20 things I learned from MHI's 2019 MHC of the year!
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 about the 20 items he learned after going to the Manufactured Housing Institute’s 2019 Land Lease Community of the Year; Memphis Blues which is located in Memphis, TN. UMH Properties is doing some wonderful things to help the mobile home park asset class shake free of the “trailer park” stigma. From what Andrew saw, UMH and everyone at Memphis Blues makes it apparent that the people are the most important part of their community. Today he shares twenty things he learned from Memphis Blues and UMH Properties.
Memphis Blues, formerly called Memphis Mobile City, is a gorgeous all-rental manufactured home community located in Memphis, Tennessee. It is currently owned by UMH Properties, which is a mobile home park REIT. The community went through a complete overhaul, completely shutting down for six years after flooding in 2011.
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: https://www.keelteam.com/podcast-links. 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 AndrewKeel.com. 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 100 total 5-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.
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.
00:21 - Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing Podcast
01:03 - About Memphis Blues
03:32 - Number One: Security
03:42 - Number Two: Community signage
04:00 - Number Three: Leasing office/ community room
04:25 - Number Four: Rental rates
04:47 - Number Five: Community engagement
05:11 - Number Six: Marketing flyers
05:36 - Number Seven: Landscaping
05:50 - Number Eight: CBU mailboxes
06:29 - Number Nine: Lockable storage sheds
06:49 - Number Ten: Beach cruiser bikes
07:12 - Number Eleven: Mobile home park amenities
07:49 - Number Twelve: Courtesy officers
08:08 - Number Thirteen: Pets
08:33 - Number Fourteen: Wording in the marketing
08:55 - Number Fifteen: Available mobile homes
09:10 - Number Sixteen: Photography on Zillow
10:07 - Number Eighteen: Facebook page
10:34 - Number Nineteen: Online presence
11:14 - Number Twenty: People
12:00 - Three important factors from this inspection
13:19 - Conclusion
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Links & Mentions from This Episode:
Memphis Blues | UMH Properties: https://www.umh.com/community/memphis-blues/
Keel Team's official website: https://www.keelteam.com/
Andrew Keel's official website: https://www.andrewkeel.com/
Andrew Keel LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewkeel
Andrew Keel Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PassiveMHPin...
Andrew Keel Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/passivemhpi...
Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing podcast. This is your host, Andrew Keel. Today, we are going to dive-in to the 20 things I learned after walking through the Manufactured Housing Institute's 2019 Land Lease Community of the Year, Memphis Blues.
Before we dive in, I want to ask you a real quick favor. Would you mind 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 so much for making my day with that review of the show. All right, let's dive in.
Memphis Blues, formerly called Memphis Mobile City, is a gorgeous all-rental home community located in Memphis, Tennessee. It is currently owned by UMH Properties, which is a mobile home park REIT. The community went through a complete overhaul, completely shutting down for six years after flooding in 2011.
Online, I found reviews of Memphis Mobile City stating that the property had severe flooding issues due to buried storm drains and stormwater runoff from the new improvements made to US Route 51 that borders the front of the park. UMH came in and rebuilt the community on higher ground and then redesigned the old community into a new type of mobile home community.
Every home in the community was brand new when this park was reopened in 2017. The community features two- and three-bedroom homes, all of which have two bathrooms. The homes come in a variety of different styles. The gated neighborhood offers a variety of amenities such as a community center, basketball court, patio and deck area, playground, a pavilion, dog park, community bike sharing, and a business center.
The community itself isn't really located in the most sought-after of areas and is more of an industrial area, I would say, compared to a residential area, but the community definitely pops when you drive-by due to the signage, fencing, and landscaping.
UMH has two more phases of expansion planned to Memphis Blues as of this recording in August of 2021. They are sparing no expense in the process. We're talking brand new roads, new streetlights, curbs, gutters, and paved driveways all make this community look more like a suburban neighborhood instead of a mobile home park. My question to you would be, could this be the new solution for the deficit in entry level housing we have currently in the US? I sure hope so.
All right, here are the 20 things that I picked up. Number one, the community was very secure. The new privacy gate and keypad made it feel exclusive but also very safe.
Number two, the community signage was top notch. You could tell that they spared no expense to create a uniform look across the property. The entry signage was very similar and had the same branding as the no soliciting signage on the light post.
Number three, the leasing office/community room was nothing short of amazing. It was a brand new double- or triple-wide manufactured home with a gorgeous back patio area. This made the community very inviting right when you come in because this is where the road really takes you right into the parking lot when you pull in of the leasing facility.
Number four, with it being a full-rental home community, the rental rates of $750 to just around $1000 a month seemed very reasonable and affordable to me. Plus, they required only a one month security deposit. Overall, the costs were low for the value you're receiving, in my opinion.
Number five, you could tell that community engagement was very important for UMH and the management of Memphis Blues. On the day I was there, there was an event happening on the back patio of the leasing office. It was complete with an inflatable bounce house for the kids and enough food for everyone. You could tell that they were having fun and there were a lot of people there enjoying themselves.
Number six, the leasing office had marketing flyers everywhere, through that whole room that you walk into at first. What was interesting to me is that the marketing flyers spoke mostly about the area surrounding the community in the write-up versus the community amenities or the home features, which basically sold themselves.
Number seven, the landscaping was very well done throughout even at street crossings in the middle of the park around street signs and things like that. This helps the community truly pop when you drive through.
Number eight, there were brand new CBU mailboxes or cluster box units that had an aluminum roof over the top of them. The roof was the extra effort taking into account the weather conditions, and snow, and rain, and allowing the residents to get their mail no matter what in a comfortable manner. Also, in this little area, there was a bulletin board. There were events on the bulletin board and things going on that month in the area. That was a nice touch to engage the residents in the community.
Number nine, all homes in the community come with a lockable storage shed. This was a huge deal for me that I picked up on and got an aha out of, because it creates a win-win. The community will remain clean and residents will also have a safe place to keep their stuff secure.
Number 10, the community offers beach cruiser bikes available for all residents to use on the bike rack near the leasing office. Something relatively inexpensive like this offers such a cool benefit to the residents. It helps the community stick out, be different from the local apartments and so forth.
Number 11, the community offers absolutely top notch amenities. I know we touched on them a little bit earlier. The patio had a nice fire pit, playground, there's a half-court basketball court, dog park, pavilion, and business center with computers available for use. Surrounding apartments just really can't compete with this community because the community offers the same, if not better amenities. The residents don't have to share walls with their neighbors, like they would in that apartment or multifamily facility.
Number 12, the community offers an onsite courtesy officer. The community is branded around first responders and offers a discount for military, police, and firefighters making it an even safer place for the residents to live when your neighbor could possibly be a police officer or first responder.
Number 13, pets must be pre-approved and go under a mandatory visual inspection ensuring it is under 10 pounds and not aggressive prior to move-in. I thought that was great. There was a pet fee of about $25 a month, but I thought it was that extra step to do the visual inspection that made sure that the community was safe.
Number 14, in the marketing pieces, the community called their rentable units simply homes, trying to make this community feel and look as much as possible like an actual neighborhood of single family homes. As the build-to-rent model gains steam, this could be the new face of entry-level housing.
Number 15, the community only had one home available for rent when I was there. This home was listed on Zillow under the apartment rental section. This showed me that the apartments nearby are the clear competition to this model.
Number 16, in that for-rent posting on Zillow, all of the photography was professionally done, with beautiful filters and absolutely amazing lighting. I thought that was a nice touch to really make this community and make these homes stick out.
Also, one thing I noticed in the for-rent photos was that the photos were of brand new manufactured homes that had been staged. Staging was the key piece there because this was helping the community attract top quality residents away from apartments and other multifamily.
Also, the leasing office was staged and looked impeccable. It was absolutely beautiful. They had sales marketing material, flyers, and things like that strategically placed throughout the leasing office, which made it easy to walk out with something in your hands.
Number 18, on the Memphis Blues' Facebook page, the onsite manager engages in dialogue with the residents almost daily. One thing I saw on the Facebook page was that they award a yard of the month to the best kept yard, which allows the residents to earn a $200 rent credit. I thought that was a really cool step to ensure that the community remains well-kept.
Number 19, the online presence for this community was stellar. The community was easy to find and documented really well with videos and photos. The contact information was front and center. The reviews were highlighted on the website. I thought that was something that was an aha moment for me. The Google reviews and then other reviews were right there on the website, easy to see.
One big takeaway was that video, it was really well-done and starts playing right away when you land on the Memphis Blues' website. It was just very inviting and gave people an idea of what it's like to live in the community when watching that.
All right, the last one, number 20. The people were the most important part. The leasing manager was super nice and welcoming. This made a really good first impression on me. The team also boasted about the 24-hour maintenance repair policy and the full-time maintenance staff. As nice as the property was, my interaction with the people is what impacted me the most and stayed with me after I left.
Overall, Memphis Blues was an absolutely beautiful manufactured housing community. It makes my heart happy knowing that this kind of money is being spent into our industry, and that the stigma of trailer park living is on its way out.
A few important factors resonated with me from this inspection. Number one, creating a sense of community and gathering was important to UMH and their design of this community. After looking into this and doing some independent research, I realized and discovered that this directly correlates to resident retention, which is really valuable.
Number two, ensuring the residents feel safe was also very important to UMH. When people feel safe in a community, I discovered that they develop a sense of belonging and loyalty to that community, which again, helps with retention purposes.
Number three, this story ultimately has a happy ending. UMH came in and saved the day, and is now adding to the quality supply of affordable housing available in Memphis. This community could have easily been shut down for good, but UMH came in and saved the day. I think this is an inverse of some of the recent mobile home park write-ups and press that it's been getting. I just thought it was a really cool story.
Anyway, that is it for today. I hope you picked up a few things from this episode. Please subscribe to get dialed in for future episodes. Thank you all so much for tuning in.