Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 183

Observations On The Top And Bottom Ten States For Park Supply

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There are around 44,000 mobile home parks in the U.S., but their placement is not uniform. Instead of a standard 880 parks in each of 50 states, the actual range varies from 5,176 in Texas to -0- in Hawaii. But what is there to be learned from this disbursement? In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to review the lessons learned from studying the top and bottom ten states for park supply.

Episode 183: Observations On The Top And Bottom Ten States For Park Supply Transcript

There are roughly 44,000 mobile home parks in the US. How do I know that? Because we're the only ones in America who ever built the list. It took two people two years in our team to assemble the complete list of all known mobile home parks. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're going to talk about the states that contain the most parks, the states that contain the least parks, and what you can learn from looking at the data.

Let's start off with the top 10 states as far as sheer number of mobile home parks located within their boundaries. Number one with the most parks in the United States is the state of Texas. 5,176. Number two, the state of California with 4,000. Number three, the state of Florida. 3,785. Number four, the state of Kentucky. 2,099. Number five, the state of Washington with 2,074. Number six, the state of Ohio with 1,940. Number seven, the state of Georgia. 1,757. Number eight, the state of Pennsylvania with 1,505. Number nine, the state of Oregon with 1,417. And number 10, the state with the 10th largest number of mobile home parks, Indiana at 1,193.

Now let's change over to the top 10 States for the fewest number of mobile home parks within their boundaries. In number one position, the state with the fewest mobile home parks is of course, Hawaii, which has none. Number two, state of Connecticut with 44. Number three, state of Rhode Island with 48. Number four, state of Alaska with 70. Number five, state of Massachusetts with 85. Number six, New Hampshire, 104. Number seven North Dakota with 163. Number eight, Utah with 165. Number nine, New Jersey at 179. And number 10, Montana with 200.

Now, what can we learn from this? Well, let's start off with some macro observations. Number one, those top 10 States have 24,946 mobile home parks with them as a macro whole when you combine them. And that means that roughly 57% of all the mobile home parks in the United States are contained within those 10 States. Those bottom states between all 10 of them only contain right around a thousand mobile home parks, or less than 3% of the total whole of all the parks in America are contained in those bottom 10. Now, what else can we tell? Well, the first thing is most of the top states are fairly well spread around the entire United States. Literally from coast to coast. California and Florida. And right in the middle of America with Texas. And then equally distributed, if you look at it, really in all regions. Southwest, Northwest, Southeast, Northeast. Literally there are mobile home parks everywhere across the United States.

Number two, the areas with the least number of mobile home parks, they all seem to be grouped in the new England area. I'm not sure why that is. Something to do with the history of those states, population, housing, housing choices, maybe even tied to government programs to build parks back in the 50s and the 60s. Not sure. Number three, if you plan to choose your territory as a mobile home park owner, that it'd be roughly a four to five hour radius from where you live, regardless of where you live in the United States, you're pretty much within one of those top 10 States. So there really is no spot you can start from in the United States and drive that five-hour circle and not contain at least one of those top 10. And that's very important because it means there's plenty of supply, plenty of opportunity, really anywhere you are in the continental United States.

Another observation is eight of those 10 major markets, those top 10s are in flyover states. Sure, we've got California and Florida anchoring both coasts, but most of those states are in between. And again that's important because this helps the distribution as far as parks. Keeps it kind of fairly spread out all over America. Another observation of those top 10 states, almost every major military base you can name falls within those top 10, whether it's Fort Hood, Fort Knox, Fort Bragg, you're going to find them within those 10 states. Now, why is that? Why is there such an association between the military and mobile home parks? It all really ties back to its early beginnings. Remember that the US government was the largest single buyer in American history of mobile homes. They bought roughly 500,000 of them during World War II to house soldiers on bases. And following the war to house soldiers on the GI bill at US colleges.

There's always been this very strong alliance between the two. As a result, whenever you have a state that has a heavy military concentration, you also have a heavy concentration in mobile home parks, and that's part of why those 10 States have that. Also it's important to note that the remaining 40%... Remember, 57% of the entire whole of parks in America's in those top 10, and less than 3% in those bottom 10. Well, that means of the 30 States in between, it's pretty evenly spread and they contain roughly 40% of the remaining whole. So once again, you're going to find parks that are fairly well distributed all over America, despite whatever location you may live in.

And what it means is there's opportunity everywhere in this industry. That's not true of every sector of real estate. There are certain sectors, for example, if you wanted to be the lodging industry, although I don't know why you would anymore. But back in the day prior to COVID you would find the lodging industry was concentrated in only a few spots. Most of America did not have any of the lodging opportunities. Conrad Hilton's mother, the founder of Hilton corporation, told him, "If you want to build big ships, Conrad, you have to go where the water is deep." And what she meant by that was you had to be in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles if you wanted to succeed in the hotel business. And that's exactly where he went.

But that's not really true of our industry. The water's basically deep everywhere. Now what makes mobile home parks different from state to state? Well, there's lots of attributes. Rental rates, other housing prices, local economies. But the truth is the park business is pretty much the same regardless of where you go. We have mobile home parks in 28 different states, and we find they all behave almost identically. Successful mobile home park markets share some basic attributes. A hundred thousand population or more in the metro. That's an important one. Strong single family home prices. That's important. Strong apartment rents, typically over a thousand dollars a month for a three bedroom apartment. And low housing vacancy rates. These are the metrics that are really important, coupled with a strong, diverse economy that's recession resistant. And you can find that pretty much across all of America.

So the bottom line is that mobile home parks are really an equal opportunity investment opportunity for everybody. It doesn't matter where you live. Doesn't matter what state. Doesn't matter what region. You're going to find mobile home parks all around you. And for those who'd like to say that the mobile home park business is certainly assimilated at this point, you couldn't be more incorrect based on the actual statistics. Of those 44,000 mobile home parks in the US, if you add up the holdings of the top 100 owners, starting at number one, working your way down to a number 100, you're going to find the total number of parks is roughly around 4,000 parks. That means about 90% of all the mobile home parks are still owned by the original moms and pops. That's where all the opportunity typically is to be found.

Those early pioneers, typically you can buy those parks at attractive prices with lots of operational efficiency left to go. Lots of ways to increase value by filling lots, raising rents, cutting costs. Even opportunity for self financing from moms and pops who recognize the fact they would much rather hold a first lien mortgage on something that they know very well with a higher interest rate, than instead swap that for some stock in an unstable market or a junk bond, trying to hit that same yield.

It's really an unusual playing field. It's so open, yet so many people don't understand it or try and to talk themselves out of it from the onset saying, "Well, if it's that great an industry, surely it's been heavily worked over." The truth is it hasn't. That doesn't mean the opportunity is as strong today as it was 10 years ago. Certainly not, because every time a mobile home park gets purchased by a new investor, the opportunity to buy from the original mom and pop diminishes. but there's so many mobile home parks out there still in the hands of the original founders. The opportunity is still very large. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.