Moving in to mobile homes to stay in Silicon Valley

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A South Bay realtor is calling it the best bargain in Bay Area real estate. Realtor Cheryl Rivera Smith said mobile home parks are becoming an attractive alternative for homeowners who want to stay in pricey Silicon Valley and more of her clients are moving into them.

65-year-old Cindy Boone recently sold her home, a mile from Google. She bought it in 2003 for $485,000 and sold it for $1.8 million.

Looking to downsize, she told her realtor to look at Sunset Estates in Mountain View, which is a mobile home park for seniors. At first her realtor was skeptical until they saw the manufactured homes. 

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Cheryl Smith. “I was so amazed at the finishes.”

“I fell in love with some of the homes,” said Boone. “It made so much sense since they were so much less money.”

Boone ended up buying a manufactured home for $243,000. She remodeled it with new granite countertops and appliances for another $70,000. She pays $1,400 in rent for the lot. Smith said a traditional home in Mountain View with the same square footage costs $2 million.

“I think it's the deal of the century,” said Boone. “I's great.”

“I think it's probably a wave of the future in places where people can afford the real estate that's underlying these homes,” said Cheryl Smith. 

Rick Smith of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors said mobile homes aren't for everyone.

“It’s the best bargain in Mountain View if you are okay with mobile home living,” said Rick Smith.

He said mobile homes don't appreciate at the same rate as single family homes and some parks have restrictions with guests or parking. Also, since you don't own the land, there are risks involved.

“Space rent can go up,” said Smith. “You don't have a secure position at the park if the owner of the mobile home park or manufactured home park decides to sell.”

At Sunset Estates, Cheryl Smith the park owner is looking to invest in the future and for some, like Cindy Boone, it's a perfect fit.

“I definitely didn't want to go out of the Bay Area,” said Boone. “I like the Bay Area. I want to stay up here. I feel very fortunate to be able to do that.”