Finding the right broker is a bit like finding a new doctor. They all have the right licenses and qualifications on paper, but which one is a fit for you? Portland, Oregon is a hot spot for real estate. In 2015, it was one of the most popular destinations to move to in the US. With that kind of excitement around a market, there’s bound to be an influx of brokers and agents working the area as well. But just because they hand out business cards and call themselves a realtor doesn’t mean you should trust the sale of your park to them.
There’s a lot more to being a broker or real estate agent than just education and licenses. From my personal experience of over 25 years in the mobile home park business, I’ve spotted the ten warning signs to watch out for before signing on the dotted line. First up: a broker who doesn’t communicate is one who doesn’t want your business.
Once you have your park looking its best, there are three different routes you can take to sell it. Depending on how involved you want to be in the sale, you can sell it yourself, list it with a broker, or try to sell to an investor. If you’re a rookie, your best bet is probably going to be working with an industry insider. But, before you choose, look at how each option will cut into your bottom line.
You can get a good feel for an agent without even talking to them. They should offer local contact options, including a Portland-based phone number or a local office you can walk into. If their only contact info is an out of state cell phone number with a generic “the user cannot take your call right now” or, even worse, “this mailbox is full” message, that’s a good indication that they’re either an upstart or they have too much on their plate.
Look for multiple contact options including a local Portland number, as well as online contact information. If you’re dealing with a firm that employs messaging tools, you’ll find your calls are returned much faster than from a one man, one phone operation.
There’s nothing I respect more than an “I just can’t do it” from a broker or agent. That tells me they know their limitations and aren’t going to waste my time. It’s a lot more straightforward than the excuses that come in later when they’re not getting you any offers. Selling a mobile home park in Portland is hard; the commercial real estate market is competitive and most commercial buyers are looking for office buildings or apartment complexes.
Agents need to specifically understand the mobile home park business. That’s a rare ability. Mobile home park sales are different from other property investments, like apartments and condo complexes, because the value is all in the operation. You don’t have property to maintain, sure, but you also don’t have structures that add to your portfolio’s value. That’s why it attracts a different group of investors. An agent who is working with park investors is going to find they are a knowledgeable bunch. The buyers are going to have an advantage and if the agent isn’t confident, you could wind up accepting a low-ball offer. But there’s another reason you might get a bad offer: a lack of the basics.
While you can’t always predict someone’s negotiating skills until they’re actually negotiating, there are some basics everyone should know, including:
If your agent is going to negotiate on your behalf, then they need to know the basics and approach it professionally. Above all, they need to be prepared to do it in your best interest. That means they’re only working for you, which brings me to my fifth point.
An agent who wants to take a bite out of both ends of the deal can’t possibly be unbiased. Is your potential real estate broker trying to work for the seller and the buyer? While this is legally permitted, I just can’t get behind the practice.
I just don’t think it’s possible for someone to represent the best interest of both parties at the same time. The buyer wants a good deal, the seller wants a top price. Someone is going to lose out. You need an advocate who’s willing to give you bad news but from an unbiased perspective, which is another trouble spot to be aware of.
Agents should tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear. They shouldn’t claim they can get you a higher price for your park unless they have data to back it up. Portland might be a hot spot for real estate right now, but that doesn’t mean there are no limits. Regular housing is in much higher demand than commercial real estate, depending on the area. Downtown might be trendy, but the demand there is for apartments, while Sylvan Highlands residents are looking for houses. If you’re trying to sell the opposite in either market, you’re going to have trouble. Beware of any agent who never says no as they’re going to have the same problem when it comes time to negotiate with a buyer.
While optimism is a good trait to have, overconfidence isn’t. Your agent needs to be able to tell you when you need to come down on price, or when they can’t sell the park for you, rather than just holding you to the exclusivity period. I’ve found overconfident agents tend to slack off in the beginning, and then rush to sell your park at the last minute before their listing rights expire.
Selling in North Dakota is a lot different than selling in Oregon. Heck, selling in Portland is completely different than selling in its local rival, Seattle. You’re dealing with different demographics, competition, and even climates. Your realtor must have local knowledge specific to listing your mobile home park for sale in Portland, including:
All of this information is going to be key in selling your park. The more familiar they are with it, the more likely they’ll be to get it sold. They’ll also be better prepared to advise you when you have a question.
One of the earmarks of a bad broker is the answer, “I don’t know.” You’re going to have a lot of questions when it comes to selling your park, and not all of them are going to be sale specific. For example, can your agent tell you where you need to report the park sale in Portland? Or, specifically, can they tell you what to do if the residents in your Portland park want to compete for the sale? Portland is a high housing demand area, so any sales that impact the availability of housing are likely going to have some legislative oversight.
If your broker can’t answer one of your questions, they should at least be able to find out the answer or refer you to someone who can. They should be the expert on the deal. After all, you’re paying them to sell for you because you can’t do it yourself. They’ll know when it might be better to increase or lower your price, and they’ll have a good reason for it, rather than just citing no offers. Besides, sometimes they’re not getting any offers because they’re simply disorganized.
If it takes five minutes for your agent to remember what property you’re trying to sell when you call, you have a problem. I’ve found that a good agent knows what I’m calling about before I even say my name. That’s because they’re organized. They’ve saved my number and remember my property. They can tell you the current offers, inquiries, and deals they’re handling for you and where you’re at in the process, no reminder needed.
When agents are organized, they’re able to treat each of their clients like a priority. That’s the final red flag you’ll see when dealing with a bad broker or agent.
All real estate agents and brokers have to handle more than one property at a time. That’s a fact of life. But when they’re dealing with a client, that client should have their full attention. The problem is, a lot of commercial brokers and agents want repeat business, someone who’s going to be buying and selling multiple properties in the future.
Mobile home park sellers, however, are typically one-off clients, selling to a smaller pool of active buyers. If you can find a broker or agent that specializes in park sales, you’re golden. If not, you may run into problems because of how different these deals are compared to other commercial property deals.
While a lot of these red flags are only spotted through experience, some you can see in the early stages of choosing an agent. If they’re not returning calls or answering questions from day one, I can assure you that they’re not going to get any better over time. Your best bet is to find a more reliable broker, or a direct buyer like myself. At least that way, you can get a fair market quote and a quick evaluation of your park.
A direct buyer is a good option if you’re concerned about running into a bad broker or agent. As a direct buyer, my buying process is simple and seamless:
Agents and brokers can be a good resource for selling your park, but your best bet is to shop the park to a direct buyer like myself first. It’s a simpler way to sell.
If you’re thinking about putting your mobile home park on the market, I may be able to help. I’ve been in the business of operating Oregon and Washington parks for more than 25 years and can give a fast, fair estimate for sellers. Give me a call or shoot me an email for more information.