Earnings, Officers, Amend Bylaw, Regulation FD, Other Events, Exhibits
Earnings, Officers, Other Events, Exhibits
Enter Agreement, Leave Agreement, Exhibits
AXA Equitable Life Insurance
Liberty Tripadvisor Holdings
Part III Incorporates By Reference Portions of The Registrant's Proxy Statement Relating To The Annual Meeting of Stockholders To Be Held on April 30, 2019.
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statements Schedules
Item 16. Form 10-K Summary
Note 2-Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Note 3-Earnings per Common Share
Note 4-Common Stock and Other Equity Related Transactions
Note 5-Investment in Real Estate
Note 6-Investment in Unconsolidated Joint Ventures
Note 7-Notes Receivable, Net
Note 8-Borrowing Arrangements
Note 9-Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities
Note 10-Deferred Revenue Entry of Right-To-Use Contracts and Deferred Commission Expense
Note 11-Lease Agreements
Note 12-Operating Leases
Note 13-Transactions with Related Parties
Note 14-Equity Incentive Awards
Note 15-Preferred Stock
Note 16-Long-Term Cash Incentive Plan
Note 17-Savings Plan
Note 18-Commitments and Contingencies
Note 19-Reportable Segments
Note 20-Quarterly Financial Data (Unaudited)
Note 21-Subsequent Events
Equity Lifestyle Properties Earnings 2018-12-31
ELS 10K Annual Report
10-K 1 els1231201810-k.htm 10-K Document
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2018
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 1-11718
EQUITY LIFESTYLE PROPERTIES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
Two North Riverside Plaza,
Suite 800, Chicago, Illinois
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
(Registrant's Telephone Number, Including Area Code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Common Stock, $0.01 Par Value
New York Stock Exchange
(Title of Class)
(Name of exchange on which registered)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the Registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer", "smaller reporting company" and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging Growth Company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act o
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o No x
The aggregate market value of voting stock held by non-affiliates was approximately $7,583.0 million as of June 30, 2018 based upon the closing price of $91.90 on such date using beneficial ownership of stock rules adopted pursuant to Section 13 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to exclude voting stock owned by Directors and Officers, some of whom may not be held to be affiliates upon judicial determination.
As of February 20, 2019, 89,929,609 shares of the Registrant's common stock were outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:
Part III incorporates by reference portions of the Registrant's Proxy Statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on April 30, 2019.
Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc. ("ELS"), a Maryland corporation, together with MHC Operating Limited Partnership (the "Operating Partnership") and its other consolidated subsidiaries (the "Subsidiaries"), are referred to herein as "we," "us," and "our." We elected to be taxed as a real estate investment trust ("REIT") for U.S. federal income tax purposes, commencing with our taxable year ended December 31, 1993.
We are a fully integrated owner and operator of lifestyle-oriented properties ("Properties") consisting primarily of manufactured home ("MH") and recreational vehicle ("RV") communities. We were formed in December 1992 to continue the property operations, business objectives and acquisition strategies of an entity that had owned and operated Properties since 1969.
We have a unique business model where we own the land upon which we provide our customers the opportunity to place factory-built homes, cottages or RVs either on a long-term or short-term basis. Our customers may lease individual developed areas ("Sites") or enter right-to-use contracts, which provide them access to specific Properties for limited stays. Compared to other types of real estate companies, our business model is characterized by low maintenance costs and low customer turnover costs. Our portfolio is geographically diversified across highly desirable locations with a focus on both retirement and vacation destinations. Our properties attract retirees, vacationing families and second homeowners, while providing a lower cost home ownership alternative. We have more than 90 Properties with lake, river or ocean frontage and more than 120 Properties within 10 miles of the coastal United States.
We are one of the nation's largest real estate networks with a portfolio, as of December 31, 2018, of 414 Properties (including joint venture Properties) consisting of 155,447 Sites located throughout the United States and Canada. These Properties are located in 33 states and British Columbia.
Above map excludes five properties classified as held for sale as of December 31, 2018.
Our Properties are designed and improved for home options of various sizes and designs that are produced off-site by third-party manufacturers, installed and set on designated Sites ("Site Set") within the Properties. These homes and cottages can range from approximately 400 to over 2,000 square feet. Properties may also have Sites that can accommodate a variety of RVs. Properties generally contain centralized entrances, internal road systems and designated Sites. In addition, Properties often provide a clubhouse for social activities and recreation and other amenities, which may include swimming pools, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, golf courses, lawn bowling, restaurants, laundry facilities, cable television and internet service. Some Properties provide utilities, including water and sewer service, through municipal or regulated utilities, while others provide these services to customers from on-site facilities.
Employees and Organizational Structure
We have an annual average of approximately 4,100 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees dedicated to carrying out our operating philosophy while focusing on delivering an exceptional customer experience for our residents and guests. Our Property operations are managed internally by wholly-owned affiliates of the Operating Partnership and are coordinated by an on-site team of employees that typically includes a manager, clerical staff and maintenance workers, each of whom works to provide maintenance and care to the Properties. The on-site team at each Property also provides customer service and coordinates lifestyle-oriented activities for customers. Direct supervision of on-site management is the responsibility of our regional vice presidents and regional and district managers, who have substantial experience addressing the needs of customers and creating innovative approaches to maximize value for both customers and the Company through focused and effective property management. Complementing the field management staff are approximately 400 full-time corporate and regional employees who assist in all functions related to the management of our Properties.
Our Properties are primarily owned by our Operating Partnership and managed internally by affiliates of our Operating Partnership. We contributed the proceeds from our initial public offering in 1993 and subsequent offerings to our Operating Partnership for partnership interests. The financial results of our Operating Partnership and our Subsidiaries are included in our consolidated financial statements, which can be found beginning on page F-1 of this Form 10-K. In addition, since certain activities, if performed by us, may not be qualifying REIT activities under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code"), we have formed taxable REIT Subsidiaries, as defined in the Code, to engage in such activities.
Realty Systems, Inc. ("RSI") is our wholly owned taxable REIT subsidiary engaged in the business of purchasing and selling or leasing factory-built homes that are located in Properties owned and managed by us. RSI also offers home sale brokerage services to residents at such Properties who choose to move from a Property without relocating their homes. Subsidiaries of RSI also operate ancillary activities at certain Properties, such as golf courses, pro shops, stores and restaurants. Several Properties are also wholly owned by our taxable REIT Subsidiaries.
Business Objectives and Operating Strategies
Our primary business objective is to create value for stockholders through effective management of Properties. Our operating strategy is to own and operate the highest quality Properties in sought-after locations near retirement and vacation destinations and urban areas across the United States. Through management of desirable Properties that provide an exceptional customer experience, we create communities valued by residents and guests while delivering value for stockholders.
We focus on Properties that have strong cash flow and plan to hold such Properties for long-term investment and capital appreciation. In determining cash flow potential, we evaluate our ability to attract high quality customers to our Properties and retain these customers who take pride in the Property and in their homes. Our operating, investment and financing strategies include:
Consistently providing high levels of services and amenities in attractive surroundings to foster a strong sense of community and pride of home ownership;
Efficiently managing the Properties to add value, grow occupancy, maintain competitive market rents and control expenses;
Achieving growth and increasing property values through strategic expansion and, where appropriate, renovation of the Properties;
Utilizing technology to evaluate potential acquisitions, identify and track competing properties and monitor existing and prospective customer satisfaction;
Selectively acquiring properties that offer opportunities for us to add value and enhance or create property concentrations in and around retirement or vacation destinations and major metropolitan areas to capitalize on operating synergies and incremental efficiencies;
Selecting joint venture partners that share business objectives, growth initiatives, and risk profiles similar to ours;
Managing our debt balances in order to maintain financial flexibility, minimize exposure to interest rate fluctuations and maintain an appropriate degree of leverage to maximize return on capital; and
Developing and maintaining relationships with various capital providers.
These business objectives and their implementation are consistent with business strategies determined by our Board of Directors and may be subject to change or amendment at any time.
Acquisitions and Dispositions
We invest in Properties in sought-after locations near retirement and vacation destinations and urban areas across the United States with a focus on delivering value for both customers and stockholders. Over the last decade we have continued to increase the number of Properties in our portfolio (including joint venture Properties), from approximately 309 Properties with over 112,000 Sites to 414 Properties with over 155,400 Sites as of December 31, 2018. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we acquired eight Properties (four MH and four RV communities) with approximately 3,700 Sites. We continually review the Properties in our portfolio to ensure we are delivering on our business and customer service objectives.
We believe that opportunities for property acquisitions are still available. Based on industry reports, we estimate there are approximately 50,000 manufactured home properties and approximately 8,000 RV properties (excluding government owned properties) in North America. Most of these properties are not operated by large owner/operators, and approximately 3,600 of the MH properties and 1,100 of the RV properties contain 200 Sites or more. We believe this relatively high degree of fragmentation provides us the opportunity to purchase additional properties. We also believe we have a competitive advantage in the acquisition of additional properties due to our experienced management, significant presence in major real estate markets and access to capital resources. We are actively seeking to acquire and are engaged at any time in various stages of negotiations relating to the possible acquisition of additional properties, which may include outstanding contracts to acquire properties that are subject to the satisfactory completion of our due diligence review.
We anticipate that new acquisitions will generally be located in the United States, although we may consider other geographic locations provided they meet our acquisition criteria. We utilize market information systems to identify and evaluate acquisition opportunities, including the use of a market database to review the primary economic indicators of the various locations in which we expect to expand our operations.
Acquisitions will be financed from the most efficient available sources of capital, which may include undistributed funds from operations, issuance of additional equity securities, sales of investments, collateralized and uncollateralized borrowings and issuance of debt securities. In addition, we have acquired and expect to acquire properties in transactions that include the issuance of limited partnership interests in our Operating Partnership ("OP Units") as consideration for the acquired properties. We believe that an ownership structure that includes our Operating Partnership has permitted and will permit us to acquire additional properties in transactions that may defer all or a portion of the sellers' tax consequences.
When evaluating potential acquisitions, we consider, among others, the following factors:
Current and projected cash flow of the property;
Geographic area and the type of property;
Replacement cost of the property, including land values, entitlements and zoning;
Location, construction quality, condition and design of the property;
Potential for capital appreciation of the property;
Terms of tenant leases or usage rights;
Opportunity to enhance the customer experience and add value through management expertise;
Potential for economies of scale through property concentrations;
Potential for economic growth and the tax and regulatory environment of the community in which the property is located;
Potential for expansion, including increasing the number of Sites;
Occupancy and demand by customers for properties of a similar type in the vicinity;
Prospects for liquidity through sale, financing or refinancing of the property;
Competition from existing properties and the potential for the construction of new properties in the area; and
Working capital demands.
When evaluating potential dispositions, we consider, among others, the following factors:
Whether the Property meets our current investment criteria;
Our desire to exit certain non-core markets and reallocate the capital into core markets; and
Our ability to sell the Property at a price that we believe will provide an appropriate return for our stockholders.
When investing capital, we consider all potential uses of the capital, including returning capital to our stockholders. Our Board of Directors periodically reviews the conditions under which we may repurchase our stock. These conditions include, but are not limited to, market price, balance sheet flexibility, other opportunities and capital requirements.
Development - Current Portfolio. Integral to our growth and investment strategy, each Property is evaluated for expansion opportunities. Investment evaluation consists of: reviewing local market conditions, demographic trends, zoning and entitlements, infrastructure requirements, financial feasibility and projected performance and conducting an operational review. When justified, development of land available for expansion ("Expansion Sites") allows us to leverage existing facilities and amenities. We believe our ability to increase density translates to greater value creation and cash flow through operational efficiencies. Overall, approximately 110 of our Properties have potential Expansion Sites, offering approximately 5,200 available acres. Refer to Item 2. Properties, which includes detail regarding the developable acres available at each property.
Acquisition - Expanding Portfolio. In selecting acquisition targets, we pursue properties with existing operations in place and contiguous Expansion Sites. Underwriting a project with these features allows us to access the previously untapped potential of such properties. For example, over the past three years, we have acquired 15 Properties and two vacant land parcels that contain approximately 231 acres for future expansion.
Leases or Usage Rights
At our Properties, a typical lease for the rental of a Site between us and the owner or renter of a home is month-to-month or for a one-year term, renewable upon the consent of both parties or, in some instances, as provided by statute. These leases are cancelable, depending on applicable law, for non-payment of rent, violation of Property rules and regulations or other specified defaults. Long-term leases are in effect at approximately 10,900 Sites in 17 of our Properties. Some of these leases are subject to rental rate increases based on the Consumer Price Index ("CPI"), in some instances allowing for pass-throughs of certain items such as real estate taxes, utility expenses and capital expenditures. Generally, adjustments to our rental rates, if appropriate, are made on an annual basis.
In Florida, in connection with offering a Site in a MH community for rent, the MH community owner must deliver to the prospective resident a Prospectus required by Florida Statutes Chapter 723.001, et. seq., which must be approved by the applicable regulatory agency. The Prospectus contains certain required disclosures regarding the community, the rights and obligations of the MH community owner and residents, and a copy of the lease agreement. A Prospectus may contain limitations on the rights of the MH community owner to increase rental rates. However, in the absence of such limitations, the MH community owner may increase rental rates to market, subject to certain advance notice requirements and a statutory requirement that the rental rates be reasonable. See further discussion below related to rent control legislation.
At Properties zoned for RV use, we have long-term relationships with many of our customers, who typically enter into short-term rental agreements. Many customers also leave deposits to reserve a Site for the following year. Generally, these customers cannot live full time on these Properties for reasons including their seasonal nature.
At Properties operated under the Thousand Trails brand designated for use by customers, who have entered a right-to-use or membership contract, the contract generally grants the customer access to designated Properties on a continuous basis of up to 14 days in exchange for annual dues payments. The customer may make a non-refundable upfront payment to upgrade the contract which increases usage rights during the contract term. We may finance the non-refundable upfront payment. Most of the contracts provide for an annual dues increase, usually based on increases in the CPI.
Regulations and Insurance
General. Our Properties are subject to a variety of laws, ordinances and regulations, including regulations relating to recreational facilities such as swimming pools, clubhouses and other common areas, regulations relating to providing utility services, such as electricity, and regulations relating to operating water and wastewater treatment facilities at certain of our Properties. We believe that each Property has all material permits and approvals necessary to operate. We renew these permits and approvals in the ordinary course of business.
Insurance. Our Properties are insured against risks that may cause property damage and business interruption, including events such as fire, flood, earthquake, or windstorm. The relevant insurance policies contain deductible requirements, coverage limits and particular exclusions. Our current property and casualty insurance policies, which we plan to renew, expire on April 1, 2019. We have a $100.0 million loss limit per occurrence with respect to our all-risk property insurance program including named windstorms. This loss limit is subject to additional sub-limits as set forth in the policy form, including, among others, a $25 million aggregate loss limit for earthquakes in California. The deductibles for this policy primarily range from a $500,000 minimum to
5.0% per unit of insurance for most catastrophic events. For most catastrophic events, there is an additional one-time $500,000 aggregate deductible. A deductible indicates our maximum exposure, subject to policy limits and sub-limits, in the event of a loss.
Rent Control Legislation. At certain of our Properties state and local rent control laws dictate the structure of rent increases and in some cases outline the ability to recover the costs of capital improvements. Enactment of such laws has been considered at various times in other jurisdictions. We presently expect to continue to maintain Properties, and may purchase additional properties, in markets that are either subject to rent control or in which rent related legislation exists or may be enacted. For example, Florida law requires that rental increases be reasonable, and Delaware law requires rental increases greater than the change in the CPI to be justified. Also, certain jurisdictions in California in which we own Properties limit rent increases to changes in the CPI or some percentage of CPI. As part of our effort to realize the value of Properties subject to restrictive regulation, we have initiated lawsuits at various times against various municipalities imposing such regulations in an attempt to balance the interests of our stockholders with the interests of our customers.
Membership Properties. Many states also have consumer protection laws regulating right-to-use or campground membership sales and the financing of such sales. Some states have laws requiring us to register with a state agency and obtain a permit to market (see Item 1A. Risk Factors). At certain of our Properties primarily used as membership campgrounds, state statutes limit our ability to close a Property unless a reasonable substitute Property is made available for members' use.
We believe that demand from baby boomers for manufactured housing and RV communities will continue to outpace supply for several years. We also believe that our Properties and our business model provide an attractive destination for customers as they seek value in their housing and recreational options. Positive trends in categories such as customer demographics, the quality of MH construction and limited property supply, among others, fuel our belief that our Properties are well positioned for the future:
Barriers to Entry: We believe that the supply of new properties in locations we target will be constrained by barriers to entry. The most significant barrier has been the difficulty of securing zoning permits from local authorities. This has been the result of (i) the public's perception of manufactured housing, and (ii) the fact that MH and RV communities generate less tax revenue than conventional housing properties because the homes are treated as personal property (a benefit to the homeowner) rather than real property. Further, the length of time between investment in a property's development and the attainment of stabilized occupancy and the generation of revenues is significant. The initial development of the infrastructure may take up to two or three years and once a property is ready for occupancy, it may be difficult to attract customers to an empty property.
Customer Base: We believe that properties tend to achieve and maintain a stable rate of occupancy due to the following factors: (i) customers typically own their own homes, (ii) properties tend to foster a sense of community as a result of amenities, such as clubhouses and recreational and social activities, (iii) customers often sell their homes in-place (similar to site-built residential housing) resulting in no interruption of rental payments to us, and (iv) moving a Site Set home from one property to another involves substantial cost and effort.
Lifestyle Choice: According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association ("RVIA"), in a survey conducted by the University of Michigan in 2011, approximately 8.9 million or 8.5% of U.S. vehicle-owning households owned an RV. The 77 million people born in the United States from 1946 to 1964, or "baby boomers", make up the largest and one of the fastest growing segments in this market. According to Pew Research Center in 2010, every day 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old. We believe that this population segment, seeking an active lifestyle, will provide opportunities for our future growth. As RV owners age and move beyond the more active RV lifestyle, they will often seek permanent retirement or vacation establishments. Site Set housing has become an increasingly popular housing alternative for retirement, second-home, and "empty-nest" living. According to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau National Population Projections figures, the population of people ages 55 and older is expected to grow 19% within the next 15 years.
We believe that the housing choices in our Properties are especially attractive to such individuals throughout this lifestyle cycle. Our Properties offer an appealing amenity package, close proximity to local services, social activities, low maintenance and a secure environment. In fact, many of our Properties allow for this cycle to occur within a single Property.
Construction Quality: The Department of Housing and Urban Development's ("HUD") standards for Site Set housing construction quality are the only federal standards governing housing quality of any type in the United States. Site Set homes produced since 1976 have received a "red and silver" government seal certifying that they were built in compliance with the federal code. The code regulates Site Set home design and construction, strength and durability, fire resistance and energy efficiency, and the installation and performance of heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. In newer homes, top grade lumber and dry wall materials are common. Also, manufacturers are required to follow the same fire codes as builders of site-built structures. In 1994, following the devastation left by Hurricane Andrew,
HUD introduced regulations that established different wind zones across the country. As a result, any homes set in place since 1994 must be able to withstand wind speeds of 70 miles per hour in Zone 1, 100 miles per hour in Zone 2 and 110 miles per hour in Zone 3. While most of the Unites States is designated wind Zone 1, areas most likely to be impacted by hurricanes are either Zone 2 or Zone 3.
Although construction of cottages, which are generally smaller homes, do not come under the same HUD regulations, they are built and certified in accordance with NFPA 1192-15 and ANSI A119.5 consensus standards for park model recreational vehicles and have many of the same quality features. RVIA operates a safety standards and inspection program that requires member manufacturers of all recreation vehicles, including park model RVs, to certify that each unit built complies with the requirements of the applicable standards.
Comparability to Site-Built Homes: Since inception, the Site Set housing industry has experienced a trend toward multi-section homes. The average current Site Set homes are approximately 1,426 square feet. Many such homes have nine-foot ceilings or vaulted ceilings, fireplaces and as many as four bedrooms, and closely resemble single-family ranch-style site-built homes at a fraction of the price. At our Properties, there is an active resale or rental market for these larger homes. According to the 2017 U.S. Census American Community Survey, manufactured homes represent 9.1% of single-family housing units.
Second Home and Vacation Home Demographics: According to 2017 National Association of Realtors ("NAR") reports, sales of second homes in 2016 accounted for 31% of residential transactions, or 1.9 million second-home sales in 2016 and a typical vacation-home buyer earned $89,900 in 2016. According to 2014 NAR reports, there were approximately 8.0 million vacation homes in 2013 and a typical vacation-home buyer was 43 years old. According to the 2018 NAR reports, approximately 33% of vacation homes were purchased in resort areas. Of vacation buyers who purchased homes in 2018, 33% purchased in beach areas, 21% purchased on a lake front and 15% purchased in rural areas. According to the 2017 NAR reports, 18% of vacation home buyers plan to own their home for future retirement. Looking ahead, we expect continued strong demand from baby boomers. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 daily through 2030. Additionally, the population of people age 55 in the U.S. and older is expected to grow 19% from 2019 to 2034. We believe these individuals will continue to drive the market for second-home sales as vacation properties, investment opportunities, or retirement retreats. We believe it is likely that over the next decade we will continue to see high levels of second-home sales and that homes and cottages in our Properties will continue to provide a viable second-home alternative to site-built homes.
Notwithstanding our belief that the industry information highlighted above provides us with significant long-term growth opportunities, our short-term growth opportunities could be disrupted by the following:
Shipments: According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, MH shipments have increased each year from 2010 to 2018. Shipments in 2018 increased 3.98% to 96,600 units as compared to shipments in 2017 of 92,900 units. According to the RVIA, wholesale shipments of RVs decreased 4.2% in 2018 to approximately 483,700 units as compared to 2017, a small dip in the otherwise positive trend in RV shipments that started in late 2009.
U.S. Census: Manufactured Homes Survey
Sales: Retail sales of RVs totaled approximately 436,440 in 2018, a 3.6% increase from 2017 RV sales of 421,436 and a 17.0% increase from 2016 RV sales of 373,032. We believe that consumers remain concerned about the current economy, and the potential for stagnant economic conditions in the future. However, the enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle has translated into continued strength in RV sales. RV sales could continue to benefit as aging baby-boomers continue to enter the age range in which RV ownership is highest. RV dealers typically have relationships with third party lenders who provide financing for the purchase of an RV.
Availability of financing: Although RV financing is readily available, the economic and legislative environment has generally made it difficult for purchasers of both manufactured homes and RVs to obtain financing. Legislation enacted in 2010 known as the Safe Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act requires community owners interested in providing financing for customer purchases of manufactured homes to register as mortgage loan originators in states where they engage in such financing. In comparison to financing available to purchasers of site-built homes, the few third party financing sources available to purchasers of manufactured homes offer financing with higher down payments, higher rates and shorter maturities, and loan approval is subject to more stringent underwriting criteria. In 2013, we entered into a joint venture, ECHO Financing, LLC, to buy and sell homes and purchase loans made by an unaffiliated lender to residents at our Properties. Please see our risk factors in Item 1A. Risk Factors and consolidated financial statements and related notes beginning on page F-1 of this Form 10-K for more detailed information.
In 2017, the Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA") published Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's Underserved Markets Plans for 2018-2020 (the "Plans") under the duty-to-serve provisions mandated by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The FHFA mandate requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve three specific underserved markets, one of which is the manufactured housing sector. The Plans outline four duty-to-serve focus areas related to manufactured housing, including home purchase financing for customers placing manufactured homes in land lease communities. While this may have positive impact on our customers' ability to obtain chattel financing, the actual impact on us as well as the industry cannot be determined at this time.
We file reports electronically with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy information and statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov. We also maintain a website with information about us as well as our press releases, investor presentations, and filings with the SEC at http://www.equitylifestyleproperties.com, which can be accessed free of charge. We intend to post material on our website from time to time that contains material non-public information. The posting of such information is intended to comply with our disclosure requirements under Regulation Fair Disclosure. Accordingly, in addition to following our SEC filings and public conference calls, we encourage investors, the media and others interested in us to review the business and financial information we post on our website. The information contained on our website, or available by hyperlink from our website, is not incorporated into this Form 10-K or other documents we file with, or furnish to, the SEC.
Previously, in addition to posting investor presentations on our website, we electronically furnished investor presentations to the SEC as exhibits to Current Reports on Form 8-K. Although we may continue to furnish our investor presentations as exhibits to Current Reports on Form 8-K, we intend to make our future investor presentations available only through our website. Requests for copies of our filings with the SEC and other investor inquiries should be directed to:
Investor Relations Department
Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc.
Two North Riverside Plaza
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Item 1A. Risk Factors
The following risk factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in forward-looking statements made in this Form 10-K and presented elsewhere by our management from time to time. These risk factors may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that are currently not believed to be material may also affect our actual results.
Risks Relating to Our Operations and Real Estate Investments
Adverse Economic Conditions and Other Factors Could Adversely Affect the Economic Performance and Value of Our Properties and Our Cash Flows.
Several factors may adversely affect the economic performance and value of our Properties and our cash flows. These factors include:
changes in the national, regional and/or local economic climate;
the attractiveness of our Properties to customers, competition from other manufactured home communities and lifestyle-oriented properties and alternative forms of housing (such as apartment buildings and site-built single-family homes);
the ability of manufactured home and RV manufacturers to adapt to changes in the economic climate and the availability of units from these manufacturers;
the ability of our potential customers to sell or lease their existing site-built residences in order to purchase homes or cottages at our Properties, and heightened price sensitivity for seasonal and second homebuyers;
the possible reduced ability of our potential customers to obtain financing on the purchase of homes, cottages or RVs;
the ability of our potential customers to obtain affordable chattel financing from manufactured home lenders;
our ability to collect rent, annual payments and principal and interest from customers and pay or control maintenance, insurance and other operating costs (including real estate taxes), which could increase over time;
unfavorable weather conditions, especially on holiday weekends in the spring and summer months, could reduce the economic performance at our Properties;
change in climate and the occurrence of natural disasters or catastrophic events;
the failure of our assets to generate income sufficient to pay our expenses, service our debt and maintain our Properties, which may adversely affect our ability to make expected distributions to our stockholders or may result in claims including, but not limited to, foreclosure by a lender in the event of our inability to service our debt;
fluctuation in the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to other currencies, primarily the Canadian dollar, as many of our customers who visit our northern and southern Properties are Canadians;
changes in U.S. social, political, economic conditions, laws, governmental regulations (including rent control laws and regulations governing usage, zoning and taxes and chattel financing), and policies governing health care systems and drug prices, tax laws, foreign trade, manufacturing, and development and investment;
fiscal policies or inaction at the U.S. federal government level, which may lead to federal government shutdowns or negative impacts on the U.S. economy;
changes in laws and governmental regulations related to minimum wage increases; and
our ability to attract customers to enter new or upgraded right-to-use contracts and to retain customers who have previously entered right-to-use contracts.
Economic Downturn in the States or Markets with a Large Concentration of Our Properties May Adversely Affect Our Cash Flows, Financial Condition and Ability to Make Distributions.
Our success is dependent upon economic conditions in the U.S. generally and in the geographic areas in which a substantial number of our Properties are located. Changes in national economic conditions and in the economic conditions of the regions in which we conduct substantial business may have an adverse effect on the real estate values of our Properties, our financial performance and the market price of our common stock. As we have a large concentration of properties in certain markets, most notably Florida, California, and Arizona, adverse market and economic conditions in these areas of high concentration, which significantly affect such factors as occupancy and rental rates, could have a significant impact on our revenues, cash flows, financial condition and ability to make distributions. In a recession or under other adverse economic conditions, such as during a government shutdown, non-earning assets and write-downs are likely to increase as debtors fail to meet their payment obligations. Although we maintain reserves for credit losses and an allowance for doubtful accounts in amounts that we believe should be sufficient to provide adequate protection against potential write-downs in our portfolio, these amounts could prove to be insufficient.
Certain of Our Properties, Primarily our RV Communities, are Subject to Seasonality and Cyclicality.
Some of our RV communities are used primarily by vacationers and campers. These Properties experience seasonal demand, which generally increases in the spring and summer months and decreases in the fall and winter months. As such, results for a certain quarter may not be indicative of the results of future quarters. In addition, because our RV communities are primarily used
by vacationers and campers, economic cyclicality resulting in a downturn that affects discretionary spending and disposable income for leisure-time activities, as well as unfavorable weather conditions during the spring and summer months, could adversely affect our cash flows.
Competition for Acquisitions May Result in Increased Prices for Properties and Associated Costs and Increased Costs of Financing.
We expect that other real estate investors with significant capital will compete with us for attractive investment opportunities. Such competition increases prices for Properties and can also result in increased fixed costs, such as real estate taxes. To the extent we are unable to effectively compete or acquire properties with more favorable terms than we are able to negotiate, our business may be adversely affected. Further, we expect to acquire Properties with cash from sources including but not limited to secured or unsecured financings, proceeds from offerings of equity or debt, offerings of OP Units, undistributed funds from operations and sales of investments. We may not be in a position or have the opportunity in the future to make suitable Property acquisitions on favorable terms, or at all, and increased competition can cause difficulties obtaining new financing or securing favorable financing terms.
New Acquisitions May Fail to Perform as Expected and the Intended Benefits May Not Be Realized, Which Could Have a Negative Impact on Our Operations and the Market Price of Our Common Stock.
We intend to continue to acquire Properties. However, newly acquired Properties may fail to perform as expected and could pose risks for our ongoing operations including the following:
integration may prove costly or time-consuming and may divert management's attention from the management of daily operations;
difficulties or an inability to access capital or increases in financing costs;
we may incur costs and expenses associated with any undisclosed or potential liabilities;
unforeseen difficulties may arise in integrating an acquisition into our portfolio;
expected synergies may not materialize; and
we may acquire properties in new markets where we face risks associated with lack of market knowledge such as understanding of the local economy, the local governmental and/or local permit procedures.
As a result of the foregoing, we may not accurately estimate or identify all costs necessary to bring an acquired Property up to standards established for our intended market position. As such, we cannot provide assurance that any acquisition that we make will be accretive to us in the near term or at all. Furthermore, if we fail to realize the intended benefits of an acquisition, the market price of our common stock could decline to the extent that the market price reflects those benefits.
Development and Expansion Properties May Fail to Perform as Expected and the Intended Benefits May Not Be Realized, Which Could Have a Negative Impact on Our Operations and the Market Price of Our Common Stock.
We may periodically consider development and expansion activities, which are subject to risks such as construction costs exceeding original estimates and construction and lease-up delays resulting in increased construction costs and lower than expected revenues. Additionally, there can be no assurance that these properties will operate better as a result of development or expansion activities due to various factors, including lower than anticipated occupancy and rental rates causing a property to be unprofitable or less profitable than originally estimated.
We Regularly Expend Capital to Maintain, Repair and Renovate Our Properties, Which Could Negatively Impact Our Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
We may, or we may be required to, from time to time make significant capital expenditures to maintain or enhance the competitiveness of our Properties. There can be no assurances that any such expenditures would result in higher occupancy or higher rental rates.
Real Estate Investments Are Illiquid. Therefore, We May Not be Able to Sell Properties.
Real estate investments generally cannot be sold quickly. We may not be able to vary our portfolio promptly in response to economic or other conditions, forcing us to accept lower than market value. This inability to respond promptly to changes in the performance of our investments could adversely affect our financial condition and ability to service debt and make distributions to our stockholders.
Our Ability to Renew Ground Leases Could Adversely Affect Our Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
We own the buildings and leasehold improvements at certain Properties that are subject to long-term ground leases. For various reasons, landowners may not want to renew the ground lease agreements with similar terms and conditions, if at all, which
may adversely impact our ability to operate these Properties and generate revenues. We have 13 Properties in our portfolio subject to ground lease agreements for land, which we do not own. Four of the 13 Properties, which generated approximately $5.7 million of income from operations for the year ended December 31, 2018, are subject to ground lease agreements with a final expiration date before 2023. We intend to pursue renewal of these ground leases prior to expiration, but can provide no assurance that we will be successful in our efforts.
Our Ability to Sell or Rent Manufactured Homes Could be Impaired, Resulting in Reduced Cash Flows.
Selling and renting homes is a primary part of our business. Our ability to sell or rent manufactured homes could be adversely affected by any of the following factors:
downturns in economic conditions disrupting the single-family housing market;
local conditions, such as an oversupply of lifestyle-oriented properties or a reduction in demand for lifestyle-oriented properties;
increased costs to acquire homes;
our ability to obtain an adequate supply of homes at reasonable costs from MH suppliers;
the ability of customers to obtain affordable financing; and
demographics, such as the retirement of the "baby boomers", and their demand for access to our lifestyle-oriented Properties.
Regulation of Chattel Financing May Affect Our Ability to Sell Homes.
Since 2010, the regulatory environment has made it difficult for purchasers of manufactured homes and RVs to obtain financing. Legislation enacted in 2010 known as the SAFE Act (Safe Mortgage Licensing Act) requires community owners interested in providing financing for customer purchases of manufactured homes to register as mortgage loan originators in states where they engage in such financing. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act amended the Truth in Lending Act and other consumer protection laws by adding requirements for residential mortgage loans, including limitations on mortgage origination activities, restrictions on high-cost mortgages and new standards for appraisals. The law also requires lenders to make a reasonable investigation into a borrower's ability to repay a loan. These requirements make it more difficult for homeowners to obtain affordable financing and especially for individuals with moderate income to obtain loans to purchase manufactured housing or RVs. Homeowners' ability to obtain affordable financing could affect our ability to sell homes.
Our Investments in Joint Ventures Could be Adversely Affected by Our Lack of Sole Decision-Making Authority Regarding Major Decisions, Our Reliance on Our Joint Venture Partners' Financial Condition, Any Disputes that may Arise Between Us and Our Joint Venture Partners and Our Exposure to Potential Losses from the Actions of Our Joint Venture Partners.
We have joint ventures with other investors. We currently and may continue in the future to acquire properties or make investments in joint ventures with other persons or entities when we believe circumstances warrant the use of such structures. Joint venture investments involve risks not present with respect to our wholly owned Properties, including the following:
our joint venture partners might experience financial distress, become bankrupt or fail to fund their share of required capital contributions, which may delay construction or development of a property or increase our financial commitment to the joint venture;
our joint venture partners may have business interests or goals with respect to a property that conflict with our business interests and goals, which could increase the likelihood of disputes regarding the ownership, management or disposition of the property; and
we may be unable to take actions that are opposed by our joint venture partners under arrangements that require us to share decision-making authority over major decisions affecting the ownership or operation of the joint venture and any property owned by the joint venture, such as the sale or financing of the property or the making of additional capital contributions for the benefit of the venture.
At times we have entered into agreements providing for joint and several liability with our partners. Frequently, we and our partners may each have the right to trigger a buy-sell arrangement, which could cause us to sell our interest, or acquire our partners' interest, at a time when we otherwise would not have initiated such a transaction. Any of these risks could materially and adversely affect our ability to generate and recognize attractive returns on our joint venture investments, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and distributions to our stockholders.
Our Success Depends, in Part, on Our Ability to Attract and Retain Talented Employees.
Our ability to attract, retain and motivate talented employees could significantly impact our future performance. Competition for these individuals is intense, and we cannot assure you that we will retain our key officers and employees or that we will be able to attract and retain other highly qualified individuals in the future.
Our Business Operations Are Dependent On Software And Computer Systems Operated And Maintained By Third-Party Vendors.
We rely on the software and computer systems of third-party vendors to process and store information required for our business operations. Any disruption in the operations of these third-party vendors could adversely affect our business operations. While we require all vendors to maintain appropriate back-up copies of our information, transitioning to a new vendor can be time-consuming and disruptive, which could lead to lost revenues and damage to our business reputation.
Risks Relating to Governmental Regulation and Potential Litigation
Changes to Federal and State Laws and Regulations Could Adversely Affect Our Operations and the Market Price of Our Common Stock.
Our business operations are subject to certain federal and state laws and regulations including but not limited to the following:
Rent Control Legislation
Certain of our Properties are subject to state and local rent control regulations that dictate rent increases and our ability to recover increases in operating expenses and the costs of capital improvements. In addition, in certain jurisdictions, such regulations allow residents to sell their homes for a price that includes a premium above the intrinsic value of the homes. The premium represents the value of the future discounted rent-controlled rents, which is fully capitalized into the prices of the homes sold. In our view, such regulations result in a transfer to the residents of the value of our land, which would otherwise be reflected in market rents. As part of our effort to realize the value of Properties subject to restrictive regulation, we have initiated lawsuits at various times against various municipalities imposing such regulations in an attempt to balance the interests of our stockholders with the interests of our customers. In addition, we operate certain of our Properties, and may acquire additional properties, in high cost markets where the demand for affordable housing may result in the adoption of new rent control legislation that may impact rent increases.
We also own Properties in certain areas of the country where the rental rates at our Properties have not increased as fast as real estate values either because of locally imposed rent control or long term leases. In such areas, certain local government entities have at times investigated the possibility of seeking to take our Properties by eminent domain at values below the value of the underlying land. While no such eminent domain proceeding has been commenced, and we anticipate exercising all of our rights in connection with any such proceeding, successful condemnation proceedings by municipalities could adversely affect our financial condition.
Resident groups have previously filed lawsuits against us seeking to limit rent increases and/or seeking large damage awards for our alleged failure to properly maintain certain Properties or other resident related matters. An adverse finding against us in any such proceeding could materially and adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and distributions to our stockholders.
Occupational, Safety and Health Act
Our Properties are subject to regulation under the federal Occupational, Safety and Health Act ("OSHA"), which requires employers to provide employees with an environment free from hazards, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress and unsanitary conditions. Although we believe that our Properties are in compliance in all material respects with applicable requirements, complying with OSHA and similar laws can be costly and any failure to comply with these regulations could result in penalties or potential litigation.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), all public accommodations and commercial facilities must meet certain federal requirements related to access and use by disabled persons. Although we believe that our Properties are in compliance in all material respects with applicable requirements, noncompliance with the ADA or related laws or regulations could result in the U.S. government imposing fines or private litigants being awarded damages against us. Such costs may adversely affect our ability to make distributions or payments to our investors. Compliance with the ADA requirements could involve removal of structural barriers to access or use by disabled persons. Other federal, state and local laws may require modifications to or restrict further renovations of our Properties with respect to such access.
Laws and Regulations Relating to Campground Membership Sales and Properties Could Adversely Affect the Value of Certain Properties and Our Cash Flow.
Many of the states in which we do business have laws regulating right-to-use or campground membership sales. These laws generally require comprehensive disclosure to prospective purchasers, and usually give purchasers the right to rescind their purchase between three to five days after the date of sale. Some states have laws requiring us to register with a state agency and obtain a permit to market. We are subject to changes, from time to time, in the application or interpretation of such laws that can affect our business or the rights of our members.
In some states, including California, Oregon and Washington, laws place limitations on the ability of the owner of a campground property to close the property unless the customers at the property receive access to a comparable property. The impact of the rights of customers under these laws is uncertain and could adversely affect the availability or timing of sale opportunities or our ability to realize recoveries from Property sales.
Certain consumer rights and defenses that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction may affect our portfolio of contracts receivable. Examples of such laws include state and federal consumer credit and truth-in-lending laws requiring the disclosure of finance charges, and usury and retail installment sales laws regulating permissible finance charges.
Natural Disasters Could Adversely Affect the Value of Our Properties and Cash Flows: Climate Change Could Increase the Frequency and Severity of Natural Disasters.
We are subject to risks associated with natural disasters, including but not limited to hurricanes, storms, fires and earthquakes. As of December 31, 2018, we owned or had an ownership interest in 414 Properties located in 33 states and British Columbia, including 144 Properties located in Florida and 49 Properties located in California. The occurrence of a natural disaster or other catastrophic event in any of these areas may cause a sudden decrease in the value of our Properties and result in an adverse effect to our cash flows, financial condition and results of operations.
To the extent climate change causes changes in weather patterns, our markets could experience increases in storm intensity and rising sea levels. Over time, these conditions could result in declining demand for our coastal Properties or our inability to operate them. Climate change may also have indirect effects on our business by increasing the cost of (or making unavailable) property insurance on terms we find acceptable, increasing the cost of energy at our properties and requiring us to expend funds as we seek to repair and protect our properties against such risks. The incurrence of these losses, costs or business interruptions may adversely affect our operating and financial results.
Environmental and Utility-Related Problems are Possible and Can be Costly.
Federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment may require a current or previous owner or operator of real property to investigate and clean up hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum product releases at such property. The owner or operator may have to pay a governmental entity or third parties for property damage and for investigation and clean-up costs incurred by such parties in connection with the contamination. Such laws typically impose clean-up responsibility and liability without regard to whether the owner or operator knew of or caused the presence of the contaminants. Even if more than one person may have been responsible for the contamination, each person covered by the environmental laws may be held responsible for all of the clean-up costs incurred. In addition, third parties may sue the owner or operator of a site for damages and costs resulting from environmental contamination emanating from that site.
Environmental laws also govern the presence, maintenance and removal of asbestos. Such laws require that owners or operators of property containing asbestos properly manage and maintain the asbestos, that they notify and train those who may come into contact with asbestos and that they undertake special precautions, including removal or other abatement, if asbestos would be disturbed during renovation or demolition of a building. Such laws may impose fines and penalties on real property owners or operators who fail to comply with these requirements and may allow third parties to seek recovery from owners or operators for personal injury associated with exposure to asbestos fibers.
Utility-related laws and regulations also govern the provision of utility services. Such laws regulate, for example, how and to what extent owners or operators of property can charge renters for provision of utilities. Such laws also regulate the operations and performance of utility systems and may impose fines and penalties on real property owners or operators who fail to comply with these requirements. The regulations may also require capital investment to maintain compliance.
Changes in Oil and Gasoline Prices May Have an Adverse Impact on Our Properties and the RV Industry.
In the event the cost to power RVs increases, customers may reduce the amount of time spent traveling in their RVs. This may negatively impact revenues at our Properties that target these customers.
Risks Relating to Debt and the Financial Markets
Our Substantial Indebtedness Could Adversely Affect Our Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
Our business is subject to risks normally associated with debt financing. The total principal amount of our outstanding indebtedness was approximately $2,385.9 million as of December 31, 2018, of which approximately $117.0 million, or 4.9%, matures in 2020. Our substantial indebtedness and the cash flows associated with serving our indebtedness could have important consequences, including the risks that:
our cash flows could be insufficient to pay distributions at expected levels and meet required payments of principal and interest;
we might be required to use a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to pay our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flows to fund the implementation of our business strategy, acquisitions, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes;
our debt service obligations could limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate;
terms of refinancing may not be as favorable as the terms of existing indebtedness, resulting in higher interest rates that adversely affect net income, cash flows and our ability to service debt and make distributions to stockholders;
if principal payments due at maturity cannot be refinanced, extended or paid with proceeds of other capital transactions, such as new equity capital, our cash flows may not be sufficient in all years to repay all maturing debt; and
to the extent that any Property is cross-collateralized with any other Properties, any default under the mortgage note relating to one Property will result in a default under the financing arrangements relating to other Properties that also provide security for that mortgage note or are cross-collateralized with such mortgage note.
Our Ability to Obtain Mortgage Financing Or Refinance Maturing Mortgages May Adversely Affect Our Financial Condition.
Lenders' demands on borrowers as to the quality of the collateral and related cash flows may make it challenging to secure financing on attractive terms or at all. Future market factors including increases in the U.S. federal reserve funds rate will likely result in an increase in market interest rates, which may increase the costs of refinancing existing indebtedness or obtaining new debt.
Additionally, future disruptions in capital and credit markets, including potential reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, could impact both the capacity and liquidity of lenders, resulting in financing terms that are less attractive to us and/or the unavailability of certain types of debt financing. This could have an adverse effect on our ability to refinance maturing debt and/or react to changing economic and business conditions.
Financial Covenants Could Adversely Affect Our Financial Condition.
If a Property is mortgaged to secure payment of indebtedness, and we are unable to meet mortgage payments, the mortgagee could foreclose on the Property, resulting in loss of income and asset value. The mortgages on our Properties contain customary negative covenants, which among other things limit our ability, without the prior consent of the lender, to further mortgage the Property and to discontinue insurance coverage. In addition, our unsecured credit facilities contain certain customary restrictions, requirements and other limitations on our ability to incur indebtedness, including total debt-to-assets ratios, debt service coverage ratios and minimum ratios of unencumbered assets to unsecured debt. Foreclosure on mortgaged Properties or an inability to refinance existing indebtedness would likely have a negative impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our Degree of Leverage Could Limit Our Ability to Obtain Additional Financing.
Our debt-to-market-capitalization ratio (total debt as a percentage of total debt plus the market value of the outstanding common stock and OP Units held by parties other than us) was approximately 20.4% as of December 31, 2018. The degree of leverage could have important consequences to stockholders, including an adverse effect on our ability to obtain additional financing in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, development or other general corporate purposes, and makes us more vulnerable to a downturn in business or the economy generally.
We May Be Able To Incur Substantially More Debt, Which Would Increase The Risks Associated With Our Substantial Leverage.
Despite our current indebtedness levels, we may still be able to incur substantially more debt in the future. If new debt is added to our current debt levels, an even greater portion of our cash flow will be needed to satisfy our debt service obligations. As a result, the related risks that we now face could intensify and increase the risk of a default on our indebtedness.
We May Be Adversely Affected By Changes in LIBOR Reporting Practices Or The Method In Which LIBOR Is Determined.
In July 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority announced it intends to stop compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. The Alternative Reference Rates Committee ("ARRC") has proposed that the Secured Overnight Financing Rate ("SOFR") is the rate that represents best practice as the alternative to USD-LIBOR for use in derivatives and other financial contracts that are currently indexed to USD-LIBOR. ARRC has proposed a market transition plan to SOFR from USD-LIBOR and organizations are currently working on industry wide and company specific transition plans as it relates to derivatives and cash markets exposed to USD-LIBOR. Our floating rate borrowings and derivative instruments are indexed to USD-LIBOR and we are monitoring this activity and evaluating the related risks. Although the full impact of such reforms and actions, together with any transition away from LIBOR, including the potential or actual discontinuance of LIBOR publication, remains unclear, these changes may have a material adverse impact on the availability of financing, including LIBOR-based loans, and as a result on our financing costs.
Risks Related to Our Company Ownership
Provisions of Our Charter and Bylaws Could Inhibit Changes of Control.
Certain provisions of our charter and bylaws may delay or prevent a change of control or other transactions that could provide our stockholders with a premium over the then-prevailing market price of their common stock or future series of preferred stock, if any, which might otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders. These include the Ownership Limit described below. Also, any future series of preferred stock may have certain voting provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control or other transaction that might involve a premium price or otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders.
Maryland Law Imposes Certain Limitations on Changes of Control.
Certain provisions of Maryland law prohibit "business combinations" (including certain issuances of equity securities) with any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the voting power of our outstanding common stock, or with an affiliate of ours, who, at any time within the two-year period prior to the date in question, was the owner of 10% or more of the voting power of our outstanding voting stock (an "Interested Stockholder"), or with an affiliate of an Interested Stockholder. These prohibitions last for five years after the most recent date on which the Interested Stockholder became an Interested Stockholder. After the five-year period, a business combination with an Interested Stockholder must be approved by two super-majority stockholder votes unless, among other conditions, our common stockholders receive a minimum price for their shares and the consideration is received in cash or in the same form as previously paid by the Interested Stockholder for shares of our common stock. The Board of Directors has exempted from these provisions under Maryland law any business combination with Samuel Zell, who is Chairman of our Board of Directors, certain holders of OP Units who received them at the time of our initial public offering, and our officers who acquired common stock at the time we were formed and each and every affiliate of theirs.
Conflicts of Interest Could Influence Our Decisions.
Certain stockholders could exercise influence in a manner inconsistent with stockholders' best interests. Mr. Zell and certain related entities, directly or indirectly, beneficially own shares of our common stock and OP Units as disclosed in our Proxy Statement on Schedule 14A for the 2019 Annual Meeting incorporated by reference herein. Mr. Zell is the chairman of our Board of Directors. Accordingly, Mr. Zell has significant influence on our management and operation. Such influence could be exercised in a manner that is inconsistent with the interests of other stockholders. In addition, Mr. Zell and related entities continue to be involved in other investment activities. Mr. Zell and related entities have a broad and varied range of investment interests, including interests in other real estate investment companies that own other forms of housing, including multifamily housing. Mr. Zell and related entities may acquire interests in other companies. Mr. Zell may not be able to control whether any such company competes with us.
Risks Relating to Our Common Stock
We Depend on Our Subsidiaries' Dividends and Distributions.
Substantially all of our assets are owned indirectly by the Operating Partnership. As a result, we have no source of cash flow other than distributions from our Operating Partnership. For us to pay dividends to holders of our common stock and preferred
stock, the Operating Partnership must first distribute cash to us. Before it can distribute the cash, our Operating Partnership must first satisfy its obligations to its creditors.
Market Interest Rates May Have an Effect on the Value of Our Common Stock.
One of the factors that investors consider important in deciding whether to buy or sell shares of a REIT is the distribution rates with respect to such shares (as a percentage of the price of such shares) relative to market interest rates. If market interest rates go up, prospective purchasers of REIT shares may expect a higher distribution rate. Higher interest rates would not, however, result in more of our funds to distribute and, in fact, would likely increase our borrowing costs and potentially decrease funds available for distribution. Thus, higher market interest rates could cause the market price of our publicly traded securities to go down.
Issuances or Sales of our Common Stock May Be Dilutive.
The issuance or sale of substantial amounts of our common stock could have a dilutive effect on our actual and expected earnings per share, Funds From Operations (“FFO”) per share and Normalized Funds From Operations ("Normalized FFO") per share. We may sell common shares under our at-the-market ("ATM") equity offering program from time-to-time. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we sold 861,141 of common shares through our then-existing ATM equity offering program in connection with the acquisitions during the year. The actual amount of dilution cannot be determined at this time and would be dependent upon numerous factors which are not currently known to us.
Risks Relating to REITs and Income Taxes
We are Dependent on External Sources of Capital.
To qualify as a REIT, we must distribute to our stockholders each year at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding any net capital gain). In addition, we intend to distribute all or substantially all of our net income so that we will generally not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on our earnings. Because of these distribution requirements, it is not likely that we will be able to fund all future capital needs, including acquisitions, from income from operations. We therefore will have to rely on third-party sources of debt and equity capital financing, which may or may not be available on favorable terms or at all. Our access to third-party sources of capital depends on a number of things, including conditions in the capital markets generally and the market's perception of our growth potential and our current and potential future earnings. It may be difficult for us to meet one or more of the requirements for qualification as a REIT, including but not limited to our distribution requirement. Moreover, additional equity offerings may result in substantial dilution of stockholders' interests, and additional debt financing may substantially increase our leverage.
We Have a Stock Ownership Limit for REIT Tax Purposes.
To remain qualified as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, not more than 50% in value of our outstanding shares of capital stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals (as defined in the federal income tax laws applicable to REITs) at any time during the last half of any taxable year. To facilitate maintenance of our REIT qualification, our charter, subject to certain exceptions, prohibits Beneficial Ownership (as defined in our charter) by any single stockholder of more than 5% (in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive) of our outstanding capital stock. We refer to this as the "Ownership Limit." Within certain limits, our charter permits the Board of Directors to increase the Ownership Limit with respect to any class or series of stock. The Board of Directors, upon receipt of a ruling from the IRS, opinion of counsel, or other evidence satisfactory to the Board of Directors and upon 15 days prior written notice of a proposed transfer which, if consummated, would result in the transferee owning shares in excess of the Ownership Limit, and upon such other conditions as the Board of Directors may direct, may exempt a stockholder from the Ownership Limit. Absent any such exemption, capital stock acquired or held in violation of the Ownership Limit will be transferred by operation of law to us as trustee for the benefit of the person to whom such capital stock is ultimately transferred, and the stockholder's rights to distributions and to vote would terminate. Such stockholder would be entitled to receive, from the proceeds of any subsequent sale of the capital stock we transferred as trustee, the lesser of (i) the price paid for the capital stock or, if the owner did not pay for the capital stock (for example, in the case of a gift, devise or other such transaction), the market price of the capital stock on the date of the event causing the capital stock to be transferred to us as trustee or (ii) the amount realized from such sale. A transfer of capital stock may be void if it causes a person to violate the Ownership Limit. The Ownership Limit could delay or prevent a change in control of us and, therefore, could adversely affect our stockholders' ability to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price for their common stock or adversely affect the best interest of our stockholders.
Our Qualification as a REIT is Dependent on Compliance with U.S. Federal Income Tax Requirements.
We believe we have been organized and operated in a manner so as to qualify for taxation as a REIT, and we intend to continue to operate so as to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Our current and continuing qualification as a REIT depends on our ability to meet the various requirements imposed by the Code, which relate to organizational structure, distribution levels, diversity of stock ownership and certain restrictions with regard to owned assets and categories of income. If we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we are generally not subject to U.S. federal income tax on our taxable income that is distributed to our stockholders. However, qualification as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes is governed by highly technical and complex provisions of the Code for which there are only limited judicial or administrative interpretations. In connection with certain transactions, we have received, and relied upon, advice of counsel as to the impact of such transactions on our qualification as a REIT. Our qualification as a REIT requires analysis of various facts and circumstances that may not be entirely within our control, and we cannot provide any assurance that the Internal Revenue Service (the "IRS") will agree with our analysis or the analysis of our tax counsel. In particular, the proper U.S. federal income tax treatment of right-to-use membership contracts and rental income from certain short-term stays at RV communities is uncertain and there is no assurance that the IRS will agree with our treatment of such contracts or rental income. If the IRS were to disagree with our analysis or our tax counsel's analysis of various facts and circumstances, our ability to qualify as a REIT could be adversely affected.
In addition, legislation, new regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions might significantly change the tax laws with respect to the requirements for qualification as a REIT or the U.S. federal income tax consequences of qualification as a REIT.
If, with respect to any taxable year, we failed to maintain our qualification as a REIT (and if specified relief provisions under the Code were not applicable to such disqualification), we would be disqualified from treatment as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year during which qualification was lost. If we lost our REIT status, we could not deduct distributions to stockholders in computing our net taxable income at regular corporate rates and we would be subject to U.S. federal income tax on our net taxable incomes. If we had to pay U.S. federal income tax, the amount of money available to distribute to stockholders and pay indebtedness would be reduced for the year or years involved, and we would no longer be required to distribute money to stockholders. Although we currently intend to operate in a manner designed to allow us to qualify as a REIT, future economic, market, legal, tax or other considerations may cause us to revoke the REIT election.
Furthermore, we own a direct interest in a subsidiary REIT, and in the past we have owned interests in other subsidiary REITs, each of which elected to be taxed as REITs under Sections 856 through 860 of the Code. Provided that each subsidiary REIT that we own qualifies as a REIT, our interest in such subsidiary REIT will be treated as a qualifying real estate asset for purposes of the REIT asset tests, and any dividend income or gains derived by us from such subsidiary REIT will generally be treated as income that qualifies for purposes of the REIT gross income tests. To qualify as a REIT, the subsidiary REIT must independently satisfy all of the REIT qualification requirements. If such subsidiary REIT were to fail to qualify as a REIT, and certain relief provisions did not apply, it would be treated as a regular taxable corporation and its income would be subject to U.S. federal income tax. In addition, a failure of the subsidiary REIT to qualify as a REIT could have an adverse effect on our ability to comply with the REIT income and asset tests, and thus our ability to qualify as a REIT.
We May Pay Some Taxes, Reducing Cash Available for Stockholders.
Even if we qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we may be subject to some U.S. federal, foreign, state and local taxes on our income and property. Since January 1, 2001, certain of our corporate subsidiaries have elected to be treated as "taxable REIT subsidiaries" for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and are taxable as regular corporations and subject to certain limitations on intercompany transactions. If tax authorities determine that amounts paid by our taxable REIT subsidiaries to us are greater than what would be paid under similar arrangements among unrelated parties, we could be subject to a 100% penalty tax on the excess payments, and ongoing intercompany arrangements could have to change, resulting in higher ongoing tax payments. To the extent we are required to pay U.S. federal, foreign, state or local taxes or U.S. federal penalty taxes due to existing laws or changes to them, we will have less cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
Recent Changes to U.S. Tax Laws and Related Interpretations Could Adversely Impact Us.
On December 22, 2017, H.R. 1, commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law making significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code").
While the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act generally appear to be favorable with respect to REITs, the extensive changes to non-REIT provisions in the Code may have unanticipated effects on us or our stockholders. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lacks clarification with regard to many aspects and is likely subject to potential amendments and technical corrections, as well as interpretations and implementing regulations by the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, any of which could lessen or increase the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition, it remains unclear how these U.S. federal income tax
changes will affect state and local taxation, which often uses federal taxable income as a starting point for computing state and local tax liabilities.
As a result of the changes to U.S. federal tax laws implemented by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our taxable income and the amount of distributions to our stockholders required in order to maintain our REIT status, and our relative tax advantage as a REIT, may change. The long-term impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the overall economy, government revenues, our tenants, us, and the real estate industry cannot be reliably predicted at this stage of the law’s implementation. There can be no assurance that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will not negatively impact our operating results, financial condition, and future business operations. For additional discussion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, see "Recent U.S. Federal Income Tax Legislation." You are urged to consult with your tax advisor with respect to the status of legislative, regulatory, or administrative developments and proposals and their potential effect on an investment in our shares.
Other Risk Factors Affecting Our Business
Some Potential Losses Are Not Covered by Insurance.
We carry comprehensive insurance coverage for losses resulting from property damage and environmental liability and business interruption claims on all of our Properties. In addition, we carry liability coverage for other activities not specifically related to property operations. These coverages include, but are not limited to, Directors & Officers liability, Employer Practices liability, Fiduciary liability and Cyber liability. We believe that the policy specifications and coverage limits of these policies should be adequate and appropriate. There are, however, certain types of losses, such as punitive damages, lease and other contract claims that generally are not insured. Should an uninsured loss or a loss in excess of coverage limits occur, we could lose all or a portion of the capital we have invested in a Property or the anticipated future revenue from a Property. In such an event, we might nevertheless remain obligated for any mortgage debt or other financial obligations related to the Property.
Our current property and casualty insurance policies, which we plan to renew, expire on April 1, 2019. We have a $100 million loss limit per occurrence with respect to our all-risk property insurance program including named windstorms, which include, for example, hurricanes. This loss limit is subject to additional sub-limits as set forth in the policy form, including, among others, a $25 million aggregate loss limit for earthquake(s) in California. The deductibles for this policy primarily range from a $500,000 minimum to 5% per unit of insurance for most catastrophic events. For most catastrophic events, there is an additional one-time $500,000 aggregate deductible. A deductible indicates our maximum exposure, subject to policy limits and sub-limits, in the event of a loss.
We Face Risks Relating to Cybersecurity Incidents.
We rely extensively on internally and externally hosted computer systems to process transactions and manage our business. Critical components of our systems are dependent upon third-party providers and a significant portion of our business operations are conducted over the internet. These systems and websites require access to telecommunications or the internet, each of which is subject to system security risks, cybersecurity breaches, outages and other risks. These could include attempts to gain unauthorized access to our data and computer systems, or steal confidential information, including credit card information from our customers, breaches due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions, including disruptions that result in our and our customers' loss of access to our information systems. Attacks can be both individual or highly organized attempts by very sophisticated hacking organizations. We employ a number of measures to prevent, detect and mitigate these threats. While we continue to improve our cybersecurity and take measures to protect our business, there is no guarantee such efforts will be successful in preventing a cyber incident and that our financial results will not be negatively impacted by such an incident. A cybersecurity incident could compromise the confidential information of our employees, customers and vendors to the extent such information exists on our systems or on the systems of third-party providers. Such an incident could result in potential liability, damage our reputation and disrupt and affect our business operations and result in lawsuits against us.
Social Media Platforms or Social Media Sites Could Cause Us to Suffer Brand Damage or Information Leakage.
The use of social media could cause us to suffer brand damage or information leakage. Negative posts or comments about us, our officers, employees or directors or our Properties on any social networking platform could damage our image, or our Properties' reputations. The considerable increase in the use of social media over recent years has greatly expanded the potential scope and scale, and increased the rapidity of the dissemination of negative publicity that could be generated by negative posts and comments. In addition, employees or others might disclose non-public sensitive information relating to our business through external media channels. The continuing evolution of social media will present us with new challenges and risks.
Interpretation of and Changes to Accounting Policies and Standards Could Adversely Affect Our Reported Financial Results.
Our accounting policies and methods are fundamental to the manner in which we record and report our financial condition and results of operations. Management must exercise judgment in selecting and applying many of these accounting policies and methods in order to ensure that they comply with generally accepted accounting principles and reflect management's judgment as to the most appropriate manner in which to record and report our financial condition and results of operations. In some cases, management must select the accounting policy or method to apply from two or more alternatives, any of which might be reasonable under the circumstances yet might result in reporting materially different amounts than would have been reported under a different alternative.
Additionally, the bodies that set accounting standards for public companies, including the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB"), the SEC and others, periodically change or revise existing interpretations of the accounting and reporting standards that govern the way that we report our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. These changes can be difficult to predict and can materially impact our reported financial results. In some cases, we could be required to apply a new or revised accounting standard, or a revised interpretation of an accounting standard, retroactively, which could have a negative impact on reported results or result in the restatement of our financial statements for prior periods.
Any Weaknesses Identified in Our Internal Control Over Financial Reporting Could Have an Adverse Effect on Our Stock Price.
Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002 requires us to evaluate and report on our internal control over financial reporting. If we identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports. which in turn could have an adverse effect on our stock price.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Our Properties provide attractive amenities and common facilities that create a comfortable and attractive home for our customers, with most offering a clubhouse, a swimming pool, laundry facilities, cable television and internet service. Many also offer additional amenities such as sauna/whirlpool spas, golf courses, tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard and basketball courts, exercise rooms and various social activities. Since most of our customers generally own their home and live in our communities for a long time, it is their responsibility to maintain their homes and the surrounding area. It is our role to ensure that customers comply with our Property policies and to provide maintenance of the common areas, facilities and amenities. We hold periodic meetings with our Property management personnel for training and implementation of our strategies. The Properties historically have had, and we believe they will continue to have, low turnover and high occupancy rates.
As of December 31, 2018, we owned or had an ownership interest in a portfolio of 414 Properties located throughout the United States and British Columbia containing 155,447 Sites. A total of 118 of the Properties are encumbered by debt as of December 31, 2018 (see Note 8 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a description of this debt). The distribution of our Properties throughout the United States reflects our belief that geographic diversification helps to insulate the portfolio from regional economic influences. We intend to target new acquisitions in or near markets where our Properties are located and will also consider acquisitions of properties outside such markets.
Our two largest Properties as determined by property operating revenues are Colony Cove, located in Ellenton, Florida, and Viewpoint Resort, located in Mesa, Arizona. Each accounted for approximately 2.0% of our total property operating revenues, including deferrals, for the year ended December 31, 2018.
The following table sets forth certain information relating to our 397 wholly owned Properties containing 149,506 Sites as of December 31, 2018. These Properties are categorized according to major markets and exclude Properties owned through joint ventures. The total number of annual Sites presented for the RV communities represents Sites occupied by annual customers and are presented as 100%. Percentage occupancy subtotals by markets and grand totals for all markets are presented on a weighted average basis.