The only thing most people know about selling commercial real estate is that they don’t know anything at all. I’ve met naïve sellers—but never a naïve buyer. The decision between working with a realtor, broker, or agent might seem like the only one you need to make when you’re ready to sell your mobile home park. But, if you’re a smart seller, you already know there’s more to it than that to protect your investment in your MHP.
I can assure you, from 25 years in the buying and selling business, that most park sellers are under prepared. Commercial property sales are an entirely different animal than residential ones. They’re more business oriented because people buy for profit, not emotion. Successfully navigating all the unique steps necessary to sell your mobile home park is going to be a lot easier with the right person on your side. There’s no substitute for experience. Step one, then, is to find someone with the right experience.
Until I started buying and selling property a few decades ago, I thought realtors, agents, and brokers were one in the same, meaning a person licensed to sell property. But those different titles are actually pretty important. They tell you something about the person behind it—and their level of knowledge in the real estate buying and selling industry.
Loopnet is a valuable resource to find contact information. If you decide to hire an agent or broker, it’s probably one of the first places they’re going to list your mobile home park for sale. So, do the reverse and search the site for real estate professionals who work with properties like yours in your local area. Before you call an agent or broker, use the tools available to you to check licenses, read reviews, and look for any objectionable history like:
A little research can save you from a lot of trouble in the long run. But even with a good broker or agent, know you’re still going to face some challenges specific to selling a mobile home park.
If there’s ever a time when you don’t want to live and learn, I’d say it’s when you sell your MHP. No one wants to hire the wrong person or get lowballed out of their park. What really separates agents from brokers is their level of responsibility. An agent will generally work on single sales, managing them on an individual to individual basis. A broker, on the other hand, will be selling to businesses, real estate investment trusts, and other entities.
While real estate agents usually deal with clients on a one-off basis, brokers are incredibly dependent on repeat business. Mobile home park owners who are trying to make a sale are going to find it challenging to deal with both brokers and agents for several reasons, such as:
The thing about being a mobile home park owner is that it’s a unique way to own commercial property. I got into the business for the investment, but I’m also attached to my communities. That’s why, in some cases, the best option for selling your mobile home park is to sell it directly to a buyer, especially if that buyer is a park owner and operator.
I’ll tell you a secret about what happens when you go to a broker or agent with a mobile home park for sale. They’re probably going to try to sell it direct. They might even call me, if it’s in an area I buy in. That’s because direct buyers are the most flexible when it comes to park purchases.
Most of those direct buyers would offer you a quote outright if you just asked them. I know I would. So really, that agent isn’t doing anything more for you than you could have done for yourself. All they’re going to do is take a commission off the top for the trouble of making a phone call. If you make that call on your own, you could reap the benefits for yourself:
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go with an agent or broker when selling your park. What I am saying is that they shouldn’t be your first, or only, stop. And never go to an agent or broker without a good idea of what your park is worth.