Eloy Retana is a passionate real estate investor, author of the book The Top 3 Reasons to Invest in Mobile Home Parks, and the host of The Savvy Mobile Home Park Investor podcast. He is currently invested in 113 apartment and Mobile-Home Units while also investing in his ongoing education both through top-notch courses and through personal mentorship with two of the industry’s leading experts: Bryan Ellis and Adam A. Adams. Eloy educates why currently during this pandemic, mobile home parks have outperformed all other real estate asset classes and why he considers them a safer asset to be invested in as we enter a period of economic uncertainty. REIMastermind.net
Eloy Retana is a passionate real estate investor, author of the book The Top 3 Reasons to Invest in Mobile Home Parks, and the host of The Savvy Mobile Home Park Investor podcast. He is currently invested in 113 apartment and Mobile-Home Units while also investing in his ongoing education both through top-notch courses and through personal mentorship with two of the industry’s leading experts: Bryan Ellis and Adam A. Adams. Eloy educates why currently during this pandemic, mobile home parks have outperformed all other real estate asset classes and why he considers them a safer asset to be invested in as we enter a period of economic uncertainty.
We chat about:
- Investing in real estate syndications is the best alternative to the stock market.
- Mobile home parks are not only surviving but are thriving during the pandemic.
- Becoming financially free with real estate investing.
- Raising capital for real estate deals.
Connect with Eloy!
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"You can invest 10,000 hours and become an expert or learn from those who have already made that investment." - JD
00:00:01 JD Hoss
We have Eloy Rattana on the call Eloy. I really appreciate your time and everybody you need to stop what you're doing right now.
Hit pause on this episode and find the Savvy Mobile Home Park Investor Show and subscribe to that as well, especially if you're into Real Estate Investing and Mobile Home Parks and I know you do some multi-families as well, but I really appreciate you joining us here today.
00:00:30 Eloy Retana
Hey, thank you for inviting me, Jack. It's a pleasure to be here and thanks for the plug on the on the podcast.
Absolutely, I can't recommend it enough and people should really check it out. So let's, could we start from the beginning here? How did you get into mobile Home Park real estate?
Well, if you go back to the beginning, like most people I started out doing single-family rentals either through lease options and later through doing sub twos and creative finance and.
So that's kind of how that was my started into real estate, but this was, you know, 20 years ago I, you know, I'm a 19 manager as a full-time job and at that time I had decided that you know, I was trying to bounce. Do I want to do? I want to do?
More real estate? Or do you want to focus on my career and at that time?
It was just blowing up so I made the decision to kind of focus on my career and then I would onesie twosie you know, had some acquisitions here and there, but it was more of a long-term play, right? Kind of build-out for retirement that was my thought initially. As time went on. You know, I learned a wholesale. I did a flip here in there but.
It wasn't really for me. I thought you know those were more transactional and I wasn't really looking for another job and I felt like, well, wholesaling just seems like another job. And flipping feels like another job, so I don't need another job. I already have one, so that's kind of how I started down the road of a real estate as a whole.
Sure, and then how did you ended up? Kind of specializing more into the mobile home and the mobile parks, right?
Yeah, so as time went on, uhm?
My partner, my now partner, we had become friends and about probably eight or nine years ago and he was he was doing full-time flips and wholesaling and new builds out in Colorado Springs and but he kind of saw the writing on the wall. He didn't want to do that.
Kind of work anymore, so he asked me. He started going. He started doing a lot of underwriting training through Anthony Charles, their group, and you know, he had asked me about partnering with him on picking up some multifamily. And that was the first time I had ever heard of Apartments or multi-family or anything along those lines. I didn't realize it was a thing, so the first time you brought it up to me I was like.
Whatever, I don't have millions of dollars to go buy multifamily, right? That was my initial reaction and you know, and he started telling me about. You know why it was a better player than trying to do single-family homes and around that time I started attending a lot of the meetups here in Denver were one of the local syndicators here Adam Adams here in.
Remember he started talking about basically the same thing, right? Multifamily how you can accomplish? You can reach your goals a lot quicker by teaming up with somebody you know like-minded.
And going for bigger acquisitions and that that made a lot of sense to me. So when we started down the road of looking for apartments and multifamily, we quickly found out that Denver was overpriced, that I lived here in Denver. Even back then, three or four years ago.
Everything was just so none of the numbers made sense, so we started looking at other alternative markets. Colorado Springs Pueblo even down into Albuquerque and Phoenix. But we couldn't seem to find anything that made sense and right around that time. Probably this has probably been now two 2 1/2 years ago.
He came up to me and said, hey, I think I got something down in Florida 'cause we had. Basically, we decided that we were going to focus on Phoenix, KC, and Orlando as our main target markets. So he found he found a trailer park in in Orlando in that area and when he initially brought it up to me, I was like a trailer park.
No way I'm not. I'm not interested. How do we? How do we go from looking for an apartment complex to finding a trailer park? It just didn't make any sense to me, so I was immediately.
There was just no way I want. I was interested in that, but he said no look at these. Look at these numbers.
We're never going to find an apartment complex with these sort of numbers, and I looked at it as I thought, wow, so I took a step back and I I told him I said OK, let's give me a week.
Give me a week to bury myself in as much education as I can about mobile home parks. I'll so I did.
I spent the next 7 to 10 days downloading and listening to every audiobook I can get my hands on, and every podcast on the subject.
And at the end of that seven days I, I thought to myself, not only is this a better.
On an asset for us, being that we're trying to find our first deal, but I think as the economy turns and it's going to be, it's a better asset class for us to be invested in personally and to be able to share with our friends and potential partners that might want might want to be invest.
In something like this because.
Everybody that I know, at least in Denver, everybody pursuing apartments. So how about we? How about we offer some slightly different right than your typical apartment complex.
Not to say we wouldn't do multi-family, we would. It's just that at that time and still right now it's very difficult to find cash-flowing deals and we find it.
A little bit easier to find cash-flowing deals if we go with mobile home parks.
Well, can you talk about you mentioned the numbers? Can you talk about the numbers a little bit? How do people run the numbers on a mobile Home Park versus a multi-family? I mean that there are a pretty significant difference between the two, right?
Well, and the big difference you got to be aware of, I would say is the private utilities 'cause you know you don't have to deal with.
Septic systems in an apartment complex, right? It's usually all city, water, city, sewage in some. In some instances, not in every instance.
Every deal is different and every part is different. Some of the older parks you know there's still. There's still some parks out there that have lagoons right, and that pumping stations and that sort of thing I.
I generally stay away from that stuff, but you know my partner Steve. He had built cabins out in the middle of the forest out in Colorado Springs so he was used to septic systems and.
Uh, water wells. So it wasn't a big deal for him for me to take a little bit of getting used.
Feels like why, why do we want to tackle that? If we don't have to write, ideally we would want, uh.
Public Utilities right city water, city sewage, but that's not every case. There's some. There's some parks and good deals to be had.
Dad, if you're willing to look at a, you know a septic system. Parker to septic system or park with a water well, you just have to understand that and be.
Be aware that you are responsible for that maintenance, so those are the sort of things that you have to be aware of that a little bit.
Different from apartments the other. The other thing that I would say is a little different would be some of the grandfathering issues with the mobile Home Park because the rules keep changing with regards to grandfathering.
Of sort of units and certain parts. You don't get that with the apartment, so you have to be aware of that, but in terms of underwriting, I would say it's very similar.
I mean, you still want to be used to or have to consider your expenses and the number of units and that sort of thing.
So what would be some of those challenges then that you've seen so far when it comes to mobile Home Park investing?
Well, yeah I would say the biggest thing is to make sure that you are. You know you. You understand if you're going to take on a park with water wells that you understand and make sure that you get those properly maintained. The same thing with the sewage system.
In a park, the other thing you would have to keep in mind is if you're taking on a mobile Home Park with Park owned homes, you have to decide whether you want to keep those right and keep them.
Maybe fix them up and rent them out, or whether you intend to sell them right. And for us it.
Given the choice, we prefer to sell them so we aim to own the land, but not that, not the units themselves, because it's.
From the insurance perspective, we don't have to tear the insurance on ARM and we don't have to maintain them.
If the tenants themselves own the units, but that's on a case-by-case basis on a part-by-part basis.
Sometimes we like to keep the units and fix them up and then rent them out because we can get we can collect more and in rents that way, but sometimes we've.
What we've done is that if we pick up a unit for say, two or three grand, we'll put another.
We'll drop another six or seven grand into it to rehab it, and then we'll sell it. Owner financing for 1516, right with collecting 5 or $6000 down and then spread the payments over three or four years for the tenant. And now that works out pretty well.
Just you gotta know what you want to do with the part going in right. If say the park has half of the units, are park-owned well what are you going to do with them?
What do you intend to rent them out? Or do you intend to keep them? Fix them up, and then sell them?
So you know one of the things that I've heard previously is that when you have vacant lots, it's very hard to convince somebody to bring in a trailer house, so you almost have to do it yourself. How do you manage?
Those vacant lots and getting them ready for potential.
Yeah, So what we did recently is we purchased new homes. We put in one of our parks in Daytona Beach FL.
We purchased new homes and then we sell. We sell them again. It comes down to if your grandfathering allows you to put in another.
Unit in the empty space. Then you can do that and you can choose to put in a used one or a new one.
But in places like Florida, there's no shortage of people that they're looking for empty spaces. That's what that's one of the reasons we love Florida is that there's such a, uh, a migration.
It's the number I think they share that they would like the number three. Last year there were the number one migrated to state according to EU haul.
Statistics, but this year they dropped down in #3, but still that's the growth that Florida as a whole is experiencing. We don't see an issue finding tenants and look into securing our empty spots.
Sure, so how do you come up with the funding and how do you manage acquiring these new trailer houses to fill those empty spots?
Well, this last one I did for that one myself, but usually there's like a synchronous entry turn on. I'm trying to remember the name of the lender that you can lend out on the.
One of the things that we're doing with our new acquisition is we are we're going to pay for those ourselves on two parts.
I'm buying one and then my partner is buying the other one, and then we're going to use the rents to pay for the mortgage and that sometime in the future when we refine out of it, we'll basically exit.
All right, that's our Asian strategy for those individual trailers.
So just again, if you like to hear more about what he's talking about, make sure you check out his podcast, The Savvy Mobile Home Park investor show, and I know you're pretty active on LinkedIn and Facebook and a few other places too, so I'll make sure to include those links in the show notes. Then I got to do a self a little self-promotion.
Here, if you liked this episode, please go to iTunes and give a quick review because it really helps other investors find this show.
So with that being said, you know I, I understand.
Trailer parks are always kind of a mystery to me, and it's kind of one of those. One of those things that as soon as people hear trailer park, they think of the Trailer Park Boys or some of that type of stuff. How do you? How have you worked past some of that stigma and maybe it's the location?
I understand like in Florida it's a lot of like retirement villages more than it is.
What we see on TV?
Yeah, stigma is the right word, and when I first talked to people, potential partners.
Yeah, that's a that's an issue. Yeah right, you have to you kind of have to talk about some of the realities.
I think I think a lot of that stuff and the media. A lot of that stuff is overhyped. We haven't seen those. Sort of.
Issues in our parts. And you're right, there's a lot of parks in Florida that are that cater to the elderly, right?
That's not to say that some of those problems don't exist. In some parts there are some problematic parks in Florida.
In particular, I think they topped out at 25,000 parks in the state of Florida, so I'm sure there's some.
Some bad apples, but we haven't seen that sort of.
That sort of problem we at the end of the day when we take over a park, we what we want to do is we want to create a clean, safe environment for all of the tenants, right?
So we do some basic things like you know we asked any of the park or their tenant-owned homes that to paint the exterior of their homes. They have to clean up, you know they clean up there.
Trash, unfortunately, you know they if they have the big you know dogs at the rotties and Mia and the pit bulls you know they gotta go. We love dogs too, but the insurance doesn't cover those big dogs, right? So by doing some simple thing.
The tenants know that we're looking to create a set a safe environment for all of our tenants.
So have you ever had any situations then that you've acquired a park and some of these residents?
They're not in the financial position to do some of the changes that you're asking for, and if so, how do you handle or manage that?
Yeah, so we have had some of that. We work with our we work with our tenants.
We try to create an environment where they'll be able to.
Come to complete some of that stuff and we'll work with them on that. We haven't had any major issues.
I can't think of any.
Anything in particular, but most of our tenants realize that what we're trying to do is we're trying to clean the place upright, and most of them are actually very happy to help out with that.
So we want to create a clean, safe environment and pretty much everybody on board. We have had somewhat the what the.
With the tenant owned homes, we haven't had any issues like any environment where we have renters, there's always some bad apples and you know we have to evict them if they don't pay that sort of thing, that's kind of par for the course.
With mobile home parks, when you take a work part, there's always two or three people that that that refuse to play along. So you know, yeah.
We if that's the case, in most of our parks, they'll have like a month-to-month rent, so we just won't. We won't renew their leases in some cases.
And in those cases, most of those people just leave the trailer house behind.
Yeah, well in Florida. I know this is probably different from state to State 2 then how? How soon after do they vacate that? Can you take possession of the property or the trailer?
Uhm, you know that's a good question. I off the top of my head I don't remember but.
Yeah, I don't remember off the top of my head. I had to tell you something to come on.
Well, sure, yeah. And I'm sure it varies state by state, so that's something that people have to look into before they get into this, but.
Yeah, it's so when you evict somebody and you take over the property, then you essentially assess the trailer and decide whether it's a keeper or it needs to be hauled out of there, huh?
Yeah, that some of them are so old that you really can't move them. The city won't issue permits and obviously, the insurance won't cover you, so we've had situations where the units are in such bad shape that that really the only thing you can do is demolish it and replace it and other places.
In other instances, the units are, you know it's got good bones and all we have to do is replace a few panels and some carpet and do some work to it. You know, and maybe $10,000 worth of work and that takes care of that.
So in the end you know you mentioned going in and acquiring these properties and making them safer and taking some actions. I would imagine that in the end that likely keeps the turnover down.
Yeah exactly, and that's one of the beauties of mobile home parks is that the tenant turnover is like virtually I want to say like it's under 5% as a whole for most of the parks around the country because.
If the tenant owns a home and you can't and they can't move the home because it's so old, well then they're pretty much.
They're not going to go anywhere, right? So they'll campaign so that that causes a turnover to, you know, to be less than 5%, which is awesome. It's just what that creates is just steady your cash flow for everyone.
Sure, so outside of asking the residents to do a few things, what are the other low-hanging fruit that you found that can?
Clean up a park or turn it around or find some additional cash flow options.
Well, the big thing with the parks from the beginning is that there's still a lot of mom and pop shops operations that are out there, right?
And they won't. Many of them have owned the parks frames there for you know, for 20-30 years right? And in a lot of cases like our first two.
Marks the owner hadn't raised the rents and forever. In some cases, you know, 20 years. So a lot of the people that were living there you know they were paying. You know, 250 bucks a month.
And when the lot rents were closer to 600, right? So there's an opportunity there when you land the part like that to be able to.
To raise the rent slowly right to bring them up the mark up to market over a course of you know three or four years and be able to establish some decent cash flow for everyone. So it's opportunities like that, that that that we're looking for.
So we're outside of some of that. Is there anything else that you've learned quickly that these mom and pops?
Uh, they probably have done the same thing the same way for so long that they're just not. They haven't kept up with times and or maybe even rent rates.
Yeah, one of.
The things that we're finding today as we're talking to some of these mom and pop operations is, you know, they they're tired, right? The most of them are elderly. They're tired of doing the that, the work.
Working with the renters, they don't have the money to fix the place up. What I'm finding is that we have an opportunity there to teach them about owner financing right where they can.
If they want to continue cash flowing, they don't get rid of the park because it's a source of income for them, right?
They just don't have the money to do anything new or to spruce the place up, or even cover up you know, the potholes and things.
Just simple things, right? So what we're finding is there isn't a really good opportunity for us to be.
Able to educate some of these mom and pop operations on.
On the benefits of owner finance right where they can move themselves from the position of owner to the position of bank right and then we can take over as the ship position of owner and pay them right so they can continue collecting cash flow and then we get and we get excellent rates on a loan directly from the owner themselves.
Which is awesome, so we're finding more and more about those sort of opportunities.
Right, so do you have you found you know you mentioned that?
They are having a hard time keeping the property up to date and a few other things because there isn't, uh, money there.
So what if that's the case, what makes it appealing to you? Like, do you typically find that they're under? They're not charging enough, or?
What other opportunities do you see that they're missing?
Yeah, I mean a lot of times like these first two parts that I was telling you about.
They weren't collecting the rents. It should have been right 'cause the market was up near 600.
So there was an opportunity for them to make a lot more money than it could have over the course of many years, but they simply hadn't raised the.
Right, right? And well, that's just. I mean, that's the way that business is. And then. So there is an opportunity for us to say, OK, how what's?
What can we do here with this property? Well, immediately we need to start raising the rents right and bring him up to market over the course of several years, right? We don't want to be jerked landlords either. We're not going to raise.
The rents 100 bucks has shot it. You know there'll be slow increments over the course of several years, but the people there know that, yeah, the rents are going to start going up to mark to market level.
No, that that's really interesting and you'll have to forgive some of my questions because it is. This is such a newer topic to a lot of our listeners that I and I'm sure that there's a lot of interest.
No, it's OK.
There you know the.
Concept of a mobile Home Park is really appealing because you're essentially just.
Like you're doing, you're renting a piece of land. I mean, there's not a lot as much to go wrong.
You know, every time I turn a unit in an apartment or a house, I'm likely in there painting again or replacing flooring again, or what have you?
You really don't have that with a mobile home.
That's right, that's one of the things that made it so appealing to us is like the amount of work that needed to be done with so much, so, much less right and.
With the comings and goings of apartment tenants you know, yeah every time somebody leaves are going to have to.
You know, maybe fix some drywall or you know, do some minor paint job. Hopefully nothing big, right? But because?
It's natural that people don't stay in apartments very long. You have to kind of expect some of that turnover and some of the repairs that come along with that.
But we don't see any of that with the. With the park on horse or with the tenant-owned homes.
You know, like at the beginning of the episode we were talking a little bit about, you know single-family homes and some of some of that.
But we it's easy in a single-family home to see comparables and to understand I mean it, it's a fairly simplistic process to do your due diligence like.
What do you do?
So when it comes to these mobile homes, I know in Florida there seems to be quite a few. But like you said, unless they're grandfathered in some other states that the inventory is rather limited, uh, I guess you based most of your decisions on a pro forma and some of the historical data.
Yeah, and then you know in terms of comps for mobile homes and parks, yeah, we rely on our brokers a lot and you know, Zillow.
You can pull up information on single London, sorry I'm on units, individual units kind of getting gauge what you know, say that 3/2 might be going for in Daytona or down in Cape Canaveral, so you kind of get a feel for where things are going for. But right now there's such a demand for homes.
Right, so we're in the process of purchasing new ones and a lot of the local makers are.
They've gone from 3 to like six or nine months in terms of being able to deliver on a brand-new mobile home.
So in this, because of demand, right? And the rising prices of a lumber recently in the last six months, the console lumber has gone through the roof. So that's just that's causing everything to go up like. Just like anything else. But still the demand.
More affordable housing is that the demand for manufacturing homes is steadily increasing. I think it's going to continue to do so because, like you know, in Denver prices are.
Becoming unaffordable for most people, right? If you're trimming? If you're straight out of college and can you afford a half $1,000,000 home?
Probably not right, and that's what we're seeing here in Denver. And really, in pretty much every major market. So I think there's going to be a trend over the next few years to downsize.
And to look for, you know, cheaper alternatives.
Yeah, I you know it talks about cheaper alternatives. I even wondered if somebody could pull off some of those tiny houses in a trailer park.
It depends on the zoning, we. We were looking at that as an alternative in one of our recent acquisitions because in most parks and a lot of.
It's got mobile home and RV zoning and in some instances, we can make more money per month if we put an RV versus a mobile home. So it just depends on the area, the demand for that sort of thing. But in.
In one part, all we could do is mobile homes. It wasn't zoned for tiny homes or RV, so unfortunately but yeah. Well, like most tiny homes are, are classified as an RV. Is that it?
I think it's got its own. I think it's got its own classification now, but it's not classified as a mobile home.
Sure, well I told you we in a blink of an eye we've spent 30 minutes chatting about mobile home parks and before we wrap up, I ask one last question is that is there a question you wished I would have asked you here today?
Question I wish I were armed. Well, one of the things that that that I tend to ask is you know what does the future look like?
And obviously we don't know, but one of the things that we, one of the reasons that we love the mobile Home Park space in addition to some of the things that we've talked about already, is because it's. We see it as a more recession.
Resistant asset right? So as you.
If whether the economy takes a tumble over the next few years or, you know who knows what the economy is going to be doing, but we feel pretty safe and we feel pretty confident that mobile home parks are going to fill the need for affordable housing, and they're going to. They're more likely to survive a big.
Economic downturn over the next several years. So we like the asset class and we're going to continue to build on our portfolio with them.
Sure, no. Well, I appreciate your time again and make sure you head over and find his podcast again. It's called the savvy mobile Home Park investor show.
And I definitely, if you're in on YouTube and you check it out, he's got partner with apex.com.
Uh, is one of the other sites. Yeah, he's pointing to it and then, uh, but I'll also make sure we have your social media links because I know you also have some YouTube videos as well.
It probably teaches quite a bit of this content, but I really appreciate your time again, and you're welcome back anytime.
Hey, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. I had a great time.
Well, thank you Sir.