I have to be honest. I used to look at this site and CRE several times a day to see if anyone had posted. I look at it maybe once a week or two now, since I can read everything posted in about 5 minutes!
As I have said before, Jim and I are nearing the end of infill in our Alabama park. In fact, Jim is out looking at houses on the list today with the intention of purchasing 2 this month. Looking at the five we deem good enough (1999 and up, all 16 x 80 homes) is taking him on a 5 1/2 hour road trip. Out of the five, he could not find the first two. As anyone knows who has hunted these, the Greentree directions sometimes lack a lot!
We are hoping to bring in 14 homes by June. We have brought in 9 or 10 per year since we bought the park. These two will bring our 2010 acquisitions to 12 - our best year ever. We even took a vacation this year. Our next hurdle is the necessity to re-do our mortgage on the property. It will be five years in July.
We are definitely looking at slowing down. We know we will never do another infill park. Having others do the work has never been an option - it either does not get done in a timely fashion or the work is mediocre. Our worst year for progress in Alabama was the one when we went to Georgia, and that was with Jim spending a week a month in Alabama!
We miss the meetings, no doubt. We do talk on the phone with some of the friends we met over the years, or correspond by email. Kevin Long, a fellow park owner in Montgomery, put us on the trail of a nice home he saw on Craigs List, which we bought last January and immediately sold. Other friends from the group have put their faith in us and lent us IRA money to buy homes. We could never have brought in the number of homes we have, even with the LOC from Clayton Bank without it. All the current and future acquisitions will be purchased by private money. Our first private money note to be repaid has its last payment on January 1.
Jim will be home the Monday or Tuesday before Christmas, but unfortunately has to dig up two water leaks in the next week or so - obviously not bad leaks or they would be done. Our water lines are very deep, so it is never something he wants to jump into (the leak or the hole that is dug…)
Our new homes should come in while Jim is in Florida. We will both head to Alabama after New Years. Our schedule for 2011 is 2 weeks in Alabama, one in Florida. We will get those two homes ready for sale - I am pretty good at skirting! We will both spend a day during that two weeks looking at homes for our January purchase. Even though I have been in Florida for a good portion of this year, I am on the phone almost daily with our Manager. Since I handle that, Jim is free to get the homes up and going or re-fixed when someone leaves.
Last year was the first year we ever had a tax season. We are looking forward to January and selling everything in inventory again this year. We just had two families move in for December 1 and have another moving in for January 1 already. We sell at least one home a month every month. On the flip side, we have done more evictions this year than probably all the others combined. We attribute that to the fact that we flat-out have more homes in the park. Five of our January buyers from last year are still here and still paying, which is major.
I disagree with Greg on one issue. Homes that are over 15 years old have value. Dr. B and I have both talked about the turnover of residents from older homes, but I am talking homes mid-80s and below. Cash flow is still there, the maintenance (both human and home) is higher. Quite honestly, though, if we have a tenant who is high maintenance we know they will not last long. Although we try to filter those out BEFORE we approve them, it unfortunately does not always happen. We have found that it is almost immediately apparent who we will eventually weed out. Our Manager tells everyone that if they pay on time and follow the rules, they won’t see her unless they see her during office hours. We have one who will be seeing her (and Jim) in court tomorrow. Talk about high maintenance! We knew we had a problem when she continued to drive the U-Haul after she moved in. When Jim checked with the local U-Haul people (August) we learned that it had gone out on a 2-day rental in June from upstate New York. Shortly thereafter, they repossessed it…we knew then that this day would come. She, unlike most, has not moved out upon official service by the Sheriff, but will be there until the bitter end.
We are pleased with our Manager. She had never managed a park before, and we have taught her what to do. We hear stories about managers burning out, and hope we keep her happy for a long time. Now - here is a question for you park owners! Who (besides us) is giving your manager a cash Christmas bonus?