Interview with Dylan Stewart from Northstar Investors

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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 talks with Dylan Stewart from Northstar Investors. Today Andrew and Dylan discuss how consistent messaging from management and proper maintenance in mobile home parks can lead to consistent distributions to investors. They also discuss the differences in quality on newer land-lease community assets versus older assets and how scaling too quickly can negatively impact mobile home park operations.

Dylan is CEO of Northstar Investors, Northstar specializes in Mobile home park & RV Park investments in Texas & Ohio. Their current portfolio totals over 500 lots. After graduating from high school in 2017 Dylan dove right into single-family real estate investing, he completed many wholesale deals in his local market then pivoted in 2018 to run a virtual wholesaling operation primarily in St. Louis, MO. Since the spring of 2020, his company only focuses on finding, buying, and stabilizing value-add mobile home parks & RV parks.

Andrew Keel is the owner of Keel Team, LLC, a Top 100 Owner of Manufactured Housing Communities with over 2,000 lots under management. His team currently manages over 30 manufactured housing communities across more than ten 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.

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 200 total 5-star reviews by the end of 2023, 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 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

00:41 – Dylan’s history and journey into mobile home park investing

03:39 – Toughest hurdles in mobile home park investing

06:32 – How Dylan’s MHP investing strategy has changed over the years

10:10 – RV park dynamic

13:20 – Financing for mobile home park and RV park hybrids

15:17 – Where Dylan sees opportunity right now

17:55 – Mistakes we can learn from

19:24 – What passive investors should know before investing in mobile home parks

21:24 – The future of mobile home park investing

24:27 – Getting a hold of Dylan

24:50 – Conclusion


Links & Mentions from This Episode:

Northstar Investors:

Dylan’s Email:

Dylan on LinkedIn:

Dylan on Facebook:

Dylan’s Previous Episode:

Keel Team’s Official Website:

Andrew Keel’s Official Website:

Andrew Keel LinkedIn:

Andrew Keel Facebook Page:

Andrew Keel Instagram Page:

Twitter: @MHPinvestors


Andrew: Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing podcast. This is your host, Andrew Keel. Today, we have an amazing guest in Mr. Dylan Stewart of Northstar Investors.

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

Dylan is the CEO of Northstar Investors. Northstar specializes in mobile home and RV park investments in Texas and Ohio. Their current portfolio totals over 500 lots.

After graduating from high school in 2017, Dylan dove right into single-family real estate investing. He completed many wholesale deals in his local market and then pivoted in 2018 to run a virtual wholesaling operation primarily in St. Louis, Missouri.

Since the spring of 2020, his company only focuses on finding, buying, and stabilizing value-add mobile homes and RV parks.

Dylan, we are excited to welcome you to the show, brother.

Dylan: Yeah, Andrew, excited to be here with you and your listeners.

Andrew: Can you start out by telling us your story and how you got into manufactured housing? Maybe tell us a little bit about Northstar—because I know you had a previous partnership and you guys were on the podcast previously—and where you’re at now.

Dylan: You hit on the high-level stuff there. Pivoted from single-family into mobile home parks. I always say it was just God’s great timing. We were actually selling a single-family deal and the seller said, hey, I’m not looking to buy, but I have a small mobile home park we’d sell you.

It was in Mascoutah, Illinois, not too far from your Edwardsville project. We bought that with friends and family and then a small one right across the street.

Then, throughout 2020, I decided to step back from single-family and just focus on the parks. At the beginning of 2021, we really decided to say, hey, let’s ramp this up.

My prior partner and I decided to grow the portfolio from 22 lots to just under 500 in the following 12 months. That was across Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois. He and I went separate ways about the middle of 2022, just no longer alignment of values and vision, and that’s totally okay. I ended up buying him out of seven of our nine parks at that time and then really just got a lot of clarity on what I wanted to create moving forward.

Since then, I bought two other parks in Texas. Really what we’re trying to focus on is we grew a lot and grew quickly. I think when you’re so focused on building a team and acquiring projects or different things, you just almost do it because you feel like you should. Over the past few months and especially coming out of the holiday season, it’s been really nice to reflect and decide what we want to build the company on moving forward.

We’re trying to get and become specialists in the Texas market, specifically starting out in Dallas-Fort Worth and really specializing in 50-plus spaces in mobile homes and RV parks, and then we’re going to start incorporating some storage facilities this year as well, so I’m really excited for what’s on the horizon.

Andrew: Very cool. Kudos, man, for your success. What do you think has been the toughest hurdle that you’ve had to overcome in mobile home park investing?

Dylan: I think everybody says the same stuff with operations. For us, that definitely had been the growing pains. When we had focused for one on value-add projects and we were chasing a return, we were trying to get our investors great return, which we’ve been able to do, but we have to earn our money in that aspect to where we’re focusing on heavy value-add, increasing occupancy, and doing a lot of turnaround on these parks.

That was and is still a lot for us. One thing that we’ve pivoted to do is focusing on longer horizons instead of trying to pick up these deals that we can turn around in two years, refi, or sell—which we’re able to still do with our existing portfolio—but maybe focusing on quality assets to where the market is going to support because there’s high demand, high economic growth, high income, and different things.

That’s what we’ve learned. I think just the hardest thing is, of course, integrating everybody—the full teams—when you look at the site managers, construction managers, contractors, our in-house regional managers, COOs, owners, and our virtual assistants. For us, as any company that grows quickly, you have to put those systems and processes in place which we didn’t have at all times.

I made a LinkedIn post the other day that one of our goals is dialing in our data and really understanding the metrics and pulses of our business when it comes to occupancy, collection, violations, timelines, budgets, recapture rates, and different things that we didn’t really always have a pulse on.

That was our growing pain, and I think a lot of people would echo that. When you’re trying to build a company, it’s hard to scale without that data and information. We’re like, hey, this is the standard that we’re doing with Northstar Investors moving forward and we’re really making sure that we have that information. As we acquire new parks, we have data, but we can also make database decisions rather than off of maybe intuition or what we think the market should be doing. We have facts.

Andrew: That’s awesome. That’s really important in making sure your KPIs are set up and you have proper tracking of those. That was a game-changer for us, but I know that growing right around that 500-lot mark or beyond that was just really tough because you probably couldn’t afford some of the team members that you’d like to have right now.

I remember using cash flow from my early deals to pay for the salaries of employees. It was tough for a while there, but once you get maybe over a thousand lots or so, you have that scale where you can really sector off divisions of the company, especially on the property management side of things. It’s a lot of work.

Tell me this, Dylan. When you first got into the business, you bought that 22-lot park in Illinois. How has your investing strategy changed now?

I know one thing you said was you were doing a bunch of locations. Now, you’re hyper-focused on that Dallas-Fort Worth Texas market. What else has changed? Is there anything specifically for a passive investor listening that you’d be like, oh, I wish we didn’t do that, or I wish we didn’t buy that one? We should have focused just on Texas. What would that learning curve look like?

Dylan: I think there are so many. One of them that comes to mind is, of course, utility infrastructure. You’ve talked heavily about this with some of your other guests. It’s so funny because as entrepreneurs, we all have pride and ego. We’ll try something or different things.

One thing that I no longer will be doing is purchasing a park with a wastewater treatment plant. One of the first official parks we bought after that 22-lot is the 42-space park outside of Toledo, Ohio which is on a wastewater treatment plant. It’s been great. We’ve been paying our distributions and hitting our good returns, but it’s just been an additional issue that probably shouldn’t be there. I think the utility infrastructure and what that’s like.

Then, with regards to the age of the homes and the size of the lots because if we’re trying to produce this really high-quality asset, but all of the homes are maybe high 60s, 70s, or maybe some 80s, there’s nothing wrong with that and there’s a need for that in a specific market, but does my company want to be the ones managing and turning those around?

The quality of the overall asset is really important because in certain projects that I’m thinking of, if we bring on new homes and everything, that’s going to be great, but if 80%-plus of the homes are all very old, there’s nothing wrong with that, but what is the resale value? Is it easier for tenants to walk away when they can’t afford the home anymore or if something breaks? If the home needs to be renovated, is it worth it, or do we just put a new home there? Secondly, I think it’s just the overall park, the age of the homes.

The third thing in addition to the utility sewer system is also the overall infrastructure. We have a project specifically in Texas that we just had continued issues with with water lines, things breaking, having to do repairs, and different things that probably could have been avoided if we’d done more thorough due diligence of making sure that we’re scoping all the lines, doing […], and flushing them out on a more frequent basis. The reality is that it’s also an older park.

The biggest pivot that we’re continuing to make is focusing on longer horizons to where we focus on buying better assets. Maybe we’re paying a little bit more, so instead of refi-ing at year two, we can do three, four, or five, but there are maybe less headaches and more consistent operations.

If you look at these bigger operators or these higher quality assets in any asset class, there’s always going to be a demand for it. Rather than having that park in the middle of nowhere, that is great, but what about the ones that have high demand when there’s always going to be people wanting to acquire and finance them? It just makes it easier all around. Those have been a few learning lessons.

Andrew: You had some good golden nuggets there. I would say one thing you said that I resonated with was consistency. Consistent operation and consistency with what to expect from your utility infrastructure all flow down to consistent returns for investors. What matters most is the consistency of that cash flow and income stream. I agree with you. Those better-quality assets are key.

Tell us about the RV park dynamic. I know you’ve been bullish on that. Maybe you can speak to that, how you like this hybrid of some MH lots and some RV lots, and what has been working for you guys with that.

Dylan: Clearly, our focus has been mobile home parks. As we are looking for parks, of course, we come across RV parks. I think every operator would say that to be true.

In Texas specifically, the reason that I like that market is for one, the growth is going on no matter what. Also, as silly as this sounds, it’s the weather. It’s probably more likely that someone’s going to live in their fifth wheel in Texas than it is in Northern Minnesota or someplace like that.

For us now, we look at what the landscape is as a market, and then we look at the economic drivers of what’s going on and who may be living in a fifth wheel. These are $60,000-plus for these fifth wheels. Folks and families that are making great income need a place to stay. Whatever industry, construction, or they’re traveling that they’re working in, they want to have a nice park to stay in.

For us, we’ve found that for one, we’re getting significantly higher lot rents, so we focus on long-term RV parks. We have two RV parks exclusively, and then we have one hybrid park where it’s a mobile home and RV.

For the RV parks, we focus with long-term residents to where maybe in that market, our lot rent is $375, but we can push $485 a month for monthly RVs. But it’s the exact same thing. These folks are staying there for months at a time or years at a time. They’re paying higher lot rent. We’re billing back for the electricity. Sometimes, we can include water and sewer, but most often that’s included in the lot rent. The demographic overall is typically higher. It’s a mobile park kind of on steroids a little bit.

I have a small frame of reference with only owning two exclusive RV parks, but so far, they’ve been good. My model has been maybe a little bit under market lot rent. You have higher occupancy and do not focus as much on transient, but it’s worked well for us.

As we focus again on what our business model is, we then can build out the operations, team, and our full dynamic better to where if we decide to incorporate maybe some more transient short-term RV parks, we already have that established in that area.

Andrew: Your RV park model is more long-term, right? You’re looking for long-term people that are living in these RV parks.

Dylan: Yeah. We have some sections that are for overnights, but it’s usually less than 10%.

Andrew: Got you. In some parts of the country, that’s just not a viable option. We had a park in Ohio, and that wasn’t viable. I would say in most of the country, that’s not going to be an option, so that’s interesting.

Tell me about the financing because I know you have these hybrids with mobile home and RV park combos. What does the financing look like for that?

Dylan: Coming from the single-family space, we’ve learned to always go direct-to-seller or maybe buy from a wholesaler. Of the 11 parks that we’ve purchased, 10 of them have all been direct-to-seller, and then only 1 recently was from a broker, and we still were able to negotiate a great deal on that.

With these specific sellers, we’ve been able to structure a lot of owner financing. Of the eight parks that I own right now, four of them are seller financing, and then the other four, we have local banks or some sort of bridge financing on them. With the RV parks, my experience is it’s easier to structure a seller financing because banks maybe aren’t as bullish on them because maybe we’re looking for a value-add asset or a mom-and-pop-owned.

It’s not a full company because really, you’re buying a business somewhat. These banks are looking at them because they have different amenities or different things. When it’s an established business or RV park, banks aren’t as hesitant, but when it’s maybe just a long-term RV park, there’s not as much that banks would want to look at. For us, we’ve found it a very viable option to structure a lot of creative financing.

One of my goals this year is understanding the debt options more as well, but seller financing has worked very well, especially in the landscape that you’re in before we started. You said you got quoted for an 8% rate on acquisition financing. The last seller financing I closed on, I think we were at 4%, and that was back in October. It allows us to still get some good financing options.

Andrew: Obviously, seller carry whenever you can get it is a strong and powerful tool. That’s pretty awesome.

Dylan: I will say too that it depends on the asset because I may be looking at smaller assets versus if you go to a larger park, they’re going to expect for it to be cashed out.

Andrew: Definitely. Where do you see an opportunity right now? What is a strike zone type of deal for you that you feel is your criteria? A deal that you would buy.

Dylan: I think buying in different states with different park sizes, park-owned versus tenant-owned, different utility structures, and different things. For me, I don’t want to say I like to hedge my risk but be more secure by the market.

For us, we’re really trying to focus on hot markets that are growing. Maybe the competition’s a little bit higher, maybe they’re a little bit more overpriced, and maybe we’re not buying as many deals, but when we do land that deal, we know that there’s going to be consistent demand, exit strategies, and a lot of people wanting to throw financing on it. The investors are going to understand that market because they hear about it, the growth, and different things.

I think that’s a big shift in what makes a good deal. What I’m looking for the opportunity is in the market. When you look at these guys—I’ve been educating a lot of the bigger investors—what they’ve been doing is they look on long enough horizons.

I know I’ve said that many times. They overpaid for that deal, but five years or seven years down the road, they’re making massive amounts of money because it’s a high-quality asset in a good location with lots of demand, and the quality of the end buyer is going to be looking through a totally different lens than me buying a 42-space park an hour outside of Toledo, Ohio on private utilities. That’s a totally different buyer than the 80-space park 30 minutes outside of D-FW.

For us, the opportunity we’re looking at is how we can come in. The opportunity that we’re really focusing on is being very specialized and focused because, for my goals, I don’t at least have the desire right now to be across 30 states in a big company.

What that allows for our company to do is if we are specialized in the area, every contractor, broker, agent, other operator, single-family investor, and person in that market knows that Northstar Investors and Dylan Stewart buy mobile homes, RV parks, and storage facilities in this area.

When those come up, we can maybe earn the opportunity to see those first. That’s an opportunity that people miss out on when they’re going so wide. Their relationships aren’t as deep. We’re trying to really specialize in that so that we can have the right to see those deals first.

Andrew: That makes sense. I know we were talking about your maintenance crew and how since you have all these parks in Texas very close together, you have a really good maintenance crew that you’re able to get out to these homes and get things fixed up. That’s huge.

Dylan, what mistakes have you made in mobile home park or RV park investing that you think we could learn from?

Dylan: From our experience is with scaling too quickly, honestly. You can get too focused on the next acquisition—it’s exciting—additional cash flow, additional acquisition fee, or what it might be.

For us, that has been a mistake because you miss out or look forward to the opportunity rather than being a really good steward of what you already have and making sure that what you have is firing on all cylinders, collections are high, and our occupancy is very high in different things. That was probably a mistake.

Now, being off on my own, it’s making sure that all of those cylinders are firing at full speed. But it’s more difficult to catch up rather than just doing it right from the beginning.

Now, as a company, we decided to take a step back from acquisitions, be really good with what we have, and then maybe in spring or early summer, everything’s firing on all cylinders because we have an amazing team that understands the industry, we have the processes in place, and we can scale with predictability.

I think a lot of people do that. They try to grow and grow and grow. What makes people look away from the issues is maybe some cash flow, acquisition fees, or different things, but if you dig deep, you’re like, what’s going on there in your operations? For us, we want to be really good with the operations as a whole.

Andrew: Totally. Then, looking through the eyes of a passive investor—we’re talking LPs—what should they know before investing into mobile home parks?

From your experience and exposure, what would be the top three things you would say as an unbiased third party? Hey, if your dad was going to be investing into mobile home parks with another operator, what would you tell him to look out for?

Dylan: One is trusting the person that you’re investing with because if things change, evolve, or go sideways and you have to course correct, do you have complete trust and faith in the individual that hell or high water is going to do everything they can and stretch to make that deal happen to protect their capital and hit the targets even if that means stretching the timeline a little bit? That’s the first and foremost.

Secondly is getting a track record. Everybody got to start somewhere, so take that with a grain of salt, but most people have a handful of deals under their belt. Ask them and say, hey, I would like to place some funds with you, but I’d love to see existing projects and not just where you’re at, but how are your actual collections? What is your outstanding balance report? What is your occupancy looking like? Get a feeling for how they operate.

A lot of people might say, oh, I’m not willing to give you that information. That’s confidential. Okay, that’s fine, but does it check the other boxes as well of seeing that they have the capacity to handle the operations? Do they have the people in place and the processes? Because you really have to shift from being an entrepreneur to a business owner and running a company.

Companies run with meetings, cadences, metrics, and accountability, so make sure if you’re investing with someone that they have that structure in place because that means that all the departments are going to be operating at the highest level because they’re tracking it. Those are probably the three things that I would look for if my dad was passively investing in another operator there.

Andrew: Cool. Thank you for sharing. What do you think the future of mobile home park investing looks like with the interest rates going up and being higher and the possible recession? What do you think mobile home parks look like in the next 24 months? This is January 2023 as we’re recording this.

Dylan: We’ll get to see. One thing that we’re personally doing and I’d encourage investors and operators to do is be in a very liquid position because for one, that gives you confidence, but that also gives you patience because deals may not pencil the way you expected them to.

If you don’t need to have another acquisition fee or more cash flow because you are secure in your own finances, then you can make clear decisions. That’s what I’m seeing.

I don’t want people to jump or move quickly to buy the right deal because if they had more reserves, they can maybe wait a little longer. They can negotiate a little harder. They can structure something creatively with the seller that maybe buys them some more time.

At the end of the day, we’re in this space because there’s a need for affordable housing in the country, but there’s also so much opportunity. There are still mom-and-pops that are going to be selling. I think we’re going to notice a lot of operators that need to get out of maybe some debt that’s coming due and some deals that aren’t cash flowing the way they need to, so there are opportunities for investors to come in and fix those problems.

For us, we’re still going to be hunting for deals and the right ones. I’m not really worried, to be honest, because if you have the confidence, the patience, and the team behind you, when you find those right deals, you can really capitalize on them.

I guess we’ll see, but not getting over-leveraged as well because I think a lot of people will do that to where they’re excited about the market, but they’re taking on more than they can handle. Just growing strategically.

I think things will be okay and those who are prepared and also those who aren’t afraid to double down. One thing that we’re doing is being really good with networking and relationships because as things shift and change and markets happen, you want to have those people in your corner that you can call upon for help or advice because then it’s less scary.

Andrew: Definitely. One of the things you said was just having liquidity. That’s something we’ve been doing and building up over the last 24 months to prepare for the next 24. There have been times like recently where we went over on a cap-ex budget. Supply costs and things are more expensive than we projected.

As a GP, having that money to be able to put that into the project to get through that tough time instead of having to stall everything and wait until the cash flow can pay for X, Y, and Z really makes a difference, especially when you’re in a rising rate environment like we are now where a couple of months can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra interest over the refi loan.

Dylan, thank you so much, dude, for hopping on here with me. How can listeners get a hold of you if they’d like to do so?

Dylan: We have our website, On LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s Dylan Stewart. You’ll find me. If someone wants to send me an email, it’s just

Andrew: Awesome, Dylan. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Dylan: Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: That’s it for today, folks. Thank you so much for tuning in.

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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