30 vacant lots in a 60 lot park with no MSA


#1

I am looking at a park with 30 vacant lots in a 60 lot park in Illinois. The city has less than 2,000 people with no MSA.
It is 45 minutes from a city with over 300,000 population and 30 minutes to a major airport. There is not a
Walmart in town.

It’s quite clean, and all utilities are billed to the tenants. Currently has no park owned homes.

a) Do you think the local market is weak to result in a 50% vacancy in the park?
However, parks about 15-20 minutes away are all 95-100% full.

b) Would you feel comfortable being in a market with no MSA and population less than 2,000?

Thanks for your feedback guys~


#2

Many of the conversations I’ve heard talk about putting up test ads on Craigslist to gauge the response. If you put ads online and get zero response then maybe it’s a bad market but if you get flooded with responses then it may be tangible. Keep in mind I’m not an investor quite yet and am still in research mode.


#3

I have done land/home deals in ultra small towns like this and there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Expect little market rent and land appreciation. A $200 lot rent may not get raised annually except $5-$10 per year instead of $25. Maybe none at all in a stagnant small town. In many cases you’re competing with SFH’s that are pretty cheap.
  • Utilities are typically annoying at best, and a disaster at worst. One of the towns I did a couple of these deals had a separate entity for everything - water, sewer, trash, electric, etc - and the prices on all of them were very high compared to larger metros. Tap fees were crazy - $3,750 for a single sewer connection of a single lot to be exact.
  • Filling vacancies will take longer and more creativity. You will need to be militaristic with your advertising campaign. This means local newspapers, flyers, bandit signs, craigslist, Facebook, and any other means to get word out. Not necessarily spending a lot of money, but more effort for sure, so that you can get the same number of phone calls as you would in a town of 100K.
  • Finding labor to fix things when they go wrong is harder when in ultra small towns. You don’t have a great labor pool to select lots of licensed contractors. This also requires creativity and willingness to have someone you trust on site to monitor their work. On the other hand, they are usually less expensive than a major metro, but the consistency can be tricky. A great manager goes a long way here, and making sure that you don’t pay contractors until the job is done properly.
  • Consider your ability to sell the property. You will have a smaller buyer pool if and when that happens. While these are great cash cows when run properly, being able to sell reasonably fast should be a factor in your purchase.

Keep us posted and good luck!


#4

what @Gareed Said. Also make sure there isn’t something unexpected happening ( i.e. amazon fulfillment center) or the likes popping up near by. Talk with the city about any employers that might be leaving, any that might be coming etc.

I probably would not feel comfortable buying it unless its offset with a good amount of demand.

I would def want the price to be really in my favor as well. In IL, i think it makes sense to be in the better areas where you have stuff going on but not some of the smaller weird towns ( example Cairo) but this doesn’t sound like its it.

At the end of the day you really need to be comfortable with it.

I tried to buy one park , one time that was in a no metro area area and my test ad pulled in like 1 call.

At the end of the day, I was ok with it from the research i did but the park was full, the tenants all owned their homes, lot rents were low, price was great, all direct bill utilities. If it was a turnaround in a weak area, i probably would have passed.


#5

Maybe I’m off base but maybe ask the seller why there is 50% vacancy.
1)They will either lie or they will tell the truth.
2) talk to city hall next, find out if the economy is ok, find out if there are any issues on the books on the park, and also find out what it will take from their end to get it 100% occupied, maybe they will give you a barter for helping them grow housing for the area - price break on permits or repairs, a tax break for improving the area, who knows. Might be there are only 2000 people and they are all stacked in too tight in the existing homes and they want more housing, just haven’t had the opportunity to have it.

It sounds like a great upside if you can negotiate new homes or people bringing in their homes to the vacant lots.

Make sure all lots have functional utilities or you will have quite a few bad days with this one.


#6

As per discussion, as mentioned above nearby parks were showing 90% occupancy. I am noticing a high rate of park owned homes vr tenant owned in parks for sale. Park owners have rent to own etc. but in those 90% what % is actually tenant owned and are they bringing in NEW HOMES!!! I still question why we as owners of parks are bring in homes. With RV owners they still are bringing in new or nearly new homes in our parks, but why are we struggling with tenants bring in new homes to fill spaces (what about the future of that situation)??? As a park owner I have NO interest in rental homes and the buyers generally will down grade the value of such. The cap rate is still going down (6 cap rate is no return for good management) because of the demand fumed by the believe it is a great wreath builder–presently looking at NNN deals with 8+ cap rates with NO management headaches.