In my market (Oklahoma City), ARC has developed a very bad reputation. They sold against the dealers when the dealers sent prospects into their parks to buy dealer homes and they’ve been raising rents a lot on residents (like from $150/mo. with utilities to $230+/mo. without utilities) over the past five years.
I spent this afternoon driving through two ARC parks and talking to residents. I asked them a very open-ended question: “Can you please tell me about this park?” The response was positive on safety and cleanliness, but universally negative on management and lot rent.
After I got an ear full I then said: “Hmm… I run a mobile home park 20 miles from here in a rural location. It’s got dirt roads, so it’s not as nice as this, but it is a very clean park and the lot rent is just $175/mo. Oh, and by the way, water and sewer are included. Do you think if we offered to move houses into our park for free and set them up for free, that people here might be interested in moving into our park?”
Responses varied from “Probably” to “In a heartbeat! What’s your name again…?”
So I’ve made careful note of the addresses and lot numbers in the ARC parks and I’m thinking I should put together a direct-mail piece (probably a post card) that will inform ARC tenants that we’ll move them for free, and get them set up to the utilities for free (and maybe that we’ll even guarantee that lot rents won’t go up for 3 years). Frankly my regular lot rent is only $150/mo., so bringing in good-quality tenants with good-quality homes at $175/mo. is already a premium and I’d be willing to lock it in for several years. But maybe this is over-kill…?
I’ve heard anecdotally that you don’t want to get into a ‘poaching war’ with another park owner for fear he/she will do the same to you. However, in a situation such as this where my lot rent is about 1/2 of ARCs I have a strong competitive advantage. I don’t see how ARC could effectively poach my tenants with their higher lot rents and management’s poor reputation. (But maybe I’m naive!)
I’ve also only got 38 spaces to fill, and ARC has approximately 1,660 spaces under management in the OKC area, so even if I got all 38 of my residents from ARC parks, I’m frankly not even sure they’d notice.
‘David and Goliath’ anyone? ; )
The math looks good. My alternative use of my money is doing Lonnie deals. The economics on that are:
- $17,000 for a good-quality used home set up in my park, ready to sell, which will generate a $350/month lease-option note plus $175 lot rent = $525/month (e.g. 3.1% of my capital back every month)
Whereas the poaching strategy yields:
- $4,000 for moving, hooking-up and constructing new deck and skirting, which will generate $175/month lot rent (e.g. 4.4% of my capital back every month).
Not only is the poaching strategy more profitable, it yields higher-quality cash flows (e.g. all ‘ten-CAPable’ lot rent, vs. partial lease-option note and only partial lot rent).
BTW - 80%+ of the homes in these two ARC parks are s nest…!