How To Get "Organic" Move-Ins

Perhaps the best way to fill a vacant lot is with an existing homeowner. When someone moves their mobile home into your park that’s called an “organic move” – and it can be a win/win for everyone if properly handled. So what do you need to know about how to properly make organic moves happen?

Where organic moves come from

Although mobile homes are rarely moved, they do have that capability where the owner is determined. Organics come from four basic life events: 1) a job transfer 2) unhappiness at their current park and wanting to move somewhere else 3) purchase of a mobile home at a dealership or wholesaler and 4) the closure of the park the resident lives in that necessitates a new community choice. All of these are perfectly natural events that happen on a regular basis.

How to attract them

The first step is to let them know you have lots available and want their business. That would manifest itself in a banner at the entry that says “Lots Available” as well as a listing on Google under “mobile home parks in [name of market]” followed by a compelling website. And when a customer calls you need to roll out the VIP red carpet as every other park owner wants them, too. All managers should be told that these are extremely important customers and you don’t want to miss out on a single opportunity.

What to watch out for

You probably already guessed it: 1) those who are being evicted from their existing property for non-payment of rent and 2) those that are being evicted for the poor condition of their home or lot. If you take in that resident you are taking in an instant problem day one. The whole point of the organic move is to bring in an existing homeowner who is a stakeholder in the business model – not someone who wrecks your community.

Photos required

You would never want to approve an organic move-in without seeing current photos of the home. If it’s a 1990s home it’s probably a no-brainer. But a 1970s/1980s home in poor condition could be the start of a nightmare scenario unless the resident is going to do a complete makeover upon arrival. We live in the era of the texted photo – there’s no excuse not to get some.

Major success stories

We have filled properties with ten or twenty organic moves at one time from mobile home parks that are being shut down for redevelopment. You should watch for these news stories an immediately contact residents to offer your park as a new address (and even talk to the owner who is shutting down to see if he will aid in the movement).

Conclusion

Organic move-ins are extremely important in filling vacant lots. If you have any vacant lots, you need to adjust your marketing to attract them, and to emphasize to your manager their importance. When you see opportunities to attract large numbers of organics from other park closures, you should move aggressively.

Frank Rolfe has been an investor in mobile home parks for almost 30 years, and has owned and operated hundreds of mobile home parks during that time. He is currently ranked, with his partner Dave Reynolds, as the 5th largest mobile home park owner in the U.S., with around 20,000 lots spread out over 25 states. Along the way, Frank began writing about the industry, and his books, coupled with those of his partner Dave Reynolds, evolved into a course and boot camp on mobile home park investing that has become the leader in this niche of commercial real estate.