Time ages manufactured home communities, and without a comprehensive plan for upkeep and upgrades, they will slowly lose their appeal and ability to compete in the marketplace.
The slow degradation often goes unnoticed by the day-to-day observer and community owner. It takes an outside observer and detailed pictures to bring the full extent of the problem to the fore.
However, an ageing community does not mean it's no longer viable or will never regain its charm. Incremental upgrades can act as a cost-effective solution to recharging your community's character!
If you're unsure what an upgrade or refresh looks like, it can range from basic image and appearance improvements to phased upgrading of the housing stock with modified home choices and siting.
Even though these upgrades are not always easily accomplished and often require a significant commitment from the community owner, once a plan is adopted, it results in a win-win proposition for the residents and the community owner alike. Once the residents see the positive results of the owner’s commitment, residents willingly participate and are the recipients of the increased value of their homes and pride in the community.
A community upgrade plan starts with evaluating the overall appearance of the existing community relative to items under community owner control. First impressions are important and drive the overall experience of the community.
I often find the best place to start when looking at ways to upgrade your community is the landscape and streetscape elements. Inconsistency in design, lack of green space and rundown amenities can reduce a community's vibrancy and attraction to potential residents.
A refreshed entry sign and additional landscaping around the entry sign will beautify the critical ‘window on the highway’. A stunning entry sign is an essential part of any owner's MH toolkit because often, it's the first introduction one has to the community.
Your community entry sign should have a strong statement and will set the theme for the community’s image. It's also necessary to establish a color scheme, repeating the colors of the logo and signage throughout the community. This color scheme can take form in wayfinding and street signs, or accent features placed in ideal locations that coordinate with the existing entry sign colors, style and logo.
Signs within the community should have a uniform appearance and evoke a welcoming feeling. Additional elements like fencing should act as a unifying component in the image scheme.
The clubhouse or community center is the heart of the community.
It provides a gathering space for residents and an attractive location for management to interface with the residents. The community center's location can add an attractive marketing feature in an area visible from that ‘window on the highway’.
Moreover, the clubhouse should utilize the established color theme and logo and remain regularly maintained. If the community does not have a clubhouse, we know from experience that it's an excellent addition to an upgrade plan.
Recreation areas and amenities are a significant component of the community as well. Consider refreshing the paint on older playground equipment or the installation of a new play structure.
Other amenities such as pickleball courts, bocce ball, horseshoe pits or sports courts are essential components to any community. An outdoor gathering space such as a pavilion or fire pit can offer other opportunities for the residents to socialize and enjoy their community.
Due to their nature, mailboxes in manufactured home communities tend to have an unappealing appearance and often end in disrepair. Even though replacing older units can go a long way, I recommend considering the addition of a mailbox shelter, which can add to the community's visual appeal. It also offers protection from the weather for residents during their daily ritual of retrieving the mail.
Even though it's easy to get caught up in large-scale upgrades, several small details can also go a long way in improving the appearance of a community:
The phased upgrading of the housing stock is another option. This is a more challenging way to upgrade a community. It involves evaluating the existing homes, ranking them, and determining which homes should be replaced.
It often involves displacing residents, at least for a time, to replace homes within the community. Phased upgrading can be disruptive for residents, but it can also significantly improve the value of the community.
Nevertheless, it's a subject deserving of an additional discussion dedicated to the topic. So, please keep an eye out for a future article that will provide an in-depth exploration of the phased upgrading of the housing stock.
With a wealth of options to choose from, you have several ways to “refresh” your community. Overall, quality is always more important than quantity, and it is vital to maintain your community in good repair.
With the right mix of improvements, your community can provide a better return on your investment. The Nadi Group can assist you with discovering the right solutions to upgrade your community and ensure its long-term viability. Contact us today.