Mobile Homes

The Top 5 Reasons Investors Are Loved & Hated Within Mobile Home Communities

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management, Mobile Homes, Real Estate News & Commentary, Landlording & Rental Properties, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Marketing
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It’s sometimes difficult for me to believe that I still get the question, “Why would mobile home park owners and management want to work with investors buying and reselling individual homes inside their communities?” Being in this industry for over a decade, the value mobile home investors provide to parks and the community at large is obvious. However, to less inexperienced investors, this question is completely reasonable and rational.

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Let us now take a perfectly logical and rational approach as to why many mobile home parks wish to work with and experience symbiotic relationships with quality local mobile home investors.

Note: Throughout this article, I will use the terms “park owners” and “park managers” interchangeably. While these two positions are very different and are typically performed by different people, the goals of both parties are to increase park revenue, improve park safety, and generally increase the morale and curb appeal of the community.

Please see the short list below of some of the common reasons mobile home park owners and managers love and hate working with local investors.

Why We’re Hated

We Provide Competition

One of the most obvious reasons a novice real estate investor may believe most mobile home communities will not want to work with a local investor is because this community fears extra competition buying and selling mobile homes in the park. This belief stems from the idea that most mobile home owners and park managers wish to scavenge every home within their park that is being sold “for sale by owner” for themselves.

Usually, the opposite is in fact true: Most mobile home communities very rarely purchase a majority of the mobile homes for sale in their park. Many mobile home communities focus the majority of their income on obtaining long-term lot rent from mobile home owner-occupants. With a clearer understanding that many mobile home communities are simply interested in lot rent and not reselling mobile homes, a novice mobile home investor may have the confidence to approach parks for a win-win business relationship.

Note: While I paint a rosy picture above that describes many mobile home communities not actively gobbling up and purchasing mobile homes within their community to then resell, this absolutely does happen and is currently happening around the country. But for every one park that will think of you as competition, there are many others that will happily be open to a win-win relationship with you.

mobile-home-seller

Related: 5 Things You Likely Don’t Know About Mobile Home Electronic Liens & Titles

We Burn Bridges

Unless you have been investing in manufactured homes inside parks for some time, you may not have thought of the simple fact that many mobile home park managers are merely human and therefore are prone to human nature and emotional reactions.

Let’s do some role-playing: Let’s pretend we are the park managers of a beautiful mobile home community. As the park manager, you have to listen to excuses and problems throughout the day. Along comes a mobile home investor who promises to follow all the rules, and you fast become business friends. However, instead of being an ideal resident, this investor fails to pay you lot rent, ignores your phone calls, and eventually sells to a buyer who immediately pulls the home out of the park, thereby reducing the total park revenue. Moving forward, you are naturally going to have reservations about working with this investor and almost any future investors down the road. It is then quite easy to understand why some park managers may have a biased and untrue perception of investors even before they have worked with them.

When you inevitably find yourself talking to a mobile home park manager who is been taken advantage of by a past investor, speak up and make sure this manager knows of your true intentions and desire to have a long-term win-win relationship with this community. Like any relationship, sometimes these take time and have to crawl before they walk and run. Remember that our job as a successful mobile home investor is to make the park manager’s life easier and increase revenue and curb appeal within the park.

Why We’re Loved

We Increase Revenue

As an active mobile home investor, you will be contributing thousands of dollars yearly to local mobile home parks you invest within. This is guaranteed money the park will receive from lot rent that an investor (you) will gladly pay whether you are receiving income from the mobile home or not. Whether you own 10 homes within a community or only one, you will be contributing to this community’s success.

Keep in mind that many mobile home communities you visit may have a pad vacancy where a mobile home can be set up and the pad/lot rented. In communities with favorable move-in incentives, you may wish to fill many vacant pads/lots in order to increase your cash-flow as well as the park’s monthly revenue.

Note: Throughout this article, we use the terms mobile home “pad” and “lot” to describe the small parcel of land a resident rents monthly at a mobile home community.

We Provide Increased Foot Traffic

As an active mobile home investor, you advertise and market every mobile home you have for sale inside of a park or attached to private land. When advertising mobile homes for sales in parks, we undoubtedly send cars into the park and foot traffic throughout the park and management office. These extra active buyers can be very beneficial for parks when there are homes “for sale by the park.” Keep in mind that not every buyer is suited for your mobile home property; it is perfectly acceptable and normal for some buyers to purchase newer or different homes from the community if they see fit.

Pro Tip: Make sure to ask every potential buyer or renter who walks though your home, “What did you like and not like about this home?”

mobile-home-managers

We Make the Manager’s Life Easier

Park managers are the gatekeepers of many mobile home communities. This one bullet-point epitomizes the mindset a successful mobile home investor may wish to instill in his or her own business.

Let’s revisit our role-playing exercise from above where we pretended to be a park manager: Would you knowingly choose to work one-on-one with a mean, thuggish, or selfish investor? Or would you rather work with an investor who is easy to get along with, agreeable, and likable? The obvious answer is that everyone chooses to work with people based on their own preferences, and if they feel this person is going to make their own life easier, they will undoubtedly choose that individual.

Note: This article is written on the assumption that you, the person reading these words, is a quality investor willing to follow the rules, keep the home where it is, and resell to good, quality buyers. If you already know that you are planning to take advantage of someone or you do not truly care about the park’s well-being, you may not be best suited for a career with mobile home investing inside pre-existing parks.

Related: How to Focus on Your Next Big “One Thing” for Mobile Home Investing Success

In conclusion, it is important to look at mobile home parks logically, as they are owned and operated by human beings striving for certain targets and specific goals. If you can align yourself with these goals, you will likely not meet any opposition from mobile park communities. However, if a mobile home community sees you as a threat or competition, they will choose not to work with you based on these reasons. It is important to understand that other communities are operated by different people who may likely be very willing to work with you or simply allow you to purchase and resell mobile homes within their community. Stay active and remain focused on helping everyone you meet.

Mobile investors: Anything you’d add to this list?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

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.

    Randy Phillips
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I’m impressed that John Fedro is doing these mobile homes. I have come across a bunch of them. Unfortunately even though I can pick some of these up really cheap, the space rents are so high and with the repair costs and the credit and background checks from the parks I want to run in the other direction. I still keep an eye out for them especially if they are on a lot or land. I used to live in one, it was an older single wide and after I added carpet, wood stove and a big deck with canopy I was in Okie heaven. I’ve been wholesaling junk houses with some exceptional profits, and doing some mobiles appeals to me. I will target some of my marketing in that direction. Rando
    Erich Schmitt Flipper/Rehabber from Tacoma, WA
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hi Randy, What part of the country are you in? What are the lot rents there? I’m in Tacoma, avg lot rents here are $525/mo and ~650/mo in Auburn. Higher than the rest of the country I reckon!
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Erich — I would LOVE to find a space rent at $650 here in San Diego! $650 is a ghetto, $1,000+ for a middle-of-the-road all-ages park is more normal (some Senior parks are cheaper, though nicer ones are $1,200+). Overall, CA local governments tend to be pretty hostile to Manf homes (reduces the tax base, don’t you know). Santee (part of San Diego) became one of the few rent-restricted areas for mobile home parks. The city fathers quite rightly reasoned that the home owners were basically captive, and needed protection from abusive rent increases. Folks were sinking their life savings into purchasing a home, only to have their space rent doubled on the whim of the park manager. There are very few parks, and virtually no available spaces open in San Diego, so it wasn’t as if they could move their homes.
    Erich Schmitt Flipper/Rehabber from Tacoma, WA
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Wow, crazy! I guess it’s all relative! I’ve heard of other parts of the country with lot rents $300-$400. @John Fedro can probably say more details on that. I guess it all comes down to knowing the local market, and what average and median prices for equivalent rents are. If you can flip/sell on payments and someone is paying under that, then it might be possible?
    Mike Blackwood Investor from Greenwood, South Carolina
    Replied over 1 year ago
    In South Carolina I can find lot rents for $170 per month but can’t find used single wide mobile homes for sale. Can anyone help me?
    John Fedro Investor from Austin, Texas
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Hi Mike, Thank you for reaching out and connecting. Depending on your area of South Carolina you are likely surrounded by dozens and dozens of mobile home parks. I encourage you to go through most of these communities, as far as a 30 or 40-mile radius from your home area. I also encourage you to check online and, in the newspaper, to see what is for sale in your price range. While driving through local parks also be aware of local real estate agents you may be able to call to get more information from. Pick up small newspapers in the smaller towns to find out what is for sale as well. In short there is not one way to search for mobile homes, but rather I would encourage you to search high and low for all sellers in and around your local area. I hope this helps and starts to point you in the right direction. All the best. Talk soon, John