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Home > Affordable Housing, Analysis and Commentary, Association, Election, Flashback, Manufactured Home Communities, Manufactured Housing Industry, mobile home, News, People, Politics, Trends > Frank Rolfe. Manufactured Homes and Communities. Industry Politics. It’s Complicated.

Frank Rolfe. Manufactured Homes and Communities. Industry Politics. It’s Complicated.

October 11th, 2018

 

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It’s complicated.

 

There is little doubt that Frank Rolfe is a believer in affordable housing, manufactured homes, and what he routinely – albeit controversially – refers to as “mobile home parks1 or “trailer parks.”2

Rolfe’s known for saying controversial things others don’t want in print.

Oh my God I’m going to be killed,” Rolfe told Mark Ferguson for an investor podcast, adding “because my only experience with mobile home parks was with what I saw on TV like the movie Pink Flamingos and Griffin of course, by the things in the past, it looked kind of scary. So I thought, “Oh man I’ve got to go get a concealed handgun license.”

MobileHomeParkOwnersGuideSuccessfulBattlefieldTacticsRecaptureProfitabilityInvestorsGuideFrankRolfeMHProNewsIf that makes some industry purists cringe, he went onto say the following in that podcast.

So I went down and I did that, I bought myself a nice pistol and loaded it up and put it in my pocket and showed up at the park and I soon learned that most of my stereotypes were completely wrong at the park. One thing that it was not and that was scary, I think I don’t know why I was so obsessed with the idea that I had my personal safety an issue, but that was definitely not the case.

So pretty soon after I got in there, I learned most all of the ideas I had of the industry were stupid. I started morphing into where I am today. So I no longer carry a gun. I no longer are terrified to go into a park. Basically, a mobile home park is just like any old subdivision. It’s just the homes are much smaller and the people typically are lower income earning but to me, it’s a much more safe environment than for example an apartment complex.”

 

Rolfe on Why “Parks” Are Rising Value?

Limited numbers, with almost no more being added is the answer.  Here’s how Rolfe explained it to Ferguson.

So by far the majority of the parks we own were built in the 60’s and there were still a lot built in the 70’s and pretty much ended by the 80’s and by the 80’s what happened is that most cities passed laws that you could no longer build mobile home parks in their city and in fact today, you pretty much cannot build a mobile home park in any city in the United States. There are only about 10 parks in the entire United States built per year. So the window pretty much closed in the 80’s.”

 

Rolfe on “Mobile Home” Durability

It’s a common misconception that these homes are — that they wear out, that they have a shelf life like a car. The industry kind of did that to itself because it used to be like a car. In fact, many mobile home sellers, dealers used to be car dealers. So they would tell people, “Oh you have to trade that in after so many years.” That’s bunk. What is a mobile home? A mobile home is just like your house; it’s two by four’s, it’s metal, it’s resins, it’s plastic and then it’s sheathed in metal, it’s not going to die. There are no moving parts in it, it’s not like an engine on a car. So they really never wear out.”

Rolfe has told MHProNews that he is wont at times to exaggerate while making a point. So, he’s not saying in the above that there’s no maintenance. He knows that roofs need care or replacement, along with other components like AC, heat, or appliances.

 

Rolfe On What Can’t Be Fixed

Real estate is about location. Lots of things, you can’t fix, you can’t change location. You can’t go out and take your property in the bad location and make it a winner because of the bad location. It’s very critical, in real estate you buy it right on the front end because you can’t fix it, you just can’t. No matter how good a manager you are, if the property has — if the lots are too small, if the water sewer is failing, location’s terrible, you can’t make it any better,” he told Ferguson.

 

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Frank Rolfe ‘teaching’ on often controversial industry issues. Still from one of two videos posted on this page from that address by Rolfe to dozens of industry professionals.

Rolfe About Teaching

Then when I got out of Stanford I kept on teaching public speaking at SMU in Dallas for 30 years approximately. So Dave did the same thing on accounting out there in Colorado so we’ve always loved teaching. Teaching is fun, if you do something, it’s always fun talking about it and showing people how you do it but that’s what our education stuff is about, it’s basically, it’s about honesty and factual — it’s just a different deal and I think people respond well to it because they can tell that it’s no BS and that we really enjoy doing it.”

 

Rolfe on Action and Thought

There’s the old saying, “Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.” Thinking and learning and not taking action that never works. But equally as dangerous as taking action without knowing what you’re doing.”

Rolfe, like Warren Buffett is a reader, as well as a doer.

If you’re going to do something, learn — learn, learn. Read the instruction manual, that’s how you save yourself from bad endings. Benjamin Franklin who never owned a mobile home park, but back in the 1700’s wrote that due diligence is the mother of good luck.”

 

Rolfe on Cities and “Trailer Parks”

Rolfe argues that it is not stigma alone that keeps cities and towns from allowing more of them. “A lot of people think, “Oh well, it’s because cities hate trailer parks and trailer park people.” I mean sure, they are not excited about it, right? Any city would rather have a big mansion neighborhood than a trailer park.” He went on to say that the taxes are higher with more expensive housing than with older mobile homes or manufactured homes.

Those are not meant by Rolfe to all be value judgements.  Rather, they are matter-of-fact (to him) observations. Again, he has been known to speak his mind in often colorful ways, no doubt in part to entertain and attract an audience.  As with anyone, quoting Rolfe isn’t meant to imply that every thing he says or does is being endorsed.  MHProNews takes a ‘wheat and chaff’ approach, and is happy to source information from across a spectrum of people, opinions, and views.  One key is being accurate in fair in citing sources and sharing quotes.

Is the quote accurate and being used in an accurate application or context?  Then, have at it.

By the way, here’s Rolfe explaining terminology, in his own words.

Footnote 1: Some land-lease communities truly are ‘mobile home parks,’ in the sense that they were built during the mobile home era (pre-June 15, 1976), and have mostly mobile homes in them.

Footnote 2: Role would likely admit if pressed that trailers and mobile homes are different. There are RV ‘trailer parks,’ that’s their given name. But manufactured homes are not trailers, and they are not mobile homes. Manufactured homes and manufactured housing are legal phrases, applied to housing built to preemptive federal standards.

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The terminology matters because
the terminology determines the
construction standards a home was
built to,” Steve Duke, LMHA.

 

Rolfe on Some Big Manufactured Home Industry Controversies

When it comes to Frank Rolfe’s willingness to weigh in on controversial topics, what once was, is now noticeably toned down.

 

1)         Rolfe – who today, with his associates is the number 5 manufactured home community operation in the U.S. – has previously blasted MHI for controversial positions.

2)         One example is Rolfe leveling Nathan Smith, MHI’s former Chairman, for what Rolfe said is the terrible publicity Smith has brought to the industry. See more on Smith, MHI and other related references which are linked at the end of this report.

3)         Rolfe blasted MHI’s mindless pursuit of the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, which he correctly said ‘had no chance’ of passage during the Obama Administration.

4)         Rolfe repeatedly blasted MHI for failure to engage the media, on positive or negative news topics that impacted the industry.

 

On bullet #4 above, here is Rolfe in his own words.

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MHI is currently spotlighting 5 operations in their videos, which in some ways is arguably a disadvantage to other MHI members. It is also worth noting that those 5 videos are not getting many views.

So, there were plenty of people in MHVille that followed such comments, here on MHProNews, or on other venues when Rolfe shared such talking points.

It is obvious that Rolfe his own controversial stances. Let’s turn to some more…

 

Rolfe On Politics

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Click here or on the graphic above to learn more, which is not connected to this report.

One of the controversies that’s gone underreported in manufactured housing trades – until now – is his pre-2016 election day stance on Hillary Clinton.  Clinton was the Warren Buffet led Berkshire Hathaway pick for president in 2016.

Rolfe thought Hillary would win.  On that topic, MHProNews was correct in projecting and informing the industry of the path for the victory of Donald J. Trump in 2016.  While our styles are different, we too believe in education and information – all with a purpose.  That purpose is going more business, and serving more home owners well.

Back to Rolfe and 2016.

With former President Bill Clinton along with his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are hitting the speaking tour in the coming weeks.  Mainstream media outlets are doing past and present ‘compare and contrasts’ reports.  So, why not do so here on the Daily Business News on MHProNews too? Why not do it through the lens of Rolfe’s comments and related?

NathanSmithPhotoSSKCommunitiesLogoClaytonHomes21stMortgageLogoBerkshireHathawayLogoBillClintonKevinClaytonPhotoWarrenBuffettHillaryClintonphotoMHProNews

 

Frank Rolfe on Hillary Clinton

In the days just before the 2016 election day vote, and here’s what Rolfe said on NuWire Investor.

The U.S. Presidential Election is in only about a week. But the stats are showing that Hillary will probably win at this point – it would take a miracle to change the outcome. So if Hillary is the next President, what does that mean for real estate investors across the nation?

He made an interesting statement on interest rates under President Obama, which technically is controlled by the Federal Reserve, which is supposed to be independent of the White House. Let’s set that aside, and look at other extended pull-quotes by Rolfe to NuWire.

Keeping banks happy

One of the key issues that came up during the election was the apparent tight relationship between Hillary and big banks. They paid her millions of dollars in “speaking fees”, and the contents of her speeches (while only released by Wikileaks) would suggest that she intends to keep things status quo regarding banking policy. Since real estate is typically using leverage of 80%, a strong banking industry is imperative to keeping real estate prices healthy.

 

Keeping the economy weak

Following the U.S. Great Recession of 2008, we have entered into an era of extremely weak economic growth and employment. It would take a bold plan to exit this rut, and Clinton is unlikely to foster that. Her focus on higher taxes and more subsidies would suggest that the U.S. will remain just as it is for four more years. And that’s good for real estate, as this stable market allows investors to make safe decisions and obtain attractive loans.

 

Stabilizing immigration

Many sectors of real estate – particularly multi-family and mobile home parks – have a strong focus on Hispanic customers in many states, and removing the threat of immigration enforcement will make many owners breathe a sigh of relief. This issue has already pretty much gone away, but Clinton will probably finalize it during her administration.

 

Causing problems with capital gains tax

This is one huge downside to the Clinton presidency: anticipated higher capital gains taxes. This means that you might spend more or your profits in taxes to the IRS in the years ahead. Clearly, this is not a plus. However, it will still be difficult to get such legislation passed through Congress, so the key issue is whether or not the Democrats take control of Congress in this election. Our bet is that the issue will be muted and, if it does go forward, the effect will be gradual rather than overnight.”

No mere mortal one gets it right 100 percent of the time.  Rolfe’s analysis has a mix of correct and incorrect observations. You can read the entire Rolfe statement as a download at this link above.  Rolfe’s full commentary is found at the download, linked here.

 

Why Does This Rolfe Topic Matter to MHVille Now?

It’s complicated, but simple.

Follow the Money.

And follow how politics has evolved into a purported shell game for mega billionaires like Warren Buffett.

Because the mega rich, along with others, are arguably willing to manipulate markets – or allow inaction to harm the interests of tens of millions – while a few benefit at their expense.

Sources to MHProNews:

  • with Berkshire ties,
  • evidence of marketing and other benefits to Rolfe and his colleagues, from Berkshire’s manufactured housing brands
  • along with the evidence of Rolfe going silent about public criticism of MHI,
  • or holding a lower profile on other issues that Berkshire cares about –

all suggests an effort at influencing the narrative in the industry.

It isn’t limited to Rolfe.

 

That narrative to MHVille matters deeply to Berkshire brands like:

  • 21st Mortgage,
  • Clayton Homes,
  • Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance – which has begun lending on communities
  • suppliers like Shaw Carpeting,

–       and others who broker communities or provide other products and services. Politics, media, nonprofits – these are demonstrable tools used by Berkshire Hathaway, as Kevin Clayton has explained in a video linked from related reports, further below.

 

Clinton vs Trump, Round 2 – Buffett, Soros, Rolfe and MHAction

Rolfe has previously cited concerns over left-wing billionaire George Soros’ influencing mainstream media.

It’s arguably another apt point Rolfe’s made.

He made that point very specifically with respect to Soros, citing a source that claims that the Center for Public Integrity – which played a role in the ongoing Seattle Times controversies surrounding Clayton Homes and Berkshire lending in the manufactured housing industry.

What Rolfe doesn’t say is that billionaires like Soros and Buffett can take some negative media, help fund the creation of some of that media themselves, and can still benefit. They can benefit to the tune of billions in revenue annually.

Negative media tends to impact others in manufactured housing, not just the target of a report.  That is the contention of others in the manufactured housing industry, as messages via social media, email, text or by phone to MHProNews has contended.

There are a variety of bullets that purportedly impact manufactured housing in ways that keeps our industry from recovering to its more higher production ‘glory days.’

There are reasons to believe that those controversies impacting manufactured housing will continue.  At least that is the logic – which Rolfe believes in – of the matter, until the motivation to stop the kinds of behavior that causes controversy remain largely unabated.

Rolfe and his colleagues were invited to participate in this article, and declined.  They’ve also been invited to participate in another industry related article which is planned in the days ahead. Stay tuned for that upcoming episode of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing.” ©  Where  “We Provide, You Decide” © who you will vote for in the rapidly approaching 2018 midterms.  Will you vote for those who rig the system, or for those who are trying to level the playing field for small to mid-sized operations of all kinds?  (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

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NBC Video – Federal Authorities Investigating Clayton Homes, Maxine Waters Denounces Lending “Discrimination” Against Minorities

Danny Glover, Presidents Barack Obama & Donald Trump, Promises Kept, and Affordable Manufactured Housing

 

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