“People calculate too much and think too little”
Before you dive in head first, take some time to visualize your ideal community from a 30,000-foot view. Manufactured Housing Communities come in all shapes and sizes – luxury, affordable housing, workforce housing and premium destination communities. Below are some pictures of communities that have been developed recently. Take a look at similarities and differences.
Developed in 2018
Country View Village
Developed in 2001
Work Force Housing
Watford City, ND
Developed in 2008
Long Neck, Delaware
Developed in 1962
It’s important to note that there is a strong need for all of the above products in the US market. The development approach and considerations will be starkly different depending on which product you decide to build.
Is your community tailored to a certain age demographic (i.e. 55+ versus all-age)? If it is then your amenities, community look and feel, as well as home sizes will vary. The needs and wants of a newlywed couple looking for a starter home will be different than that of an elderly couple looking to down size. While an all-age community might have a playground for the kids, an age-restricted one might have a card room for bridge night. From a home perspective, an all-age community will require bigger home sizes as there are more members in the household, while an age-restricted one will be better off with smaller homes as seniors are generally interested in downsizing.
Location is another important consideration for your MHC. Do you want to develop in a highly rural area where zoning approvals will probably be easier (more on that in a future post)? Or do you want to develop near a metropolitan area? Do you need to be near a strong employer base? Is there an existing housing shortage in the area you intend on developing in? If not, how do you expect to infill 100+ homes? What is the median rental price in your area? What is the median price for a new and re-sold home in your area? Will your MHC be competitive enough in terms of pricing while also remaining economically feasible to develop? Are you near a Walmart? Are you near a hospital? Is there access to public utilities in your town? There are a lot of considerations that you need to take note of.
While this is certainly just the first layer of an exhaustive list of questions to consider, it’s a good start. At a minimum, you should have concrete answers to these questions before you begin searching for a plot of land or take any further steps on the project. This is what we at RMR like to call the ‘metaphorical foundation’ of the entire project; if your project isn’t built on a concrete metaphorical foundation, you are playing Russian roulette.
Paradoxically, we’d like to point out that ideal communities are near impossible to develop. You will need to be flexible in your criteria if you want to get far in this endeavor. Triage the importance of each of the items above for your project. At the very least, you should have a set of items that define your MHC, that make your community different than the rest, that leave you and/or your company’s mark on the space. These items should be your non-negotiables.
List of 6 new developments to study from:
Osprey Cove - Seaville, NJ
Alta Vista - Traverse City, MI
West Evergreen Estates - Kalispell, MT
Stonegate - Midland, TX
Vista Lago Estate - Guadalupe County, Texas
Heritage Acres - Upper Township, NJ