a one-off basis—it was rare to see a portfo-
lio deal. To be sure, there was always inter-
est on the part of larger, alternative inves-
tors in the space, such as smaller private
equity funds or family office shops, for
example, according to Todd Fletcher,
senior managing director and co-founder
of ARA Newmark’s National Manufactured
Housing Group. “But they weren’t winning
deals; they were just bidding for them.”
What has changed is that for the past
several months, these erstwhile bidders
became first-time buyers, at least in Shih’s
and Fletcher’s shop. Not only are these
first-time buyers winning deals but one
investor is putting together a $20-million
equity fund with money from friends and
family to invest in more communities,
Shih and Fletcher say. The group will oper-
ate the properties as well.
CMBS for manufactured housing is
changing as well, in response to competi-
tion—in this case by the GSEs. Up until the
past few years, the CMBS market was a sig-
nificant provider of non-recourse debt for
manufactured housing, able to compete
with the private sector and Fannie Mae,
which also did deals in this space. Then in
2014 Freddie Mac entered the scene, and
things became much more crowded.
Freddie Mac offers more generous
interest-only terms and an all-in interest
rate that is lower, Shih says. And in general
Freddie is more flexible than CMBS, which
is by nature very regimented. Another plus
is that Freddie can offer supplemental
financing down the road if necessary.
The CMBS market has, of late, been trying to counter by considering RV parks or
hybrid manufactured housing-RV parks,
lower quality loans and smaller-balance
deals to be more competitive, Shih says.
“They’re growing their box by trying to
work in fields that Freddie won’t,” he says.
It appears to be working.
The phones are also busy at the office of
Joel S. Marcus, founder and CEO of
Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a Pasadena,
CA-based REIT that develops life science
campuses across the US. The REIT recently
acquired the Alexandria Center for
Ag Tech, next to a parcel the REIT already
owns in Research Triangle Park, NC. The
first phase of the project is the redevelopment of the newest site into a 175,000-square-
foot office/lab and greenhouse facility.
Once both sites are built out, they ultimately will form a million-square foot mega
campus that will focus on agriculture technology and its related ecosystem.
While the development of a life science-focused mega campus is old hat for
Alexandria Real Estate Equities recently acquired the Alexandria Center for Ag Tech, located
next to a site it already owns in Research Triangle Park, NC. The development of both
campuses will ultimately form a one-million-square foot mega campus that will focus on
agriculture technology and its related ecosystem.