Rethinking the Renaming Trend in the Mobile Home Park Sector

In recent discussions within the mobile home park sector, the term "land-lease communities" has surfaced as the newest contender for renaming what many still call a mobile home park. This industry has seen its fair share of rebranding efforts, from "coach park" to "trailer park," and now to "manufactured home community." Each iteration aims to shake off old connotations and refresh the image presented to tenants and investors.

The terms "coach" and "trailer" clearly didn't hit the mark, carrying with them implications of transience and instability. It's understandable why these labels were left behind in favor of "mobile home," which suggests both mobility and permanence—qualities unique to these homes compared to traditional stick-built houses.

The shift to "manufactured home community" marked a significant upgrade. This term was chosen for its sophisticated flair, appealing more to lenders and providing a socially acceptable term for residents. Our parks don the "manufactured home community" label like a suit for special occasions—sales and refinancing—while sticking to the simpler "mobile home park" in everyday conversation.

Now, the proposal to adopt "land-lease community" is on the table, but it seems to complicate rather than clarify. Many tenants are already barely comfortable with "manufactured home community," and introducing another new term could add to the confusion. Furthermore, the word "lease" carries mixed connotations in the U.S. real estate context, often linked to less desirable leasehold arrangements.

Moreover, removing "home" from the name detaches the term from its specific association with mobile home parks, broadening it ambiguously to potentially include any leased land scenario, such as RV parks. This could lead to the cumbersome combination "manufactured home land-lease community," which is not only a mouthful but may also fail to fit on a sign.

Considering these points, it might be wise to maintain the status quo. "Mobile home park" works well for daily use, and "manufactured home community" serves its purpose for formal occasions. Introducing "land-lease community" as a new term might not bring the revitalization the industry hopes for. As the sector looks forward, the focus might be better placed on enhancing the services and image rather than revisiting the nomenclature yet again.

Frank Rolfe
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.