How Scarcity Impacts Mobile Home Park Value

The value of scarcity is evident in many aspects of life, from precious metals to real estate. Econ 101 taught us that in markets of contracting supply, demand usually increases significantly – typically driving up value. Similarly, mobile home parks are among the rarest forms of commercial real estate. This scarcity has led to substantial financial gains for their owners. But why are they so scarce, and how does this impact mobile home park value?

modern mobile home park with high value
Modern Mobile Home: Courtesy of Ray Realty

Historical Perspective on Mobile Home Park Zoning

In the 1950s and 1960s, the construction of mobile home parks was widespread, with few zoning restrictions. This period saw a boom in mobile home parks, driven by the demand from returning GIs and the involvement of high-profile celebrities like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Even Elvis Presley owned a mobile home park and featured in movies that showcased this unique lifestyle. At that time, there was no scarcity; mobile home parks could be built almost anywhere, diminishing the value of permits.

However, the landscape changed dramatically in the 1970s. The once-popular mobile home parks lost their charm, and cities across the United States began to restrict their development. This shift was driven by two main factors:

  1. Negative Perceptions: Mobile home parks developed a stigma, often seen as undesirable neighbors. This stigma led to a decrease in property values for adjacent single-family homes, sometimes by as much as 25%. Consequently, local communities opposed the construction of new mobile home parks.
  2. Economic Burden: Cities realized that mobile home parks could be financially burdensome. For instance, a mobile home park with 50 lots might generate $750 per lot annually in property taxes in a state like Missouri. However, the costs associated with providing services, particularly schooling for children living in the mobile home parks, could far exceed the revenue. This financial imbalance made cities reluctant to approve new mobile home parks.

The Unlikely Future of Mobile Home Park Development

Some people believe that attitudes towards mobile home parks might change, leading to a resurgence in their development. However, given the entrenched economic and social reasons, this seems unlikely. Federal initiatives to promote affordable housing, including mobile home parks, face significant challenges. The federal government lacks the authority to override local zoning laws. While opportunity zones may offer some potential for new development, these areas often are not attractive for building new mobile home parks or for potential residents.

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Mobile Home Parks in the Housing Market

Mobile home parks typically occupy the lower end of the housing market, providing an affordable alternative to traditional homes. With the rising costs of single-family homes and apartment rents, mobile home parks meet an essential need for affordable housing. As living costs increase, the demand for mobile home parks continues to grow. Despite this demand, the supply remains tightly constrained. The U.S. sees the construction of approximately 10 new mobile home parks each year, while about 20 are demolished. This results in a net decrease, making mobile home parks even scarcer.

The Value of Mobile Home Park Permits

The true value of a mobile home park often lies in the rarity of its operating permit. While land value and income streams are significant, the scarcity of permits creates a unique market dynamic. This rarity is akin to the scarcity of gold, driving up its value. Other real estate sectors with similar scarcity include cemeteries and landfills, but these require substantial corporate involvement and have limited accessibility for individual investors.

elevated view of typical mobile home park
Elevated View of a Well-Kept Trailer Park: Courtesy of Medium

Factors That Diminish Mobile Home Park Value

Not all mobile home parks are valuable investments. Certain factors can significantly diminish their desirability:

  1. Legal and Regulatory Issues: Mobile home parks lacking proper permits or facing legal challenges may not be viable investments.
  2. Infrastructure Problems: Mobile home parks with failing water or sewer systems, especially those without feasible repair options, pose significant risks.
  3. Location: Mobile home parks situated in remote or economically depressed areas may struggle to attract residents and generate income.


Mobile home parks represent a uniquely scarce commodity in commercial real estate. This scarcity can potentially lead to substantial financial benefits and provides a robust safeguard against market declines. Understanding the nuances of mobile home park investments is crucial for capitalizing on this rare and likely valuable opportunity. As with any investment, due diligence is essential to ensure that the specific mobile home park in question meets critical criteria for potential success.

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The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice or a guarantee of any kind. We do not guarantee profitability. Make investment decisions based on your own research and consult registered financial and legal professionals. We are not registered financial or legal professionals and do not provide personalized investment recommendations.

Tristan manages Investor Relations at Keel Team Real Estate Investment. Keel Team actively syndicates mobile home park investments, with a focus on buying value add, mom & pop owned trailer parks and making them shine again. Tristan is passionate about the mobile home park asset class; with a focus on affordable housing and sustainability.