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Buying A Mobile Home in Santa Cruz County

Have you ever considered buying a manufactured or mobile home in Santa Cruz County? This blog post covers important topics on manufactured and mobile home ownership, including financing and the appreciation-potential of your asset.

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Buying A Mobile Home in Santa Cruz County? What You Need to Know

It is important to understand the differences between mobile and manufactured homes. In 1976, stricter standards were put in place for the construction of mobile homes and with these codes came a name change – all mobile homes built after July 15, 1976 are called manufactured homes. These new laws were designed to ensure the quality of all aspects of building manufactured homes, including:

  • Design and construction
  • Strength and durability
  • Transportability
  • Fire resistance
  • Energy efficiency
  • Overall quality

If you are considering buying a mobile home, that is a home that was build prior to 1976, keep in mind that it may not contain all of the safety and efficiency features of a manufactured home.

What mobile and manufactured homes have in common is they are both built on a permanent chassis and have wheels for transport, which are detached when the home reaches its location. It’s possible to move the home elsewhere, but the area must be zoned for that particular home structure type. See a list of all mobile and manufactured homes in the county here. Note: in this document, ROP, or resident owned park applies to both subdivided parks and co-op owned parks.

For simplicity, for the remainder of the article we will use “manufactured homes” unless there is a difference in the information given between mobile and manufactured homes.

Financing a Manufactured Home Purchase:

The ownership of the land underneath the manufactured home is an important determinant of your loan options. There is currently only one kind of conforming loan on manufactured homes, which requires that the home rest on real property (meaning the park is subdivided). In other words, the homeowner owns the land underneath their home rather than leasing it or belonging to a co-op which owns the land. According to the County Assessor’s Office, only five mobile home parks in the county are subdivided: Aptos Pines, Brookvale Terrace, Montevalle (55+), Tradewinds (55+), and Turner Lane. To discuss your loan options in a subdivided park, we recommend that you contact Ryan Buckholdt: 831.600.1590.

Conforming loans are, in general, more attractive to lenders because they can sell your mortgage on the secondary market. Because non-conforming loans are riskier, your loan terms may be less favorable if you are buying in a leasehold or co-op park. There are fewer lenders in Santa Cruz that offer mortgages in non-subdivided parks. For your convenience, we have gathered the name of lending institutions that will lend on these kinds of manufactured homes here. Two well known lenders in town that will lend on leased or co-oped owned land are Bay Federal Credit Union and Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. Read more about their programs below. Note that these loan terms are subject to change.


BayFed manufactured home loans require 20% down on co-op land and 25% on lease land parks. They only do 20 year terms and interest rates are fixed and typically fall in the 5% to low 7% range depending on the creditworthiness of the lender. Click here for a list of parks that BayFed will lend on and read more about the program here. We have a preferred lender within BayFed, and so if you would like a referral, please let us know.

Santa Cruz Community Credit Union:

Similarly, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU) requires 20% down, plus closing costs. The loan-term is 20 years and they have no prepayment penalties. The interest rates are also fixed and can be as low as 5.5% and as high as 10.5%. Borrowers can refinance at any time, but there will be additional closing costs.

SCCCU only finances in Santa Cruz County and, typically, the home needs to be 20 years or younger. Exceptions can be made for older properties, but general home and pest inspections will need to be included with the loan application and approval is not guaranteed. They are able to lend to people with I10’s, meaning it is not necessary to have a social security number to obtain a mortgage. Read more about their program here. To see a list of parks that they will lend on, you will need to visit a local branch.

Manufactured Homes and Appreciation:

A negative stereotype about manufactured homes often steers buyers away: they tend to appreciate slower than stick-built homes, or worse, depreciate. Is this true?

In 2003, Consumers Union researched this question (see the report here). Their analysis included an extensive literature review of previous work in the field, as well as primary research using data from the 1985-1999 American Housing Survey Panel and county appraisal data from three counties in Texas. Their analysis showed that manufactured home buyers may be able to make decisions which can improve the appreciation-potential of their investment. For example, in the study, land ownership, location, purchase price and maintenance expenditures are among the factors that predicted appreciation. On the whole manufactured homes appreciated 6% less a year than site built homes, but those packaged with the land appreciated similarly to site built homes. On average manufactured homes on leased land depreciated.

Overall, the answer to this question is not straightforward, and in a location like Santa Cruz County, owning a manufactured home and the land underneath, in a highly desirable location is likely a good investment. However, the only way to really know would be to research the park you are interested in buying in. By analyzing sales-price trends and comparing them to average appreciation rates in the neighborhood, you can start to understand the investment-potential of a manufactured home in a given area.

We have monthly and annual local market data throughout the county and can help you with this analysis. If you are considering buying a manufactured home in Santa Cruz County and would like professional support from an experienced Broker, you can contact me at 831-600-6550.

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