Seabrook manufactured-home park purchased by residents

Sale makes 190 homes permanently affordable

Homeowners in Staples Mobile Home Park in Seabrook, NH, have purchased their 190-unit manufactured-home park, making it New Hampshire’s 125th resident-owned community (ROC).

Using training and technical assistance from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s ROC-NH™ team, homeowners formed Seacrest Cooperative, Inc. last September after being notified that owner George R. Staples had a buyer and intended to sell the park. They finalized the $11-million purchase June 27 with a mortgage from the Community Loan Fund.

Group photo at csale of Seacrest

Closing the sale of Staples Mobile Home Park, from left: Attorney Brenda Smith-Weiss, of Smith-Weiss Shepard; Seacrest residents Nancy Lewis, Stuart Erbstein, Dave Palavanchuk, and Denise Tuccolo; Michelle Supry of ROC-NH; Seacrest resident Betsy Coggins.

Seacrest is the 21st ROC in Rockingham County. Those ROCs contain 1,425 permanently affordable homes in a region with the state’s highest housing costs. Cooperative ownership of the land under their houses gives these homeowners control of their housing costs, now and in the future.

Resident Betsy Coggins was thrilled with the opportunity to purchase the park. She said she has many friends in other ROCs in N.H. and understood immediately what a great opportunity they had.

“It is truly a relief,” she said. “It’s safety. It’s security. We have control and say about what happens in the future.”

The co-op’s members, and their elected board of directors, worked closely for months with ROC-NH to make the purchase a reality.

Board secretary Nancy Lewis, treasurer Denise Tuccolo, and president Stuart Erbstein were some of the earliest supporters of resident ownership. At the first meeting where the possibility was put to the residents, Erbstein, who has a background in commercial real estate, told them buying the park was a no-brainer.

Given the proximity of the park to the ocean and the value of land in Seabrook, he said, it was safe to assume that developers would be interested in buying the 45-acre parcel for some other use, closing the park, and evicting its residents, most of whom would have to abandon their homes. Instead, the residents voted overwhelmingly to purchase their community.

“We’re excited and relieved,” said Lewis. “It’s done! We own it and it feels great!”

Dave Palavanchuk, the co-op’s operation manager, said they were hitting the ground running. He had already researched vendors for services like snowplowing, trash pickup, and landscaping.

“It’s a lot to think about at first, but you just keep moving forward and it all starts to fall into place,” he said. “We’ve been busy, but all this groundwork will still be making a difference 40 or 50 years down the road. Our cooperative will always be an affordable place to live in Seabrook.”

Cooperative ownership also means Seacrest Cooperative homeowners are eligible for products and services, including real mortgages, that haven’t been available to them. Studies also show that the availability of home financing, when the land is secure, improves the home’s value, the owner’s ability to make improvements, and overall housing affordability.

The more-than-7,200 homeowners in New Hampshire’s ROCs, spread across every county, also have access to management guidance, technical assistance, and leadership trainings in which they earn college credit.

See a full list of ROCs in New Hampshire.