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by Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe real estate investingAffordable Housing: There has always been and will always be a need for affordable housing. The typical mobile home park is just that¦ affordable housing. Decreased Operating Expense: It is typically accepted that the average operating expenses for a mobile home park are usually around 35-40% of the gross income as compared to apartments which have in the 50-60% expense ratio. One of the biggest advantages of mobile home park ownership is not only this decreased operating expense margin but the reasoning behind it. Lower Turnover Ratio: Mobile Home Parks in which you rent the land to the home owners have a much lower turnover ratio as compared to apartments. In most cases, once the home is moved into your park, that home will stay in there for 25+ years and when people are ready to move they will just resell the home in the park and you will have a new homeowner. The biggest reason for the low home turnover is that it costs so much to break down, move, and set up a home. In most cases this is going to cost at a minimum of $2,000 for a “singlewide” and $4,000 for a “doublewide“. Lower Move-Out Ratio: In an apartment, your renters can pack up and leave in the middle of the night. In most cases a mobile home will not move out in the middle of the night (especially legally). There are those cases where someone will hire someone to come in and move a home in the middle of the night but it is rare. I actually had someone who was a few months late on rent, decide to hook up to their 14 x 70 home with their ¾ ton pickup in an attempt to move it down the road a few miles to a different park. They made it out of the park with the home but about a mile down the road the mobile home separated from the truck and they not only flipped the home but destroyed a truck. All of this to avoid about $800 in lot rent. Rent Increases: When you raise the rent by $10, $15, $20 or more in a mobile home park, it is less justifiable for a renter to spend several thousand dollars to move their home to save $10 or $20 per month. In addition there is no guarantee that the mobile home park that they move their home to will not follow suit with a rent increase of their own. Lower Operating Expense Ratio: Another reason for the lower operating expense ratio for mobile home parks is that you are not responsible for painting, cleaning carpets, fixing windows, and all the fun jobs of the apartment maintenance personnel. You are typically only responsible up to where the home connects to your utilities and the maintenance of the common areas. Depreciation: As far as depreciation, apartments have a large value attributable to the building itself and the building portion is generally required to be depreciated over 27.5 years However, for mobile home parks, the depreciable costs are typically the roads, water lines, sewer lines, electric poles and so on. These are considered land improvements and are typically depreciated over a period of 15 years. This increased depreciation over the first 15 years is a major tax benefit for many investors. Barriers For Entry Competition: Another hidden benefit of mobile home parks are the barriers to entry for competition. In most areas of the country, it is difficult to get the proper zoning, meet all the requirements to build a new community and actually make a profit. Face it, once you get all the permits and licenses and have the curbs, roads, driveways, utilities, pads and everything else built out, you will have a carrying cost until you actually get enough homes into the project to break even, let alone start making a profit. Mobile Home Parks are in limited supply and the barriers to entry as far as costs, regulations and government restrictions make developing new parks unfeasible in most areas. State and local governments restrict new mobile home park developments for many reasons, including: bad reputation, existing owners allowing parks to deteriorate, less property tax base to fund schools, police, fire, and other government services. Most Individuals Own Their Home: Another benefit of mobile home parks is that in most cases you have individuals that own their own homes and will tend to take care of the home as well as their lot. Since you are renting basically the land and the utility connections, there is not near as many things that your renters can do to cost you major repairs. Sure they may flush things down the sewer and let the water run, but they will not be putting holes in the walls and floors or spilling things on the carpet as they will in your apartment rentals. You rent the land and do not have to fix leaky kitchen faucets or toilets. Good Position To Buy And Sell: Another benefit of owning mobile home parks is that you are often in a good position to buy and sell new and used mobile homes. You can often buy homes that people sell in your park, in nearby parks, repos, or even new homes from the manufacturers and place them in your park and sell them at a profit. Depending on the situation, you may be able to sell them for cash, on terms, or with new financing. As the park owner, every time you sell a home and fill a vacant lot in your park you have just increased the monthly lot rent income as well as the value of the park. *If each occupied lot is worth an additional $10,000 then in addition to the profit from the home sale itself you have just made an extra 10k in equity!* A mobile home dealer makes money on the spread between the purchase and sale price and thus needs to have good profit margin to stay in business. As the park owner you can live on a much smaller or even a break even on the home sales and thus save your buyers thousands of dollars. Dave Reynolds is a successful real estate investor that has specialized in the purchasing of Mobile Home and RV Parks for the past 12 years. He has the keen ability to quickly assess deals, cut through hype, measure upside vs. downside risk, and make sound decisions. He has owned and operated over 55 Mobile Home & RV parks over the past 12 years in 16 different states. He currently owns over $10,000,000 in mobile home park real estate. Dave Reynolds received a B.S. in Accounting from Mesa State College in Colorado in 1992 and attended graduate school majoring in Accounting and Taxation at Colorado State University in 1993-1994. Frank Rolfe was born in Missouri, the Show Me state, and has been starting up businesses since high school. He has had two big successes: a billboard business that he sold to a public company in 1996, and a mobile home park business that he sold to various buyers beginning in 2004. He always has several start-ups in the hopper ” currently an old time photography business, a web-based educational products business, an art school, and a return to the billboard business. Frank Rolfe holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University. Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe have combined forces to bring the real estate market a better perspective on the multiple successes you can have with Mobile Home Parks. Together they have a combined experience of 20+ years and over $100,000,000 worth of deals under their belt. This post is provided by REI Club for real estate investors. Copyright 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved. Published with Permission of Author. No part of this publication may be copied or reprinted without the express written permission of the Author and/or REIClub.com. With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page. American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

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    Some additional considerations to this sort of investment:

    Poorly written lease contracts can create as much if not more liability than leases and rentals covering apartments.

    Land owners are responsible for ensuring proper utilities in ways that are more direct than with most apartment situations.

    The complications of property ownership when it comes to unsecured property taxes owed to county agencies may become a debt liability of the landlord when mobile homes are abandoned.

    The insurance on mobile home parks tends to be higher due in part to the fact that they are know tornado magnets (Joke). But really, they are open areas that are often established in flood zones and open to nature in all of it’s glory, so look carefully into insurance costs.

    The wider area of a trailer park is more ground to cover, so added costs in security, staff time, transport costs and such, especially in larger parks. Figure this into budgets.

    Access to disabled persons, fairness in housing laws, contract enforcement, maintaining a safe environment, preventing blight, and sanitation all are issues to consider as well.

    This represents a BIG investment in time and money. Ensure that your portfolio is already very diverse with retirement plans, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, commodities, and more before sinking tons of money into an investment like this.

    Trailer parks are a nontraditional investment asset which require on-site management, and not a security asset like stocks or bonds that require little oversight. There is always potential for claims.

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