Elaine and I were pretty disappointed last week.  We had invited two of the best local real estate agents/brokers out to look over the old Uretopia property and tell us what they thought it was worth.

Their answer was shocking:  We would net less than $200K from the place, they figured.  No, there’s no pay-off on the place, either.

The main – and apparently ONLY – problem we have is that the house we live in is a mobile home.  They took great pains to explain to us that unlike their stick-built counterparts, mobile homes never go up in value, only down.

(Continues below)


Let’s back up a few steps:

We have been considering moving to a city where we’d be l0ooking for an 1,800 S/F home on one level.  The idea of living in a home where there weren’t 15-steps up to bring in the groceries develops a certain appeal as you come up on age 70.

Another plus about moving is medical response times.  Out here in the Outback of East Texas, the medical response time is around 25-minutes.  Which is a lot different than the typical in-city response times of under 5-minutes and in many places less than 3-minutes.

Yet another factor is family and friends.  While Coy up the road is a dandy fellow, as is the Robin Landry family up in Oklahoma, we are not Texas B%R (born and raised).  B&R families aren’t so much down on “outsiders” (regardless of having owned property here for 14-years) so much as they tend to keep to themselves because Texas stil has strong family values.

In B&R families, the aunts, uncles, cousins, and such tend to fill-up the social calendar.  While neighbors are treated “neighborly” and such, and sure a glass of branch water is welcome, when comes down to it, they’re busy.

Elaine likes people…as to I…but she’s not big on driving 50-miles to have lunch with a friend.  Doing such is hardly unusual.

So back to point:  To replace what we have in terms of metrics elsewhere will be a minimum $300K proposition.

The main house here is two bedrooms in 1,880 square feet under air.  Doesn’t count a 400 s/f screened-in porch or decks.

Over in the other building, my office and the guest quarters- so the amount of space under air in the two buildings is 2,600 s/f.  Remember, this is 1,620 of mobile home and 1,600 of “pole building.”

When we move, there’s a lot of stuff that will remain with the property.  Gas and electric welders, milling machine, big metal lathe, and most of the big woodworking tools.  Inside a finished urban home, there’s just no way I could justify moving a 200-pound long-bed jointer or another 200-pounds of box and pan sheet metal bending brake.

We also wouldn’t have much use for a 24 HP diesel tractor, 48-inch riding mower, or the pickup truck, farm implements and such.  Nor would the grid-interactive solar go.

Less than $200K?

Meantime, a stick-built home with fewer square feet on smaller property three houses up (which out here is a mile) just sold for $299 which would put that owner’s net around $270.

But the kicker in that is simple:  That house doesn’t have any central heat or air!

All of which gets us to the first bottom line of this morning:  When you buy real estate, unless you LOVE living debt-free in a building style that has a social stigma attached to it, don’t buy a mobile/manufactured home.

Sure, they keep the rain off.  Yes, they are comfortable enough (once you get rid of the stupid “mobile home size” toilets and some other dumb cost-cutting the industry as done.

Another thing to be sure and get (if you ever get to looking seriously at a mobile) is the “northern insulation package.”  This gets you better (even triple glazed in some cases) windows, and two by six sidewall framing and 2X6 of 2X8 rafter with insulation to match.

Problem is?  If you get all the cold weather options to save money in the long-term you sneak up on the price of stick-built homes.


Turns out that these real estate folks just sold a home a buddy of mine put up about 3…maybe 5…years after we started our rework on this place.

He put in what’s called a ‘barndominium.”

A friend of mine did just this about 10 miles south and east of Palestine.  He started with a nice piece of land – about 20-acres that was fairly level and had a couple of acres of lake on it.

Then he put in a 50-by-100 two-story metal building on a slab that was 5″ thick, rebarred, and stubbed out for key plumbing.  Had the whole thing insulated, too.

With the shell of a metal building on the outside he then built the interior of a large (2,300 s/f or so) house on the inside.  It was insulated (again) and the only give-away that it was not a house once you were inside it was the windows were cased with 2×8 lumber, as were the doors.

It was a grand place:  the floors being concrete were sanded, buffed, and stained as some grocery stores are doing.  Ultra low maintenance.

And that left him with a 2,300 s/f storage area (with stairs up) over the house part and a monstrous garage in which they had two vehicles, tractor, implements, and so on.

Turns out the same real estate people who were visiting us had done the sale on the barndominium.  It fetched over $400,000.

All of which has left us in something of a quandary:  Do we stay here?  Or, do we move to a city and put in a smaller version of my friend’s “barndominium?”

For now, we’re in the “thinking about it” stage.  When you come up on the middle of seniorhood, you learn to take the time and think through decisions.  That’s because when you’re older, you don’t have “recovery time” if something doesn’t work out.

Having 28.82 acres loaded with wildlife is a real joy most of the time.  But there are times  like when we consider selling and going back to urban as a medical strategy for the long haul, that it becomes one more thing we wish we had thought through a little more carefully.

Meantime, since we have been watching single level homes with pools, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two car garages in Glendale, Arizona, we’ve seen those prices come down a bit.  Not sure if that’s Al Gores “climate change” or just that selling homes in hell when the heat is on drops prices a bit.

Between there, and Payson, Arizona up the hill, we may find something, or not.  But living in a city?  Has its pluses and minuses.

And then there’s the building permit hassles of putting up a 60-foot high ham radio tower.  Oh, the sacrifices we may have to make to stay alive, huh?

Write when you get rich,