Setting up a tiny house community like a mobile home park?

26 Replies

Just curious to see if anyone has started a tiny house community.  I am thinking about developing one and was going to use the mobile home park concept as a model.  I've done some preliminary research and looked at what other communities have done and there are many ways this could be approached.  Just wondering if anyone out there has done it and would mind connecting?  Thank you in advance!!  

Terrific idea @Lisa Thoele ! I am interested to see any responses around this concept. I think you could take it a step further than Mobile Home style parks, and design it to feel more like an actual neighborhood, just smaller! Good luck to you on this, and I am anxious to see where it goes.

In my opinion the value of a mobile home park for an investor is the high monthly amount you can charge residents for using the land/utilities.  This is something that a buyer/tenant can afford in their monthly payment due to the low cost of a trailer ($40k) seems pretty typical out here for a double wide of roughly 1600 square feet.  

I would be curious to see what a more expensive and more permanent home does for the ability to lease that land back to occupants.

Would you be building the tiny homes and selling them or keeping them as a rental?

@Tim West Yes - exactly my vision would be a different feel - community gardens, laundry facility, perhaps a guest suite that they could rent for overnight guests. @Daniel Kurkowski I was thinking they would be more of a permanent tiny home in the vein of a mobile home - not the tiny homes you pull around behind your truck. I think ultimately tenants would own the home and I would collect space rent much like a mobile home park model. perhsps starting out I would own a few homes. I know of a similar concept here in Oregon where they do space leases for a year. it could go a lot of directions was just wondering if there was anyone doing this who is on BP. The little town I live in is mobile home friendly which is unique for the Portland area. I am close enough to Portland that I think a more sustainable way of living - smaller footprint, minimalist, would appeal to a certain segment of the population if it was done right. Thanks for the comments - it makes me think I should continue to run with this. Sometimes ideas in isolation = crazy.
@Daniel Kurkowski also Daniel around here the average cost for a new mobile home is closer to $140k so a tiny house is an even more affordable option. Used remodeled versions in parks go for $70-80k. you can buy a fixer upper one in a park for $30-40k.

Sounds like a great idea Lisa! I have always wanted to own a mobile home park in Lincoln city or cannon beach. 

This has been discussed here in the forums a few times before. You may be able to search and find the discussions. The big challenge is the zoning and utilities. Virtually all cities will prohibit this type of thing. Unless you get something zoned for a mobile home park— I suppose you might be able to find a mobile home park in a gentrifying area and turn into a tiny home park? It’s funny, because they would be basically the same thing, only we tend to think of mobile home parks as serving lower class constituencies, and tend to think of tiny homes as an upper-class innovation. My guess is the demand for a tiny home park would be in a hip, urban area, but land in that type of place would be really expensive already and most likely difficult to buy due to competition from investors and developers. And any place with cheap land that was zoned for that kind of thing would probably be better off with a standard mobile home park.

Oh, you can also look up Ross Chapin, architect, who has a large volume of material on pocket neighborhoods, which are made up of small homes from 500 to 1500 ft.². I believe he’s based in the Seattle area.

I think this is a creative idea with a lot of potential, though also with some unique issues as mentioned above.  However, my only concern is that tiny homes could be more of a trend and you might not be able to keep the homes full in 10-15 years...Just a thought.  I like your idea, though!  Great creativity!  Good luck with whatever you decide!

The reason this will not work and why no new mobile home communities are being developed is due to zoning and the very high cost of development. Based on the costs of infrastructure, water, sewer, electric, roads etc. a investor will be deep into debt for a long time before lot rent will even come close to covering debt servicing. 

Boutique communities like this are best left to the dreamers with very deep pockets.

Not a practical idea. If you want to make money instead of targeting a tiny flakey market that is high risk invest instead in a Mobile Home Community. 

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

The reason this will not work and why no new mobile home communities are being developed is due to zoning and the very high cost of development. Based on the costs of infrastructure, water, sewer, electric, roads etc. a investor will be deep into debt for a long time before lot rent will even come close to covering debt servicing. 

Boutique communities like this are best left to the dreamers with very deep pockets.

Not a practical idea. If you want to make money instead of targeting a tiny flakey market that is high risk invest instead in a Mobile Home Community. 

 Really?

Such a blanket statement that no new mobile home parks are being developed?

My friends company specializes in developing mobile home parks

Then I will modify my statement.

It is rare that municipalities permit new mobile home communities and financially, unless you have extremely deep pockets, buying a existing community with cash flow is preferred since a new community with no homes and no tenants will take many years to come close to even breaking even from lot rents.  

Are new communities being built, sure, is it a good investment for a individual to attempt to build a new community...absolutely not.

Numbers do not lie.

Numbers don’t make sense where?

I really don’t think you know the market in the US especially out west in rual areas

And states in the north east

New mobile home parks going up all the Time with good returns 

The land in Canada for the most part is MUCH more valuable and so less likely that investors would want to use land for a mobile home park a d less likely that municipalities would allow them

When a nothing 20 year old house on 1/4 acre lot is going for a million dollars in Canad and 3 hours south in the US a 20 acre similar house sells for less than 200k you get the idea 

@Sarah Lorenz thank you! I will check him out! I am in an area that is lacking in affordable housing, younger folks have been pushed out of Portland because of rising prices and it appears our city is pretty mobile home friendly so we'll see if it goes anywhere!
@Michael Plante it's good to hear your friend is successful - I feel like it's all about the numbers - I think I have identified a piece of property about 1.25 acres for under $300k. I still need to meet with the county re zoning and do some more research on development costs but it's dreamers who make things happen right???
@Jody Schnurrenberger I agree Jody - our area is kind of up and coming wine country so I think just owning the land would be a long term play - I could always develop it into a storage facility, apartments or duplexes or switch the tiny homes to airbnbs...the area is a little funky and right now I think the county could potentially approve a couple different ki ds of uses - or maybe not! Really good thought to have an exit strategy.

If it has a shot of working anywhere, it's probably the greater Portland area. Way more interest in tiny houses than most places in the country. Like others have said, the trickiest part is dealing with zoning and various regulations.

There's at least one Tiny House development in Portland that does pretty well as STR's. Lets you take advantage of the novelty factor for guests without long-term tenants getting stir crazy.

I know a few people that are very active in the Tiny House space (movement? scene? whatever...) in Portland and would probably know all the ins and outs of what it would take to be successful at it, and could at least point you in the right direction. PM me if you want me to put you in touch with them.

Before you start dreaming get yourself some MHC education first.

http://forum.mobilehomeuniversity.com/

If you purchase a lot for 300K and invest another 100K in infrastructure how many homes do you need to have, how much is lot rent, to cover your debt repayment, expenses and make a profit. How many homes will be permitted on 1.25 acres. How long will you have to carry the debt before you have enough homes paying lot rent to cover a 400K loan.

i visited an rv park in the destin area that was in process of converting rv sites (in an existing rv park)to permanent park model rv's. Might have been called"oak landing" and if memory serves the homes were around 400 sf and were super cute, cottage like, porches, minisplit ac's, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, little loft etc. There were maybe 3 diff models all painted diff colors and it presented really nicely as a tiny house community. This park was selling the homes and charging lot rent. Point being, an rv park is set up with utilities and such much closer together than mob home park. Also look on "hip camp" for space listings for tiny house communities.

@Will G. that would be an interesting strategy to explore - thank you - I will look that up!

Park model homes tend to be a lot less expensive than mobile homes in my experience, prob due to set up costs. Also check on prefab cabins, very similar set up and can be very aesthetically pleasing.

BTW it was live oak landing in freeport fl that had the little park model homes

  

@Lisa Thoele You might look into the market by talking to other tiny house people and or meet ups to see if there is a demand for tiny houses spaces that far out of the core areas. 

It sounds like you are more interested in a really nice mobil home park with new/nice homes. That work and people are doing that and are having success. 

I've been thinking along these lines myself.

I think there is a following for people who want to live with less stuff and not have a huge mortgage/rent to tie them down. More freedom to live.

More people seem to crave community living w/ like minded people. Having big homes that require long hours and long commutes do not leave you less time to know your neighbors or community.

Check out these documentaries on Netflix:
- Small is beautiful
- Minimalism

Another documentary on Netflix with similar themes: “Happy.” It talks about cohousing or pocket neighborhood type communities in Denmark, where people are significantly happier.

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