Investor interest in manufactured housing communities (the industry term preferred over "mobile home parks") ebbs and flows, but is currently on an upswing. With employment rising, wages slowly lifting, and yields on apartments at near-historic lows, many are turning to manufactured housing as an alternative.
I've run over 5,000 mobile home pads in addition to nearly 30,000 apartments. There are substantial differences in operations and financial performance that must be well understood before investing in MH. This post is not about those differences.
Instead, it provides an anecdote-based introduction to 55+ parks, their management, and demographic potential. The luxurious retirement communities of Florida and the Sunbelt are well known. Less well known are the opportunities in growing regions where Boomers may seek out quality of life or proximity to familiy when resettling.
WHEN PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY professor Andrée Tremoulet held focus groups with seniors in mobile-home parks, she was surprised that so many said they’d do it all over again. In a paper published in the Journal of Housing for the Elderly, Tremoulet speculates that mobile-home parks can, for some seniors, do a better job of meeting needs than more-traditional arrangements in apartment buildings or in the suburbs. The design of the community allows seniors to own and modify their homes, have dogs, and putter around with hobbies like gardening in a way they couldn’t in an apartment building. Meanwhile, because parks have boundaries and streets, they function a bit like a gated community, where residents feel safe and have an easier time making friends than in either an apartment or a suburb. Mobile-home parks give residents a lot of control over their desire to be alone or to be social, Tremoulet found.