Jan 28, 2020
James: Hi, listeners and audience, this is James Kandasamy from Achieve Wealth True Valued Real Estate Investing Podcast. Last week, we had Rich Fishman(?) with 8,000 units. Almost half of which he owns by himself and he had bought over 20 years across five to six different states. And he gave us an outstanding overview of what happened during the crash of 2008. Was it true that everybody needs a roof above their heads? And that's what a lot of gurus are telling us in multifamily or is it true that multifamily has the lowest default rate? You will definitely need to listen to that podcast. Because he went through the whole downturn with all his multifamily(s) and came back up after the cycle and he gave a lot of awesome perspectives. Today, we have Kevin Bob. Hey Kevin, do you want to introduce yourself?
Kevin: Hey James, I'm excited to be here. Yeah, I'll give you the quick overview for sure. So, I have been investing full time in real estate going for on 20 years now and I got started like a lot of folks did with single-family investments. It was just what my mentor was doing. It's what he was good at and what he taught me and so I didn't reinvent the wheel. I did exactly what he told me to do and that evolved into multifamily investments and other types of commercial real estate. That led me up to the crash of 2008. That's a very challenging time. It kind of was reborn in 2011, 2012 and was introduced then to mobile home parks. Which is what we focus on today. So, for the past seven years now, we've been solely focused on mobile home communities. We own parks in thirteen different places throughout the US and that's our niche of choice as of now.
James: Awesome. Awesome. I mean, Kevin is being very humble. So, just to give you guys some background when I was in my W2 job, one of the first podcasts that I listened to was Kevin's podcast. I mean, the podcast is called Real Estate Investing for Cash Flow With Kevin Bob and it's an awesome podcast. It focuses a lot on commercial real estate and I really learned a lot when I was in W2 and I was listening to it in the car. Are you still doing the podcast, Kevin?
Kevin: I am. Absolutely. I do two podcasts. So, I do the Real Estate Investing for Cash Flow Podcast and then about three and a half years ago I thought it was a good idea to start a second podcast as if I wasn't busy enough already. And I started the Mobile Home Park Investing Podcast, which is specific to that topic.
James: Got it. Got it.
Kevin: James, I remember the first day we met. Not to interrupt you but I always joke with you every time I see you because I got a weird memory. I forget a lot of things but I remember the odd things and I do those free Friday calls. I've been doing it for like five years now. And I remember that's how you and I originally met. It was during one of those 30-minute calls on a Friday and I don't recall why I remember this part of our call but I had been making lunch with my Bluetooth in while we were talking about a multifamily deal that you were taking down in San Antonio, Texas.
James: Yeah, it was my second deal. I was buying 174 and have you found it on our yellow letter marketing campaign. It is very interesting because when you had your podcast, you announced it that you're giving thirty minutes of your time and I was like, ‘Wow, that's awesome. I'm going to talk to a celebrity.’ Right now, I do offer like fifteen minutes of my time for whoever wants to talk to me. You just have to send me an email at jamesatachieveinvestmentgroup.com. We're not big celebrities. We're just normal people.
Kevin: I get as much value from those calls as the person on the other side. That's how I like to think and you just never know who you're going to meet on the other end of the phone, right? I mean, that's how I that's how you and I met. You just never know and so I think that you have to keep that normalcy in your life and I enjoy those calls. I’ve met a lot of great people on the way.
James: Surprisingly, I still remember the day you called me and the moment you called me. I'm not sure why but that was like probably five, six years ago. And I don't remember my other calls.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah. I have been on for five years. Yeah.
James: Yeah, that's awesome. Awesome. So, I mean, I want to dive deeper into mobile home parks. I can see you have like a 150 million real estate transaction. Is it all mobile home park? How many parks do you own right now? And can you give those kinds of details?
Kevin: No, we don't have. Our current portfolios are not 150 million. That's just that's like my transaction for the principal. You know, investments over the years.
James: Thanks for being honest, Kevin. Because a lot of people misuse those big numbers to do their marketing and then we find out they don't have anything. They're probably on a passive investor and that's really awesome that you're being very upfront with that.
Kevin: Yeah, I’m the majority principal in the parks we own as far as on the GP side and things like that. So, we'll get that clarity out there as well.
Kevin: We're not really sellers. So, to answer your questions about what we own today. We've been teetering around like the 2,000 mark. We go above it. We go below. We have a park that going to be closed in a week and a half. We sold a park earlier this year and then we're going be selling one in probably February next year. That's in contract currently. We got one that we're closing on in 45 days, which is 215 lots and so we keep teetering around this 1900-2000 mark. We've really been evolving our portfolio by selling off some of the smaller properties and by selling off some of the properties that we don't really have an interest in scaling in a particular marketplace or maybe it's just one that just doesn't fit our model moving forward. I don't know how else to answer it other than that. So, that's where we're at today. We're really long-term cash flow investors, though. That really is our business model. It just as far as the selling side of things I like to take advantage of an opportunity when it arises. That's one thing I did not do before 2008. I never would sell anything and it came back to bite me at that point. So, I am not a seller. However, I will sell when the timings right the price is right.
James: Yeah. Yeah. Let's talk about that experience. Because I heard about that in your podcast and so you are doing single-family homes before 2008 and you were doing very well.
Kevin: And multifamily but mostly single-family was our focus. That was our business model. It's what we were very competent at. We had acquired a few hundred multifamily doors over the years almost by accident. We didn't really put much effort into it because deals would just come our way like small multifamily stuff. Thirty-six units forty-eight-unit type properties that we just kind of threw into our rental pool.
However, the biggest part of our model and the thing that took the most time and energy was a single-family. You know, buying the single-family rental properties and managing a portfolio across multiple different counties was just very inefficient. And it's unfortunate because I think we just got very complacent with our model. You know, we were we felt we were really good at it and we never took the time to be honest with ourselves about how inefficient that was and that we should have just taken our efforts and converted them over to multifamily at that given moment. I think that we would have fared through the downturn a lot better. The single-family properties… it wasn't really the single family that sunk us during the downturn. It was a whole mixture of ingredients. You know, Florida was ground zero for the crash. A lot of our properties, not only did they lose within a year but they also were upside down. Our leverage point on the front side was originally somewhere in between the 65% to 68% range. So, we were very low leverage. Most of them were upside down underwater within a year.
Another big thing in Florida that really was a major impact on us was there were a lot of speculative single-family builds happening back then. I don't know if you remember back in that heyday. I guess you could say that was back when a new build property in like Vegas or Phoenix or Southwest Florida would literally flip three times before it was ever even occupied. Before it was ever finished. It was crazy. There was like thousands of new home builds happening in Southwest Florida for a population that wasn't really coming in. So, the big nail in the coffin for us back then was a lot of these builders that had these properties who weren't selling and they started renting them out. And so now, they started pulling the populations away from our rental properties and they offered better incentives. Because what they had was a new product. So, we had an occupancy issue. We were under wonder water value and like it's just a perfect storm and it was ugly. It wasn't fun at all. And the banks at that point weren’t willing to work with us. This was like a year within entering into this downturn. The banks didn't have loss mitigation departments. They weren't prepared for this and so we struggled with a majority of our lenders to even do work out deals or loan modifications.
James: Yeah, I read some books about how the lenders can be nasty during the downturn but now they're super nice.
Kevin: I think they got a lot more flexible. Because they had to. In the first year of the downturn, no one knew how bad it was really going to get. It was like ‘Are we at the bottom? Are we at the bottom?’ I feel like that question was asked for many years before it's like, ‘wow, it's 2011 and it's still messed up like things are still fairly bad.’ You know, I think it took the bank's a while to realize that and they even put the infrastructure in place to manage all these defaults. It was a disaster for the banks as well. I mean, they had more defaults than… they had to build entire departments within their companies to manage this onslaught of default. So yeah, it was a challenging time for everybody.
James: Do you think you could have done better if you had a lot of non-recourse loans?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as far as my personal assets being attacked and things of that nature absolutely. And I think there is also a lot more flexibility with the non-recourse lenders to work with a borrower because they have quite a bit of leverage. You know, another thing that hurt us pretty badly on our part was a lot of our apartment properties and a lot of the commercial loans and a lot of times we would package up like eight to ten or twelve single-family properties and put a commercial loan on and it takes money out. That was kind of our model. A lot of that debt was shorter-term recourse debt. It was five years,you know, either resets or five-year balloons, twenty-year [inaudible10:23].
What happens we didn’t default on multifamily. However, after all the credits were going bad on the single-family stuff and we started having issues there. We couldn't get new loans when the time came due for them a couple of years later. We couldn't get any debt in place. We had to sell things for basically fire sale prices and give them away. We basically either gave it back to the bank or did some minor workouts, did short sales or had to sell at fire-sale prices. It is what it is. I learned a lot from that period and things move on and I've learned a lot from it. And I think I'm a stronger investor and a better investor nowadays because of it.
James: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, you brought up three or four cities that are very, very high growth right now. We’re at the late stage of this cycle. Which is similar to 2008 before that. They are Phoenix, Las Vegas and Florida, right. So, do you think we're in the same stage right now because they are one of the highest growth rental rates for multifamily? I would say I'm not sure how much you would be able to compare multifamily at that time.
Kevin: I think the reasons behind the crash back then are a little different. I mean, back then the lenders were so loosey-goosey. Because anyone could get a loan and I mean anyone. Even a waiter who just started the job yesterday. Who had no provable income could get a loan on a property. You know that that's one thing that hasn't gone back to the way it used to be, lending restrictions are still very tight. So, I don't think that we have that fear. I'm not an economist and by no means am I an expert here but I don't think our fear should be related to anything that was similar to back in the 2007, 2008 crisis and what caused that.
So, I'm not sure what it could be. I know that there's a huge demand for multifamily. There’s a pent-up demand for supply still in a lot of these markets based on population growth. I think that the bigger risk lies and like A class stuff or like some new developments as far as like, you know, the game of musical chairs. It’s about who's ultimately left holding the bag. I think that what you do as far as like BNC grade apartment complexes are very similar to our business and that as long as you provide a clean, safe and high-quality product at affordable prices. There's always going to be a demand for it no matter what happens. I'm a firm believer in that and that's played out time and time and time again and that you were making mention of the last guest you had on. I'm going to give listen to the show but what was his take? You know, what did he tell you was the ultimate outcome of his multifamily holdings through that downturn?
James: Yeah, it was very hard for him during that downturn. I mean, He has to cut down a lot of it and if I remember correctly the default rate was pretty high. It was like almost 8% where a lot of people did lose their property to the banks.
Kevin: I wonder if that was because they were over leveraged but I'm not talking about him though. I was talking about the operators. See that's it leading up to that recession and the last time people were overpaying for apartment complexes and if you recall one of the big the big hot trends were buying an apartment and doing a condo conversion. So, you saw people buying apartment complexes for valuations that had no relative nature to the actual NOI that was in place. It was all based on a pro forma exiting out as individual condos and a lot of those condo things failed miserably. Anyway, how did the guy you interviewed fare?
James: I think he was not talking about condo conversion. He was just talking…
Kevin: I mean as far as multifamily investments. How did he fare? How did his investment go?
James: He did say that it was pretty bad for him and for a lot his friends and who were buying at that time.
Kevin: Specific markets or…?
James: Across the country and he has been down twenty years right now. I mean, he has like a thousand units right now. The key thing is I mean everybody says ‘everybody needs a roof over their head.’ But he's a says that people become creative on how to get a roof above that they’re head. They double up. They live in their basement. So, it's not like everybody's going…
Kevin: Yeah. Well, I think another thing that changes is the quality of your prospect changes as well. You know, people lose their jobs. People miss payments on their credit cards. They get bad credit. They get into this revolving cycle or downward spiral. And so, although everyone does need a roof over your head, the quality of that prospect might change. It might actually deteriorate over time but what you can really get to fill that unit which a lower quality resident typically is going to equate in a higher turnover, rate higher expense and maintenance costs associated with running that property. So, I think that there are other factors that are derivative of a downturn even though everyone does really need a roof over their head.
James: Do you think the optimism that you had or the entire market had before 2008 crash like in 2006… I'm sure everybody was optimistic. Nobody knew about the subprime mortgage. Because nobody really knew in detail, right? Do you think that the optimism that people had during those few years before the crash is the same as now?
Kevin: There's some Deja vu that I've had and I think maybe a lot of that has to do with even just watching like social media feeds and things of that nature. A lot of the kudos and congrats are given to folks just because they like buy a property and that’s only a part of it.
James: They just started running. They haven’t done the marathon yet.
Kevin: It not what it looks like today but it’s can you execute the plan accordingly? What does it look like three years from now? Because you bought something doesn't mean that you've won yet. It's easy enough to get on the front side. So, that's a different form of that optimism.
James: Social media has increased the FOMO syndrome.
Kevin: Yeah, that's it. Success seems to be equated on social media to actually just doing a deal. Whatever it means to get the deal done: overpaying for it, over raising investor capital, putting capital your investors capital risk. I mean buying bad markets and I think that was a very similar sentiment that was shared by a lot of people back prior to the crash. ‘If we don't buy now, there's like anything left. We’re going to get priced out of every market and then will never own real estate. Let's buy whatever we can. Let's get that 95% loan.’ So again, the lending standards have not gone back to what they were then. Which was a big cause of that crash. But I do think that there's some Deja vu that I've had. You know, the FOMO thing… the fear that you’re missing out, that's real.
We've seen things be much more competitive over the past year. We bought nine properties last year and we wound up buying two this year. So, we did get side-tracked a little bit this year with building a property management company. And we that's another discussion but even then, I don't think we would have bought more than maybe three or four properties. If that was our sole focus but we're very conservative. I think we had seven or eight deals in contracts that we ended up killing… for various reasons. There just a lot of hairy things out there and you can make money with hairy deals but you got to really know what you're getting a deal go to.
James: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that the experience of going through the crash will make you’re really a conservative person, right? Because people have never gone through it [inaudible17:59] including me. I didn't go through it. So, I didn't know how painful it was, right? But I do read a lot of publications and try to feel the fear at that time. I mean, you can be too much of an optimist. I'm not so engaged in the height of optimism right now. So, you did single family and you went through this 2008 crash and suddenly you started doing mobile home park. Why that mobile home park asset class and why not go back to the single-family apartments?
Kevin: Well, it's a great question. So, I answer the second part of that question first about why not go back to like single family properties. You know, I finally had an internal point of reflection probably like two years after the crash started. There were a couple years where it was pretty challenging to even think about what was happening in my life. So, there were a couple years, I don't like to say that I put my head in the sand and buried it. But somewhere around, 2010 to 2011 I would go through like a reflection point in my life where I tried to look back and just really be honest myself like, ‘what I should have done differently.’ What I ultimately felt went wrong and I came to a quick realization and I kind of knew it back then. You know, you're comfortable and complacent you know we should have made the switch. Our model is very inefficient with the single-family properties. You know, running multiple maintenance crews and management crews amongst many different counties. You know, having a home here, a home over there, home over there, hundred something that way.
It was incredibly inefficient and it was very hard to scale. You know like just going out and trying to buy one by one by one and buying a hundred and twenty, a hundred and fifty, two hundred single family properties is a lot of work. That’s two hundred individual closings. That takes a lot of effort to make that happen. And you'll being honest with myself, I knew that those same efforts could have been multiplied like 10 x but by actually putting that effort into multifamily and that multifamily is much more efficient to operate. It could truly provide that cash flow and help me get back on top much faster than trying to go back into the single-family space. I didn't have an interest in the single-family. It was what I was taught at a young age and I rolled with it and I did really well with it. And then now, I felt more grown-up and it was time to make a big change in my life and I knew multifamily is going be it.
And so I went on this exploration journey, knowing that it was going to be multifamily. What I wanted to do, James, I wanted to go back and talk to everyone. I went on a six-month binge of interviewing and talking to everyone I could, locally and on the phone, who have either been in the multifamily and made it through the crash and you'll just get a sense from them how things have changed today? How the landscape has changed? I always spoke to those who just got their start. You know, what's their perceived notion of the next couple of years? What the lending environment look like? Where are they finding opportunities? Where was the risk?
I just wanted to get an update because I basically stepped away for years from real estate. And things had changed over those three or four years, right? And during this period, I was introduced to a guy named Randy through a mutual friend. And Randy had mobile home parks here in Florida. He owned three of them. He had been a banker for thirty years and I like meeting new people. So, I said ‘let's grab lunch. You’re local to me. So, let's grab lunch.’ And we did. I didn't go there with the intent of like, ‘I want to learn about mobile home parks.’ I just wanted to meet someone new who had been quite successful in their life. And that after like a two-hour lunch with Randy I walked away, saying ‘I'm going to buy a mobile home park.’ I need to either prove or disprove all these great things that Randy had to say about this niche and this asset class.
And that's what I did. It took me about 12 months. I bought a park up in Atlanta. We still own it today. It was a small part of a highly distressed Park and I bought that one and then I bought a second one and I bought a third one. I just spent a couple of years of my own money proving the concept. And then ultimately once we proved the concept and went full cycle on a few things. I went out and actually built a business out of it. Where we started hiring multiple team members and investors into the game and that's where we're at today.
James: What were the top three ‘aha’ moments from that discussion with Randy in that one-hour lunch that you had with him?
Kevin: Yeah, and this isn't to compare multifamily to mobile home parks. I mean, but this is what he told me. This is how his conversation went with me. He was like ‘You know, the bottom line being C class apartment complex is great. Everyone needs to roof over their head.’ Just like we talked about. Affordable housing is in high demand and that demand…
James: And what year was this?
Kevin: This is in 2011.
James: 2011 which is supposed to be one of the lowest and best times to buy. I guess, right?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely and so he went on to say that one of the big challenges with multifamily that he found in his career, and he wasn't a multifamily guy but from a theoretical standpoint was the turnover and you're turning 50 to 60% of your tenant base every 12 to 18 months. In mobile home parks, he's like, ‘95% of our residents owner their homes and it costs a lot of money for them to move their homes.’ So typically what happens, Kevin, is if they want to sell that home or they want to go somewhere else move. They don't move their homes. They just put their home up for sale and they move and go buy a home somewhere else. And basically, you never lose that lot rent. That lot rent continues to come in day after day and you don't have that down period like you might have an apartment and you don't have to that make-ready costs like you might have an apartment. So, that was one of the big ones. Another big one that really piqued my interest was the just really the barrier to entry and that there's really no new supply coming in the marketplace. You know, municipalities don't like our asset class. It's got a bad stigma attached to it. And so, no new parks being built and so if you find a good quality park in a great market, you don't have to worry about competition coming down the road. It’s not going to happen. It's just not a chance of it happening.
James: It's not like a straightaway somebody can just come and build something in front of you.
Kevin: Right. Right. Exactly. So, that was a big one. I liked that and then another big thing that he sold me on was just the management side of things. You know when the residents own their own homes you're not maintaining the roof, you’re not maintaining their plumbing, you're not maintaining their electrical. You’re not maintaining anything whatsoever that happens to their unit. They just like a homeowner, they call that vendor. They call the HVC company. They call the roofer. They call the plumber to fix it. You're not in charge of that. Our only requirement is to maintain the infrastructure. So, the roads, the water and sewer lines leading to the houses and the electrical infrastructure and that's pretty much it. And so I was like, ‘Wow, that's interesting.’ So, like low turnover, fairly lower management responsibility and very rarely is there ever a point in time where you have a down unit or a lot that's not paying you rent.
So, the fourth, you asked me for three but the fourth big thing that really sold me on it was He's like Kevin there's a lot of first- and second-generation park owners still out there. Either they built these parks or their father built these parks and now they're aging out. All of these parks were built in the 50s and 60s and 70s and these owners are getting very old. You know, like five years ago the statistics were that 85% of Park owners only owned one Park. And so, to me that means they're a mom and pop, right? They're not a big professional or institutional operator. And so, his point that he made was that these individuals have been working these parks not like you or I, where we run them like a professional company, but with their bare hands. They are working these things from day to day. And they're either getting old or their health is becoming an issue. They're getting tired and they're aging out of these things at a very fast rate.
And so, there's the opportunity to get in and run it like a professional. You know, get markets up to the market rate in the area and run it more efficiently and do a better job of collections and whatever they might be doing wrong there. So, that was a big thing that piqued my interest as well is working through that ‘mom and pop’ generation and finding opportunities that had a lot of meat left on the bone. Those were the big ones he threw at me and many others as well. But those are some of the big ones that just really sold me. I was like, ‘I’ve got to learn more about this.’
James: Yeah, that's awesome. When I learned about mobile home park, I went for like some three-day class and I really learned it. I love it. I mean, it's a really good asset class and I didn't want to do it because I believe in focus. I mean sometimes as entrepreneurs, we are like, ‘Oh, mobile. Oh, that's so cool. The self-storage let's go do this.’
Kevin: Shiny objects.
James: And I realized that to be really good at something you have to have focus. So, that's the one thing I wrote in my book, right? Whenever a passive investor chooses your sponsor make sure that your sponsors focusing maximum to asset class. There are so many details in this asset class but with this market being hard a jack of all trades can’t really make money.
James: Some of their mobile home parks are a bit small, right? I mean, it used to be like 3 million for like a hundred parks or something like that. So, we were like all in doing like large deals and we thought, ‘Okay, we're just going to stick with apartments and stay focus and make sure we get good at it.’ So, that's important, I think. And so, at a very high level can you explain how the cash flow is generated in a mobile home park?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. It's pretty straightforward. You know, we own the entire community and in a perfect world, this is how we’d like to own the community, where we own zero of the home. So, let's just give an example: we have 149 space mobile home park in Buffalo, New York. In that community, we own zero of the homes that are in there. There are 140 of those lots that are occupied with residents. Who again, they own their roof above their head and they pay us on average $428 a month in lot rent. They also pay their water and sewer; you bill it back for the trash usage. So basically, our job in that community is to maintain the roads and make road improvements as necessary. We cut the common areas of the grass. We trim trees throughout the community. Just making sure that the community or the subdivision is up kept and their responsibility is to pay us for the renting of the lot that they're homes are sitting on. That's it. We make money in that manner. That is the sole source of our revenue.
Now I’d say, ‘In a perfect world, we don't own the homes.’ Unfortunate, we're not in a perfect world, James, are we? So, we have our portfolio of approximately two thousand lots that we own and it changes every day. In somewhere between two hundred and fifty and two hundred and seventy of the mobile homes and some parks we own zero homes and in other parks around twenty. It just really depends on how that older owner who we bought it from was operating it. And so, our goal with those homes that we own is to get out of the ownership as fast as possible. And so, what that means to us is that we'll go in and we'll do a very nice builder-grade renovation on them. We’ll sure make everything is operating as it should and make them look good and ultimately try to sell them at a breakeven or we'll even lose money on the homes if we can find a cash buyer, who will come in and purchase. Who we know once they own it outright that they will be a very sticky resident and they'll end up staying there for a very, very long time. And so, our goal is really good to get it back to the lot rental model. Because at that point our management and our maintenance responsibilities are incredibly minimal.
James: Yeah, let me try to summarize this for the audience. It’s like a parking lot for a car, right? But it’s Just a car that doesn't have a wheel to move.
Kevin: We’re the home parking lot specialists.
James: You make a lot of money, right? Because I just own the land, right. The earth is one of the best business on earth.
Kevin: Yeah, that's a good way to put it. We are definitely a parking lot. Except the homes are very expensive to move… I don't want to say that's a great thing about our resident base because that's not the best way to put it. But typically we cater to workforce housing. That's what we have. You know, so good hard-working blue-collar folks. And the average single-wide cost about 5-6000 to move and reset in another the community and a double-wide 10-12,000 and the average folks who live in our communities do the average do not have that type of money lying around to move their home but some of them. And so normally, like I said what happens is that they sell it. Just like you would sell a stick-built home. They put it up for sale and someone else buys it and that person comes in and takes over the lot rent responsibility. So, it's a beautiful thing.
James: Yeah, it's a beautiful thing. So, just in terms of the lot itself are there any other issues with the city? Or do you just own the whole lot?
Kevin: Issues with the city meaning…?
James: So basically, you own the entire park. So, that whole thing is an SL real estate, right.
Kevin: That's correct.
James: The city doesn't own any of the things inside.
Kevin: Sometimes, every park is a little different. We have a few communities where the main road going through it is owned by the town or the city and we own the park. So, they maintain that one road. We have other communities where the water company direct build the water and sewer lines. So, when that park was built the local municipality handled the water and sewer and they literally put the lines and they own them. And we're not responsible for water leaks or anything like that. In most communities, we own the lines but there are some communities that are just anomalies. They are kind of stand alones, where we don't have to maintain them. Every park is different but normally, we own everything. For the most part, we own everything in the park and we have to maintain it.
James: So, do you get a lot of depreciation because you just own the land? Compared to like multifamily?
Kevin: You do. You do. You know, we did a bunch of cost ex studies last year and we were actually pretty shocked. In fact, Tom Wheelwright from Rich Dad Advisors… I didn't know that he's good friends with the person who does our cost ex studies. He personally reached out to me because he had never looked at a study from a mobile home park before and she shared one of ours with him. And he's like, ‘You got to come to my show. I'm actually baffled at the amount of depreciation that you guys able to gain.’ So, the infrastructure… So, all the improvements in the land. Most of the value of that property because we're not buying the homes. Most of the value is in the improvements of the properties. Because a lot of our property that we're buying it’s not like a path of progress. I mean, the dirt itself isn't worth the money. It's the infrastructure that's there that is really worth the money. And so I don't want to just off the cuff share with you some of the cost ex studies but it's a fifteen-year depreciation schedule. And I think we've been able to, on a couple of our deals, depreciate it like upwards of 60% of the actual purchase price within the first year. So pretty significant.
James: [inaudible34:57] the bonus depreciation.
Kevin: With the bonus depreciation.
James: Got it. Got it. So, is it fifteen years or is it similar to like twenty or fifteen? So, mobile home parks[inaudible], okay. That's something that I didn't know. That's very interesting, Okay. That's really good and what about what is the primary value at the mobile home park?
Kevin: Yeah, there are a couple big ones. I kind of classify them as like low hanging fruit, middle hanging fruit and then the high hanging fruit. Which is hard to get to. The low hanging fruit for us are simple operational changes. You know, the heavy payroll. We will go in and… they’ve basically got their family members and their cousins and their brothers on payroll and we'll go in and chop it down to what it really needs to be. That's very low hanging fruit for us. Some other low hanging fruit for us are just your rent increases. There have been many communities that we have purchased that literally have not had a rent increase in fifteen years or twenty years that’s a long, long time. And so that's very low hanging fruit.
Medium hanging fruit to us would be controlling the water and water sewer and other utility expenses. So, a lot of these parks when they were built back in, back in the day, water and sewer weren’t expensive utilities. They just weren't. It was included and was factored into the lot rent. You know, the infrastructure was new back then. So, there weren't leaks or wasn't waste or anything like that. Over time the infrastructure gets older and leaks that happen. People tend to abuse water. Water and sewer are expensive in most parts of the country. And that's normally a very large line on the PNL expense statement. And so, we'll go and we'll basically buy individual water sub-meters. They’re pretty advanced meters that are digital and have remote reads. And then we will install them to a lot and will essentially start building the residents back for their own usage. Proportionately speaking we will do the reads each and every month build them back. So, number one: we'll save anywhere from 20% to 40% of usage because people now get responsible very quickly when have to pay for it.
And then they'll all those savings basically good to our bottom line. So, it costs us a little bit of money but typically in a normal-sized Park, we will recoup that entire investment of the water meters within like 12-14 months. It's pretty quick. And then the high hanging fruit of the value-add side is infilling of new homes on to vacant lots and so a lot of communities that we own they might have some vacant lots of them. Some more than others. So, I'll give an example: we buy a mobile home parks 100 lots in size. It's got eighty that are occupied with trailers that are paying. The other twenty they were fully developed when the park was built. They've got infrastructure there. However, they do not have a mobile home sitting on them. We've got dealers license in every state that we own a park in and so we can buy wholesale from the retailers and the manufacturers. And we’ll go buy brand new home inventory and we'll bring it in and will basically create a retail program and find buyers for those homes to infill those lots. So, we'll buy the homes. We’ll bring them in. So, I say that's high hanging fruit because it's very capital intensive. It costs money to purchase a home and that money is tied up until you sell that home. So, there are different programs out there that help you to facilitate that but it's still very capital intensive. And there are a lot of logistics involved with moving homes in and setting them up and things like that. So, those are the big ones of how we add value to communities.
James: Got it. Got it and I believe the mobile home park homeowners compared to multifamily which are renters, right? So, it’s a completely different mindset when it comes to pride of ownership.
Kevin: That's it. That's it. That's why we try to convert them to a homeowner as fast as possible. I mean, you still have your homeowners who you have to kind of kick in the butt every once in a while, to keep your house in order, to keep the yard in order. We’re pretty strict with our screening processes and for the most part, the homeowners within our communities have pride of ownership and take care of their units quite well.
James: Got it. Got it. Got it. So, let's go back to the property management side of it. Because I remember when I was listening to your podcast about five years ago, you were always saying or the apartment guys had it easy. Because they have their own property management. They are more professional. Finally, after five years you are going to be moving your property management company under yourself. You going to self-manage, right?
James: Yeah. So, you guys do have it easy. All you have to do is pay it and just hand it off. Buy it and... Yeah, joking. I know there's more to it than that. So, up until a little over a year ago, we managed all our own assets in house. And unfortunately, the property management side of any business there's a certain size to where you can actually break even and we were nowhere near that size. And so, it was a losing endeavor for us. And so, sometime in the middle of last year we were introduced to a property management firm…. we’d never considered property management in the mobile home park space. Only because we were always told that the options of the companies that were out there were poor, very poor. And I was told so by many different people, many different veterans of the industry and so we never really explored it.
And so, we always manage it ourselves but last year we were in contract to buy a property up in Michigan. It was in receivership and the bank had engaged this management company, a national management company, a property management company that were mobile home park experts in the business forty years. They were engaged to actually manage the day to day of this thing while it was in receivership. We were buying a note on this thing and we got introduced to this property management company. We got to see them in the real world.
James: [barking] My dog has been like a... Alright, Kevin. So, one thing that I got to know since a long time ago is apartments have an easy way of getting into third party property management and buying it and giving it to third party property management. More recently, you have been trying to get your own property management company or maybe you already done it. So, can you explain why that is?
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. So, in our space it is not the norm to hand off to a third-party management company. I think we're like the redheaded stepchild or the anomaly of the real estate industry. Because pretty much every other asset class multifamily, office, retail, all of them have multinational property management companies and lots to choose from, right. They can choose from many different people in the space, best in class things of that nature. I had always been told in the mobile home park space by many industry veterans that it just doesn't exist here that there are only a handful of property management companies and most of them aren't very good. So basically, in the initial years of us owning parks, we managed it ourselves.
However, in order to build an appropriate property management company that's profitable, you have to have a certain scale and we were never there two years ago. We just weren't large enough. And so, it was kind of a losing endeavour for us. We're okay with it. But it was prohibiting our ability to grow at the scale that we wanted to. We were good at finding great opportunities and we were good at raising capital. The roadblock was actually the operations of all these different parks were buying.
And so just by happenstance, we were buying a note on a distressed property up in Michigan and it was in receivership. And during that transaction, we got introduced to the management company that was running the show and it was this large group. They've been in this space for 40 years. They are the largest fee manager in our business and they've had a footprint nationwide. And I saw them first-hand and it seemed like they were doing a great job within the first couple of months of us being introduced to them and of them managing this asset that was not yet ours. And so, I flew up and met their team and flew my team up to meet their team. I got to see their operations. I got to learn about them and everything seemed great. I mean, I was impressed. Again, they had a lot of experience… way more experienced than us in this business. They knew everyone in the industry. They knew all the intricacies of the business. They had different departments to manage those things whereas we were basically were trying to wear a million different hats. And it seemed like a perfect match made in heaven. And so, after another month or two of kind of testing them out on this asset. We were buying this and we said ‘You know, let's hand them the majority of our properties and let's see how they do.’ And we kind of did it like two different chunks. And long story short, they're great guys.
However, no one's going to ever manage your property like you would. No one's ever going to care as much as you do. And so within four or five months, we started seeing some pretty readily available signs that things were not going as planned. The promises weren't coming true. You know, decisions that should have taken three minutes to make were taking three months to make. Everything was moving like a snail's pace and nothing was getting done and we were actually regressing and it was frustrating. However, what happened during these first six months of us being with them is that we literally acquired like another nine properties. So, we doubled in size. So, unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as us making a decision saying, ‘Hey, we're going to give you our thirty-day notice and we're going to take it back in house.’ Because we surely did not have the infrastructure now to actually manage our assets because we literally doubled in size in a short period of time.
And so over the last six months, we've been kind of behind the scenes building out a legitimate property management company with systems and processes and in hiring new team members. We didn't want to bring it back in and fumble. We want to make sure that we brought it back in, we basically built our own best in class operation that we could do it better than anyone else. Whether it be for ourselves or current assets or new assets that we were buying. If we woke up one day and we ended up going crazy. We thought that we wanted to do a third-party management for other people that we would be best in class. I don't think that's going to happen. But that's what we've done over the last five or six months and that's actually side-tracked some of our acquisitions we've only bought two properties this year. We probably could have bought a lot more but anyway I guess long story short, James, is I'm somewhat envious of you guys in the multifamily space. Because there's a bar that set with property management companies and if one company is doing poorly you’ve got other options to go to and typically they kind of keep each other in line a lot of times.
And I know that they’re still never going to treat your property like you would yourself personally. However, You've got options and things that might not be working with one company you know that you could probably actually go and get served correctly at another company. We just didn't have that option. We just didn’t have that option. This was the once and done. There were other companies out there but these are the best in class and I'm like, ‘If these are the best in class, we got to build our own. Because there are other options for us.’ That's what we did. We brought it back and so that just happened on November 1st. That’s when we actually truly brought everything that had migrated back in was November 1st. So as of the time of this recording, it was like six weeks ago.
James: Got it. Got it. So yeah, it's a different ballgame, right? of course, it's going to slow down in terms of acquisitions because now you're also managing the property management. But I think overall, in the long run, it’s much better for you. Right?
Kevin: Absolutely, at the end of the day the amazing strides that we've made just in the construction side of our business and the marketing side of our business as far as like sales are concerned…like we've done more in the past two months then was completed in the past year. I'm not even joking. It's been absolutely amazing. So, I'm excited. I’m like, ‘Hey if I'm going to screw up, I want it to be my fault. I don't want it to be someone else's fault that our properties aren't performing.’ I'm okay taking accountability if they're not performing if it's me that's running the ship or driving the ship, right? But if it's another company and they're doing a poor job and we can't control it. I've got issues with that. So, that's kind of where we're at.
James: And I also think that when the market turns people with their own vertical integration will have a lot more leverage in terms of control, right? I mean a lot of property management companies are doing a mediocre job right now but they escape because the markets are super strong right now.
Kevin: That's right. The market props everything up.
James: When the market turns then we will know how good they are. Because now we have to be answerable to our investors and we have to go to third party. So, one other thing that I want to touch on about the way you do business a lot of times you raise money and not deal by deal but you use fund model. Can you explain what's a ‘fund model’? And why is that beneficial?
Kevin: Yeah, to keep it somewhat simple… I mean, it's really not much different than your deal-specific syndications other than the fact that we've got multiple properties that we're putting underneath that fund umbrella versus just one individual property. So, an investor is going to get their investment diversified amongst multiple properties and possibly multiple different markets rather than just one. So, simply put that really is the only true difference between probably how our business operates and how your business operates. The reason that we decided to go that route happened about three years ago…We were going into the end of the year and we had just founded Sunrise Capital Investors. As like a formal company, rather than just me and buying parks on my own. And we had a pretty stout pipeline and a lot of deals kind of fell apart. And we were like, ‘Oh, we only have two deals now. They're going to either going to close January or February next year. This is due to individual deal-specific raises.’ That's fine.
And then all sudden like within like two weeks somehow all these other deals came back to life and we all of a sudden had five deals that absolutely looked like they're going to close. We had like four to five money that went hard and anyway we're like, ‘Okay, well now we have five and they're all going to end up dropping like in the same like week or two. Logistically speaking, it'd be an absolute nightmare to try to do five deals specific syndications. Because of the paperwork and logistics behind it and then the legal costs associated with it and that just didn’t make any sense.’ They're going to close right at the same time.
I think there's more of a benefit for our investors to give them diversification amongst all five of these versus just one. You know, one individually. And so we didn't know what the feedback was going to be and we put it out there and it was well-received. So, it was great for us. It gave us a little bit more flexibility on the buying side. Gave them risk diversification amongst multiple different assets and markets and so it's been a win. So, we did really well with that. That was kind of our test fund and you're last, actually about eighteen months ago, we launched our second Fund. Which is a little bit larger fund twenty-million-dollar fund and it did the same thing. So you know, we're a little different, though. A lot of funds… a lot of institutional funds will go out and they'll get really aggressive. They'll raise all the money. Let's say it's 100-million-dollar fund to go out and raise I'll spend all their time and energy raising 100 million dollars. And once they've got the commitments for, let's say, maybe 75% or maybe more than that. Then they'll actually start going to buy it. You know, once that money's there and the costs of capital is very high. We didn't want the money sitting around idle.
And so, we just continued our building our pipeline and we would only bring money in tranches. So, we'd only bring enough in during that fundraising that we actually knew we're going to need or the next like two months to close deals. So, although it was an eighteen-month buying period over the last fund, we would raise it in tranches. Which meant our investor capitalism is sitting around idle, not collecting a return. We weren't occurring pref on money on millions of dollars that were sitting being around idle. And it just held us accountable and it held everyone accountable which I like. Our interests were very much aligned with one another.
James: So, you basically do capital calls whenever you need the money.
Kevin: That’s it. That's it.
James: These are good capital calls, not the other bad capital calls.
Kevin: Right. Exactly. Like the verbal soft commitments are there. And some of them might not come through but the majority of them do. You know, I think about 5% drop out of folks.
James: So, you basically make a verbal commitment. And when you have a deal, you say now let's make it hard.
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely and each one of these two funds that we started, we actually already had deals and contract going into them. So, it wasn't like we were raising a blind pool like, ‘Oh, here's what we're going to do. We're going to raise this much money, and then we're going to buy.’ It's like we got X amount of properties in contract right now. So, while there might be more properties in this fund, you can physically see and see the performers in each one of these. These are going to be properties that are in this fund. So, there's something tangible there. That's another thing so different about us and how we do these funds. We don't go into it blind. Where we're just raising money and then we're going to go do what we say we're going to do. We're actually doing it simultaneously but we've got deals coming in. We've got deals in contract money hard---
James: ‘Semi blind’ I would call it.
Kevin: Call it ‘semi-blind.’ That's a perfect way to put it. It sounds like a rock band.
James: Right, right. Right. Alright, Kevin, can you give some advice to people who are trying to start up in this business in real estate or even in mobile home park?
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. Trying to get started up I'd say go try to mute a little bit of social media because everyone's on social media now, but I’d try to mute a little bit of that and go find the one individual girl or gal who is actually doing what you want to do. They can prove to you that they're doing what you want to do. They're an actual GP. They're not they don't have five thousand units of very minimal shares as an LP and they're touting that. I know that's happening a lot out there. So, you know try to mute all that crap because I know it gives people anxiety. You know, like social media gives people anxiety because they see how everyone else is doing deals and ‘I’m like stuck here I can't get going.’ Just try to mute it out. Silence it and go find the James. Find guys like me. We're very good with our time. We’re not going to just give everything away for free per se.
We only have like so much time today but like find an authentic individual like us, I don’t want to tout ourselves here, who will actually like give you some real advice that can give you some proper guidance or at least give you some nuggets get on your way and let all that other noise go. Because I think that that that that bottlenecks people a lot. That fear of missing out man. That anxiety creates just this internal turmoil of like, ‘I'm missing out’ and then like you get nothing done right. You’re like, ‘I'm going all these conferences and I'm reading all these books. I'm doing all these things.’ And you feel like a…
James: And you pay big money to some gurus out there.
Kevin: Yeah and I think that a lot of folks’ mistake that with like productivity of …attending things like that. It's great. I do it all the time. You do it obviously. We're part of a mastermind together. But like you've actually got to like at some point get granular and you actually have to take some risk and take that leap. It's easier to do when you know someone like you or someone like me or there are other people like us. That one person who you can just kind of lean on and get some general advice from and get the real picture from as well. You know, what's real and what's not.
James: Absolutely, absolutely. Kevin, why do you do what you do?
Kevin: Why I do what I do? I really enjoy it as far as investing in real estate, I really enjoy it. I mean, I love the people I work with. I love our team here. I really enjoy being active and so everyone likes different parts of the deal like as far as what I do I'm not an Excel junkie. Not like my other partner he'll sit in from an Excel platform and run the model many different ways over like five hours. I want to shoot myself when I think of that. I'd rather be out in the field, I like executing on the plan. I like taking something from what it is today and actually seeing the end result of our hard work and effort over a period of six to twelve to eighteen, twenty-four months. And I also like seeing the smiles on the faces of residents.
When we take something that's been blighted and actually make improvements to it. Especially folks who have lived there for many years. That's pretty rewarding to be seeing that kind of stuff. Especially, you get the one residence like, ‘God, I’ve been in for twenty years and this place over the last ten years was just scary and I didn't want my family to come over. Now, I have dreamt of the day that it will be the back to its former glory.’ And I like that kind of stuff. So, I like the lifestyle that that real estate provides, right? I get to spend a lot of time with my wife and my kids and friends and family and things like that.
James: Absolutely and was there any proud moment towards your real estate career that you can never forget? That will stay with you. Is there one proud moment that you were like I’m so proud of myself.
Kevin: Yeah, actually there is one. It was the very first mobile home park that we bought. If you got time, I'll tell the story. It's probably two- or three-minutes story but anyway, I'll try to keep it short. We were buying a very, very distressed park in Atlanta, Georgia. It was in a good little town but it was in the southern part of Atlanta. Which was got hit really hard with the recession and was slower to recover because there were a lot of the new developments that were out that way.
Anyway, we're buying this park that had been receivership for two years. It was fairly poor condition. Lots of squatters, all kinds of bad stuff happening there. The chief of police and the mayor's office were right across the street like a catty-corner. They had to drive past this place every day and we got it tied up and it was a small enough town and corporate town that we actually got a meeting with the mayor and this entire city council including the chief and everyone. And we went in there with his grand plan of how we're going to literally spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean this place up and to improve it and make it a proud part of their community.
And we gave this big sales pitch to the mayor's like this really tall guy with a bald head and the handlebar mustache. He is a really mean looking guy and this was in Georgia. He had like a rifle on the wall and a fox. He was a very intimidating guy but he let us talk. Everyone's kind of looking like shaking their heads. I thought we were like getting their acceptance and he let us talk for fifteen minutes and then he looked at us and he said, ‘If you guys buy that park, you're wasting your money. Get out of my town. I've been trying to shut that thing down for years now and I'm not going to stop until it's completely closed down. So get the hell out of here. Take your money somewhere else.’
So, we walked out of that room and we and I looked at my partner I said, ‘What do you think we should do?’ Because we weren't getting financing, we were paying all cash for this thing, too. Because it wasn't financialable. So, it was like basically all the money we had at that point. We bought it anyway. ‘So, let's buy it. I mean what are they going to do? Listen, let's just show them what we're going to do. I mean, how are they going to truly stop us, right? Let's do what We're going to do. We know we're going to clean the place up. He doesn't believe us but let's prove them wrong.’ We did that cleaned it up. We became really good friends with code enforcement officer that's kind of that was our like our foot in. We got her gift cards and made her like us and it was a very very open with our communication to her. So, if there was ever an issue, we addressed it right away.
Anyway, twelve months later I got a call from Mayor Bobby Carter's that his name and we got a call from him and I answered I didn’t know it him and he said, ‘This is a Mr. Bobby Carter.’ He has a southern accent. He said, ‘I just want to take a moment to apologize. I want to apologize for the way I treated you guys. I want to apologize for thinking that you wouldn't be able to execute on the beautiful plan that you have done over here.’ It was a long apology and he's like, ‘I just want to take a moment today. I've been meaning to call you over the last six months as I've seen progress being made but it's a year later and this place is great and actually, one of my staff members lives there.’
James: He was holding it off until he had to tell you.
Kevin: That was pretty cool. He literally wrote me a letter then he wrote a letter of recommendation to another Mayor who we were having an issue within another state in another town. Basically, saying like, ‘I thought mobile home parks were the problem. I thought this and the other and that's not the case. And these guys proved me wrong.’ And that's pretty cool. I'm pretty proud of that one.
James: Yeah. It's a big change especially with one of your first ones.
Kevin: He was the very first one.
James: You must have been really scared. I like how come the is not behind your back.
Kevin: Well, we could lose that money either. I didn't have much at that point. In 2012, I was pretty broke back then. So, I had to make the money work.
James: That must be the fuel that launched your rocket and your motivation I guess.
Kevin: Yeah, that's it.
James: So, why don't you tell our audience how to get a hold of you and your company?
Kevin: Yeah, the best place to reach me personally is my website, Kevin Bob. You can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook as well. As far as our company if you want to learn what we're doing in the mobile home park space, you go to sunrisecapitalinvestors.com and get signed up there as well. We don't have an offering open today but get signed up. We have a secure portal and get updates from us when you know we have deals coming about and things of that nature. But other than I'm not too hard to track down. So, it’s pretty easy to find me on iTunes. I've got a couple of podcasts as we've mentioned earlier. You can find me in many different places. And now you can also find me on Jame’s show.
James: Yeah. So, thanks for coming. It was an awesome podcast. It was a lot of value that you gave us and I'm happy to have you on my show.
Kevin: Thank you. Thanks for having me, James. And it's been a pleasure knowing you. I appreciate all you do with the podcast. I know how much work it is to put these things out. So, thank you for taking the time to get back to everyone. So much appreciated.