pets is to have a plan in place for what should be done with the pet in case of hospitalization,  family emergency or when the animal's person has  to fly to the side of a relative or loved one and be gone for days.

WELCOME GINGER


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWBejsSM2Ys&t=1m30s
Now our home is complete.



Monday, September 30, 2013

You Can Dance in the Daylight

A favorite fun-time thing for Mobile Home residents is go to a dance.  Within a 10 miles radius of Plaza Pines,(where I live), there are at least 5 places to dance during the day.  Long Beach features a full Big Band orchestra.

There is always a big turnout.  People dance like mad with nothing stronger to drink than KoolAid.  Watching the video you may wonder about that as there are some very creative dance moves by a couple towards the end.



Not all the dance venues have ballroom dancing only.  Fullerton Senior Center has everything from Big Band, through Salsa, and hip hop.   Hot, hot, hot!!!  Nobody leaves there alone unless they want to.   Pretty astonishing considering the dances are usually at 10:30 in the morning in bright light.   The right music is indeed magic.

Buena Park Senior Center has dances at night which caters to an entirely different crowd.  I have seen men under 50 there.  Cougar hunters??  I don't know. 

Just sayin'.