Your real estate agent friend holds a common misconception of someone who does not actually know what a modular home is. Because they have never been involved in any transactions using modular homes, they do not have a point of reference to compare a modular home to, either aesthetically or legally. They are thinking, like most well-meaning real estate agents that don’t have the correct information, that you are talking about a manufactured home. We could bore you with pages of technical/structural details that show we build regular homes, but we will spare you with this summary:
Our prebuilt, modular homes are built to the International Building Code (IBC) and California Building Code (CBC) just like any other single-family residential structure. We do not build to the federal affordable housing code used for manufactured homes called the HUD code. If we had a permanent steel frame under our homes and a bunch of piers, then it would be a manufactured home. The design and engineering process of our homes is identical to any other Single-family residential project, and the requirements made of our plans and homes are the same – meet the regular house state and local building codes. When you look under a modular, you see the same thing that you see under any site-built / stick-built home that is built on-site on a raised floor system – wood floor joists sitting on top of a regular ‘ole concrete foundation.
Appraisers do not have an under-class category for modular homes. There are either Single-family residences, or there are manufactured homes. When they categorize and compare Single-family residences, they do not elevate or discriminate against the different types of Single-family residences, which include:
Wood-framed site-built homes
Wood-framed modular homes
Wood-framed panelized homes
Steel framed site-built homes
Steel framed panelized homes
Concrete block homes
Precast Concrete homes
Integrated wood and steel framed homes
SIP foam-and-wood framed panelized homes
ICF foam-and-concrete framed panelized homes
SCIP foam-and-concrete framed panelized homes
Poured or CMU-block concrete homes
and many, many others…….
These are all just homes built to state and local building code. Because they are all homes built to state and local building code, there is nothing to disclose as long as the home ends up permitted as a Single Family Residence by your city or county. People don’t disclose that their refrigerator was not built on-site, that their cabinets were not built in their kitchen from raw lumber, or that they did not pour their sinks into molds and bake them in a kiln in their garage. The system of the building does not matter as long as you get to the same place, and disclosures are limited to negative facts. To read California’s required Residential Real Estate Disclosures, go here.
The appraiser will compare the finished home to the neighboring properties, like any appraiser does, based on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). If your modular home has nice architecture and roof lines, an entry porch, an attractive patio, and great amenities and features, it will be worth more than a “wood-framed site-built home” of comparable size that doesn’t have as good of amenities as you have. And, vice-versa, if you just build a very basic modular home with no amenities, a “wood-framed site-built home” of comparable size with lots of amenities will be worth more.
Your real estate agent friend is probably trying to do you a favor and keep you away from buying what they think of as a “trailer”. That makes two of us – we don’t sell any “trailers”, or manufactured homes, so if you buy one, we won’t get the deal.