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    • Learning the Business of Mobile Home ParksMobile home parks have evolved from affordable housing to lucrative investments for real estate entrepreneurs, with around 43,000 parks in the US and 22 million residents.

      Mobile home parks have evolved from being seen as inexpensive last resort housing options to lucrative investments for real estate entrepreneurs. In 2012, a group of investors gathered to learn how to find, buy, operate, and sell mobile home parks. Frank Rolfe, co-owner of Mobile Home University, taught them the ins and outs of the business, from due diligence to financing and evictions. Mobile home parks have a rich history, starting as luxury travel trailers in the 1920s and transforming into permanent housing communities during World War 2. Over the years, they gained a reputation as affordable housing for low-income Americans. However, the landscape began to change when investors like Frank Rolfe saw the potential in the restricted zoning and high demand. He bought his first park in 1996 and turned it into a successful business. Today, there are around 43,000 mobile home parks in the US, home to 22 million residents, and the trend of professional investors entering the market continues to grow.

    • Mobile home park investing industry growth and power dynamic with residentsMobile home park investing has surged due to economic downturns and low interest rates, but rent increases by new owners can put a financial strain on residents, particularly those on fixed incomes.

      The mobile home park investing industry has seen significant growth since the 2008 housing crisis due to low interest rates and the search for alternative investments that perform well during economic downturns. Mobile home parks offer investors the opportunity to buy land and rent out plots to residents who own their homes but do not own the land they are on. Since the homes are not easily movable, park owners have the power to raise rents at will. This has led to a rise in lot rents, with some new owners doubling or tripling the cost after purchasing parks. The impact of these rent increases can be substantial for residents, particularly those on fixed incomes, who may struggle to afford the additional costs. For example, Cheryl Strayberger, a retired nurse, has seen her lot rent increase significantly after new owners took over her mobile home park in Michigan. The increase in rent, along with additional fees, has put a strain on her budget, making it difficult for her to afford necessary medications and other expenses. Overall, the power dynamic between mobile home park owners and residents raises concerns about affordability and the potential for exploitation in the industry.

    • Mobile home park improvements boost residents' prideMobile home park owners invest in community upgrades to enhance residents' living experience and pride, despite rent increases, while residents value clean, well-maintained communities

      Mobile home park residents, many of whom have low incomes, value living in clean, well-maintained communities despite rent increases. Mobile home park owners, like Frank Rolfe, invest significantly in improving these communities, which often lack basic amenities and have poor street appeal. Improvements can range from entryways and offices to infrastructure like roads, water and sewer lines, and tree removal. These investments not only improve the property's appearance but also restore residents' pride of ownership. However, challenges persist, such as missing titles for homes, lack of meaningful improvements following rent increases, and unexpected issues like sewage leaks. For residents like Blair Roberts, mobile home parks can be a last resort, offering affordable housing options during difficult financial times.

    • Mobile home park challenges for residentsResidents can form cooperatives to buy the land and retain ownership of their homes, offering economic benefits and success for over 1,000 mobile home parks nationwide.

      While mobile home parks can be lucrative investments for park owners due to the high returns on the land, living in these parks can present significant challenges for residents. These challenges include issues with infrastructure, safety concerns, and limited control over the value of their homes. Residents may face difficulties when trying to sell their mobile homes, as park owners often prioritize the value of the land over the homes themselves. However, there is a potential solution for residents: forming resident-owned communities. Through cooperatives, homeowners can band together, buy the land beneath their homes, and retain ownership of their homes while collectively managing the land. This approach offers substantial economic benefits and has been successful for over 1,000 mobile home parks across the country.

    • Benefits for Low-Income Families in Cooperatively Owned Mobile Home ParksCo-op members pay below market rent after 5 years, homes sell for 16% more, and investors see profitability despite challenges

      Cooperatively owned mobile home parks offer several benefits for low-income families. On average, co-op members pay rent that is $50 below market after five years of ownership and $100 below market after ten years. Additionally, homes in resident-owned communities sell for an average of 16% more than homes in investor-owned parks, providing equity and real financial gains. Despite the challenges of a shrinking market and resistance from municipalities and homeowners, investors like Rolf still see potential in the business model due to its contrarian nature and profitability. The industry's affordability crisis and recent closures have not deterred investors like Paul Bradley, who sees the potential for profits even in economic downturns. The mobile home park industry may face obstacles, but its unique combination of housing and contrarian investment opportunities keeps attracting investors.

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    About Andrew Keel

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