54. Mobile Home Parks: An Income-Driven Strategy With Ryan Murdock

 

You shouldn’t have to choose between cash flow and appreciation. Mobile home parks are becoming quite common investments for real-estate investors. Ryan Murdock, co-founder and strategic advisor to mobile home park syndicator, Open Door Capital, joins Jim Pfeifer to teach us how these assets can often generate more cash flow and appreciation than other multifamily investments. Ryan also talks about leveraging value-add opportunities that enable forced appreciation for mobile home parks. Listen in and learn more as Ryan lets us in on the secret to why he considers mobile home parks recession-resistant assets.

Listen to the podcast here:

Mobile Home Parks: An Income-Driven Strategy With Ryan Murdock

I’m very pleased to have Ryan Murdock with us. He is the Cofounder and Strategic Advisor at Open Door Capital, a company focused on mobile home parks. He is also on the BiggerPockets podcast three times. He used to be on the marketing team for BiggerPockets. He has his own portfolio of rental properties. He is also a passive investor and he lives in Maui.

Ryan, welcome to the show.

Good afternoon, Jim. Thanks for having me.

The way we would like to start is if you could talk about your real estate journey. You have an interesting story. I have heard you on the BiggerPockets podcast. Please share with our audience how you got to where you are and what happened on the journey.

I was in electronics manufacturing for the better part of ten years. I decided at that point I didn’t want to work a W-2 job until I was in retirement age of 65 to 70. I ended up finding real estate, some books, and a couple of podcasts. I started acquiring a small portfolio of small multifamily properties in Bangor, Maine. It was triplex. It was a couple of ten units scratched and clawed to put that portfolio together over the years.

Around the same time, 2008, I got my real estate agent license. I was a broker for several years. I started a property management company. I manage a lot of the same type of stuff, small multifamily, some slightly larger 40 to 50-unit complexes, and a bunch of mobile home parks under management. I did that for ten years or so.

It was around 2017 when I got partnered up with Brandon Turner from BiggerPockets. He was looking to invest in a mobile home park. I found one close to me that fit his criteria. We ended up partnering on that park. It was a small park, but we got some pretty attractive seller financing on it. It was a value-added property.

We spent 2.5, almost 3 years adding value, doing a lot of infills, and making many improvements. There is a ton of management inefficiencies that we were able to clean up and sold that park for a pretty tidy profit after only about two and a half years. From there, we got motivated and said, “Let’s get serious about this.” We both had a ton of real estate experience, but he said, “Let’s get serious about this mobile home park thing.”

I ended up moving out to Maui, which was a great change from the cold Arctic climate of Maine. Brandon and I were able to amass a talented, motivated team of real estate professionals. Some of them were industry veterans with a lot more experience in relevant areas. A lot of our team is younger, super motivated, highly energetic, a lot of times, very well educated, but don’t necessarily come from the real estate space.

They are quick learners, and they bring a lot of the financial, technical experience that we lacked in some areas. In the past years, we have amassed about $300 million in assets under management. We have got about 3,000 mobile home park lots and another 1,000 or so apartment units. We are in the middle of our fifth mobile home park fund. That is a long story condensed into a few sentences, but that is the gist of it.

I would like to go back to when you first got into real estate because it is always interesting. How did you figure out real estate is the thing? Were you not happy in your job? Did you jump 100% to full-time right there? Did you do some real estate while you were still working?

The relationships you build with people allow you to jump a little further to the head of the line.

I had to keep working. I was in electronics manufacturing, living in Southeast Asia. I decided I wanted to make a change. I came back to Maine. I took a series of W-2 jobs that I didn’t want, but I still needed to put food on the table, pay the bills, and get bank loans. By that point, that part of my head was completely checked out.

All I was passionate about was, “I need to do whatever I can to get out of this W-2 thing.” The old sneaking out in the parking lot, trying to wheel and deal real estate stuff on the phone during your job nights and weekends, and running around hustling. It took me probably three years before I could say goodbye to the W-2 job.

It was certainly not all passive income from my real estate, but being a real estate agent, running a property management company and still a million hours a week, it was all a means to an end. It all aligned towards what I thought was my final goal of amassing enough real estate to then hand it over to somebody else to manage and I could live on it passively.

It was a long, sometimes torturous 10 or 12 years down in the trenches of trying to scratch and claw when I didn’t have much money. It was all hustle and running property management single-handedly with a few hundred units is around the clock, no escape existence. At least at that point, it all aligned to my goal, unlike my W-2 jobs, which didn’t align to anything except another 40 years of doing that same thing. It was certainly a sacrifice in time and mental wellbeing, but it got me to the place that I’m happy to be.

I want to pivot a little bit. You had mobile home parks before starting the Open Door Capital with Brandon. How did you get into the mobile home? Most people that get into real estate start with single-family or small multis. How did you get into the multi or the mobile home park stuff?

It was more out of necessity from when I was managing real estate. I was not very excited about mobile home parks. All growing up, they were the laughing stock. Even in my adult life, they were still like crap. I did it as necessary to build out my property management company which I needed to do because I was still trying to buy properties.

I was taking on a lot of management that I was not necessarily would have been interested in as an investor or as a buyer, but it was a management account. They were good management accounts. I was taking them on, and slowly but surely, as I was working them, my eyes opened. It is like, “This isn’t the laughing stock we all thought it was. This is a pretty solid vehicle of investment. There are a lot of ways to add value and do well with these things.”

A lot of people that are in the mobile home park space came along with the same thing where it used to be that nobody took it seriously, especially over the past several years, it has become a super competitive market. People are seeing the value and the ways that you can add value. They are a legit and respected asset class now.

Can you talk about what makes mobile homes a good investment compared to other asset classes that are pretty popular, like multifamily or self-storage? Talk about what are the ways you add value to a mobile home park.

My favorite way to add value in a mobile home park that differs from other asset classes is the potential to infill vacant lots. It is not that I’m knocking on apartments because they are great as well, but if you buy an apartment complex, you are limited typically to however many units there are. You can go in and spend $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 a unit, and then increase the rents by a few hundred bucks a month. That’s great.

Mobile home parks differ because our target acquisition for a mobile home park is typically 60% to 70% occupied. Let’s say we buy a 100-lot mobile home park, and 60 of those lots are occupied. We are buying that park on its current value based on its current NOI. Even if that acquisition doesn’t cashflow tremendous amounts in its present state, we generally buy so they are cashflowing at least carry themselves at that occupancy rate.

PILF 54 Ryan Murdock | Mobile Home Parks
Mobile Home Parks: You need to focus on the chain of command and keep the communication open to make sure things are going well.

 

We have got a team dedicated strictly for infill. They are sourcing used homes, new homes, moving homes, and getting them set up. They are preparing the pads. In that 100-lot park where there are 60 occupied lots, we have got 40 pads that we will prepare, make sure the utilities are up to code, functional and safe. We will source homes to put on those lots and sell those homes off to tenant buyers. If they are used homes, we will renovate them and make sure they are turnkey and safe. If they are new homes, that is a lot easier to sell off to a tenant-buyer.

When a tenant buys that home, they are responsible for all the repairs and maintenance, upkeep, and utilities for that home. You are not plunging toilets and you are fixing anything in there because the tenant owns the home. What we have done is take what was a vacant lot when we acquired the park is generating lot rent, which can vary from $300, $400, $500, even $600 a lot depending on the market.

Almost all of that lot rent goes straight to the bottom line because there is very little overhead. We are responsible for the infrastructure within the park. There is management and there is some overhead. The majority of that lot rent goes straight to the bottom line. If we can do that across 30% or 40% of the park, that adds a significant amount of value both from a cashflow standpoint and an overall valuation of the asset.

We like that. We are often finding that the parks that are already 95% or 100% occupied were not competitive because there is not enough value add potential there. Those parks that have a little more hair on them are in a great market. The demographics and the underwriting pencil out, but it will take 2, 3, or 4 years to stabilize those parks. That seems to be our sweet spot where we are competitive and do well after closing to add that value as quickly as possible.

That makes sense that if you have these mostly vacant parks, it is adding extra units to a multifamily building. That doesn’t cost much to do. It surprises me that you can find parks that have that much vacancy. Why would a park have 40 unfilled spots, and how common is that?

It is very common. It almost always boils down to mismanagement, whether intentional or not. Maybe you have got a mom-and-pop style owner, and they are getting older. A lot of times, there is no debt on the park. Mom-and-pop is happy cashflowing in a very inefficient park. Sometimes, it is institutional ownership, they can’t find it, and they don’t have good third-party management, so the park goes down the drain. It almost always boils down to management inefficiencies.

We can step in and put a lot of focus. We do all of our in-house property management. We have got an outstanding team that deals with that. We are able to breed new life into a lot of these parks. The other thing I will add, too, on the infill component is, let’s say we have a park where we can infill a $25,000 home. It costs us $25,000 to acquire the home, bring it in, get it set up, renovate it and make it turnkey-ready for a tenant-buyer.

We would love to recover all of our money. Even if it is breakeven, we can sell that home for $25,000. Even if we take a loss on it, let’s say we take that $25,000 home and we sell it for $20,000 or even $15,000, which is unusual. A lot of times, we are willing to take that short-term loss. We have activated that lot rent which adds potentially, depending on the park, $50,000, $60,000, or $80,000 in value to the park for what is essentially a $5,000 “loss” on that specific home which is not something you can get in the apartment space in that scenario.

When somebody buys one of those homes from you, is financing available? They are not putting down cash for that. Where do they find the financing? Do you help them with that? Do they have to go outside and find financing?

It depends. There are a lot of different mechanisms to sell them. A cash sale is the quickest, cleanest, and easiest. We do have a fair number of cash sales. There are also third-party financing companies that specialize specifically in mobile home financing. The tenant will have to put a cash down payment to finance the balance. We also have some other creative strategies where we may do a lease option or a rent-to-own type of contract with the tenant-buyer where they have got a contract and a lease for their lot rent, and they have a separate contract where they are purchasing the home.

Is it hard to find new or used homes? Some of the mobile home companies I have been talking to struggle to find houses to do the infill. Is that region-dependent? Is that something you struggle with?

Passive investing with any sponsor comes down to the trust of the team that you’re investing your money with.

It can be. A lot of that boils down to relationships that we have built with manufacturers, wholesalers, and other suppliers. There are various auctions. There are all kinds of sources of homes. This still works. If you have a small park somewhere, search Craigslist or get on the Facebook Marketplace group for your area. They would pop up there.

We would have to rush a guy out to meet somebody in a parking lot with cash in hand and do the transaction to get the title and move the home. That is not scalable. We still will keep an eye on those things, but that is not scalable where we are ordering brand new homes, 40, 50, 60, or 80 of them at a time from one manufacturer, and then we have got to get them distributed to our different parks.

We have been at this for a few years. We have solid relationships throughout the supply chain, but it is still tough. There is a lot of people doing things similar to what we are doing. We have got a ton of supply chain issues with everything in the world, as everyone knows. A lot of times, a lead time on a new home, or you may be out 18 or 24 months, even if you are ready to buy, you have got cash in hand, and you want one from the manufacturer. That relationship we have with some manufacturers and wholesalers allows us to jump a little further to the head of the line.

You are buying a lot of parks with a lot of units. How does property management work? I compare everything to multifamily because that is what we do a lot. If you have a 200-unit multifamily, you can afford a full-time person. If you have 100 or 200 spaces in your mobile home park, do you need a full-time manager? Unless you are buying in the same area, which I’m assuming you are all over the place in the market you are in.

We are all over the place. It certainly is easier if we are acquiring a park near one that we already have and established. A lot of times, you can share those resources, whether it is management or maintenance, or both. Generally, every park has at least one onsite park manager. They live in the park, and their responsibilities are usually pretty light duty.

Most of the homes are owned by the tenants. There is not the onslaught of ongoing maintenance calls you to see with apartments. We have automated a lot of the rent collections. A lot of that is done online or through ACH, but showing vacant units or being the front line if there is some maintenance issue within the park like there is a leak, an issue with snow removal or lawn care, we have boots on the ground and eyes on what is going on.

All of our individual park managers are overseen by one of our regional property managers. Those are mostly based out of Atlanta. We have a few scattered around the country. Our regional property managers will oversee 5, 6, maybe 7 parks in our portfolio. There are onsite managers in all those parks. We have got a pretty good chain of command from the park level boots on ground people to the regional property managers up to the VP of property management.

There is a chain of command there. We put a pretty big focus on keeping the communication open through weekly meetings with everybody and video tours. We will send the regional property managers around to the different parks at various intervals to make sure things are going well. It is always toughest when we onboard a park because we are trying to clean up whatever mess that we are inheriting, getting the processes switched over, and getting the lots infilled. The heaviest amount of work is upfront. Once you get it stabilized and get the homes sold off to the tenants, it becomes easier.

What markets are you in? Is it scattered everywhere? Do you have favorite markets and places you are targeting?

It is scattered. We have parks in Alaska, Florida, and everywhere in between. We prefer the Southeastern United States. We tend to avoid states where it is tougher to do business, like California and New York. We will look at pretty much anything anywhere. We want parks that are only on public utilities.

We don’t want to deal with wells and septics. Although there are some great opportunities for other operators, we don’t want to deal with them. We want parks that are at least 100 lots or larger. We want to see a stable one. It is better if it is an increasing population of at least 100,000 people within 10 to 15 miles. A larger metro certainly is welcomed, but we have these hard stops on things to weed out what we don’t want in a hurry and try to determine what is worth a deeper dive.

PILF 54 Ryan Murdock | Mobile Home Parks
Mobile Home Parks: The heaviest amount of work obviously is upfront. But once you get it stabilized and you get the homes sold off to the tenants, it becomes easier.

 

Do you try to find mobile home parks with a lot of vacancies? Is that part of your target market because you are more competitive, or is that just gravy if you find it?

It is a delicate balance because we are more competitive generally on the ones that are 60% to 70% occupied. Anything a lot less than that becomes too heavy of a lift. It is real difficult to get financing on stuff. If you have a park that is 30% or 40% occupied or even less, it is a real challenge to get financing that you can live with. It is also a real heavy lift. Because we are raising money and having investor capital, we have promoted returns that we are trying to hit.

A lot of those deals that we see come through the pipeline. Let’s say it is a park that is 20% occupied. It is going to be a real heavy lift and it will not generate any cashflow for 3, 4, or 5 years. It is super capital intensive. It might be a great overall deal, but it is not a deal that checks the boxes that we need to satisfy investors and raise money on.

It is that balance of finding something that generates enough cash to satisfy investors, something that is not too heavy of a lift that is viable and attainable for us. Still, enough meat on the bone to add that value and not be so turnkey that we are not going to be competitive where we are dealing with massive institutions and REITs and those buyers.

It is a real sweet spot. I hear different numbers, but $40,000 to $44,000 mobile home parks in the entire US. When you weed out the ones that don’t meet our criteria, it whittles that down to probably a couple of thousand parks that we would even buy if we had the opportunity to, and how many of those come up for sale every year.

It is another thing that comes down to relationship-building with brokers and wholesalers and trying if something comes up that checks our boxes. We at least want to know about it and have a shot at it, whether we are a successful buyer or not. We at least want to be in the loop and have a chance of taking it down.

How does the financing work when you buy a mobile home park compared to a multifamily? Is it similar that you have agency debt or bridge debt? How does it work?

It is very similar. There are different players. The more stabilized the park, the more occupied it is. If you get something that is 80% occupied or higher and a nice well-managed, well-manicured, and well-laid out newer park, then certainly agency debt is an option. You get great non-recourse agency debt terms. A lot of the stuff that we are targeting and stuff that needs the infill is more localized banks, maybe small regional banks where the terms are not quite as good.

Maybe there is some bridge debt involved and seller financing to some degree if we can get it. That is all in our underwriting. We are like, “We have to take these slightly less favorable terms for the first three years until we get the infill and meet the requirements of agency debt.” We are going to refi into something with much more attractive terms.

Once you have a stabilized asset, financing is available. I didn’t know if mobile homes had a bad reputation in banking or something, but you are saying if you have it stabilized and it is in a good market, you are going to be able to get debt.

That has come a long way, too. You are used to not be able to get financing from anybody because everybody is laughing at it. Over the past several years, it is stepped up. There are some specific things to mobile home parks that are different. For example, a lot of them don’t like to give any credit to the valuation.

If you have to second-guess the underwriting of your sponsors, have at it. But if you need to do that, you probably shouldn’t be investing with them because you don’t trust them in the first place.

If you have park-owned homes, those are personal property. They are not bolted to the ground. The bank will a lot of times discount the rental income from those. Even if it is good and real money, they are going to disqualify that when they are looking at the debt service coverage ratio or even from the appraised value. They are going to back out the income generated from the park-owned homes. They are going to want to take into account only the income from the lot rent.

That is why you see a lot of this push towards getting out of the park-owned home business and getting those homes transferred into tenant ownership, in addition to not having to deal with the maintenance or any of the headaches that go along with it. A lot of it is financing-driven, where the banks will discount. If you have a 100-lot park and 80 of those homes are park-owned rentals, same as a rental situation you would have in an apartment building, the bank comes in and discounts the income valuation based on the home rental. You might have a huge disparity because the seller is maybe asking $8 million. He has got the point, and that is a fair valuation in his head, but the bank comes through. They discount all the park-owned home rentals, and they are like, “This thing is worth $3.5 million.”

You have got a seller that wants $8 million and the bank that says, “We are going to value this at $3.5 million.” There is a huge spread. Outfits like us are raising money. We can’t cover that difference in cash. It doesn’t make sense. That is why you see a lot of seller financing as well in the mobile home park space to bridge that gap between what the seller wants, what the bank values it, and what the financing is available for it.

When you look at parks, some have a lot of tenant-owned parks, and some have a lot of park-owned homes. Is that something you look at when you are underwriting the deal? If you end up with a bunch of park-owned homes, do you try to transition those over time? Is your goal to get all tenant-owned homes? Are you aggressive at that, or do you do it as it comes?

No matter how many park-owned homes there are, the goal is to transition them all to tenant-owned homes. We try to be delicate with that. We are not going to go in. I have heard of nightmare stories where operators go in, and on day one, they are evicting park-owned home tenants or they are forcing them to take ownership of it. We don’t do that.

We try to have some level of humanity with our tenant base. If you want to lower your rental cost, but you are going to take on this home either for free or for a payment plan, we will roll out different options for them. If they don’t want to take those, I don’t think we have ever forced anybody out of a park-owned home on that scenario alone for that. We will let them ride out their tenancy. When they move out, we will then take that home, renovate it, and we will opt not to re-rent it at that point. We will only sell it. That may sometimes take 2, 3, 4, 5 years or longer to get them all transitioned over.

When we are doing our underwriting, we try to make our best conservative guests based on the overall makeup of that park, how many park-owned homes, and what we have been able to do at other parks. We can usually dial it in pretty close as to what we are going to be able to transition every year. If there are too many park-owned homes, sometimes that kills a deal. It doesn’t work. We are not going to get high enough LTV and the right financing to make the deal work for us. It might be a great deal for somebody else, but it is not a deal for us.

It is so important to find deals that are within your wheelhouse, the deals that you want. There would be a lot of pressure when there are only a couple of thousand parks that even meet your metrics. There would be a lot of pressure to fudge it or go outside of your target. It sounds like you guys do a pretty good job of sticking with what your target is.

Fudging anything is a short-term gratification because that is eventually going to come back and bite you. Once that bites you and you bite your investors, good luck raising money again. As tempting as it can be to try to massage the numbers and justify that we can make this work, we have to be real careful. We raise money in a fund. If we have a fund where we have got 3 to 5 parks, maybe more, it gives us a little more leeway than single asset syndication where all your eggs are in that one basket. That specific asset has to meet your criteria. It has to generate profit and all the things you have promoted to your investors in a fund.

We can mix and match a little bit. We may put a park in a fund that is a little more stabilized, maybe in a better metro longer-term or better chance of long-term appreciation. It is 5 miles outside of Atlanta or it is in a real hot market, but not as much value-add, so low return, but less risk. We will pair that maybe with something that has got a little more hair on where there is a little more vacancy and a little higher risk.

The upside to this thing is huge where either one of those parks on its own would not fit our profile, but the blended mix of those parks allows us to buy them both. When there are 4 or 5 different ones, we can mix and match and fit ones that complement one another. It allows us to diversify within the fund over different geographic ranges and risk profiles of these parks. We can’t go crazy on either end of the spectrum, but it allows us a little more leeway to take down some deals that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to take on their own.

PILF 54 Ryan Murdock | Mobile Home Parks
Mobile Home Parks: It’s that balance of finding something that generates enough cash to satisfy investors, something that isn’t too heavy and is still attainable, and enough meat on the bone to add that value.

 

When you have a well-known target market, target property, or target mobile home park, that makes it easier for investors. They know most of the deals from you guys will be very similar. They don’t have to start from scratch, trying to evaluate it. That is super helpful to a passive investor like me. The next question is, if someone is going to invest in mobile homes as a passive investor, can you share a few metrics that you think we should look at when analyzing a mobile home deal? At Left Field Investors, we have a pretty good model for analyzing multifamily properties, but we don’t have all of the metrics for what we should look at for mobile homes. Can you share a few metrics that you would have a passive investor evaluate?

It is a lot tougher to underwrite a mobile home park deal versus an apartment deal. There are so many different variables, and it comes down to that level of infill. How many vacant lots? How many do you think that market will support every year? Are you buying new homes? Will the market only support used homes? Are you going to sell this for cash?

There are so many different variables. There aren’t different variables with departments as well but if you are trying to get into the nuts and bolts of underwriting a mobile home park, you are probably going to end up spinning your wheel. With mobile home park passive investing, as you would with any sponsor, it comes down to the team’s trust that you are investing your money with.

I’m heavily invested in Open Door Capital, but I invest passively in other people’s deals as well. Do I read through every word of the PPM and the executive summary? I will usually skim through it. What it comes down to is, I know the guys are doing this, and they have got a great track record. They have acquired and exited. I don’t know of any horrendous blemishes on their track record or capital calls or deals gone bad.

If there was a deal gone bad, there better be a good excuse for it. It comes down to the trust in the team. If you don’t trust the team, then don’t give me your money. That goes for any passive investment. Ask questions if you have them. Read through the documentation if you are that kind of person. The biggest thing is getting personal referrals and trusting who you are investing with.

We talk about that all the time. You brought up how do you vet a sponsor. You answered some of that. How do you get to the point where you trust somebody? You are meeting them for the first time. You are calling them up, “I’m interested in your deals.” How do you get to the point where you trust them, and you are going to wire them $100,000?

I would ask for a track record. If I were going in completely blind to anything, any asset class I would invest in, I would want to see their track record. If they were right out of the gate and this was their first deal, I don’t want to be a guinea pig for that. If you can show me a successful track record and provide references, or you can get references, that for me says more than anything else. We had struggled with that early on, honestly, with Open Door Capital.

We are still a new company. We have only been in this form for a few years. We don’t have a 15 or 20-year history. We have people on our team who have been around a long time. Brian Murray is one of our partners. He has got thousands of units and a decade-plus of experience and LPs and GPs. Individually, we have a ton of long-term experience.

It was a challenge at first to get people to take us seriously because no one had heard of us. We didn’t have that stellar track record. There is nothing you can do at that point except forge ahead. It did pose some hurdles for us, and I get it. I get hesitation and some things, but we have been able to exit some properties and provide some stellar returns. We are building that track record as Open Door Capital in this form.

That is everything I want to know. Even the passive investments I’m in, they are all with people I know personally, either I’m very good friends with or that I have seen at conferences and had dinners with. They are people I know outside of their investment projects. They are good people. I know a lot of other people respect them and speak highly of them. That, to me, is everything.

I have got a couple of those guys that when they say they have got a good deal and they tell me it is a good deal, at this point, the level of trust is there. I will look at the documentation, but I don’t need to. I’m going to give you my money. I know you are going to be better with it with your thing than I would. Here you go. It is tough if you are going in cold, especially if they don’t have a track record.

There’s no one-size-fits-all. Your investments really just need to align with what you’re trying to do and what your goals are.

I completely agree. When I was first getting into passive investing, I was doing all kinds of cold calling and talking to new sponsors. I have become part of a network. I have a community and met people. I have changed where I’m only going to invest with a sponsor if they are referred to me by somebody I already know, like, and trust who is already invested with them. That gives you a lot more confidence because these are long-term deals. These are so illiquid when you are investing in this indication. The trust of the sponsor is all you have.

If you are going to go ahead and try to second guess their underwriting, have at it. If you need to do that, you probably should not be investing with them because you don’t trust them in the first place.

There is a happy medium. You can look at the deal, analyze some of the things and look at the metrics, but you are right. You have to trust the sponsor, or you are not doing it. You said you invest passively. What asset classes are you investing in? I assume you also invest in the mobile home deals with Open Door Capital. When you are not doing your stuff, what asset classes are you into?

I’m a general partner with Open Door Capital. I have equity in all those deals. I also invest with Open Door Capital as an LP. I’m on both sides of it. A lot of us do. Brandon certainly invests. Brian invests in Open Door Capital deals. That speaks volumes about our confidence in the deal when throwing our own money alongside all the LPs. That certainly helps.

That may be another question you ask. If you are vetting a sponsor, are you guys throwing your own money into this, or are you taking my fees and your chunk equity and running away? When we are putting in hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, in our own deals, that gives people a lot of confidence that we are headed in the right direction.

Outside of that, I try to diversify there a little bit for all the right reasons. It is amusing because I like to have my hands a little bit of everything. I have got some apartment deals in Phoenix. I do a little bit of hard money lending to guys I know and trust who are starting up. That is generally a high-risk investment, but it is fun. I will do it very selectively. I usually go for a low LTV and a high-interest rate. For somebody starting out, I’m trying to give a helping hand.

I have got some more investments. I make hard money-wise with guys that have a decade-long track record and are very well-established. That, to me, is less risk. I’m invested in a couple of development deals with high returns but high risk, especially in this market. The rest of it is class-A apartment type stuff in various funds and standalone syndication. It is the same as everybody else, nothing crazy, but a little bit of everything here and there to diversify and help people out where I can and hopefully get a good return.

It depends on each person’s goals and desires. If you need cashflow right out of the gate, that is different. You probably wouldn’t invest in a development deal. If you don’t need the cash or the cashflow and you can hold out for a greater return, then you go with something that is geared more towards that. There is no one size fits all. It needs to align with what you are trying to do and what your goals are.

It took me a while to figure out that maybe a strategy would be a good idea because I don’t have a W-2, so this is all I do. I was investing in appreciation or development deals at the beginning. I realized, “I need cashflow.” There are different deals for that. You have to have a strategy and make sure that everything fits into what you are looking at. This has been awesome. I appreciate all the content you have given us. The last question I always ask is, what is a great podcast that you listen to? I know you are going to say the BiggerPockets ones because you worked there. Something may be other than BiggerPockets.

First of all, I need to update my bio because I no longer work for BiggerPockets. I did for a period of time. As soon as Open Door Capital got to the point where it was consuming too much of my time, I stepped back from there. I’m a BiggerPockets alumni at this point, but I still very much love that podcast. After being a podcast junkie for so long, I hit pause on all the real estate podcasts. I was immersed in Open Door Capital and our circle of friends and associates. The last thing I want to do when I have my free time is listening to a real estate podcast. I let them fizzle out.

I have been a Joe Rogan addict. There is a bunch of new content out that I wasn’t even aware of. It was researching this show which I admittedly wasn’t aware of. I started going through some episodes. I plowed through seven episodes of yours, and they are outstanding. They are great. This is on my rotation, and hearing some of your other guests recommend other podcasts that I’m not even aware of. I’m going to check those out. You have one episode, in particular, the Q&A. You had a guy asking about all the basic terms. That was phenomenal.

I have already sent that to a bunch of people on the Open Door Capital team, saying, “Here are some industry terms that everybody throws around, and not a lot of people have a great understanding of.” Even our VAs or our newer employees that are coming from a different industry, that is a great podcast. You did a good job, simply and smartly explaining all those terms in a real easy to digest format. I’m psyched to have found this show.

PILF 54 Ryan Murdock | Mobile Home Parks
Mobile Home Parks: Fudging anything is a short-term gratification because that’s eventually going to come back and bite you. And once that bites you and you bite your investors, you’re going to have a hard time raising money again.

 

Thank you. I appreciate that. It is always nice to get that feedback. If our readers want to get in touch with you or with Open Door Capital, what’s the best way to do that?

Probably our website is the easiest way to find me. It is ODCFund.com, or you can email me Ryan@ODCFund.com. I’m on Facebook and Instagram and all the other social media stuff. I’m pretty easy to find.

Thank you so much for being on the show. This was great. We don’t talk a whole lot about mobile home parks, so it is awesome to get some great knowledge from it. We appreciate it. We will catch up with you soon, hopefully.

Jim, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

I enjoyed that conversation with Ryan. I wish I could have done it in-person since he is out in Maui. Maybe we can work that out for the next time. Some of the things that struck me because I don’t know that much about mobile parks but it was interesting. The value-add component is the infill, which means they have vacant pads and they want to film with new houses. That is how they drive net income, which obviously then increases the value of the property.

With multifamily, you have vacant space and you can build more units. It is certainly not at the low cost of a couple of houses on a mobile home park. It is pretty common that people are pushing towards tenant-owned homes and that is what they prefer because then you are just renting the concrete that they put the house on. You are not dealing with toilets, the roaches, and all of the stuff that multifamily people have to deal with and prefer not to.

That is a great strategy. Speaking of strategy, the fact that they stick to their strategy of the metrics and type of homes they want, they have a narrow focus. They realize that there is only $40,000 or $44,000 mobile home parks. Of those, only about 2,000 fit their criteria. While he did say in the fund they may go outside of that a little bit, and they mainly focus on those criteria even though they know there are not that many parks and their opportunities won’t come up very often.

It is hard to do when you are running a business is to stick to what you know and want to do and stick to your targets without going outside of that, even though you still need to buy something. You can’t just sit there, not buying anything. That is a great strategy that they have. The fact that they are sticking to it gives me some confidence in them. I also like his responses on how do you evaluate a sponsor.

For him, it is just trust. That is huge for me as well. That is a great way to pick a sponsor. He is only investing with people that he trusts. You got to build that trust and figure that part out before he leave and move forward. That is great advice for people who are passive investing. It is awesome to have Ryan on the show. Next time we interview him, we will try to get a trip to Maui because that sounds fun. We will have a nice interview. That is it for this episode. We will see you next time on the Left Field.

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About Ryan Murdock

PILF 54 Ryan Murdock | Mobile Home ParksRyan spent 10 years in the electronics manufacturing industry before transitioning to real estate investing and property management in 2007 where he steadily acquired a solid portfolio of small multi-family rental properties. He has extensive management experience in many facets of real estate including retail, office, multi-family, HOA, and especially mobile home parks – including nationwide consulting and turn-around projects. In 2018 he co-founded Open Door Capital alongside Brandon Turner and Brian Murray. Since then Open Door Capital has acquired several thousand mobile home park lots and Class A apartment doors totaling over $300M in assets under management. In his spare time he is an avid scuba diver and adventure seeker from his home base in Maui, HI.

 


 

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