In the United States, there are two different pictures that come to mind with the words, “mobile home park:”
- An established neighborhood made up primarily of single-wide mobile homes that are often set up to be semi-permanent, and can remain in place for many years.
- A vacation destination similar to a campground, but focused on providing space and amenities to owners of recreational vehicles, tow-behind campers, and other similar mobile homes.
Obviously, these are very different businesses. So, on this site, we’ve tried to reduce any confusion by using the term “mobile home park” to refer to the first definition above, and “RV park” for the second.
So, with that explanation out of the way, let’s assume you have already acted on your decision to buy a mobile home park. Now, it’s your responsibility (and passion) to make the venture profitable and financially sustainable. What’s that going to take?
As it turns out, it’s really about some basic daily, weekly, and seasonal maintenance routines that combine to make your mobile home park attractive to potential and existing residents, while streamlining the cost and time investment.
Sweat the small stuff
Before getting into specific routines or tasks, though, it’s important to point out that a mobile home park WILL NOT run itself.
It’s a dangerous myth among entrepreneurs and others that get into real estate. Many people believe that owning an apartment building or a mobile home park means you can simply sit back, relax, and collect rent checks month after month with little else required from you. Or, that it’s the perfect business to run “on the side” in their free time outside their normal full-time working hours.
While that thought process might work if you’re renting out one apartment attached to your house, it’s simply not true when you have dozens of homes on your property. At least, not if you’re hoping to run a sustainable business that is successful over the long term.
That’s why it’s vital for anyone wanting to run a successful mobile home park to “sweat the small stuff:” Recognize there are going to be dozens of tasks that will pop up nearly every day — some big and some small — and that all of them need to be given the appropriate attention if you want your mobile home park to succeed. Problems need to be resolved quickly and courteously, and repairs and upgrades must be made in a timely fashion, with a goal of wrapping up issues before they become big and costly.
Approaching the business with that mindset is an excellent foundation for ongoing success.
The most obvious and egregious problems facing many mobile home parks today — and the main reason they tend to have a negative image in the public’s eye — can be traced back to maintenance:
- Maintenance of the grounds
- Maintenance of the homes
- Maintenance of the community
Those three different categories are all equally important.
Maintenance of the grounds
Everyone appreciates living in attractive surroundings. That doesn’t mean all of us require waterfront property with acres of meticulously manicured lawn and a fountain in the middle of the circular driveway. Still, attention to detail and a willingness to work at keeping the neighborhood looking good can go a very long way.
Here are a few simple tasks that can make up a basic maintenance routine that will result in huge dividends:
- Keep the lawns neatly trimmed
- Keep any “community spaces” free of clutter and clean (including mailboxes and trash dumpsters)
- Keep roads and driveways in good repair
- Periodically inspect individual properties to learn of any approaching issues or tenant activity that could impact how the neighborhood looks
Keeping up with these basic grounds maintenance activities can benefit your mobile home park in at least three different ways:
- It builds your reputation as an owner who cares, enhancing tenant loyalty
- It makes the community more attractive to potential tenants, which can improve occupancy, shorten vacancy periods, and even justify higher rents
- It tends to encourage residents to take pride in the look and feel of their own homes, cars, and yards if they can see that the surroundings always look their best
Maintenance of the homes
Depending on how your mobile home park is set up, you may be limited on how much authority you have in this area. If it’s within your power to do so, it can be highly beneficial to stick to renting and long-term leases of the homes on your property, as opposed to renting the lot and allowing residents to provide their own home structure. This gives you the authority to make repairs and improve the look of the homes when it’s necessary rather than waiting on homeowners who may not prioritize that sort of thing.
Of course, maintenance goes far beyond just keeping the outside of the mobile homes clean and presentable. Just like any home, there are systems, appliances, and materials throughout each building that age at varying rates. By staying on top of routine maintenance schedules for these, as well as promptly responding to repair needs or emergencies, you not only extend the life of the homes, but you also enhance profitability and your reputation as an owner.
Maintenance of the community
Finally, beyond how everything looks, it’s also important to foster a sense of community and make sure your residents feel comfortable and proud of living in your mobile home park.
There are a few different ways to accomplish this. Some examples include:
- Investing in adequate security - it may not make sense to make your park a gated community, but if “No Trespassing” signs and some discreet security cameras can help protect your investment while improving residents’ peace of mind, it’s a win-win.
- Investing in community spaces for recreation and socializing - it could be as simple as a small playground with a basketball court, a swimming pool, or even a building residents can use as a community center for parties and events. If you choose one of these options, make sure it is always well-maintained so that the space adds to, rather than detracts from, the overall value and aesthetic of the community.
- Organizing community events - from a simple community garage sale to the block party to end all block parties, anything that brings neighbors together improves their sense of belonging and their desire to support the community at large.
So, what sort of maintenance routines are you going to put in place to make a success out of your mobile home park?