It is not as difficult to find mobile home park investments as it may first appear. There are several easy and some more creative ways to find these opportunities. When I first started in the business about 12 years ago, there were fewer options today. Now the internet dominates as the medium for first locating and evaluating properties. However, there are other creative ways to look for mobile home opportunities that offer less competition. Here are some of the tried and true methods I have used in the past to locate mobile home park investments.
Do some internet research
The easiest place to start is by checking out the websites that have listings of mobile home parks for sale. There are several out there that offer thousands of opportunities, including mobilehomeparkstore.com, loopnet.com and cimls.com. There are new parks listed daily on these sites and the best way to utilize these services is to sign up for notification of new properties for sale. This way, you have a better chance of jumping on the good deals before they are available to the general public.
I have purchased over 50 mobile home parks over the past 12 years and about 15 of those purchases came as a direct result of listings on the internet.
Try a direct mail campaign
The next strategy that I would suggest is to start a direct mail campaign to mobile home parks that are in the markets and states in which you are interested. This has accounted for about 20 of my 50 mobile home park purchases. If you obtain a good list of addresses, you can target mobile home parks with a certain number of spaces in select markets expressing your interest in purchasing a mobile home park.
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I have experimented with postcards, letters and even actual purchase contracts, and I have found that the response is about the same for each of these. The key has not been in the type of document, but in the frequency of mailing. I have received many calls from mobile home park owners saying that they have received our numerous mailings over the years, and that they are giving us first shot at the park since they know that we are a legitimate company. I actually had one seller pull out a file containing over 25 mailings from us. In another instance I mailed out 1,000 letters to two states expressing our interest in buying mobile home parks. I followed this up about 2 weeks later with the same mailing piece (in error), and found that my response rate was about 100% higher from the second mailing. The keys with direct mail are a good mailing list and frequency.
Go for a drive
Drive through mobile home parks in markets of interest. Talk with the onsite manager/owner, or follow up with cold calls or letters to parks that you would be interested in owning. The advantage of this method is that you see the park before you start any communication with the owner, and dealing with someone that made the effort to see the park first will give the owner a level of comfort. This works best with owners who live onsite and whom you can meet face-to-face. I have purchased several parks this way, and I still have an open line of communication with the owners of many other parks that I anticipate purchasing when the owners are ready to sell.
Make some cold calls
This works best when the owner answers the phone, but it can be very frustrating. I have been hung up on many times, as have my employees. However, if you don’t mind the frustrations, this is a viable method of finding potential deals. Besides being hung up on, the biggest frustration that I have had is getting the response that anything is for sale at the right price (which is usually more than it is worth).
Leverage real estate brokers
Another option is to stay in contact with real estate brokers that specialize in the sale of Mobile Home Parks. Constant contact is key in order to get a copy of all of their listings as soon as they receive them. Before they put the listings on the internet, they will send out the information to the buyers whom they know are serious in hopes of making a quick sale. You want to be on that list so you get first shot at the good listings. Once you have a relationship with a broker, and especially after you successfully close a transaction with them, they will know that you are a real buyer. I have one broker from whom I have purchased three parks. He knows what I am looking for and he contacts me anytime that he gets something that fits my criteria.
Along with staying in contact with those brokers that specialize in mobile home parks and commercial real estate, you should contact brokers in those specific markets where you are looking to buy parks. Many times, these brokers will not know about the internet sites that can help them sell the parks and do not understand how to value and market mobile home parks. Many times their listings will be grossly overpriced, but you will occasionally find those listings that are priced right, or—even better—under market.
There are plenty of other places to look for mobile home park opportunities, including newspapers (online and offline), trade magazines, local and national MLS services and other websites. In addition, you may find quality leads by researching county tax records, or by talking with banks, appraisers, movers, dealers and other industry professionals. If you get creative, there are plenty of ways to find your first or your next deal.