Tag Archives: mobile home parks

Rachel Hernandez is ‘going it alone’

‘Mobile Home Gurl’ finds her niche

In her own words, the woman known to some as “Mobile Home Gurl” is an entrepreneur, a dreamer, a thinker. A doer.

Rachel Hernandez, AKA “Mobile Home Gurl”, addresses the audience at a recent author’s seminar.

She started investing in real estate with single family homes, but her mind was captivated and heart captured when she immersed herself in the world of mobile home investment. And she’s taken quite a few of us on the ride with her, in her blog and in the book “Adventures in Mobile Homes” and others.

Rachel Hernandez, as she also is known, operates in the vicinity of San Antonio, Texas. She prefers to buy locally to regionally, and rather than looking for parks she has concentrated on purchasing individual mobile homes, and and more recently securing the land they sit on or a good parcel where they can be placed.

“I focus on the area first and then find the deals,” Hernandez said. “As an experienced investor, I’ve learned to find motivated sellers. Usually, I can tell over the phone whether a seller is motivated or not.”

Strategy

Most of the deals Hernandez pursues are unadvertised. She has an education and background in sales and marketing, and networking is among her greatest strengths. She leverages that capability and relies on her industry interactions and relationships to find opportunity.

Her first deal took about a year to complete, and she continues to take it relatively slow. She purchases one or two homes at a time, and puts her “sweat equity” into them.

“Usually, I get them up to apartment standards,” Hernandez said. “New carpet and paint at a minimum.” She fixes the leaks, fills any cracks or holes and gives a thorough cleaning. Then she offers the home on a rent-to-buy plan.

“Most people appreciate this hybrid as it’s not like a mortgage where you’re locked in, but at the same time you’re not just renting,” she said.

Her inventory is on the rise, to the point where she owns in quantity what would be a small mobile home community. She does receive regular offers to partner, but has resisted the urge to purchase an entire community outright. She remains on the lookout for land, and does work in communities buying both homes and pads, operating just on the fringe from that investor who looks to buy or infill on a larger scale.

Investing-in-mobile-homes

Meet the Challenge

And while she appreciates having all of the particular on paper, she mostly “follows her gut” when deciding what to pursue and what to leave alone.

“It’s more the person than the price. If the person I’m talking with on the phone does not seem trustworthy, or seems like they’re covering something up…  I back off immediately,” she said. “No matter how good the deal sounds, an untrustworthy seller is a deal breaker for me.”

Still, Hernandez has run into problems.

“I imagined buying a home, filling it and moving on to the next deal,” she said. “Though I did this for many years without many issues, I started taking back more homes as my inventory grew.”

A rent-to-own resident loses a job, goes through a divorce or wants to move closer to family, and sometimes the only solution is to reclaim the home and find someone new for it.

“I knew taking homes back was part of the business. But I didn’t plan on it being a large one,” Hernandez said. “So, I had to learn to work with contractors. There was no way I could fix up all these homes myself.”

Another difficulty has nothing to do with residents and everything to do with one of her favorite parts of the vocation… the prime location.

“Unfortunately, sometimes local ordinances may place more scrutiny on mobile home parks, as an asset class,” she said. “There’s still that mindset.”

The not-in-my-back-yard attitude, the general concern of reduced property values, and the perceived threat of residents who pay less tax than many for the same municipal services, often can be difficult issues to navigate when looking to obtain rezoning or a new use permit – regardless of the great need for more affordable housing.

All part of the journey, Hernandez said.

The take-back and fix-up strategy, as well as the municipal hurdles, have resulted in another of her books, this one entitled “Real Estate Investing Sucks: How to Deal with Change and Find Success as a Real Estate Investor”.

“I document my entire experience,” Hernandez said. “I persist. I know what I want and keep going. Success takes time.”

Marketing to the Retirement-Age Consumer

 

The marketing and advertising world is ever changing, and something we hear quite a bit is that you have to keep on top of the next generation, making sure everything is new, exciting and changing with the time.

While these are important factors, in our industry it’s also important to maintain and customize your advertising to the generations that are looking to retire!

Some key details about your community, your home, or the area your home is located can be ideal for a retirement-age buyer. Here are some items you want to be sure to include:

Is your community an “Age Restricted” community?

Some communities require their home owners to be 55+ in an effort to maintain an environment suitable for this demographic. This is important to add to your community listing and your home listing. It is also helpful to note if your community allows exceptions to this rule.

Does your community allow Pets?

Not only do you want to include in your advertisements if the community allows pets, but it is helpful to detail specific restrictions. Some allow cats but not dogs. Some allow cats and dogs but only certain breeds or dogs of a certain weight. All of these details are incredibly important since no one wants to leave behind their furry family member!

Is the home accessible?

Some homes have modifications added to allow more accessibility for an individual who has a disability. If your home or the community has any specific features that would be helpful or useful for someone in this position be sure and include this in the description.

What is the community like?

We all have our own idea of what our “perfect” retirement environment would be. Is your community on the waterfront with access to fishing, or walks through a wooded path? Or maybe your community is a social one with planned activities and a game room. Either way letting the buyer know what the atmosphere of the community provides can be essential.

What is the area like?

Similar to the including details about the community, accessibility to grocery stores, shopping malls, cultural events and other local attractions are great details to provide your buyer.

While these tips might sound simple to include, they can make the difference in turning that interested shopper into a buyer!

Nowhere to go but up

 

mobile-home-park-investing

Kevin Bupp will tell you he’s in a better place today than he was just three years ago.

That’s saying something for a guy who’s spent two decades in real estate successfully buying and capitalizing on single-family homes, commercial properties and apartment buildings.

There are worse fates.

And, Kevin wears a big smile and readily shares his joy about where he and his associates have landed.

Sunrise Capital Investors is in the value-add niche

“We’re still small fish in a medium sized pond, because the industry is still not as large as it could be,” said Bupp, a resident of Clearwater, Fla., and co-owner with Charles DeHart and Brian Spear of Sunrise Capital Investors. “Manufactured is all we focus on now.”

Bupp and his partners are seasoned investors who purchase and improve what most often are referred to as “mobile home parks”, though a true mobile home, by definition, hasn’t been manufactured in the U.S. since June 1976. Since then, and today, manufactured homes are stamped for quality by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Some of the communities Sunrise purchases have homes that pre-date the 1976 regulatory change, but most are small to mid-size communities with homes from the 1980s and ’90s, some newer.

Their investment targets represent a middle-market niche that larger investors and owners overlook, though less so in recent years.

2016 Real Estate Returns by Sector

 

 

 

 

 

Value-add Niche

“We’re really value add guys,” Bupp said. “We are really good at taking a community that is in distress, but in a good market, and taking out the bad elements, bringing in some improvements and making things work.”

It’s a niche that’s gaining stability and wider recognition all the time, largely because the ROI doesn’t lie.

“It took us a year to buy the first park, then it’s been one or two in those in between years,” Charles DeHart said. “In the last 18 months, we’ve purchased six parks.

“We have five more parks currently in contract (pending sale) that represent 430 spaces,” he said.

Sunrise has raised more than $2 million in cash during the last two years from the attraction of 10 dedicated outside investors, and they look to raise $3-5 million more to purchase another six parks – perhaps 800 land-lease spaces – during the next 12 months.

It’s not BIG business investing, but it’s been shown as a way to steadily grow wealth. And, if you ask the Sunrise partners and similar investors, it’s a way to improve affordable housing stock – for the metro area and for the park residents.

“We’re in a niche that allows us to earn a very reasonable return for our investors,” DeHart said. “And also provide quality housing for people who may be coming into home ownership for the first time in their lives or even in their family’s history.”

How it’s done

They don’t buy through a broker. Brokers typically want to work with higher volume investors, and also make sizable commissions. Rather, Bupp and DeHart delve into county records within a geographic area of interest. They find out where the communities are and who owns them. If they’re fortunate, they find a phone number for the owner.

After that, it’s sales 101; they make cold calls, employ heavy use of direct mail and sometimes put out bandit signs.

“We typically have five or six unique owners in the system at any given time, and check back with them three to four times per year,” DeHart said. “It’s not just finding the right seller, it’s about finding the right seller at the right time.”

Often, they’re in front of a prospective seller before the owner of a property realizes they’re in a good position to sell. So, checking back often is key to being in the right place at the right time.

They work some of the prospects themselves, but commonly put out a post to acquire a “trainee broker” who can visit communities of interest, take photos and notes, and possibly make an introduction to get talks underway. That trainee broker also learns how to access county records that are unavailable online, and does this on their own time and earns a commission when a sale is made.

In training these brokers, Sunrise is creating more than a strategy, more than a company brand. They’re helping to build an industry. Along those lines, the three operate Mobile Home Park Academy, which teaches others how to do what Sunrise does. Charles and Kevin host a podcast on the topic, and also are in the final throes of writing a book on mobile home park investing.

“We intend to be in the business for a long time. We really enjoy it, it’s lucrative and we appreciate being able to provide a critical affordable housing segment,” Bupp said. “We only buy stuff that makes sense. If we only buy one community in a year, that’s good with us. It will be the one we want to buy.”

What’s the Deal?

Big Investors Move to Find Best Deals Before Market Levels

Lakeway Mobile Estates,Bellingham, Wash.

From Bellingham, Wash. to Newnan, Ga., Jon Harrison scans the map for just the right patch of land. He talks to brokers, scours county records and relies on whatever information he can gain from inside sources.

All in the name of finding the prime manufactured home community.

Harrison isn’t looking for his retirement place. He’s not looking for the simple yet ideal coastal getaway for the family. He works for Inspire Communities, not the largest of the community owners, but certainly entrenched in the top quarter of the industry.

A former broker himself, Harrison is in acquisitions, and always is looking for the perfect mix of placement and amenities that can be a great home for 200 hundred residents or more – and no less important, a stellar portfolio addition for the company owners and investors.

Continue reading

“Location. Location. Location.” – Details Make the Difference!

We all know the age old saying “Location. Location. Location.” Are you promoting all the location benefits of your Homes or Community in your ads?

Know Your Location Benefits

“Promote your location benefits” means telling potential buyers or residents all about your area. Keep in mind, a large percentage of the buyers on MHVillage are from out of state, so they may not be as familiar with your area. Of course you want people to know about home features and community amenities, but don’t forget to include information about the local area too!

For instance, if your community is in a great school system, that can appeal to families. If your community or home is located near a popular urban city or a shopping center, or even popular restaurants and bars, those can be valuable features to a home buyer who wants to be social and on the scene. Access to bus lines can also be important

 

And don’t forget about those retirees looking for a nice quite place to call home!  

 


If your community or home has access to a beautiful body of water, or is a short distance from a relaxing park or hiking trail, you’ll want to be sure and include that information too. Even if you aren’t an “age qualified” community – you just might have the perfect home for a home buyer looking to retire. All of these details give the buyer a better idea of what their day to day would look like, which might be the little extra nudge they need to give you a call!

 

How to Advertise Your Location Benefits

MHVillage has Description sections for both home listings and communities. (Sales centers too, but that’s for another article all together!) This is the perfect place to tell people the wonderful features of your area. There is no word limit and home buyers on the site really do read them. The more information you provide, the easier it is for a buyer to sell themselves right from your online ad!

As always we are here to help, so if you would like to have one of our account reps review your home or community ads for you, just give us a call or email and we can set up a time to go through it all!

Advertising Your Vacant Sites to Potential Residents

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

First, I want to send a big MHVillage thank you to Chris in Sweetwater, TN. Chris writes: Awesome job MHVillage…..What a website! Keep up the great work! I have now sold at least 6 homes off this site, and am about to list 3 more! Congrats on your successful summer Chris!

Earlier this year, I spent a lot of time at our industry’s trade shows and conventions. One question I often heard was, “How do I advertise my vacant lots on your website?” MHVillage has two great tools for promoting your sites for refill. Read on for more details, then download our white paper, “Advertising Your Vacant Sites on MHVillage” to share with your community managers and sales team.

First, tell us you have available sites

Log into your account on MHVillage and click to edit your community’s information. In the Vacant Sites field, just tell us how many sites you have available. We will add that information to your community. Now your community will show in search results whenever buyers are looking for available sites.

Then, Promote your sites with a Showcased Community

Showcase your community, then click the Promote Vacant Sites check box. That will add eye catching sales text to your community on MHVillage, so buyers will see it right away!

Download the white paper below for more step by step instructions – and as always, let us know if you have any questions. We are always happy to help!

 

Click to download our White Paper on Vacant Site Advertising on MHVillage

Click to download our white paper on Vacant Site Advertising on MHVillage

 

 

 

 

Are You Ready for Vacation Home Shoppers?

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE
Park Place in Sebastian, Florida. I'm in Michigan as I write this and this photo makes me want to hop on a plane!

Park Place in Sebastian, Florida. This looks like heaven to a Michigander like me.

As the weather starts to get colder in the Norther climates, people start thinking about vacation properties. If you are located in a warm weather state, did you know that: 56% of vacation home buyers start their home search online and 93% of vacation home shoppers use the internet during their home search?*

In other words, well over half of the people who start thinking about vacation properties start their search by looking online, and almost all of them use the internet at sometime during their search! That’s why if you have manufactured homes in communities frequented by out-of-state (or out of country) vacationers, you need to have all your home listings online. Not only that, but you need to make sure that all your community data is up to date and looking it’s best.

Here are five quick tips to draw the attention of Vacation Shoppers:

  • Make sure all your inventory is online. Vacationers will have to travel to purchase a home, and they are going to be more likely to go to places where they can see as many options as possible in a single trip. Having more homes available makes you more attractive than your competitors.
  • Of course vacationers want different from things than year round residents. Make sure your community and your homes on MHVillage list rental and site leasing specials, promotions, special events, and other opportunities.
  • Have vacant sites in your community? Turn that into a selling point! Now is the time to include in your community description that buyers can purchase the perfect home and have it placed in the community of their dreams – yours!
  • Do a quick survey of your photos on MHVillage. If possible, get photos with blue skies and sunshine – something the Northern climates are starting to lack. Include photos of shuffleboard courts, pools, tennis courts, golf courses and anything else that would draw in people looking to relax and have a good time. Photos of landscaping showing flowers and palm trees are also winners.
  • Take a look at your Caption lines, do they have a call to action for vacation home buyers? There is a great article on how to write captions lines on this newsletter (Missed Marketing Opportunities – Caption Lines) take a look at that, and then craft Captions that draw folks from out-of-state. (Hint: Heated Pool, Resident Activities, and Beautiful Ocean Breezes)

If you have any questions about updating your community or home listings on MHVillage.com, please let us know. We are always happy to walk you through the site!

 

*Source: The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate

Missed Marketing Opportunity – Caption Lines

Note from the Editor: It is time for another in our Missed Marketing Opportunities series! We’re highlighting simple tips and options on MHVillage that can dramatically increase the performance of your online advertising. Today we are revisiting an article from the archives on Well Crafted Caption Lines. Caption Lines are available on all Premium and Featured Listings, Showcased Communities and Pro+ accounts.

Our research has revealed that certain manufactured home listings attract far more home buyers than others – often getting as much as three times the number of views as other listings. These high-performing power listings aren’t always the first ones in the list, or the cheapest, or even the fanciest homes. However, they do have some special listing details all in common – and here’s the best part – these details can be added to any home listing – regardless of the home!

The Well Crafted Caption Line

On MHVillage the Caption Line is your first opportunity to tell buyers about your home. When someone does a search they’ll get a list of manufactured homes for sale and rent in their area. The Caption Line is how you draw people in.

Here is a great example taken from a search in Bradenton, FL. The Caption Line is the line of text at the top in gray.  In this example it is: Beautiful…Fully Furnished……In Great Gated Community…Pet Friendly….

Homes for Sale in Bradenton FLAt the time of this article, there are 160 homes for sale in Bradenton. The Caption Line helps this home stand out from the crowd.

Caption Lines Are A Great Sales Tool

A well crafted Caption Line can attract the right customers – and weed out the ones who won’t qualify.  With just a few words, Caption Lines can showcase a home’s best features, grab people’s attention, and encourage the right buyer to click on your listing and learn more. They do this with specific details that target a particular audience.

Let’s look at some examples of Specific Details and the Audience they are geared toward:

  1. The kitchen is the most important room in the house for many home shoppers. Give them something to chew on: “Granite Counter Tops and all Stainless Appliances.”
  2. Home mechanics or wood hobbyists would home in on a potential work room: “Two car garage with separate 50 amp circuit.”
  3. Many customers need creative financing to purchase. If you are willing to help finance the sale, make sure the shoppers know this: “Owner financing available.”
  4. Some buyers will only locate in a 55+ or All Family Community, so include that if it applies: “55+ Community” or “All Ages, Family Community” as appropriate.

To compare, here are some examples of poor–performing Caption Lines that we frequently see. Any of these will result in below average traffic to your listing:

  1. Statements that don’t say anything: “The Best Home” or “Great Kitchen.” (Why is it the best? What makes it great?)
  2. Statements that repeat information already in the search result: “1972, 2 Bed, 2 Bath Home for Sale.”
  3. All capital letters and/or excessive punctuation. Usually this is combined with statements that don’t say anything: “THE BEST HOME” or “Great Kitchen!!!!!!!!!”.

One Special Case: What if your home is priced much more higher than that of comparable homes in the area? Listings that appear overpriced in the search results will not be clicked on. In this case, you MUST use the caption line to explain why. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. “Price includes Co-op Share, Association Fee just $149 / month.”
  2. “Completely Remodeled 2,300 sq. ft Home with Barrier Free Baths.”
  3. “Located on a Large Landscaped Corner Lot with Beautiful Views of the Lake.”

Use this space to tell buyers exactly what makes your home special – and more than worth its price!

Creating/Editing Your Caption Line on MHVillage:

The Caption Line is created from the “Listing Caption” text box located under the home’s description when you list/edit a home. Here’s a screen shot of that page:

You can add or change your Caption Line at any time.  Here’s how:

  1. Log into your MHVillage account with your email address and password.
  2. Click “View/Change/Remove Listings”
  3. On the right side of your listing listing click the “Edit listing” link.
  4. Go to the Description page.
  5. The Listing Caption text box is under the description field. Edit or add the Caption Line and save your changes.
  6. Remember – you might need to wait a few minutes before checking your search results because your changes may not show up for half an hour.

Note: only Featured and Premium listings have a Caption Line. If you have a Basic listing, consider upgrading to one of the other listing types so you can add a Caption Line.

  1. When you are editing your listing, go to the Options page.
  2. Select either “Featured Package” or “Premium Package”
  3. Save your changes and your Caption Line will appear.

You can also add Caption Lines to Showcased Communities and Pro+ account Sales Centers. If you have questions, or need assistance adding Caption Lines, email us and let us know. We’ll be happy to walk you through it.

Missed Marketing Opportunity: Skimping on the Description

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

The last few weeks I have been posting articles on the Missed Marketing Opportunities Professionals sometimes miss on MHVillage. These are simple, easy-to-do tips that can really change the effectiveness of your online advertising. Some of these tips may cost a few dollars, but most are free – including today’s tip: Writing Great Home Descriptions.

Whether you are advertising your manufactured homes for sale or rent on MHVillage, your own website or both, good, solid home descriptions are an essential key. To explain why, I am going to republish an article I wrote way back in 2010. I’ve updated it a little and added some additional data, but what was true 3 years ago is even more true today:

Missed Marketing Opportunity: Not Taking The Time To Write Great Home Descriptions That Sell

Here at MHVillage, we believe that almost everyone who wants to sell their manufactured home would be well served by working with a professional. After all, selling a home can be a complicated and confusing process, and many folks simply don’t have the time, or the know-how, to properly sell property. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from listings For Sale By Owner (FSBO.) In fact, homeowners tend to write terrific home descriptions and take great photos. Why? Because they care.

What FSBOs have that Manufactured Home Professionals Do Not:

Living, breathing day in and day out knowledge of the home.  When you live in a home, you know what makes it great; you know why you bought it in the first place. Maybe it was the amenities offered by the mobile home community, the great view, the good school system, the spacious living room or the deck out back. Maybe it was a simply good place to live with a low lot rent, but in any case, a homeowner intimately knows the pros and cons of their own homes. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. Here are two actual mobile home descriptions from MHVillage:

Home #1

This gorgeous home has lots of storage with open floor space. The home includes: A large kitchen with lots of oak cabinets and counter top space, breakfast bar, pantry, formal dining room, bright, cheerful breakfast/sun room, PLUS family room. Surrounded by trees but with an easy care yard, on park walking path. Floor Plan offers a private, master suite with separate walk in shower, garden tub, linen closet and skylight. Double tandem carport, 2 decks, one which overlooks green belt area. Ceiling fans in every room, and an evaporator cooler that keeps this home cool and comfortable.  Please call 999-999-9999 for more information or to schedule a walk through.

Home #2

New carpet and hardwood floors.

Hmmmm…. which home would you want to drive out and see? Keep in mind that both these homes are in the same manufactured home community, both listed at about the same price. The only major difference is that one of these homes was listed by the owner and another was listed by an industry professional. Can you guess which one? The top description was written by a homeowner who is obviously passionate about their home and willing to go the extra step to sell it. And you know what? It works!

Use the Description not only for the home, but also to highlight great features in the community.

Use the Description Section for not only the home, but also to highlight great features in the community.

When you are listing your homes online, you need to take a few extra steps to capture the buyer’s attention. When people are walking through a home, they can sell themselves on the walk-in closets and extra bathrooms, but when they are viewing it online you need to use a combination of photos and words to tell the story. (To learn more about why check out check out last week’s article.) Every MHVillage listing comes with a description section with ample space for you to really sell your manufactured home. We’ve also added bullet points and text tools so you can use Bold, Italics and Underlined type – and there’s even a spell check tool so you know everything is correct.

Also, note how the homeowner above added a call to action on the bottom of their description: Please call 999-999-9999 for more information or to schedule a walk through. Every home you list should have something like this in the description. Encourage potential buyers to call, email, or check out your website. Let them know about special offers or if you offer financing. This is your chance to directly reach out to the buyer and start the buying process!

Looking for ideas on what to say?

If you are brokering the home, talk to the homeowner.  Ask them to tell you what they liked most about their home.  They may also know features about the neighborhood or the park itself, that can be big selling points.

The description section on MHVillage allows you to really sell your homes.

Or, try walking through the home as a buyer yourself.  Ask yourself the simple question, “Why should someone buy this home?”  If it is a handyman special – there is nothing wrong with stating it. In fact, that let’s buyers know what to expect when they come look at the property.  Many mobile homes come with extras people like: garden tubs, extra pantries, laundry areas and so on. Also look at the area where the home is located – is it close to schools, shopping, parks or bus lines?  Are there community features people would like? Examples could include a playground, shuffleboard courts, a pool or community activities.  Don’t wait to tell people about these features until they are at the home – you need to sell them first, so they get out of the computer chair and grab their car keys!

 

Looking for more tips on how to get more leads? Here are links to the other articles in the series:

Eight Missed Marketing Opportunities – Your Sales Center on MHVillage

Missed Marketing Opportunity – One Simple Tip To Getting More Leads

Missed Marketing Opportunity – Don’t Forget the Features!

To keep up with new articles in the series as they are posted, just subscribe on the right! They will be instantly emailed right to you.

NEW on MHVillage – Shopping on Your Smart Phone!

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE
Home buyers can now use their phones to find your listings!

Home buyers can now use their phones to find your listings!

On February 25th, MHVillage launched an exciting new tool for manufactured home buyers: a mobile version of our website. Now there are two ways for buyers to find you on MHVillage – with their computer, or on their smart phone!

As you know, MHVillage has a lot of information. This new mobile site is a simplified version that works like an app. We’ve specifically optimized it to help buyers find manufactured homes, communities and sale centers. It is popular already – there are currently over 6,000 people a day using their phone to shop MHVillage for homes and communities.

Here’s a breakdown of what buyers are using to shop:

Smart Phone Usage on MHVillage

Smart Phone Operating Systems on MHVillage

Andriod – 65%
iOS – 33%
Windows Phone – 1%
BlackBerry – 0.5%
Samsung – 0.2%

Please note: our mobile site was built as a lead generation tool. Some MHVillage features are still only available on the full desktop version of the site. (You can’t list or edit your homes, for example.)

To use our new mobile site, just go to MHVillage.com on your smart phone. We will automatically ask you if you’d like to try it out. (You can switch back to the desktop version at any time.) If you have already tried our new mobile site, let us know what you think. We’d love to hear your feedback!