Friday, May 27, 2011


A few years ago during the housing boom, a real estate agent friend of mine (all gay people have at least one friend who is a real estate agent) tried to convince me to buy a condo – a 600 square foot condo for $285,000. I even went so far as to get pre-approved for a mortgage. I was pre-approved for $400,000. I thought that was ridiculous. But banks were ridiculous then. For me to make payments on a $400,000 mortgage, I would have to forego food, car, utilities, retirement, drag wear, massages with happy endings, etc.

I come from the old school where your housing expense is no more than 25% of your take home pay. Not the other way around! Needless to say, I did not make an offer on that sixty-year-old, former apartment, fixer-upper condo in North Fairfax, which did not have a washer/dryer hook-up, AC or a dishwasher. It also only had one window and only street parking.

So, I sat on the sidelines while I watched idiot after idiot buy these expensive homes they had no business even visiting during an open house. I worked a couple of open houses for my real estate agent friend, and I found the buyers amusing. “Mmm, only $585,000 for this one bedroom condo sounds reasonable. I can get used to the trains going by at all hours of the night at these prices.”

I kept saying to myself, “These homes are not going to appreciate. How high can these ridiculous prices go? This is all going to crash.” And I am not even psychic. Am I the only one who saw that?

Now, if you are reading this from a part of the country where housing prices have seriously fallen, you are wondering why I went the mobile home route. Here in the DC region, prices are still ridiculous, and thanks to all those people who bought homes they had no business buying and banks lending to people whom they knew could not make the payments, to buy a home is now almost impossible without having at least 20% down and a seven-figure income and a kidney to sell.

When I first looked at a mobile a few years ago, I was told you needed good credit and 10% down. That is still the case today, and 10% of $60,000-$90,000 is a lot easier than 20% of $585,000. So, I thought this will be easier to settle as well. Hell, I could buy a $50,000 car in an hour by filling out a few forms (and I have no business buying a $50,000 car), so how hard could buying a mobile home be?

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The first thing you need to know is that buying a mobile home is like buying a car, renting an apartment, and getting approval to buy into a co-op on the same day. Your new home will be titled through the DMV or in Maryland’s case, MVA. However, a mortgage is a mortgage. The park is another story entirely.

First comes the Mobile Home Community or Trailer Park depending on where you decide to go. You may have cash to buy the home, but the park has to approve you. They need the last two year’s tax returns,W-2s, and 1099s; then they need the last two month’s paystubs from all your jobs (I have two); then they need bank statements proving you have the security deposit, which is equal to one month’s lot rental and first month's lot rental; a form filled out by your present landlord or managing company stating you are a good tenant; a letter from your veterinarian stating your dog is of good temperament and under 35 pounds and not one of five (yes, five) prohibited biting breeds; a list of your vehicles, year, model and condition (my youngest car is 29 years old) – this is a trick question because you only get your two-car driveway and can have no more than two cars; a letter from all employers proving you are still employed; and permission for them to run a credit check. Then you must sign a form and give them a $25 check to process all this and receive the “Mobile Home Park Rules.”

There are 40 pages of Mobile Home Park Rules! And you better read them. You must mow your grass. You must get approval to landscape. You must get approval to paint your home exterior in an approved color. You must get approval to add an awning. You cannot let your kids under 18 out after 10:00 pm or before 6:00 am. You must clean up after your dog. You must not throw loud parties. Your pipes must be “heat-taped” in winter (I had to ask about that one). You cannot do car repairs. You cannot have a non-titled car on the premises. You cannot have more than two cars. You cannot have any trash on your property. You cannot have overnight guests for more than four days without registering them with the management office. You cannot sublet your home (my favorite rule). And so on and so on.

At least I knew it would be a quiet clean community. I also knew that everyone who said to me, "You can always rent it out," didn't know a thing about mobile home living. See above; not allowed!

Then comes the home mortgage. For the bank, you need all of the above, and don’t say make copies of what I gave the community. You need to do it all over again because they are separate entities. In addition, you need to give a $1,000 deposit to hold the home and show you are serious and not a tire kicker. Yes, they call them tire kickers in the mobile home business, too. I couldn’t find the tires. The axles are removed and sold back to the manufacturer once the home is parked. I wish I still had them because they fetch $700-$1,000.

The best part is that every time they run a credit check, your credit score goes down a few points due to people running credit checks on you. How ironic. At least four times, credit checks will be run on you. So you better hope your score is a good range above 700 (thank God mine was). They will sell to someone with as low as 630 but reluctantly and not without a bunch of other hoops to jump through.

Just when you think you have given them every piece of information you can, they call you up and say they need one more thing. I finally did say to the guy that I could go to the car dealer down the street and buy a car worth the same as the mobile home in an hour and with none of this information.

And finally, you must obtain mobile home insurance and have proof you did!

I never realized becoming Gay Jewish Trailer Park Trash was going to be so difficult. In case you are wondering, I am still waiting to be approved by the Mobile Home Community!

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