Important New Year’s Resolutions for Community Owners By Frank Rolfe & Dave Reynolds

It’s a new year, and that means it’s a new beginning for putting your best foot forward on your property. Affordable housing is a serious business, and there’s a lot riding on what you do in 2019 for both your residents and your financial future.  So what are some important New Year’s Resolutions that all community owners should make for 2019?

To be more proactive in creating the amenity called“community”
One of the strongest attributes of the manufactured home property is that which is called a “sense of community”.  Essentially it’s the network of friends and neighbors that
creates emotional support and a sense of well-being. Time magazine identified this as the most important trait in their article about our industry titled “The Home of the Future”
and describing our product as the “gated communities of the less affluent”. So how do we all build this important feature?  By dedicating all unused green spaces and common area structures to areas for resident activities and friendship building. And also by doing our best to promote community activities and clubs forming – from book clubs to bingo nights.

To find new ways to help those who are in need
In 2018 we experimented with acting as the catalyst for nonprofits to engage with our residents to improve their quality of life. We held weekend events in which large numbers of local volunteers renovated homes for those who are unable to afford to do so themselves. But that’s only the beginning. We believe there is much more than can be done to match nonprofit groups with residents who need help. All community owners should look into being matchmakers for the common good.

To make your community a great place to live
Every owner should work hard to offer the best quality of life that the property can produce. This includes an entry you can be proud of, common areas that are exemplary, rules enforcement to make sure that all residents are keeping their
property to a high standard, and constant effort on enhancing amenities including the “sense of community” described above. Every property can always be a little better, so this is a goal that you can never fully complete, but it’s the effort to do so that’s important.

To strive to create a great value for the resident
In every market we serve, we are the lowest-cost form of housing. And we all know that in many parts of America that low cost will rise in the coming years, as owners try to make sense of keeping the property as a manufactured home community vs. a conversion to another use (never forget that apartments rent for an average of $1,250 per month in the U.S. while lot rents are around $1,000 per month less). The important feature of all communities needs to be “value” not strictly price point. Most residents would rather pay more for a property that is nice, clean, safe and attractive. Professional management is favored by most residents, even if it means higher rents as a result.

To proactively remove risk as best as possible
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How true that is with manufactured home communities. Be vigilant over the sources of liability and take action before anything bad happens. Cut out all dead trees and tree limbs. Remove uneven surfaces on sidewalks. Fill in any holes. Proactively do that which is necessary to keep all residents safe and the property free from insurance claims.

To fill all of your lots and homes
The demand for affordable housing in the U.S. is enormous.  Do your part in making that possible for the millions of Americans who can’t find anywhere they can afford. Any
vacant home you have should be immediately renovated and sold or rented. Every vacant lot should be prepared for the arrival of a new or used home, either through your own capital or 21st Mortgage. Since vacant lots are worth zero and full lots are worth thousands of dollars, it makes no sense to let vacancy sit idle in manufactured home communities – especially when the demand for what we do is so high. It’s a win/win for everyone when you fill up your property.

To be a good neighbor in the general community
It’s not enough just to be a good steward of your property, but you need to also be a member of the greater community, as well. That includes being an active member of your state manufactured housing association, as well as a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. Donate money to such things as school sports teams and other worthy causes. Be a good neighbor in the macro sense of the term.

To wake up each day enthusiastic about your mission
If you did not wake up enthusiastic and energized about what you do for a living, then what’s the problem? Community owners should approach each day like a great opportunity for advancement, not drudgery. Sure, collections can be a grind on the 5th. Yes, a broken water line when it’s 10 degrees out is a big pain. But appreciate the larger picture. You are helping people have a good life and making great financial returns at the same time. You can take pride in what you do, and you should be filled with excitement about your daily progress.

2019 should be a great year for the industry. It should be a great year for your property. This is the time to reflect on goals and how to meet those with energy and excitement. Have a Happy New Year! And don’t forget that this is your year to make your property the best it can be, starting today

Frank Rolfe has been a manufactured home community owner for almost two decades,
and currently ranks as part of the 5th largest community owner in the United States, with more than 23,000 lots in 28 states in the Great Plains and Midwest. His books and courses on community acquisitions and management are the top-selling ones in the industry. To learn more about Frank’s views on the manufactured home community
industry visit