Buying a Tiny Home on Wheels safely can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know what to look out for. It’s important to do your research and ensure that you’re not getting scammed out of your money. Here are valuable tips and advice on how to purchase a Tiny Home and reduce the risk of getting scammed.
Research, research, research
When it comes to purchasing a Tiny Home, the best thing you can do is to thoroughly research the Tiny Home Seller, and Tiny Home Builder. It’s essential that you know exactly who you’re dealing with and what their reputation is before signing any contracts. Start by asking around in your local Tiny Home community or social media Tiny Home groups to find out if anyone has had dealings with the Tiny Home Seller or Tiny Home Builder before. You should also use online search engines to find out more about them, including any reviews or complaints. Be sure to check out the company’s website and any other online resources that are available as well. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check with the local building codes office to make sure that the Tiny Home you’re buying is built according to their regulations. One final search you may want to do is visit the Secretary of State Website and click on Business Entity Search to enter the Tiny Home Seller’s or Tiny Home Builders company LLC name and click “Search” to find the business in the results and view the official business profile and relevant information. Taking the time to do this research upfront will help to ensure that you get a quality Tiny Home and reduce the risk of being scammed. Additionally, according to Janet Thome from Tiny House Alliance USA, it is a good idea to check with the local building codes office—Most tiny houses on wheels are not built to building codes. Typically they are built to RV standards, and the building department most often does not inspect them, and because it is closed construction, they could not verify this. Most tiny homes on wheels are built off-site and are certified by a third-party that they have been built to a standard or code.
Hire an inspector
When it comes to buying a Tiny Home, hiring an inspector can be one of the best decisions you make. This is particularly applicable and useful for used Tiny Homes & pre-owned Tiny Homes. A professional inspection will help you make sure the Tiny Home is structurally sound, up to code and safe for use. It’s important to find an experienced, knowledgeable inspector with extensive experience inspecting Tiny Homes.
An inspector can evaluate the structure and components of the Tiny Home, including the walls, roof, plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. They will also check for mold, mildew, and other potential health hazards.
Traditional House Inspectors should have the expertise to assess the Tiny Home’s overall safety and structural integrity. Be sure to ask for credentials and referrals before you hire an inspector.
It’s also important to ask what type of report they will provide after the inspection. You want to make sure they will provide a comprehensive report so you know exactly what needs to be fixed or replaced in order to make your Tiny Home livable and safe.
The cost of hiring an inspector usually depends on the size of the Tiny Home and proximity to the inspector location. Be sure to get several quotes so you can compare prices. In the end, hiring an inspector may save you thousands of dollars if they uncover any major problems that need to be fixed before you purchase the Tiny Home.
Have realistic expectations
It’s important to be aware that Tiny Homes are not always suitable for every lifestyle or housing situation. Before you invest in a Tiny Home, make sure to thoroughly research the features, benefits and restrictions of living in a Tiny Home.
Some of the downsides of Tiny Homes include: difficulty in finding a place to park the Tiny Home, limited square footage, lack of storage space and unknown cost of utilities. It is also important to be aware of the local zoning codes and permit regulations in your county as this will affect the size and types of Tiny Home you can buy.
To ensure that you have realistic expectations when buying a Tiny Home, do your research to determine if this type of home is right for you. Consider all of the pros and cons and think about whether a Tiny Home is compatible with your lifestyle or entrepreneurial business idea. Don’t be tempted by the low price tags – if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.
Get everything in writing
When you’re looking to buy a Tiny Home, it’s important to get everything in writing. A written contract should cover all the details of the transaction including the sale price, payment terms, timeline, and any special considerations or conditions of the purchase. It’s also important to document any repairs that have previously been made and who was the licensed individual or company responsible for making them.
The contract should include details about the Tiny Home itself, such as its size, age, construction materials, appliances, and other features. You’ll also want to make sure that all the information about the sale is included in the contract, such as what type of financing is being used, who is responsible for paying closing costs and how payment will be made.
It’s also important to have a contingency plan in place in case something goes wrong during the transaction. This should include a description of how disputes or issues will be resolved if they arise.
Having a written contract can help protect both you and the Tiny Home Seller in case something goes wrong during the transaction. It will provide a legal record of the terms of the sale, which can help you if there’s a dispute down the line. So be sure to get everything in writing before signing on the dotted line!
Questions To Ask Tiny Home Sellers
When shopping for a Tiny Home, it is important to ask the seller plenty of questions in order to ensure you’re making a safe purchase. Make sure you do your research and ask the right questions. Here are some helpful questions you should be asking:
1. How long has the Tiny Home Seller owned the Tiny Home?
2. Are there any liens or legal issues associated with the Tiny Home?
3. Is the Tiny Home connected to a septic system or does it use an alternative waste disposal method?
4. Does the Tiny Home come with any registration, any previous purchase documents and does the Tiny Home Trailer have a Certificate of Origin?
5. Are there any warranties or guarantees included with the sale of the Tiny Home?
6. Are there any current building code violations known regarding the Tiny Home structure and construction?
7. Are Tiny Homes permitted in the Tiny Home Seller’s local county?
8. What is the R-Value of the Tiny Home’s insulation, where is it located inside the Tiny Home and is the bottom of the trailer insulated & protected?
9. Is the Tiny Home certified? Here are Tiny Home certification options: https://www.tinyhouseallianceusa.org/tiny-house-certification
10. What exactly is included in the purchase of the Tiny House – What are all the appliances and furniture included in the sale?
11. Does the Tiny Home come with a functioning heating and cooling system?
12. Were you able to obtain Tiny Home insurance previously?
13. Has the Tiny Home been exposed to smoking or pets?
14. Are there any major repairs needed?
15. Do you have information on the interior and exterior original paint colors?
16. What is the hitch size, do the trailer brake lights work and what condition are the tires in – do you happen to have a spare tire for transportation?
17. Are the wheel blocks, sewer lines & water hoses included?
18. Is the Tiny Home Builder willing to provide references from past buyers – Is the Tiny Home Seller willing to provide a copy of the front and back of their Driver’s License for record keeping purposes? It is important to make sure the Tiny Home Builder is licensed and bonded for consumer protection: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/construction-bond.asp
19. Why are you selling your Tiny Home?
20. Would you be willing to consider a loser price & how many offers have you received?
It is important to be thorough when asking these questions – but don’t limit yourself to only these questions – be sure to ask all the questions you can think of – no matter how silly or obvious you think it might be – so that you can get all the necessary information before making a purchase. Asking these questions will help you make an informed decision about buying a Tiny Home, and protect you from any potential scams or buyer remorse issues associated with the sale.
Try to get all documents reviewed by a lawyer or at least notarized
No matter how much research you do and no matter how confident you are in your choice of Tiny Home, it is always best to get any documents related to the purchase of the Tiny home reviewed by a lawyer or notarized. This can help protect you from potential scams and frauds, as well as make sure that you are not taken advantage of in any way. Having documents notarized helps to protect your rights as a Tiny Home Buyer and provides legal evidence if any disputes arise later on.
Janet Thome from Tiny House Alliance USA shared that it is important to know that each state will have a law about bill of sales and certificate of origins
She also recommends that Tiny Home Buyers review their own state laws for buying and selling a Tiny Home.
Example: Washington State
If the new Tiny House is being built in a factory, or somewhere else – and then moved to where you will use it, an L&I insignia is required.
Washington State only puts their insignia on Tiny Houses that are built to plans approved by L&I, and inspected by our program during the construction process.
When shopping around for a Tiny Home, always be sure to ask the Tiny Home Seller if any documents must be signed before purchase and what type of documents those might be. It is also important to request copies of all the documents and to ensure that the Tiny Home Seller is using proper paperwork for the transaction. Additionally, if possible, try to get the documents reviewed by a lawyer prior to signing anything. This will help ensure that everything is legitimate and that there are no hidden costs or clauses in the agreement that could potentially harm you in the future.
Buying a Tiny Home is an exciting process but it is also important to take safety precautions to protect yourself from being scammed or taken advantage of. By ensuring that all documents related to the purchase of the home are properly reviewed by a lawyer or notarized, you can rest assured that you are entering into a legally sound agreement with your Tiny Home seller. We recommend that you read Jenifer Levini’s book – Building, Occupying and Selling Tiny Homes Legally:
Written by Erick Alvarez & Tiny House Society
January 5th, 2023