Metro Phoenix’s most affordable housing is in high demand, not only with a growing number of renters but also with one of the world’s biggest real-estate investors.
New York-based Blackstone Real Estate Investment just spent $55 million for four Valley mobile-home parks, according to public real-estate records. That’s on top of the $120 million it spent last year snatching up nine mobile home parks.
Investors bought more than 50 metro Phoenix trailer and other manufactured-home parks in 2018, according to an Arizona Republic analysis. That's a record for the area.
The parks are a mix of new and old, and most are located near freeways or the light rail.
Many of the parks will likely be turned into more expensive developments like the Tempe Mobile Home Park next to light rail that evicted its residents last year. It's now being turned into a luxury townhouse development.
Metro Phoenix has a housing affordability problem that will get worse with fewer mobile homes, said Mark Stapp, executive director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.
The average monthly cost to live in a mobile home in the Valley is $618. That compares with more than $1,100 to rent an apartment, and metro Phoenix is leading the nation for apartment rent increases.
Just more than 5 percent of Phoenix-area households live in the area’s nearly 85,000 mobile homes, according to U.S. Census data. That compares with 1.8 percent in Los Angeles, 1.6 percent in Denver and 3 percent in Dallas.
Blackstone didn't comment on its mobile-home park acquisitions last year. But a spokesman for the real estate investor reached out on the recent purchases with this comment:
"We are committed to these communities for the long term, delivering the highest standard of professional service. We are investing in best-in-class customer care, facilities, and amenities to insure that residents have a great experience. To be clear, we will not convert them to any other type of use."
It’s not hard to see why it’s buying mobile homes in the Valley, where many parks have waiting lists.
Plus, few new manufactured housing communities are going up in the Valley, making the existing ones more valuable.
The publicly-traded Blackstone now has a deep stake in metro Phoenix's rental market, which is much less affordable than it was five years ago.
The big investor is also buying a growing stake in metro Phoenix’s apartment market.
Most of the apartments that the big investor is buying are not new and have more affordable rents that more Valley residents can afford.
Rising rents have left 46 percent of Phoenix-area renters paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing, according to a national study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.
Metro Phoenix’s growth will take a hit if its residents can't afford to live here.
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