Interview with Charlie Ansanelli of RockStack Capital
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 manufactured housing community investment fund manager Mark Khuri. Mark is the co-founder of SMK Capital Management, an investment firm which provides investors with passive income and growth through the creation of partnerships in private commercial real estate opportunities. Mark has been investing in real estate for over 15 years and has transacted in over $1 billion worth of real estate, including mobile home parks, self-storage, multifamily, and others.
Today, Andrew and Mark talk about what the future of mobile home park investing looks like. They discuss Mark’s unique perspective as he provides his expert opinion on the industry direction with possible inflation on the horizon. They also talk about Mark’s niche alternative investments, including ATM’s. The guys also touch on the $15 minimum wage, Mark’s perfect mobile home park, and the story of how Mark got into real estate and mobile home parks specifically.
Andrew Keel is the owner of Keel Team, LLC, a Top 100 Owner of Manufactured Housing Communities with over 1,500 lots under management. His team currently manages over 20 manufactured housing communities across ten states - AR, GA, IA, IL, IN, MN, NE, OH, PA and TN. 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.
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
01:40 - How Charlie got into the real estate business
07:25 - How 2020 has affected mobile home parks and Charlie’s other businesses
12:40 - Research, mobile home parks, and Charlie’s 31-lot park in Tucson, AZ
15:05 - Why Charlie is so interested in mobile home parks
17:14 - The stigma around trailer parks and how Andrew and Charlie want to change that
21:07 - The most important things passive investors need to know before investing in mobile home parks
24:00 - Angel investing and Charlie’s first investors
25:42 - Toughest hurdle for Charlie so far
29:15 - Charlie’s perfect mobile home park
32:28 - Hurdles the mobile home park industry will face moving forward
35:27 - RockStack Capital’s value proposition, what makes them different, and their goals for the future
41:17 - Getting a hold of Charlie
41:42 - Conclusion
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Keel Team's official website: https://www.keelteam.com/
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Andrew: Welcome to the Passive Mobile Home Park Investing Podcast. This is your host, Andrew Keel. Today, we have an amazing guest, an up-and-comer in the mobile home park space in Mr. Charlie Ansanelli.
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 5 stars? This helps us get more listeners and it means the absolute world to me. Thanks for making my day with that review of the show. All right, let's dive in.
Charlie is the principal of RockStack Capital. He is a former tech entrepreneur turned full-time mobile home park investor-operator. He owns and operates 11 mobile home parks comprising over 600 units and over $20 million in current market value. In addition to mobile home park investing, Charlie is also an angel investor and enjoys mentoring other entrepreneurs or people new to the real estate investing space.
Charlie, welcome to the show.
Charlie: Andrew, thanks for having me. That's a very kind introduction. It's almost like I could've written it myself and sent it to you before the podcast. Thank you for reading that. I do appreciate it.
Andrew: Don't mention it. Charlie, what can you tell us about your story and how you got into manufactured housing, all the way from tech entrepreneur to trailer park king? Give us the dirty details, would you?
Charlie: Sure. I'm born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tech was indoctrinated into me at a very young age. I had early aspirations of being the cover of Fast Company Magazine and Forbes. Here I am, this mini mobile home park mogul.
My life took a little bit of a different direction than I expected it to maybe 10 years ago, but I couldn't be any more elated at the direction that it took and the work that I'm doing. It's really I feel like what I was always meant to be doing. I'm super happy with the way things turned out.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I started my career really by dropping out of college to join a fast-growing tech travel startup. I learned a ton there. I really got there, not just my degree but my MBA there. I got to be a part of a team from 5 people to 50 people, go through rounds of raising funds, and see the growing pains of a company.
In a lot of ways, there are a lot of parallels, too, of when you go from 1 and 2 parks to 5 to 10 to 15. That's something I'd like to talk to you about later on this podcast, too. I had to go through that experience.
Then, once that felt like it was no longer an education for me, it started to feel like it was a job all of a sudden. I realized, okay, I need to quit, so I did. I started two online businesses myself. One really took off with the media. That was ParkPlease. It was like an Airbnb for parking spaces. We had a lot of fun with that and raised some capital around that.
People thought that made me rich. It didn't. It just put me in the media which was fun at the time being in my young 20s. I ended up being able to exit and sell that, payback my investors, get a good story, learn a lot. I was certainly not really quick at the time to run a business. I was able to start one, but not run and grow one. I have a lot to learn.
I started another one, more like a side project. I sold that as well. I had a third business going in the background this whole time that I was running and then continued to run. That took off, too, and that was making me a good income. It wasn't making me wealthy. It wasn't making me a millionaire, but it was making me a good income.
Somewhere in that story, I had met my wife. Of course, I think she thought I was doing well but I was broke. I remember when I took her on my first date. I was hoping the credit card wouldn't bounce. I think she knew I didn't have much money.
Anyway, that third business though, it was doing well and I started to make some good money. We ended up having my first daughter. We were living pretty modestly. I just wanted to diversify my income. I had saved up an estate of around $120,000 plus or minus. A lot of places in the world have a lot of money, but not in the Bay Area. It's really not much.
A lot of people thought maybe I should buy a single-family home. It's the responsible thing to do for a young man starting a family, but instead, I bought a 31-pad mobile home park in Tucson, Arizona. Just like dropping out of college, people found out I was crazy again. It turned to be—aside from meeting my wife and having my daughter and son—the single best decision I've made in my life. It cash flowed very well. I implemented the standard plan that's out there to value-add these things.
In 1 ½ year, I was able to more than double the price I bought it for. It was an 800% return on my capital and my down payment. I sold it. In between that time, I had bought a second park at Pittsburg, a very small one, about 25 pads or so. That was doing very well.
Then, I basically took the proceeds from Tucson park. I bought my first big institutional-sized community in Indiana. I decided I just wasn't really loving the deals I saw in Arizona as much anymore. I was looking for a higher yield. I heard that the tenants up in the midwest section were good tenants. I can attest that's true. Typically, it's a nice tenant base in the north. The park in Pittsburg was doing very well.
For a while, I was juggling these two things. I was juggling running this one business which really was my main focus. On the side, I was running these properties that were my own. Sometimes, I would have friends and family co-invest in a deal with me, but one really started to outpace the other and my interest in one really started to outpace the other. That was in real estate. I've always had a passion for real estate.
Looking back, thank goodness, I did choose to diversify my income and not be dependent on just one channel because COVID came and just took everything by surprise. A lot of businesses had to shut down. We're rebuilding it. I won't be the active operator on that business anymore, but otherwise, I would've had a scary time trying to survive and feed my family if I didn't diversify my income.
Anyway, I just doubled down in mobile home parks. By this point, I had a process. I have the right technology in place. I figured I can learn the rest. I have a lot of people at this point wanting to invest in my deals. I didn't know that was a path I wanted to jump in fully because that's a big responsibility as you're aware of when you take on investor capital. I've been down that road before with startups. It can be a lot of pressure. But once I felt very confident in the space and in my experience in it to execute, I said, okay, let's do it.
I found some really good deals and doubled down. Over the last 1 ½ years, I probably tripled my portfolio size. It was a good time. I'm not sure about how it was for you, but COVID was a great time to buy, this last year.
Andrew: It really was. Back in March and April, we did the same thing. Well, I guess we didn't do the same thing. We paused a little bit and we saw some other operators that were still very bullish. We're like, wow, they're still going for it. Then, we waited a couple of months and we're like, okay, the collections weren't as bad as we were expecting. Let's get back in the game here.
Charlie: Right. I had a couple of contracts that were in contract during COVID, but I didn't want to cancel them. I just found a way to, hey, let's extend the contract to 60, 90 days. We'll see how it goes. Some were very willing to do that.
Andrew: Which is smart because we had a deal under contract and the financing changed. The whole financing option changed. We were looking at agency debt. They required 18 months of reserves at closing and just changed the amount of capital you'd need to close the deal and everything. That's nice that your sellers were willing to extend.
Charlie: Yeah. Some were very cooperative and I'm appreciative of that. I'm sure, like you and like everybody else in the space or anybody else who was just doing anything during that first three months of COVID when it hit between March, April, May, it varies every time.
Of course, I was like, I put all my eggs in this basket. I just built this thing. It's my little empire here. I was so afraid of what was going to happen. I think the way I calmed down as I said, okay, I am at the backstop of the economy. I'm in the affordable housing space. If my tenants can't pay their rent, then I know no one else in this country will be able to pay their rent. The government's not going to let that happen.
I felt pretty confident that I knew I could at least service the debt. Of course, our tenants also have skin in the game. They do want to keep their equity in their homes and they don't want to lose that. We were proactive in reaching out to all of our tenants and making sure we said, hey if you're having trouble, we're here to help you. We're going to figure this out together. Don't go radio silent on us. That's the worst thing that can happen.
I knew the government had to step in, and I also felt confident that given our rents in the market, most of our tenants were going to be able to pay their bills and they will.
Andrew: We had a similar COVID experience, but it's a weird backside of this because now, people are still making more on unemployment than they were at their day job. The incentives aren't matching up appropriately. That's a whole other conversation.
Let me go back to this Tucson deal, this 31-lot park. What even got you interested in this deal, in mobile home parks in general? Was this just like, hey, this looks like a good investment, or did you research the asset class and say, hey, this is what I want to do?
Charlie: I love this question. It's also always a question I ask my sellers, too. I always want to find out, hey, how did you get involved in mobile home parks? It's just a fun mystery to unveil. If I recall for you, I think it was because you're doing the mobile home flipping and then you said, hey, I should just get to park.
Andrew: Yeah. Doing Lonnie Deals. That's exactly it.
Charlie: I looked into doing Lonnie Deals, too. I knew I wanted to invest in real estate. I took a moment to just study the landscape of real estate, the different asset classes, and unpeel it. I was like, okay, maybe I'd buy a duplex, buy a quadplex, buy a small garden-style apartment complex.
Then, just through that rabbit hole of research, I came across mobile home parks on the Internet. I don't know how I came across it, some forum. It was one of those things where I never understood mobile home parks. I would see them from time to time. My grandma lives in one at one point. I think like a lot of people, I was just naive, too.
I just thought, why would I want to own a mobile home park? Don't mobile homes depreciate in value? They don't typically go up in value. Why would I want to own something like that? But once I really understood the thesis behind the investment words, I'm like, oh, no, the tenants own their homes. When I wanted to own the land and essentially be the glorified parking lot with utility structures. It became a lot more attractive. Also, once I understood other factors that go into it, I look at things like a market demand point of view, too. The need for affordable housing is just something I don't see decreasing in my lifetime or any time. We seem to have a wider and wider gap year over year in housing affordability in this country.
From a market standpoint, I just felt very confident in the product and the service. Of course, we look at other factors. They're not building any more of these things. Cities create all sorts of laws and ordinances that basically discriminate against affordable housing. We can go on about why they do that. They make it very hard to build manufactured housing communities. Limited supply and rising demand curves are all very attractive. There are some other things that really come out. I'm trying to recall all of the points.
Andrew: I just think it's cool. I was wondering if you were going to tie the two together, but ParkPlease, the Airbnb of parking spaces, had some influence from the parking space because Kevin Bupp is buying parking lots now. It has some overlap with the business model in mobile home parks.
Charlie: It didn't, but the only overlap that was there for me was that I'm always looking for chaotic industries. I'm looking for things that are a mess because that's where the value is to be created. That's how you make money—by creating value, by solving problems. Parking—when I got into that and I still am—is still a very fragmented industry that needs a lot of solutions. There are some really cool people up there working on solving those things.
For me, mobile home parks were another chaotic, fragmented, misunderstood category. I was like, this is it because it's mom-and-pop owned, the data around the rents are just nearly non-existent. Professionalism in this industry doesn't exist really. It is now. There are guys like you and many others who are bringing that to the table, but it wasn't so much in 2016, 2015 when I was looking into the space. Even today, it largely lacks, but I think that we're getting there. The idea of a chaotic industry is maybe the overlap.
Andrew: Before we started recording, we were talking a little bit about this. It's amazing to me, the new blood that's coming into the mobile home park space. From the Bay Area tech background to mobile home parks. With the stigma, you wouldn't think but the more and more operators that I interview, that I meet are very intelligent. A lot have finance backgrounds or some other more white-collar background.
They all see the benefits of mobile home park investing because it is modded. There's no doubt about it. Which is pretty awesome. Would you mind, I'm just curious, the other business that you had, was it in hospitality or something? The one that took a dive in during COVID?
Charlie: Great question. No, that was a festival. It’s similar. It was a big monthly festival in the Bay Area that people loved. That was a big event. We're excited to bring that back and we are bringing that back to the Bay Area. But it’s not a good year for the event industry.
To go back to your point a little bit about young blood coming into the space where even just more professionalism enters this space, I think everyone's going to win in that ultimately because—let me know from your standpoint—I'm seeing a lot of people coming in, buying mobile home parks, and improving them.
It's not like, hey, these tenants are sticky tenants. Let's raise the rent and keep the park the same. I'm saying, hey, let's come in. Let's run background checks. Let's bring a level of professionalism to affordable housing that exists already in a lot of large apartment-style complexes. Let's make this safe, affordable, and a place that the people who live there can be proud to call it a home. Let's take this from being trailer parks and turn them into manufactured housing communities.
I think a lot of people, some foolishly look at people who are in this space as may be taking advantage of poor people. There's a really weird notion out there I'd get sometimes. That if you are investing in affordable housing, it's an evil thing. I'm like, I don't understand. You're okay with investing in the middle class, but you don't want to invest in affordable housing?
I'm only seeing net positives come out of this thing. I know for a fact that my litmus test in the community is I want to get it to a point where if I had to, I would have my family live there. I want to make sure I'm building something I'm proud of. It takes time and it takes an investment but ultimately, I'm super excited about the direction I see this industry is heading into.
Andrew: A hundred percent agree. I think that's what's really cool as these moms and pops haven't really kept up with the maintenance. There's a lot of tree-trimming needed and road work needed. We're all aligned.
I had a meeting. We're doing some due diligence in a park in Michigan. We met with the city zoning official at the park. He had this really bad taste in his mouth because the owner that we were buying the property from really just hasn't done anything for the last 15 years. They had created new restrictions on the age of the homes that could be brought into the community.
There is some good behind that, trying to clean up these communities. What I explained to the gentlemen in zoning is I said our interests are aligned. The better this community looks, the better financing I'm going to be able to get in this community and the better cash flow I'm going to be able to create for ourselves and for the investors.
When I had that conversation, we started to be on the same team. I was pointing out things that we planned to do. It turned the conversation around which I agree with you, just being able to improve these assets is a win-win. For the residents, they're going to get a better place to live. For investors, we're able to get really good returns which is awesome.
Let's dive into that side of things. From an investor standpoint, maybe you could tell us, what do you think are the most important things that passive investors need to know or look out for before they invest in mobile home parks?
Charlie: It's a good question. It's one I think about a lot because I'm also looking forward to the day when I'm on that side of the table. It's tough because I think like you, we enjoy being active operators. But I know one day I'm going to have to be on the other side of the table so I can enjoy my life as well.
For a passive investor, the number one thing that I would recommend is first to learn the space. Invest your time learning the asset and the space just as much as if you were going to run it actively yourself. Because if you have that, that's a good qualifier. You can have better conversations with the sponsor or whatever group you're going to invest with. You'll be able to have not just a more quality conversation, but you'll also be able to sniff them out and see if they know what they're talking about or if they're just full of hot air. I would recommend that.
The second thing is to get to know who you're investing with, who you're backing. Is this someone that you'd be in the trenches with? Someone that's not going to leave or desert something if times get hard? Because times get hard. Things don't always go right. You might buy a property or a community. You think it has a good tenant base and then you get in there. You find out three, four months later that it's not what you thought it was.
Hey, as long as you've done the due diligence and the bones are good, you could work with that, but it's not easy. Turnarounds were just surprises after acquisitions aren't easy, and are always curveballs. That's a guaranteed thing. You want to make sure that the person who you're backing is someone who is not likely to ever give up.
Other things are, there is a trust factor. You want to maybe check the references if you don't know the person personally. It’s always a question I ask, too, is what are you investing in this deal? Is this person investing their money? Are they putting their money where their mouth is? Maybe their recourse for the loan. That's okay, too. What's your asset sheet? What's the recourse? Is it your house? Let's find out a little bit and then just their general background in business or in the asset class, in particular, some used cases. That's all probably a good starting point.
Andrew: I bet a lot of that overlaps into what you do with your angel investing ventures. Would you agree?
Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. I have certainly made some investments where I'm like, well, I'm not so sure about whether I believe in the space that they're in need of some solutions. I don't know if this is the right solution for it. But if I really like the person, I'm like, okay, I'm going to bet on you and you're going to figure it out. If you pivot into something else, I know that this is the person I wanted to be backing on the next one, too. Absolutely. It's all about, I hate to say, the ideal thing but the jockey is more important than the horse. You want to back the jockey.
Andrew: Totally. I think that's great advice. A lot of other people we've interviewed have said the same thing. Charlie, who is your first investor in one of your mobile home park deals?
Charlie: It was a deal between my parents and two friends. They were my first investors. This was after I had used my own capital. I wished I wanted to test out my thesis first into the space. Then, I brought in my parents and two friends. Since then, I've opened it up to professional contacts, friends, and even just some people who I've never met which is fun, too.
Andrew: What would you say has been the toughest hurdle for you in the business thus far?
Charlie: Scaling, which I feel like, knock on wood, I have a good handle on right now. You and I were talking before air, we're always still learning. I think that there are a lot of great models. If you go through the Frank and Dave Bootcamp—and I recommend anyone who wants to get to the space should invest the time and the money to go through that. It's a great starting point. It gives you the model for one park, maybe two parks.
But if you want to get to a level of scale, you really want to have a portfolio of parks, and you want to do this full-time, that model doesn't apply anymore. That's why I realized that I was going crazy. I was trying to do the standard of having a manager that handles 5 or 10 different things at one park. I'm going to manage the manager, and then I have 10 managers. I was asking too much from each one of them, one would quit, and then I have to reinvest time to onboard a new manager.
I've learned to treat this much more like I would treat any other business, have divisions of specialty and divisions of labor, get people who are full-time, and focus on certain things within the business. Scaling has been my biggest challenge, but I'm in a good spot right now and I'm really happy with the team that I have.
Andrew: That's awesome. I know right around you said 600 lots. That's a tough place to be. You get over that stage like you said where you got a couple of parks, two or three parks. At this level, you're big enough now to make a couple of corporate-level hires. As you get bigger, it definitely gets easier where you're able to afford your management fees. You're able to afford to hire good talent, but in the early stages, I was forgoing cash flow to be able to pay for the team to be able to keep building. That's the thing that they don't really tell you at the Frank and Dave Bootcamp.
I agree with you. For one or two parks, it's a great baseline of the industry. There are lots to learn, but as Jefferson Lilly says in Mobile Home Park 2.0, the scalability level is difficult because you're trying to put the puzzle pieces together.
Charlie: Yeah, 100% right. What 2.0 looks like for one organization isn't necessarily what 2.0 should look like for another organization. It's really important to talk to other folks who are leaders in the space like yourself, Jefferson, Ryan Smith, Daniel Weisfield over at the West Coast doing some great things. There are more. Talking to folks who have scaled already, learning hey, what's your model, how did you figure this out. But not necessarily mimicking that because you got to also say, okay, well, what are my goals? What do I feel like I need in the business? Learn but also don't just follow. That's important, too.
Andrew: I totally agree. Charlie, what does the perfect mobile home park look like in your eyes? Maybe this aligns with your purchase criteria at RockStack Capital and maybe you can elaborate on that.
Charlie: I don't know if it aligns with my criteria because the perfect park is hard to find. The perfect park in my eyes—this might be a little contrary to a lot of people—I would love a big, old park. That part is not contrary yet, but I would love to be 100% occupied with all brand-new, recent-tenure model homes. I'd like it to be 100% park-owned homes.
Andrew: Oh, my goodness. All right, we're going to have to talk right there. You're going to have to elaborate on this for me.
Charlie: I know it's not popular. I will still put them on rent-to-own contracts. I don't really want to rent them but boy, I love that extra cash flow. It pays for a lot and I love that it's not capped. You're not paying a cap on the extra cash flow. That's one of the golden goose elements of this space. We're only capping the lot rent.
Sometimes, the home payment is 80% of what the lot rent is on average. That's extra cash flow. That's real money that you're not paying a multiple on. The downside is that yeah if it's a bunch of older homes and then it gets turnover. You got to refix them or rehab them. There is a cost to that. To me, I'd almost rather have a community that's still 100% tenant-owned or is 80% park-owned homes because it's harder to maintain something that's a little bit in the middle because you got to have a handyman and stuff like that. I love park-owned home income.
Andrew: That's great, very interesting. I know that Dylan Marma and Charles DeHart have a very similar model right now where they are buying big communities that are park-owned homes and then slowly converting them over a five-year time horizon. That's a brilliant method.
I spoke with Sam Hills and he said the same thing. The homes are there. That's one of the hardest parts—to get the homes, bring them in, do the peers, and everything. But these homes are there. You just have to convert them over a time horizon.
From my experience, it's difficult. You got to play that balance of, do you have a maintenance guy or do you not? There are just other expenses while you're going through that whole process in rehabbing homes and stuff, but there's more than one way to skin a cat. There are a lot of ways to make money and that's one of them. That's an interesting model. I know there's a fund out there right now buying mobile home parks just with private utilities. It's getting creative because the market's getting more competitive. It's interesting for sure.
What hurdles do you think the MH industry will face moving forward?
Charlie: Regulation. Something I'm afraid of is probably rent control regulation. This goes back to what we were talking about where we are coming in and we are improving the communities. We're investing in the communities. But the thing is that for all intensive purposes, everyone loves mom-and-pop. It's like a romantic idea around this, but more times than not, they were unintentional lot-lords. They might not mean to be but they figured, hey, I'm not going to raise the rent but I also don't want to fix anything.
The tenants were like, lot rent's only $180. Maybe if I just don't bother them, they're not going to raise the rent. I think that happened for decades, but then you have these things—dilapidated, falling into the ground, practically melting sometimes. It’s like a [...] reinvest in it and make it a mobile home park, be a good landlord, fix things, but the rent's not going to be $180. Otherwise, it's going to be torn down and we're going to build condos here.
When we have to come in and raise that $180 rent to $400 which is where it needs to be to support not just the market use for the land but also the debt service to the bank, operating costs, that's the right thing to do. The problem is that I think that politicians on the hill hear that, and evil people are taking advantage of tenants and jacking up the rate 25%, 40%, 30%.
On an average day, a person who's paying $1000 a month for their rental, they're thinking, wow, that sounds great but when you realize they're talking about $30 a month, it's not. It's the right thing to do.
I'm afraid of the headlines and afraid of the regulation that will come because it's only going to hurt the progress of affordable housing because what's the other option? Classy apartments and Section 8 vouchers? They're not great places to live most of the time. The tenant does not have any private ownership. They're not going to own their home. There's no long-term security for them and it's also largely subsidized by taxpayers.
That's what I'm afraid of. It’s us as an industry not getting ahead of the narrative and letting these clickbait headlines dictate policy.
Andrew: Yeah, valid concerns for sure. Charlie, what's the value proposition at RockStack Capital? What makes you guys different? What are the property types that you're looking to acquire? What are your goals for the long term? Tell us about your business if you don't mind.
Charlie: Sure. RockStack Capital is not a very big group. It's pretty much me. It's my capital that I've been building up over the years. Then, I invite people to invest along with me in deals. But I'm typically, generally the largest investor in my deals. It's really just this group I've created myself to grow my own wealth and my own streams of cash flow. Then, I invite friends, family, and colleagues to join along should they want to and should they meet and accredit criteria.
I have two funds right now that I view it as. One's a legacy long-term buy and hold. Then one is a value-add, come in, do the right things, and flip. That's my thesis right now.
Andrew: Very cool. Do you have a minimum number of lots of public, private utilities, MSA type of target?
Charlie: Yeah. I always start with the MSA. I want really strong demand. I don't think my criteria are too far from those. I want to be in the place of a diverse economy. I want to be very close to a major metro of at least 100,000 people and up. Hopefully, it's much higher than that.
I've only dealt with public utilities so far. I'm not opposed to private utilities. I just haven't done that yet and I found enough deal flows still in the public utility realm. But I haven't totally needed to jump in. I'm not out raising a fund. I don't have the same pressure as some people might where they have to be quick to close deals. I can take my time a little bit more.
Other than that, lot sizes. If it's not near 30 minutes of the community I already owned, then it's probably got to be at least 50 pads. If it's near a community I already owned, then I can do less. Sometimes, if the value is just so great that we want to come in and it's so under-marketed, maybe it's a 15-pad park but we realized we didn't come in and do the right things in a year, and we can sell it for double or triple the price. I'm not going to pass to that either. There's the opportunistic side and then the long-term legacy of the buy-and-hold side.
Andrew: Totally. Daniel Weisfield was telling me about a 15-lot park that they bought right in Seattle, right in the Downtown Area, and had to do very little, but the appreciation there just skyrocketed. A lot of operators have this number goal in mind. I agree with it to an extent because it's harder to manage the smaller assets and pay a manager enough, but there are definitely opportunities out there for sure.
Charlie: I think that the big opportunity right now truly is anything under 50 pads. You're going to be competing against institutional or large professional portfolios for anything over 50 pads at this point. It used to be over 100. Now, it's over 50. I still think that if you're playing within the 20-50-pad range, that's the next leg where there's so much value to be added. I do think that you're going to eventually see other guys buying the 50-pad plus. They're going to move down eventually into the 30, 25, 50. There's a lot of opportunities left there, too.
Andrew: If you can manage them, you're right. There's a lot of value to be added there. I think you're one of the first operators that have said that. Very cool that you're different in that aspect.
Charlie: I may be wrong. Don't listen to me. That's a smarter thing.
Andrew: No, I think you may be onto there. If you can cluster them together, all the better.
Charlie: Yeah, that's the thing. If you can cluster them together. I have three parks like that. I have 1 that was a 25-pad park, and then I added on one that was a mix-used property, a warehouse, apartments, and 10 pads. We're talking two minutes away. Then, I added on another one that was 35 pads and some self-storage. Now, all together, I have 75 units and they're all 2 minutes apart. What's the difference between that and one big park? It's almost the same to me. I can run it the same.
Andrew: Yeah. You probably could get one manager to handle all three. You get a scale which is great. Charlie, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was a pleasure having you. Thank you so much, man. I really appreciate it.
Charlie: Andrew, the pleasure is mine. I look forward to hopefully seeing you in person one of these days. I'd love to have a cup of coffee with you and hang out. This was a nice start.
Andrew: Definitely. How can our listeners get ahold of you if they'd like to do so?
Charlie: I make myself available as much as possible. They can email me. It's simply email@example.com. If you have a deal you want to review, if you want my opinion or insight, I'm happy to help where I can.
Andrew: Awesome, man. Thank you so much. That's it for today, folks. Thank you all so much for tuning in.