The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U.

“Don’t get too hung up on appearances,” Frank Rolfe reminded us as our tour bus made its way to the first of several trailer parks we would visit on a bright Saturday afternoon in Southern California. “Remember, you don’t have to live in these homes.”

It was Day 2 of Mobile Home University, an intensive, three-day course on how to strike it rich in the trailer-park business. Seventy-five or so students had signed up for the class, which Rolfe offers every other month in different places around the country. Most of the enrollees weren’t real estate speculators; they were jittery members of a hard-pressed middle class. They were nervous about retirement. Or they were worried about their jobs moving overseas. Or they were making $100,000 a year, maybe even $200,000, but felt the need to earn more. All of them, though, had somehow come to see the lowly mobile home as their vehicle to financial freedom. “It’s about self-preservation,” one 42-year-old attendee told me. He had flown down from San Francisco for the seminar because he hated his job selling health care plans.

To read the rest of the article please go to:


Solar lighting has been available for many years, but people often perceive its quality and brightness to be low. That’s not the case anymore, and solar lighting consumers should expect higher quality and brighter light from Gama Sonic.  If you’re in the market for a more sustainable lighting solution for your park, then the Imperial II solar lamp post light is a viable option.  There is no wiring or electricity required.

Several Mobile Home Parks, HOA’s, Apartment complex’s and even Cemeteries have  switched from electrical/gas to our Imperial II solar lamp posts,  replacing outdated or non-working fixtures, or adding new solar lights in areas where running or rerunning electrical wiring is cost prohibitive.

Power Use: Gama Sonic uses the highest quality components and more sophisticated electric boards to offer solar lights that are able to preserve 85-90% of the power they receive charging during the day, while the industry standard is only 50%. This results in you having more power to shine brighter and for a longer duration.

Brightness: Gama Sonic’s solar lighting solutions provide the same brightness you get from traditional lights. Special technology like the cone reflector helps to disperse light more efficiently and for longer periods of time.  Our Imperial II solar lamp is the brightest solar lamp post light available anywhere with a brightness of 350 lumens which is equivalent to an 80 W bulb.  The Imperial II is a Commercial Grade Solar Lamp manufactured using powdered cast-aluminum, 21 super bright LEDs, beveled glass, the lamp is maintenance free and has auto dusk to dawn operation.

Easy Installation: Gama Sonic Solar Lamp Posts can be easily installed anywhere outdoors without electrical wiring/trenching which saves you time and money and diminishes your carbon footprint.  Moreover, using our EZ anchor mounting system, you can install the Imperial II anywhere you like where the lamp will receive direct sunlight, eliminating the need to pour concrete.

For more information about Gama Sonic and The Imperial II Solar Lamp Light, please contact Matt Cohen at 800-835-4113 x 104 or email Matt at



Manufactured Home and RV Park Financing Improves

Manufactured Home and RV Park Financing Improves

-2013 in Review; Outlook Good for 2014-

Presented by David Harley, Investment Property Capital

2013:  Recovery Year

Lending conditions improved in 2013.  Although banks remained cautious, we observed more competition and interest in financing 2, 3, and 4 star quality parks, properties that would not have been approved in 2012.  Many of these parks had a ‘story’ and their owners have a few scars from the Great Recession.  Our careful loan packaging and strong oversight of both the underwriters and the appraisers made for successful outcomes.

Appraisals had to be monitored closely…in one example we successfully rebutted a low valuation, arguing that rent increases during 2013 should be the basis of an income analysis, not a simple average based on previous year’s tax returns. Final result: an additional $1 million in value, making it possible to complete the high leverage refinance.

 In another case, we interceded when an appraiser based his report on land value only (vs. an income approach) because 100% of the homes are park-owned and technically they are considered chattel. The lender listened to us, and redirected the appraiser to consider the homes as apartment units for income purposes.  Final result:  our client received a loan supported by the property income that would otherwise have been denied.

2014:  Positive Outlook

The gradually improving economy and changes at the FED point to rising interest rates. Property values should also rise as the need for lower cost housing continues.  Lender’s appetites for MH and RV Park projects is increasing; many of our lenders are asking us to show them loans for good parks in secondary and tertiary markets.  For the larger, better located, higher quality parks needing non-recourse debt above $2 million, the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) market will continue to expand. Conventional lenders will remain the primary sources of financing for mobile home parks as the SBA fills the gap in financing RV parks.

 Case Studies

The following examples illustrate how we help bring complicated transactions to completion by knowing our clients so we can best tell their story, and by knowing the guidelines to point the lenders in the right direction.

 Santa Cruz, CA – RV and MH Park, $3,100,000: This refinance had many hurdles: 80% RV component, personal credit issues and high loan-to-value. The owners were saddled with an over-market interest rate and mortgage payments were draining most of their profits. Maximum leverage was required to make this work and the best solution was to refinance the existing SBA 504 debt with a new SBA 7A loan.  Most lenders mistakenly assumed it could not be done. We found an SBA lender who took the time to listen, and in the end we saved the ownership $6,000 per month, providing a long term solution for one of the oldest family-run RV and MH Parks in the country. 

 Anchorage, AK – MH Park, $1,000,000: Despite the location and sparse pool of lenders we overcame many obstacles.  One hurdle was a lack of comparables as very few MH parks in Alaska have traded.   There was a messy title history that required attention along with some other prickly issues.  In the end we arranged a 75% Loan-to-Value, fixed rate loan, while lowering the owner’s rate and providing cash out for additional investments.

 For a Confidential Review of Your Park, Call or Email

Dave Harley, Investment Property Capital

(415) 250-5300 ●

 Investment Property Capital (IPC) provides financing, investment and analytical services for Manufactured Housing and RV Community Investors and other Industry Professionals. Loan programs are available through our nationwide network of banks, financial institutions and private lenders. Dave Harley has over 15 years of industry specific experience.

 Investment Property Capital ● 701 De Long Ave, Ste. H, Novato, CA 94945 ●


American Red Cross

 Does your community have need for interesting, informative speakers?  The American Red Cross can help you fulfill this need through Community Disaster Education.

 Most folks know the Red Cross responds to disasters, especially the major ones that make the evening news because they affect whole communities.  Yet, a home fire or a loved one having a medical emergency can also be a major disaster for a family or individual.  The American Red Cross mission includes helping peopleknow how to respond to disaster and sometimes to avert them.

 American Red Cross Community Disaster Education speakers offer 20-30 minute informative, interesting presentations on the following topics:

Home Fire Safety

Preparation for Hurricanes

The Work of the American Red Cross

 If you would like to help your people prepare to be safe, consider Red Cross Community Disaster Education and contact us. We will be happy to help.

 Claudia Maynard

American Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter

Community Events Coordinator

St. Petersburg Office│Tel 727.898.3111 x.7556

ARA’s National Manufactured Housing Group Executes Sale of Meadowbrook Village

Buyer Acquires a 130 Site

All Age Community in Ponca City, Oklahoma

Ponca City, Oklahoma (January 27, 2014) — Atlanta headquartered ARA, the largest privately held, full-service investment advisory brokerage firm in the nation focusing exclusively on the multihousing industry, is pleased to announce the sale of Meadowbrook Village Manufactured Home Community in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

ARA National Manufactured Housing Group’s Andrew Shih and Brian Vita (based in Austin, TX) and Todd Fletcher (based in Denver, CO), represented the Seller in the transaction. Shih, Vita, and Fletcher executed the sale of this distressed asset out of receivership. The property was eventually purchased in an all cash transaction with a quick close by an opportunistic local owner and operator.

said Vita “We were able to find a knowledgeable, well capitalized, local investor who understood the market and the tremendous management turnaround potential of the community.”

Built in the 1970′s, Meadowbrook Village is a 130 site, all age community with potential to expand up to 161 sites by finishing utility connections or repositioning homes. The community is serviced by municipal utilities, has paved streets and off street parking, and includes an onsite office, a laundry room, and a storm shelter.

Meadowbrook Village is conveniently located on the North side of Ponca City, OK, on N. Union St., which cuts through the center of the city. Additionally, it is located within two hours of both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and is in close proximity to several of Ponca City’s major employers such as a ConocoPhillips refinery, a Wal-Mart Super Center, and Dorada Poultry. The residents of Meadowbrook Village also enjoy easy access to several retail and restaurant destinations as well as numerous recreational activities offered by the 26 beautiful parks located within the city.

To schedule an interview with an ARA executive regarding this transaction or for more information about ARA, nationally please contact Lisa Robinson at, 404.990.4900 or Amy Morris at, 404.990.4902; locally, Allison Blount at, 512.637.1229.


PRESS RELEASE: The Madison Group

PRESS RELEASE: The Madison Group facilitates the
$1.5 Million Loan for a Texas Manufactured Home Community


January 7, 2014

The Madison Group (TMG), a commercial loan broker and loan consultant, announced today that it has arranged the financing for the purchase of a Manufactured Home Community in San Antonio Texas.  The MHP was an older property located in a rural area on the periphery of the city.  TMG was able to provide a 65% LTV loan of $1.5 million with a seller carry back up to 75% CLTV on a 20 year loan due in 5 years at 5.95%.

“The borrower needed to find a financing arm that would give him the maximum term and financing on a park that had additional land, a large number of park owned homes that predated 1976 and a lender that allowed an out of state owner to purchase the property.  All of these details created problems for typical MHP lenders and banks,” said The Madison Group’s Angela Kesselman, who originated the financing.  “The borrower will now be able to move the older homes out of the community and replace them with newer product over the term of the loan, thereby increasing the ability to refinance with a traditional lender in the future.  Kesselman also commented, “We were able to achieve the borrower’s goals on a difficult transaction by giving him a great rate and term along with the flexibility to modify the structure of the park moving forward.”

The financing was arranged by Angela Kesselman of The Madison Group.
The Madison Group ( is a commercial loan broker and consultant specializing in investor properties nationwide. TMG is a successful firm that provides flexible and reliable capital for real estate acquisitions, refinances, and re-capitalizations.   TMG specializes in the financing of investment properties including: apartments, mobile home parks, office, retail, industrial, self-storage.  Established in 2002, The Madison Group has been able to help a large number of commercial real estate owners meet their financial goals.  Contact Angela at 435-659-2200 or email

Appraising Mobile Home Parks

I have been appraising non-residential property for almost a decade.  My primary geographic areas are eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.  As a commercial appraiser I have appraised a wide variety of commercial, retail, industrial, and multiple family properties.  Appraising mobile home parks is somewhat of a niche market among appraisers, but the process is similar to appraising many property types.


The appraisal side of the mobile home park transaction is not one that is discussed often.  I have found that often times many involved in real estate transactions do not completely understand the appraisal process, or what should be included in an adequate appraisal. This article will focus on the approaches to value that should be used when valuing mobile home parks.  Future articles will get more specific into the data collecting, valuation processes, and how the appraisal can be an advantage for the investor.


The three traditional approaches to valuing real estate include the Cost Approach, Sales Comparison Approach, and the Income Approach.  It is important to understand that all three approaches are not always appropriate for every property type.


The Cost Approach is not typically used when appraising an existing park.  In my geographic area there have not been any new parks constructed recently to my knowledge.  This has to do with the economic feasibility of constructing a new park.  Also, many municipalities would not allow new parks to be constructed due to preconceived notions about potential tenants or homeowners.   In some cases though, such as proposed expansion to an existing park, a cost analysis is appropriate to determine feasibility of new sites.


The Income Approach to value is the primary way to value a mobile home park.  The Income Approach will analyze the subject’s historical and future rental income potential from lot rent and other sources, rent loss from vacancies and non-payment, and finally relevant operating expenses.  The remaining income, or net income, is then capitalized to a value if the park and its income stream are stabilized.    If the income or expenses are expected to change significantly over the investment period, a discounted cash flow analysis should be used.


The Sales Comparison Approach is also valuable in appraising mobile home parks. The appraiser will find and very information on sales of similar parks.  Information gathered will include expense ratios, effective gross income multipliers (EGIM), and capitalization rates.  It is not enough to only use a “per site” value derived from the sales.  A per site value is a term that is often talked about, yet investors do not usually buy parks based on that method.
This is a quick summary of the approaches to value in a mobile home park appraisal.  More detail and insight into these topics and others will be presented in the future.


Erik J. Hanson

7 Rivers Appraisal

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Phone: 608-519-3341



How Our Email System Got Hacked

Recently, one of our employees received an email from a valued client.  The email said that important information was attached and to open the attached weblink to retrieve it.  The employee opened the weblink and found a Google sign in page.  The employee was asked to sign into their Google account to get the promised information.  The employee did.  Next, a message stated that there was a problem and the link couldn’t be opened at this time.

Two days later, my banker called me to confirm whether I wanted to wire $47,550 to an account in Baltimore for the purchase of a manufactured home.  My banker was confirming an email request from what she thought was my office to do just that.  We had sent no such email request.  And we stopped the wire transfer from happening.

In retrospect, here’s what happened.  Our client’s email system was hacked.  The thief was then able to replicate our client’s email and send an email to us that looked like it was from our client.  When our employee went to open the link and complete the Google page, they were actually entering their Google password into the thief’s Google look- a-like page.  With this information, the thief was able to open our employee’s email account and see who they talked to and what subjects they addressed.  Thereafter, the thief emailed the bank employee, who we regularly communicated with, and asked for the wire transfer using names and phrases we often use.   The thief specifically asked our banker not to follow up with a confirmation call as we were busy and out of the office.  The thief’s email to our banker looked just like it had come from us.

One thing we’d done right was to have previously visited with our bank about wire transfer safeguards.  We’d asked the bank to confirm by phone any wire transfer requests.  In addition, we invested in a “Cyber Liability Insurance Policy” two years ago that would have helped had this situation gotten worse.  This policy protects us from private data loss, system damage due to hackers, liability caused due to hackers, copyright infringement, etc.


To reduce our future risk, we’ve:

1)      Trained our employees not to open weblinks in an email purporting to have documents accessible in it and to only open attached files ending in .jpg or .pdf ;

2)      Begun to review our online bank transactions daily for unapproved activity;

3)      Trained our employees to never update or authenticate account information pursuant to an email request;

4)      Advised our bank that all wire transfers must be requested in person;

5)      Decided to use public wifi systems sparingly, and never access sensitive information over them.  Employees with unlimited mobile data plans will use them exclusively; and

6)      Adopted a new email protocol which requires two passwords if previously unauthorized locations or devices try to access the system.


Stay on your toes.  The Barbarians are at your internet portal.


By Kurt D. Kelley, J.D.

President, Mobile Insurance


The Madison Group

PRESS RELEASE: The Madison Group facilitates the
$8 Million Loan for Three Manufactured Home Communities

September 12, 2013

The Madison Group, a commercial loan broker and loan consultant, announced today that it has arranged  the $8 million cash out refinance of three separate Manufactured Home Communities in Georgia and Tennessee.  The MHPs, owned by one client, were all cross collaterized.  The $8 million first mortgage loans enabled the borrower to lock into a great fixed term rate and avoid the uncertainty of future market fluctuations.   Making the transaction even more challenging, was a looming maturity default on these performing properties. The Madison Group was able to facilitate a single title company to close all three transactions with two separate lenders simultaneously on one day, thus beating the dead line for the notes coming due.  The Madison Group’s team worked closely with the various vendors to ensure that third party reports were managed.  This saved the borrower time, money, and ultimately provided a very timely closing on all three transactions.


“The borrower needed to separate the properties to unique loans to allow for the potential future sale of one or more of the communities,” said The Madison Groups Jeff Meierhofer, who originated the financing.  “We were able to provide a nonrecourse CMBS loan with $2.3M cash out on one property, which allowed bank financing to be placed on the other two “B” class properties.  The borrower will now be able to market these properties without a heavy prepayment penalty.”  Meierhofer also commented, “this was one the most challenging transactions I have been involved with, but we were able to meet the borrowers goals”.


Upon closing the loan, the borrower remarked:  “I wanted to take a moment to thank you and your team at The Madison Group for the outstanding job you’ve done in closing what proved to be an almost insurmountable challenge. Your expertise in finding the appropriate lenders, title company, and having the staff to close three loans simultaneously was indeed an astonishing feat. Your patience with my inexperience was extremely helpful and indeed reduced the anxiety of the process. Thank you and your staff for all of your help.”

The financing was arranged by Jeff Meierhofer of The Madison Group.
The Madison Group ( is a commercial loan broker and consultant specializing in investor properties nationwide. TMG is a successful firm that provides flexible and reliable capital for real estate acquisitions, refinances, and re-capitalizations.   TMG specializes in the financing of investment properties including: apartments, mobile home parks, office, retail, industrial, self-storage.  Established in 2002, The Madison Group has been able to help a large number of commercial real estate owners meet their financial goals.  Contact Jeff at 435-785-8350 or email


Is That Dog Heading To Our Mobile Home Park by Kurt Kelly

New Court rulings and Federal laws are opening the door to allow a parade of dogs and other animals onto your property. In many instances, either the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Fair Housing Act (FHA) give your tenants the right to keep a dog or other pet even though your community rules would otherwise prohibit such. Disabled people may request that they be allowed to keep “service animals” and “emotional support animals.” Presuming the tenant and animal meet the proper definitions, community management must allow the animal to stay. A “service animal” is defined as a dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. “Emotional Support Animals” are broadly defined as any animals, whether trained or not, which provide emotional support and alleviate symptoms of a disability.

First, it’s important to know what you can’t do as a property manager. You can’t 1)  ask what the person’s disability is;

2)  ask for medical documentation;

3)  ask that the animal demonstrate its skill or seek a certificate from the Service Dog’s Trainer;

4)  charge an extra fee for the right to keep the a service dog or emotional support animal; or

5)  discriminate based on the perceived severity of a disability. For example, you can’t allow accommodations for a quadriplegic in a wheel chair while not allowing accommodations to another who has no readily visible disability.

 Second, it’s important to know what you can do as a property manager. You can

1)  demand the animal owner keep the animal in their control at all times;

2)  remove any animal that is a known danger to others in your community;

3)  prohibit the animal from coming into your buildings if it isn’t housebroken; and

4)  require that every tenant seeking an exception complete and sign the “Service Animal from Tenant to Management Affirmation” found in the  ”Loss Control” section of our website This letter requires the tenant to make specific affirmations and provide verifications from third parties that the animal is a “service animal” or “emotional support animal.” The verification should be from a “Health Care Provider” in the case of an emotional support animal. The definition of a “Health Care Provider” isn’t limited to a medical doctor.

This is a quick article on a complicated topic, so be sure to visit with your own counsel for more specific questions. Though the law has taken away some of your authority to limit tenant animal ownership, you do retain some authority to manage these animals. Using the “Service Animal from Tenant to Management Affirmation” letter will give pause to those tenants that would bring in pets that aren’t truly support animals and would otherwise not be allowed. And knowing you don’t have to allow a dangerous pit bull to reside in your community is a comforting thing.

Kurt Kelley
Mobile Insurance