Better Returns: Invest Like a Pro

Park It Right: A Hidden Investment Gem

September 12, 2023 Shawn Dwyer Episode 27
Better Returns: Invest Like a Pro
Park It Right: A Hidden Investment Gem
Show Notes Transcript

Join us for our newest episode as we dive into the fascinating world of mobile home park investments with Shawn Dwyer, the visionary founder of Golden Oak Real Estate Investments. Discover Shawn's journey from single family home renovations to the thriving mobile home park niche. 

Explore the unique characteristics of this investment arena, its challenges, and the Mid-Atlantic region's appeal. Uncover the secrets to success in mobile home park investing, from syndication strategies to the power of long term holding. Learn why competition is heating up and why stability and low vacancy rates make this niche an attractive choice for investors seeking predictable returns. Don't miss this insightful conversation that unveils the hidden gems of mobile home park investments!


  • Sean's background in real estate, starting with single-family home renovations and diversification due to 401k volatility.
  • Unique characteristics of mobile home parks: affordable housing, rarity of new park construction due to infrastructure costs.
  • Challenges of mobile home park ownership, including utility systems, infrastructure maintenance, and varying amenities.
  • Emphasis on market understanding, including housing costs, job market analysis, and mobile home financing.
  • Increasing competition in the mobile home park market and strategies for sourcing deals.
  • Stability and low vacancy rates due to the nature of mobile homes, resulting in consistent cash flow.
  • Attractive features of mobile home park investing, including long-term holding potential and predictable returns.

“One thing that I would definitely look at is just look at what the supply and demand is… what the housing costs are for that given area.”
“Know the asset class of what you're investing in and know the operator.”

Shawn is the founder of Golden Oak Real Estate Investments. He's focused on acquiring Mobile Home Parks and RV Parks. He improves those communities while helping investors diversify their portfolio outside of Wall Street. Shawn also has over 18 years of experience in the Information Technology world and has worked his way up to an Executive role within a Fortune Top 30 company. His strong experiences have made him a savvy investor.


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Sean Dwyer he's the founder of Golden Oak real estate Investments he focused on acquiring mobile home parks and RV parks and he really improves the living experience of the individuals that live in those communities while also helping investors diversify their income and their Investments by getting out of Wall Street I love that Sean also has over 18 year years of experience in the IT world and he's worked his way up to an executive role in a fortune top 30 company so excited to have you on the show today Sean so let's start off with a little bit about your origin story how you got involved in real estate sounds great and I appreciate you having me here today so I got started in real estate many years ago and then single family side you know doing some Renovations doing some fixing fixing flips and I liked it I loved it at the time you know my family discouraged me from doing that they said you know go go find a job in you know corporate company corporate operation you could be there for life I said okay that seems much more stable I still always had that real estate bug though just never really did a ton with it until I kept seeing my 401k which was at the time I primary requirement account my retirement account just dropped twice in my career almost 30 percent uh once it was over a course of a couple years back in 0809 2010 and then during covet you know much shorter time frame over the course of a couple months you just see your retirement life savings just dropped by like a third a little scary so decided to take a little bit of a diversification route listen to tons of podcasts like yourself I've read tons of books and the real estate it was always still there so I was listening to a bunch of podcasts at the time that really focused in on multi-family mobile home and RV parks and mobile home parks just really stuck with me one it provides really great value add for low-income housing for folks which we desperately need all across this country they're not building additional mobile home parks just because of the large cost and value that's there to to build all the infrastructure water sewer electric roads and then actually move on in brand new homes it's very expensive so you don't see any new ones popping up so that's really what attracted me to get into mobile home and RV Park investing you're the first one I've had on the show that's really talked about mobile home parks or RVs so I think this is great this is a this is an asset class that I'm familiar with but don't have the deep understanding that you do Sean um and I know that's a it's been a bit of a challenge it's always that not in my own backyard type thing so it's hard even not only the cost but the zonings for new mobile home parks to come in to play so what are you seeing like walk me through like how you find these who are you buying them from and kind of what does it typically take to turn one around and make it a cash flowing good experience yeah so just like on the apartment side of things there's a bunch of different ways that you can add value to mobile home parks one you can move in new homes so the way that you evaluate a mobile home park is you like any other piece of real estate it all comes down to your net operating income like how much money that business makes on the mobile home park side you have for the most part just a lot rent that you're getting from your residence okay this is a payment that you you'd be paying to the owner whether it be a mom and pop Corporation it's a single person that owns it you pay them a monthly lot rent and then from there they take care of the utilities typically you would have propane or gas or electric in the the tenant's name and then all other utilities water sewer trash are typically in the owners or project property manager's name and then the tenants pay the lot rent per month multiply that by the amount of lots that you have per month um whatever your expenses they could be all your utility expenses Insurance expenses Property Management fees lawnmower lawn maintenance lawn care just general upkeep of the the trees the roads the snow removal all your expenses that go into it you take that away from your reduction and then that's ultimately what the value of the property is here the amount of capital that you take from the resonance for income minus your expenses is your overall net operating income but there's a bunch of different ways that you can add value to properties I can go into those if you would like yeah I'm interested in that because I know Apartments everybody knows that it's like flipping a house this is totally different Beast all together so what what is your typical improvements that you would do because you don't own the the residents themselves you just own the land and the plot correct that typically is that right that's the more desired ones right so if you don't own the home you don't have to upkeep the roof yeah the water is suing the plumbage like you don't have to keep any of that the tenants are in their own homes they're called either tenant owned homes or Park owned homes tenant owned homes are more desirable because you don't have to do all the maintenance that you have to keep like you put in an apartment building the only thing you have to upkeep as the property management company and the owners is just the the roads the infrastructure the water the sewer that comes to the home themselves the residents take care of the homes okay okay so so you come in and typically you don't want to own the homes you wanna do you just want to unlock my hand and you rent the land what type of improvements do you guys typically see you need to do so depending on the age of the community it could be road maintenance driveways tree maintenance that's usually one that's barely neglected by the previous owners making sure that the water or the sewer infrastructure is really good really solid that you're not going to have Legacy properties that are you know we're usually built in 1940s 1950s you can run into some infrastructure issues there just like on the apartment side and I heard I had one friend that invested in I think they passively invested and they said septic systems are the worst in those because so talk a little bit about that she told me that she goes well the worst thing I'm always here about the septic so what is the challenge of the septic systems in a in a mobile home park well there's actually multiple Utility Systems that you can have for sewer the gold standard and the ideal one that you would want to have similar to your single-family homes or apartment buildings would be public sewer so that would directly connect to municipalities that's your ideal one from there you have septic systems you have wastewater treatment plants and you would could have lagoons wow yeah is there a preferred one you want obviously probably the City sewers the the low cost for the owners to afford is that correct absolutely yeah you could have it well you could have it directly connected and the owner could be responsible for paying it and then gets reimbursed by the residents you could have direct build so the ideal like unicorn property that you would love as a mobile home park owner would be 100 tenant known homes and direct build utilities water sewer trash electrical propane that would be the ideal unicorn property that you would like to look for gotcha gotcha and so your improvements were were mostly to the road just the the surface stuff Landscaping um do you have any amenities in typically in a mobile home park do you have any type of amenities it depends so some communities could have basketball courts playgrounds you could have five star mobile home parks that have pools recreation centers but yeah those are typically they're affordable housing but they're a higher higher end affordable housing so you could have 55 plus communities that are you know more senior based and you'll you'll have a lot of those amenities if it's an all-age Community you can have playgrounds like I said basketball courts dog parks it really depends on the community itself how much land you have and what the what is really driving that for the residents to be there and live in that community in that area yeah so you tailored to your market like you said if it's an over 55 you're gonna have different amenities than if it's you know Workforce housing like we do with with some of our multi-family stuff then too that's good so where What markets are you like where do you buy these What markets are you primarily looking at anywhere in the United States or do you like how how selective where are the most of them where are the most profitable ones I guess sure they could be profitable anywhere it's it's really like any sort of asset class if you buy it properly they could be very very profitable anywhere uh we love the Mid-Atlantic Ohio Pennsylvania Delaware Maryland very strong Virginia there is yeah they're they're all over the place you know when I first build my database of what we have out here at least in Pennsylvania within my county of Pennsylvania I didn't believe it but there are about 75 mobile home communities that are just in my little County of Pennsylvania wow yeah you don't see a lot of them like they're they're hidden away you know back in rural areas or whatever that's fascinating yeah you know what size are they typically like how do you measure these plots why do you say that units uh there would be lots yeah so how many what's the ideal size that that's ideal to invest in ideal um it would depend if it's your first investment I would recommend anything over 100 Lots just because it allows you to have a really good strong on-site manager that you can pay for and they either can live in the community or general area and and manage that property for you anything smaller depending on the utilities and the setup of the the park itself um the community itself it could be a challenge but again it's it's going to be individual mobile home Community versus one another uh the if I was looking to purchase one here in the Mid-Atlantic ideally it would be 75 up and above um if you know if you're looking for like really great assets that you can add a lot of value over the course of time ideally 100 and up would be a good situation for you to be in as a GP or LP what's the scale thing the bigger the better really because the same amount of work from a management standpoint but in this case I would say because you have set costs your utility costs are probably fairly High because you have um Street lighting and things like that and those are so the kind of basically fixed costs so the more tenants you have the lower your fixed cost because most of your costs are fixed is that correct yeah most of them are fixed yep so our utility costs manager costs are all fixed so the more the more vacant land the more open plots of land that you have the more homes you can move in you can start to really Drive value from that so you were asking before about value ads there's a couple different value ads that you could have as a mobile home park community and operator as you take it over the easiest one is just increase lot rents so if you can go from a 300 lot rent per month which includes water sewer and trash to go and bump it up to 325 or 350. that's an instantaneous value add without doing any heavy lifting assuming that it's within Market you don't want to necessarily drive too much or drive too quickly ahead of Market excellent excellent so what other things so if I'm I'm new to a Mobile Park investing as a passive investor what are the key things I should be looking for when I make that decision because there is a little bit different it's much different than large multi-family and other things that that we're doing here yeah one thing that I would definitely look at is just look at what the supply demand is what the housing costs for that given area so if you're looking it's one of the first things that I look in underwrite for a community is what does it currently cost if I was to buy or sell a home within that community what does it cost if I was trying to buy a town home a condo a single family home in that area if I can buy a single family home in that area for 100 to 150 000 I'm going to have an issue moving homes into that community and getting people to move in for brand new homes because they could buy something similar they don't necessarily have to pay that a lot rent they can go and get a 30-year fixed mortgage you know great interest rate where when you get financing for mobile home parks or from for mobile homes themselves it's a totally different infrastructure with getting a interest rate and underwriting it's not that 30-year fixed that you would see there's a single family twin home or a town home or condo oh so you really do need to understand the market specifically we all typically look at the cops the other apartment complexes around what are they charging for rent and and all those types of things the amenities and all that you're probably a little bit different because you're looking at more fundamental things like how can they finance their mobile home that they're going to put on there you know what does the job market look like we look at that as well too so that's really interesting it didn't didn't factor that in it's a totally different clientele different criteria what are the um so a typical you know syndication for a um a multi-family or multifamily uh mobile home park like what does that look like is it a five-year hold is it are they all value ads I mean is the cash flow immediately is it deferred what's your what's your business plan in general for these yeah yeah that will differ between syndicator versus indicator but for us we want to be long-term holders we want to own these assets for 20 or 30 years oh really yeah so how do you do you you're syndicating them and your investors will stay in the deal that long 100 and why is that why is that your business model sure so you know we'll hold the property the depending on the debt that we get on it if it's a massive value add moving in homes trying to drive rents there's if it's a mom and pop owner that's drastically under Market runs sometimes we can get seller financing deals where we can get pretty good interest rates other times it's a very good very stable asset that we can get you know 10-year fixed rate amazing interest rates but right now they're five and a half percent 30-year am five years interest only for mobile home parks if we can get really good interest rates for that you know we have investors that we worked with in the past where they just want to put the money in the deal we'll do a cash out refi in a couple years when we add additional value for lot rents moving in homes and really forcing and driving that value so that's one way we can get them their Capital back but stay in the deal long term and own it for 20 to 30 years we're not looking for that massive Capital um like Snowball Effect we just want to maintain and own and operate that Park from now until the end of time there's no reason to sell if you have great assets that's the business model I'd love to do with multi-family right but it's so more so more so much more difficult because in multi-family after five or six years you've got to remodel the whole thing now you get to recapitalize you need to bring in more money do that in this case you don't have to do that and that now that light bulb just went on I did not realize that that's how you can hold them and not have to because we're kind of forced to sell it after five or six years we'll double the investors money but otherwise we need to have more Capital come in to renovate them all to increase rents you don't have that element at all oh my gosh yeah I think I think you've converted me Sean I never occurred to me I never really thought that much and nobody's really shared this with me so and people I get investors all the time to say you know what I like we were turning properties in three and four years in the last few years and double their money into but they said well I don't want my money but I would like to just keep it in and go for 10 15 you know indefinitely so you've you've fixed that problem is here's longer term you can just place your money here we're going to refinance it at some point when you've increased the value you give back a fair amount of share of their investment so now they've got they've got that that return there of a chunk of money and then they're still in the investment for ever almost forever yeah that's pretty powerful now I get the attraction that people like oh shoot we shouldn't share this with everybody from an investment standpoint we do want a bunch of competition out there so what does the competition what's it like right now like multi-family it's really hard to find deals that that work that are profitable is it the same thing with mobile home parks you're in the same situation yes yes it's similar right so we do a couple different marketing aspects I do directly on marketing cold calling to and building relationships over the course of time with Mom and Pop owners and operators that manage them today we do look at wholesale deals we look at broker deals still the same right so it's you know people still looking for top dollar when interest rates were you know three three and a half uh they've doubled since then so you can't necessarily go and offer the same sort of value over the last six to 12 months we've seen we're starting to see a slow transition now here on the mobile home and RV side where existing owners and operators are starting to slowly come around and that's what we're hearing from Brokers as well I don't think you're gonna have the issue like getting large multi-family people these short three three-year interest only loans that are now going to be due in the next year or two they're going to have to either refinance a cell and it's hard to refinance you you probably don't see that as much because we're speculation is going to be a lot of large multi-family available for sale because they just have to that doesn't really happen in this market so much do you think not in the areas that we're really looking at so there there is Bridge debt that's out there for some value-added stuff that might be not ideal for what Fannie and Freddie offer so if you're looking at anything that's less than you know 80 85 occupied mostly Park owned homes um you know a lot of infill you can get some Frigidaire for that um and those folks depending on you know what they got from their investors and the interest rates that they currently have they could be in trouble but I'm not really expecting it yeah you just it's a totally different business model and you're not forced to to do that very good anything else about that market specifically that that you think people don't know about I mean you would get my light bulbs going off here constantly and other things I didn't know this that's why it's such a long-term good great long-term investment you don't have to remodel it every six years you just need to maintain any other things that you think the average person wouldn't be aware of I mean the one thing to think about too is you know we the communities that we look at have very heavy presence of double-wide homes so even they are called like mobile homes they're not very mobile they cost thousands of dollars to move to a new community or a new plot of land so when you have a double wide home it comes in on two different trailers they put it on site they you know mash it together they put in the the roof and all the vinyl siding and everything together and then put in steps and decking and and everything and you hook up all your utilities to it so when someone is moving out of the area for for jobs for relocation for family for whatever they sell it to the next person so you don't ever have a vacancy unless someone actually physically moves at home which is very very rare So when you're looking at your performance at least on the mobile home park side you don't see a ton of vacancies you don't see things drop as you're renovating the community so as people leave and cycle through you have your lot rents at a specific number and then when they cycle through and then someone else moves in depending on the area and what you're doing within the park itself you could have rents that are maybe 450 for the entire Community now but when someone Cycles through maybe that jumps to 500 because that's market so you can slowly transition people in the community faster if you have turnover so similar to the apartment side but we don't really have to go in and renovate everything because we don't own the home itself they sell it to somebody else that person new person comes in pays the higher lot rent because that's just what Market is oh my gosh so there's No Vacancy because if somebody moves out they get to sell the property or physically move it and they typically don't physically move because of the expense and unless you're moving to another park that's that's fascinating that all the another check for why okay that's pretty beneficial so as a result of that you'll see the cash flow pretty consistent because you don't have a okay you know what it's summer and you know people move in the summer so you're going to see our occupancy go from 98 to maybe 94 or five you don't see that at all it's just pretty consistent absolutely yeah as long as you have a really good area strong you know people a job growth and consistent as long as you have a sudden exit of folks or like a one what they call it like a one job market town as long as you're pretty Diversified on your job market you're good excellent excellent very good that's some fascinating stuff I didn't know well we're gonna move to the um lightning round now

those are just easy questions I've been asking now the hard ones Sean here's the hard questions five fun questions just to get to know Sean a little bit better the first one what was your nickname as a child flesh my sister okay now you can explain that um that was many many pounds ago but when I was younger uh I always used to run and play sports and it was pretty fast so that's that was the nickname that she came up with me was Flash because we were into the superhero thing back then I'm not that anymore so did your family member still call you that though sometimes no they don't oh you grew out of it

okay number two morning person or a night owl morning it's too bad for you yeah I'm good with it I'm I'm up I'm at the gym at 5am I am working in say 6 15 6 30 and before anybody comes to the office I already have about two two and a half hours in work I'm impressed I'm impressed it is it's beneficial well done number three what would be the first thing you do if you won the lottery first thing I would do if I won the lottery um

I don't know if it would be the first thing but it'll be one of the things I would always love to do I love college football I love Notre Dame so the one thing that I would love to do would be to get an RV and just travel around the country and go to Every Game home game or away game and just tailgate and then just have a blast just go see the country that way oh that's fun that's great number four if you could live anywhere in the world where would that be San Diego me too I've lived there shortly whereabouts in San Diego I don't know I've only been there once but the weather was awesome the people were super friendly food was great uh the only thing that I would have a little bit of hesitancy out there is earthquakes that's the only thing that I would not want to move out there for but other than that the weather was very people were awesome I lived there for a while in Pacific Beach oh my gosh the weather is beautiful every single day pretty much just incredible so I'm with you I love love San Diego it's it's wonderful and number five what's the one piece of advice that you would give to new investors to help them get better return

know the asset class of what you're investing in and know the operator gotcha that that's key the jockey and the horse both not just one or the other I love both I mean you're putting your hard-earned money that you took either months or years to kind of grow without an essay you want to make sure that you're investing in the right vehicle the right person excellent advice very good advice well Sean how can people learn more about you and the great things you're doing absolutely uh you can go to my website Golden Oak you can also email me at sean.dwire Golden Oak and set up some time reach out to me let me know how I can help you in any way we can set up a virtual coffee meeting and discuss if you have any questions on the asset classes mobile home and RV parks feel free to reach out um if you're looking to get into the space as a GP or an LP always looking to help and help educate outstanding outstanding and that information will be in the show notes as well I know I'll continue the conversation with the other Sean we're friends now about about learning potentially passively investing in I think it's a fasting fascinating asset class that I think it's overlooked a lot because just people don't know about it so thanks for bringing a lot of value to our listener today appreciate it absolutely thank you for your time thank you bye and that's a wrap thank you for listening to better returns brought to you by Hanson Holdings if you enjoyed this episode please leave a five star review because it helps others discover this valuable content if you would like to earn truly hands-off passive income go to where we help you invest in large apartment complexes to grow your family's wealth see you next week with another awesome episode have a great day