First Real Estate Deal Emotions: Part 2 of 2

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Over the past 6 weeks I have been helping a new investor who has recently jumped head first into real estate investing and purchased her first property without testing her local resale market. Soon after purchasing this home, our story’s newbie investor “Karen” admits she might have bit off more than she could chew and was getting worried she had dug her own financial grave. This is when Karen contacted me.

In Part 1 of First Real Estate Deal Emotions: Part 1 of 2  I confessed that immediately after negotiating and purchasing my first mobile home in a park for less than $500 out of pocket, I went home, sat down, and balled my eyes out in shame and fear of what I “felt” I just did. I felt as though I figuratively “beat” my seller lower and lower in price and felt I basically stole her most valuable possession for peanuts.

As it turns out I purchased the home in a great position. If I had not purchased my seller’s home and every other mobile home since then so conservatively, I likely would not be here today, and certainly would not be in a position to help anyone else out of their mobile home sorrows.

Back to Karen’s deal…

The home was a 1981 2/2 mobile home in a “Senior’s Only” mobile home park–this means that the home can only be resold to a senior citizen as the park does not allow anyone under 55 years old to live there. Karen had roughly $1,500 to her name when she started and thought she did well when she purchased the single-wide from the park for only $700. If she was able to sell this one fast, the park manager promised there would be more deals just like this one to come! At this time Karen was elated, excited, and handed over almost half of her life savings to invest in this home.

Karen’s excitement quickly turned to frustration and buyer’s remorse when she began advertising for buyers.

The original goal was a fast “flip” to a senior “cash” buyer, who would easily see the value in this older, used, blemish-filled, inexpensive 2/2 mobile home. The truth is, Seniors looking for a used mobile home in her town are mainly looking for mobile homes that do not need repairs, are ten years old or newer, and are located within the East side of town. Karen’s new home met none of these conditions.

After 2.5 weeks since Karen purchased her first investment, she was running multiple newspaper and online advertisements, visiting the home daily to clear and clean it, and frantically searching for additional real estate guidance to help her sell this unwanted home before the next monthly lot rent payment of $405 was due — which was 10 days away. The next $405 monthly lot rent fee, the $700 Karen paid for the entire home and the marketing expenses will have soon demolished her entire life savings.

What was Karen to do?
This story has a good ending but before I tell you that, here is the lesson learned. Your local mobile home market is drastically different from your local traditional housing market. This article is not about Karen’s purchase being wrong — simply hasty and without due diligence.

How could purchasing a semi-clean mobile home for $700 be a bad deal?
Without any prior mobile home investing experience Karen thought she could resell the property to a buyer for an easy profit. Karen over-estimated the demand for senior mobile home buyers in her local market.

How to prevent this from happening to you?
Research your local mobile home market and make certain there is a demand for the exact mobile home you plan to purchase and resell. Karen should have tested the demand for senior buyers on the West-side of town looking to buy (with all cash or via payments) a 1981 2/2 single-wide needing light cosmetic repairs. If this research was done, Karen would have found that $700 was still too risky to pay or perhaps Karen could have negotiated a few months free lot rent in order to have ample time to repair, market, and sell the home without distress of additional holding costs.

So what was the outcome for Karen?
Karen could not successfully locate a senior citizen “cash” buyer to purchase the home for even $1,000 in time. Why? Senior buyers in her area looking to purchase a used mobile home needing lite-repairs on the West-side of town are very few and far between. Even Senior buyers looking to make payments for their next mobile home are sparse. For a first transaction Karen really picked a home that is in an unpopular location and park.

Karen actually ended up selling the home with seller financing for a profit greater than that if she would have sold the home for all cash.

Now, let us take Karen’s first deal example and apply it to my first deal emotions story. The deal Karen purchased was much lower in price than mine, but I was able to sell my property overnight and Karen’s home sat on the market for weeks before any buyers were interested. There is no cookie-cutter approach to purchasing mobile homes but the one constant is that based on your financial situation you must make smart buying decisions and purchasing offers based on your local economy and real-world data.

Moral: Have a clear and realistic profit goal, repair cost list, marketing and holding cost figures in mind for every home before you make any offers to purchase. To find these numbers it is critical to perform market research before you make any purchase offers.

Invest in your future daily,
John Fedro

About Author

John Fedro

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a 4-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to his cash-flowing portfolio. Since these early years, John has gone on to help 150+ sellers and buyers sell their unwanted mobile homes and obtain a safe and affordable manufactured home of their own. Years later, John keeps to what has been successful—buying, fixing, renting, and reselling affordable housing known as mobile homes. John shares his stories, experiences, lessons, and some of the stories of other successful mobile home investors he helps on his blog and YouTube channeland has written over 300 articles concerning mobile homes and mobile home investing for the BiggerPockets Blog. He has also been a featured podcast guest here and on other prominent real estate podcasts, authored a highly-rated book aimed at increasing the happiness/satisfaction of average real estate investors, and spoken to national and international audiences concerning the opportunities and practicality of successfully investing in mobile homes.


  1. Brandon Turner

    John, another rockstar post!

    I equate buying property without doing one’s due diligence to driving across the country without a map. You can get there, but it might take a heck of a long time with a lot of dead ends. A good plan is key, and knowing the route is the biggest part of that plan.

    Thanks sir!

  2. I’m confused. She bought it for $700. That combined with one month ($405) of rent would eat up her entire life’s savings? So, if Karen has only $1105 in savings, she is NOT ready for real estate investing. She needs cash reserves, or the next deal may do her in.

    • John Fedro

      Haha! I don’t think anyone disagrees with you there Greg. This is the reason Karen was frantically trying to resell the home for anything before the next lot rent came due. Luckily her story did work out. Thanks for commenting and good advice.


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