5 Tips for Working with Senior Mobile-Home Buyers and Sellers

by | BiggerPockets.com

As of 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are more than 47 million people above the age of 65 living in the United States. With a group of people this large, it is very difficult to make fair and accurate generalizations. In the United States, our senior citizen population is a melting pot of folks from all races, all incomes, all religions, and all walks of life. This means that there is an entire spectrum of seniors, from those who are rock-hardened criminals to modern-day Saints. When it comes to mobile homes, however, we investors often work with buyers looking for affordable housing—and possibly more modest accommodations.

Whether you are selling a mobile home to a senior buyer, renting it out, or even buying a mobile home from a senior citizen, there are important distinctions to remember. Senior sellers and buyers may be a bit different from sellers and buyers who are a bit younger and may be purchasing their first property. Please enlist the list below for help when dealing with senior mobile-home buyers, renters, and sellers.

1. Location

Senior citizens exist in all 50 states. When it comes to mobile-home parks, there are senior citizen communities throughout the entire country. These communities restrict the residents who are eligible to live inside the park to people over a specific age, whether it be 40 years old, 55 years old, 65 years old, etc. The age requirement is written into the rules and prospectus of the park.

Locally, be aware of the number of senior citizen only mobile home communities. Be aware of the mobile homes for sale in these communities and how many days they sat on the market prior to selling. Notice how the supply and demand changes at different times throughout the year. Because senior citizen mobile-home communities limit the age of buyers, it is crucial to have an accurate picture of supply and demand locally from senior buyers and sellers in your area.

Pro Tip

The term “snowbird” typically refers to a senior citizen who leaves the colder states and heads for warmer states seasonally. This typically means that this type of senior has multiple homes, or rents a vacation home or mobile home while they are in the warmer states.

Related: How to Invest in Real Estate When Your Tenants Are Retired Seniors

2. Mobile Homes

Senior citizens are not weird or confusing. They are mostly rational people just like yourself. Some senior citizens are looking for extremely lavish mobile homes, while others are looking for much more humble and affordable accommodations for their golden years. Almost all senior citizens want to live in a safe and convenient area.

  • Repairs: As a general rule of thumb, most senior citizens would rather move into a clean and already livable mobile home than a fixer-upper.
  • Age: As a general rule of thumb, most senior citizens would rather move into a newer and modern mobile home than an older unit.
  • Number of bedrooms: As a general rule of thumb, most senior citizens are perfectly happy with a 2 bedroom mobile home compared with a larger home.

3. Sellers

Show respect. Senior citizen mobile-home sellers typically do not want to be rushed, belittled, or  manipulated. Take extra time to listen to your seller’s situation and provide help where needed. Aim to be a consultant when dealing with these sellers to educate them and let them know their options. Before making any purchase offers, make sure you are 100 percent certain on a realistic exit strategy and your comparable sales data.

Pro Tip

Occasionally you may talk to people who are dealing with an age-related disease or illness. These diseases can cause forgetfulness, short tempers, and possible confusion. It is important to be open-minded, patient, and compassionate when dealing with these folks and their loved ones.

Related: 7 Ways to Invest in Mobile Homes With Less Than $25,000

4. Buyers

No two senior buyers are the same. Some seniors will have money, and some will not. Some will be able to make repairs, and some will not. Many seniors will know exactly what they are talking, about and some will not. Of course, some may try to take advantage of you, while some will not. Always perform complete due diligence on every potential buyer you spend time with.

Pro Tip

Some senior citizen buyers can be just as flaky and problematic as their 20-year-old counterparts. Make sure to always perform proper due diligence with all payment buyers regardless of their age, wealth, reputation, or social status.

5. Renters

Some of the best renters I know are senior citizens. It is true that many senior citizens are the recipients of Social Security, pension benefits, IRAs, and 401(k)s. This does not change the fact that some seniors will still mismanage their finances and delay monthly payments with a variety of excuses.

  • Furnished: In my experience there is no ” general rule of thumb” when it comes to renting a furnished mobile home in a senior community. Some seniors will require, and be happy to pay extra for, a rental that is already fully furnished. Others will be providing their own furnishings.

In conclusion, with the baby boomers and every other subsequent generation getting older, there will not be a lack of senior customers now or in the future. While it is very difficult to make accurate generalizations concerning a group of more than 47 million Americans, we can certainly use common sense, experience, and prudent due-diligence practices to keep ourselves and our clients happy and safe.

Do you have any tips for working with seniors in the mobile-home market? Share them 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 Comment

  1. Bill Neves

    Thanks for the article John.

    I am one of those seniors and snow birds. My wife and I have a place in Arizona where we go in the winter and I live in Washington most of the year.

    10,000+ Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day and those numbers will continue for the next 12+ years.
    Nice size market to work in.

    Millennials are a larger group by 1/2 million to 8 million depending on where you look.

    Like you, I buy, fix and sell mobile homes. Most of my deals now are in senior parks.

    Off Market and referrals – (I think you do the same thing with this regard) …. Over time, I have offered a referral fee for the name of someone who I buy a mobile home FROM or sell TO. This is now generating more deals than I find on my own, driving around or looking at ads. So several parks have people actively LOOKING for deals that I can buy.

    Can I be busier? Heck yes. But I cherry pick my deals and work on a very flexible and very relaxed schedule.

    Cash – most of our deals are sold for cash so no financing needed. Seniors ‘tend’ to have more cash in a pile than younger folks might have. Not being prejudicial, just an observation over time.

    Because of traveling a lot and spending the winter in Arizona, I can pick and choose the deals I work on and don’t work on.

    Again, great article and true on every level.

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