Considering the fact that there were articles in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC News last year about the industry, I don’t think that a single article in the New York Times will create a stampede. But the fact is that more and more people are learning about mobile home parks: that the returns are higher than any other form of real estate, and that the demand for affordable housing is gigantic. The fact that the Carlyle Group bought two parks last year was probably the biggest news story of 2013, as that’s the largest private equity group in the U.S., so their stamp of approval is probably bigger than Warren Buffet buying Clayton. Our opinion is that most new entrants to the industry are focusing on finished, stabilized parks, while we buy parks with some degree of upside left in them, and a turnaround plan is standard. But there’s no question that the “cat is out of the bag” on mobile home parks at this point, and there are more articles to follow in more publications (we know this because they have called us for facts on the industry). So while the industry is far from brimming with buyers (thanks to the stigma that trailer parks will always have), expect more articles in the future, and more people learning about what affordable housing is and how mobile home parks relate to that.
The big deal about this article is that it’s the first one written by a respectable, well-known reporter. The industry is chock full of B.S. articles written by people who don’t know anything but have titled themselves as “gurus”, or as P.R. releases for the three public REITs (ELS, SUN and UMH). It’s nice to have some authentic reporting for a change.