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Question DetailsAsked on 1/1/2018

Repair estimate for a single wide trailer

I have inherited a single wide trailer, I have made promises to keep this land and so I am trying to figure out what to do. Long term I want the cheapest investment I can get. It is old and falling apart. But there is a lot to building a new property that frankley, I don't want to deal with because the goal is to rent it out fairley soon and I don't want to owe significant amounts of money on this place before incurring a potential loss. So What I really need is a detailed inspection so I can figure out what it will cost me to repair this house vrs build onto it or move a new trailer on it.

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You are looking at several issues here - just sprucing it up a bit to make it legally liveable, significantly remodeling it, possibly adding on (all of which an Architect or Remodeling general contractor could give you an estimate on), or putting a new trailer or home on the property - which would require you finding pricing for removal of the old one plus cost of the the new trailer, including financing costs for some or all of those options.


Of course, the promise to keep the land plays into it to a signficant extent too, as does how much money you have available (personally or inherited) to put into it. You will have to first decide how much $ you are willing to invest to keep that promise, because it sounds like the current value of the trailer is about nil. And whether the available funds would come out of your savings or from inherited money is likely to make a difference in your judgement too - most people see those two sources of money quite differently.


And you have to consider, as many people inheriting real estate do, just how much the deceased would have intended you to put into "keeping the family property" - i.e. would they have wanted it to become a anchor around your neck for life. In that situation, in addition to the keep/sell decisiona nd deciding how much to put into the property to make it into a viable rental/lease investment, sometimes the possibility of selling it to another family member who will promise to retain it comes into play - maybe some relative who intends to buy/build a home in the area anyway, for instance, so has (or intended to borrow) the money for a place and intends to stay in the area anyway. Of course, passing on a promise to retain the property like that can put you in a bad place conscience-wise if they later decide to sell the place off in a few years - though you could always retain a first refusal option to repurchase I guess, but if you pass it on that way you lose a lot of the control over its ultimate disposition.


Since all these options will involve various amount of expenditure and possibly the cost of financing, you probably need someone who can help you with the math figuring out which is best - as well as maybe dealing with a renting agent who can give you assistance with finding renters as well as giving advice up-front on what sort of rents you are likely to get with the different options, and possibly even acting as your agent in getting the work done if you are not local or up to managing that. Either an Architect with in-house project cost estimator or an Accountant can help with the numbers and present-worth calculations for the options. An Architect who has in-house financial analysis capability (like an engineering cost estimator) for investment properties would be my choice because he/she can also get the inspection done and provide conceptual plans for any repair or addition, and for cost of disposing of the old trailer plus bringing in a new one. However, this sort of cost evaluation and pricing for repair / upgrading / adding on / replacing is likely to run a couple of thousand $ - which is a substantial amount to put out up-front just for the decisions process, though it is really a necessary exercise if you want to make a decision which actually make economic sense.


Another option, though probably not as much help with the new trailer option costing, would be going directly to a Remodeling - Modular and Mobile Home contractor. However, if you go directly to a contractor, you are tied down to him for the work so are bypassing the possibility of competitve bidding on what work eventually gets done, plus he might not be the best choice for all potential options, and of course bringing a contractor in before a decision is made on which way you are going puts a lot of trust into him giving you reasonable numbers to make the right decision, because his natural tendenxy would be to favor the option which gives him the most work.


A Home Inspector for several hundred $ could give you an inspection resulting in a list of things that are deficient or could be troublesome - but very few have any experience in costing the repairs, which is a foremost issue in your mind.


Another major factor is rental/lease rates in your area, which a Realtor or Real Estate Appraiser (probably the better choice, especially as you may not need a realtor for some options) would be best positioned to help you with - to assess what the rental potential is with just a sprucing up, with a full interior remodel (rarely done in a trailer), effect of additions, and value of a new trailer.


Another factor you have to consider - do you really want to become a landlord - it is not the thing for most people, especially since you say you do not want to get involved in the hassles of dealing with new construction. Let me assure you - being a landlord is generally a LOT more hassle, and for years or decades not just a year or two.


Considering whether you want to become a landlord, especially of a smallish and poor condition trailer, because with that situation you will inherently be getting into a lower-end renter, hence also incurring an added risk of a renter being destructive or refusing to move out after they stop paying. (Generally speaking, the lower-end renter pool involves higher risk of non-paying renters, people using the property for criminal purposes, getting into a renter who is a drunk or addict, etc.)


A LOT of people get into the renting thing when they end up with a spare home like you have, for whatever reason - and regret it down the road after they have a problem renter or one who sets up a meth lab in it or such. There is a LOT of potential downside (sometimes getting into the tens of thousands of $ or even total house destruction), and if you are not an experienced landlord can become a major headache down the road.


For that reason, and because in many cases the property owner does not live close by the rental property or have the inclination/ability to handle maintenance issues themselves, many rental property owners end up using a rental property management company (at a fee of 10-20% of the rental income) to handle the maintenance (which you still pay for) and renting - who can also provide advice (though not unbiased) on their opinion of the desireability of upgrading it, doing addition, putting in new unit, etc.


Because you say the trailer is old and falling apart, that sounds like a potential money sink, possible code compliance issues, plus almost certain to be bottom-end rental income so putting money into it is unlikely to get a significant improvement on rental income - hence more of the associated renter quality risk. Is this what you really want to be dealing with ?


However, putting a lot of money into an upgrade or replacing with another trailer is rarely economic with a single property. While a flipper or a regular multi-property owner can make money off it, without prior experience in such and specifically with you wanting to get into "the cheapest investment I can get", sounds like bare minimal fixup to be able to legally rent it and crossing your fingers on renter quality, or scrapping it totally would be the cheapest.


You might find, given the promises to keep the land (for how long ?), and depending on whether land values in your area tend to increase with time or are stagnated or dropping, if might be that just leaving the trailer vacant or paying to have it removed from the property to cut the property tax bill dow to vacant land status (though that might affect its zoning status and hence potential rebuilding ability and eventual resale value) and just paying property taxes on it as a vacant land investment would be the cheapest. Typically, it costs a couple to few thousand $ to remove the trailer and cleanup up the area and cap off utilities - assuming your area does not require permanent abandonment/reclamation of well and septic if on those.


Lot of things to consider here - so talking with an accountant or investment advisor (though an advisor's interest would naturally be toward conventional investments) about the time-value of your money, how much you have to invest (are there any other inherited assets you are prepared to apply to this, for instance ?), whether your money would best go into this property or into other more secure and less risky investments, etc might be a good first step - taking into account the fact it sounds like you have no interest in putting significant money into this property now or in living on it yourself. Another option, there if you live in area and intend to "forever" and can afford to buy/buyild a house - do bare minimum trailer repair (maybe much DIY) and live in the trailer while a new home is built on the property for you, then tear out and trash the trailer and move into the new home yourself.


This is a complex decision, and the complication of the promise to retain the land will likely come with a financial cost - so you need to honestly evalulate that impact, and how much you can afford to invest in this one property. Unless you are in a good place financially, sinking most of your assets or going into debt to fulfill this promise might not be a good financial decision, so you have to consider how much the deceased would want you to "sacrifice" to fulfill it.


One other option, depending on your financial status and the deceased's intent, is to blow off the inherited value and donate the land to some non-profit if it is usable as a "nature camp" or wildlife refuge or such, with a proviso in the title that it cannot be sold for X years. Course, if in an urban area that is a lot less likely to be a viable option, especially with a trailer as opposed to a conventional building. Zoning of course comes into the picture in that case too.

Answered 10 months ago by LCD




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