Owned by Residents: A Manufactured Home Park Trend?

c510.exteriorIt’s a story that we often see under news about manufactured homes – a popular manufactured home park that has been around for decades is sold to new owners, and dozens of residents wonder if they need to make moving plans.

A version of that story appeared in newspapers around Taunton, Massachusetts, after the Oak Hill Manufactured Home Park was purchased. But this time the tale had a different ending – the residents bought the park themselves.

Could this be the start of a trend in the industry? Circumstances may not always be ideal for such a takeover, but what could be better for homeowners than having a greater voice in their community, as well as the security of knowing their land will always belong to them?

“We were on a mission,” one of the retired residents said. “You couldn’t stop the people.”

Obviously the biggest hurdle to such a transaction is the purchase price, which in this case was $10 million. It was safe to say that no one had that in his or her savings accounts. But that’s where ROC USA stepped in.

ROC USA (the ROC stands for Resident-Owned Communities) is a national nonprofit organization that helps residents buy manufactured home parks. It served as lender for the mortgage, and also offered a construction loan of nearly $1.5 million for additional infrastructure upgrades.

Added costs to the residents? About $37 a month. Any hike is never fun, but in cases like this it sure beats an eviction notice.

Today, Oak Hill operates like a co-op – instead of owning just his or her land, each resident owns a share of the entire park.

The new arrangement has produced an additional benefit as well – a sense of closeness within the community that has transformed distant neighbors into friends and colleagues.

Will we soon see more resident-owned communities? We would not be surprised.