Tristan Thomas had no interest in the 9-to-5 grind after graduating from college.On a whim, he discovered real-estate investing through a segment on CNBC that featured a successful dealmaker.Thomas found mobile-home investing attractive due to the low-risk, high-reward nature of the business.In just three year’s time, Thomas accumulated 51 units and now travels the world on the passive income he earns from his properties.

Tristan Thomas despised the tenets of a 9-to-5 job.

“I absolutely hated that idea,” he said on the “BiggerPockets Podcast.” “I was like ‘Crap; how do I make some money here?”

In college — well aware of the fact that normal corporate grind wasn’t going to be for him — Thomas started exploring potential paths to financial freedom. His life would change forever after seeing a successful real-estate investor on a CNBC segment.

“I went onto Google and typed in ‘multi-family real-estate,’ enter,” he said “And BiggerPockets popped up.”

From that point on, Thomas started consuming all the real-estate investment advice he could get his hands on. He listened to podcasts, read books, went to boot camps, and developed expertise in the space.

“It was a big, daunting task that I took little by little, chunk by chunk,” he said. “My back was against the wall. Me and my girlfriend were actually living with my dad at the time, and I had to do something. I didn’t have any money.”

Shortly thereafter, he stumbled upon the niche of mobile home investing. Thomas defines a mobile home as a single family dwelling that’s not permanently attached to the ground.

“I only needed a few thousand dollars, which luckily that’s all I had,” he said. “I realized this might be a niche I can really explode in.”

Fast forward three years and Thomas now has 51 units, owns his own mobile home park, and travels the world on the passive income he earns from his properties.

The first deal

“They were selling it — I think — for like $3,500,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t touch it now but I was young, green, didn’t really know what to do … I just wanted to get into the space.”

Thomas notes that the home’s pipes had burst during the previous winter, the ceilings needed to be redone, and mold was starting to creep in.

Still, despite its shortcomings — and after sinking another $3,500 into the property in repairs — Thomas was able to sell the home for a “heavy profit.” He’d parlay that property’s profits into his next few investments.

“And from there, it really grew like wildfire,” he said. “It’s not the sexiest asset class either. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with it in this day and age.”

Today’s strategy

Thomas is looking to buy properties for dirt cheap, then rehab them. He leans towards rent-to-own and owner financing deals. He says “you find that better tenant quality base” that way.

On average, Thomas says that he can buy a mobile home for $3,000 to $6,000 in his local market of Bangor, Maine. And when all is said and done, he invests about $10,000 total.

A three-bedroom home in Thomas’ market goes for about $950 on average — $600 for rent (which goes straight to Thomas), plus $350 to rent the lot where the home resides. That equates to $7,200 a year — or $600 a month.

As a general rule of thumb, he aims to make his investment back with 10 to 12 months of his purchase.

“It’s low risk, high reward … at the end of the day you don’t have a $200,000 mortgage hanging over your head,” he said. “I look at it as a single family house … I’m not doing anything special.”

As far as due diligence is concerned, Thomas won’t pull the trigger on a property unless the roof, furnace, plumbing, and electrical are all in good condition. He considers them must-haves.

“If all those things are checked, I then go through and just find out the motivation of the seller,” he said. “If you have a motivational seller, you’re going to have a better deal.”

A motivational seller, along with understanding a property’s value and the amount of time/cost it will take to rehab a property are crucial to his process and success.

Sourcing new deals

“Always tell people what you do,” he said.

To attract new deals, Thomas leverages five different outlets — all of which are free. He calls them “the biggest lead generators” he’s had.

1. Bandit signs — He puts these signs around the intersections around mobile home parks.

2. Facebook marketplace — Thomas says this is a great way to find motivated sellers who need cash quick.

3. Word-of-mouth — “I’d go around and introduce myself to park managers, mobile home moves, all kinds of people in this industry.”

4. Driving for dollars — This strategy involves driving around and searching for deals. Thomas says that a lot of the time, older owners of these properties will eschew traditional online marketing.

5. Mobile home movers — These are the individuals that move homes from place to place. Thomas leverages their inside knowledge to sniff out deals.