Mobile Home Parks And Tenancy In Common, With Ashley Tison

Mobile Home Parks are a unique property type with exciting growth potential. Meanwhile tenancy in common is a unique property ownership arrangement those in the world of multifamily should be aware of.

Ashley Tison, Co-Founder of joins the show to explore these topics and more.

Click the play button above to listen to the conversation.

Episode Highlights

  • What Tenancy In Common is, and why it’s relevant for investors.
  • What caused TICs to become less popular.
  • Why mobile home parks are a unique, and potentially lucrative, multifamily investment.
  • How Ashley approached improvements and property management for past successful investments in a mobile home park.
  • Which current trends in multifamily are intriguing for Ashley.
  • The story behind Ashley’s latest mobile home park project in an Opportunity Zone in South Carolina.
  • Key lessons Ashley has learned during his time investing in multifamily properties.
  • What’s next for OZPros and Ashley himself.

Industry Spotlight: OZPros

OZPros helps commercial real estate companies create their own OZ Funds, and advises investors with significant capital gains tax exposure on how to make investments that reduce their tax burden. 

Learn More About OZPros

About The Multifamily Investor Podcast

The Multifamily Investor Podcast covers trends and opportunities in the multifamily real estate universe. Host Scott Hawksworth discusses attractive offerings in the space, including direct investments, DSTs, opportunity zones, REITs, and more.

Show Transcript

Scott: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the “Multifamily Investor Podcast.” Scott here with you. Excited about the show today because I am joined by Ashley Tison, who is the founder and president of OZ Pros, and that’s, which is all about opportunity zones and helping folks with getting opportunity zone funds set up.

And today we’re going to be kind of covering a lot of different topics. We’re going to be talking about tenancy in common, or TIC. We’re going to be talking about multifamily, of course, mobile home parks, and, of course, we’re going to be touching on some opportunity zones as well. So, let’s dive right in.

Ashley: Tin-can ATMs mobile home parks, Scott.

Scott: Exactly. So, Ashley, welcome to the show, and thanks for being here.

Ashley: It’s a pleasure to be here, Scott. Thanks for having me.

Scott: Yeah, absolutely. I know we’ve done other podcasts before, so it’s always a pleasure to have you back on and to be chatting with you. So, to kick things off, I want to start with tenancy in common because this is something I’m eager to learn more about. So, what is tenancy in common, and really, I guess, how is it something that multifamily investors might want or need to know about?

Ashley: So, I’m going to spare everybody the law school explanation of the bundle of sticks, right, that represent, you know, a property interest that you can convey. But I think that most people know about fee simple title. And inside a fee simple title, right, that’s usually the way that you own property. And in a typical investment, when somebody makes an investment with a fund, per se, let’s say, and that fund then goes out and buys a piece of property and they improve it and then, you know, they turn it around and they ultimately sell it, typically you’re an investor in an LLC.

And so, you’re making an investment directly into a partnership, in that case, as opposed to a direct investment into the property itself. Well, if you do that, you’re not eligible to bring in 1031 proceeds. And so, based upon that, when we saw, you know, the big real estate kind of run-up and the kind of mass transfer of properties that were happening, you know, post-1031, when people realized that they’d get 1031 assets and, you know, kind of kick the can down the curb on the taxes, is that we saw a lot of interest from folks that wanted to use their 1031 proceeds but get into assets that may be a little bit bigger than what they could do, right?

So, they wanted to be able to tap institutional-grade assets but utilize a smaller amount of money. And so, there’s actually a guy named Darryl Steinhause, and we used to do a bunch of work with Darryl. He’d be a great guest for the show, by the way.

Scott: Oh, I love it.

Ashley: Yeah, exactly. Tell Darryl I said hello. And Darryl got a revenue procedure ruling from the IRS that said that if you took your 1031 money and you invested as a tenant in common, which means that you come into the deed and you’re actually listed on the deed itself, that you could roll 1031 money into an asset that way. And so, literally, it created a whole industry, you know, where people were putting together TICs.

And I joined a TIC sponsor back in 2005, it was the go-go days, back before the big real estate boom and then the real estate bust. And we were buying everything that we could get our hands on, namely because what we were effectively able to do is to buy kind of commercial-grade shopping centers by the gallon, and then we were able to sell them to 1031 investors by the scoop.

And so, you know, there’s obviously kind of that little markup, right? So, we were able to become the fund sponsor, and it worked for us, and it worked for the investors really well because they were able to take $100,000, $150,000 tickets, right, that they had coming off of 1031s and they were able…

Scott: And get that access.

Ashley: Yeah, exactly. And they were able to put those together and be able to buy a multimillion-dollar shopping center. So, that’s kind of the whole nature of, you know, tenant in common. What it exactly means is that you become a tenant in common on the fee simple title. And so, you could have up to 35 TICs, is what we abbreviated them to, and they could join together to basically own a shopping center.

Now, TICs kind of went the way of the dinosaur after the real estate…you know, the great recession of 2008 and 2009, and they were gradually replaced by a Delaware statutory trust, which is kind of a legal vehicle that allows you to accomplish the same thing in the form of that revenue ruling that allows somebody to take 1031 proceeds and invest it into a real estate deal.

And so, there’s a lot of DST, you know, multifamily DST kind of, you know, funds. And it’s not technically a fund because you’re not investing into a fund, per se, you’re actually investing into the property itself with your 1031 proceeds.

Scott: Right. And it’s passive, right? So, you don’t have to actively be managing it, which I know, you know, for lots of investors, they love the sound of that because they don’t want the headaches of the active management, right?

Ashley: That’s exactly right. And interestingly enough, and it’s really great that you honed in on that, because by very definition, in order to be considered a tenant in common, you have to be passive. So, TICs cannot…they cannot engage in normal development activities. That’s actually forbidden by the revenue ruling that came out.

And so, you know, in order to truly be a TIC, you actually have to truly be passive and you can’t be taking on any activity that would otherwise be kind of an active deal, like development. And so, you know, TICs, we always had to buy something that was already cash flowing, and to the extent that we were going to develop something, we’d have to peel that off and then do it in a separate entity.

Scott: That’s fascinating. And so, then you’d say, overall, though, DSTs really have kind of replaced that these days?

Ashley: Yeah. From a kind of commercial standpoint relative to, you know, folks out in the market out there actively advertising these deals, putting these together and, you know, marketing them via broker-dealer networks and that kind of thing, you know, the lion’s share that you see are DSTs.

Now, people still do tenant in common transactions all the time. And it’s usually a way that you can work around if you need to kind of come up with a creative, you know, ownership structure. And we’ve used it in a couple of situations where we needed to get creative on that about how we actually delineated the ownership of the property.

Scott: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. All right. Well, thank you for breaking that down. I feel like…

Ashley: Absolutely.

Scott: I know a heck of a lot more…

Ashley: So, hopefully, that wasn’t too law schoolesque, right. I didn’t get into the…I wasn’t…

Scott: That wasn’t, no. I’m sure you could get really into the legalese of it, and you did not.

Ashley: Painfully boring like my property professor when I was at Chapel Hill Law School.

Scott: Just sitting there, just trying to…

Ashley: He was great. He was great. I loved him. In case he’s listening, but…

Scott: A lot of great information, just not always the most excitingly delivered, right?

Ashley: Yes, sir. That’s exactly right.

Scott: So, okay. Shifting gears, I want to talk about multifamily, and specifically, you’ve had a lot of experience with mobile home parks, which I find fascinating. On the show thus far, we’ve just been talking a lot about more traditional multifamily units, and I think that this is a really compelling area there. So, could you speak a bit more about your experience there and sort of what that side of the multifamily industry involves, really?

Ashley: Yeah. Whenever I start talking about mobile home parks, I always have to tell the story about kind of how and why I got into them. So, I was wholesaling houses, and I had a couple of bird dogs out who were running down properties for me. And this guy had sent out a bunch of handwritten letters to mobile home park owners. And he came to me, and he’s like, “Hey, listen.”

He’s said, “I got two responses back.” He’s like, “I’m going to buy one.” He’s like, “But I can’t buy the other one. Do you want to buy this mobile home park?” And I was like…well, I was like, “I don’t really know anything about them.” I was like, “But I’ve heard, you know, that they could be a good deal. So, yeah, I’m down. Let’s try it out.” And so, I went to my dad, and I was like, “Hey, dad, let’s give it a shot at this thing.” And my dad’s terms were unbelievably onerous about what he wanted investment-wise, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Scott: That’s another podcast.

Ashley: Exactly right. But we were able to come up with the cash, and we went to go buy this mobile home park. And I was a little nervous as I was kind of headed towards closing. So, I went out to drive the property, just to be like, “All right.” I just wanted to make sure I get a good feeling when I’m out there. And as I did, I went out and I saw this big, like, rezoning notice, and I was like, “Uh-oh, what’s going on?”

Right? And so, I go back to my computer once I got home. Didn’t have the whole, like, Wi-Fi and that kind of deal then. This is back in 2005 when I bought it. And I pulled it up and I pulled up the rezoning notice, and it was for a mixed-use center directly across the street from my mobile home park, which was…I mean, it was green fields at the time, right?

And so, I was like, “Man, how quickly can we get to closing?” And it was funny because, you know, this was pre-recession. Post-recession, that center didn’t end up going in. And actually, it’s not even there right now. They ended up putting a car dealership across the street. But thus began kind of my journey into the mobile home park world. And, man, did I get a Ph.D. education from that park and, you know, the three additional parks that I ended up buying over the next couple years.

It was a fascinating experience because, you know, you’re dealing with a different clientele, right, when you’re buying a mobile home park, because usually, there’s a reason why somebody wants to sell it. It’s either been mismanaged, or somebody’s died, or something like that. Every single one that I had had some kind of story like that. So, on one, there was a person that died, and so, I bought it from their kids.

On one, it had just kind of had gone into mismanagement. And so, on each one of those, it presented its own kind of special, unique set of circumstances. But what I found out real quickly is that mobile homes are basically a levered land play. And that was a great thing about buying it, is that I’ve effectively got, you know, these kind of…you know, they’re personal properties.

So, they’re literally vehicles that are on the property that have titles to them, just like a car, and I’m renting those out, and then I’m also renting out the dirt underneath them. And what I found out really fast is that I do not want to own the vehicles. I just want to own the dirt. And so, on every park that I bought from then on out, we actually literally almost…we gave away the cans.

We called them cans, right, aluminum cans, that are the mobile homes. So, we gave away the mobile homes if the tenants paid their rent on time because it was more advantageous for us to get the money in the form of lot rent, which carried a much lower cap rate and it involved much less kind of maintenance and all that kind of stuff.

So, if you hear one thing from this podcast about mobile homes, get rid of the mobile homes. Just own the dirt.

Scott: Right. Don’t worry about that. Focus on the dirt. Huh?

Ashley: Exactly right.

Scott: So, then what other aspects, I mean, when you would, you know, make this purchase, would you try to, you know, improve the lots in some way? Like, what kind of… I guess, what even goes into that and making it, you know, better and obviously having it be a growth driver for you?

Ashley: Yeah. So, and one of the things about the mobile home parks that I was buying is that, you know, there is nothing that goes to crap faster than a mobile home park that it is not being well managed, you know? So, you get weeds growing up, you get, you know, tenants that keep trash out. If you don’t enforce the rules, I mean, it will be a nightmare really fast. And so, the first thing that I did was I went in and established rapport with the tenants, right?

Let them know that there was kind of a new sheriff in town, that the sheriff was friendly, but the sheriff was firm. And so, I personally went around and introduced myself to everybody. And I’m 6’8, and so, you know, it’s not…and I’m a friendly guy, right? I like to laugh and I like to smile and that kind of thing, but people knew that I’m in business and that I meant what I said.

And so, if they would do right by me, I would do right by them. And I communicated that to them, that, “Listen, pay your rent on time and we’re going to be fast friends. And I’m going to come in and I’m going to get this place cleaned up, and we’re going to turn this into a place that you’re proud to call home. When your kids get off of the bus stop, they’re not going to be embarrassed getting off the bus.

They’re going to be…they’re going to, you know, say, ‘All right.’ You know, ‘I like this place and…'”

Scott: Coming home to their community.

Ashley: Exactly. It became a community as opposed to, you know, something that that was kind of an eye sore. And so, you know, part of that was, too, is that, you know, a lot of times there were some seedy characters in there and there were numerous ones that I had to flush out. You know, I had a meth lab we had to get rid of, right? And we had to literally completely get rid of the trailer.

I had a tenant that burned down a trailer. I had tenants that… So, in the context of that, right, you get to see the really, really interesting side of human nature. And I mean, I had guys pull guns on me. I had them send dogs after me, you know, all that kind of stuff.

And so, you know, it was definitely not for the fainthearted, but, you know?

Scott: It was an experience.

Ashley: Exactly. With a little bit of, you know, of stick-to-itiveness and just consistency, right? And doing what I said, and saying what I did. And my team doing the same thing, we were able to turn those around and then ultimately to sell them down the road and to sell them for a substantial profit. So, it worked out extremely well. Yeah.

Scott: Yeah. And I think that there’s also this sort of positive feedback loop that can occur when you’re taking care of the property and you’re building this community that’s going to make people, you know, more eager to say, “Yeah. I’m not missing a rent payment. I’m not missing this.” You know, “I want to take care of my place, and I’m happy to be here.” Right? And that all helps when you’re trying to put it together, right?

Ashley: Yeah. Exactly right.

Scott: So, now, I know you have…there’s an opportunity zones deal that you worked on with a mobile home park recently. Could you speak a little bit to that?

Ashley: Yeah. Absolutely. So, as part of kind of coming out of the mobile home park industry, you know, I knew a bunch of people that were involved in that. And there was a gentleman who had bought a mobile home park that was actually on the water in Beaufort, South Carolina, and he had removed all of the mobile homes. And then they had gone back to the county and they had done a condo overlay on it to where they still had 15 lots that were available.

And per zoning ordinances down there, you’re able to get a cottage and then you can also do an accessory dwelling unit, and you can also end up having to keep an RV there as well. And so, we bought that piece of property, you know, to go back and to ultimately go back with manufactured houses, but manufactured houses that don’t look like your typical single wide.

These are really cool, kind of quaint cottages that ultimately make themselves an excellent candidate for Airbnb. And so, we came back with this concept of where you have an RV pad and then you’ve got an accessory dwelling unit that can be like a garage apartment that also can be Airbnb’d, and then with a three-bedroom, two-bath cottage.

And so, it becomes a place where people that have RVs can bring people that don’t have RVs, their family that doesn’t have RVs, or it can be people that just need a place to stay and they want to be on the water, with a great view and with some great amenities. And what it became for us was an opportunity for us to take what was kind of, you know, I guess, a kind of a lower-end asset, and for us to scale up into that, you know, horizontal hospitality component to be able to grab that Airbnb premium rent and to advertise it out through that so that we can utilize kind of the current need for hospitality assets in places like this but also for it to be a recession-proof mitigator that in the event that that goes away, that we can turn it back into more affordable housing-type deal, right?

To where we can rent it out for long term, we can utilize it for, you know, kind of different means. And so, it became really exciting for us as kind of proving this concept out where we can have, you know, a number of units and then we can create kind of an amenity package around that to where we become almost a destination in and of itself.

And so, for RV-ers that want to come and bring their extra family, they can do that. We can accommodate a wedding, and we can sleep up to 300 people on site, and people can rent out all the amenities, with the pier, and boats, and all that kind of stuff. And so, we became a destination in the context of this kind of horizontal hospitality play. And that was what really excited me.

From kind of transcending and taking mobile home fundamentals, which are that once, again, it’s a levered land play because I’ve got very temporary structures that are there. I can get those structures on site very quickly, and we can get it rolling. And so, we closed on that property in October 6th of last year. And we’re going to have our first renters there actually before Valentine’s Day.

So, in under four months, we’re in revenue on an opportunity zone project, which is really exciting.

Scott: That’s fantastic. And I also love how you mentioned that there’s that kind of recession proofness to it because you can always change tack if all of a sudden it seems like, you know, as we saw back in 2020 and into 2021 where, you know, travel shut down and things like this, you can always kind of pivot if you need to, right?

Ashley: Well, another piece of that is, is that, you know, this kind of concept is that it’s…I don’t want to say it’s COVID-proof because I don’t think that anything’s COVID-proof after having been through COVID.

Scott: No, of course not.

Ashley: Yeah. It’s certainly a mitigator, where we have kind of modules, right? To where we can put people, if they want to kind of shelter in place or, like, with their own little bubble, they can travel with their own bubble and they can rent as many of these individual places as they want. They can rent two cottages, three cottages, or they can rent out the whole place if they wanted to. And so, it becomes kind of a cool…almost like Legos, to where it gives you a lot of flexibility to be able to break it out, where you can put people in different places and you can allow them to kind of build their own experience.

Scott: Right. And then this is done in an opportunity zone, and it’s through OZ Pros or related to OZ Pros?

Ashley: So, OZ Pros was an endeavor that Jimmy Atkinson and I founded back in 2019, and it was to democratize access to opportunity zones. We wanted to become the LegalZoom for opportunity zones to allow main street America to take advantage of what, I think, is probably the most incredible tax incentive ever legislated by our government.

And so, we created a set of forum documents and we created a process where people can get educated about opportunity zones, they can get their entities formed, and then they can continue to do opportunity zones. So, as part of that, we put together our own fund. We called it the OZ Pros Insider QOF, where with a select group of folks that we knew and that we had interacted with, helping set up their own funds, we were able to kind of consolidate some resources through that and put together this initial deal inside of both this asset and then another hospitality asset down in Puerto Rico that were the initial projects for our fund.

I think we’re probably going to end up focusing more on this type of asset going forward and maybe a second fund that we roll out this year that we’re going to launch and try to really blow up to make it to where we’re doing these types of horizontal hospitality assets and opportunity zones across the country.

Scott: I love it. And then these are, you know, fantastic assets themselves, and then you just add that wrapper on top of it, I mean, that’s just a winning recipe right there.

Ashley: Yeah. It’s killer. And, you know, the great thing is, is that, once again, it allows us to be really modular and flexible. Actually, as part of one of the investments that we made with that fund, we made an investment into a tiny house manufacturer who’s actually making some of the cottages that we’re going to have on site.

And I think that, you know, this concept of kind of being able to take… and those are actually going to be park model RVs, which is a whole ‘nother conversation because park model RVs aren’t actually considered mobile homes. And so, you can actually put a tiny house in an RV park because it’s technically still a vehicle and it’s up to 400-square feet, but with a mezzanine, and with porches, and that kind of thing.

These things live, you know, like one-bedroom studio apartments. Actually, and some of them, I think that they feel a lot bigger than that. And so, we’ve partnered up with Eclipse Cottages, which is the tiny home manufacturer out of Greenville, actually, it’s Travelers Rest, South Carolina, which is in an opportunity zone in and of itself, to manufacture these tiny homes that we’re putting in to this park, particularly, and then we’re going to put in to the additional ones that we do in the future.

Kind of, once again, along these lines of horizontal hospitality in a modular really flexible basis.

Scott: I got to talk to my wife and we got to plan a trip to South Carolina because that just sounds incredible.

Ashley: It’s beautiful. You know, so we’ve got, you know, mile-and-a-half marsh-front views. We’ve got a pier that goes out, where we’re going to end up having, like, place where you and tie up boats and it’s going to have a water slide, and Sea-Doos, and all that kind of stuff, kayaks. And it’s going to be really cool property.

And, you know, one of the cool things about being a fund manager and doing what I do is that I kind of get to create my own playground, right? And that’s one of the things that I resolved. I was like, “Listen, I want to do deals that I want to go to, that I want to take my family to, and that I want to interact with. I want to go and be with the people that are there.” And so, this is definitely one of those projects.

So, come on, man. You know, we should have the cottages up, you know, here in May/June. And, in the meantime, you know, if you need my RV, I’ll loan it to you.

Scott: Awesome. I will hit you up. I love it. I love it. Okay. So, all fascinating. I’d love if we could take just a look back, just a step back here, and look at multifamily itself, you know, in a larger way.

Are there any multifamily trends that you’ve seen that are particularly interesting or compelling to you?

Ashley: You know, so, one of the things, and I’ve actually done a number of deals inside OZ Pros and talked with a number of folks who are actively working on this type of stuff, but we’ve actually seen a number of folks that are actually starting Airbnb companies with existing multifamily assets.

So, you’ve seen them pop up, where they’ll literally take a whole floor of a multifamily asset and they’ll start Airbnb-ing, you know, out those. They’ll do them on nightly rentals for that floor. And so, I’ve seen a lot of that happening right now, where, you know, before, we had kind of the condo hotel-type thing that was happening.

And I think that we’re seeing a lot of that happening inside of the multifamily space right now, where traditional multifamily assets or, you know, where they’re doing, you know, separated multifamily developments, right, as, like, literally build-to-rent properties, right? So, they’re technically single-family rentals, but they’re multifamily in the context that they’re building 350 of them in a community.

And inside of that package, they’re even, you know, peeling out a bunch of them that they can dump into this kind of Airbnb concept. So, I think that that’s a fascinating development, right? The advent and the utilization of technology to match up supply with demand. And I think that that’s one of the trends that we’re going to continue to see, not just within the multifamily space going the Airbnb route, but also kind of this co-living concept that is starting to evolve as well.

I’ve talked to a number of people that are embracing that kind of concept, too. You know, where it’s coliving as opposed to coworking. Or it’s coliving in conjunction with coworking, which is some exciting stuff. So, it’s going to be really exciting to see, you know, where technology takes that matchup of supply and demand and how far we’re able to get, you know, kind of post-COVID with that.

Scott: You know, I think that is fascinating. And just thinking about the Airbnb side of it, also, when we’re talking about whether it’s travel or whether it’s events, you know, here in Chicago when Lollapalooza happens and you have all these great, you know, units downtown, and if you have, you know, dedicated Airbnb spots, that just seems like an incredible opportunity to really charge some good rates and bring in some good revenue there.


Ashley: Well, yeah, because it allows you to take the advantage of the premium as opposed to your tenants, because, you know, unless there’s a flock-out on it, a lot of people, that’s what they do, right? So, they take their multifamily asset that they’re renting from you, the multifamily owner, and they a rent it out via Airbnb. And so, I think that there’s a lot of multifamily folks that are beginning to start to do that themselves.

And I think that we’re probably going to see a lot more of that. You know, inside of that same trend, right, there’s a lot of municipalities and stuff like that that are really cracking down on the Airbnb piece, and they’re trying to regulate it and they’re trying to come up with different plays, right, in order to preserve some of the kind of more traditional multifamily plays.

And so, I think that the dynamic of that, that push-pull of technology and kind of traditional regulation, it’s going to be really interesting to see where that hashes out.

Scott: Yeah. We will see. And it’s going to be exciting in the years to come to see how that all comes out there. Ashley, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. I feel like we really covered a lot of different ground here, and I’m excited to listen back to this as I edit it to kind of take it all in again. And if folks want to find out more about out what you’re doing, and specifically OZ Pros, where can they do that?

How should they connect with you?

Ashley: Yeah. And we’ve set up a really simple strategy call process, to where you can book a strategy call and we can talk about whatever you want to on that strategy call. We can talk about opportunity zones, we can talk multifamily, we can talk tiny houses, we can talk baseball if you want. I’m not that great of an expert on baseball, but it’s kind of…whatever, it’s your time. And so, we’ve got that strategy call process.

We’ve also got a really cool community that Jimmy also helped found, which is the OZworks Group. And if you go to, you can join that community. And it’s 250 folks in that community right now that are sharing ideas and concepts in kind of a virtual co-working space for opportunity zones.

So, either at or OZworks Group, look forward to chatting with whoever’s out there, and would love to try to assist with the knowledge that I’ve got and with the resources that we have and see if we can allow them to take advantage of either the opportunity zones or the tiny house craze and do what I can in order to help move this country along.

Scott: Fantastic. And we’ll, of course, have links to all of those resources in our show notes. Thanks again, Ashley. This was a good one.

Ashley: Appreciate it, Scott. Thanks for having me.