UPDATED: August 2, 2016 1:30 PM — An investor couple from Idaho bought a Lake County mobile home and RV fishing camp property earlier this month, with plans to morph it into a trendy tiny home community.
Black Bass Resort on Haynes Creek at 10402 C.R. 44, between Leesburg and Eustis, sold for $1.3 million, according to a deed recorded in Lake County on July 1. William D. Cairnes sold the 2.3-acre property to SKAI Investments LLC.
Cairnes also financed the purchase for the new SKAI owners, Bruce and Shari Chatterton from Meridian, Idaho, according to a mortgage document recorded the same day for $1.23 million.
Realtor Travis Sawchuk of Coldwell Banker's Commercial Crown Group, who was the transaction broker for the deal, said the buyers are experienced owners of mobile home properties. They own another park in Wisconsin.
Sawchuk says the owners plan to eventually convert the park to a tiny house haven. Tiny houses are often custom-made houses small enough to be mounted on trailers and easily moved from place to place. Much smaller than traditional mobile homes, tiny houses have become a trend of late, helped along by HGTV's Tiny House Big Living series.
The half-acre parcel is on Haynes Creek, near a lock that connects boaters from Lake Eustis to Lake Griffith. While the parcel is small, Sawchuk says there is 1,800 feet of waterfront, and the purchase includes a small island with a gazebo.
Sawchuk, who owns the mobile home park next door to Black Bass, said small unpretentious mobile home parks can be good income producers for investors. He said the parks provide workforce housing for those who can't afford a stand-alone home or an expensive apartment rent.
"We are 90 to 100 percent occupied 90 percent of the time," said Sawchuk of his own Spillway mobile home park.
It took some sweat labor by Sawchuk to get the deal done. He had the listing for about a year before the sale and the buyers said they wanted some buildings removed, and the on-site bait shop cleared out before they would purchase the property. So Sawchuk did the work himself to bridge the divide between what the buyers wanted and what the seller was willing to do.
"I rented the 30-yard dumpsters and actually ran the loaders, and the loader that took down the buildings. In two weeks we tore two buildings down, pulled two trailers off the site," he said. "I piled up the debris and cleared and leveled the ground, and recycled the materials."
He also held a two-week "garage" sale at the bait shop to empty its contents.
"That was the performance that had to be done," said Sawchuk. "You have to be clever in commercial real estate."
New owners the Chattertons said there is still some more work to be done to spruce up the park, and do some rebranding. Currently it has six cabins that are nice efficiency apartments, as well as 26 mobile home spots.
The couple is looking at bringing in either new retro-looking mobile homes or smaller "park model" modular homes that are factory built.
"We really envision a mixture of transient weekly rentals and actual village-like atmosphere for people who live there more permanently," said Bruce Chatterton.
They are considering opening up the park to Airbnb and VRBO renters after it is spiffed up.
"It's a very beautiful setting there," said Chatterton. "It also provides affordable recreation as well, fishing and boating."
The Chatterton's envision a new market for mobile home parks with the millennial generation, who have latched on to the tiny home trend and are shedding themselves of excess possessions.
"The idea that mobile home parks could be cool again, that it would be hip is pretty surprising, but it makes a lot of sense, it really does," said Chatterton.
Editor's Note: This story was updated on Aug. 2 to correct the spelling of Travis Sawchuk's name.