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The Acquisitions of Mobile Homes

Sam Zell’s Equity LifeStyle Properties acquired Davie mobile home park for $50.35 million last summer, which is 97 times what the owners of the property paid half a century ago. But they weren’t finished there. Hungry for more, the company acquired another mobile home park near Riviera Beach for a staggering $49.5 million. This makes Equity LifeStyle the largest mobile park owner in North America.

 

According to Equity LifeStyle’s quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the mobile home park business is in exponential growth mode. “We believe that demand from baby boomers for manufactured housing and RV communities will continue to outpace supply for several years,” the report states. “We also believe that our properties and our business model provide an opportunity for increased cash flows and appreciation in value.”

 

The competition is on against other institutional REITs, such as the Carlyle Group who also has its sights on mobile home parks and the profit margins that come with them. They are also competing against the local developers. More and more developers are becoming mobile home park moguls.

 

“It is all about chasing yield and buying recession-proof product,” said Miami Beach-based commercial Realtor and Analytics Miami founder Ana Bozovic. “Equity groups and institutional investors all know we are at the end of the cycle, and mobile homes are the most recession-proof housing stock in existence.”

Bozovic said all of her big clients are sitting on cash and searching for assets that yield consistent returns. “The smart-money players like Zell have all made fortunes anticipating the next downturn, and this is what they are doing here,” she said. “Mobile homes are just cash machines. Institutional buyers can get a park at a 4 percent cap rate. Rents go up and they optimize the operation.”

 

According to the Florida Department of Health, the agency that issues mobile home, lodging and recreational park licenses, there are 5,456 such facilities in the state. 

 

“They are very desirable, cash-flow-wise,” Mulkey said. “You don’t have to put up with a lot of dips in the economy, especially with the senior mobile home communities. Most of them pay rent with their Social Security checks. Even in a recession, they still pay rent. I get calls all the time from people looking to buy mine, but they are not for sale,” he said. “I don’t blame them for trying.”

 

According to brokers, a major reason why investors are seeking out mobile home park deals is because of their customer base. People who live in mobile homes are comfortable in their space and won’t usually go shopping for another home. Especially when the wealth gap in America is growing wider. In the U.S., roughly 22 million people live in mobile homes, according to a 2018 report by the Manufactured Housing Institute, a trade association for the industry.

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