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Book About Appraising MH Communities Debuts

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Robert S. Saia, MAI, a director at Valbridge Property Advisors, announced the launch of “Appraising Manufactured Mobile Home Communities and Recreational Vehicle Parks,” the first book of its kind to constructively analyze this subject matter.

Published by the Appraisal Institute, this book defines the complex legal, physical, and economic challenges facing owners of mobile home communities and RV parks. It also provides appraisers with a broad overview of this fast-growing segment of real estate which requires a degree of expertise to understand.

“Nearly 8 percent of Americans live in manufactured home communities (mobile home and RV parks),” said Saia, “which amounts to 38,000-plus mobile home parks and 9,000 to 10,000 RV parks. Once thought of as low-quality housing, this real estate segment is now being built with many upgrades including nice landscaping, sidewalks, pools, saunas, tennis courts, recreational facilities, security features and other amenities that make it comparable to a good-quality, site-built subdivision.”

Saia notes that manufactured homes make up a substantial part of U.S. housing. He comes with a unique set of social, legal, and environmental aspects that appraisers need to know about because they differ significantly from typical site-built housing in the U.S.

Manufactured homes’ popularity is due, in part, to the enormous cost savings they provide. Saia said it costs approximately $93 per square foot for a site-built home while a typical manufactured home runs about $44 per square foot.

Additionally, RV parks are now offering new upgrades, like Disney’s destination park which offers live entertainment, swimming pools, golf courses, marinas with boating and fishing, high-quality restrooms, and showers, and the availability of the requisite dump stations.

In this book, Saia explains that while mobile home communities and RV parks are high-risk endeavors, they also typically offer higher rates of return over other ownership holdings when properly managed. However, operators and appraisers need to be aware of any local ordinances that govern this type of real estate, which can differ state to state and county to county.

“RV parks in particular require a high degree of business acumen,” Saia said. “You want your appraiser to be a specialist in this area because of all the nuances of manufactured homes. It’s important to have an appraiser who really understands these properties when they are doing an appraisal because it’s a business entwined with real estate.”

According to Jim Amorin, MAI, SRA, and 2017 President of the Appraisal Institute, “Saia’s book, Appraising Manufactured (Mobile) Home Communities and Recreational Vehicle Parks, provides appraisers with a broad overview of the mobile home and RV industries and the methods used in valuing mobile home and RV communities. Because this book provides insight into the methodology applied in analyzing these properties, it can also be useful to investors, regulators, owners, and buyers and sellers of mobile home and RV parks.”

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