Aerial view of the Village of Wildflowers in North Carolina.

Editor’s Note: The following press release comes from Tranzon Driggers, a full-service real estate auction and accelerated marketing company that is part of the Tranzon LLC network.

Warren Buffet, Sam Zell and W.W. Gilman are in the One Percent because they’re onto The Next Big Thing well before mere mortals even catch a whiff. That’s why the Aug. 21 Tranzon auction of The Village of Wildflowers park model community in Flat Rock, N.C., is a prime chance for an investor to cash in on the “smaller is smarter” movement by taking over the reins of Gilman’s established cash cow.

Real estate visionaries such as Gilman, Buffet and Zell were able to ride out the ripple effects of 2008’s Black Swan because they’d already figured out how to capitalize on economic downturns. In 2003, Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway acquired Clayton Homes, known as the nation’s largest maker and financer of prefab and mobile homes.

The Clayton purchase has paid dividends as has Zell’s Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), a manufactured home community REIT. ELS owns or has ownership interest in nearly 400 resort park communities across the U.S, accumulating about 170,000,000, making the REIT the nation’s largest mobile-home park owner.

One of the park model homes in the Village of Wildflowers.

The Village of Wildflowers (TVOW) might well be Gilman’s swan song, as he hears the siren’s call of retirement and is ready to let another benefit from his belief that multiple markets exist for his Wildflowers product, including RV owners.

“TVOW is the first community in the nation to offer rental property management for owners in their absence. This can be a seasonable second home and we will rent it for additional income for the owners in their absence,” Gilman says.

Raw land is limited, expensive and the costs for installing sewage and water are steep. That’s partly why existing trailer parks have caught the eye of real estate entrepreneurs such as Gilman, who purchased Wildflower’s 25-acre site 18 months ago and redeveloped it with the park model concept in mind. The Aug. 21 Tranzon sale includes 183-plus developed sites, many waterfront, and 11 park model homes, and includes sub-gating potential for premium sites.

Located about 30 miles south of Asheville, this Henderson County community is designed as a series of cottage neighborhoods, offering affordable housing for all income levels in a space and energy-efficient manner. Here “smaller is smarter. Why pay for expenses on unnecessary space?,” says Gilman.

Operating costs of larger homes are only part of the equation. Households with 65- to 75-year-olds spend an average of $7,033 on transportation each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Move to a community where most amenities are within walking distance and one may substantially trim that bill.

One of the park models on a lake at the Village of Wildflowers.

Barry Kaplan, chief investment officer at Cambridge Southern Financial Advisors in Atlanta, says “Most investors hate to sell an asset, whether a stock or a house, that has lost value. We tell ourselves that if we just wait, the investment will rally and then we will sell. But that could take years. It’s just cheaper to run a small house.”

Gilman’s The Village of Wildflowers takes all such things into consideration, including the growing RV market where people trade up from campers to “fifth-wheelers” then eventually find themselves at an age where the law says they’re no longer able to handle the complicated mechanics of driving a large RV.”

As Sam Zell’s slogan puts it: “No RV? No problem.”

U.S. ownership of RVs “has reached record levels, with approximately 8.9 million households owning an RV,” according to a 2011 University of Michigan study commissioned by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

An article posted on RV Pro’s website quotes RVIA Executive Director of Recreational Park Trailers Matt Wald as saying, “Park trailer shipments began surging in October of 2012 and that has continued into 2013. In fact, shipments in January of 2013 were an incredible 138% higher than shipments reported in January 2012. Through February 2013, park model shipments are about 75% higher compared to the first two months of 2012.”

“The bottom line is that the park model industry has been red hot for the past five months,” Wald says.

Gilman’s Wildflowers community is a bonanza for groups including RVers who are “done rolling.” At The Village of Wildflowers, he “recreates the American dream, offering style, sustainability and security” while incorporating his own Midwestern values into this lifestyle community centered around the concept of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

Drawing of the Village of Wildflowers

An on-site service office coordinates social activities, provides medical support supervision, housekeeping, transportation, exercise and even spiritual guidance to residents who don’t have to leave the neighborhood. Owners may even schedule automatic alerts with grown children out-of-state to check in, ensure all is well with the “Enchanted Cottages” concept. Perhaps even more valuable is the dedicated real estate team that will help Wildflowers homebuyers – or their designated caregivers — sell their current home – including the laborious process of disposing of unnecessary furnishings and clutter. Better yet, owners may rent their properties — which is disallowed in many communities — and avoid the hassle of vetting renters by using TVOW’s on-site rental management company.

Wildflowers features homes with private yards and gardens clustered around ponds and courtyards to create a compact, connected, walkable community. Each dwelling includes a room-sized front porch, flower boxes and bay windows. Hardwood cabinets, vaulted ceilings, built-in appliances and great natural light offer character and charm. Social interaction is highly encouraged; the Village Hall and kitchen are available for community functions or special family occasions; and a coffee house called The Village Brew is open 24-7.

According to Jon Barber, president of Tranzon Driggers, “This is a newly re-developed resort with an established rental base and is ideally positioned with long-term or short-term rentals. Another very important feature is that there are no long- term obligations in place. A new owner may easily choose any direction they want to take the project and will benefit from a community started by Mr. Gilman, who with colleagues and friends such as the late Jim Rouse, Bill Marriott and Jay Pritzker – have built better ways of living.”

Bids on the property will be accepted online starting Aug. 16 at 9:00 a.m. EDST and will close on Aug.21 at 1:00 p.m. EDST. Two pre-auction inspections are scheduled at 12:00 p.m. EDST on Aug. 10 and 14 at The Village of Wildflowers, 24 Empire Lane, Flat Rock, NC 28731, by advance appointment. For a complete bidder’s package contact Tranzon’s David Barnhardt at (704) 806-3131 or e-mail him at dbarnhardt@tranzon.com

About Tranzon Driggers

Headquartered in Ocala, Fla. , Tranzon Driggers is a full-service real estate auction and accelerated marketing company that is part of the Tranzon LLC network. Founded in 2001, Tranzon LLC has independently owned and operated member auction companies that collectively have more than 30 offices coast to coast. Tranzon professionals have conducted more than 10,000 auctions in 47 states and the District of Columbia, selling more than $1.4 billion in assets since the company’s formation. Member companies specialize in providing real estate, business asset and liquidation auction and accelerated marketing services to corporations, financial institutions, trustees, individuals and estates throughout the U.S. For a complete list of auctions and sales or to learn more about Tranzon visit www.tranzon.com. To check out The Village of Wildflowers click on this Tranzon Driggers link: http://www.tranzon.com/DG687.