Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 97

The Wide Range Of Customers In Mobile Home Parks

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Do billionaires live in mobile home parks? Yes. And so do many other notable folks in the U.S. In this week’s Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series, we’re going to review the many different types of customers that are served by this unique housing option. Are some of them household names? You better believe it. It turns out that “trailer parks” are not only about affordable housing – there are many different facets to this industry.

Episode Transcript

Billionaires and movie stars, not exactly what you think of when you think about mobile home parks, but that's exactly the type of folks that actually live in them. In the Mastery podcast series, we're going to talk about the wide variety of mobile home park residents. This may shock you by some of the folks who live in mobile homes and mobile home parks, but it's entirely true. Let's start off with the billionaires. There are no less than five billionaires who live in a mobile home park. The mobile home park in question is called Montauk Shores and it's in the Hamptons right on the ocean. It's an area that's very, very good for surfing from what I understand. I don't know all five of their names. I know four of the five.

Darius Bikoff, who is the founder of Vitamin Water, Dan Loeb, who's a well-known hedge fund manager, Karen Lauder, who is the ex-wife of the owner of Estee Lauder and Fred Stella, a real estate developer, these folks use these mobile homes in a mobile home park as often a place just to go casually with their family. They often use them also when they go surfing. They come in and they shower and keep their surfboards there and such, but it is truly a full mobile home park. Cars on the streets are mostly Ferrari's and Lamborghini's, but nevertheless it's the same kinds of homes we have in all mobile home parks across America, nothing different, nothing special.

Now, let's move on to movie stars. There's a whole bunch of movie stars that live or have lived in mobile home parks, so let's just go through the list. One of the best known is Pam Anderson. Pam Anderson lived until recently in a mobile home park. There's two of them in Malibu, Paradise Cove and Point Doom, and these are the two parks that most movie stars live in, but not everyone on this list lived in those two parks. Pam Anderson lived in a double wide there until just very recently and in fact it sold for almost $500,000.00. The lot rent in Malibu is about $2,500 a month roughly, but here are some other folks you may not know.

Brittany Spears lived in a mobile home park typically visiting her aunt. She had apparently some years in her childhood that were somewhat troubled and she would often retreat and spend the night or days at a time with one of our elders who lived in a mobile home park. Ryan Gosling, the actor, lived in a mobile home park growing up as did Demi Moore who lived in a mobile home park I believe in New Mexico. Hilary Swank, another mobile home park resident, and then of course there's Eminem, everyone knows that. Marshall Mathers lived and grew up in a mobile home park in Detroit. It was called and featured in the mobile home, in the movie Eight Mile, but the movie had nothing to do with the actual park.

I found the address on Google and visited it myself. It was mostly a retirement park, looked nothing like that which was shown in the movie. Erin Moran of Happy Days lived in a mobile home park later on in life. Sean Penn lived in a mobile home park in Malibu after his home burned in one of those California wildfires. Matthew McConaughey lived for awhile in a mobile home park. Minnie Ddriver lived in a mobile home park, but probably the most important and best known celebrity who has ever lived in a mobile home park was in fact Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley lived in a mobile home park that he owned. It was about, I think it was 10 miles from Graceland back in the woods, and it was mostly occupied by he and his friends. It was a very happy place. In fact, Priscilla Presley, in her book on Elvis, said that she had a better time in the mobile home park than she ever did in Graceland. It's also worthy to note that that mobile home went to auction recently. I wish I'd bid on it because it was estimated to sell for half a million dollars or more, but the final price when the gavel hit was only about $60,000.00, so everyone who's in the mobile home park business should have chipped in and we could have all bought a little bit of Elvis's mobile home from his mobile home park.

Let's move now to well-known almost billionaires, and that of course would be Tony Psi. Tony owns or owned zappos.com which I think he sold to Amazon, I'm not sure. He owns a mobile home park in Las Vegas, not on the good side, but maybe more on the sketchy side of Vegas. He has a mobile home park there, which I toured about two years ago. Very interesting how he has that set up. It's all nothing but air streams and tiny homes, and it's all about being outside all the time talking to your friends.

You see, Tony lived in a high rise there in Vegas, in a penthouse, but he was very lonely and he realized he needed to be around people to be a happy person, so he bought a piece of land and brought back to life a mobile home park there, and basically the theory is that everyone hangs out, forms relationships, socializes and they only go back to their tiny homes and their RVs to sleep. To help facilitate that, he has a giant stage where they have weekly, or not weekly, nightly entertainment. He also has a lot of games there, pinball machines, ping pong, things like that.

He only has two structures. Everything is outdoors except for two structures, but those two are air conditioned. One is a business center and the other is a laundry building. He also lives there. He has a pet. I can't remember. I think it's a... Is it an emu? I'm not really sure what it is, but at any rate, it's kind of an eclectic way to live, but Tony Psi, with a net worth of $800 million, that's how he has chosen to live today. In fact, he's very gracious about it. If you contact Tony Psi when you're in Las Vegas, he'll probably more than likely get you a tour arranged. He's very proud of that mobile home park.

Now let's move on to politicians. The governor of Arkansas, no less than Mike Huckabee, lived in a triple wide when they were renovating the governor's mansion there in Little Rock back in the year 2000. He was very open about it. He told people he decided that was the most cost efficient way for him to live there at the capitol while the governor's mansion was under construction. He had nothing bad to say about it.

Another person who almost makes the list as a politician but didn't quite make it is Kid Rock, the famous rock and roller who ran, or was about to run for US senate, it's rumored recently. He lives in a double wide in Michigan. He lived in a regular house and then he got divorced, and he decided he didn't want to get another large house, so he instead put a double wide right on the lake, so he lives in a mobile home there in Michigan. We also had a state senator living in a mobile home park that we owned and later sold in South Beloit, Illinois. I don't know if he's still lives there or not, but he was very happy with his residence there.

Now let's move on to executives and wealthy retirees. Well, if you go to a place in Florida called The Villages, you will find it's the fastest growing single development in the United States. There's about a hundred thousand people that live in The Villages. What people may not know is if you look it up on Wikipedia, The Villages actually began as a mobile home park. Now it's long since changed. Most everyone there no longer lives in a mobile home, and it's got fabulous retail centers and all kinds of entertainment venues, but the beginnings of The Villages was as a mobile home park.

Now, you will also find around The Villages there in Florida, and also in California, many, many very upper end communities owned often by ELS or [Son 00:00:07:09]. Those are to US public greets. They cater to what's called lifestyle choice. That's of an amenity-rich living style where people choose to live in the mobile home park over traditional houses. Why? Because they typically have a lot to offer. They're on the ocean and they've got everything from fitness centers to jogging trails to you name it. It's just a very, very interesting way to live.

Now, next on the list are regular old workers out typically in the oil fields. These are called man camps. You'll find them in Texas and you'll also find them in North Dakota. They are basically nothing but workers who work in the oil fields, and they are built specifically for that purpose, typically in areas that are fairly remote, and they rent these things typically by the bedroom. That's where you'll also find the product known as the mobile home duplex, a mobile home that's a traditional mobile home, but it's got an interior wall dividing it into two separate residences.

And then of course you've got the affordable housing segment. Now, that's the biggest part of the industry. That's the one that Dave and I have focused our lives on, but as you can see, there's lots of other avenues to the industry. You don't have to just be in the affordable housing sector. Why do we like it? Well, because the affordable housing sector to us is really the bread and butter of the industry. That's what we do the best. Of the many folks who live in mobile home parks, of the 44,000 parks in the US, by far the majority of those are what we would call the affordable housing sector.

Now, people always get this wrong. They say, "Oh, affordable housing. These people don't have a lot of money." That's not true at all. You'll find the household income in many of our mobile home parks is probably anywhere from 50 to even $70,000.00, but we also allow people who don't have a lot of income, people who are living on social programs, people who are living on disability, people living on a retirement check with 1200 a month. They can still comfortably live in a good old-fashioned affordable housing mobile home park.

So as you can see, it's a very, very wide range. The spectrum is very large. You have everyone living from maybe a disability payment of $800 a month all the way up to folks who are billionaires who live on the beach casually as a family get-together out there in Montauk. So it's really hard when I talk about the mobile home parks on the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series to try and group everything together, so you'll forgive me if I'm not always accurate based on one mobile home park you've seen or some family member you know that lives in one because I'm talking traditionally mostly about the affordable housing sector, but as we can see, it's a very wide ranging industry.

Roughly 8% of all Americans in the US live in mobile homes, so that's a really, really big group, and it's interesting, I think the trailer parks are such a part of American culture that they reach such a wide range of people. I can't think of any other product out there that attracts people from literally every walk of life and every income segment. When you talk about mobile home parks, just always remember you're talking not only about the affordable housing slice, but there's many, many other components in the industry. It's a very fascinating group. This is Frank Rolfe with the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series. Hope you enjoyed this discussion of the various people who live in mobile home parks here in the US, and we'll talk to you again soon.