Mobile home flipping leads to shared prosperity

Cedric Utley and his wife Ria took control of their financial life through products like Credit Karma. Now, as the owners of Mobile Home Matadors, they work to bring affordable housing options to buyers in Los Angeles.

A black man in a button down shirt smiles at his wife while drinking coffee outside.

While sparring with his aspiring-boxer nephew, Cedric Utley took some punches and closed his eyes on impact. He learned an important life lesson when his nephew chided, “You got to get hit with your eyes open.”

The words stuck with Cedric. “That’s kind of what life is,” he says. “You’re going to get hit, but you still have to see the opportunities in front of you. It’s choosing good versus bad.”

Adopting the mindset of an athlete helped Cedric beyond just taking a punch. Growing up as a Black child in predominantly white Utah brought plenty of challenges, but there were subtler obstacles, too. No one in his family had gone to college, and beliefs around money only extended to providing life’s bare necessities. Topics like finances and real estate were rarely discussed.  

“I always felt like my ceiling was very, very low,” Cedric says.

Building momentum

Luckily, the people around Cedric didn’t buy into that low ceiling. Lessons on building your savings and careful spending were passed down from various family members. In addition to healthy financial habits, Cedric’s grandfather urged him to do more, and be more than a pawn in someone else’s game.  His family instilled the belief he had the same potential as anyone else to live a fulfilling life.

“They always had bigger dreams for me,” he says.

Ria, Cedric’s wife, had similar financial aspirations. Starting their journey toward prosperity, they felt like they were shining a light down a dark path, finding the next step, and taking it. Yet, with each step their world grew larger.

Cedric graduated college, earned an MBA, and got a corporate job. Despite working hard, he made less money than his white peers. Heeding his grandpa’s advice, he took his destiny into his own hands. 

He and Ria realized they had the money and education to make some good financial moves and bought a house. Their house is located in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, near the University of Southern California.  The neighborhood is in transition and the house is rapidly rising in value.

“I can’t put into words what it’s like to be a Black homeowner and knowing that all of these odds, all of these things are working against you,” said Cedric. 

Despite the odds, Cedric and Ria make their house work for them. By living in the back, they are able to list the front as an Airbnb and generate enough passive income to cover their mortgage and taxes.

Giving back, today

The joy of owning their first home is a memory that sticks with Cedric and Ria. It also inspired their next move.

Given the affordable housing crisis in America and especially in Southern California, an idea sparked for Cedric. Their venture, Mobile Home Matadors, was born – they buy mobile homes “as is” for cash, spruce them up, and sell them.

Initially, the couple started the business as a side hustle and barely made any money on their first couple of deals. But they found people loved the service they provided, and they loved helping people who sometimes were in a tough spot.

“My wife and I kind of have this saying that there is no future,” explains Cedric. “I see prosperity as something I can give back to others today. I can change the life of someone looking to sell their mobile home. I can do that today.”

Better tools

There was a time in Cedric’s life where he had almost zero financial tools. When apartment rental managers said they would run a credit check, he had no idea what they meant. Learning to use financial products like Credit Karma from Intuit was a game-changer.

It helped him and Ria understand the difference between hard and soft credit inquiries and the importance of keeping credit card usage to no more than 30%. They were able to raise their credit scores so they could afford their house in LA.

“Knowledge is power,” Cedric says, “and having something like Credit Karma gives you power.”

He adds, you still have to seek the knowledge, acquire it, and then pass it on to other people.

“That’s changing the narrative for the people around me,” he says. “And that’s a sign of prosperity. It’s a sign of growth. It’s a sign of better things to come.”