Before buying either type of apartment, you should be furnished with a daunting amount of material to read. Look it over carefully. Enlist the aid of an accountant and/or attorney to review the material. You are particularly interested in four things:
1. The financial health of the organization you will be joining. Does it have substantial reserves put aside to cover major renovations and replacements?
2. The condition of the building(s). Is it likely to need a new roof, elevators, boiler, or windows, for which you would bear a share of the responsibility?
3. The covenants, conditions, and regulations you must promise to observe. Could you rent out your apartment, install awnings, paint your front door red, have a room mate under the age of 55, or eventually sell the unit on the open market?
4. The percentage of owner-occupancy. Traditionally, more homeowners and fewer tenants is the preferred situation. Use the checklist in Figure 6.4 to rate the units you are considing.
In many parts of the country, particularly in the South and West, manufactured housing (formerly known as mobile homes and before that as trailers) is a way of life for a large portion of the population. One attraction is lower initial cost, as compared with a completely furnished single home. One problem is finding the lot on which you can put your manufactured home; some communities are zoned against them.
Many, therefore, are placed on rented land; they are classified as personal property rather than real estate.
Choosing the community into which you buy may be more important than picking the individual home itself. Talk with occupants of the development; find out how cooperative and well- staffed the management is. Although the home is yours, to some extent you will be a tenant, and a fairly captive one, because manufactured homes are not very mobile, and you are not likely to move yours to another location.
Give some consideration to buying a used one. Brand-new manufactured homes in some areas depreciate in value like brand new automobiles. You may pick up a bargain on a used one and stand a better chance of recouping your investment or even in a choice development seeing some profit when you turn around and sell in the future.