A million dollar mobile life

The highest selling price on record of a mobile home in Malibu, pictured above, sold in September for $1.6 million. Photo courtesy of Beverly Taki

A mobile home priced for sale at $2.2 million highlights the desire

for the “Malibu lifestyle of living.”

By Bridget Graham Gungoren / Special to The Malibu Times

It’s a residence for sale with a million dollar ocean view, located within a gated community. This could describe many homes in Malibu, but this residence is a mobile, or modular, home in Point Dume Club, and is tipping the scales with a selling price of $2.2 million.

Recently, former Malibu resident Dr. James Rota put his mobile home on the market, after extensive remodeling, for the more than $2 million asking price. The highest selling price on record of a mobile home in Malibu sold in September for $1.6 million.

“Mobile homes are a hit thing now because people want the Malibu style of living, and for Malibu, mobile homes offer that economically,” said Malibu Realtor Beverly Taki, who, with Realtor Lee LaPlante, handled the sale of the $1.6 million mobile home.

Clay Dickens, vice president of Community West Bank, who finances lending for mobile home purchases, agrees. “Mobile homes are a trend that is still going up,” he said. “It’s a $10 million dollar view for those who can’t afford a $10 million dollar home; it’s the last bastion of affordable housing.”

Much like all of the Malibu home prices that have risen dramatically over the last several years, so too have mobile home prices. Ten years ago, Taki sold a mobile home for $62,000. In April 2001, down the road from the $1.6 million dollar sale, another modular home sold for $160,000.

“That same $62,000 home is now probably worth at least a half a million,” Taki said. “It’s hard to find one now for less than $450,000 to $600,000-and those are the ones without the ocean view.”

The homes on the perimeter, Taki said, are in the best locations, and can sell for more than $1 million. The mobile homes in Point Dume Club boast a gated community, a shared tennis court and pool, and walking distance to the beach.

The catch? It is hard to get complete financing for the home, and therefore, most mobile homes are paid for in cash or with just a partial loan. Community West Bank appears to be the only bank to partially finance mobile home sales, financing up to 80 percent, or to a cap of $500,000.

“Cash is king,” Taki said.

Also, owners do not own the land, but pay rent for the home’s space.

“You lease from the owner of the land,” Taki said.

Depending on the location of the mobile home, the space rent could be as high as $2,800 per month.

But the upside is that there are no property taxes. (Purchaser of single-family homes in Malibu pay 1 1/4 percent of the sales price in taxes.) Other fees include DMV costs, dependent on the year of the home’s chassis (the chassis is the frame and wheels on which mobile homes sit on classifying it as a vehicle). So if even after the coach itself is removed or remodeled, the DMV fee reflects the year of the chassis, which could be as old as 1972, which lowers the DMV costs considerably.

Rota’s mobile home sits on a corner spot at the club, and has ocean and mountain views from every room. He paid $53 annually in DMV fees plus the space rent. Rent goes up every time a home is sold.

Rota decided to sell his two-bedroom, two-bath home on Ebay.

“I’ve worked with the computer and have been impressed with the pictorial ability,” Rota said. “I’ve purchased and sold with Ebay with much success.”

The 2005 California Association of Realtors 6th Annual Survey found that the Internet is becoming an integral component of buying a home-sixty-two percent of buyers first gain exposure to a potential residence via computer.

Taki told the story of selling a $1.1 million dollar home to a buyer in Australia who only saw the property via Web pictures she and LaPlante sent to the client. The two Realtors conducted all of the inspections.

Rota, a Malibu resident for 26 years, has lived in his mobile home residence on and off for about 20. He built and designed the home over a 10-year period, with an intense six-month remodeling a few years ago. The interior is full of curves and arches.

“I used circles for a softening effect so it isn’t living in a square box,” Rota said.

A retired biological dentist with a love of ergonomics, he built to inhibit his mold allergies. The floor was reinforced with marble to keep leaks from occurring.

“There is three times the thickness of the normal floor to begin with, and then with the marble, it is another layer thicker,” Rota said.

Other biologically sound upgrades include a triple-filtered water purification system, water ionization, and drainage systems to prevent puddles underneath the home, allergy free carpeting and special paints.

The mobile home can actually be labeled as a modular home. Modular homes are built in sections, and can technically be moved in sections, but are also permanently installed into the earth.

“It’s much more secure than the average home,” Rota explained. “I took a basic modular home and reinforced it and was able to secure it with concrete; it’s isn’t just nailed into the ground.”

“It’s been a joy for me,” Rota said. “I still don’t know why I’m leaving.”

Rota has retired to Paso Robles where he is writing a book and designing a new ergonomic house while ranching horse and sheep.

“The modular (or mobile) home really is Malibu’s best kept secret,” Rota said.