SELL YOUR MOBILE PARK DIRECT
Having been in the mobile home park business for 25 years, I know why people want to sell.

How to Choose a Realtor, Agent, or Broker To Sell Your Mobile Home Park

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.

Realtors, Agents, and Brokers: Is There a Difference?

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.

Real estate agents:

This is a person licensed to sell real estate at the most basic level. Each state has different requirements for what it takes to get a real estate license, but they all generally require the agent to have a set number of classroom hours from an accredited program. They also need to complete a final exam, which varies based on whether they want to sell commercial or residential properties. Agents must work under the supervision of a broker or broker sponsor.

Real estate brokers:

Think of a real estate broker as a higher level real estate agent. They don’t just sell properties, they also negotiate deals and supervise other sales agents. They’re permitted to work by and for themselves since they pass a higher level exam than agents. In some states, they’re also required to work under a more experienced broker for a period of years before they’re eligible themselves for the exam.

Finding the Right Broker or Agent for You

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:

Failure to contact or return calls:

One of the most common complaints you’ll see regarding agents and brokers is that they failed to follow up with clients. If you’re seeing this complaint voiced by several sellers, that broker may have too much on their plate.

Lack of subject matter expertise:

When looking for an agent, remember that you’re dealing with commercial property. Someone might have glowing reviews for home sales, but none for selling commercial properties. Even if their website says they do, if you can’t find any actual evidence of commercial sales experience, you’re better off moving on.

Complaints regarding customer service:

Real estate is a sales business. There’s a certain amount of people skills needed to be successful. If the reviews are filled with notes about rude staff or poor customer service, then your treatment likely won’t be any better.

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.

The Downside of Working with Brokers and Agents

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:

Lack of mobile home park specific experience:

A broker is typically going to have less experience buying and selling mobile home parks than the potential buyer. Brokers rarely specialize in MHPs, but buyers often do. This puts your broker at a disadvantage.

They cut into your profits:

A broker or agent is going to take a commission from the sale of your park, cutting into your bottom line. How much you pay in commission will depend on how much they do for you—whether they just connect you with sellers, or negotiate and complete the entire sale on your behalf.

They cause an experience tradeoff:

A broker is dependent on repeat business. As such, if you go to one as a onetime client, you’re probably not going to get as much attention from them. They may have the experience you need, but often not the time to work with you. On the other hand, you can work with an agent, but they’ll likely be newer to the commercial business and won’t have the contacts needed to get in front of the right buyers.

They could be more focused on closing the deal than working for you:

Brokers often require you to submit to an exclusivity period where they have the sole right to sell your property. Thus, they’re incentivized to get the sale done quickly. That speed could be at the client’s expense; the agent could be more likely to take a bad deal to ensure they close the sale. Or, instead of giving you time to update your park to increase profits, they may pressure you to sell as-is.

You can’t control the outcome for your park:

Most mobile home park owners I know who sell their parks want it to remain open. When you’re working with an agent or a broker, they’re going to connect you with as many potential buyers as possible and not all of them will be interested in keeping it open and operating it. Some may want to close the park, tear it down, and redevelop it.

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.

Selling Your Park to a Direct Buyer

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:

More profits end up in your pocket:

Agents and brokers take commissions. Direct buyers don’t.

The park can stay open:

Direct buyers that are owner-operators are looking at the long term. They usually buy parks to keep operating them, and try to hold on to long-term managers and tenants, creating a continuous stream of revenue.

You rarely have to deal with banks:

Most direct buyers are cash purchasers. That means you won’t have to deal with bank loan delays or issues where financing falls through. The direct buyer doesn’t have to get anyone’s permission to buy your park.

You can get a fair, no commitment valuation:

Most direct buyers, myself included, are going to give you a fair quote on your park with no obligation. That’s a good starting point for selling, even if you don’t work with the direct buyer in the end.

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.

joe-tobin

I’m one of those direct buyers who wants to give you a free, fair market quote on your mobile home park. Before you start searching for agents or brokers, give me a call or shoot me an email. Even if you decide not to work with me, I can give you the right valuation on your park that you can use to negotiate the best deal. I know why people sell. They want to simplify their lives. So I make selling your park as seamless as possible.

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