Interview with Cory Harelson of Freedom Investing Group

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Welcome back to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing Podcast, hosted by Andrew Keel. On this episode of the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing Podcast, Andrew interviews Cory Harelson, a dedicated mobile home park operator and visionary founder of Freedom Investing Group (FIG).

Cory left behind an 18-year career as a structural engineer to leap into mobile home park investing. He now has a portfolio worth over $18M+ across 12 communities and he has already been through 5 mobile home park deal exits! The reach of his mobile home park portfolio extends from Idaho all the way down to Ohio with a focus now on the “bourbon triangle,” as he puts it, in the markets of Cincinnati, Lexington, and Louisville. He is also currently under contract on a new hopeful mobile home park acquisition in Kentucky.

In this episode, Andrew Keel and Cory Harelson delve into Cory’s swift success in Mobile Home Park (MHP) investing, tracing his journey all the way back to his first Mobile Home Park deal in Garden City, Idaho. They discuss Cory’s current dedication to growing his Mobile Home Park and RV syndication business and platform through his Linkedin and other marketing channels. Cory candidly shares the mistakes he’s made and his refined investment strategy, highlighting three key considerations for aspiring Mobile Home Park investors. He also recommends valuable resources for mastering the asset class and explains why Mobile Home Parks offer unparalleled opportunities for financial freedom.

Since July 2023, Cory Harelson has been fervently expanding his mobile home park syndication business, driven by his passion for empowering others in the realm of Passive Mobile Home Park investing. He offers listeners valuable insights (golden nuggets) from lessons he has learned along the way.

***Andrew Keel and Keel Team Real Estate Investments (Keel Team, LLC) do not endorse any interviewee. This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be depended upon for investment purposes. ***

Andrew Keel is the owner of Keel Team, LLC, a Top 100 Owner of Manufactured Housing Communities with over 3,000 lots under management. His team currently manages over 40 manufactured housing communities across more than 10 states. His expertise is in turning around under-managed manufactured housing communities by utilizing proven systems to maximize the occupancy while reducing operating costs. He specializes in bringing in homes to fill vacant lots, implementing utility bill back programs, and improving overall management and operating efficiencies, all of which significantly boost the asset value and net operating income of the communities. Check out to learn more.

Andrew has been featured on some of the Top Podcasts in the manufactured housing space, click here to listen to his most recent interviews: In order to successfully implement his management strategy, Andrew’s team usually moves on location during the first several months of ownership. Find out more about Andrew’s story at

Are you getting value out of this show? If so, please head over to iTunes and leave the show a quick five-star review. I have a goal of hitting over 500 total 5-star reviews, and it would mean the absolute world to me if you could help contribute to that. Thanks ahead of time for making my day with your five-star review of the show.

Would you like to see value-add mobile home park projects in progress? If so, follow us on Instagram: @passivemhpinvesting for photos and awesome videos from our recent mobile home park acquisitions.

Talking Points:

00:21 – Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing Podcast

01:00 – Cory Harelson’s mobile home park portfolio and background

06:00 – Cory Harelson’s first Mobile Home Park deal in Garden City, Idaho

08:00 – Mistakes Cory made on Mobile Home Park acquisitions and getting real replacement cost numbers for insurance policies instead of using the values on appraisals for Mobile Home Park insurance

15:00 – Finding good Mobile Home Park deals and operators

18:15 – Cory Harelson’s current Mobile Home Park portfolio

20:55 – Cory Harelson’s current Mobile Home Park investing strategy

26:25 – Lot rent increases and bringing in capital for improvements to your Mobile Home Park investment

28:37 – Three things to look at if you want to invest in Mobile Home Parks

31:39 – Finding a great Mobile Home Park location with value that needs to be added

33:00 – The magic sauce in Mobile Home Park investing

35:00 – Don’t ignore the Mobile Home Park infrastructure and capital required to add value

36:39 – Popularity in the world of Mobile Home Park investing

37:45 – Reaching out to Cory Harelson, contact Cory

38:20 – Passive investing into mobile home parks is a double-win

38:56 – Conclusion


Links & Mentions from This Episode:

Freedom Financial:

Email Cory at

Cory Harelson’s LinkedIn page:

MHP IDEAL Analysis Tool Link:

Keel Team’s official website: 

Andrew Keel’s official website:  

Andrew Keel LinkedIn: 

Andrew Keel Facebook page:

Andrew Keel Instagram page:

Twitter: @MHPinvestors


Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing podcast. With your host, Andrew Keel. This is the podcast where you can get the education you need to invest 100% passively in a highly profitable niche of mobile home parks.

Andrew:  Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing podcast. This is your host, Andrew Keel. Today we have a very special guest, Mr. Cory Harelson, a dedicated mobile home park operator and the visionary founder of Freedom Investing Group.

Before we dive in, I want to ask you a real quick favor. Would you mind please taking an extra 30 seconds to head over to wherever you listen to this podcast and give me a rating of five stars? This helps us get more listeners, and it means the absolute world to me. Thank you so much for making my day with that review of the show. All right, let’s dive in.

Leaving behind an 18-year career as a structural engineer, Cory took the leap into mobile home park ownership and now has a portfolio worth over $18 million across 12 communities, and he has been through five exits. His reach of his mobile home park portfolio extends from Idaho all the way to Ohio with a focus now on the bourbon triangle, as he puts it, in the markets of Cincinnati, Lexington, and Louisville.

He’s currently under contract on a park in Kentucky. Since July of 2023, Cory has dedicated himself to growing his mobile home park and RV syndication business driven by a passion for financial freedom and helping others achieve it through mobile home park investing. Welcome to the show, Cory.

Cory: I am super excited to be here, Andrew. Thanks for having me.

Andrew: Yeah. Would you mind starting out by telling us a little about your story and how in the world you went from being a structural engineer to investing in mobile home parks?

Cory: Sure thing. I was doing like a lot of people did. I did what my parents told me to do. I went to college and got a job. I got married and had a kid. I had some pretty good adventures before that. But at some point, my career ballooned. I found myself with a young kid working 60 to 80-hour weeks and just not really being able to contemplate how I was going to continue to do that until I was 65 like everyone said you’re supposed to do.

There was one particular week when my oldest son, he was my only son at the time and was two years old, there was a week where I just didn’t see him at all awake. I would leave in the morning before he would wake up. I get home in the evening after he went to sleep. It was bonkers. I loved engineering. It’s a really interesting thing, but I didn’t love it more than my kid and my wife.

I had this freak out where it was a Sunday, and I had been working all day there. I hadn’t seen him awake in a week. It was like, gosh, dang it, I’m going to go put my kid to bed. I left work early on a Sunday at 5:30 and got home in time to actually give my kid a bath and put him to bed. But when I went to take him away from my wife to go give him his bath, he looked at me like I was a stranger and started freaking out and crying, didn’t want to leave mom. It was pretty terrible.

I had a realization at that moment that I needed to do something different. I didn’t know what that was. I did a couple of things. Somebody gave me, it’s the same book everybody talks about, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and my mind  exploded like, oh, my gosh, there’s assets that pay you. I don’t know why I had to wait until I was 35 years old and read that book to figure that out. It’s not actually that complicated. I wish I would’ve learned that in school.

I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and said, I’m going to go invest in real estate. Gosh, darn it. I’m going to do this. That was in 2015. We were not good savers up until that point. We didn’t get in a bunch of debt or anything, but I like to climb and ski. If we had extra money, I was buying climbing gear and that kind of thing.

We did have a little bit of money and we had some home equity, so I managed to figure out how to use a HELOC. I was originally going to go do a duplex, triplex fourplex. It was what I was going to do. I went onto BiggerPockets and just started nerding out, learning everything I could about real estate. I figured out how to analyze deals. I’m an engineer, so I built a spreadsheet. I built my pro forma spreadsheet, figured out what all went in there, and started analyzing deals.

Even back in 2015, I had a really hard time. Once I started looking at them, it was like, man, these are barely going to cover the mortgage with the rent. I knew I could have hustled, driven for dollars, and sent a bunch of mailers. I knew I could have found good deals in the plex space, but I was getting a little discouraged.

I stumbled across a mobile home park for sale on Craigslist, a little nine-unit one. I didn’t end up buying it, but I plugged that into my pro forma spreadsheet. The numbers looked much better. I was like, oh, what is this mobile home park thing? I started doing what I always do.

I dove in and I learned everything I could. I got a bunch of Frank Rolfe material back then and learned about tenant-owned homes, park-owned homes, cap rates, and all of that. But I was still pretty scared because it’s a mobile home park, and what did I know about mobile home park?

I had a really good friend of mine, Matt. He was the only person I knew at the time who invested in real estate. He’s a residential real estate agent, but he had rental properties and things. I took him out for a beer and said, Matt, I’m thinking of doing something crazy, and I need you to talk me out of it, and I need you to tell me why. I’m thinking of buying a mobile home park. He looks at me and goes, oh, I know guys who own mobile home parks, they’re cash caps.

He ended up helping me quite a bit as far as how to track down a deal. We sent a bunch of mailers out. At the time, they weren’t popular yet. That was still right at the tail end of them being a secret. We just sent a bunch of mailers out, a whole bunch of people responded, and we had a bunch of deals on the table to choose from. I ended up buying my first park in 2016. It was a little 12-unit deal in Garden City, Idaho.

Andrew: Garden City, Idaho. Maybe tell us about that, because you’re based in Boise, right?

Cory: Correct. Yes, this is a 10-minute bike ride from my house.

Andrew: Awesome.

Cory: Garden city is a neat little niche in Idaho and that it’s a beautiful area surrounding it. It’s right on the river, right on the green belt, and there are breweries and wineries. But there’s just all these really, really old rundown properties around there, so it was right in the path of progress, if you will. It was just that area that was, this is way too nice of a location for things to be… Yes, exactly. It was a good spot to buy at the time. It was 12 units.

Andrew: Twelve units, okay. Awesome.

Cory: All tenant-owned. There were 11 really good tenants and one that we knew was going to be an issue. He was high as a kite when I went to walk the property in due diligence. All the other homes were okay, but this one home was just in really bad shape. He had just put cardboard up on the ceilings. It was really bad.

He did us a favor right out of the gate and stopped paying, so we got rid of him and replaced the home with a nicer one. We filled it with a sweet little old lady who had just gotten divorced. It ended up being a really good deal. We build back some water, and it was really good. It took a little bit of doing for the first year and then was just mailbox money for several years after that. That was my first mobile home park.

Andrew: It’s so awesome. Do you still own that one?

Cory: I don’t. I did a cash out, refi on that, bought a park in 2020, and then I sold it in 1031. I wish I did, but it’s in a great spot.

Andrew: Yeah. Tell us about how you got educated prior to buying that 12-unit. I know you mentioned some BiggerPockets and Frank Rolfe stuff. Did you go to the boot camp? What type of stuff did you do for due diligence and things like that?

Cory: I would have gone to the boot camp sooner if I had it to do over again. I got all of the free material they had at the time. I don’t know if it’s still available. They had a bunch of really good free material on the BiggerPockets form, but also on the MHU, the Frank Rolfe mobile home university site.

I ended up just getting that and then piecing that together with the forums and coming up with a due diligence list. You can learn a lot for free. In hindsight, that deal went really well. I had one other deal that didn’t go as great. I think I would have approached it differently, had I taken the MHU boot camp sooner.

The boot camp was great. I did the boot camp in January of 2021. I finally went and did that. When we were going to start, at some point, I had used up all my capital and thought I was done. Then I had some friends and family come and say, hey, why don’t you take our money and do this too? This is really cool what you’re doing. I had five years of experience at that point, but I wanted to make sure I was leaving no stone unturned. So I went back and took the boot camp five years in.

Andrew: Smart. That’s awesome. On those first couple, did you make any mistakes? What would you do differently on those first couple of what you’re mentioning? Did you buy any private utilities or anything like that, or were they all public?

Cory: The first deal was city water, city sewer that 12-unit one. Everyone says, your first deal you lose on, and then you learn all the lessons. I wish I had lost on that one. That one went just too clean. First, I bought that one, and then I bought a few other small ones in Garden City, one over in Pocatello. At one point, I sold a few of those and refied the first deal. I bought a 51-lot park in Michigan.

That was like, oh, I’m going to scale up. I did this, I bought this 51-lot park. That was in Michigan. That one had a wastewater treatment plant, which rightfully worried me going in. So I did everything I could to learn all about the due diligence you would do on those. I talked to other people who’d invested in them.

Once again, I found all the material I could. I posted and got good responses on the BiggerPocket forums. I checked with the local, the state, the federal, EPA people. Everything was in compliance, they had a good operator. I checked all the boxes that I think I should have checked.

I made one mistake, and it was a small mistake but a big mistake. When I was insuring it, I took the appraiser’s word for the value of the replacement cost of the wastewater treatment plant. That was the big mistake. For something like that, in hindsight, if I was going to do this again, I would go talk to an actual contractor and a manufacturer called legacy environmental or somebody that makes these and get the actual price, because that ended up being off by a factor of 10.

Everything was fine with the operations of the plant. A lot of these plants are outdoors. They’re not flammable, so that’s fine. This one happened to be housed in a building. It had a building that was housing it. The building had a fire, and it totaled the plant. That was rough.

That was a big, big mistake. That one thing right there, if I had just gotten the insurance right, then it would have just been a headache. It got totaled, and it was very expensive to replace it. We did have some insurance. I was pretty worried for a minute there. Thank goodness it was just my park, and this wasn’t someone that I had other money in.

I was calling everybody I knew trying to figure out what to do. The best advice I got was from my friend Blake who was like, you just got to call the bank and just level with them. The issue was the pumping of the sewage while the thing was being replaced. It ended up costing almost as much as the replacement. It was $50,000 a month on a park with the gross income was $300,000 for the year.

The insurance covered that for a few months, that pumping, so I had just a few months to figure it out. Fortunately, I had done the other things right. I had billed back water, filled vacancies. I boosted the NOI way up, and I had a little bit of market wins at my back at the time too. I had some pretty good equity in the property, so the bank was great to work with.

John Milinac was the lender on that one. He was awesome to work with. We ended up doing a cash out refinance in the middle of it basically to fund the gap between I put a whole bunch of cash in. I had cash savings and everything, so I had my reserves plus that, plus the insurance.

We ended up doing the whole replacement of the wastewater treatment plant. We replaced the whole thing. If I got the insurance right and done everything else the same, I would have tripled my money in two years on that deal, but instead I ended up losing a bit.

Andrew: For the listeners, what a great takeaway. If you’re an operator out there, definitely get the actual replacement costs instead of taking the appraisers’ valuation. That’s a great takeaway.

Cory: Right. If it’s some building, that’s what appraisers are there for. They’re pretty good at it, but they may not know. I’m assuming they’re not a wastewater treatment plant expert. That’s the takeaway on that one.

I’m just trying to think of it as a college education and infrastructure replacement, I guess. We did end up finding another deal based off of that that I would not have had the courage to touch if I hadn’t been through that. We found one in Illinois that had an owner who was in a similar situation to what I was in. They had a failing well water system that needed to be replaced, and they didn’t have the capital to replace it.

I had just gone through this wastewater treatment plant thing. It was like, well, I know what to do. I come from a construction background, so it’s a totally different thing when you come in with the actual capital to do it and it’s planned. We were able to get a really good price on it to start, and then we got a seller credit for the vast majority of the actual replacement.

We were able to cash out the seller who was in a pickle, get him out of the pickle, and come in. We did a $600,000 well system replacement at a community in Illinois. Now it’s got brand new infrastructure. Out of the 600,000, we got a 480,000, it was a 570,000 replacement. We got a 480,000 credit.

We were basically into it for 90, and now we’ve got brand new Illinois EPA compliant, well system, and it’s a hundred percent tenant-owned. Other than that infrastructure thing, it’s just a super quiet cashflow mailbox money park.

Andrew: That is so good. Thank you for sharing this. I know we  went down a rabbit hole here, but what would you say are the toughest hurdles that you’ve had to overcome in mobile home park investing? Looking at it from an all encompassing perspective, what’s the toughest hurdles? Is it utility system management? Is it operations? Is it finding good deals? What would you say?

Cory: I think everybody knows it’s hard to find good deals. Certainly, there’s a lot of work there that goes into finding good deals, but I think the operations is probably the biggest one that a lot of people will just say like, oh, it’s tenant-owned homes. If the toilet leaks, it’s not your toilet. That’s true.

Andrew: But you have a vesting interest in that toilet.

Cory: Right. That’s true until maybe you inherit one of those homes and have to refurb it and sell it. You can make a profit on that, but the operations are a lot more work than I had thought going in as far as figuring those out. We’ve learned a lot. I feel like we’ve got some pretty good processes now, but that took a long time to build, I would say.

Andrew: Tell us about your operations. Do you manage in-house? Do you have a team? What does that look like?

Cory: Yeah, we do. We do manage in-house. Freedom Community Management is our separate entity that does the property management. We have a couple of virtual employees who help manage the global back office bookkeeping and supporting of onsite managers. We have onsite managers at every property as well. Those folks make a big difference. Finding the right folks there is a key.

Andrew: Any tips on finding good onsite managers?

Cory: The best ones we’ve hired have been straight out of the Frank Rolfe boot camp of just going and figuring out who’s got the nice home, the clean car, the nice yard, and who actually looks like they care. They’re going to be motivated to want to make the community better. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s worked pretty well.

Some of the inherited managers we’ve gotten have worked well, and some of them have not. But when we’ve hired based on that criteria, just make a list of the top 10% of who’s got the nicest yards and talked to all of them. The park we have down in Tucson, we did that. We talked to everybody.

The guy that we ended up hiring, his wife’s grandpa, was the one who had built the park. Whoever they had sold it to had let it go down a little bit. He offered to do the whole thing for free. He was like, I just want to see this place cleaned up. I’ll do all of this for free. We’re like, you can’t work for free. We’re going to pay you, because otherwise you’re going to burn out. He’s awesome. We’ve cleaned that place up and it’s running like clockwork.

Andrew: A good onsite manager can make or break a deal. It would make it 10 times easier if you have a good manager that you can trust. That’s a good tip. Thank you. Tell us about your recent acquisitions. I know you’ve ballooned up now. You have a nice portfolio. How have you guys pivoted around the higher interest rates? I know you said you had a deal in Kentucky under contract. Maybe just  tell us about your portfolio now.

Cory: Totally. What we have done up until recently, we have made relationships with several brokers we have really good relationships with. They are sending us pocket listings. What we have done is we’ve chased the relationships instead of the region. It’s been good in the sense that we have a lot of good deals with us right now. It’s been good that it’s let us see a lot of areas.

I do think every time we end up in a new area, it’s a lot of work. We’re in Cincinnati and soon to be the Lexington metros. I really like those areas compared to a lot of the other places. The Illinois property is great, but the state of Illinois is not great to work with. We found some areas that are the operations seem really, really good. We can use a lot of the same movers and installers between those three markets that are only an hour, hour and a half apart.

Right now, we’re honing in on what we’re calling the bourbon triangle. Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati is where we’re currently targeting. Great areas, they’re growing, they’re popular. The Lexington where our deals under contract right now, the housing supplies constrained because they’re anti development. There’s not a lot of development, but there is a lot of demand.

The rest of the country last year, rents were down. The rents last year in Lexington were up over 5% still. It’s a really strong area. I’ve seen firsthand, the red states are just so much easier to work in regardless of what your politics are.

Andrew: Totally, yeah. I own a park in Buffalo, New York, and then a couple actually in Illinois. It’s just amazing. Specifically, we can talk about evictions, but there’s other things too, like just the regulation behind bringing in a home and filling it. The permitting process is 10 times harder, longer, and more expensive.

I agree. The red states, things just move a little bit faster. and you’re able to do business. So that’s good. Is that where most of your deals come from, though, is pocket listings and those relationships with brokers?

Cory: I certainly make a bunch of cold calls, but the most traction we have had is through the pocket listings with brokers.

Andrew: That’s awesome. That’s great. That’s a good little lead source. It takes a lot of time to like build those relationships, but that’s great that you have a good stream of deals coming to you. Cory, how has your mobile home park investing strategy changed over your years in the business?

I know you said now, you’re  getting more geographic focused on the bourbon triangle, but is there anything else like size wise? Your first deal was 12 units. Now, are you looking at bigger properties like the one in Michigan that was over 50 lots? What’s changed and why, if you don’t mind?

Cory: Yes, we are looking at bigger parks definitely. Our current metric, we’re targeting 50 lots and bigger unless it’s right next door to one that we already own. We’ll go down below that a little bit. I have this theory that the 50 to 99-lot is  a sweet spot.

The bigger parks, you just get so much more economy of scale. It’s not really more work, but then you have more revenue to hire better people to execute the work. You can actually afford to have an onsite manager. You can actually afford to pay your onsite manager a decent wage. I think that’s huge.

I like the 50 to 99-lot size. I would like bigger parks too, but a lot of the really, really big folks start looking at the hundred lot and up range. I feel like that 50-99  weeds out some of the really, really big operators, but it’s big enough that a lot of the first time buyers aren’t able to get into that space. That’s my sweet spot there.

Andrew: That’s good. What’s the strategy? Is it value add? Is it more stabilized? Are you doing a lot of infill? I know you said you sub metered that one park, water and sewer. What’s the play for your portfolio?

Cory: This is maybe a good comparison that I like to make sometimes too with apartments. I feel like the value-add potential in mobile home parks is the best of any asset class. So many of them are all built in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. So many of them just have these owners who’ve owned them for decades and haven’t done anything. They haven’t fixed potholes. They haven’t filled vacancies.

I assume their loans are paid off and whatever money’s coming in is just cashflow, so they’re not really motivated to improve them. In the apartment space where there are so many sophisticated sponsors out there, there’s certainly value-add deals there too, but I think there are a lot fewer and far between versus a lot of these parks just have so much value.

For instance, this park in Lexington is in a wonderful location. Literally, there were bulldozers driving behind the fence as we were onsite touring it, building a $500,000  McMansion neighborhood right behind it. There’s a middle school getting built across the street from it. The location’s amazing. The infrastructure is direct billed, water sewer right to the residents, the maintenance of the pipes. None of that is on us, the water sewer bill.

The infrastructure is great. The bones are great. The location’s great, but it’s ugly as sin. It’s like, this is way too nice of an area for this thing to be here. But if it’s just aesthetics, we can fix that. What’s exciting to me is there’s a whole bunch of long time residents in this thing that are living in this place that’s just not been kept up. The roads are crap, the trees are all overgrown.

If we can come in and fix the roads, do fencing, signage, and help some of the residents, especially near the front, maybe paint their homes, do a program to help residents get skirting on their homes, and make people clean up their yards and get rid of some junk, all of a sudden, we’re going to have a nice asset in a nice area, and we’re going to be able to fill it up. I like the infill. I like value-add as long as it’s priced so that we can afford to bring in the capital to do the value add, if that makes sense.

Andrew: Sure, and then you handle that all in house through your team. You have project managers to do that, or you’re doing it yourself.

Cory: Correct. My business partner, Thomas, who’s also my brother in law, runs a lot of the value-add stuff, and then we’ve got our team. Our team will work with the onsite manager for the operations and automating rent collection and all of that. Then we actually started working somewhat recently with, there’s a consultant called Dynamic MH Solutions. They’ve got decades and decades of experience. We work with them particularly on the home infill and inventory. They’ve got relationships to get good prices on a lot of homes and things.

Andrew: I’m not familiar with them. Dynamic MH Solutions. Will they handle infill and things like that from manufacturers, or they help them with used homes?

Cory: They can do both. They’ve got a bunch of relationships with lenders. They’ve got relationships with some of the new home builders. Our plan is to do a combination of newer used homes and new homes via the 21st mortgage cash program. They’ve got relationships with all of them. They’re a fractional employee almost, but they’ve got tons and tons of experience. They’ve all been doing it for decades.

Andrew: That’s so awesome. To circle back, you mentioned that in mobile home parks, the value-add is just so transparent. There’s just so many ways to add dollars to the NOI by just walking around because of the fragmented ownership and things like that. I think that’s just so important, because in apartments, storage, and all these other asset classes that are still attractive. They can work, I think it’s just a little bit harder. It’s a little more less clear.

In mobile home park, it’s like, hey, here’s an 80-lot park, there’s 10 vacant lots. Here’s our plan, and here’s how we’re going to use the equity to fill those lots and increase the income. It’s very black and white. Where in storage, for example, it’s like, hey, we’re going to buy this facility, it’s 92% occupied, and we’re going to revenue manage people up. We don’t know how many people are going to move out, but we’re going to revenue manage people up. We believe we’ll be able to push NOI based off of that. It’s less concrete, I guess. Would you agree?

Cory: Totally. Another thing I love about the mobile home parks versus self-storage and apartments is because the rents are so far—I know rent increases are a touchy subject, and we try to bring people in at market and bring their existing residents over many, many years. I’m not someone who’s going to come in and double everybody’s rent overnight. I don’t feel right about that. We are going to get them there over some number of years. We’re going to catch them up, and that’s how we can afford to bring in the capital to do all these improvements.

The neat thing is I like to think of them like a submarine under a storm. The apartments are like the ship on top of the sea. Right now, last year, a lot of people got into a lot of trouble with apartments because rents had been shooting up in the apartment side of things, but they are by definition, the market rent. The apartment rents are the market rent.

If the market rent comes down, all of a sudden you’ve got syndications where people are projecting rent growth, and they have to cut rents, and you can be in big trouble. But with a mobile home park, the rents are so low. Our most expensive park is around $500 a month in a market where the rents are $2000 a month for apartments. If the apartment rent drops even by some big 10% or 15%, okay, apartments are $1800. My $500 lot rent is still a bargain.

If we’ve got residents that are 200 and something, we’re still going to bring them. We’re sticking to our business plan. I like that because it’s affordable housing, it’s actually affordable, and it doesn’t need section eight subsidies for people to afford it, people can actually afford it on minimum wage salaries.

(1) I feel good, because we’re providing housing that people actually need, and we’re trying to make it quality housing. (2) People can actually afford to pay it. I don’t feel like we’re impacted by the ups and the downs of the housing market. I’m not sure if that made sense.

Andrew: I agree with you on that. If you were going to be passively investing in another mobile home park operator, what would be the major things that you would want to look at and study? Would you want to do? What’s your advice for those passive investors that are listening?

Cory: Totally. There‘s three things I would look at. I’ve actually got a free tool for one of those things. The first thing would be the sponsor. Do you trust this person? Do they have a track record? What has their performance been? If you’re investing passively, you’re giving up control, which is good because then you don’t have to do work, and it also limits your liabilities. There’s a lot of pros, but you really have to trust the person you’re investing with.

I would say, you really want to meet, talk to them, understand who they are and what their background is, and make sure it’s not somebody that’s just going to skip town with your money. Make sure that they have the capability to execute on their business plan.

The second thing I would look at is the financing. I don’t think this has happened as much in the mobile home park space as the apartments, but I’m just a fan of debt that’s fixed for at least five years. A lot of people got in trouble with the interest rate spikes and everything recently. If you can get five or 10-year debt, I feel like that’s really good. One thing I would be cautious of is if there’s some variable rate debt, unless there’s a reason for it, maybe if you’re building something new or something

Finally you get to the deal itself. For the deal itself, there’s all kinds of weeds you can get into about what to look at. I actually made a tool. Frank Rolfe popularized the ideal method of looking at a deal as far as what to look at. That’s infrastructure, density, economics, age of homes and location. I created a tool where you can go, and you can set it up with whatever your parameters are. It’s meant to be if you don’t want to do a full underwrite.

I use this every day just for a quick pass. It takes 15 minutes to set something up instead of eight hours to do a full underwriting model. It’s a quick pass to see, hey, it’s checking all these things. I’ve got color coded cells for all of the different metrics. I look all the different location metrics, median income, population, and all the metrics for all those things.

You can  get this real quick snapshot of, is everything green? Is there a bunch of yellows and reds? Is this something I even want to look at? It’s not a full underwrite, but it runs through  80% the way their best guess underwrite as well. And it’s pretty easy to use.

I use that to process a whole bunch of deals. But if anybody wants that, I can share that for free as well if anybody wants it. It’s, I think, a good way to just have something where you can actually make a buy box. You can write down what you want your targets to be and then objectively look at those in a pretty visual, easy way.

Andrew: That’s awesome. Yeah. If you could send the link or whatnot, I’ll make sure to put that in the show notes. That’d be awesome.

Cory: Yeah, absolutely.

Andrew: Moving on from that, what do you think the perfect mobile home park looks like? What does that look like from your time since 2016 when you bought that first park, the 12 units in Garden City, Idaho to now? What’s the perfect park look like and why?

Cory: For me, the perfect park is in a great location, but with some form of value that needs to be added. I like the value-add stuff more than the stabilized investments, just cause you can provide a better return. I feel like we’re making places better for people to live. It would be some value-add. That either means it’s an ugly park that we’re bringing back to life and making look nicer. It’s got empty pads that, hey, we need affordable housing, let’s go provide some more affordable housing.

We’re actually adding units by bringing homes and then selling them. Or the infrastructure like the one in Illinois, where we basically saved that community. If they didn’t replace that well system, I imagine they would have had to shut the community down. We’re actually adding real value to a park in a great location, I would say. For me, the location is the biggest thing, because it makes everything easier when there’s a lot of demand for what you’re providing.

Andrew: Totally. Interest rates are pretty high right now. We’re still getting quoted 7%-7.5% interest rates on deals. How are you guys pivoting around that? Are you doing anything special? Obviously. you’re buying value-add deals that have room for rent growth, infill, and things like that. Is there any magic sauce that maybe we could just be comfortable with?

Cory: I don’t think there’s a magic sauce. You’ve got to pay less for the deal at the end of the day. Unless you’re someone who’s coming in with all cash, then your returns aren’t going to be as good. I think you’ve just got to pay less for the deal. The deal can support less debt.

It has been a challenge getting deals to pencil this last year, because we’ve looked at a lot and offered on a lot. There’s just been a gap, because everybody remembers what it would have been when interest rates were 3%. The property can’t support that debt now, so it just doesn’t work.

The one thing I have been trying and gone pretty close on a few is to get creative. If you’ve got an owner who owns it with no or little debt, try to do an owner financing scenario. I actually had a verbal commitment on one and then he changed his mind. But if I was an owner selling and I owned the property outright, what I would do is offer a low interest seller finance loan for a decent term so that you could sell for a higher price.

The issue is just the spread between the interest rate and the cap rate. If you can provide a lower interest rate for a long enough time, then you should be able to command a higher price for your property. They’re making a return. Right up front by selling the property for much more than they could have sold it for. In exchange, we’re getting in on a long term loan with low interest rate that’s going to cashflow for a really, really long time. I think there’s a win-win there. That’s one thing I’m trying.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a great idea. We’re using that as well, get the seller to hold a second. There’s a first position, and then they’re holding a second to  help bridge some of the gaps. That’s a good way to look at it. Let’s invert for a second here. How does a person fail with a mobile home park investment? Knowing what you know, how does a person fail?

Cory: I would say, you fail by selling when you’re selling at the wrong time. It would be one major way to fail. I think the defense for that is to buy parks that cashflow and that have value-adds that you can really boost the value and the revenue to protect yourself, and taking longer term debt.

I have seen a lot of seller finance deals come in, but they want one or two-year balloon on it. I think that’s really scary. I think that could lead you to overpaying for a property. Even if everything’s going right, and you’re making your payments, two years go by and you overpaid, so you maybe can’t refinance out. Then you lose the property to term default, even if everything else went well. That’s scary. That’s why I favor those longer term loans.  Also looking in the underwriting it, what happens? Can you refinance out if your NOI takes a hit or the cap rates go up?

Andrew: Financing is what you focus on mostly. Hey, don’t mess that part up. Number two in your three, don’t mess up the financing because that could lose your capital.

Cory: Correct, yes. Obviously, like I said earlier, don’t ignore the infrastructure either, especially if you have private infrastructure. Make sure you get the insurance right from that.

Andrew: Yeah, because you can do all the right due diligence like you did and still have an issue because of the insurance piece. That’s a big takeaway for listeners, so thank you for that. What do you think is the biggest threat to mobile home park investing?

Cory: I think just as it gets more popular, you can overpay if you’re not being careful. I know where I met Boise, I was talking to a friend of mine who’s a commercial broker. I don’t have any properties in Idaho anymore. I would love to be invested in my own home market, but it’s a game that I don’t really understand the rules to anymore. They’re still selling at sub five caps. They’re just people buying with negative leverage.

My friend does apartments and mobile home parks. They’re his two specialties. He said, the parks are selling at lower cap rates in the apartments right now because of their stable track record throughout all the turbulent times and recessions. I want cash flow, or I want to be able to know I can raise the value to get to cash flow. I just don’t understand. I think some of these big groups that are buying things at three and four caps still.

Andrew: Right, yeah. You can change a lot of things about the property itself, but you can’t change the market, and you can’t change the price you paid. After you closed, those are pretty locked in. Good point there. Cory, thank you so much for coming on the show. You’ve added a ton of value. If any of our listeners would like to get a hold of you, what would be the best way for them to do so?

Cory: Yeah, you can find us at You can get a link to that free resource there too, or I’ll send a link to it for the show notes too. If you want to email me, it’s Thanks. It’s been fun.

Andrew: Yeah. Anything else that we missed, Cory? Any other advice you’d like to give passive investors that are looking at mobile home parks as an asset class?

Cory: I think it’s a double win. You’ve got this thing where you can build your cash flow and your equity, and you’re also providing something. There’s a crisis right now in the country with affordable housing. If you start to operate in this mobile home park space, you see it.

We have a lot come available. We get mobbed with people that need the homes and people that really, really need housing. It’s a way to provide good quality affordable housing and make a return. So it’s a pretty cool double win.

Andrew: Double win, I love that. Cory, thanks again for coming on the show.

Cory: Yeah. Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: That’s it for today, folks. Reminder, please leave a review if you got value out of this show, wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks again for tuning in.

Hey, are you getting value out of this show? If so, would you mind please going to itunes and leaving the show a five star review? I have a goal of hitting over a hundred five star reviews by the end of 2021. And it would mean the absolute world to me if you could help contribute to that. Thanks ahead of time for making my day with your five star review of the show.

Andrew is a passionate commercial real estate investor, husband, father and fitness fanatic. His specialty is in acquiring and operating manufactured housing communities. Visit for more details on Andrew's story.

Keel Team provides unique opportunities for passive investors to enter the mobile home park asset class without having to deal with the headaches of tenants, toilets or trash.


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