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Your Best Retirement Plan: One Good Property

It galls me to watch television business “experts” share the same old ineffective retirement advice – save up a big nest egg and live off the interest. This bad advice is ruining people’s lives, as millions of seniors who have followed this advice for decades are discovering right now.

This “advice” totally ignores today’s realities. REAL inflation is running nearly 10% (www.ShadowStats.com). Banks are paying less than 2% interest. The stock market prices are in an unsustainable bubble, propped up by $85 billion in monthly counterfeiting by the Federal Reserve.

This can’t continue without destroying the purchasing power of the dollar.

Faced with these staggering challenges, any “gains” gotten through decades of savings and mutual fund investments will have their purchasing power decimated far before savers and investors ever reach retirement age. This financial carnage is unfolding right now.

People deserve better. There is a much better way to retire without working and scrimping and saving for 40 years.

Buy One Property and Retire in Months

happy retired couple

Buy one property and retire in months…

If you buy just one 30+ unit mobile home park, your monthly cash flow can pay all park expenses, including a manager, and all of your personal bills, too.

You can “retire” as soon as you stabilize operations and establish your systems with a manger who works for you.

As you fill vacancies, raise rents, and reduce expenses, you get a dependable, controllable monthly income that is backed by a hard asset that you can see, touch and control.

The benefits of owning a mobile home park exceed those of a job by a factor of a thousand.

You can’t be fired. You’re not tied to any schedule. You don’t have to beg for a raise or a vacation or time off. If you get sick of a job, you quit and get little or nothing. If you get sick of the mobile home park, you have a valuable asset to sell. With a good manager, a mobile home park is 90% passive income for the rest of your life.

Mobile Home Parks vs. “Normal” Retirement Investing

The monthly cash flow from a mobile home park far exceeds that of “normal” retirement investing. If you invest in stocks and they tank, you have nothing. If you invest in a mobile home park and its value drops, you still have your monthly rental income. If inflation wrecks your purchasing power, you have little recourse with stocks or savings. With a mobile home park, you can raise rents, lower expenses or buy another park.

Also, if you have a million dollar nest egg in the bank, it can be stolen by the bank (bail-ins), the government (taxes and inflation) or, if invested in stocks, by a broker. In contrast, a million dollar mobile home park has many deductions that greatly reduce or eliminate taxes. And because it’s land, buildings, and infrastructure, it can’t just be stolen.

You can achieve the same early retirement with a 30-unit apartment complex, but it requires far more capital. You can do the same with 30 single-family homes, but that requires 30 separate deals, which can take years. Mobile home parks provide the most return on investment and provide many opportunities to buy just one property with enough monthly income to “retire” within months, not decades.

There are many articles right on this website that teach you how to buy multi-unit mobile home parks with little or no money down. The pleasure of self-education is far superior to the pain of working a job for 40 years and then discovering you still can’t retire.

The TV “Experts” Have It Wrong

What would you rather do? Work 40 years and scrimp and save in an IRA or 401k and hope your savings provide enough monthly income to retire at age 65? Or self-educate yourself for a few months and buy one property that allows you to retire with a secure monthly income?

The solution seems obvious. But 95% of the world still follows that failing “save up a big nest egg” advice. The remaining 5% of us have discovered the power of monthly cash flow and have achieved financial independence while we’re still young.

It’s such a great feeling to have passive monthly income and total control of our time. We want everyone else to experience this too. So we teach our kids. We teach our friends. We write articles to teach people here. But ultimately it takes ambition, self-education, and action. And that’s where it goes haywire for the masses.

So we just shake our heads, wondering why so few take the short route to retirement. It is truly possible to self-educate, purchase just one property, and retire for life. Give it a try.

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About the Author...

Mike Johnson made the journey from working jobs to freelance writer to entrepreneur to passive income and early retirement. He’s owned mobile home parks since 2003 and “retired” at age 52. He teaches others how to do it at PerpetualSaturday.com.

He's the author of “43 Ways to Earn Cash Today” (for tenants) and “101 Ways to Provide Exceptional Customer Service Today” (for landlords and managers). You can also find Mike at MikeLeeJohnson.com

Comments

  1. I agree with that, but the problem is finding one.
    joe

  2. David Crockett says:

    Show me the money & show me how, I will do the rest, you can count on that, but show me those two things first. Great Idea, just not sure how to get started with the money I have & love the idea of the real estate investor, but not sure where & how to start in these days & times without getting into a pickle with the money, ie. not enough to get serious, tide us by, & purchase enough to really get going. Too much to do nothing with, just not enough to make it happen or tide us by while building it.

    • Jeanne says:

      Hi David,

      Here is a link to one of Mike’s articles, How to Buy Mobile Home Parks Without a Bank

      http://www.creonline.com/blog/how-to-buy-mobile-home-parks-without-a-bank/

      Some ideas for you.

      ~Jeanne

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi David,
      It really comes down to reading and self-educating enough to build up enough confidence to reprogram your thinking over time to think like a millionaire.

      I love a recent book I’m reading titled, “How the Rich Think” by Steve Siebold. Rich people think differently than non-rich people. It makes all the difference. Inner work is harder than outer work, which is likely why so few people get financially free.

      As for showing you how to do it, immerse yourself in your study. What you think about expands. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. This website is a great place to start, especially with all the success stories and how-to articles. There is more than enough instruction to get you started.

      As for the money, my first park is worth 1,500 times my original investment and provides a very nice monthly income too. That should be motivational enough to start searching. Deals like this are still out there.

      You’ll also feel good improving a fixer-upper property which makes life better for the tenants, your customers.

      Good luck!
      MJ

  3. Larry McGee says:

    Have thought of this before, would like to find a park where
    the owner would finance with some down payment. I live
    in shreveport. Is there an internet access on properties
    avilable in my area?

  4. ozzie Renwick says:

    Love every bit of it.

  5. Chris says:

    I have owned mobile home parks and they aren’t passive income and aren’t for inexperienced real estate investors. Your article is way too simplistic. Even one of your past experiences shows how complicated mobile home parks can be. If a person wants to become experienced, they can make money. But it will take work and some hard knocks.

    Mike Johnson says:

    2013-06-13 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Vivian,

    Sorry for delay, I didn’t get a notice that you had posted and just saw your questions.

    Getting parks with city water and sewer can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of regulatory hoops. I know this because my first park had a failing septic system when I bought it. Prepare for a horror story.

    I hired an engineer to size it up and he told me I could rebuild the tank & leach field system for $50,000. I could handle that so I bought the park. It turned out that due to being close to a river I could NOT replace the septic system. This forced me to buy a quarter-million dollar treatment system and maintain it forever, or find a way to hook to city sewer on other side of river, 1,400 feet away and 75 feet HIGHER than my location. $300K and five years of regulatory hoops later I finally hooked to city sewer. They trenched under the river and gave me a lift station to maintain. Luckily the old system limped along for 5 years while park rent increases caused enough appreciation to refinance and I was able to handle the larger mortgage payment.

    If your park is in a location away from waterways and with enough vacant land for more leach field, you might avoid what I faced. Luckily I was already on city water so I had no issues with that. I think my situation with the sewer is about the worst you could face, other than having NO solution and having to close down. Most conversions to city sewer should be far cheaper and far easier.

    But you do get good bargains buying parks on wells and septic fields, so don’t immediately eliminate them. You just have to know far more than a novice going in. It’s not a great idea to buy your first park on a well or septic due to the unknown risk. You have a steep enough learning curve already with everything else.

    I operate both my parks in a county of 28,000. One in a city of 10,000 and one in a town of 5,000. I don’t worry too much about population, I just look at the park’s rental history and current situation. Rich Dad suggests buying rentals where the jobs are in demand and that is good advice too.

    Good luck!
    MJ

    Reply

    Read more: http://www.creonline.com/blog/how-to-buy-mobile-home-parks-without-a-bank/#ixzz2pf1Pp8o1

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Chris,
      I agree that running anything has its challenges. So does working a job, running a business and investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

      I bought my first park with no experience and almost no money. To succeed at anything in life you have to Self-Study, Take Action, Experience the Results and Adjust. Life cannot be lived risk-free. Can everyone succeed by buying a mobile home park? Nope. Can the motivated succeed? Yep.

      Your post doesn’t say if you had a manager or ran the parks yourself. That makes a huge difference. Also the systems you set up make a huge difference. Owning a park and running it yourself can certainly burn you out. Thats why I have mangers in my parks and my 10% non-passive work is spent managing the managers.

      For the reasons stated in my article, I know of no other way to retire faster and more securely then buying a
      mobile home park. I can tell you from personal experience, retirement is worth any work or challenges it takes to get there.

      MJ

      • Chris says:

        I had two parks: 25 lots and 30 lots and managed them both. The cash flow on these smaller parks are usually too low to hire a manager until the mortgage is paid off. Much like most real estate investments. Yes, you can make money on any real estate rental but I don’t like it when someone makes comments like “Buy One Property and Retire in Months”. It is misleading. You seem to have a lot experience and a desire to help people, but please keep it realistic. Your students are going to have a learning curve and they need to be prepared to put that time in. No free lunch.

        • Mike Johnson says:

          Hi Chris,
          I agree that there is a steep learning curve. I agree that you believe you can’t retire on your properties before paying off mortgage. Your purchase price, rent levels and expenses are the variables that make our experiences different.

          My 32 unit park earns enough to pay a manager. But I have many park-owned homes which have higher rents. But that also means higher expenses. That park alone provides enougth monthly income for me to retire. My other 48-unit park has no park-owned homes and also earns enough by itself to keep me retired and to pay a manager there. Both parks have big mortgage payments.

          So, work decades and hope your savings arent eaten by inflation, or buy one property large enough to
          pay all your monthly bills, and a manager and retire? To me, the question boils down to this: do you accept the status quo and get the same or worse results? Or do you look for the information you dont
          have that prevents you from retiring now?

          People deserve to know they have a choice that is different than “mainstream.” I know this worked for me. You say it didnt work as well for you. Everyone gets to determine what they believe is possible
          for them.

          You’ve made your point that people have to learn new skills thru experience to succeed, but in the context of having to work your entire life, pushing yourself thru a fast learning curve is much easier (and I believe smarter) than that.

          MJ

          • Michael J. says:

            Mike,
            I’m an ex-retail Ford dealer. Bought my First dealership at age 28 in six month went from
            30 units to 130 and fifty-two employees, I had to weed thru the undesirable and losersleft by the previous deal/owner. In that time I became most profitable.

            The two major major differences, “Desire to win and Training” (24 months and every 2 months,1 week in person study at Ford Motor Marketing Institute in Dearborn, Michigan)
            This intense training design to create a dealer principal.

            Self-study is vital in any form of self-employment. Listening and not debating the reality will accelerate anyone’s success curb. Hopes this help.

  6. Great idea, I am all over it. I have been searching for three years. I have my banker on board, piling up cash for down payment and all I need is to find the property. Parks where I live are inflated by ARC who owns all the big ones and has raised lot rents to over $400.00 per month. So based on that 40 space parks are 1 million. I am scared to go out of state but am now considering that because I believe this is one of the best commercial real estate investments there is.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Tim,
      I like the smaller parks being sold by mom and pops rather than big companies. You really have to speak to the owner to learn what problems they want solved by the sale. Then you just find a way to give them what they want within the parameters of what you need and what your financer requires.

      Small park deals are everywhere. Maybe you need to move to another city or state to run one until you get it operating with a manager. Just consider it a “job transfer” until you can back out enough to “retire.” Then rinse and repeat if you want more.

      Life is all about choices! Your desire and bank relationship has you over halfway there!
      MJ

  7. Okay here is my question, What if you fined a park out of your state at a good price and it sets of 70%full.
    No park owned home,and lot rents look to be a little low.Can this be a good deal for a new be?

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Tim,
      You’d want to discover why the park is 30% vacant and what its current trend is. Was it once full and now going down, or was it never full and now going up?Are their enough jobs and enough population to realistically fill it? Is the sales price low enough to make a profit at 70% full? Is there a supply of used trailers within 50 miles that you could buy yourself, place in your park and rent or sell as “Lonnie deals?” Is the infrastructure functional and ideally hooked to city water and city sewer? Is full or partial owner finance a possibility? Is the size of the park large enough to make a worthwhile profit? More units is better because its the same amount of work buying a park.

      These are the immediate questions I’d be researching to see if the deal is worth chasing.
      Good luck!
      MJ

  8. Danielle says:

    Mike,

    I am looking at a park here in southern CA. It is a 55+ park at full occupancy. Owned by two siblings. One sibling never wanted the park (it was passed down) and the other is failing in health. They are only willing to finance about a third of the price themselves. With them only carrying back a third, if a loan was even possible, I don’t even think the park would make enough to make both a payment to their loan and the other financed payment. Purchase price they are asking is 699K
    They also have a commercial broker handling the sale.

    I had a couple thoughts on the deal. I think it is a great buy because it is already 100% occupied with room for expansion and has been recently updated so no out of pocket costs there.
    I too am a Realtor (brand new). I was thinking of leveraging any commission I would get as a buyers agent and a lease option. The only problem is, because they would have to pay the listing broker a commission, how would I find more information or obtain financing without coming out of pocket to make this appealing for the seller and keep payments affordable.

    Sorry so long. They also have a manager onsite and the park can afford that.

    Thanks in advance!

  9. Mike Johnson says:

    Hi Danielle,
    The first key number to get is net operating income. This is all income minus all expenses (other than mortgage). The sales price should be no more than 10 times this and hopefully less.

    Convention loans from banks usually will finance up to 70% of the appraised value of the park. So the sellers offering a third of the financing is a good start. But you need to know how much the park is earning now to guess how the appraisal will come in and to determine if the deal earns enough to pursue. The sellers sound motivated, so that is good too.

    Calculate the loan payments using 5.5% interest and payments spread over 240 months. This too, is conventional for bank commercial loans. Subtract both payments from net operating income to see your
    profit. If it is enough, keep pursuing the deal. If not, look for ways it can become enough inside 12 months (rent increases, shifting utilities expenses to tenants, cutting expenses).

    If you get a bank loan for the first mortgage and a seller mortgage for the second, the Realtor can be paid out
    of the first from the bank. It will be up to the bank to determine how much down you must pay. An applied commission from your end of the deal might help count against the down payment the bank wants.

    The bank will be the most unyielding party, so learn their requirements first, then share that info with the seller to negotiate them to carry a larger second if needed to make the deal work.

    There are several ways to work this and this site shares then in various articles here.

    Good luck!
    MJ

  10. DANNA says:

    Mike, this is my first time on this site, and I am very impressed with the quality of information, Jeanne’s and your response (and that you actually do helpfully respond) and the information and response of others.

    How does the mobile home park investment compare with self storage, both financially and otherwise? I appreciated your comparisons to apartment investing.

    Thanks again for the quality site; this is more informative than a lot of seminars thatI have attended!

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Danna,

      Thanks for the nice comments.

      I have only dabbled in self-storage as part of my mobile home park business but I can see some benefits and downsides.

      Upsides
      Less capital to get started
      Very little damage, repairs or maintenance
      Very little drama with tenants
      Mostly passive income
      No freeze-ups in winter, no water/sewer to deal with

      Downsides
      Much less income per unit
      More phone calls inquiring about units
      More turnover of units
      Lots of competition
      Less demand than affordable housing?
      More chance of illegal activity in your units (no on-site neighbors)

      I think storage units are a good alternative that lands between having no passive income investments at all and mobile home parks. It’s a good half-step to get you going with passive income. But then it likely won’t allow you to retire with just one property unless you buy a giant facility.

      With today’s difficult economy, I also wonder if people are cutting back on paying storage fees. Affordable housing is getting MORE in demand. But that too, depends on what’s happening in the area where you live.

      I would certainly consider storage units as a viable passive income stream. Like mobile home parks, it would be best if you get one large enough to pay a manager to handle the day-to-day operational activities.

      Good luck!
      MJ

  11. I like this article but will not be doing this. I own several traditional homes that I rent. I do not consider mobile homes as a great investment because of the caliber of renters that are attracted by them plus any mobile home DEPRECIATES in value so the only investment is in the land under the mobile home and the cash flow stream out of the mobile home. Mobile home rentals in our area are between 300-600 per month. With the repairs it is hard to make any money like that. The biggest danger of mobile homes is meth labs. Meth cookers are attracted to mobile homes and I have heard some horror stories. I will stick to traditional homes. I plan to retire in about 5 years when I have about 6 paid off. Not saying it will not work it is just not what I consider a great long term investment.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Gene,

      I respect your thoughts and comments and congratulate you on your investments and retirement plan. 95% of people do not make themselves financially secure like you have.

      I invest in mobile home parks because I am a cash flow investor rather than a capital gains investor. My parks generate enough cash flow each month to pay the mortgage, all park expenses, a manager to run each park and all of my personal bills too. That allows me to retire now, which is priceless to me.

      Capital gain investors buy a property and hope it increases in value, then sell the property and pocket the profit. Because you rent your homes, you get monthly cash flow and your tenants are paying off your mortgages which will eventually give you “free” houses. So you’ll definately make out well if you ride those rentals until pay off and sell like a capital gains investor. But there are taxes to pay then and the problem of where to park that cash to keep it safe and get a good return.

      You’ll likely just keep those houses and keep renting them to get a big cash flow increase when your mortgages go away. Then you’ll have no capital gain taxes (15% to 20%) and a good income increase. But maybe not because you might be tired of being a landlord. With just 6 units, you likely manage them yourself.

      In the mobile home park world, I can get tremendous capital gains too if I sell my parks. Parks sell for 10X annual net operating income. So each $1 I increase my profit adds $10 to the sale price. So even though individual mobile homes depreciate in value, value of parks is determined by net operating income, not the value of individual mobile homes. So a well-run park that keeps increasing profits will also increase in value which gives me the best of both worlds — cash flow that allows me to retire now and capital gains that gives me a big payday if I ever decide to sell.

      Bad tenants are certainly a possibility for every type of rental and I admit mobile home parks may get more bad applicants than single family homes. So you establish good screening processes that hopefully keep meth heads out. But even good tenants can turn bad after they’re in. If I had a meth lab turn up in a rental, I’d much rather have it in a $5,000 trailer than a $200,000 house! I can throw a trailer away and get a used one to replace it, but I can’t do that with a single family home!

      Bottom line is that different landlords are comfortable with different types of rentals. Rental property is one of the fastest and most secure and most passive roads to financial freedom and early retirement. I recommend everyone self-educate themselves on how to do it. Congratulations for making it happen for you!
      MJ

  12. Chris S says:

    Mike,

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m especially enjoying your feedback to each of the posts. My brother and I just bought our first park (7 units, park owned) which he’ll be managing since it’s close to where he lives.

    What have you found is the smallest park size where it makes sense to have a property manager? To make it easy, let’s assume city water sewer, and 50% park owned homes?

    My second question is- is it common to be able to do an assumption of loan in a mobile home park? I’m looking at a 30 unit park now. For ROI- the park makes sense if I can assume the loan, but not as much if I need to put a 30% down payment.
    Thanks!
    Chris

  13. Mike Johnson says:

    Hi Chris,

    Congrats on your park purchase and thanks for the nice comments.

    In my experience, 30 units is the best minimum size to add a park manager. If you bought it at 10 times annual net operating income or less, it will typically generate enough income to pay the manager, its mortgage, all park expenses and still throw off enough to pay $2,000 to $4,000 of your personal bills per month too.

    Of course you can always hire a manager for smaller parks, you just won’t have as much profit.

    I have never assumed a mortgage myself but have seen many mobile home park listings that offer that. So it’s common enough to ask for.

    You can still buy parks with owner financing too. The typical bank will loan 70% to 75% of the park’s appraised value so your “gap” is only 25% to 30%. Many sellers will carry a second mortgage for that because they are still getting most of their money at closing. As long as you convince the seller you will make the payments and not run his park into the ground, a second mortgage to you earns the seller a much higher return and is much safer than stocks or mutual funds. It also spreads his tax liability over years.

    I’ve had luck having sellers to carry a second, amortized over 20 years, with a 5-year balloon payment. That gets them all their money within 5 years and gives you 5 years to increase the park value and refinance to pay off the seller’s second.

    About 30% of all parks are owned free and clear so those owners could finance the entire thing without you needing a bank. Obviously, a higher down payment makes deals easier, but if you don’t have it, there are still ways to buy larger parks using owner financing. There is a link near the top of the comments in this article for an article I wrote about that topic.

    Ultimately, time is far more valuable than money. So anything you do to get a larger, 95% passive income park sooner, gives you enough money to stop working a schedule AND the priceless commodity of additional time.

    Good luck!
    MJ

  14. Clint Williams says:

    Mike, thanks for the post its totally true, I also recommend investing in apartment building for the cash flow, while it does not take many units to surpass a person’s living expenses its time we started sharing alternative investment options for individuals looking to retire with confidence.

  15. Mike Johnson says:

    Hi Clint,

    Congrats on your apartment investing success. There are several good ways to skin a cat. I’m glad apartments are working for you.

    It saddens me to see so many people losing their life savings through inflation, low returns and unfair taxes and not even realize it. Then there are the millions who have something in a retirement account but not nearly enough to live on. They could use that money to buy a large enough income property and retire in months rather than decades. They just don’t know how to do it — or like most — don’t even realize it’s a possibility because they only listen to conventional wisdom.

    Conventional wisdom in nearly every topic you take the time to study is wrong. Or if not “wrong,” it is usually not the best alternative. The people who succeed are typically the people who have invested the time and effort to become their own experts. Groups go insane far before individuals. When a group is telling you to do something, the enlightened look in another direction.

    Good luck!
    MJ

  16. Justin says:

    Hi Mike, I would assume that you would include the cost of a medium to large park’s manager in the “expenses (other than mortgage)” when figuring the sales price at 10x Net operating income. Is this correct?

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Yes Justin. And you also want to factor in a rent increase upon purchasing the park. This is expected by tenants and is a good opportunity to give yourself an income buffer and park value buffer right at the beginning. Every new income property is at its greatest risk at the beginning due to unknowns, unexpected and your highest debt level. So reduce that risk with an instant rent increase or expense reduction.
      Good luck!
      MJ

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