Mastering Mobile Home Park Investments: Sam Zell’s Strategy


In the world of mobile home park investments, the wisdom of the late Sam Zell, often hailed as the pioneer of the modern mobile home park industry, continues to light the path for investors. As the largest owner of mobile home parks through his REIT, Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS), Zell not only shaped the landscape of the industry but also left behind a legacy of guiding principles that many investors still follow today. Among his most enduring pieces of advice is the concept of balancing risk and reward in investment decisions—a philosophy that remains as relevant as ever.

Mastering Mobile Home Park Investments: Sam Zell's Strategy

Understanding Risk and Reward in Mobile Home Park Investing

Sam Zell’s investment mantra, “Never buy a deal with high risk and low reward,” underscores the importance of weighing the potential benefits against the risks. But how do investors apply this principle in the complex terrain of mobile home park investments, where opportunities and challenges coexist?

Low Risk, High Reward: The Ideal Scenario

The quintessential investment opportunity in mobile home parks involves scenarios with minimal risk but significant upside potential. For instance, acquiring a park from a mom-and-pop owner who has not maximized the rent potential or utilized the available space efficiently presents a ripe opportunity. Such deals often come with seller financing, reducing the initial financial burden and risk to the investor.

High Risk, Low Reward: A Cautionary Tale

Conversely, a high-risk, low-reward investment might involve a park with significant infrastructure problems or regulatory hurdles, where the cost of addressing these issues outweighs the potential profits. Such investments require careful consideration and a robust strategy to mitigate risks without the promise of substantial rewards.

Navigating High Risk, High Reward Deals

The intriguing category of high-risk, high-reward investments demands a more nuanced approach. Investors must delve deep into the analysis, projecting the park’s potential value after addressing its challenges, such as infrastructural upgrades and occupancy increases. It’s crucial to model different scenarios—best case, worst case, and most realistic case—to gauge the potential financial outcomes and determine if the risk is worth the reward.

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By Andrew Keel
Mastering Mobile Home Park Investments: Sam Zell's Strategy

Mitigating Risks with Strategic Planning

Identifying the key risk factors and developing strategies to mitigate them is essential. Whether it’s filling vacant lots, raising rents, or dealing with regulatory issues, having a plan B (and C, and D) can make all the difference. Additionally, ensuring liquidity and the ability to refinance or sell the property is often vital, echoing Zell’s practice of never getting trapped in illiquid investments.

Sam Zell’s Legacy: A Guide for Modern Investors

Sam Zell’s approach to investment, focusing on liquidity, risk assessment, and the balance between risk and reward, offers timeless wisdom for today’s mobile home park investors. His strategies and insights, as captured in his book “Am I Being Too Subtle?” continue to inspire and guide investors seeking to navigate the rewarding yet complex world of mobile home park investing.


Adopting Sam Zell’s risk-versus-reward axiom and applying a thorough analysis and strategic planning approach can help investors make informed decisions in the mobile home park market. By carefully evaluating each deal through the lens of risk and reward, investors can potentially navigate the challenges and opportunities of mobile home park investing, aiming for successful outcomes in this unique real estate niche.

At Keel Team Mobile Home Park Investments, our commitment extends beyond mere investment. We strive to improve the quality of life in our mobile home communities while simultaneously delivering substantial returns to our limited partner investors. For more information on our investment strategy or to learn more, please feel free to contact us using the provided details below.

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The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice, nor a guarantee of any kind. There are no guarantees of profitability, and all investment decisions should be made based on individual research and consultation with 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.