double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn

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Final Verdict

There are a few different options to choose from when it comes to a mobile home loan. Because mobile home loans can be moved, the process to apply for and secure a mobile home loan is different than that of a traditional property. While mobile home loans often come with higher rates than traditional home loans, they may also have more flexible requirements. Overall, our top pick for a mobile home loan is Manufactured Nationwide.

Manufactured Nationwide offers mobile home loans in all 50 states. Even borrowers with less than perfect credit or high debt to income ratios may qualify. Manufactured Nationwide is open seven days a week, and borrowers can get in touch with their customer support team at any time to get help with any questions or concerns. Manufactured Nationwide also supports government-backed loan programs like VA, FHA, and USDA loans.

Compare The Best Mobile Home Loans

Guide to Choosing a Mobile Home Loan

Understand the Cost of a Mobile Home

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average price of a new mobile home (officially called “manufactured homes”) was $106,800 in June 2021. The average price for a single-wide was $70,200 and the average price for a double-wide was $128,100.

When applying for a mobile home loan, there are several different costs that you should keep in mind. These include any required down payment, as well as the cost to rent or purchase land. Down payments typically range from 10% to 20% of the total cost of the home, although some programs offer loans to borrowers with even lower down payment requirements. Other costs to consider including closing costs and fees associated with the loan.

Compare Mobile Home Loan Lenders

Since mobile home loans are different than traditional mortgages, it’s important to find a lender that supports them. Here are some factors to consider when deciding on a mobile home lender:

  • Rates: The lower the rates on the loan, the less you’ll end up paying in interest over time. While mobile home loan rates are typically slightly higher than traditional mortgage rates, you should look with a lender with reasonable rates and fees.
  • Loan options: If you need a specific type of mobile home loan, or if you plan to take advantage of a government-backed loan program, you should make sure the lender offers that particular type of loan.
  • Down payment requirements: Many mobile home loans have flexible down payment requirements. If you don’t have a sizable down payment already saved up, you should look for a lender that doesn’t require too much money down.
  • Credit requirements: It can be more difficult to get approved for a loan if you have poor credit. That said, many lenders are willing to work with borrowers with poor to fair credit, so you should look for a lender with flexible credit requirements if your credit score isn’t where you want it to be.
  • Geographic availability: Not all lenders operate in all 50 states, so you should be sure to go with a lender that is available in your area.
  • Customer service: Look for lenders with a history of strong customer service and few customer complaints.

Apply for a Mobile Home Loan 

Before you apply for a mobile home loan, there are a few steps you’ll need to take. You should first obtain an estimate for the loan amount you need, which will depend on the total cost of the mobile home you’re interested in purchasing or building. You’ll also need to decide on what type of mobile home loan you want to pursue. Some government-backed loan programs like VA or FHA loans, may have lower down payment requirements.

Before you apply for a loan, you should make sure that you have enough saved up for a down payment and that you meet certain minimum credit score and debt to income double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn requirements. If possible, you should see if there are any loans that you can pre-qualify for without affecting your credit. Be sure to secure quotes from multiple different lenders so that you can compare rates and get the best deal possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Mobile Home Loan?

A mobile home loan is a loan for factory-built homes that can be placed on a piece of land. Styles may vary from modest trailers to dwellings that look like houses attached permanently to the land upon which they sit.

Mobile home loans differ from a traditional property loan because most lenders and counties do not consider them real property, but rather personal property. In fact, in many counties, a mobile home is taxed by the department of motor vehicles rather than the property tax assessor. In most cases, if double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn want to buy a mobile home and place it on land that you lease, your loan will more closely resemble a personal loan, with higher interest rates and shorter terms than a traditional home mortgage.

There are exceptions, however, and we’ve included them in this list. Some home lenders do have loans for mobile homes if they are attached to the homeowner’s land. Others, and there are fewer of them, will lend on a mobile home even if it sits on land you lease.

What Is Required to Get Approved for a Mobile Home Loan?

The lenders we’ve reviewed have loan amount ranges from $75,000 to $2 million for jumbo loan programs. The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio ceiling for most lenders is in the low 40s. The lender will use your DTI and income to determine how much you can borrow.

If you qualify for one of the government-backed loan programs, such as the FHA, VA, or USDA, you can buy a mobile home with a 3.5% down payment, and in some cases less.

If you own the land or plan to buy the land together with the mobile home, you’ll have more lender options than if you want to buy a mobile home that sits in a rented lot in a mobile home park.

Do You Have to Own Your Land When Buying a Mobile Home?

When you purchase a mobile home, it is not necessary to own the land, but it will open up more loan options for you.

Mobile homes are sometimes located in a mobile home park where the park owner holds title to the land and you lease it. In these cases, the homeowner leases a plot of land but owns the mobile home itself. Many lenders will require you to sign a three-year lease minimum for the land before they will lend on the mobile home.

Alternatively, owners of mobile homes can place mobile homes on land they own or land they are buying in conjunction with the mobile home. When you own the land and the home, your loan rates and terms will be better, and you’ll have more lending options.

What Credit Score Do I Need to Buy a Mobile Home?

The lenders we’ve reviewed and selected as the best can work with low credit scores in the 500 and 600 range. A credit score lower than 500 may not qualify at all.

Of course, higher credit scores will always get you better rates and terms. Credit scores in the 700s and 800s will get the lowest interest rates.

If you have a double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn score on the lower end, look for a lender that is strong in the USDA, FHA, and VA programs. Conventional loans will not be so forgiving of scores below 700. You may get your loan approved, but it will carry higher rates and a term of 20 years or less.


We reviewed 12 mobile home lenders to select the best five. We analyzed company history and reputation, whether they financed both newly constructed and used mobile homes, and their minimum and maximum loan value limits.

Borrower credentials mattered, too. We compared firms to see who allowed borrowers to have lower credit scores, higher debt-to-income ratios, and whether they had low-down-payment programs.

Finally, we analyzed lender requirements for whether you leased or owned the land upon which your mobile home would sit. If you own the land, you’ll have more loan options, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

In most cases, interest rates start a few points higher than conventional loans because mobile homes tend to depreciate, so we looked at interest rate ranges for the lenders to make sure these were lower than the higher rates you’ll pay for an unsecured personal loan, which is also an option for buying a mobile home.

Financing just the mobile home, with good credit and stable income, can be underwritten in as little as two weeks. To buy the home and the land, and using a low-down-payment government program, can extend the underwriting period to as long as 60 days.


In recent decades, the U.S. has seen a blossoming interest in mobile homes, officially known after 1976 as manufactured homes. Statistics from Nebraska show a 226% increase in manufactured housing since 2009, and today a total of 22 million Americans live in these portable, prefab units. Packing a lot into an average 960 square feet, these structures offer cost savings, efficient living, and increasingly customizable designs.

An infographic explaining mobile home curb appeal.

But if you’re one of these mobile home owners, you know the trade-offs. For one, you don’t have great appeal to impress guests or potential mobile home buyers if you ever decide to sell your property. While a single-family home often exudes a welcoming aura naturally, a mobile home needs a little extra help in the looks department. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to counteract a mobile home’s boxy and boring exterior and disguise its semi-truck trailer design.

This guide features advice on how to give mobile homes curb appeal by working with and around their unique structure. We’ll offer tips for getting started and provide a list of specific projects to inspire your next trip to the hardware store. You’ll be in love with how your mobile home looks in no time!

A mobile home neighborhood with curb appeal.

Tips for any mobile home curb appeal project

Manufactured homes differ in a few key ways from traditional stick-built properties as far as rules and ownership, which could impact your curb appeal plans. Keep these details in mind before you purchase any paint or start planting trees:

1. Know what you own (and who’s responsible for its upkeep)

There’s a reason why manufactured homes cost about half the price of a single-family home of similar square footage:

“In most mobile home parks, you own the trailer, but you’re just leasing the land,” explains Carl Young, a a top real estate agent in Knoxville, Tennessee.

That means when the time comes to sell your mobile home, “you’re not selling real estate because you don’t own the land, which means we can’t put the listing hogan bremer obituaries the MLS,” Young adds.

If you don’t own the land itself, you may be limited on what you can do to your lot in terms of adding in-ground curb appeal — and it may even be the community’s responsibility to spruce up your landscaping at the very least.

“Although, some of these homes are located in manufactured home subdivisions rather than managed communities, in which case the sellers do own the land,” says Young. “Those subdivisions often still have an HOA which may restrict what you can do in regards to curb appeal, but they’re usually pretty lax.”

2. Get permission before you spend any money on repairs

Check the curb appeal regulations put in place by your community’s property management company or HOA association. Every community is different, but most will have restrictions on decisions like:

  • Paint or siding color palettes
  • Acceptable skirting options
  • Carport or driveway modifications
  • Distance from property line for any build-outs, including porches and decks
  • In-ground landscaping
  • Architectural modifications to your exterior

As long as your curb appeal plans adhere to your community’s guidelines it shouldn’t be too difficult to get approval. But you always want to get that approval before you lay out any money, in case the governing body of your community requests any modifications to the plans that will impact your budget.

3. Think 360° when making your curb appeal plans

The biggest visual difference between manufactured homes and single-family houses is the lot size — and the positioning of the home allied bank direct login the lot.

Single-family homes often have large, distinct, and separate front and backyards separated by a fence. They usually have the main entrance positioned on the front of the house, which is often longer than its sides.

Manufactured homes are designed differently. Many have their entrances located on the side, granting direct access to the carport. Plus, mobile homes are almost always on long, lean lots, with the harrow side of the house facing the street.

This means that both sides of your house are visible from the curb. So when you’re making your mobile home curb appeal plans, you can’t just think about sprucing up the front — you need to come up with a 360° design.

A mobile home with curb appeal.

How to enhance the exterior of your mobile home

With the above mobile home-specific curb appeal tips in mind, let’s take a look at seven specific projects to amp up the exterior appeal how bad is mozzarella cheese for you your manufactured home.

1. Install a unique front door and matching architectural accents

While manufacturers have come a long way toward improving mobile home exteriors with sleek, modern design elements, most homes in your community likely appear cookie-cutter.

Dare to stand out with a new door featuring eye-catching details, like raised panels or 9-lite windows, to create a cozier welcome than the traditional metal mobile home door.

You can get even more creative with your windows, adding custom shutters, flower boxes, and awnings in classic aluminum, retractable fabric, or durable solid awnings.

2. Repaint or repair your siding

The biggest, most dramatic curb appeal improvement you can make to any house is to rehab its exterior.

If yours is sided with wood, aluminum, or fiber cement, you’re in luck: you can paint all three types for a dramatic makeover. You may just need to do some repairs to the outside of your mobile home first. We recommend that you:

Then it’s just a matter of picking a paint color approved by your community. Because of their small stature, mobile homes are less expensive to paint. One mobile home owner did the project for $300 in 5 days with only two people helping.

If your home has vinyl siding, its color is already infused into the siding material and it doesn’t take paint properly. In that case, a simple cleaning with a non-abrasive detergent and a soft-bristle brush should do the trick. If any of your vinyl has sustained damage, you’ll want to remove and replace any of the affected panels.

3. Spruce up the skirting

The skirting on your manufactured home hides its cement pad foundation and pipes and keeps the underside of your house clear of snow, debris, and critters. It also makes a major visual statement.

Skirting has certainly expanded beyond the traditional lattice or vinyl options. These days you can get polyurethane skirting that mimics faux bricks, stone, or rock that makes your mobile home appear as if it has more of a single-family home foundation.

“I’ve seen some great skirting on manufactured homes so that I had no idea they were manufactured until I actually went inside, where you can always tell by the pitch of the roof,” says Young.

Other options include decorative cinder blocks, metals like steel, or wood.

Replacing your skirting will run you anywhere between $300 to $3,000, depending on the material you choose. Just make sure that you measure properly before purchasing so that you don’t run out.

A diagram explaining mobile homes.

4. Replace plain steps with a porch or a deck

“Adding a deck to your entrance goes a long way. If you just have a staircase going up to the door, it makes it extremely obvious that it’s a mobile home,” explains Young.

As a bonus, when you don’t have a big yard, a deck addition creates additional space to relax outdoors. You can also add an element of style with a pergola, a screen-enclosed sunroom, or an open air deck with built-in seating.

For this type of project, plan to hire a construction crew familiar with adding decks or porches to mobile homes — or you could cause damage.

Decks for manufactured homes must get their load-bearing support directly from the ground and not from any attachment to the home itself. If the deck is attached to the house, it puts stress on your home that can actually hurt your mobile home’s first citizens bank bob advantage login addition, get explicit permission from your community’s property manager or HOA for a deck or porch addition. Any build outs (even decks) usually require community approval, in part to ensure that your plans don’t put your deck or porch too close to the property line of your neighbor.

5. Get creative with your carport

In manufactured home communities, carports may be more popular than garages. While carports are great for providing shelter and shade, they typically consist of a thin metal roof supported by narrow aluminum poles, which are not known for being attractive.

To dress up your carport, swap out chintzy narrow poles for scrolled metal supports or sturdy, substantial columns to improve curb appeal. You can also expand the size of your carport without replacing the roof by adding offset awning supports that add a modern look to your mobile home.

A diagram of mobile home columns.

6. Play around with plants

Landscaping is one of the chief ways to create stand-out curb appeal for any home, including those of the mobile variety. But what are your options if you don’t actually own the land that your mobile home sits on?

A few land-leasing communities may restrict what you’re allowed to plant and handle all the landscaping for you. Luckily, most allow you to plant freely in your small yard, even if you don’t technically own the land. You just need to choose greenery that can survive and thrive there.

For example, you should avoid planting shrubs and trees too close to the home as the water they require can damage your siding and attract pests. Space limitations require that you also guard against trees and plants that have extensive, invasive root systems. Over time, tree roots in the wrong place will damage your plumbing and foundation. If you’re not careful, the problem could creep over to your neighbors’ properties as well.

Going vertical is one way to maximize what little landscaping area you have, which you can do with small trees that have non-invasive root systems. Vines are another option to go vertical with your greenery, especially on carport supports. If you do decide to go with a climbing plant on your mobile home itself, make sure you choose a variety that won’t damage siding.

No matter what you decide to plant, just make sure you run your gardening plans by your governing board before digging any holes so that you don’t violate any rules about planting near property lines.

7. Maximize any outdoor living space

If you lease the land where your mobile home sits, your community may also be part RV park, too. That’s a great excuse to embrace the luxury camping vibe that RV life offers. While real estate is at a premium in a mobile home lot, many do have a small “backyard” area at the back end of the unit that too often remains empty and unused.

You can change that pretty quick. One idea is to lay in some pavers, bricks, or flagstone to create a dedicated patio area. Then give your new patio a purpose: Add an outdoor table and grill for picnics, or build a firepit and put in some seating for evening campfires and s’mores.

Spreading the curb appeal love to mobile homes

Most mobile homes have a boxy, cardboard cutout look, and live on long, lean lots that leave little room to make a curb appeal statement. Now you know, though, that there are great ways to add unique architectural details to your façade, get creative with your landscaping, and amp up your outdoor living space for curb appeal that rivals any other home, manufactured or not.

Header Image Source: (nito / Shutterstock)


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The mobile-home trap: How a Warren Buffett empire preys on the poor

First of a series

EPHRATA, Grant County — After years of living in a 1963 travel trailer, Kirk and Patricia Ackley found a permanent house with enough space to host grandkids and care for her aging father suffering from dementia.

So, as the pilot cars prepared to guide the factory-built home up from Oregon in May 2006, the Ackleys were elated to finalize paperwork waiting for them at their loan broker’s kitchen table.

But the closing documents he set before them held a surprise: The promised 7 percent interest rate was now 12.5 percent, with monthly payments of $1,100, up from $700.

This report is a collaboration between The Seattle Times and The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative newsroom based in Washington, D.C.

The terms were too extreme for the Ackleys. But they’d already spent $11,000, at the dealer’s urging, for a concrete foundation to accommodate this specific home. They could look for other financing but desperately needed a space to care for her father.

Kirk’s construction job and Patricia’s Wal-Mart job together weren’t enough to afford the new monthly payment. But, they said, the broker was willing to inflate their income in order to qualify them for the loan.

“You just need to remember,” they recalled him saying, “you can refinance as soon as you can.”

To their regret, the Ackleys signed.

The disastrous deal ruined their finances and nearly their marriage. But until informed recently by a reporter, they didn’t realize that the homebuilder (Golden West), the dealer (Oakwood Homes) and the lender (21st Mortgage) were all part of a single company: Clayton Homes, the nation’s biggest homebuilder, which is controlled by its second-richest man — Warren Buffett.

Buffett’s mobile-home empire promises low-income Americans the dream of homeownership. But Clayton relies on predatory sales practices, exorbitant fees, and interest rates that can exceed 15 percent, trapping many buyers in loans they can’t afford and in homes that are almost impossible to sell or refinance, an investigation by The Seattle Times and Center for Public Integrity has found.

Berkshire Hathaway, the investment conglomerate Buffett leads, bought Clayton in 2003 and spent billions building it into the mobile-home industry’s biggest manufacturer and lender. Today, Clayton is a many-headed hydra with companies operating under at least 18 names, constructing nearly half of the industry’s new homes and selling them through its own retailers. It finances more mobile-home purchases than any other lender by a factor of six. It also sells property insurance on them and repossesses them when borrowers fail to pay.

Berkshire extracts value at every stage of the process. Clayton even builds the homes with materials — such as paint and carpeting — supplied by other Berkshire subsidiaries.

When homes got hauled off to be resold, some consumers already had paid so much in fees and interest that the company still came out ahead. Even through the Great Recession and housing crisis, Clayton was profitable every year.

More than a dozen Clayton customers described a consistent array of deceptive practices that locked them into ruinous deals: loan terms that changed abruptly after they paid deposits or prepared land for their new homes; surprise fees tacked on to loans; and pressure to take on excessive payments based on false promises that they could later refinance.

Former dealers said the company encouraged them to steer buyers to finance with Clayton’s own high-interest lenders.

Under federal guidelines, most Clayton mobile-home loans are considered “higher-priced.” Those loans averaged 7 percentage points higher than the typical home loan in 2013, according to a Times/CPI analysis of federal data, compared to just 3.8 percentage points for other lenders.

Buyers told of Clayton collection agents urging them to cut back on food and medical care or seek handouts in order to make house payments. And when homes got hauled off to be resold, some consumers already had paid so much in fees and interest that the company still came out ahead. Even through the Great Recession and housing crisis, Clayton was profitable every year, generating $558 million in pre-tax earnings in 2014.

The company’s tactics contrast with Buffett’s public profile as a financial sage who values responsible lending and helping poor Americans keep their homes.

Berkshire Hathaway spokeswoman Carrie Sova and Clayton spokeswoman Audrey Saunders ignored more than a dozen requests by phone, email and in person to discuss Clayton’s policies and treatment of consumers. In an emailed statement, Saunders said Clayton helps customers find homes within their budgets and has a “purpose of opening doors to a better life, one home at a time.”

(Update: After publication, Berkshire Hathaway’s Omaha headquarters sent a statement on behalf of Clayton Homes to the Omaha World-Herald, which is also owned by Berkshire. The statement and a closer look at Clayton’s claims can be found here.)

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett holds an ice cream bar from Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary Dairy Queen as he talks to Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Homes, also a Berkshire subsidiary, at a 2014 shareholders meeting. (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

First, a dream

As Buffett tells it, his purchase of Clayton Homes came from an “unlikely source”: Visiting students from the University of Tennessee gave him a copy of founder Jim Clayton’s self-published memoir, “First a Dream,” in early 2003. Buffett enjoyed reading the book and admired Jim Clayton’s record, he has said, and soon called CEO Kevin Clayton, offering to buy the company.

“A few phone calls later, we had a deal,” Buffett double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn at his 2003 shareholders meeting, according to notes taken at the meeting by hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson.

The tale of serendipitous dealmaking paints Buffett and the Claytons as sharing down-to-earth values, antipathy for Wall Street and an old-fashioned belief in treating people fairly. But, in fact, the man who brought the students to Omaha said Clayton’s book wasn’t the genesis of the deal.

“The Claytons really initiated this contact,” said Al Auxier, the Tennessee professor, since retired, who chaperoned the student trip after fostering a relationship with the billionaire.

CEO Kevin Clayton, the founder’s son, reached out to Buffett through Auxier, the professor said in a recent interview, and asked whether Buffett might explore “a business relationship” with Clayton Homes.

At the time, mobile-home loans had been defaulting at alarming rates, and investors had grown wary of them. Kevin Clayton was seeking a new source of cash to relend to homebuyers. He knew that Berkshire Hathaway, with its perfect bond rating, could provide it as cheaply as anyone. Later that year, Berkshire Hathaway paid $1.7 billion in cash to buy Clayton Homes.

Click upper right to enlarge

Berkshire Hathaway quickly bought up failed competitors’ stores, factories and billions in troubled loans, building Clayton Homes into the industry’s dominant force. In 2013, Clayton provided 39 percent of new mobile-home loans, according to a Times/CPI analysis of federal data that 7,000 home lenders are required to submit. The next biggest lender was Wells Fargo, with just 6 percent of the loans.

Clayton provided more than half of new mobile-home loans in eight states. In Texas, the number exceeds 70 percent. Clayton has more than 90 percent of the market in Odessa, one of double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn most expensive places in the country to finance a mobile home.

To maintain its down-to-earth image, Clayton has hired the stars of the reality-TV show “Duck Dynasty” to appear in ads.

The company’s headquarters is a hulking structure of metal sheeting surrounded by acres of parking lots and a beach volleyball court for employees, located a few miles south of Knoxville, Tenn. Next to the front door, there is a slot for borrowers to deposit payments.

Near the headquarters, two Clayton sales lots sit three miles from each other. Clayton Homes’ banners promise “$0 CASH DOWN.” TruValue Homes, also owned by Clayton, advertises “REPOS FOR SALE.” Other nearby Clayton lots operate as Luv Homes and Oakwood Homes. With all the different names, many customers believe that they’re shopping around.

Warren Buffett and Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton walk out of a Clayton mobile home before the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Nebraska earlier this month. (Mike Baker / The Seattle Times)

More from the series


  • A look at Berkshire Hathaway's response to mobile-home investigation (April movie wyatt earp doc holliday, 2015)
  • U.S. House OKs cutting safeguards for mobile-home buyers (April 14, 2015)
  • Buffett sticks up for mobile-home business at shareholder meeting (May 2, 2015)
  • Buffett again defends lending standards at Clayton Homes (May 4, 2015)
  • Buffett concedes default rate on mobile-home loans could be much higher  (May 4, 2015)
  • Buffett's mobile-home business has most to gain from deregulation plan (May 17, 2015)
  • Citing Seattle Times investigation, NYT editorial calls on Congress to protect mobile-home buyers (May 20, 2015)
  • Minorities exploited by Buffett’s mobile-home empire (Dec. 26, 2016)


House-sized banners at dealerships reinforce that impression, proclaiming they will “BEAT ANY DEAL.” In some parts of the country, buyers would have to drive many miles past several Clayton-owned lots, to reach a true competitor.

Click upper right to enlarge

Guided into costly loans

Soon after Buffett bought Clayton Homes, he declared a new dawn for the moribund mobile-home industry, which provides housing for some 20 million Americans. Lenders should require “significant down payments and shorter-term loans,” Buffett wrote.

He called 30-year loans on mobile homes “a mistake,” according to notes Tilson took during Berkshire Hathaway’s 2003 shareholders meeting.

“Home purchases should involve an honest-to-God down payment of at least 10% and monthly payments that can be comfortably handled by the borrower’s income,” Buffett later wrote. “That income should be carefully verified.”

But in examining more than 100 Clayton home sales through interviews and reviews of loan documents from 41 states, reporters found that the company’s loans routinely violated the lending standards laid out by Buffett.

Clayton dealers often sold homes with double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn cash down payment. Numerous borrowers said they were persuaded to take on outsized payments by dealers promising that they could later refinance. And the average loan term actually increased from 21 years in 2007 to more than 23 years in 2009, the last time Berkshire disclosed that detail.

Clayton’s loan to Dorothy Mansfield, a disabled Army veteran who lost her previous North Carolina home to a tornado in 2011, includes key features that Buffett condemned.

Mansfield had a lousy credit score of 474, court records show. Although she had seasonal and part-time jobs, her monthly income often consisted of less than $700 in disability benefits. She had no money for a down payment when she visited Double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn Homes in Fayetteville, N.C.

Vanderbilt, one of Clayton’s lenders, approved her for a $60,000, 20-year loan to buy a Clayton home at 10.13 percent annual interest. She secured the loan with two parcels of land that her family already owned free and clear.

Former dealer: ‘They give you a loan that you can’t pay back’

Not only borrowers, but dealers of Clayton homes have felt mistreated by the company, said Kevin Carroll, who until a few years ago owned Carroll’s Mobile Homes in southern Indiana.

Carroll, who won Clayton awards for sales volumes, said his problems with the company began after CEO Kevin Clayton helped him with a loan from subsidiary 21st Mortgage in 2008 to buy out his business partners.

Two weeks after the loan documents were signed, Clayton Homes told Carroll it was shuttering the manufacturing plant, only 70 miles away, that supplied Carroll’s inventory.

Carroll said he was unable to obtain Clayton parts for the homes in his inventory and said Clayton stopped helping him get new homes to sell. Carroll’s business lost money, and he could no longer afford the loan payments.

Clayton representatives hounded him with phone calls demanding payment, he said. In 2010, he had to surrender his company and the land underneath it to meet his mounting debts.

“They entrap you,” said Carroll, who sued Clayton for fraud, but the case was dismissed. “They give you a loan that you can’t pay back and then they take from you.”

The dealer didn’t request any documents to verify Mansfield’s income or employment, records show.

Mansfield’s monthly payment of $673 consumed almost all of her guaranteed income. Within 18 months, she was behind on payments double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn Clayton was trying to foreclose on the home and land.

Many borrowers interviewed for this investigation described being steered by Clayton dealers into Clayton financing without realizing the companies were one and the same. Sometimes, buyers said, the dealer described the financing as the best deal available. Other times, the Clayton dealer said it was the only financing option.

Kevin Carroll, former owner of a Clayton-affiliated dealership in Indiana, said in an interview that he used business loans from a Clayton lender to finance inventory for his lot. If he also guided homebuyers to work with the same lender, 21st Mortgage, the company would give him a discount on his business loans — a “kickback,” in his words.

Doug Farley, who was a general manager at several Clayton-owned dealerships, also used the term “kickback” to describe the profit-share he received on Clayton loans until around 2008. After that, the company changed its incentives to instead provide “kickbacks” on sales of Clayton’s insurance to borrowers, he said.

Ed Atherton, a former lot manager in Arkansas, said his regional supervisor was pressuring lot managers to put at least 80 percent of buyers into Clayton financing. Atherton left the company in 2013.

During the most recent four-year period, 93 percent of Clayton’s mobile-home loans had such costly terms that they required extra disclosure under federal rules. Among all other mobile-home lenders, fewer than half of their loans met that threshold.

Customers said in interviews that dealers misled them to take on unaffordable loans, with tactics including last-minute changes to loan terms and unexplained fees that inflate loan balances. Such loans are, by definition, predatory.

“They’re going to assume the client is unsophisticated, and they’re right,” said Felix Harris, a housing counselor with the nonprofit Knoxville Area Urban League.

Some borrowers felt trapped because they put up a deposit before the dealer explained the loan terms or, like the Ackleys, felt compelled to swallow bait-and-switch deals because they had spent thousands to prepare their land.

Kirk and Patricia Ackley, of Ephrata, said they pleaded with 21st Mortgage for the interest rate they’d been promised for their mobile-home purchase so they could keep their home. They were baffled by the reply: “We don’t care. We’ll come take a chainsaw to it — cut it up and haul it out in boxes.” (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Promise denied

A couple of years after moving into their new mobile home, Kirk Ackley was injured in a backhoe rollover. Unable to work, he and his wife urgently needed to refinance the costly 21st Mortgage loan they regretted signing.

They pleaded with the lender several times for the better terms that they originally were promised, but were denied, they said. The Ackleys tried to explain the options to a 21st supervisor: If they refinanced to lower payments, they could stay in the home and 21st would get years of steady returns. Otherwise, the company would have to come out to their rural property, pull the house from its foundation and haul it away, possibly damaging it during the repossession.

They both recall being baffled by his reply: “We don’t care. We’ll come take a chainsaw to it — cut it up and haul it out in boxes.”

After their mobile home was repossessed, the Ackleys cobbled together a home that includes this old travel trailer, which houses their kitchen. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Nine Clayton consumers interviewed for this story said they were promised a chance to refinance. In reality, Clayton almost never refinances loans and accounts for well under 1 percent of mobile-home refinancings reported in government data from 2010 to 2013. It made more than one-third of the purchase loans during that period.

Of Washington’s 25 largest mobile-home lenders, Clayton’s subsidiaries ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for the highest interest rates in 2013. Together, they ranked eighth in loans originated.

“If you have a decrease in income and can’t afford the mortgage, at least a lot of the big companies will double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn modifications,” said Harris, the Knoxville housing counselor. “Vanderbilt won’t even entertain that.”

In general, owners have difficulty refinancing or selling their mobile homes because few lenders offer such loans. One big reason: Homes are overpriced or depreciate so quickly that they generally are worth less than what the borrower owes, even after years of monthly payments.

In 2010, Ellie Carosa, of Napavine, put down some $40,000 to buy a used home from Clayton priced at about $65,000. She’d hoped to sell it one day to help her daughter, Scarlet, go to college. She soon learned the home was only worth about $35,000, far less than her down payment. “I’ve lost everything.” <a href=global cash card en espaГ±ol Lambert / The Seattle Times)" src="">
A year after Ellie Carosa bought her mobile home for about $65,000, paint was peeling and carpets were failing. She brought in a market expert, who figured the home was worth only about $35,000. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Ellie Carosa, of Napavine, Lewis County, found this out the hard way in 2010 after she put down some $40,000 from an inheritance to buy a used home from Clayton priced at about $65,000.

Berkshire doesn’t disclose details about loan failures

In a letter to shareholders last month, Warren Buffett wrote that a “very high percentage” of Clayton’s borrowers kept their homes during the 2008 housing meltdown thanks to the company’s “sensible lending practices.”

But the company has provided scant data to back up Buffett’s claims.

“I wouldn’t give much credence to those comments,” said James Shanahan, an analyst with Edward Jones who follows Berkshire Hathaway.

Typically, lenders disclose loan information, such as size of loans and their down payments, delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures. Regulators rely on the information to protect consumers and shareholders.

But Clayton Homes doesn’t have to make these details public because it is part of a bigger company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Each year since 2010, Berkshire has declared in SEC records that 98 percent of its loan portfolio is “performing.” But its definition of “nonperforming” — found elsewhere in the documents — is narrow. Berkshire’s impressive-sounding ratio ignores loans that are delinquent and homes that already have been foreclosed or repossessed.

Across the industry, about 28 percent of non-mortgage mobile-home loans fail, according to research by Kenneth Rishel, a consultant in the field for 40 years. Clayton’s failure rates are 26 percent at 21st Mortgage and 33 percent at Vanderbilt, said Rishel, citing his research and conversations with Clayton executives.

In a brief email, 21st President Tim Williams said those numbers were “inaccurate,” but he declined to provide the company’s figures.

— Daniel Wagner and Mike Baker

Clayton sales reps steered Carosa, who is 67 years old and disabled, to finance the unpaid amount through Vanderbilt at 9 percent interest over 20 years.

One year later, Carosa was already having problems — peeling paint and failing carpets — so she decided to have a market expert assess the value of her home. She hoped to eventually sell the house so the money could help her granddaughter, whom she adopted as her daughter at age 8, attend a local college to study music.

Carosa was stunned to learn that the home was worth only $35,000, far less than her original down payment.

“I’ve lost everything,” Carosa said.

‘Rudest, most condescending’ agents

Buyers told of Clayton collectors urging them to cut back on food and medical care or seek handouts in order to make house payments.

Berkshire’s borrowers who fall behind on their payments face harassing, potentially allpoint atm locations international phone calls from a company rarely willing to offer relief.

Carol Carroll, a nurse living near Bug Tussle, Ala., began looking for a new home in 2003 after her husband had died, leaving her with a 6-year-old daughter. Instead of a down payment, she said, the salesman assured her she could simply put up two acres of her family land as collateral.

In December 2005, Carroll was permanently disabled in a catastrophic car accident in which two people fast food los angeles ca killed. Knowing it would take a few months for her disability benefits to be approved, Carroll said, she called Vanderbilt and asked for a temporary reprieve. The company’s answer: “We don’t do that.”

Mobile-home buying tips

Explore a variety of financing options before you begin home shopping.

Shop around, and be aware of which companies own the lots you are visiting.

Resist pressure to buy the same day you shop.

Scrutinize all fees and charges listed on your loan documents.

Ensure that your monthly payments will be manageable, and don’t expect a chance to refinance.

Finalize a financing agreement before putting money down or making land improvements.

Be aware that many mobile homes depreciate in value.

Test your loan’s terms inour interactive calculator.

However, Clayton ratcheted up her property-insurance premiums, eventually costing her $803 more per year than when she started, she said. Carroll was one of several Clayton borrowers who felt trapped in the company’s insurance, often because they were told they had no other options. Some had as many as five years’ worth of expensive premiums included in their loans, inflating the total balance to be repaid with interest. Others said they were misled into signing up even though they already had other insurance.

Carroll has since sold belongings, borrowed money from relatives and cut back on groceries to make payments. When she was late, she spoke frequently to Clayton’s phone agents, whom she described as “the rudest, most condescending people I have ever dealt with.” It’s a characterization echoed by almost every borrower interviewed for this story.

Consumers say the company’s response to pleas paypal business checking account help is an invasive interrogation about their family budgets, including how much they spend on food, toiletries and utilities.

Denise Pitts, of Knoxville, Tenn., said Vanderbilt collectors have called her multiple times a day, with one suggesting that she cancel her Internet service, even though she home-schools her son. They have called her relatives and neighbors, a tactic other borrowers reported.

After Pitts’ husband, Kirk, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, she said, a Vanderbilt agent told her she should make the house payment her “first priority” and let medical bills go unpaid. She said the company has threatened to seize her property immediately, even though the legal process to do so would take at least several months.

Practices like contacting neighbors, calling repeatedly double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn making false threats can violate consumer-protection laws in Washington, Tennessee and other states.

Last year, frequent complaints about Clayton’s aggressive collection practices led How to use a td bank gift card state officials to contact local housing counselors seeking information about their experiences with the company, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.

Treated like car owners

Mobile-home buyers who own their land sites may be able to finance their home purchases with real-estate mortgages, which give them more federal and state consumer protections than the other major financing option, a personal-property loan. With conventional home mortgages, companies must wait 120 days before starting foreclosure. In some states, the foreclosure process can take more than a year, giving consumers a chance to save their homes.

Despite these protections, two-thirds of mobile-home buyers who own their land end up in personal-property loans, according to a federal study. These loans may close more quickly and have fewer upfront costs, but their rates are generally much higher. And if borrowers fall behind on payments, their homes can be seized with little or no warning.

Those buyers are more vulnerable because they end up being treated like car owners instead of homeowners, said Bruce Neas, an attorney who has worked for years on foreclosure and manufactured-housing issues in Jp morgan access state.

Tiffany Galler was a single mother living in Crestview, Fla., in 2005 when she bought a mobile home for $37,195 with a loan from 21st Mortgage. She later rented out the home.

After making payments over eight years totaling more than the sticker price of the home, Galler lost her tenant in November 2013 and fell behind on her payments. She arranged to show the home to a prospective renter two months later. But when she arrived at her homesite, Galler found barren dirt with PVC pipe sticking up from the ground.

She called 911, thinking someone had stolen her home.

Hours later, Galler tracked her repossessed house to a sales lot 30 miles away that was affiliated with 21st. It was listed for $25,900.

Clayton wins concessions

Share your story

The Mobile-Home Trap is an ongoing investigation. We are interested in hearing about more people's experiences with mobile homes.

If you own a mobile home or live in a mobile-home park, email Seattle Times reporter Mike Baker at

The government has known for years about concerns that mobile-home buyers are treated unfairly. Little has been done.

Fifteen years ago, Congress directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to examine issues such as loan terms and regulations in order to find ways to make mobile homes affordable. Homes for sale in union sc still on HUD’s to-do list.

The industry, however, has protected its interests vigorously. Clayton Homes is represented in Washington, D.C., by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), a trade group that has a Clayton executive as its vice chairman and another as its secretary. CEO Kevin Clayton has represented MHI before Congress.

MHI spent $4.5 million since 2003 lobbying the federal government. Those efforts have helped the company escape much scrutiny, as has Buffett’s persona as a man of the people, analysts say.

“There is a Teflon aspect to Warren Buffett,” said James McRitchie, who runs a widely read blog, Corporate Governance.


Reporters: Mike Baker, Daniel Wagner

Editors: James Neff, Alison Fitzgerald

Photographer: Ken Lambert

Video: Katie G. Cotterill and Lauren Frohne

Producer: Gina Cole

Print designer: Bob Warcup

Graphics artist: Garland Potts

Interactive: Thomas Wilburn

Art direction: Whitney Stensrud

Social media: Bob Payne

Copy editor: Laura Gordon

Still, after the housing crisis, lawmakers tightened protections for mortgage borrowers with a sweeping overhaul known as the Dodd-Frank Act, creating regulatory headaches for the mobile-home industry. Kevin Clayton complained to lawmakers in 2011 that the new rules would lump in some of his company’s loans with “subprime, predatory” mortgages, making it harder for mobile-home buyers “to obtain affordable financing.”

Although the rules had yet to take effect that year, 99 percent of Clayton’s mobile-home loans were so expensive that they met the federal government’s “higher-priced” threshold.

Dodd-Frank also tasked federal financial regulators with creating appraisal requirements for risky loans. Appraisals are common for conventional home sales, protecting both the lender and the consumer from a bad deal.

Clayton’s own data suggest that its mobile homes may be overpriced from the start, according to comments it filed with federal regulators. When Vanderbilt was required to obtain appraisals before finalizing a loan, company officials wrote, the home was determined to be worth less than the sales price about 30 percent of the time.

But when federal agencies jointly proposed appraisal rules in September 2012, industry objections led them to exempt loans secured solely by a manufactured home.

Then Clayton pushed for more concessions, where can i open a business bank account that manufactured-home loans tied to land should also be exempt. Paul Nichols, then-president of Clayton’s Vanderbilt Mortgage, told regulators that the appraisal requirement would be costly and onerous, significantly reducing “the availability of affordable housing in the United States.”

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In 2013, regulators conceded. They will not require a complete appraisal for new manufactured homes.


The Pros & Cons of Buying Manufactured Housing

If the idea of living for less appeals to you, manufactured housing may prove a good option. Manufactured homes can be had for much less than traditional stick-frame houses and offer more for your money, allowing you to purchase some nice upgrades or a bigger home. Financing may prove harder to obtain, however, and you may find your home's value going down rather than up as time goes by. You'll also need a place to put your manufactured home since it won't come with any land. As is true of all major purchases, you'll need to weigh the pros and cons of manufactured homes before deciding whether one is a good option for you.

Manufactured Homes and Affordability

Perhaps the most attractive thing about mobile homes is their price. Because they are mass produced and built on assembly lines, manufactured homes cost less to make and therefore less to buy. As of September 2018, the median price of a home in the United States was $225,700. Depending on where you live, the average price of a home can be lower or much higher. Comparatively, the average price of a manufactured home in 2018 was $87,100. Manufactured home buyers can expect to spend at least 10 to 20 percent less on housing than those who opt for a traditionally constructed home.

This cost saving comes with a catch, however. Many lenders only offer mortgages to people buying real property, which the law generally defines as land and anything permanently attached to it. Stick-built homes meet this qualification, but mobile homes and manufactured homes typically do not. If you want lenders to view a manufactured home as a permanent structure, you must permanently attach it to a basement or concrete foundation underneath it and remove the axles. Both choices create more costs but can open up financing choices.

If you instead opt to place the home on a concrete slab or credit cards backed by comenity bank placed concrete strips, the law will define the house as personal property rather than real property. Large personal property purchases often require personal loans, which some borrowers find more challenging to obtain than a mortgage. Personal property loans have less attractive interest rates than mortgages and shorter loan terms, as well. This can make buying a manufactured home more challenging for buyers with low credit scores or small down payments. In November of 2018, the average interest rate on a mortgage was around 3.2 percent. Personal loan rates were anywhere from 3.99 percent up to a dismaying 36 percent. You can take up to 30 years to pay the mortgage, but most lenders will give you only seven to repay a personal loan.

Enjoy Luxury for Less

While a $300,000 double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn may get you a primary starter home in some parts of the country, the same money will buy you quite a luxurious manufactured home. Thanks to a lower base price, you can often add upgrades to a manufactured home that you couldn't afford in a traditional stick-built house. Manufactured housing makes upgrades like a soaking tub, fireplace or granite countertops much more attainable. You can even skip the extras and add square footage to the house, getting a bigger living space for less.

Consider Cookie-Cutter Concerns

Although you can add amenities to a manufactured home and tweak the design a bit, expect your choices to be somewhat limited. Mass producing manufactured homes allows builders to make homes quickly and inexpensively, but it also limits your layout and design choices. You'll have the ability to choose from multiple floor plans, but that is where your options will end.

The floor plan you choose will affect the way the inside of your home flows, but will always have double wide mobile homes for sale in knoxville tn fit within the home's outer dimensions, which come in standard rectangular sizes. Single-wide homes measure up to 90 feet long and 18 feet wide, Double-wides, too, measure up to 90 feet in length but are 20 feet or more in width. For even more space, homeowners can opt for a triple-wide home. Up to 50 feet long, these homes arrive in at least three pieces and get put together on-site. Manufactures homes give you some union bank credit card login, but if you want a unique and fully customized home unlike any other, a manufactured home isn't a good choice for you.

Understand Downsides to Manufactured Homes 

Although renting a place to live works well for some people, many view it as throwing money into a hole. Paying your rent month after month keeps a roof over your head, but it never provides any equity or ownership. Buying a home, on the other hand, provides you with a tangible asset you can sell or borrow against. This doesn't always hold true for manufactured housing. While stick homes and other parcels of real estate often appreciate, manufactured homes typically depreciate much like a car. This means that in the end, you'll own your home, but it may not have much value. Some buyers combat this by buying the land their home sits on, hoping the property will appreciate even if the manufactured home does not. You can also try to stave off a manufactured home's depreciation by upgrading interior finishes, building on additions and anchoring it to the land with a permanent foundation.

Many manufactured home buyers, however, opt to place their home in a mobile home park. In that case, you still rent the land on which it sits. At the end of your time in the home, you won't own the property and your house itself may not have much value. You might be able to sell it, but you may have to pay someone to haul it away if you can't find a buyer. A manufactured home may ultimately leave you feeling as if you still threw money into a hole.

Cheaper Might not be Affordable

Manufactured homes present a unique challenge to those living in the Bay Area. If you buy a manufactured home, you're going to need a place to put it. Given San Francisco's population density, you're not likely to find an open parcel of land to buy and place your home. Even if you do find a patch of land, its exorbitant price tag will likely defeat the purpose of manufactured home living, which is saving money. This leaves renting a lot in a manufactured home park as your only option.

Compete for Space

The hot San Francisco real estate market also makes finding a space somewhat challenging. Parks are more difficult to find than they were 10 years ago. Between 2005 and 2015, 4,792 lots disappeared in California alone. With the influx of large tech companies and the workers who keep them running, housing prices in the area continue to skyrocket. People searching for affordable housing can turn to mobile homes, but expect monthly space rent that exceeds $1,200. The lucrative real estate market also makes it tempting for manufactured home park owners to sell their land or convert the space to condominiums to gain more profit.

Rent Control Affects Repairs

San Francisco's strict rent controls are another issue. Although designed to help tenants renting apartments, houses and spaces for manufactured homes, rent control also limits the amount of money manufactured home park owners can charge tenants. As such, many find it difficult to find the finances to repair common amenities like neighborhood roadways or faltering septic systems. Manufactured home residents pay between $700 and $1,500 a month for lot rent in the Bay area, but park owners see this money disappear quickly when making expensive community-wide repairs. Landlords can raise this rent by about $20 or $30 at a time, but they are often limited to doing so only between tenants, making it impossible to increase rent across the board to raise revenue. Dealing with issues like these can make life in a declining manufactured home park unpleasant. Make sure you have a safe and livable place to put your home before buying it.


Writer Bio

Michelle has a knack for tackling tough topics and making them simple. She uses her accounting degree and financial savvy to help readers understand real estate markets and mortgage options. She also writes about landlord and tenant laws. From appraisals to zoning, Michelle makes real estate information accessible to everyone.


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