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Blackstone Bets On Manufactured Housing Market With Purchase Of 14 Communities

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Private equity giant Blackstone Group has reportedly made its first foray into the manufactured housing market with the purchase of 14 housing communities from Toronto-based Tricon Capital Group Inc

The deal was valued at $172M, according to people familiar with the transaction, Bloomberg reports.

Manufactured homes, manufactured housing community

Once an overlooked sector in the housing market, manufactured or “mobile" home REITs have become one of Wall Street’s quietest moneymakers. These communities, often referred to as trailer parks, have evolved beyond the negative stigma that plagued them in the past, with many resembling high-end gated neighborhoods today.

The manufactured-home market is benefiting from high demand from residents in search of more affordable workforce housing options

In 2017, the average price for a manufactured home ranged from $88K to $96K, according to Homes Direct — less than one-fourth of the average home price last year, which was about $403K in December. The U.S. is still undergoing an extreme housing shortage, particularly when it comes to affordable workforce housing. Most of the new deliveries entering the market are Class-A luxury units and are too expensive for blue-collar workers. 

Blackstone is not the only institutional investor to bet on the manufactured-housing market. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, acquired a large stake in Sun Communities Inc., one of the country’s largest manufactured housing REITs, in 2016; and Apollo Global Management purchased a majority interest in Gold River, a custom mobile-home maker, according to Bloomberg. 

REITs have outperformed the broad stock market this year, and manufactured housing REITs have outpaced their peers in the office, apartment and retail space in terms of total returns for the year. 

The FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs index, which tracks 173 publicly traded real estate investment trusts, saw 1.08% in total returns year to date as of July 26, according to Nareit data. Total returns for manufactured housing REITs as of July 26 hit 3.96% year to date, outperforming office (-2.28%), multifamily (0.63%) and retail REITs (-1.14%) for the year. Hotel and self-storage REITs have performed the best so far this year with 8.77% and 8.1% in total returns year to date, respectively.