Do Mobile Offices Have Resale Value?

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Once the construction job ends, the main facility renovated, or new and improved modular office space is needed – proper disposal of the aged mobile office is the next big challenge.


But what is a mobile office’s resale value? Opinions differ, but the consensus is that the local market, the unit’s initial cost and present condition, and the level of “TLC” it has received are the primary value determinants.


“There is no formula for determining a definite value,” said a spokesperson for Portable Space Mobile Offices in Exeter, Penn. “The value is based on original cost, less age and condition. They are worth what the next person is willing to pay.”


With this in mind, it’s a good idea to sell your mobile office as soon as possible after retiring it in order to get the biggest bang for your buck. “A general rule of thumb for depreciation would be 20 percent (of the original cost) the first year, 15 percent the second year, and 10 percent each of the following years,” said John Eastman, product specialist in the Commercial Division of Dodgen Industries Inc. of Humboldt, Iowa.


However, a region with a higher demand for mobile offices may allow yours to fetch a higher percentage. “I typically get about 75 percent return on resale in Hawaii,” said John Rogers, owner of Affordable Portable Housing in Kailua, Hawaii. “It is a hot commodity, especially with all the construction going on here.”


However, a lower regional demand for mobile offices will necessitate exploring alternate sale methods and channels, as well as flexibility about your resale price. “Exhaust all means to sell – local and regional websites like Craigslist and eBay, local trade magazines, and local newspapers,” said the Portable Space spokesperson. “Look to find what other people are selling their mobile offices for in order to get an idea of what price to list. If you can’t find any pricing locally, go out of your local market.”


As of this writing, mobile offices listed on eBay sell for as little as $700, for a unit stripped of its utilities and needing significant repainting and repair, to as much as $50,000 (closer to the cost of a higher-end new unit), sold by a professional supplier of new and refurbished secondhand mobile office trailers, who provides delivery, setup, a Certificate of Origin and a Bill of Sale with the unit.


A frequent roadblock to a mobile office resale is consumer skepticism about the condition of secondhand units. Given that most are sold “as is,” with their warranties close to expiring or already lapsed, and the necessary post-purchase repairs and utility upgrades (or new utility installations), the overall purchase costs of a secondhand mobile office unit may be closer to those of a new unit fully protected with a manufacturer’s warranty. So consider that you may have to upgrade your unit’s systems, repaint it and/or make necessary repairs to it – i.e., get it into move-in condition – before you can hope to resell it at a better price, or at all. This added revamp expense, of course, could yield even less of a return on the resale.


But, rather than turning your outmoded mobile office into a shelter for the homeless or fodder for the trash compactor, reselling it is wisest, if only to recoup a fraction of the money you invested in it, while doing your part for the environment by recycling something.