“Mobile Homes” Are Not Sold As Being Mobile.

One of the strange media fixations on the mobile home park industry is that “mobile” homes are anything but mobile. Between the high cost to move a home ($5,000+) and the dangers involved (the home can fall to pieces in transport) it makes about as much sense to move a mobile home as it does a stick-built one. Yet the media frequently fakes moral outrage that these dwelling units can’t just be hitched to the back of your minivan and hauled down the highway like a U-haul trailer. Let’s analyze why this argument is so absurd.

The name “mobile” was replaced with “manufactured” in 1976 – by the U.S. government

In 1976 HUD took over the supervision of all the mobile home manufacturing in the U.S. and renamed the product “manufactured home” instead of “mobile home”. That was nearly 50 years ago. The only reason people still use the term “mobile home” (ourselves included) is because the name change never resonated with the American public, who still refer to these housing units as “mobile” on all internet search engines. That’s a public relations failure of the industry and the government but it does not mean that there is a warranty that all manufactured homes are also “mobile”. That would be like getting mad because you ordered a “hamburger” and then found out it did not contain ham.

Mobile homes are not sold based on mobility but instead the current location

When mobile home park owners sell mobile homes we are selling a complete package of home, lot and location. Nobody who owns a mobile home park sells the homes to be yanked out of their property. I have never had a customer in 25 years who said to me “now after I buy this thing it’s OK for me to pull it out of here, right?” The reason people buy mobile homes in mobile home parks is that they want to find affordable housing in that location, not because they think it’s a mobile home dealership.

Nobody in the industry says they are easy to move or should be moved at all

Have you ever seen an advertisement that says “buy this manufactured home and see the world – just pull it behind your car”. While that was the advertising pitch in the 1950s (when cars could pull 8’ wide mobile homes), you can’t pull anything down the highway that it wider than 8’ and mobile homes haven’t been that width since 1976. Today they are limited to 12’, 14’, 16’ and 18’ widths – and none of those qualify. And nobody hides from the fact that mobile homes cost a fortune to move. You can find that assertion in a quick search of Google under “what’s it cost to move a mobile home” and you will get the answer. I have reference the high cost of moving mobile hoes – for all the world to see – since at least 2005.

Single-family homes can also be “moved” if you want to get technical about it

If the whole point is to prove that mobile homes can be moved and all other forms of housing cannot, then that’s not true. There are any number of videos on Youtube – and episodes on PBS – of people moving stick-built single-family homes. Here’s one:

So I guess that settles the argument “customers only buy mobile homes because they can be moved” because they clearly can buy frame, brick and even stone houses and move them down the highway, too. Perhaps there should be more stories that begin with “Mr. Smith bought his brick Pulte home in 2014, and was horrified to find out how difficult it was to move when the homeowners’ association dues went up …”


Nobody ever claimed that “mobile” homes are in any way mobile. They are not – nor have they ever been for the past half-century – easy or inexpensive to move. Nobody has ever hidden these facts from the consumer. The industry even renamed itself to “manufactured” to reflect and emphasize you can’t move the homes very well. The public never thought the homes could be easily moved. This should not come as a shock to anyone.

Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe has been an investor in mobile home parks for almost 30 years, and has owned and operated hundreds of mobile home parks during that time. He is currently ranked, with his partner Dave Reynolds, as the 5th largest mobile home park owner in the U.S., with around 20,000 lots spread out over 25 states. Along the way, Frank began writing about the industry, and his books, coupled with those of his partner Dave Reynolds, evolved into a course and boot camp on mobile home park investing that has become the leader in this niche of commercial real estate.