3 Common (and Costly) Mistakes Mobile Home Investors Make

by | BiggerPockets.com

Welcome back,

It almost never fails that any mobile home community you go to will request that you “fill out an application prior to [you]purchasing an individual mobile home inside our park.” Every park will have its own approval process, and every park will require its own criteria needed before any potential resident buys or rents a home inside the park’s walls.

If we take the side of the park manager and park owner, it is very wise and prudent to know exactly who is moving into the park. Is this potential buyer a murderer? A pedophile? An eviction prone tenant? Or just a regular bill-paying, credit conscious, hard working home buyer?

Below are 3 common mistakes that mobile home investors and home buyers make too often.

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3 Mistakes Mobile Home Investors Make

1. Lying

You will be a stranger to most park managers when you first meet them. If you begin your relationship with any type of lie, you risk ruining the entire relationship forever. Remember that park managers will oftentimes run your background, credit, eviction status, job history, etc. before approving or denying you to be in the park.

Do not lie! You will be caught.

Instead, be honest and upfront about your past. If you committed an offense or violent crime, you may have to understand most parks will simply not want to even try to work with you based on these charges along. For most of us, however, a less-than-perfect credit score or a past bankruptcy is not a death sentence that should keep us from mobile home investing in parks.

When you are proactive about telling a park manager about your past goods and bads, there can often be ways to work around these issues. Perhaps a co-signer with better credit can be on the lease in addition to you, or perhaps you can make a double or triple deposit to put the park manager’s mind at ease should you default.

Investor Tip: Try not to explain for more than 10 seconds as to why your poor credit is the way it is. Park managers have heard emotional story after emotional story from potential applicants all week. Instead, embrace your past and sprint forward.

Some parks will understand you are an investor and therefore will not be living in the manufactured home yourself, but rather will be simply reselling it. In a small minority of parks, you may only need to provide your business card in order to be approved.

Most parks, however, will want a basic understanding of your credit, criminal, eviction and employment history. Be aware that occasionally some parks will have their “approval bar” set way too high. Make sure to know what each park requires concerning background and beacon-scores of you and your buyers. If the park is too strict, you may want to reconsider investing inside this park.

Related article: Three types of mobile home parks and how each tend to deal with investors

Bonus Investor Tip: Know your own credit score. Keep up-to-date on your credit with free online reports yearly.

2. Not Getting Approved before Buying

It never fails that I hear monthly about a new and unaware mobile home investor or buyer who did not know to get approved at the park office prior to purchasing the mobile home from the seller.

Next, the investor went to the park office to say “Hi,” and now there is an unexpected problem. This “unexpected problem” often comes up due to a few reasons:

  • The person you just purchased the mobile home from owed back lot/pad rent and late fees.
  • The person you just purchased the mobile home from and the actual mobile home are now being evicted by the park.
  • The park has rules that state any new homeowner has to install new decks, siding, and a shed within 90 days.
  • If you plan to move the home, you must give the park 60 days notice. This is only a problem if you plan to remove the home from the park.
  • The park does not accept minors living in any of the homes, and this is unrealistic for many of your buyers.

All of these have been experiences from others within the past few months alone. Whenever I hear this, I cringe because it most likely means a seller lied or misrepresented their situation in order to sell their home for more than it’s worth.

With regards to past-due payments, most parks require the new owner (you) to be responsible for paying the seller’s past due amount as soon as possible.

Related article: Who pays for past due lot rent?

3. Not Maximizing Your Connection

There are more reasons to seeing a park manager prior to closing than just saving money, making more profit, showing respect, following protocol and knowing what you are truly buying before you purchase.

When a park manager knows that you know the rules and understand how to follow directions, it can really help the relationship start off on the right foot. Think of a park manager as a friend you haven’t met yet.

While some park managers are firm and others are goofy, it is your goal to leave the park manager’s office knowing a few things:

  • Whether you have the park manager’s permission to invest within their park.
  • That you conveyed to the park manager your plan and how you intend to help their community.
  • That you let him or her know types of properties you are looking for.
  • Which homes are for sale by the park and which homes are for sale by owner-occupants within the park.
  • Park rules and applicant screening criteria.
  • That you learned other relevant park information and asked rapport building questions.

Investor tip: First impressions are so important when it comes to meeting local park managers face to face. Keep in mind many community managers may live in the park as well as manage it. These park managers should like and trust you from the beginning. Strive to be known as the person who actually does what they say they are going to do.

Be polite. Remember that working with park managers is infinitely easier than working against a park manager. If you simply take a humble attitude and remember to first speak with every park manager prior to purchasing any single mobile home in a park, you will avoid many of the unforeseen problems above.

Are you considering mobile home investing? Have you built relationships with park managers in the past?

Please do not hesitate to leave your questions and comments below!

About Author

John Fedro

John Fedro has been investing in manufactured housing since 2002. John now spends his time continuing to build his cash-flow business in multiple states while helping others enjoy the same freedom he has achieved. Find John here.


  1. Great advice, John!
    It’s scary at first to approach the managers, but all of them that I’ve talked to have been really helpful and supportive.
    The one park I’m actually working in right now (I have 4 travel trailers there, though the park is a combination of a mobile home/RV park) is great. I’m helping her fill the park and she helps me by telling people about my rentals.

  2. I find it amazing that your number 1 mistake is lying.

    At the same time, you have recommended running “test ads” to obtain the local market data. The test ads are total lies, a scam and illegal.

    Isn’t this hypocritical?

    • Bill Neves

      I wonder what people do for work when I see these kinds of comments.

      I run my ads for a while after the home has sold. That way I can tell people it’s sold, make a connection and ask what they are looking for. Then find them one. Is that hypocritical or just using my tools fully?

      Does anyone think Ford, Chevy, Verizon, Sprint, (insert whatever company you want) REALLY have the deal of the Century? Every weekend? Really? Hypocritical?

      Test ads are like goal setting. Any business person who has read ‘Think and Grow Rich’ is a liar. You visualize and believe what you want, not where you’re at now. Hypocritical or speaking it into existence?

      Just sayin’!

  3. Very informative article- and just in time for me, thank you John!
    So my only concern is I found a huge trailer park while I was driving around my neighborhood that I never noticed before. There are 700+ units there. I drove around within the trailer park and noticed 2 trailers that were for sale- now keep in mind these are really nice trailers I noticed!
    So maybe a couple days later I walked into the Park manager office to find out what rules they have about buying and renting out – they said no rent/lease. I asked can I buy then and fix up and sell – they said yes provided there is an inspection done, etc… And the PM also stated the negotiations are strictly with the owner. I said okay, but the PM does offer to sell provided the owner request this service (so I can possibly use the PM service to help me re-sale the trailer). Now my question is how can I go to find out about other trailers within the community past SALE prices? It seems trailers homes are difficult to find as far as historical SALE data? I want to establish some type of starting point before the negotiations -or- should I go about this another way? Thanks in advance —

  4. Robert Ruiz

    Great article John
    This month i bought a trailer in a park that was known for not allowing rentals in the park. The park owner/manager did not allow because she had gotten burned so many times by people who didn’t pay rent. I called her to ask if i could rent (rent to own) the trailer i had under contract in her park. She immediately said “NO!!” i knew i had one sentence and it better be a good one. i offered to pay rent one year in advance on the trailer lot. She paused for what seemed like 30 minutes and said ok. I then passed the $1,800 ($150 a month) lot rent on to my new lessee who was renting to own the trailer from me and their last year of their contract was to be rent free every month because they had paid a year in advance on their first year.
    Win Win and if i ever find another deal in that park she may be happy to get my call!!

  5. Amber Matthews on

    I need advice for a friend of mine. She was approved to the trailer court and paid 3,100$ for her trailer and had to pay the previous owners 500$ back rent. But now the landlord is saying he wants 2,500$ deposit to prove that she and her husband will be able to afford the repairs or else they have to move the trailer or the landlord offered to buy it from them for 800$. But they can’t afford that! Am I wrong in feeling like this is unfair or fishy somehow? We live in Montana.

  6. John could use your help and insight on an issue that just came up today, and time is of the importance. I bought and was approved by the mobile park back in January. When I bought did the application I spoke with the then on sight manager and explained I was an Investor and that I would be renting it out, the then manager told me that would be fine. I asked them if I needed to have my tenants do the application, that same manager said no they do not since the home is in my name. Just before my Tenants moved in, a new manager came in to replace the other, explained and asked all the same questions and got the same answers, so I didn’t have the tenants do the application. Now fast forward to OCT 2017 I receive a msg from the main office (the company itself) stating I was in violation of agreement as my tenants haven’t done an application and they got a report that they had a Pit Bull (is a restricted breed in the park, but is also tenants Service Dog). So after much talking with now the 3rd manager since purchasing and them going back and fourth with main office, I had my tenants do an application. Today I received msg that both are receiving notice they have 5 days to vacate because their application was denied, for what reasons I don’t know yet, but can only assume that its because the male tenant has a record. Now I don’t know what their criteria is, as they don’t make it public before doing the Application, but my biggest grip is that I asked prior to purchase if I needed to have my Tenants do an application to both previous managers and they both said I did not. And during their 5+ months of occupancy they were both apart of the neighborhood watch, payed their rent on time, and perfect tenants. I feel the main office denied them based on issues that were not mine nor my tenants fault but of previous employees. Another part of this is I later found out that my tenants did do applications before (with the 2nd of the 3 managers), but when I went to verify the current manger looked and said there was none. The 3rd manger also said that the previous managers were not very organized and that a lot of paperwork was missing. Again I feel main office is taking the frustration and misconduct of previous employees out on me and my tenants. Is there anything I can do legally to help my Tenants that you know of?

    • John Fedro

      Hi Preston,

      Thank you for reaching out and connecting. I very much apologize about the delay and lateness in this response. I’m very curious what is happened since you posted this comment and question? I’m assuming that the park did get these tenants out of the community. It may have taken more than five days however the park does hold most of the cards and we always try to work with logical and fair mobile home communities. I have absolutely heard this “messy office” excuse before. I very much apologize to hear about your situation. With that said I hope that the home is protected and you are still the owner of it or have sold the home for a profit. This is happened to me a few times in the past for a variety of reasons however I was able to move my tenant-buyers into vacant properties I currently had. It luckily worked out however I could absolutely see situations where the tenant-buyers would be very upset and wanting to pursue legal action if possible. With that said a park will usually win in most cases. Additionally, if we argue with the park and when the manager will likely still be upset with us moving forward and make our lives difficult. I apologize again about the delay. Moving forward if you have any follow-up questions or concerns never hesitate to reach out to me personally via email anytime. All the best. Keep in touch.

      Talk soon, John

  7. I have a question my sister is 18 years old and she wants to buy a mobile home at the same trailer park our mom lives in but she’s a stay at home mom and her boyfriend is the only one working but she want to be the one getting approve, she will start working soon. My question is, is it really hard for 18 years old to get approve?

    • John Fedro

      Hi Brenda,

      Thank you for reaching out and connecting. With regards to the application process, this will definitely vary from park to park. Some parks are super strict and firm in their application criteria. Other parks are loose and understanding of personal situations. I would very much encourage you to talk with the manager directly and asked them if they think it is wise to put in an application. Some managers will be honest and truthful and others managers may seem like they couldn’t be bothered to help you. I hope this helps and answers your question. As always, if you ever have any follow-up questions or concerns never hesitate to write back any time. All the best.

      Talk soon, John

  8. Hi I’m thinking if purchasing a mobile home. If I do the mobile park obviously wants me to fill an approval application out. I have a misdemeanor on my record. Will my offense show and say what I did or will if just appear as a misdemeanor? Thank you

    • John Fedro

      Hi Rosi,

      Thank you for reaching out and connecting. You are right that the specific mobile home park you are looking at will most likely want some type of background check from you. My best advice is to be honest as parks great on honesty as well as what has happened. Some parks are very flexible and look at different people on a case-by-case basis. However some park managers may be a little bit router and not try to work with you. Mention this misdemeanor before turning in your application however I personally do not think this should be any sort of issue. If it was a violent crime or a felony I would be more concerned for you. With that said deafly talk to the park manager before proceeding forward. The park manager will welcome your honesty and proactiveness. I hope this helps and make sense. As always, if you have any follow-up questions or concerns never hesitate to reach out any time.

      Talk soon,

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