If you want to buy property but aren't feeling too good about rising home prices, you know that condos are an option. But you may have also seen some really good-looking manufactured homes (aka mobile homes) and might be wondering if those would be better. Newer mobile home parks have really upped their game and improved in quality, but it can be difficult to tell whether they're worth your money. Choosing the type of cheaper housing that is right for you isn't necessarily easy, but it is straightforward.

Cheaper Costs

If you're looking for cheaper housing, a manufactured or mobile home normally wins hands down. Manufactured and mobile homes are essentially the same, though manufactured homes tend to look more like regular houses than trailers that have facades added onto them (though you may still see those manufactured homes called mobile homes anyway). They are much cheaper to build, and while you have to pay lot rent or space rent, in many cases you don't have to deal with ever increasing property taxes. Condos can be cheaper than regular homes, but they are often built and designed for the so-called luxury market in an effort to raise the price as high as possible. So while a condo will likely be cheaper than a regular house, it can still be pricey.

Growing Quality

In the years before the housing crash, condos were constructed and apartments converted to condos at a fast pace in some areas. If you decide to look at condos, check how well insulated the rooms are from noise, see if the floor in one part of the condo vibrates if someone walks around in another room, and check whether the windows are single- or dual-paned. Check whether the air conditioning and heating are new, or if they run on an older system that perhaps just had the exterior fixtures gussied up a bit. You can find some great condos, but you have to be discerning.

Mobile homes, on the other hand, are growing in quality by leaps and bounds. Newer homes are subject to strict laws that have made their construction requirements tough. In contrast, though, older mobile homes can have some terrible construction. If you choose to look for a mobile home, look for a newer one.

Conversions and Equity Loss

One area where condos do trump mobile homes is in the conversion factor. Condos have already been constructed for sale -- if you buy, it's yours. Your condo community might have a management company that can take action against you if you don't pay your condo fees, similar to how an HOA works for homeowners. But overall, the condo is yours.

Mobile homes have faced a different problem. You buy the home, but you rent the lot that it sits on. In the past few years, mobile home park owners have tried making the park a condo community. How that works is that the park sells the land and air in the space, and the homeowner has to either buy the land and air, or move the home. Both are expensive. Some cities now prohibit this conversion practice, so if you look for a mobile home, ensure the city it is in has stopped allowing these conversions.

Talk to your real estate agent about the properties available in your area. Work up a list of features that you absolutely need, such as good noise insulation, and scrutinize each place you see.

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