Business

Investor buys Coralville mobile home park, will raise rent 11 percent

Havenpark Capital buys Western Hills Mobile Estates

An empty lot stands where a mobile home resident moved away once residents were notified that their lot rent would increase at the Golf View Mobile Home Park in North Liberty this past June. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
An empty lot stands where a mobile home resident moved away once residents were notified that their lot rent would increase at the Golf View Mobile Home Park in North Liberty this past June. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CORALVILLE — Havenpark Capital, the Orem, Utah-based investor that earlier this year attracted ire for buying mobile home parks and hiking tenants’ rent, has made another Corridor area acquisition.

Through a subsidiary, the company bought Western Hills Mobile Estates in Coralville for $7.5 million last month, on Oct. 10, according to county property records.

The 72.1-acre park has 286 lots, per its website, and previously was owned by Stephen Ravitz and trusts in the names of Gordon and Last family members, property records show.

In an emailed statement Friday, Havenpark confirmed plans to raise lot rents by $40, or approximately 11 percent, to $400 on Jan. 1, 2020, a figure it says is “in line with local market levels of other communities.”

“Havenpark has already acknowledged and rectified its initial missteps related to rate increases at other Iowa properties earlier in the year and has adopted a more measured approach as we move forward,” the company said in its Friday email.

Havenpark advised park residents of the change last month, in accordance with Iowa’s 60-day notice requirement for rent increases, the company said.

The company also plans to invest $500,000 in improvements to Western Hills, starting next spring, including tree trimming, landscaping, a new playground, a picnic pavilion, a remodeled residents clubhouse and road repairs.

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The Coralville purchase brings the known total of Havenpark-owned mobile home parks in Iowa to seven, amounting to $45.2 million with previous purchases dating back to last fall.

These include Golf View Mobile Home Court in North Liberty, Sunrise Village in Iowa City and West Branch Village in West Branch, plus parks in Huxley, Indianola and Waukee.

Havenpark has announced rent increases shortly after acquiring almost all its previous parks to date.

The company agreed to stagger 58 percent and 69 percent increases at Golf View and Midwest Country Estates after tenants — several identifying as low-income, elderly or disabled — organized into residents associations and sought support from elected officials, including presidential candidates.

So far, Havenpark said, it has spent more than $900,000 on improvements in its North Liberty and Waukee parks, including on infrastructure, tree work, landscaping, new playgrounds, a dog park and a remodeled tornado shelter.

Plans for picnic pavilions, new mailboxes, signs and lightning are scheduled for spring 2020.

Havenpark previously has said its improvements for those two parks would amount to “well over $2 million.”

Before Havenpark’s website became private this spring, it said the company owns 25 mobile home communities encompassing around 5,000 home sites in nine states.

Financial filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shed light on Havenpark’s rise in prominence as a mobile home park buyer since 2016, when it began launching annual numbered Affordable Communities investment funds.

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That year, Havenpark sought to raise $5 million from investors to acquire parks — a goal that doubled to $10 million in 2017 and quintupled to $50 million in 2018. The company reported it would seek an “indefinite” sum for its 2019 fund.

The Private Equity Stakeholder Project and two partner groups suggested in a February report that mobile home parks appeal to private equity and real estate companies because their residents have few affordable housing alternatives, with many finding it “nearly impossible” to move their homes and avoid rent hikes.

On archived versions of its site, Havenpark representatives said, “We only acquire properties that generate a significant target cash flow from day one and have ample upside opportunities that will allow us to significantly raise the value and cash flow of the property in any market — good or bad.”

As to future mobile home park purchases, the company said, “Havenpark is always reviewing opportunities, but we have no additional announcements regarding purchases in Iowa at this time.”

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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