Sam Zell is betting big on manufactured homes.
Zell’s Equity Lifestyle Properties paid $105 million for RVC Outdoor Destinations, an entity that operates six recreational vehicle communities, according to its fourth quarter earnings report. The firm also bought MHVillage, a listing website for manufactured homes, and Datacomp, which provides market-based valuations for them, for a combined $43 million.
Equity Lifestyle said it used cash, lines of credit and proceeds from stock sales to buy MHVillage, Datacomp and RVC, which owns 998 RV sites across at least nine states including California and Texas.
Zell’s move follows similar ones by Brookfield and Blackstone Group as firms chase high returns amid limited supply. Institutional investors accounted for 22 percent of mobile-home investment between July and September, the highest percentage on record, according to JLL.
JLL projected investment volume of mobile-home communities reached an all-time high of $4.5 billion in the third quarter. More than 100,000 new manufactured homes were probably built last year for the first time since 2006 as they emerge as an affordable alternative for people sidelined by the hot housing market.
Equity Lifestyle Properties, known for snapping up distressed real estate and turning a profit, owns or has controlling interest in more than 440 communities and resorts in 33 states and British Columbia with more than 165,000 sites, according to its website.