Investors are buying mobile home parks. Residents pay the price.

Golden, Colo. – When Sarah Clement visited Golden Hills Mobile Home Park two years ago, she felt like she had won the lottery. After years of being trapped in a one-bedroom apartment with her, her 7-year-old son finally settled into his own bedroom, with his toys scattered in the yard and on the edge of his school garden.

Mrs. Clement wanted the friendship of his neighbor, and watched the sun rise over his rusty Mesa in the east and set behind the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the west. Living there on his salary as an athletics coach: After buying a prefabricated house, the rent for the plot on which it sits is only $ 625 per month.

But six months after she emigrated, the plot of land and the stability and comfort that came with it all suddenly fell out of her.

The Colorado couple, who have owned the park for years, have put it up for sale. Ms. said rents would increase dramatically if the park was taken over by one of the largest manufacturer-homeowners buying parks across the state. Clement and his neighbors knew.

“God, I thought we had this – I thought our roots were going to be where they are,” Ms Clement said.

Across the country, Miss. Product-house park residents like Clement have found their homes in the center of the bull, and the flood of investment firms is expanding their mobile-home park portfolios at astounding speeds, threatening one’s stability. Some affordable housing for the rest of the country.

Golden Hills residents quickly organized. They formed a partnership to buy the park themselves and were on track to receive funding from ROC USA Capital, which supports resident-owned communities across the country.

For months, they were in full confidence. Three blocks of brown single and double spacious houses were buzzing with community gatherings; Residents distributed flyers and newsletters. Local politicians rallied around them, and the city voted to zoning the park for home use only.

But to no avail: In July, the owners rejected their initial offer and, a few months later, rejected the higher, and sold the park instead of the Harmony communities made with 5,000 residents in 33 parks in western America. The company quickly demonstrated the fears of Golden Hills residents, used 50 percent rent increases and provided a 12-page single-break list of new park rules.

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Harmony Communities spokesman George Antipas supported the rent increase, noting that new rents are lower than in similar parks nearby. “We are confident in charging a fair market rent,” he said. Antibas said the extra revenue would go to repair costs and that demand-based subsidies would be available from the city.

Then, a month after buying the park, the company offered to sell it to residents – at a much higher price than the company had paid for it. However, when the company rejected the tenants’ offer in January, the contract collapsed again.

Faced with both rent increases and the cost of converting their homes to comply with the park’s new rules, residents are rushing to look for other homes, but are looking for some options in Golden, a growing city west of Denver. In an apartment complex across the road, one-bedroom units starts at $ 2,400 a month, almost $ 1,000 more than Ms Clement said she would pay for the same size apartment in 2018.

Industry leaders are blunt about the business model: Step Ingredients The mobile-home park is ready for a “boot camp” for investors Mobile Home UniversityOwned by two of the largest mobile home park owners in the country, he said, “The fact that tenants cannot afford to spend $ 5,000 to convert a mobile home keeps income steady and makes it easier to raise rent without losing any housing. . “

Market research firm Real Capital Analytics, a June 2021 Report Investors accounted for 23 percent of home purchases made in the previous two years, up from 13 percent in the previous two years. This has made investors the largest landlords in the country. According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, a national trade body, about 22 million people live in homes manufactured in the United States. And Fannie Mae, said it reflects more than just manufactured homes 6 percent Country housing units.

If residents of mobile-home parks are unable to sustain rising rents, or make frequent extensive changes to corridors, gardens and canopies required by the new administration’s rules, they are being replaced quickly. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corporate scandals. Many young professional families and college students are turning to mobile home parks as the ultimate symbol of relatively affordable housing.

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“It’s, historically, an affordable home that people can own – at least, half own – and create some wealth and some equity,” said Paul Bradley, president of ROC USA.

Since the park has come under corporate ownership, mobile home parks and state legislatures across the country have been speeding up the process of securing parks by placing them in the hands of residents.

When Sans Souci Mobile Home Park near Boulder’s scenic Flatirons was purchased by a corporate landlord in 2018, residents were not offered the opportunity. According to residents, residents knew the park was up for sale until they received notice of new rules attached to their doorstep. A few weeks later, the maintenance team arrived and began cutting down shrubs, trees and flowers.

Under the ownership of Strive Communities, the park raised rent by 12 percent and issued comprehensive new rules for park maintenance. .

“They wanted to look in uniform and park,” said 23-year-old Cynthia Seelan. “That’s their ultimate goal, so they can resell in three to five years.”

According to Strive communities, rent increases were intended to bring rates closer to market rates, and the company invested nearly $ 1 million in park improvements.

Residents went to their elected representatives and called on the law to issue a so-called notice of the need for a “purchase opportunity” when park owners want to sell residents. The need for Colorado legislation in 2020 and similar laws were signed by Governor Jared Police. Are in the books In many other states.

The work of Sans Soci residents soon paid off. That same year, Strive Communities announced to residents that the park was up for sale.

Some residents opposed the purchase offer, opposing the $ 150-a-month rent increase needed to finance the purchase.

But the majority felt it was worth it.

“Whether or not we buy for more money is irrelevant,” Ms. Seelan said. “Clean and simple. If we do not buy it, it will be bought by another company.”

But in the two years since Colorado’s Opportunity-for-Purchase Act came into force, only Sans Susie and two other parks have been sold to residents. In 20 cases, according to data from the state Department of Home Affairs, park owners failed to notify residents of compliance with the law prior to the sale. In others, residents were notified, but struggled to unite as quickly as possible to provide an opportunity for purchase.

State Representative Andrew Bosenecker says his hometown of Fort Collins has seen a flurry of park sales over the past few years, including a recent sale for $ 57 million, and that the law of opportunity to buy has not gone far enough.

In law Introduced This month, Mr. Bosenecker proposes that park owners should allow residents or the local government to offer the first offer. The bill would limit the rent increase to 3 percent per year. Another bill is being drafted to provide residents with loan funds to help them compete with private equity firms. Will receive Government funding to purchase parks.

In Golden Hills, residents feel the law is coming too late.

Patricia George has lived in the park for 12 years. But her new rent is about $ 800 a month, which eats up most of her disability benefits, leaving her with $ 250 each month so she can’t stay.

She looks at her belongings and sells what she can: her TV, her mom’s antique foods, her grandmother’s jewelry. He has applied for senior housing, but the waiting lists are long.

“It’s almost inhumane, what they are doing,” Ms George said. “We’re left to pick up the pieces, we can do whatever they want. Or if we had an open bed, many of us would end up on the streets, in homeless shelters. It’s hard. It’s very difficult.”

Susan c. Beach Research contributed.

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