Major financial investors on Wall Street have set their sights on a new target for acquisition, buying up mobile home parks across the country only to raise the cost of rent and other fees that mobile home owners must pay.
The Daily Caller reports that such investors include private equity firms and real estate investment trusts. These buyers have turned to purchasing mobile home parks and raising rent for tenants who are either stuck at a low income or are actually disabled.
One state that has been affected is Minnesota, where out-of-state purchases of mobile home parks nearly doubled between 2015 and 2021. In 2015, just 46 percent of the state’s mobile home parks were purchased by out-of-state buyers; in 2021, that percentage skyrocketed to 81 percent. Over the course of that six-year period, rent at such parks rose by as much as 30 percent.
In Iowa, Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bellus claims that the number of complaints from mobile home owners has increased “100-fold” in recent years.
“These industries, including the mobile home park manufacturing industry, keep touting these parks, these mobile homes, as affordable housing. But it’s not affordable,” Bellus said to the press. “You’re putting people in a snare and a trap where they have no ability to defend themselves.”
Another state that has been devastated by this trend is Montana; one such park is Havenpark Communities in Great Falls, which has seen the cost of rent rise dramatically since 2020. One resident, Cindy Newman, said that her monthly rent had previously cost just $117 in 2020; since then, it has gone up to $400.
George McCarthy, CEO and president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, revealed that corporate investors have been spending the last eight years buying out mobile home parks to try to reach ownership of 20 percent of all mobile home lots in the United States. McCarthy particularly blamed the lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for backing many of the investment loans that ultimately led to these mobile home purchases, with Freddie Mac approving $9.6 million in loans across 44 states since 2014.
But a spokesman for Freddie Mac defended the company’s actions, saying that the loans approved by the company accounted for less than 3 percent of all mobile home park purchases nationwide, adding that most of the loans were for “refinancing” purposes.