Friday, October 7, 2011

The Secret of Finding a Good Mobile Home Park

You may have noticed by now that my blog and e-mail are both taken from the phrase “nice homes, nice parks.”  This began when we wrote ads stating, “We have nice homes in nice parks.”  One year, when the ad budget got cut down a little, we shortened it to “nice homes, nice parks.”  Then, I adopted it as my own identifying phrase.

Many people have a misconception about mobile homes and about mobile home parks.  I cringe when I hear my home referred to as a “trailer,” which is something one hitches to a truck and tows, rather than something that has been stationary for over 40 years.  And, we have all heard the term “trailer trash,” referring to people who don’t amount to anything.  These concepts are very outdated --- in a good market (2008), 40-year old mobile homes were selling from $45,000-$100,000, and Buyers often earned $60-90,000/year incomes.  Living in a mobile home has become an alternative lifestyle for people like me, who have decided that we will never be able to afford real property in L.A. County.  A separate blog will address the cost benefits of mobile home living.  In this blog, I will talk about what defines a “nice park.”

There are probably 3 things people are looking for in a mobile home park: Location, Safety and Community.

Location:  I have found that even though the Parks I sell in are located primarily in the E. San Gabriel Valley, none of “my” Parks are far from the Covina Metrolink train station, which means that in 40 minutes someone can be in downtown L.A.  For those who work for a company or agency that pays for parking or public transportation, Buyers have suddenly found a home that is well-located and cost-effective for their commuting needs.

Safety:  Mobile Home Parks offer a high degree of safety.  At one time, the crime statistic in nice mobile home parks was 3%.  Why?  Well, you are living in a community where your neighbor is just close enough to notice when something is wrong, but not so close they can hear your conversations through a wall.

Community:  Mobile home living also provides a sense of community.  Since in “nice parks,” homes must be owner-occupied, Buyers have a sense of what their neighbors will be like, unlike in single family housing (or the condo I used to own) where affordable property is filled with renters who may not share the same standards of living in terms of property upkeep, noise ordinances, etc.

In addition to the general sense of what Buyers are looking for, there are other considerations:  Rent Amount, Taste, and Social needs.

Rent Amount:  A Buyer’s level of monthly gross income will determine which Park a Buyer can afford.  Most Parks require that a Buyer’s gross monthly income is 3 times space rent.

Taste:  There is also the matter of what a Buyer likes --- a Park’s appeal.  Some parks are rustic, with bushy trees and narrow winding lanes; other Parks have rock lawns and E-Z-keep exteriors.   Others look like modern, planned communities.

   This is Rancho Glendora, one of the nice Parks where I list and sell mobile homes.

Social needs:  This may vary, depending on the Buyer.  Most Parks provide scheduled social activities, so in the case of someone who may want to “plug in” to the Community where they’ll be living, games like BINGO & BUNCO are offered, as well as other social events and dinners (in some parks, the dinners are FREE).  All Parks offer the opportunity to be as involved or as uninvolved as the new resident wishes
--- for a person who is new to the area and wants to make friends, often just sitting on the front porch or walking around the block will allow that.

Final Tip:  If you are not sure whether a Park is a “nice park,” do what home buyers do --- drive through it periodically at different times of day, making observations.  In a well-run Park, homes and lawns are neatly kept with no piles of stuff in driveways or on porches.  The Community property --- i.e. the clubhouse, the Park entry, the pool and other facilities --- are well-maintained.  When you observe these signs, you will know that Management is keeping an eye on the property for the benefit of the residents.

In my business, I see myself as a “business matchmaker” --- I try to match up Buyers with a home and Park they will be comfortable in at a price they can afford to pay.

If you are interested in selling or buying a mobile home in the E. San Gabriel Valley area, please give me a call:                 Elena Smith                 626-710-0791

I handle homes in 55+ and all-age parks.

© Elena E. Smith, 2011