Parks for the little guy

There are plenty of parks for sale all over the place that aren’t on LoopNet and MHP Store. Many of the smaller 20 to 40 lot parks are advertised for sale locally and can be purchased at a reasonable price in the $200k to $500k range.  This would be a good place to start.  But ask yourself what are your investment goals?  Is it to have some additional monthly income, retirement income, or will this be the primary source of income?  If it will be your main income, it likely won’t happen with one 20 to 40 lot park.  Look to owner financing or a well off friend or relative for help with your down payment.  And there is no shame in starting at the bottom.  My career started in the fields de-tasseling corn, from there it was on to working for one of the largest poultry operations in Wisconsin.  When you come home everyday covered in grain and manure it tends to change your perspective on things.   So at the end of the day are you going to let things happen, or make things happen?

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This is a good thread. I was sitting at my desk today wondering what I was going to do with the money I received from selling my RV. There are a ton of things I could go buy, but then I thought, “Can I buy a mobile home park with that little?” This post gave me some hope on that and I figure I could almost double the amount in 2 months if I disciplined myself to save it. Now I need to figure out where I need to start.

I bought 10/20, but somehow lost it or it was borrowed from me by an unknown fellow. So I guess I will buy it again and begin there. I live in Indiana and there are MHPs everywhere around here. In everyone’s opinion, is it really possible to buy a park to get started for 10-20K? If so, how would you going about finding that park?


Hi Ari,

I am looking to buy parks in the west coast states: CA, WA and OR. Would love to chat and learn from you on how to find the deals. Would pay consultant fee if it works out:


I have been in the park business over 30 years. We could not FIND a property with a cap rate sufficient to merit my management time or energy and thus are closing on a row crop farm that requires NO management time and receive the full year"s rent in the spring time and the land in the past the yearly increase in value has been great. We still own parks but the market is very overblown by the cheap money and by all the stories written how great to own parks and for some of us who bought at 13 caps or higher it is still ok.

It doesn’t matter if you little or giant, your success will be based on 1) how realistic you are on the type of park you are prepared to buy 2) the volume of deals you look at 3) how good a negotiator you are 4) how good you look on paper for a bank to finance you.

Getting in the park business with little capital would require you to rely on 1) finding deals with small amounts down that don’t require a lot of capital but do require a lot of sweat equity (the lowest down deal that fit this profile that I’ve bought was a 15 space park in Lake Worth that I bought for $60,000 with $5,000 down and later sold for $120,000) 2) finding good deals and selling assignments on them (we typically pay 5% to 10% of deal price ourselves) and 3) finding Master Lease with Option parks (I did one in Oklahoma City years ago in which I got in for -0- down and then fixed the problem immediately (it was manager embezzlement). Is it harder to find the perfect deal with less capital? Absolutely. But you have to work with the cards you’ve been dealt.

Our experience has been completely different from Carl’s. We have bought around 170 parks over the past 5 years, and are currently awash in deals under contract – and that’s just in our markets of the Great Plains and Midwest. There are also a ton of deals in the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast and Southeast – we just don’t work those markets.

One final comment: of the competitors that we face in buying parks, our most feared ones are the “small guys” who mom and pop sellers tend to like a lot and have a good chance of beating us by bonding with them. The large companies have terrible bedside manner with moms and pops (like showing up at meetings in limos), move very slowly, and apparently never learned what “bonding” even is.


Frank makes a very valid point in the advantage the individual buyer has in bonding with the Mom and Pop owner. The primary reason the individual has a advantage is due to the fact that so many mom and pop owners have bonded personally with the residents of their community. This is especially the case if it is a better quality community.
Trailer park owners often don’t care about the residents but the mom and pop that take pride in their community do not like the idea of a corporation taking over the community. Their fear is that the corporate owner will simply rake off the profits and care little about the upkeep of the community or the quality of tenants allowed in. Whether this is true or not does not matter it is simply what they tend to believe.
The owner I bought from felt that way and so do I. We are surrounded by trailer parks owned by a corporation and would not sell to that entity when it is time to sell. In addition to find the next buyer we will be offering a significant amount of seller financing to enable the right person to buy.


Hi Frank,

I am specifically looking for deals in Northwest states (WA, OR). I am willing to pay the 5% to 10% of the deal price if you can help me find a deal in those two states. I am not asking you to spend time just for this, but whenever you come across a good deal (around $2m) in those two states for whatever reason, you can assign them to me

Thanks again for the comments. I guess I will start looking around and see what is out there around me. I know of one place that is owned by what was a lucrative MH dealer. It is only 10 lots, only half are full, the rest need homes, and they want 175K. I didn’t think that was too good of a deal and I haven’t even got out my calculator yet.

I am new to this site and have a question for you all. I have a friend working for a community bank that has a 11 lot MHP they foreclosed and are looking to get rid of. They want $120,000/best, but there is very little information on financials for the park. What are some things I need to look for in this deal? I really like the idea of MHPs after finding this potential deal and this site!

Learn something new everyday. Complaining about not seeing a path that leads to your dream makes you “a victim”.


djminta, we bought a deal that was very similar but on a slightly larger scale. 32 lots. Here’s how it went down.

We love working with banks because they are not emotional. Example: We took a $450,000 asking price and turned it into a $200,000 acquisition. Use that info however you want :wink:

We used a hard money lender to finance it for the short term. So, start getting cozy with people who have large self directed IRA’s in your area.

We ran test ads to gain confidence on the demand and subsequently leased 29 units in 12 months. Lot rent is $400 per month and the 3/2s go for $650.

At the moment, we are refinancing at an appraised value close to $1,000,000.

Based on our success, you might have the makings of deal on your hands. You should definitely pursue that thing further.

Sam Zell got his start selling Playboy Magazines he bought off a newsstand under his El transfer stop and smuggling them home to his suburban home and selling them to his friends in Jr. High School. He never stopped building and growing.

Dennis Ohnstad got his start selling manufactured homes and had to borrow the gas money from his new employer to get to work on his first day. His apartment had been burglarized the night before and he lost all of the tools of his trade (photography) and his job before he borrowed his neighbor’s newspaper to look for another job.

Bud Zeman started with $25,000 in cash money to buy his first park.

Jerry Witt, my first partner started with $1,000 doing Lonnie Deals before Lonnie. By the time I met him he had $1,000,000 in cash to put in my first park development.

George Allen started by managing a park and worked himself into an ownership position.

I started with $37,000 in cash to develop my first park.

Every one of us borrowed lots of money from others to make it happen, because none of the people in this post had very much money of their own.

While I understand starting from limited funds and starting small, I agree with Jefferson. Some people face a situation looking for excuses, while others see opportunity. Each person gets to decide for themselves what their attitudes are going to do to them, and where they are going in life.


I am interested to know where all of you came up with your down payment on your first park. I am saving for it, but it will take a while for sure.

My portfolio of single family homes started out from a home equity loan for down payments on bank financing and progressed to private money. My first MHP park down payment came from a 401k loan while I was still working my day job. My parks after that have come from private money from family mostly at 10% interest. They win with a huge interest rate (and they help run the parks for free) and I win by getting a park. Finally, I just put a $1.3 campground under contract with a lease option on a $25,000 option payment. So there are a few ways to get started. What is nice, is the banks I work with don’t care where the down payments came from as long as you get 25% down.

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Work hard, save every dime by adjusting your life style to insure maximum savings. By deciding to make saving money your primary goal in life you will be amazed at how quickly it grows. But…every time you chose to go out to dinner, buy and new car or upgrade to the newest technology you are choosing not to save for the future.
People can chose to live day to day or dedicate themselves to working harder and smarter to achieve a better future. It’s up to the individual.


As I said, I had $37,000 in cash. I put together a General Partnership with myself as the General Partner and with 10 others who were investing cash. Developments are different than buying existing communities as they are harder to finance.

When buying an existing community today, the community owner will normally carry part because they don’t want their money all at once unless they are buying a different property. The banks want a 20% downpayment and if the 20% exists inside of a corporate structure they may not ask much about where it came from.

Greg - I absolutely love what you wrote!!! :grinning:

I bought the park from a couple wanting to retire and they took a second mortgage on the park for the down payment I needed. I moved into a empty trailer in the park because I had no money for a home mortgage. Those were the good ole days. You could always ask the owner most would do it if you prove worthy.

It is the great post. I do not own park yet. I have a full-time job and do loonie deals on weekends.

Am I small guy? No, I am not. I am an entrepreneur as @Jefferson said. I came from the different country (Ukraine). I hardly speak proper English (I have heavy Slavic accent). I was in big debts. I hardly could afford the boot camp. However, America born many motivational and inspirational people. I read couple books (50+) and realize many things but the most important “take action”.

Find a great deal and sell it to others. Many people pay referral fees. Save those fees and buy your own park.

Just take action! @Ty_


Thanks for all the feedback. This gives me some motivation to lean forward on this!