Future of Mobile Home parks (long)


#1

This is a topic that is often just mentioned in passing both online and at events. But the fact is new mobile home deliveries in the US have fallen over 70% in the last 10 years.

The days of every park thriving are gone. There has been a downward spiral in occupancy and it will continue into the foreseeable future. I think in the next 10-20 years 30% of existing parks will be closed, 40% will be half full, and 30% will thrive, at the expense of the other 70%. Fierce competitiveness will replace the plenty for all attitudes.

You do not see anyone posting about placing and selling new homes in their parks. They (me included) are placing homes removed from other parks. The repo market is drying up, and was never very big in many states including New York.

I agree with Dave Reynolds recent post on the 60/30 rule now being just the 60 rule.

Tony/Scotts approach works best for me (not for everyone). The small rental park owner has absolute authority over what homes stay what homes go and plenty of time to shop for replacement units.

I still believe there is plenty of money to be made but 2 out of 3 investors will either just get by or fail.

I also believe that the people that follow the advice/teachings/material/seminars put forth on this and other sites will be the 1 out of 3 that succeed.

Maybe I


#2

It looks top me like MHP owner operators will be selling new homes, or they will have all old homes. In my area we are already at the point of used 10+ year old 16x80 pulled-in, set up, refurbed typically requires 75% of the cost of a new home. Selling new homes in a park is challenging, but I believe it to be neccessary.

Another point of discussion is the REITs that bought up the larger, better located parks, in my view their management has not done nearly as well as the owner/operators that they bought the properties from…will these be sold back to owner/operators in the future, or will they be allowed to deteriorate to the point of losing their viability as a business and be the land on which the next wave of site-built subdivisions are built?


#3

What about the fact that the last 8 years has been a boom time for SFH. Anyone who could fog a mirror could buy a home, this has stopped. I see mobiles as the only way a lot of people will have a roof over their heads. I think the pendulum is about to swing back the other way. Things run in cycles. Anyway this viewpoint is worth what you paid for it.


#4

Hello Don,

As a person who is just about to move into the mobile home park business, I find your point of view interesting and topical. Thank you for sharing.

I do, however, have some questions, that if answeredn can help me get a better feel for the industry.

If not mobile homes, then what? I do not see any other housing type that can replace the gap that there is between rentals and stick-built homes so nicely and easily.

As Wayne stated, I also agree that many of the people who are going to default (or are defaulting) on their mortgages will go live somewhere, but where? Apartments? Probably. But I think it will be the job of the MH operators to make those people see that there is a better alternative out there for them.

So unless there is something out there filling the gap, I don’t see why MHP’s have to go the way of the dodo bird.

Please let me know if my simplistic view of the industry is missing a key ingredient. I’d love to hear an experienced opinion.

Thank you,


#5

Rick, I believe mobiles will be in higher demand and lower supply in the coming years due to changes in the financing for mobile homes that is now affecting the SFH world…

Over half of the tenants that I have moved in to our units over the last few months have been folks being foreclosed on. They are not bad people, they have just hit times harder than their finances could survive.

The problem as a park owner is HOW to fill empty lots, this has been a challenge since the mid to late 90’s as financing for mobiles all but dried up… this has created a gap in the empty lots and the number of homes for those lots. What I see happening is that mobile homes will increase in value as a housing source and rents/payments will increase a bit and become a housing option for many folks that would have never considered a mobile in the past… Shy of building mobiles myself I don’t know of any quick fix to filling parks, turning a property around is NOT a walk in the park!

Best wishes,

Ryan Needler


#6

New homes is the way to go.

I bought my park in 1999 and had 20% vacancy rate. I only allowed new homes to come in. This is the only way to upgrade the park. Yes, it was rough at first. I had to beg, borrow and almost steal to get new homes brought in. Once they start to sell the older homes will stick out worse and worse and the new homes will be easier and easier to sell.

Of course, right now the market is pretty bad for everyone. So we should be just holding the line and keeping the park steady.

I agree that Mobile Homes fill a nice gap in the housing circle. They are better than apartments and more affordable than stick built homes.

AW


#7

Don,

Thank you bringing this subject up as it is something all of us need to consider.

I just found out that I am about to lose another excellent resident to the stick-built market and I expect more to follow. All this talk about how the crisis in mortgages will benefit MHs has turned out to be, at least for me in NE Ohio, nothing more than a lot of hot air. The good residents will jump at the chance to leave MHs if given half a chance.

I belong to the state park owner’s association and they publish MH shipments in every newsletter. Shipments to OH keep dropping like a rock in a pond. Maybe this state is just a loser and people don’t want to live here or maybe this trend is reflected across the US. If so, I can’t help but wonder how an industry can sustain itself long-term if fewer and fewer of the “products” are being created.

I really think there has to be a major shift in how we do our business in terms of getting people into homes. Old ways of doing business simply don’t work anymore and things either have to change quickly or I can see this industry dying. I plan to contact the head of a nearby Skyline factory and see if they would be interested in setting up homes on my empty pads with no lot fees. We would work together on the marketing of them and I would be responsible for showing and taking applications. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t but anything is at least worth a try.

As for my own place, I am concentrating on getting it running as professionally as possible and making the place look like an 8 acre arboretum. I would love to only take in new homes but I’ll take older ones as long as they get a professional paint job. I know of two local parks that will shut down soon due to age of the owners and sewage disposal problems. This gives me hope that the declining number of parks in this area, and perhaps elsewhere, can benefit those that do stay in business.

The single other factor that I think should be helping all of us is the retirement of the baby boomer who have little or no retirement savings. While there is always enough money to fight a war, there in never enough money to build sufficient subsidized senior apartments. MHs are the least expensive home you can actually own and still live on SS.

It’s good that we are talking about this but what about the banks and manufacturers? The silence is deafening.

Rolf

Wheat Hill MHC

(330) 426-9558


#8

this year and both were for the exact same reason…no plan(or money) to infill a partially empty park.

Folks will always need affordable housing.

Right now I can buy a brand new concrete block/stucco home 1545 foot ceramic, bangin’ home for 750 down (no closing costs)and 750 per month. There are over 450 of these in my 30 mile radius market.

We are losing rental tenants to this market.

This will, of course, end soon…it is not sustainable but in the interim, it is killing landlords in my area.

I feel a park is a good investment and I will buy another one or two this year if I can. The secret is to buy right. i like a L/O with minimal out of pocket (less than 10K out of pocket) or I will pass…I don’t need to buy.

The folks that are struggling right now are the ones that have balloons or exotic financing that is short term or adjustable rates.

I think there will be KILLER Park deals out there this year…

My 2 cents and worth every penny, LOL

Greg


#9

2 more cents worth, Warren Buffet has spent how much money in this industry. Warren does not make many mistakes and his creed is “buy to never sell” so he thinks this industry has plenty of upside. Also not every park needs to survive for the industry to do well. Just like any business the poorly managed will not make it.


#10

Clayton Homes has sold their MHP’s and Clayton Homes ( and the other surviving manufacturers) near sole focus is on land/home biz. Everyone it seems has determined that no viable business model can exist without the liquidity provided by the Fed, So, all efforts are aimed at conforming mortgages (I don’t believe MH has any advantage in that arena) lenders simply can’t sell the chattel paper. As I see it this is potentialy our opportunity to put togather our own deals locally, but if we (macro) don’t do it soon, this MHP biz will become extinct. That is not to say it will completely disappear, opportunities do exist in declining businesses - they are still selling some horse whips


#11

Great conversation on this post!

In my area “investors” are still paying prices that I think are way too high for parks. 20,000 per, for tiny lots that will have to be combined 2-3 into 1 as soon as you try to move a newer home in, old infrastructure, old homes, in a state where the population drops 2% every 10 years and property taxes are 3.5-4%. We just looked at a 12 lot park listed for 130,000 (low priced?) here are the details. 7 park owned homes all 10 wides rent $320, 4 lot rent only $195, one vacant lot that will hold a 10x40, dirt drives, public water, on septic now but sewer has been at park for over a year and town is losing patience with owner to hook up, realtor has a quote for sewer hookup of $10,000 that seems low by about $6000+. I called the town and sewer cost is $28 per home + $6 per 1000 gals per month!

Wow thats not in his expense numbers? This park was under contract but buyer could not get financed (or he woke up). Of course the realtor was full of great money making ideas for the extra 1/2 acre or so. Mini storage, car wash, telling us what geat money we could make and there is someone else looking so put in an offer now.


#12

post how many homes were delivered in florida last year?

Perhaps post the web site that has these #'s?

thanks,

Greg


#13

father of all MOMs. Florida had 18,971 in 1997 and 6,122 in 2007

I’m still planning on a northeast MOM sometime later this year.

http://www.census.gov/const/www/mhsindex.html


#14

An idea came to me last night. Maybe we are looking at the wrong industry to build shorter cheaper singlewides. I know someone who owned a chain of camper stores and he came up with a deal between Camper manufacturers and dealers to order like 200 of the exact basic model camper/motorhome at the same time for a lower price. If anyone has anyone ever seen “freedom road” on the side of a camper those are the ones. Maybe the Camper industry could build homes 14-16 x 54-60 for less money if they were pre bought in quantity. They already build Park models but those are high dollar per square foot.

Just a thought.


#15

Just some thoughts on what I see happening in my area. Parks are (were) being bought up by the big operations like Greencort Partners.

Guys in suits come in and install their “business model” with a rental manager several states away, a new park manager who has no authority and can make no decisions. They realize that they’ve paid too much so they look for ways they can increase income. They become real tough to deal with on late fees and start charging extra for pets and garbage. They come in and mow when the grass is too long and send the occupant a bill for 50 bucks, start charging for use of the community building and on and on.

Gradually people start moving out. They don’t have a clue how to fill empty spots (other than bring in 18 double wides that they can’t sell 'cause they’re too expensive and… oh yeah, they have no financing channel. Local banks won’t touch them) so they start raising the rent twice a year to make up the shortfall making living in the park even less desireable because they offer nothing to justify the premium rent.

Maintenance goes to hell so when the suits come in again they fire the manager and start all over.

I know exactly how to solve their problems but am loathe to because they want me on the hook for lot rent and re-sale every time someone moves out and leaves them hanging (oh and they charge my buyers an extra $35 a month admin fee… WTF). There is no in between, I’ve tried.

I’ve thought about having them sell on a note and I’d buy it for a big discount but when the PM gets fired I’d have to deal with them not wanting to honor the agreement. I’d like suggestions on how to work that out without being on the hook when a deal goes south.

Bottom line, a little common sense and focus on filling spots instead of raising rent (driven by making columns match on a spread sheet) would go a long way.

Sorry for rambling, Lyal


#16

Lyal,

You have hit the nail on the head for what I have seen in many of my former pet parks. Corporations have come in and everything is falling apart just as you line out.

It is unfortunate as they were great parks for me and my buyers but they are no longer that way. For me it has gotten so bad that I have even helped two of my buyers move their homes onto land parcels just to get away from these parks. For me it has also meant a stagnation as I have let myself stupidly try and try to work with the parks and their ever changing managers and rules, only to get no new deals done. As for me I am done with them and am trying to find greener pastures.

I believe that we are not that far from the critical point on many of these corporate owned parks. Most that I have around here are soon going to be such money losers that they will either be dumped as losses or just plain scuttled. I am hoping that they will be sold cheaply but so far the corporate owners have not come to reality. My major concern is that many will be sold as higher and better use. Of course this gives a silver lining for other parks as Don notes. What is sad is that both me and many of the former PMs know how to fix things and make the parks very profitable, but our input is ignored.


#17

Does anyone know of a park that has been bought by a Reit and improved? or least didn’t decline? I have yet see one?


#18

Not many big corporate parks around here. But I still know of 2 parks foreclosed on and one go for taxes this year so far. I see local small park owners who bought at or near the peak now suffering with reduced occupancy/revenue due to poor foresight and no business plan other than collect the rents, now trying to sell (at a premium of course). I am wondering/waiting for these owners to reach capitulation.


#19

here in Florida. ARC is a prime example in Jax. 2004 the bought a beauty 234 space Park full at an 8 CAP. Rents were $175 per month and in no time rents were up to $310 per month. How they got around the prospectus I’ll never know.

Next thing you know we are getting pick up orders from Greentree and Origen and there are unfilled spaces. Then thru 2006 they bought EVERY repo coming up on the lists and things stabilized. since 2006 they stopped buying repos in their Park and it is now 1/3 empty and rents are up to 410 per month.

Driving thru the park there are numerous For Sale By Owner signs and some are true bargain prices. They closed the pools and it looks like a war zone type Park.

The park I am thinking of will probably sell for HBU.

I haver not seen one REIT Park being run efficiently. I have also not seen one full one.

Greg


#20

Well, hello everybody! Sorry for my absence.

I want to chime in on the discussion here - I too am seeing problems as a Lonnie Dealer, however they are more with local owners. there is one park that fits the REIT model you describe, and I am about to take a home back in there next week (hope she finds a buyer before I have to).

Several local owners have tightened up their criteria such that new buyers are all but excluded - leaving me paying monthly. I am giving up houses to stop the bleeding.

I am starting to consider other alternatives; supplemental business models not directly concerning homes. I have been building our rental portfolio, but it isn’t where I want it to be yet.

Will be closely following this thread -