Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 179

Stanford University’s Megatrend List and the Impact on Mobile Home Parks

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Megatrends are seismic shifts in society that fuel strong business gains if properly anticipated and harvested. Stanford University’s bulletin has recently released a list of their projected megatrends and it creates some interesting observations on how mobile home parks are aligned with these powerful forces. Swimming against the current is never a productive concept and it’s always smart to align your business model with megatrends for maximum stability and profitability.

Episode 179: Stanford University’s Megatrend List and the Impact on Mobile Home Parks Transcript

As many people are aware, I hold a degree in economics from Stanford University in California. Not that that means a whole lot, but one of the things I get as being an alumni of Stanford is a regular barrage of articles and bulletins and magazines regarding their thoughts on all things economic, all things as far as the world and where the world is heading and the environment, et cetera. So recently I received something which was their 21 ideas of the current mega-trends happening in the United States. And Stanford does do a pretty good job of predicting things. Over the decades I've noticed a lot of their predictions do in fact come true.

So I thought it would be interesting to break down these mega-trends and their impact on the mobile home park industry. So let's just jump right into mega-trend number one. There's 21 mega-trends, only a handful really relate to mobile home parks, but let's just go through it. Number one, basically the first mega-trend prediction is that people are never going to go back to regular offices. So even though the pandemic will someday end, they don't see people then returning to offices ever again. Why? Well, because people have learned from the self quarantine that they really didn't need to be in an office. And in fact, it's more efficient for them to work from home, therefore they have no commuting time, and for their employer, the employer doesn't have any cost of office space and utilities and that type of item.

So how does that impact the mobile home park business? While I think in a couple of ways. Number one, there's a lot of jobs that would attract mobile home park residents that can be done from your home. In fact, if you click on those articles on MSN, on the top 10, the top 20 jobs that you can do right out of your house, there's quite a few, and they pay about what mobile home park residents typically make, about $10 an hour to as much as $15 or $20 an hour. So for one thing, that's going to give mobile home park residents an additional source of income. No longer will they have to maybe get that extra shift at the convenience store, the fast food restaurant, maybe just open up the old laptop or turn the computer on and that's great, because that'll give them a little extra income.

But additionally what it tells me is, people are going to want to have lots of little rooms. Why? Because if you read, part of the mega-trend is people are going to be moving away from that single family dream home you see on HGTV all the time of one big wide open space. Because when you work from home, you need a little cubbyhole, a little space to have your computer, and some kind of controlled background. And mobile homes, for one reason or another, tend to have lots of little rooms. They're typically not just one big open bullpen area like a lot of stick-built homes are. So I think it'll give it a little bit of a boost, that second bedroom in a lot of mobile homes, that third bedroom, it may become the official office studio of the residents.

So in some ways I think both trends work in favor of mobile home parks, and I will even go one step further which is a lot of your mobile home parks that are out in suburbia, or even exurbia, they won't be quite so big a problem, because if you don't have to commute in to go to work anymore, you kinda live wherever you want.

Next item, which is, and again, this ones not a really big impact on the mobile home park industry, is people are going to get much better TVs and much better programming, and they're going to move away from TVs. In fact, they're going to get most of their entertainment straight off their TV. You're already seeing this, all the traditional channels have been replaced with things like Netflix. But once again, this is going to have an impact, because a lot of people living in suburban or exurban settings, where a lot of mobile home parks are located at, they're not going to feel like you're missing out on much because they won't have to go to the regular movie theater and those types of items because they got it right there at their house.

This next one I'm definitely seeing right now, and that is mega-trend number three, people are going to get more and more into the outdoors. We're already seeing that. I've never seen so many people flocking to National Parks and State Parks and going for walks. And that's fantastic, because I'm also a huge walker, so I'm really, really into that kind of a hobby. But what this means is, a lot of mobile home parks, with traditionally lower density than apartments and offer more green spaces, that's just going to become more popular. Also, if you have a mobile home park with an RV section, that'll have a lot more customers, probably, because RVers are now using the RVs more than ever before.

In fact, what they're finding is most Americans, when they do go back to traveling at the end of the pandemic, they're going to do it mostly in the form of road trips. They think there'll be a permanent damage perhaps on the airline industry and those hotels in faraway cities that you don't really control your environment. People are going to want to be able to, worst case, drive home if they get a temperature and not be stranded in some foreign land with the old temperature check. So I see that mega-trend is working very, very well for a mobile home park.

Another mega-trend is, and we already know this, the great reshuffling, and that is people moving from the cities to the suburbs and the exurbs. Here's what Stanford has to say, "There's evidence that more people are interested in leaving cities now, either because they're afraid of getting sick, their tired of sheltering in place in small spaces, or they were going to move to the suburbs eventually and just decided to go sooner." Okay, well, that's pretty much something that everyone has embraced, this concept. In fact, it goes on to give some statistics, for example, just in New York alone right now, those requesting to forward their mail permanently has increased 60%. So we're seeing that nationwide, whether it's New York or Chicago, or really many cities, people are leaving, moving out to suburbia at exurbia.

Great mega-trend for the mobile home park industry. Why? Because most of our properties are located in suburbia and exurbia, so having this great migration away from big urban cores, good for our industry, not too good for those who put a lot of investment into micro apartments in the middle of town, but I'm in the mobile home park business, I'm not in that industry.

Next mega-trend they have is your town will become a community again. In this mega-trend what they're saying is that people are going to start really relishing and being excited about building relationships with their neighbors, and that they're going to flock to areas and prefer areas where there is very much of that sense of community. Mobile home parks, that's always been one of their strong attributes. Time Magazine wrote an article a few years ago called The Home of the Future, where the writer said that mobile home parks are like gated communities for the less affluent. Now, many people were offended by them saying that they are for the less affluent, because they're not always for the less affluent, there's many, many mobile home parks in America that cater to wealthier people.

Look at the mobile home parks out in Malibu, for example, where they've had, as residents, all kinds of famous Hollywood types and designers, Betsey Johnson, Sean Penn, Pam Anderson. So it's not really say it's just for the lesser affluent, but it's definitely true the sense of community is a big part of the package. That support network that you find in a mobile home park gives you items that most people never had outside of a mobile home park, and mobile home parks were early adopters. There's a whole support network when you live in a mobile home park. Car broke down, many people will volunteer to get you to work. For whatever reason you've been injured and you can't cook, well they'll bring you food. My partner, Dave, found that out back when he lived in many of the mobile home parks that he used to own, he would often buy them and move in, and he found that people had very, very advanced support networks in those mobile home parks. So basically that that trend will work once again in the favor of mobile home park owners.

Then there's a series of mega-trends that have absolutely no impact on a mobile home parks at all but I'll give them to you anyway. One is there's going to be a huge reshuffling in the arts. People, they don't expect, will ever go back to theaters like they did, so they'll have to find new ways in the whole arts community to have the revenue for people to have careers in that. That you'll see things that were never done online now done online, such as weddings. That you'll become a better cook, I know many people are seeing that, they're trying out new ways to cook at home because they can't go out to eat, and now they've learned that they can be a pretty good cook and they may not go back to out to eat at all. Next one is that you'll get closer with your relatives, because a lot of people in their perhaps solitude are missing bonding with family members, so maybe they're calling them a bit more, or having Zoom with them a bit more.

This next one relates to mobile home parks, and that is there's going to be a huge surge in pets. That's one thing the pandemic has created is it's created a lot of people who are kind of lonely and they seek companionship, and often that companionship is of the cat or dog variety. And that's actually good for mobile home parks, unlike apartments we not only allow pets, but we also have a yard for them to play in, but apartments do not, so that will be good. Next, that there are going to be people who will be looking into even more exotic animals, I don't think that matters in mobile home parks. Next that face masks will also become a fashion statement. I don't know about that, I know people are trying to make that case. I don't see them sticking around that long.

Next, that you're going to see more of what they're calling these she session. Now, what is the she session? Well what's happening is apparently there are a lot more women dropping out of the labor force than there are men. Why is that? Because the kids can't go to school, so one member of the household is electing to stay at home and that appears to be statistically women. Now what they're inkling at is the return to the one income household. What does that lead to? Lower incomes. What does that lead to? Even bigger demand for affordable housing. So I think that mega-trend will definitely, again, point in favor of mobile home parks.

Then there's a few more that don't have any bearing, but I'll give them to you anyway. People are going to exercise more. Okay, I guess that's right. You'll be doing more of your medical care and attention online. Okay, I think that's true. You are going to become more into reading. All right, sounds right. You're going to have fewer snow days, but more smoke days and other environmental issues. Okay, fine. You are going to have problems dating. Okay, I agree. You are going to learn more about how to use technology, even those who are not technology savvy. Okay, that's probably true. You're going to go ahead and probably do everything you can to avoid COVID exposure. Even after the vaccine is inaugurated, people will still not change their behaviors immediately. Okay, that's probably true.

You're not going to see many teenagers taking standardized tests, because standardized tests don't work when they can't be proctored because anyone can cheat. Okay, that's probably true. And that you're probably going to see people beating all former high scores in school because they can all cheat like crazy, paying people to write their essays, talking to their friends, or even sharing with their friends via any number of methods, sending them a text what the answers to the exams would be.

So that's kind of their mega-trends. Again, it's interesting to me that the mobile home park business, our of absolute sheer luck, has become right on the cutting edge of being on the right side of every mega-trend in America that I can find. And once again, I thought this list from Stanford on the 21 mega-trends, once again, just simply supports mobile home parks in the right place at the right time. So this is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast series. Hope you enjoyed this, talk to you again soon.