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How To Buy A Home Seminar Video Transcript

How To Buy A Home Seminar Video


Congratulations on your decision to buy a home. You've already discovered the tax benefits associated with home ownership versus renting.

If you’ve reached the decision to invest in a factory-built home, good for you. I hope you have watched our Factory Tour video and learned the advantages of homes built in a Building Center in a controlled, protected environment, using efficient construction, enormous buying power to lower cost and construction schedules that offer a predictable completion date. As an added plus, we’ll get you into your new home faster than you ever dreamed, and much faster than with conventional site-built construction.

The purpose of this little seminar is to help you understand the home buying process when you buy from Palm Harbor Homes. We will also talk about the terms used in the real estate and finance industries. Our goal is to make you a better shopper when you are looking for your dream home, to make you better informed about the financial decisions you’ll be tackling and to help you know just what to expect along the way.

When you visit one of our model centers, our Palm Harbor Housing Consultants are specialists in all facets of this process. And their job is to insure that your experience is delightful so that you’ll tell others about your experience.

If you haven’t seen our Factory Tour video, be sure to check it out at

We hope this video series answers many of your questions regarding your home’s construction, the inspection process, the delivery and the installation.

And be sure to visit our "Tips" and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections at the end of this seminar for in-depth discussions on several topics like LAND, FINANCING and CREDIT.

Manufactured vs. Modular

At Palm Harbor, you will hear a lot about a term we have registered to refer to our complete construction process. We call it SmartPlus® Construction. Because of the way we build, we are able to build for any customer, to any local or national building code on any lot or land. Depending on where you want to live, your home could be built to a modular code that conforms to local codes and local jurisdiction or to the manufactured housing code conforming to Federal building codes and to state jurisdiction. Both are built in the same building center using practically all the same materials and quality inspections. One is not necessarily better than the other. It’s just built, inspected and installed differently depending on the needs of the homeowner and where the home is going, and may offer you more flexibility in design.

Take a few moments to read through the following differences between modular and manufactured construction. In many ways there is no difference… only the code they are built to, based on where the home is to be placed. Your Palm Harbor housing consultant can help you decide which building method is best for you.


Rural acreage and country land are popular manufactured home sites because land costs are usually lower, lot sizes are larger and construction costs can be considerably less. For example, compare the cost of setting up a manufactured home to the time and money involved in building a home using conventional site-built construction. Where 80 percent of a factory-built home is constructed inside a building center, for a site built home, a general contractor or subcontractor has to transport construction crews and materials to a remote site every day for months on end to do both the site work and then the home construction. The cost savings of a factory built home is significant.

Most manufactured homes are placed on privately owned property. This can be your own property, family land or even a city lot. Land can be owned by you or leased. In any case, you’ll need to find out about zoning laws, restrictive covenants or regulations and access to utilities to the land before making a decision on what type of home to buy. Perhaps there is already a home on your land. If so we may be able to help you relocate it, remove it, or take it in trade for your new dream home.

If you don’t own land, but would like to, Palm Harbor can help there too. We can help you find that little piece of paradise and put you and your dream home there in a land-home deal that will fit your budget.

In some communities, entire subdivisions have been developed where manufactured homeowners purchase or lease a lot to place their homes. These neighborhoods may have wide city streets, curbs and sidewalks. Usually the developers of these subdivisions will cater to a lifestyle for neighbors with common interests such as young families with children, professionals with busy schedules or retirees who prefer to socialize with people their own age.

Whether it’s your own land, beachfront, lakeside property or city lot, you’ll find that Palm Harbor can put you in a home sooner, with less cost and red tape than a site-built house.

As with any home or building project, our housing team will need to inspect your homesite to assure access and to make sure the location is buildable and acceptable for the placement of your new home. A site plan will be developed and reviewed to make sure it will pass all permitting requirements necessary for the construction and completion of your home.

Be sure to visit our "Tips" and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections at the end of this seminar for in-depth discussions regarding FINDING THE RIGHT LAND.


Many options are available when choosing a foundation for a manufactured home. A simple design which meets Federal Code for the geographic location for where the home is to be installed is included in your home’s Installation Instructions. It may look simple but a licensed manufactured home installer is not only recommended, but required in most states.

In comparison, a modular home’s foundation is subject to the governing jurisdiction of the location of the home. A licensed professional engineer or architect may be required to design and submit a foundation for the home.

Other foundations for both manufactured and modular homes may include pier and beam, perimeter stem wall, slab or even a basement or elevated on stilts. If not specified within the home’s installation manual, a licensed professional engineer or architect should be hired to design a foundation for the home. Inspection and approval of the foundation system must be completed before the home is installed.

Affordability - Cost

How much does a factory-built home cost? If every home were the same floor plan, the same square footage, built to the same roof load zone, the same thermal zone and the same wind zone, we might get a general idea of a cost but it indeed would be very general. And if it were built to the same construction code and built on the same stable flat land, we could get even closer to a price. But it’s never the same… given the constraints just noted plus differences in insulation, appliances, carpeting, fixtures, roofing and a host of onsite amenities, this price for each home is a work in process until all the things just mentioned are determined. A site inspection is usually required before a final figure can be obtained.

As an example of how prices can fluctuate, consider the auto industry. At one time all Model-T Fords did cost the same… and they were all built the same and they were all black. Today the Ford Motor Company sells its new Mustang with a price range from 21 thousand to 51 thousand dollars and it has over 100 thousand different configurations depending on options, colors accessories… and that’s just one of their cars… and their price is reflected accordingly.

So how do you know how much to borrow if you want to take out a mortgage? Simple… you find out how much home you can qualify for. Pre-qualification is pretty uncomplicated and does not require a lot of paperwork. A lender simply uses a formula or program that takes in your income sources and your debt owed and determines a "pre-qualification" amount. Credit agencies may be checked to determine the probability of approval and arrive at a financial assessment of creditworthiness. Palm Harbor offers this service free of charge and it’s entirely confidential. You’ll want to know this figure anyway before going further so you know how much home you can afford. Don’t hesitate to ask questions during this important discovery process.

The next step is Pre-approval. This is where you have your lender run your credit, verify your employment and sources of income, savings, cash on hand and assets, determine your actual debt and come up with a solid number on what you can afford to pay for a home. It doesn’t guarantee that you will get a loan nor does it obligate you to any lender. It does, however, help you establish a relationship with a lender you like and trust. Palm Harbor can provide the names of several licensed lenders who specialize in financing manufactured homes, modular homes and mobile homes.

Once you are pre-approved, you’re ready for the next step… Determining your budget.

If there are issues with your credit that may hinder a loan approval, see our "Tips" and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections at the end of this seminar for in-depth discussions regarding CREDIT REPAIR.


As much as you want a new home, you do not want to find that your payments have overstretched your budget. In order to avoid such a predicament, approach this process systematically. Here are some steps to ensure you don’t buy too much house.

Each opportunity can be very different for each person or family. You may be considering a home in a subdivision that already has utilities or easy access to water, electricity and sewer system. Or you may be looking to build on rural acreage where you may have to dig a well, install a septic system and tap in to electricity that is far away.

#1 Begin with the basics. In determining the price of your new home, start with the basic home size and floor plan with little or no amenities. You’ll want to include costs for necessities such as permits, inspections, utility access and hookups, sewer system hookups or septic tank installation, water wells and gas or propane installation if necessary. At Palm Harbor, we deal with these issues all the time, so our housing professionals can help you with estimates. These amounts should be added to the basic package price of the home.

#2 Make your wish list. Identify what amenities and features you’d like to have in your home. Depending on costs, you may want to include some items such as sidewalks or a driveway in the mortgage to be paid off over a long period of time. You may want to tackle other amenities, such as a rear deck, storage buildings or workshops later, after you have moved in and as your finances will allow. Other features you’ll want to consider are upgrades in carpet, appliances, exterior treatments or fixtures. These upgrades will cost less when you buy your new home than changing them out later. No sense in paying for them twice.

See our "Tips" and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections at the end of this seminar for a sample of a Wish List you can print out and use.

#3 Determine the top priorities. After making your wish list, prioritize which items are the most important for you at the time of purchasing your home. Once you’ve established your budget, you can take a look at the list and make tradeoffs if needed. Providing this information to your housing consultant will be helpful on both ends. He or she can help you prioritize and may think of additional items you may not have considered, like fireplaces or built-in specialty cabinets. Many items are "packaged" for more savings.

#4 Strategize the down payment. Start with the important questions which can help determine what types of loans you can get. Things like the following:  How much cash do you have available for the down payment? How much money will you need to allocate for closing costs?

Normally, down payments range from 3.5 percent to 20 percent of a home’s purchase price. With some licensed lenders, if you own your own land outright or have a good amount of equity in your current home, you may qualify for no down payment programs. This is particularly helpful for young families just starting out that have access to "family-owned" land.

There are other options to choose from. Perhaps you saved earnestly to fund your house, or earmarked some of the proceeds of your previous home’s sale to be your new house budget. Decide what’s right for you.

I’ll describe more about down payments later in a segment called the "Loan Process."

#5 Budget for the mortgage. Typically, mortgage payments should be between 25 to 33 percent of your monthly gross income. The 20/28/36 rule can be a useful tool for mortgage affordability:

  • Use a down payment of 3.5% or more.
  • No more than 28% of your gross annual income should go to mortgage, insurance, homeowner’s fees and real estate taxes.
  • No more than 36% of your gross annual income should go to mortgage, home and other debt expenses such as credit card debt, car and school loans, etc.

Note that the last two numbers, in this case, 28 and 36, represent debt-to-income ratios, which help you determine your maximum monthly mortgage payment. Requirements change depending on the financial markets and governmental influence on the banking industry. A Palm Harbor housing consultant can further explain how these numbers work together in obtaining a home loan and the current temperament of the financial industry.

There are several mortgage-budget calculators available free online where you can plug in practically everything you receive, save or spend to arrive at an affordable mortgage payment. An example is the CNN Money Home Affordability Calculator:

Whether or not you find this a realistic representation of your situation, it’s still a good starting point for developing a budget. Look for more like it using your favorite search engine.

#6 Consult the professionals. As we discussed earlier, working through your budget will give you the chance to review your finances with a loan professional and establish if your home buying plan is possible. This should give you a good idea of where you’re standing as a homebuyer in the current market since lender will carefully evaluate your finances for that prequalification. This helpful process will not cost anything and will give you valuable insights.

#7 Open the discussion. Talk to trusted family members and friends who may be able to offer you some opinions and insights into buying or building a new home. This is just another way to get a different perspective on things during this crucial decision making process.

Once you have determined your budget, you’re ready for the next step… The Loan Process – Type, Down Payment & Application covered in the next segments.

Loan Process

A Personal Property Loan or what is sometimes called a Chattel Loan is a Home-Only loan when a manufactured home is purchased separately from its lot or land and financed as personal property. This is similar to loans made on cars, boats and other major purchases. These loans are generally fast to complete eliminating the need for an appraisal, survey or title work. Loan rates may be 1 or 2 percentage points higher than for real property loans. Approvals are usually granted within 24 to 48 hours after the lender receives all the supporting documents. Once the loan conditions are received from the lender, the loan is underwritten and can be closed within a week. If you’re locating your home in a leased community or park, you’d use this type of loan for your home purchase.

A Real Property Loan, or a mortgage, or Land/Home Packaged Loan, as it is sometimes called, all refer to the same type of loan. These loans are available for homes that are permanently located. Homes with land are considered as "real property" and are financed the same as conventional site-built houses. These loans, depending on how they are structured, may be called conventional loans, conforming loans, FHA, VA and a few other common terms. They are the most common types of mortgages used today for all single-family home purchases.

Construction Loans are typically required for land-home packages for multi-disbursement payments. This allows the buyer to pay off the land seller, the home seller and different contractors involved in the various steps of the building process as phases of construction are completed. Unless you specify otherwise, a "construction-to-permanent loan" will be initiated. Basically, you pay closing costs one time on the loan, and the arrangement becomes a traditional mortgage loan when construction is completed and you acquire a certificate of occupancy. In some cases you may not need a construction loan. Our Palm Harbor Housing Consultants can help determine what will be necessary for your situation.

One of the greatest advantages of a construction to permanent loan is that most lenders allow interest only payments while the home is under construction. This gives the homebuyer a low payment option in the beginning while living somewhere else. Once the home is occupied, the mortgage payments are changed to principal and interest payments. See our "Tips" and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections at the end of this seminar for in-depth discussions regarding FINANCING YOUR DREAM HOME and also MORTGAGE LENDING TERMS.

The mortgage industry is constantly changing, developing new, ground-breaking financing programs so it’s hard to keep this video seminar current. You can always find out the latest innovative financing opportunities by contacting any of our Palm Harbor Homes model centers. Our General Managers can provide names of some licensed lenders who can help you find the best financing option for you.

Down Payment

Everyone wants low monthly payments, but this may be more important to some than others. Retirees on a fixed income may prefer to use a large down payment to keep their payments low. First time or young homebuyers may not have the ability to put a lot of money down and, consequently, their payments will be higher. But first time homebuyers may qualify for special programs to help them buy their dream home with little or no money down.

Down payments and loan terms go hand-in-hand… 3.5 to 20 percent of the home’s price with loan terms from 10 to 30 years. Most lenders offer programs where you can buy down the interest rate to keep payments low.

Do you have something you can trade-in? Many times, a trade-in such as a boat or your current manufactured home will qualify as sufficient down payment. Check with your Palm Harbor model center in your area for more details.

If you own your own land outright or have a good amount of equity, you may qualify for no down payment. This is particularly helpful for young families just starting out that have access to "family-owned" land.

The mortgage industry is constantly changing, developing new, ground-breaking financing programs so it’s hard to keep this video seminar current. You can always find out the latest innovative financing opportunities by contacting any of our Palm Harbor Homes model centers. Our General Managers can provide names of many licensed lenders who can help you find the best financing option for you.

See our "Tips" and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections at the end of this seminar for in-depth discussions regarding FINANCING YOUR DREAM HOME and also MORTGAGE LENDING TERMS.

Loan Application

Once you have selected your home and know where you are going to live, whether on your own land or leased land, you can proceed to the loan application. This process usually begins with a completed worksheet showing the costs of all items including the home, the land and site improvements, a signed credit application, an application fee that will be applied towards your loan closing costs, a signed verification of employment, sources of income, savings, cash on hand and assets.

Real estate contracts differ slightly in each state. Lenders and Buyers may be required to disclaim or furnish different documents or information regarding your loan application.

Loan approval may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the lender, the type of loan and the geographic region or state. Real Property or land/home loans take longer for approval than Personal Property or Chattel loans.

The time it takes to process your loan will greatly depend on how quickly you respond to the bank’s request for documents and loan conditions. Most lenders cannot process your loan until ALL of the required documents and conditions are met. Your new dream home will become a reality sooner if you are heavily involved in this part of the process.


Your loan documents have been turned in, your loan is approved and your Dream Home has been ordered from the Building Center. The "I’s" are dotted, all the "T’s" are crossed and everything looks good to go. Your Palm Harbor Homes representative will work with you through the entire land-home buying process from start to finish.

Once you determine the model of your new home and the type of foundation required, an assessment of the permitting process time for the area where your home will be placed will help Palm Harbor develop a timeline to completion and move-in. Your Palm Harbor representative will be your "point-person" during the entire process, keeping you informed of the status of the major milestones during construction and coordinating with the contractors you have selected for the site development.

At times, it may look as if no work is being done on your site. This may be due to permit approval, an inspection by a local official or other jobs that must be scheduled prior to continuing the work.

Some delays are unavoidable, like weather, but that only effects work being done on the job site. Remember, with Palm Harbor, this is only the remaining 20% of the construction. The majority of your home’s construction is being completed inside our building center unaffected by weather. Palm Harbor’s unique building techniques still get you in your home faster than conventional homebuilding construction.


Protecting your investment is another important step in the home buying process. If you are financing your home purchase, your lender will require you to keep property coverage on the home as long as the loan is in effect. Even if you are paying cash for the home, we highly recommend that you obtain a policy to protect what is most likely your family’s largest investment. Here are a few coverage types included in a policy, whether it is for a manufactured home or a modular home.

  • Comprehensive Home Protection covers the home itself against sudden accidental and direct losses to your home and attached structures. Such losses as Fire, Windstorm, Theft, Flood and Earthquake are among the perils that can be insured against loss on a policy. This protection can replace your home in the event of a total loss as well as repairing your home’ damage.
  • Comprehensive Personal Effects Coverage protects your belongings in the home. This protects your clothing, furniture, and electronic devices like computers and televisions. Most policies have a set dollar amount included in the premium for the amount of coverage. That amount can be changed as you feel necessary. Optional coverage for special collections like Firearms and Jewelry is also available.
  • Comprehensive Personal Liability Protection covers you and your family in the event someone other than your family gets injured while in your home or on your property. For instance, say someone falls down your steps leading out of the home and you are found to be responsible. This coverage would protect you in case the injured person has medical claims or files a lawsuit against you.

Different limits of coverage are available and are priced accordingly. Discuss your needs with your insurance agent to make sure you have the proper limits to fit your needs.

An extended service contract, or ESC as it’s called, may be obtained at the time of your home purchase. The ESC is basically an extension of the manufacturer’s warranty that is automatically included with your home. Coverage can be extended for up to 9 years depending on the ESC selected.

A typical contract extends for 4 years beyond the original manufacturer’s one year warranty. The ESC will cover appliances, the heating and air conditioning system, plumbing, and items not covered by the manufacturer after the first year.

The extended service contract serves as a convenient way for you to maintain your home, by requiring only a small deductible and provides a single toll free number you can call for claims. The extended service contract can be included into the price of the home. All the necessary information will be mailed to you after the home sale has been completed.

Related Video and Tips: Land

Skimping on land can quickly become the single biggest mistake a homebuyer makes when building a home. A Palm Harbor Land/Home Specialist is always available to help with any of the following concerns or opportunities regarding land, whether it’s your own land or land you are searching for or in the process of buying.

Cost: You can always save money on land, but whether you’re buying in a city lot, a parcel of land in a development or subdivision, or acreage in a rural area, there will usually be land that appears to be a real bargain, costing much less than surrounding lots. One might think the best way to save would be pay less for the land and put the extra dollars into your house.

Beware: A lot that is priced too low may have a problem such as soil density, drainage or utility accessibility. But, land that is higher-priced than the market may have advantages that will add to your enjoyment while you own it. And it may bring in top dollar when you sell. Always buy the best land or lot you can afford.

Location, location, location! When buying land or a lot, the most important rule is location comes first.

Ask your land or real estate professional specific questions. The listing agent and the seller have a responsibility to tell you of any drawbacks to the property and area, because they could be liable if you buy and later discover something that could have influenced your purchase decision. Ask your Realtor or land professional to obtain the Vacant Land Disclosure which is completed and signed by the seller.

Buildable: Determine if the land is buildable. Perhaps you find a beautiful plot of land that covers nearly five acres on a hillside with a creek running through the property. The sellers are anxious to sell and point out numerous shade trees scattered about. You must first determine where the building site is to be located.

The entire five acres could be on steeply sloping land with no large level areas. Building a home on this land would require an extensive foundation, an engineered pier structure or even stilts. All can be done, but it is more expensive.

Land with a gentle slope makes for better drainage and makes it easier to build a garage, decks or sidewalks.

Utilities: Land may or may not be finished out with utilities. And even if they are in place, those utilities may only come to the land’s easement or property’s edge. If there are no utilities, find out how far it is to them and what the cost would be to extend them to your building site. Utility companies can provide this information. Additional expense may be necessary to pull them from that location to your building site. Don’t rely on the seller’s estimate for running electricity, water, gas, sewer, cable TV and telephone. Their "guess" will typically understate the actual cost.

Sewer and Gas: Land in rural areas often lacks sewer or gas hookups. Gas is usually not a problem, as propane dealers tend to flourish in such areas and deliver it in tanks. Some propane companies supply the tank for free if you buy their gas.

Without sewer service, the most common method of disposing of waste is a septic system. Understanding the basics of a septic system is important as it can have an enormous impact on your lot choice. Check with one or more reliable septic system contractors in the area and have them inspect the building site and give you an estimate in writing including permits. A plot plan of the property with the building site location will take the guesswork out of the estimate. This is usually done at no charge. After all, they want your business.

Surveys: A lot survey requires a surveyor to make a site visit and mark the legal property lines. Expect to pay only a few hundred dollars for a simple survey; more if the plot of land is asymmetrical with many waypoints or has a difficult topography or access due to terrain. A survey should be done whenever land is purchased, whether it is rural acreage or a city lot.

Don’t depend on fences to ascertain property lines. A fence can be put up anywhere, sometimes on the property line, and sometimes not.

Surveys may or may not be required for title insurance on a mortgage, but insist on one anyway for your own peace of mind. If there are any conflicts, you will want to settle them before you buy.

Restrictions: Today, even in rural areas, home builders may have to get permission before breaking ground on a new home. You will want to check with the department or authority having jurisdiction before buying the lot to see if there are restrictions.

In residential areas, such limitations may be a good thing to help retain property values by restricting unsightly items like abandoned cars, trucks or tractors; old tires, billboards, trash heaps and more. It may describe the type of home, fencing or driveways allowed. It may even dictate the material, height, size and distance from the road for your mailbox.

A few minutes spent checking out the governing plan for the lot you are considering will be time well spent.

Related Videos and Tips: Credit Repair

Most of us have done something at sometime to bruise our credit rating, perhaps without even knowing it. A late or missed credit card or home mortgage payment is just one example. When you buy a home, you will be encouraged to get pre-approved for your mortgage. During the home loan application process, these issues often come to light.

What is a Good Score? Mortgage companies use consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), or credit bureaus, to assess a buyer's credit rating. Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850. For a home loan, a score of 650 or higher generally indicates good credit history, making it easier for you to secure a mortgage. If your score falls between 620 and 650, your borrowing capability will be examined more closely. And if you rate below 620, you may be required to have a larger down payment or a lower budget.

If you discover that your credit score is low, don't despair. Although it may delay the purchase of your home, there are ways to repair your bad credit rating so that you may still qualify for a home mortgage with a decent interest rate.

To evaluate your credit rating, you'll need to obtain copies of your credit reports from the various agencies. Examine them carefully to see what transactions are lowering your score.

A Special Note about Bankruptcies. A bankruptcy can lower your credit score by 200 points or more. Repairing bad credit following a bankruptcy is beyond the scope of this seminar..

Charge-offs appear on your credit report if a creditor has given up trying to collect from you and has written off the amount you owe as a bad debt. Charge-offs are one of the main reasons loan applicants are denied credit.

If you have any charge-offs, contact those creditors immediately and make arrangements to pay off the old debt. After a few months of regular payments, or if you repay a charge-off debt in full, submit a written request to that creditor to change the status on your credit reports.

Late payments may be handled differently if they are isolated incidents or a recurring problem.

If you have a single late payment listed on your credit report, it is best to contact your creditor by phone to discuss the situation. Follow the conversation with a written request to have the isolated late payments removed from your reports.

If you're consistently late with payments, repairing the problem is a little more involved. You'll need to begin to set a pattern of paying on time over several months. Once this positive pattern is established, call your creditors and follow-up in writing to let them know that you're back on track. With persistence and patience, you may be able to delete these score-lowering marks.

Reporting Mistakes: Sometimes, creditors simply make mistakes when reporting to the bureaus. Such mistakes might include charge disputes that resulted in an initial late payment that was eventually reversed. Unfortunately, it's the individual's responsibility to spot - and repair - reporting mistakes that lead to bad credit.

Once again, contact your creditor by phone and follow up with a written request that the mistake be corrected. Because the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that credit agencies and their information providers investigate reports of inaccuracies, you'll also want to contact the CRA directly to report the discrepancy.

As you work on repairing your credit rating, there are other things you can do to improve your score:

  • Make sure that you pay all monthly bills on time.
  • Avoid new credit card accounts, including department store cards.
  • Work to pay down your unsecured debt, but keep accounts open even if you pay them off, and
  • Pay cash for the things you need instead of charging them.

If you still score below the 620 mark after all of your efforts, it doesn't mean that you won't qualify for a home loan. It may mean, however, that your mortgage will take longer to process, or you may need a larger down payment or the terms and interest rate may not be as low as you were hoping for.

Repairing bad credit can take many months to a year or more. But when you're ready to buy a home, you'll be glad you took the time to improve your score - and your mortgage payment will be lower because of your efforts.

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