The Practicality of Dreams: Advice for a man of marginal means

Hello all, new member here.  I am a long time wanna-be mobile home park owner.  Looking at my situation objectively I know that I am more a candidate for renting a mobile home lot than owning my own park, but none-the-less it has literally been a childhood dream of mine… people laugh when I tell them this.I’m 30 years old. My income is a little less than 25K.  My skill set is little better than that of a general laborer and customer service rep (with a fancy bachelor’s degree in Philosophy).  My only real saving grace is my good credit and a good work history.Obvious barriers to my future success in the Mobile Home Park business is training and capital.  Since this has been a childhood dream of mine I’ve only just recently taken off my rose-colored glasses of mobile home park ownership to begin to understand the very complicated nuances that goes with the territory.My need of capital has no easy solution, I can only continue to work hard and prepare for the day that opportunity knocks at my door… or more likely, I lay siege to opportunity and through endless persistence and constant bombardment of effort it reluctantly yields to my efforts. My ignorance I can be more proactive about.  My thirst for more knowledge has led me here.  The Mobile Home University Home Study Course promises to be everything I need to know in one nice, neat package.  A complete training course tailored toward my dream!  I got very excited! Then I realized acquiring this knowledge would cost me my entire savings/emergency fund.Hey, you know, knowledge don’t come cheap and never has.  I’ve spent several hours pouring over this forum and have come to realize how ridiculous it was for me to think that I could simply step in and manage a park.  Having an over simplistic view of costs and incomes would have done me in and put me in such financial hardship that I would probably have been paying the rest of my life for the “privilege” of running a mobile home park… not exactly the way one wants to realize a dream.Before I get smart about the money I WILL have, I first need to be smart about the money I DO have… I am serious about wanting to own a park.  I get excited about this the way children get excited about astronauts or dinosaurs.  That exuberance can be an asset or a liability… I think knowledge will be the deciding factor.My question to you all is whether or not this home study course is the right starting place for me.  While it promises to be all the information I need I really have no way of knowing for sure.  Usually, I test a product or read many reviews on it before purchasing… there doesn’t seem to be many reviews on this product and the ones that exist are mixed (though the one bad review was really a commentary on ruthless business practices rather than on its merit as a successful business model-- in any event I’m more interested in the latter.)  Aside from a lack of reviews it’s pricing has me concerned as well.  At that price point I feel the course is probably not meant to be marketed for people like me.  It makes me wonder if I will be able to use much of the information it contains or if it’s geared more for people who have more start-up capital than I can reasonably expect to have before I’m of retirement age.As knowledgeable folks in the industry, what do you think my first step should be?  Are there any job or career paths I should be considering in preparation of  park ownership (aside from the generic “Something that pays better to raise more capital”)?  Not afraid of hard work or study… just afraid of hard work and study with no payoff.

The first step for you is to read the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” series in my opinion.  It costs about $20 for the four book series on Amazon and will lay the ground work for your reasons to become a real estate investor/business owner.  After you do that, you will know for sure that the Home Study Course is a great buy because it will explain all of the various reasons why an education and a creative spirit trumps everything.  You’ll find that if you get good at finding a deal, the money to take it down will find you.  You already have a place (this forum) where you can wholesale deals, find experienced partners, get second opinions, and learn about raising capital.  Understand that a lot of deals are partnered on and a lot more are bought using money from investors.

Great comments Charles.  Aristo I believe Charles was referring to Frank and Dave’s home study course, which I bought and agree with Charles.http://www.mobilehomeuniversity.com/mobile-home-park-investing-books-and-courses/mobile-home-park-investment-home-study-course.php

Thanks CharlesD!I’ve read many of your replies on other threads and you always come across well reasoned and very helpful.  I started in on Rich Dad, Poor Dad as you suggested and have been glossing over it for the past couple of hours.  While there is a lot of fluff, I can already identify some Rich Dad and many Poor Dad traits in myself.  While I’m not necessarily buying everything the book is selling I can certainly see the advantage to taking some of the lessons to heart.One of the key points that really threw into focus some vague thoughts I’ve been having is working to learn vs. working for income.  I’ve been trying to break into a career for some years now hoping a strong work ethic and a submissive smile would land me that coveted position which would allow me the income to save for investment (prior to your post I had never considered financing that would take any other structure than a relationship between myself, a nice down payment, and a lender.)  To date, that career has not happened.  As a man near to the bottom of the totem pole there is really no better time to work for knowledge than now… I very much doubt the “Cut in pay” can be all that deep for me.Can you (or anybody) suggest any entry level positions that would further my knowledge base and skill sets in any useful capacity?  What jobs/experiences have you had which you feel have helped prepare you for the challenges you face?

Aristocracy -I love your handle.  It’s aspirational.  You have a good work ethic and fire in your belly, so I am certain you’ll be a MHP owner before too long.A few thoughts:1. Yes, the materials here are well worth their exorbitant prices - especially the Bootcamp, at which you’ll meet Frank and lots of other interesting people.  You’ll have ideas put in your head you never even thought of.2. My partnership, www.parkstreetpartners.net, has an intern program.  We help people like you get firsthand experience sourcing deals and/or turning around MHPs we own.  The pay is $0.  The experience is, we think, invaluable (well, it’s worth more than $0 anyway!), and you’ll develop the skills and connections to acquire and operate parks on your own.  It is part-time work flexible around your other commitments.  PM me through this website if you’d like to set up a phone call to discuss.3. In addition to Rich Dad, Poor Dad (BTW, you only really need to read the first book), I highly recommend ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ by Danko and Stanley.  There are a few other good books on my Resources page at www.lillyandcompany.net that would be a bit lower priority.4. Attend you local REIA.  There, you’ll meet other RE investors, and just maybe, someone with a MHP deal in need of someone to help turn it around.  If you play your cards right, you may be able to earn your way into an equity ownership portion of a MHP through sweat equity.  That’ll be a stepping stone to your owning a park all by yourself.There are lots and lots of ways to make this work, even given your lack of funds.Carpe diem,-Jefferson-

Aristocracy, I think you should read all four books in the series.  You’ll have to wade through a lot of redundancy, but those books are a quick read.  The Guide to Investing was the book where I finally started to develop my financial plan and get it on paper.  Before that, I had plenty of the same questions for myself as you have right now.  I also needed the concepts beat into my head because I’m a little more stubborn than the average person!Another good book, in addition to everything on Jefferson’s reading list, is “What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow.”  The author of that book has a condensed version called, “Mastering Real Estate Investing” which is a little easier to digest.  Through Jefferson’s website, you’ll come across a podcast where he was interviewed by Kevin Bupp.  This is a fantastic podcast and you should probably take the hour each week to listen to what the investors on that Podcast have to say.  Many of his guests started out right where you are right now.  Last, but not least, I would take Jefferson up on that phone call.  I was offered a similar opportunity from another investor and accepting their offer has been the best thing I’ve ever done. We all know the importance of a track record and positioning yourself favorably with someone like Jefferson can be an effective way to begin building that track record.

If I may let me put a different twist on the subject. If you intend to just make lots of money–buy and flip. I met 3 months ago a person from S. Africa but of Indian descent that in 12 years flipped over 50 parks and is now a multi-millionaire. They started small but always was a family affair where they would buy 2 or more run down parks in an area and his son would be the mule and dad would be the deal maker. Now the son is able to be the deal maker since he learned well from his dad. I have never partnered or invested with anyone except my wife and believe it a very intelligent way to prosper also utilizing an owners-experience is important plus have him owner finance. Knock on doors not every park is listing on this web site or knows it exists. I believe some of the people at the top of this page are full-time looking for deals since most of their best money makers are from third parties and unlisted properties. One of my friends is working on a 4% interest loan and that will in the end raise prices of parks and now is a good time with low interest rates to SELL PARKS.

You might also try working at a MHP for some period of time. Even if you have to work off hours or start with light maintenance or rehab  or be a back up manager, you will learn a lot by just hanging around a property.  I can tell you from experience that if you submit a resume with no grammatical errors and you sound like you have some snap you should have no problem getting hired. It sounds cliche, but one of the biggest problems owners have (in any business) is finding good workers. Successful people like to help and teach those who are interested in learning, so if you find the right property you can learn a lot and make a few extra bucks as well.Bret

Aristocracy, first of all I love your statement:’…the day that opportunity knocks at my door…or more likely, I lay siege to opportunity and through endless persistence and constant bombardment of effort it reluctantly yields to my efforts.’ You obviously write well and are well educated.  That is fantastic!It also sounds like you are ‘persistent’.  That will take you far in life.I would recommend the following:1.  Ebay - Frank & Dave’s CDs On Mobile Home Parks:  While it would be wonderful if you had the time and money to go to Frank & Dave’s Boot Camp, sometimes it is just not feasible.  Thus, on occasion someone on Ebay has an extra Frank & Dave’s CDs for sale.  This would allow you to learn a lot for a lower amount of money.2.  Local Realtors - Selling Mobile Home Parks:  Contact your local Realtors who are selling Mobile Home Parks and tell them about your desires.  They might have contacts that will put you in the correct direction.3.  Owners - Mobile Home Park:  Go to your local Mobile Home Parks and start talking to the Owners.  You might find someone who would love to help you succeed.4.  Manager - Mobile Home Park:  Apply to be a Manager / Helper of a Mobile Home Park.  You will learn a lot by doing and being paid is a nice bonus.5.  Jefferson - Intern:  Jefferson is obviously very knowledgeable.  My Husband and I are big advocates of learning from others.  Although the Intern position is not ‘paid’, it will be like a college course on Mobile Home Parks.Do not let you financial situation stop you from your dreams.In one of our Mobile Home Parks we have a scrapper who comes by each week.  He drives an older, small truck and does not appear to be wealthy.  However, our family spoke to him at McDonalds as he was working on his laptop.  He told us that he teaches Dave Ramsey’s ‘Journey To Financial Peace’; he is debt free; he makes $1,000 a week scrapping metal; and his truck is paid off.  He said that he has saved up $17,000 as a down payment on an income property.  Wow, that is very impressive.  We wish you the very best!  

Everyone, thank you all for your comments!CharlesD:  Thank you for the recommended reference material.  I will look into them.  I doubt any investor ever said “I wish I armed myself with less information before investing.”  Perhaps after entering that four-book crucible all my poor-dad traits shall be burned away and I born anew.  shrug stranger things have happened. Carl: I’m sure this is ignorance talking, but I’ve never understood the idea of flipping an income producing asset.  It has always struck me that I would have to find a great deal to buy it.  Work hard to improve it.  And then get a great deal when I sell it to make it worth while.  If the 10% cap rate is the industry standard then I would make fair value in ten years and still own the property besides.  Unless the property was causing me a ton of headaches or I did not think I was going to live another decade and wanted to go out with a bang It seems like keeping the property is the most sound investment I could make.Maybe (probably) I simply do not have a good grasp of expenses involved or a good eye to see if a one-shot income boost re-invested would net me the greater return.  My current thought is to purchase an income producing property and sit on it like a dragon guarding his pile of gold until I raise enough capital for either expansion of my current asset or the acquisition of another.Bret:  This is a point that Jefferson raised as well.  Working in a park to learn or even laboring to earn “Sweat equity.”  I think this is a great idea!  My primary concern with going this route is entering into a situation where, due to my ignorance, I place my energies into a park that really isn’t going to go anywhere.  I’m taking a little time to learn when and where I should place my energy for maximum return.  Money isn’t the only thing I need to invest wisely: Time and effort are also valuable assets.  I would love to hear your thoughts for what kind of parks would be ideal (or realistic) for me.  I found the jobs page of MHU and it really looks like experience is needed and required for this type of venture.Kristin:  Thanks for the compliments!  My mom is a published writer… maybe some of what she tried to teach me actually sank in.I’ve actually been watching a new listing on e-bay for a couple of days now for the Home Study Course and the Due Diligence manual.  I yanked my money out of my brokerage account so I can be poised to strike.  I doubt the quick deal reviews are transferable to second-hand purchases, but if the product measures up to the high praise it has received in this thread then a through study of it should arm me with sufficient knowledge to make bold independent decisions.  It is the ONLY second hand copy I could find anywhere-- people just don’t seem to want to let it go.  I consider this a good sign!  That may be a good idea about the realtors.  Sounds a little awkward contacting folks without a clear conception of what I want from them, but then again if the conversation goes bust I really didn’t lose anything.  I can risk feeling sheepish for a chance that something good may come of it.

Why flip a park, 40 years ago I put 10,000 down on a park I was not interesting in owning long term since it was on the Texas border and wanted to be back in Michigan where their was a middle class. Second within two years I sold the park and had $200,000 CASH (that was 1974) for another business plus has the fundamentals of park ownership and management figured out. Start small but buy a property that has a potential and then flip your money into a keeper park–at this time we are at a 35% return on our parks that I share only with MY WIFE. That first park is still in business but needs a 6 foot fences to protect the valuables and the increase in value has been marginal. With 4% money BUY, BUY, BUY!!!–BECAUSE WITH CHEAP MONEY THE PRICE OF PARKS ARE INCREASING and when the mom and pa parks are gone the cap rate will be lower since the big boys will then have to content with each other and will sell multi-parks at a time to each other. At sometime I believe people like Blackstone will enter this market and can and will buy 10 to 25 parks at a time. Times are changing and people like Sam Zell that own over 300 parks will be the normal–look at grain farmers instead of 160 acres most are farming 3,000 to 5,000 acres and owning 100 parks will be on the low side.

I didn’t want to post until everyone else was done. Here are my thoughts on your situation:First of all, you are not giving enough credit to your current day job. Earning $25,000 per year is nothing to be sneezed at. Keep your day job, as that’s the secret to building a second stream of income – you have to have something steady to pay the bills. In my small town, everybody has multiple streams of income, as nobody trusts anything anymore and does not want to put all their eggs in one basket – and why should they? Even our mayor has three streams of income: he owns a small factory that makes windows, he owns a small restaurant, and he owns a daycare center. I know stockbrokers in my town that have side-businesses mowing lawns. You’ve already got one stream of income – so only one or two more to go!A mobile home park makes for a great stream of income, but you have to have the capital to buy one. So plan B, as already discussed on the forum, is to find great deals and sell assignments to them. We pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on assignments, as do many other people. If you can find great deals, you will be able to sell them or raise money to buy them. Finding them is the greatest value add. So your second stream of income, in my opinion, would be to find and flip parks. Or, when you find that once in a lifetime property, scrape together enough investor money to buy it. Don’t give up your steady day job to jump into mobile home parks – that’s the worst thing you could do, as far as a life plan.I also think that you should try to keep your living expense extremely low. If you can’t find a great house in your city for $150,000 to $250,000, then you need to move an hour out of town and re-evaluate. What’s as important as how much you make is how you spend it. When I lived in the city I knew people who made $1 million a year and spent $1.1 million. They ultimately go broke,or die of a heart attack even if they don’t. Focus on what’s left over after your pay your bills – that’s more important than what you gross. Be in control of your finances, and don’t let them control you.America is in the biggest mess since the Great Depression. To improve your position, it’s imperative that you 1) keep costs low 2) build multiple streams of income to hedge risk. That’s what I do, and that’s what I tell everyone who will listen.But there’s even one bigger item to address. It’s called “quality of life”. If you work all the time and forego having a family or significant other, your quality of life will be very low. If you work all the time but never exercise, you will have terrible health and all your income will be of no value to you. So, no matter what you do, you have to set time aside for personal relationships and healthy living. Without those, what’s the point of having money?You sound like a smart person. You’ll be fine. Those are my initial thoughts, and they are no better or worse than any of the other folks who posted on here. If you have any specific questions on anything I addressed, I will be happy to elaborate.

Carl:  I totally agree that a consolidation of Mobile Home parks into big conglomerates is in the cards… we are witnessing it’s initial stages already!  Both you and Frank seem to think flipping parks is the way to start so I will look into it seriously as I move forward.  There is no reason why ambition must end at the realization of a childhood dream-- in fact, the only lesson to be learned from the realization of a dream is-- you need bigger dreams!Frank:  I may have over stated the case for my job a little.  My current job is seasonal so not at all what I call “Steady income.”  Essentially, while I work the pay is really good, but the work is never for more than six months (So income is really 12,500 +???).  In addition to causing a lot of stress (Will I find another job before I’m laid off?) it makes keeping expenses down very hard.  Inexpensive housing usually requires a year long lease which I cannot enter into.  Moving around is also expensive though I’ve ditched everything except what fits in my Toyota Corolla.  In addition my work is usually in small resort towns which keep the cost of living high.  Even though I’m getting paid more than I’ve ever earned in my life my girlfriend hit the bullseye when she said out of frustration "Every time we move things get worse."Anyway, that’s my sob story.  The good news is that aside from Health, Dental, and car insurance and a manageable school loan I have no other bills.  Rent and utilities I do my best to keep manageable, but my girlfriend is disabled and that really hurts us for finding inexpensive housing.  While I can get by sleeping on the floor if  I have to (and I have) my darlin’ needs to be a bit more comfortable.I do what I can, I eat my eight varieties of Ramen Noodles and take my Flintstones Vitamins (I figure nutrition and anti-nutrition can duke it out while I focus on other things), I avoid debt, and always look to cut costs.  Essentially, I agree with everything you said about cutting costs and if my job/income was more stable I’d agree on that too.  I took my current career trajectory when I was single.  I knew I could save a bundle working this type of job.  I did not count on picking up my girlfriend along the way and now I can see that what would have worked for just me will not work for us.  That is why I’m buying the Mobile Home Study Course, it is one of only a few subjects which fire my blood and I no longer feel I have the luxury of waiting for a career to develop while I scrimp and save.  The world is full of people who dream about what they want but month after month, year after year, they don’t do anything to work toward it.  I’ve let too many months (and perhaps years) slip by already.Frank, if you still don’t feel jumping into the Mobile Home Park business is a good idea at this time what path might you (or anyone) suggest?  I’ve considered an entry position working in a title agency or another real-estate connected field to get my feet wet and still earn income… I was hoping to have a clearer picture to make future plans after reviewing the course material.

It sounds like you are hustling for a free course. If so, you already have the skills to sell RE. I don’t work in RE, but if I could go back to being young, I’d have gone to school for behavioral psychology and sold RE. You can still today make big commission by having average intelligence, being motivated, and taking action consistently. There are practically no barriers to entry.

Parkinvestor:  Your post made me laugh.  Despite holding an edge of accusation it was tempered with a compliment of sorts and some advice.  Rest assured that in about a day and half (Plus shipping time) I will have my own copy of the course.  I’m convinced after having read the comments of those who have posted here (and read their past posts in other threads) that it will be a good investment.Until it arrives would you be willing to elaborate some?  I believe you may be talking about selling assignments like others have already mentioned.  How do you get started or who do I want to talk to.  I don’t expect you to spell it all out for me, but if you know of any good resources (books, articles etc.) then inquiring minds would like to know.  I would need something pretty basic as I don’t really know what an assignment is…

I know a guy making 500k a year just sellling houses. I’ve met a couple people like this. Granted, those earnings are likely unusual, it’s all about creating system within the RE system. One of the guys I met just rewrites RE listing copy for seller agents. So he re-writes all of their advertisements and ends up hooking a buyer with very little work. During the last boom, I met a guy making bank who send out flyers asking people to sell their houses by providing them with financial breakdown on how much they were going to profit. Most of the time wasted in residential RE is working with buyers trying to convince them to buy a house. He was able to cut out that crap completely and found a way to represent only sellers. Most agents suck so bad that it would not be difficult to do something a little bit better than the masses.It can be done in any niche of the RE market. The drawback is that you are working with a lot of crooks.

Dear Frank, Charles D, PinkInvestor,Carl, Kristin and Bret,Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The encouragement in this community offers everyone is utterly inspiring.Aristocracy I am rooting for you. I am new to this world and see what a great opportunity it is for all of us.Blessings and Thanks!Zab

Thanks to everyone who commented thus far.  I have a few ideas rattling around in my noodle and would like to run them by the community to get their thoughts.As stated earlier I’m trying to get into MH parks without the benefit of having any capital.  To this end I’ve started up a dialogue with two individuals, the first being a MH Park owner and the second being a licensed and successful Lonnie dealer.Enter Character one: The MH Park owner.He has a property which would be currently valued at around 85,000.  The place is pretty much a dump, but it does have potential.  If I value that potential at 25% of value (I’ll have to really work for it) I reckon the property to be worth around 185,000.  The owner wants 260,000.I figure it’s way overpriced, but if I can actually get it owner financed with 0 down overpriced is probably the only terms I will ever qualify for.Enter Character two: The Lonnie Dealer.He is licensed and successful…and retired.  He doesn’t want alot of bother, but if he can make some money, well, who doesn’t like money?  He has access to the homes and is willing to invest some money besides to breathe new life into a lucretive venture.  He is everything I need for a severe turn-a-round project, but I fear to lean on him too much lest he run back into blissful retirement.Enter Character three: Me!This is how I have things figured.  I will offer the Mobile Home Park owner the full 260,000 he wants in exchange for favorable financing.  In this case 3.25% interest.  This makes the interest payment equal to the amount that the MH park currently makes.Essentially, I will only make money if I can add new homes and rent them out…I will borrow the full cost of clearing a lot and transporting a new home from the Lonnie dealer and offer him $100.00 of the $200.00 lot rent until he recoups that money back.  The park has 26 lots total.I will offer the MH park owner $50.00 for each additional lot rented over and above the $700.00 interest payment previously established to go toward the principal of the loan.  After the Lonnie dealer is paid back I will increase the amount to $100.00 per lot until the debt is paid.I will do all the work to manage and maintain this park.  The Lonnie dealer will still be responsible for the cost of MH repairs, but I will handle the contractors, the moving and set-up of the MHs, and the tenents, and anything else having to do with the park.I figure it will cost $6,500/lot to clear and set up a new MH.  If I pay $100 every month a given lot is rented out I figure it will take a little less than 7 years to pay off the Lonnie Dealer for any given lot.  The break down looks like this for the first seven years.Lot rent $200.Less $50. for MH Park dealerLess $100. for Lonnie DealerLess $60.  for expense ratio.That’s right!  I lose 10 bucks per lot/month for the first seven years and inherit a whole pastle of hassle besides, but things get better after that.After 7 years:Lot rent $200. (Probably higher)Less $100. MH Park dealerLess $60. expense ratioYay!  40 bucks per lot for me!So, the questions I have for you all are…Would the MH Park owner be in his right mind to consider this?Would the Lonnie Dealer be in his right mind to consider this?Am I in my right mind to consider this?Do you think everyone is getting enough of the pie to be happy?  If not, what suggestions might you have to make the deal more fair/appealing.  I feel I have to entice the MH park owner and the Lonnie dealer since I need both of them to make this work at all.Thank you for your thoughts!

YesYesNOEnticement to get into a business is one thing doing so to essentially operate a charity, which is what your are suggesting, is ludicrous.