Mobile Homes

4 Unexpected Things I’ve Learned From Buying My First Mobile Home Park

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management, Mobile Homes, Real Estate News & Commentary, Landlording & Rental Properties, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Marketing
224 Articles Written

In the past month, I jumped into commercial real estate investing. I am now the proud co-owner of a 100+ lot mobile home community. The journey to this point of my career has been a fun, profitable, and challenging one, for sure. Some things I have planned for, while other surprises are counterintuitive and have completely caught me by surprise.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

Below is a list of 4 positive, unexpected things I recently learned while owning my first mobile home park.

4 Unexpected Things I’ve Learned From Buying My First Mobile Home Park

Commercial real estate investors can be flaky, too.

Owners, sellers, and investors of residential real estate can be greedy and ignorant, and they can mismanage and neglect their properties. So it goes without saying that commercial real estate owners, sellers and investors can be the same way. For my entire residential real estate investing career, I have incorrectly assumed and acted as if commercial real estate investors belong on a pedestal, that commercial investors are almighty and all-knowing.

I was blown away to discover that owners of commercial real estate properties are people too, with many of the same flaws and faults as the rest of us. Over the past 10 months, I have called on hundreds of commercial property owners and sellers. While some owners have all their facts and finances in order, there are many owners/sellers that are confused, unsophisticated, vulnerable and motivated to ditch their unwanted and problem-filled commercial properties. Oftentimes the reason for the property being mismanaged is due directly to the owner’s neglect, ignorance or incompetence.

Related: 4 Widely Believed Mobile Homes Myths (& Other Common Fallacies)

Park residents will not mind volunteering.

Soon after purchasing the mobile home community, I set out to make sure I knew who every resident was and that they knew me. In this mobile home park, there has been a lack of authority and lack of community togetherness for as long as I am aware. My goal over the coming year is to unite all park residents to help improve the community together and increase the standard of living.

Within the first two weeks, we had our park’s first resident community meeting. During this meeting residents got to know one another and socialized in a safe environment. More importantly, we discussed working together to improve the community, add new rules, fix what was broken, improve safety, and clean up the park for all residents to enjoy. Towards the end of the meeting, I was approached by a few residents asking if they could volunteer to help clean up the common areas and start a nighttime neighborhood community watch program.

The outpouring of help so far has been unreal. Many of these residents have just been waiting for an opportunity like this to shine and start improving their neighborhood.

Seller held financing is a common concession.

Mobile home park financing is on the tougher side to obtain. Mobile home park sellers understand the fact that for a reasonable price and quick sale, some degree of seller held financing may be asked for. Unlike other forms of real estate investing where owner financing and seller carry-backs are a rare luxury, mobile home parks may often include some form of seller held note structuring for a balance of the seller's equity.

Past related experience can become invaluable.

Over the past decade, I’ve spent most of my time investing in individual mobile homes inside pre-existing mobile home parks and individual mobile homes attached to private land. During this time I have helped parks by purchasing and fixing their used homes, adding used mobile homes to their empty lots, and buying and selling more mobile homes than I can remember. All this time I was unknowingly developing invaluable experience that would become crucial while owning my first mobile home community.

Related: 5 Creative, Profitable Ways to Increase a Mobile Home’s Value

In the short time owning this park we have begun adding clean, inexpensive, and nice used mobile homes to my vacant lots, while at the same time cleaning and repairing existing vacant homes currently on the property. Foot traffic and potential buyers coming through the park have also increased dramatically as a direct reflection of our efforts. There is still much to do; however, many of the same things I have been doing for years, I am continuing to do in my own mobile home park.

While there is so much more to know, investing in complete mobile home parks versus investing in the individual mobile homes, I would be much more confused, scared, and inadequate if I did not have such extensive experience dealing with individual mobile homes, mobile home buyers, and mobile home sellers.

In conclusion this business is not magic; no real estate investing niche is. Real estate investments take hard work, discipline, a clear executable plan, and the willingness to follow through daily to the end. So far I am very happy that all my surprises are positive and in my favor.

Investors: Have you made the jump into commercial investing? What did you learn from the experience?

Leave your comments and tips below!

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a four-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to...
Read more
    La Nae Duchesneau Real Estate Investor from Sarasota, Florida
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article. I have thought of buying a mobile home park. Just not sure I have the money to do it since financing is such a problem. Also, it seems you would have to get into hiring a full time employee to man the office and I have never dealt with that before. I know in life you always want to grow and experience new things, to do otherwise is to stagnate and get bored (for me anyway). I think I would have to sell some of my existing properties to upgrade to a park, and then I wonder if it is worth the additional stress since you would have so many more properties to handle. I make a comfortable living now and I am happy but sometimes I ask myself what is next. You will have to let us know how you like owning a park with the additional work and stress. Good Luck!
    Lincoln Lewis Investor from Boise, Idaho
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article John, thank you
    Tristan Cortez Rental Property Investor from San Antonio, TX
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article John, it made me want to get a Mobile home park even more now!!
    Andrew Cordle from Alpharetta, Georgia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Helpful advice!
    Timothy Friars
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I don’t know if I’d be able to make that jump and buy a mobile home park. That has always seemed intimidating to me. Been thinking about it lately, though. This article has definitely given me a few things to mull over.
    Stephen Moore Real Estate Investor from Lake Charles, Louisiana
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Congratulations on the park purchase John! What’s the #s on the deal if u don’t mind mentioning it? Also has owning the park taken away from your normal biz at all?
    Robert Blanchard from Littleton, Colorado
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for posting this blog. Did you contact the Owner directly or did you use a Broker to find this Park? You stated that some spaces were empty. Have you ever bought a MH from Greentree or Conseco? My father used to buy from them. They used to have a section on the back page of the list, that had the damaged or poor condition MH’s. Some had “Make offer” as a price, but others were priced pretty low to get them off of the books. Hope to see some updates and pics of your park in the Success Story section of this site.
    Amy Colin Flipper/Rehabber from Edmonton, Alberta
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Would you purchase a park that didn’t own any homes and only rented out lots or one that owns their homes outright? And why? Thanks!!
    Kylie Dotts
    Replied over 3 years ago
    It’s interesting how you said that there may be a need of seller held financing necessary when getting involved with mobile homes. That seems like a small price to ask considering that you could make big money on something like mobile home rentals because of the price to buy one. Not to mention the value of having a home that you could move with you if you decided that it was worth taking to your new location.
    Harper Campbell
    Replied about 3 years ago
    My husband and I are considering getting a mobile home that there are somethings that we need to consider when it comes to getting our first one. It’s good to know that when it comes to financing for one that sellers understand reasonable pricing and a quick sale so we will be able to get the one we want for the right price. This is something that we will have to remember as we begin our search, and will hopefully be able to get the exact one that will work for us.