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Green Builder Blu Expanding Internationally

July 16th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla.

Coming up, First Eyewitness Report on MHI Summer Meetings

But first…these stories:

Green Builder Blu Expanding

Internationally

Sells Two Homes in Virgin Islands; Signs Caribbean

Distribution Agreement

WALTHAM, Mass., July 15 /PRNewswire. Green builder Blu Homes, Inc. today announced it sold two homes to Indigo Island Homes to serve as model homes. The homes, one a Blu Element design and the other a Blu Origin, are expected to be delivered to St. Croix [croy], U.S. Virgin Islands, in early 2011. Indigo and Blu also signed a distribution agreement allowing Indigo to market Blu’s homes in the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Indigo Island Homes will sell both Blu brands, Blu Homes and mkDesigns.

“This partnership with Blu allows us to make green, healthy homes available affordably and quickly to residents of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico,” said Anne Wachtmeister, CEO of Indigo Island Homes. “We did our homework and selected Blu because of its high-quality construction, commitment to green [a healthy living environment with a reduced carbon footprint] and ability to efficiently and affordably transport beautiful homes to our clients.”

“We have a great deal of interest for our products both within and outside the U.S.,” said Bill Haney, co-founder and president of Blu. The U.S. housing market is only 4% of the world market so the international market is an important part of our long-term plans. This move into the Caribbean is a valuable first step toward internationalization because 1) the Caribbean has strong demand for affordable, quality construction, which our unique technology lets us supply economically from our factory in Massachusetts, and 2) because Indigo Island Homes has such excellent standing in the local markets.

Today is the day that MHMSM InFocus Reporter Eric Miller’s article on the Gulf Coast MEMA Cottages is available. The award-winning designs of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) cottages were an attempt to fulfill the needs of their occupants and address the challenges of building and protecting a home where land is sometimes below sea level. They have drawn mixed responses.

Read the full, illustrated story at MHMSM.com/eric-miller/mema

[MHMSM.com Market Report, July 16,

2010 Eric prefers that we don’t read the

title]

IN MARKET NEWS, President Obama’s desk is the final stop for what some are calling the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the New Deal. The Senate voted 60-39 Thursday to approve the legislation. The measure passed the House late last month. The bill establishes an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau housed inside the Federal Reserve, bans so-called “liar loans” and provides mortgage help for the unemployed. In addition, the bill creates a financial oversight council and contains many other provisions including giving the FDIC new powers to take down giant financial firms and banks, and establishes new rules for how all publicly-traded companies pay top executives.

The online marketer of foreclosed properties RealtyTrac indicated the number of foreclosure filings of all types fell during the first six months of 2010. There were 1,654,634 properties with foreclosure filings, a 5 percent decline compared with the previous six months. Nevada and California lead the nation in both foreclosure filings and repossessions.

UBS aid goodbye to the “troubled company” label and issued an upgrade on Beazer Homes Thursday from Neutral to Buy. As reported in StreetInsider.com, UBS Analyst David Goldberg said meetings with Beazer’s CFO Allan Merrill & Treasurer Jeff Hoza assuaged fears that have lingered around operational oversight, and management is taking necessary steps to better control risk. With liquidity concerns in the rear view mirror, the focus is on rebuilding profitability. Beazer Homes closed up 14 cents to $3.96 per share.

Stocks began the day with a more than 100 point decline, but were mostly recovered by mid-afternoon. The Dow closed down 7.41 at 10,359.31. Manufactured home related stocks were mixed in their performance. Deer Valley Corp was down nearly 23 percent to close at 27 cents per share. Skyline Corp was down more than four percent to 18.13 per share. Meritage Homes was up more than two percent to close at $16.90 per share.

“Up next, First Eyewitness Report on MHI Summer Meetings

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by: Precision Capital Funding, on the Web at CaptiveFinance.net. Precision Capital Funding earned the MHI 2010 Service Supplier of the Year Award.

For more information, email Kenneth Rishel at kennethrishel@captivefinance.net or call 217-971-3968.

“And now, back to the news…”

First Eyewitness Report on MHI Summer

Meetings

by MHMSM Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

Manufactured Housing Institute, July 13-15th 2010: Summer Meeting Flash Report

“Manufactured Housing Still Rocks!” With those words, Teresa Payne addressed the crowd at the busy L’Enfant Hotel solarium yesterday morning, an apt summation of this important MHI Summer Session meeting.

This will be the first of a series of reports you will find exclusively on the MHMSM.com’s Masthead blog, in articles by INdustry In Focus Reporter Eric Miller and on our Factory Built Housing News at Noon podcasts by Erin Patla.

We start by taking hats off to Thayer Long and the rest of the dedicated MHI staff who worked so hard to make this a productive and informative series of meetings. Much more on those staff members and committee leaders work in future reports.

Some of the items you will see and hear in the days ahead will include details on:

  • Over 80 visits by Industry professionals with Congressional members on Capitol Hill
  • Discussions on key topics such as financing, the SAFE Act, regulatory issues and strategy sessions
  • Meetings with FEMA officials, as a prelude for what can result in new business for manufactured housing and park model home builders
  • Meetings with HUD and DOE officials
  • Meetings with Rural Housing officials on how more retailers can tap into zero down payment financing on manufactured homes, not ‘someday,’ but right now!
  • MHI PAC and other MHI division reports
  • HUD’s MH Program Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Regulatory Affairs and Manufactured Housing, Teresa Payne’s comments at the meeting
  • And much more!

In short, this was a busy, busy session indeed! Among the items we plan to look at in more depth:

  • The proposal that the industry consider putting all of the current issues pending before the government into a new single piece of legislation, in order to be pro-active on Industry issues instead of reactive
  • Discussion on a proposal to create a focused lobbying presence on key issues relating to regulatory agencies or Congress

Membership in MHI brings value to those who participate and attend such functions. If you were sitting in those meeting rooms with an open and attentive mind, you would have to walk away with the impression that the Industry is coming to grips with challenging issues in a very direct and positive fashion.

Hats off to one and all! # #

“Read the complete illustrated story at MHMSM.com/10/359.”

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, INdustry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla. G’day!”

Listen to Podcast Here

To submit a news tip, please click here: iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com
Categories: news-at-noon Tags:


Home sales perk up in South Carolina

July 15th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Home Sales Perk Up in South Carolina–AND—final preview of MHMSM.com’s exclusive report, MEMA Cottages Loved and Hated Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

But first…these stories:

Zeta Communities Gets a Boost for Net-Zero Modular Green Homes

By Ariel Schwartz for FastCompany.com

ZETA Communities isn’t wasting any time in rolling out its “net zero energy” modular multi-family homes in California. The San Francisco-based startup, which opened a 91,000 square foot net zero housing factory late last year, is already working on 132 factory-built housing units. The goal is to build 2,800 housing units in four factories by 2013–an objective made significantly easier by a $5 million venture capital investment this week from Black Coral Capital. That brings ZETA’s total funding to $10 million.

The company claims that its homes offer a number of advantages for energy-minded customers: ZETA’s modular housing uses 40-60% less overall energy than traditional homes thanks in part to a passive solar design, energy-efficient windows and strong insulation.

In the short-term, ZETA mostly plans to stick to the multi-family housing niche. The company has already built a townhouse in Berkeley, and it is working on numerous 310 to 340 square-foot studios in San Francisco and Berkeley lots. Zeta also recently built a seed and plant lab at the Presidio Stewardship and Sustainability Center in San Francisco.

ZETA does have some competition in the energy-efficient modular home market. Clayton Homes’ modular i-house, for example, also boasts efficiency and low cost. Unlike Clayton, however, Zeta sells its wares directly to developers and architects looking to turn existing projects into modular designs.

And ZETA eventually plans to use its newfound cash to expand outside of its multifamily housing comfort zone and into low-energy modular schools, public housing, mixed-use buildings, student housing and even military-base conversion. All ambitious stuff, but we’ll reserve our judgment until Zeta rolls out its multi-family homes en masse.

MHMSM.com Market Report for July 15, 2010

[Eric prefers that we don’t read the title]

In financial and market news, Universal Forest Products yesterday reported second-quarter 2010 results, including a 24 percent increase in net sales to $638.6 million over $514.9 million for the same period last year. The company says the results reflect sales increases in all four of its markets as well as a volatile lumber market that dropped precipitously during the quarter, negatively affecting profits  The company also indicated unit sales to the manufactured housing market increased 41percent, a result of increased demand in some areas of the country, notably the Southwest. Performance in this market also reflects the growing list of products the Universal Forest supplies through new manufacturing opportunities and through its expanded distribution business, in which it offers everything from adhesives to plumbing supplies.

Also Wednesday, President Obama quietly met with Warren Buffett at the White House. The hour-long meeting, which included discussion on the economic crisis, energy reform and other issues, did not appear on the president’s official schedule. Reports indicated President Obama gave Mr. Buffett one of his neckties because his was frayed.

Shares of homebuilders slid Wednesday after data showed home loan applications fell to the lowest level in fourteen years. Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded the entire sector, saying the recovery in housing is slowing. On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said its index tracking applications for home purchase loans fell to the lowest level since December 1996, even though mortgage rates are at their lowest in nearly 40 years. As of July 1st, 24 percent of sellers on the market had cut their asking prices at least once, according to Trulia.com. That’s up 9 percent from the previous month and represents about $27 billion worth of vanished national home equity.

While the market ended flat, many homebuilder stocks declined Wednesday. Lennar Corp. led the drop in midday trading Wednesday. The builder’s shares fell 62 cents to $14.62. PulteGroup Inc. dropped 30 cents, to $8.50; Meritage Homes Corp. fell 69 cents to $16.74; and KB Home fell 24 cents to $11.27.

Some manufactured home-related stocks bucked the trend and moved ahead modestly. Those include Palm Harbor Homes, Skyline Corp, Beazer Homes and Sun Communities. The Dow closed up .04 percent to 10,366.

“Up next, Home Sales Perk Up in South Carolina

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by: LifeStylist.com – Lifestyle Driven Designs by Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber. Furniture, Decors and Model Homes designed for your budgets and your customers’ lifestyles.

Contact them on the Web at answers@lifestylist.com or LifeStylist.com or call 214-941-8341.

“And now, back to the news…”

Home sales perk up in South Carolina

From the State

Home sales rose in three major metropolitan areas of South Carolina last month. Sales numbers for the Midlands are expected later this week. Here’s a roundup from across the state:

Greenville: Foreclosures and short sales may have pulled up home sales. Year-to-date homes sales were up 14.6 percent, while sales last month were 13.2 percent higher than a year ago. The median home price was up 3.3 percent year-to-date in June.

Mark Nichols, a mortgage banker at Ameris Bank, said there are some sales from corporate relocations and a good many purchases of manufactured homes. But, he said, it appears that a lot of the sales involved foreclosed properties or properties for which sellers are doing short sales to get out from under their mortgages.

Charleston: The area’s real estate market crested on a wave of the federal tax incentive last month. Home sales in June hit 1,022 transactions, marking the first time that sales passed 1,000 homes in nearly three years.

Falling prices also encouraged buyers. The median price was $185,612 during June, a decline from a $192,626 a year ago.

“Our hope is that is that the drop-off won’t be dramatic and (that the tax credit) built legs on the market that could keep it going,” said Jeremy Willits, president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Myrtle Beach: The real estate market improved in the first half of 2010, but with continued price drops there is still a ways to go before the market reaches stability.

Single-family home sales grew 32 percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009, and condo sales rose 38 percent.

Sales in June were strong, with a 40 percent increase in single-family home sales and an 18 percent increase in condo sales, compared with June 2009. Prices, which seemed to be stabilizing in April and May, dropped by as much as 10 percent.

The Greenville News, The (Charleston) Post and Courier and The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News contributed to this report.

Tonorrow: MEMA Cottages Loved and Hated Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

Only one more day till MSMSM InFocus Reporter Eric Miller’s article on the Gulf Coast MEMA Cottages is available. The award-winning designs of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) cottages were an attempt to fulfill the needs of their occupants and address the challenges of building and protecting a home where land is sometimes below sea level.

But though they resemble traditional homes scaled down to a more affordable range, some people mistakenly still see them as the “FEMA trailers” they were designed to replace. FEMA trailers were used to house thousands of people in South Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, for as long as two and a half years.

Andrew Canter, Fellow at the Mississippi Center of Justice explains, however, that the MEMA cottages are needed and loved.

CUT TO ANDREW CANTER

Watch for a full report on MEMA Cottages Five Years after Katrinatomorrow—on MHMSM.com.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, INdustry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla. G’day!”

Listen to Podcast Here

To submit a news tip, please click here: iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com
Categories: news-at-noon Tags:


MHMSM.com Market Report, July 14, 2010

July 14th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, High-End Prefab Home Purveyor Launches More Affordable Collection –AND—a sneak preview of MHMSM.com’s exclusive report, MEMA Cottages Loved and Hated Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

But first…these stories:

Zeta nets $5 million more

by Lindsay Riddell, San Francisco Business Times

Zeta Communities said today it raised $5 million in venture capital from Black Coral Capital, bringing its total funding to date to $10 million.

The San Francisco-based startup builds modular homes and buildings in its factory in Sacramento and it specializes in high-performance “net zero energy” structures: structures that produce as much energy as they consume. Zeta aims to build precise structures that are easy to install, keep development costs low and avoid time and cost delays often associated with free-form building.

Zeta said it will use the money it raised to ramp up building of schools, public facilities, student housing and mixed-use buildings in addition to multifamily housing.

Zeta has 132 factory-built structures in its pipeline. It has already built and sold a town home in Oakland and is partnering with developers to build tracts of affordable, green homes in Berkeley, Sacramento and elsewhere.

Its goal is to build 2,800 houses in four factories by 2013.

It is also developing software and controls that will track a home’s energy use.

MHMSM.com Market Report, July 14,

2010

Manufactured home-related stocks performed well

Stocks were solidly higher on Wall Street Tuesday with the Dow moving up 146 to close at 10,363. Manufactured home-related stocks also performed well. Beazer Homes was up more than six and a half percent to close at $3.72 a share. Palm Harbor Homes was up more than ten percent and closed at $1.86. Skyline Homes went up more than four percent to close at $18.54 per share. Equity Lifestyle Properties moved up more than three percent to end the day at $51.43.

Meritage Homes Corporation announced it plans to release the Company’s second quarter 2010 results on July 27 after the market closes. In addition, management will host a conference call to discuss these results on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 11:30 a.m. EDST. According to the online investing site Smart Trend, Meritage is currently trading 33.3% below its September 15, 2008 low of $24.88. In the past 52 weeks, shares of Meritage Homes have traded between a low of $14.51 and a high of $25.44. Meritage moved up 88 cents Tuesday to close at $17.48 per share.

Finally, Moreno Valley-based MVP RV has agreed to buy two factories once used by Fleetwood Enterprises Inc for $18.6 million.  Fleetwood Enterprises filed for bankruptcy in March 2009. The two plants in Riverside, California sit on 36 acres and have 460,000 square feet of space. MVP RV has not disclosed its intended use for the plants.

“Up next, High-End Factory-built Home Purveyor Launches More Affordable Collection

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by: MHMSM.com/solutions.

Do you have vacant homes or sites? Does your financing, market, sales or management need a boost? From high Return on Investment online marketing, to public relations, sales, lead and management systems and more, make us your Solutions Resource. When you are ready for the answers to your needs, visit MHMSM.com/solutions.

“And now, back to the news…”

High-End Factory-built Home Purveyor

Launches More Affordable Collection

Marmol Radziner says new Locomo modular line will be more affordable for individuals and families

From Builder 2010

Marmol Radziner Prefab, a division of the Los Angeles-based architecture and construction firm Marmol Radziner, is adding an affordable line of modular houses to its high-end offerings.

Billed as a “more affordable, new, green prefab model,” Locomo will be priced from between $200 to $250 per square foot, which is about half of the typical $400 per square foot. With home sizes running from 800 square feet to 2,200 square feet, the firm says prices could range from $200,000 to $700,000, depending on the model and location of the project.

“We’re excited about making affordable green factory-built homes more available to individuals and small families,” says Leo Marmol, managing principal of the firm. “The launch of the Locomo series aims to bring a shift in the modern factory-built housing market, allowing more potential homeowners to participate in the movement with more affordable options now available.”

Locomo homes are available as one-, two-, and three-bedroom single-story units or as a four-bedroom two-level model. Unlike the firm’s other two high-end MH homes, Custom and Skyline, Locomo will feature more streamlined design, less complicated structures, and wood framing. The other MH homes use steel.

Materials specification will also be different, featuring more affordable products such as laminate kitchen countertops and cabinetry. Other options include engineered bamboo flooring throughout the living and bedroom areas, Marmoleum [rhymes with linoleum] flooring in the bathrooms, and Corian or Caesarstone options. Prefinished maple kitchen cabinetry also is optional. Dual-glazing low-emittance windows are utilized throughout, as well as energy-efficient kitchen appliances.

The Locomo homes are manufactured with several factory partners around the country, transported as complete modules, and installed on site, greatly reducing the unpredictability of the construction schedule and cost.

Sneak Preview: MEMA Cottages Loved and Hated Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, the most costly in U.S. history, a unique approach to housing known as Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA rhymes with FEMA) cottages have been tried, tested and battled. The award-winning designs are an attempt to fulfill the needs of their occupants and address the challenges of building and protecting a home where land is sometimes below sea level.

Although they resemble traditional homes scaled down to a more affordable range, some people mistakenly still see them as the “FEMA trailers” they were designed to replace. FEMA trailers were used to house thousands of people in South Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, for as long as two and a half years.

Andrew Canter, Fellow at the Mississippi Center of Justice explains, however, that the MEMA cottages are needed and loved.

CUT TO ANDREW CANTER

Watch for a full report on MEMA Cottages Five Years after Katrina by MSMSM InFocus Reporter Eric Miller, Friday on MHMSM.com.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, INdustry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla. G’day!”

Listen to Podcast Here

To submit a news tip, please click here: iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com
Categories: news-at-noon Tags:


MHMSM.com Market Report, July 13, 2010

July 13th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Restoring AD&C Lending Key to Promoting Job and Economic Growth

But first…these stories:

Reasons for optimism as signs of economic rebound emerge in area

By LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE [VELL-eh-ket]
TOLEDO BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Economists say nearly all of the economic indicators that measure whether a community is growing or contracting are finally pointing in the right direction in metro Toledo after the worst recession in generations.

In the last six months:

•      Housing prices have stabilized after years of declines.

•      Jobless rates are moving downward again, although they remain uncomfortably high.

•      Numbers of foreclosures and bankruptcy filings have declined for several months in a row.

•      Auto sales are up locally, local auto production is up, and manufacturing continues to regain strength.

•      After a sharp contraction, personal household income is growing again.

“Toledo is moving toward economic recovery, though there is a good deal of progress that needs to be made before conditions start to feel more stable,” PNC Bank economist Craig Thomas writes in his latest quarterly assessment of the region’s economy.

“We’re still in an economic recovery, maybe not quite as strong as we originally thought,” said George Mokrzan [MOCK-er-zon], chief economist for Huntington Bancshares in Columbus. Supported by the U.S. Department of Labor figures showing that Ohio led the nation in April in net increase in jobs, Mr. Mokrzan said, “Overall, our part of the country is doing pretty good.”

“Unless we have some unforeseen problem or issue, we’re probably going to hold pretty steady” through the rest of the year, said Steve Weathers, president and chief executive officer of the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership… “So, we actually see some pretty good things coming up on the horizon.”

[Besides the automotive industry], home sales and construction are also huge parts of the local economy. Sales of existing homes were buoyed by now-expired federal tax credits that helped to resuscitate a once moribund market over the last 18 months. But the go-go days of May—when local real estate agents sold more than twice as many houses as they had four months earlier, thanks to the tax credit—are likely to turn into ho-hum days of summer, local agents and national economists say.

“The third quarter is probably going to be a little bit on the light side, other than we’ve got some of this carryover stuff that didn’t get closed in time for the tax credit that will get pushed into the third quarter,” said Dave Browning, a principal at Welles-Bowen Realty in Toledo.

Richard DeKaser, of Woodley Park Research in Washington, formerly chief economist for National City Bank, said the next few months are likely to be pretty rough for those who make their living in real estate.

“I think the second half of the year is going to get off to a very rough start, because of the on-again, off-again nature of the home-buying tax credits over the last year and a half,” Mr. DeKaser predicted. “Thereafter, I expect conditions to improve. We’re in the most affordable housing market in the last 40 years, and that will support sales growth, even if it’s not at a torrid pace.”

Mr. DeKaser said he is more optimistic that the pace of home construction will pick up during the latter half of this year. “The availability of new homes nationwide is at a generational low,” he said. “Builders went into a free fall after 2007, and as a consequence, you have to go back to 1972 to see the availability of newly built homes on the market as low as they are today.”

Forrester Wehrle [WERE-lee] Homes’ Jeff Wehrle said, “Definitely, there’s a lot more interest right now, but there are still some challenges. There are more people who are interested, coming out to our showroom and coming out to visit our model [homes].”

MHMSM.com Market Report, July 13,

2010

By the end of the day Monday, it became more apparent the Senate would be able to pass financial reform. The picture came into focus as Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts announced they will be joining Susan Collins of Maine as three crucial Republican votes needed to pass the bill when it comes up for a vote later in the week. The bill aims to create a consumer financial protection bureau at the Federal Reserve, a council of regulators to monitor firms for systemic risk and a mechanism for liquidating large financial firms whose collapse could threaten the economy. The House of Representatives has already approved a final version of the bill. Some critics contend the final bill should do more to make changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have taken more than $145 billion from taxpayers since being seized in 2008.

Loans to small businesses have declined some $40 billion, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday that addressing the situation should be front and center on the way to economic recovery. Loans to small businesses dropped from more than $710 billion in the second quarter of 2008 to less than $670 billion in the first quarter of 2010, according to bank financial reports submitted to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Credit for small businesses, the chairman says, is key to recovery. Bernanke noted small businesses employ roughly half of all Americans and account for about 60 percent of gross job creation.

Realty Trac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report Monday for May 2010, which shows that foreclosure filings were three percent lower than in April and one percent higher than in May, 2009. Filings in just ten states accounted for 70 percent of the national foreclosure filing total.

Markets were mostly flat on Wall Street Monday as investors awaited earnings reports, but stocks edged higher toward the close. Manufactured housing-related stocks appeared to more likely down than up, with Cavco Industries, Equity Lifestyle Properties, Palm Harbor Homes, Skyline Corp, Sun Communities and UMH properties all off Friday’s closing price. Nobility Homes was the exception Monday, closing up 62 cents at $9.48. The DOW closed at 10,216.30, up 18.24.

“Up next, Restoring AD&C Lending Is Key to Promoting Job and Economic Growth

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by Tap into Excellence, your ONE-STOP Resource for the Manufactured Housing Industry, the Leader in Land Lease Communities information!

Tap into Excellence – on the Web at CommunityDASHinvestor.com or call 317-346-7156.

“And now, back to the news…”

Restoring Acquisition, Development and Construction (AD&C) Lending Is Key to Promoting Job and Economic Growth

from National Association of Home Builders

July 12, 2010—With the Obama Administration and Federal Reserve this week sponsoring events that focus on how to ease regulatory burdens on the small business community that are constricting job growth, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today urged policymakers to address the lack of financing for housing production that is impeding the housing and economic recovery.

“In normal times, housing accounts for about 17 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “However, in the current economic climate, lenders have basically stopped making acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) loans and are calling in existing loans, even when the borrower’s payments are current. Policymakers must act now to restore credit availability for viable home building projects; otherwise countless construction jobs will be lost, further jeopardizing the fragile economic recovery.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the objective of a conference today at the Federal Reserve is to develop policies that will support the flow of loans to creditworthy small businesses. Meanwhile, the White House has asked business leaders and lawmakers to attend a jobs summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to help identify regulatory obstacles that are hampering job and economic growth.

NAHB is reaching out to regulators, banks, Administration officials and members of Congress to seek action to reduce regulatory restrictions on AD&C credit and rein in overzealous bank examiners.

The vast majority of NAHB builder members are small businesses situated in communities across the nation who employ workers that contribute to the local economic base. NAHB estimates the one-year local impacts of building 100 single-family homes in a typical metro area result in the creation of 324 local jobs and an additional $21.1 million in local income and $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments.

Beyond its negative effect on home builders, the lack of AD&C lending has major implications for the economy and the nation, said Jones. “Over the next decade, population growth will trigger demand for an average of at least 1.7 million additional homes per year,” he said. “This translates into five million jobs and significant economic activity, including tax revenue. But without increased AD&C lending, this demand will not be met, jobs will be lost and job creation will suffer.”

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, Industry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

Listen to Podcast Here

To submit a news tip, please click here: iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com
Categories: news-at-noon Tags:


Manufactured homes offer value and quality at a reasonable price

July 12th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Insurer Study on Manufactured Homeowners Provides Insights

But first…this story:

Manufactured homes offer value and quality at a

reasonable price

By Cullen Lea

Charleston Post and Courier

For Equity Homes, affordability and value is the name of the game. The manufactured home retailer’s intention is to put buyers in a comfortable home for a valuable price.

“Why waste money that you don’t need to?” says Allen Croft, co-owner of Equity Homes. “If buyers are looking to be debt-free, then they should come to us.”

As market values of homes continue to drop across the country, many buyers have found that their homes sustain a major drop in market value shortly after purchase. But manufactured homes can avoid that trend. Equity Homes specializes in renovated manufactured homes that provide customers with true-market pricing that will not cost them more money in the future.

The venture buys the used manufactured houses from individuals, lenders and at auctions, among other sources.

“We sell homes that save buyers tens of thousands of dollars,” Croft says. “These are homes that will provide what the buyer needs without wasting their hard-earned money.”

The factory-built house has a large kitchen with rows of cabinets and an island. It is for sale for around $40,000 at Equity Homes.

Manufactured homes range in size from 980 to 2,400 square feet. Buyers also have a choice of rooms including three bedrooms and two baths or five bedrooms and three baths. These renovated homes start at $7,000 to $46,000.

The Equity homes feature the same amenities found in new homes, but typically at a much lower cost. Available options include garden and whirlpool tubs, hardwood floors, stone fireplaces, kitchen islands, side-by-side refrigerators, built-in cooktops and double ovens are all available to buyers.

“Our features are the same value as those found in new homes,” Croft says.

Equity Home’s purpose is to allow everyone the opportunity to live in a home of their own, without wasting money. With countless people downsizing, a buck can go a long way with retailers like Equity Homes.

“We are not going to hit a home run every time,” Croft says. “With volume, you can do a lot of things.”

MHMSM.com Markets Report, Monday,

July 12, 2010

Markets ended last week on another high, a 5.3 percent gain on the Dow for the week—the best since July 17, 2009, when the index gained 7.3 percent. The DOW closed Friday at 10,198.00. Likewise the S&P 500 rebounded from a 10-month low amid optimism that second-quarter earnings will justify a rebound from a 10-month low on July 2.

In manufactured home-related stocks, Berkshire Hathaway regained most of yesterday’s loss and ended the day up $800 to $119,700. Skyline Corporation moved ahead nearly 3 percent to close at $18.26 per share. Cavco Industries moved up more than two percent to close at $35.79. UMH Properties was also up nearly three percent and closed at $10.81 per share.

And finally, Whirlpool Corporation was recently named the exclusive appliance partner for Horton Homes, a privately-held leader in the manufactured housing industry. As part of the agreement, Whirlpool Corporation will provide Whirlpool- and Maytag-brand appliances to Horton Home’s modular and manufactured homes. Whirlpool ended the day Friday up $2.10 to close at $92.39.

“Up next, Insurer Study on Manufactured Homeowners Provides Insights

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by Precision Capital Funding, on the Web at CaptiveFinance.net. Precision Capital Funding earned the MHI 2010 Service Supplier of the Year Award.

For more information, email Kenneth Rishel at kennethrishel@captivefinance.net or call 217-971-3968.

And “Now, back to the news…”

Insurer Study on Manufactured Homeowners Provides Insights

Grand Rapids, MI –The Insurance Marketing Communications Association recently honored Foremost Insurance with its Showcase Award of Excellence for its Manufactured Homes: The Market Facts 2008 Report. Foremost has been a major player in the mobile-home turned manufactured-home insurance market since the company’s inception in 1952, and did its first market study in 1979.

Some things have changed over the years, some have been stubbornly persistent. Today, manufactured home owners have more electronics and many owners are using social networks—but largely they still refer to their dwellings as “mobile homes.”

In 2008, 61 percent responded to the question of “When someone asks what type of residence it is, what do you call it?” with “mobile home.” Two percent called it a “modular home” and 16 percent responded with “manufactured home.”

Industry consultant Eddie Hicks comments that the industry might prefer the term “manufactured home.”  Even some inside the industry add to the name issue and confusion. In one particular case, he says, a major owner of land-lease communities is referring to manufactured homes as “modulars” in their advertising because it’s more palatable to the general public.

Also of interest, while the use of the term “manufactured home” increased from 1999 to 2005, the frequency of that response was on the decline again between 2005 and 2008. Foremost Market Research Manager JoAnna Carey explains it this way:

“I don’t know that the consumers answering questions are thinking of technical things. For them it’s simply a home.”

The study also provided a look at financing over time. In 2008, 64 percent of homeowners financed at time of purchase, a small decrease from the 67 percent who financed at the time of purchase in 1990, but not what might be expected from the current scarcity of financing. Moreover in 2005, 68 percent said they had financed at the time of purchase.

The size of manufactured homes has also increased, according to the Foremost study. In 2008, 46 percent of respondents said their homes were multi-sectional, an increase from just 27 percent in 1990.

Market Research Shows Technology Impacts the Manufactured Home Industry

In a phone conversation, Carey made special note of the technologies present in manufactured homes and utilized by homeowners. For example, the number of people living in manufactured homes who use cell phones has steadily risen from just six percent in 1990 to 85 percent in 1995—an increase of 79 percent.  Manufactured home residents are also using the internet more. Sixty-seven percent shop and pay bills online. Thirty-nine percent use social networks, Facebook or blogging.

One thing this can mean to an insurer is more electronic equipment in manufactured homes to cover against loss. What it can mean to the industry is that if consumers are shopping generally in new ways, they may also be shopping for homes in new ways. To Hicks, those are changes in consumer behavior the industry has not made significant attempts to adapt to.

Likening the manufactured home industry to the auto industry because both have a system of manufacturers and retailers, Hicks noted one important distinction. In the auto industry, the manufacturer performs functions such as consumer research, marketing, positioning and a significant amount of advertising. But in the manufactured housing industry, these functions have in large part been left to mom-and-pop retailers; retailers who, he says, are not equipped to perform such tasks.

“Over the years I’ve seen manufactured home products get better and better, yet the image of the products goes downhill,” Hicks says. “When the industry makes an improvement, it doesn’t get promoted properly.”

Hicks comments that the manufactured housing industry has not undertaken such market studies, and the studies from ancillary companies like Foremost and also Owens-Corning don’t look at the whole picture—namely, leaving out insight on people who don’t buy manufactured homes.

“Manufactured housing (in the United States) spends very little on market research and planning,” Hicks comments. “In Japan, its 10-12 percent of the budget.”

Foremost Uses Information to Better Products

As a result of information gained through the survey, Foremost has implemented changes to its policies. Mike Cok, Foremost vice president of specialty property product management, described improvements to the manufactured home insurance product including providing additional coverage and packaging options. The remarketed product under the name Distinct Choice Manufactured Home is completing its rollout at the end of 2010.

One semantic, but none-the-less important change, helps make it clear to lien holders that the policies are a homeowners-like product. Also developed were “plus and platinum” packages that allow consumers to select extended replacement costs for electronics and other items.

For manufacturers, community owners and retailers, the award-winning Foremost study provides some needed market research. It also provides an example of a company using that research to adapt and properly promote its products. It’s an example some analysts say the manufactured home industry would do well to imitate.

The study looked at manufactured homes and their occupants, generally using census data, and was not limited to Foremost insureds.

Link to Study: mhmsm.com/100/334

You can read this story at: mhmsm.com/eric-miller/foremost

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, Industry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

Listen to Podcast Here

To submit a news tip, please click here: iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com
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NAHB to Sue EPA Over Lead Paint Regulations

July 9th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Great News in MHI’s Monthly Economic Report

But first…these stories:

NAHB to Sue EPA Over Lead Paint Regulations

July 8, 2010 – A coalition of housing industry groups joined the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today in announcing plans to file a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for removing the “opt-out” provision from its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule.

The Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (LRRP) applies to homes constructed before 1978 when lead paint was banned. Its opt-out provision, which expired July 6, let consumers allow contractors to bypass extra preparation, clean-up and recordkeeping requirements in homes where there were no children under 6 or pregnant women, thus avoiding additional costs.

“Removing the opt-out provision more than doubles the number of homes subject to the regulation,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “About 79 million homes are affected, even though EPA estimates that only 38 million homes contain lead-based paint. Removing the opt-out provision extends the rule to consumers who need no protection.”

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association joined NAHB in filing the petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The group will challenge EPA’s action on the grounds that the agency substantially amended its LRRP regulation without any new scientific data and before the regulation was even put into place on April 22, 2010.

“Even under the original rule, the opt-out provision was not available in homes where small children or pregnant women live,” Jones said. “That shows that this change provides no additional protection to the people who are most vulnerable to lead-based paint hazards.”

Remodelers’ and other contractors’ estimates of the additional costs associated with the lead-safe work practices average about $2,400, but vary according to the size and type of job. For example, a complete window replacement requires the contractor to install thick vinyl sheeting to surround the work area both inside the home and outdoors – with prep time and material costs adding an estimated $60 to $170 for each window.

“Consumers trying to use rebates and incentive programs to make their homes more energy efficient will likely find those savings eaten up by the costs of the rule’s requirements. Worse, these costs may drive many consumers – even those with small children – to seek uncertified remodelers and other contractors. Others will likely choose to do the work themselves – or not do it at all – to save money. That does nothing to protect the population this rule was designed to safeguard,” Jones said.

{ Eric’s Market Report }

“Up next, Great News in MHI’s Monthly Economic Report

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by LifeStylist.com – Lifestyle Driven Designs by Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber. Furniture, Decors and Model Homes designed for your budgets and your customers’ lifestyles. Contact them on the Web at answers@lifestylist.com or LifeStylist.com or call 214-941-8341.

and “Now, back to the news…”

Great News in MHI’s Monthly Economic Report

5,023 Manufactured Homes Shipped in May 2010, up 16.9 Percent from May 2009

MHI’s Monthly Economic Report© for May 2010 is now available.

The Manufactured Housing Institute’s actual shipments report indicates that 5,023 new HUDCode homes were shipped in May 2010, up 16.9 percent from May 2009. Increases were across the board with both single-section and multi-section homes shipments up compared with the same month last year.

In comparison with the first five months of 2009, 2010 started off with a decline in January (down 17.4 percent), shipments in February was essentially flat, followed by gains in March, April and May. In net, industry shipments for the first five months of this year stands at 20,972 homes compared with 19,937 homes in 2009, a year-to-date increase of 5.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of shipments was 55,703 in May, marginally down by 1.6 percent from the rate of 56,616 posted in April. The SAAR corrects for normal seasonal variations in shipments and projects an annual shipments pace based on the current monthly total.

Total floors shipped in May 2010 were 8,199, up 15 percent from the same month in 2009. The number of plants reporting production in May was 135, and the number of reporting corporations was 58, both unchanged from last month.

If you are an MHI member, you can also access the report on MHI’s website at www.manufacturedhousing.org.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, Industry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

Listen to Podcast Here

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Foremost Receives Marketing Award of Excellence

July 8th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, NAHB Applauds EPA’S Decision to Delay Lead [led] Paint Certification Enforcement

But first…these stories:

Foremost Receives Marketing Award of

Excellence

The Insurance Marketing Communications Association (IMCA) has honored Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Foremost Insurance Co. with a Showcase Award of Excellence, in the category of Publications, for the company’s “Manufactured Home Market Facts Report.” The report featured results from a market study that Foremost sponsored to increase knowledge and information on the factory-built-home market. The results provide insight on existing manufactured homes and the people who live in them.

IMCA also recognized Foremost’s 2009/2010 Trade and Consumer publication advertising campaigns in the Print Product or Image Advertising, In-House- and Agency-Produced categories.

Have homes, will travel

With its way of building structures off-site, modular company aims to shake up the industry

By NANCY SARNOFF, Houston Chronicle

During a downpour on a recent morning, construction workers were busy putting up a series of buildings in Navasota, a small town about 70 miles northwest of Houston

The rain didn’t keep the crew at home that day, nor was it slowing the progress of construction. That’s because the work was being done in a 250,000-square-foot warehouse.

“This is a great day to build,” joked Rodney Boehm [beam], chief operating officer of GroundForce, a company that builds modular homes and commercial buildings on wood and concrete slabs and then delivers them on special movers to sites across the state.

Just 2 years old, GroundForce hopes to change the way many homes and commercial structures are built through its off-site construction and delivery systems.

The company said its building process takes less time, creates less waste and costs 10 to 15 percent less than traditional construction.

“It’s not your usual manufactured housing,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, who has studied modular construction techniques and visited the GroundForce factory.

Vanegas calls it “permanent modular.”

That’s because the structures are built in controlled environments on concrete foundations meant to last 40 to 50 years.

“I was very impressed to see some of their final products, which you would not be able to guess are modular,” Vanegas said.

GroundForce, which sells to the residential, commercial and educational markets, recently signed a deal with Houston-based Trendmaker Homes to build a line of country homes called Texas Casual Cottages in the Hill Country.

Floor plans range from a 450-square-foot guest cottage to a 4,500-square-foot farmhouse. Prices reach more than $300,000.

Trendmaker is selling the homes to buyers who own property in rural settings where it often takes longer to build because the locations are so remote.

GroundForce will deliver the homes in sections, and Trendmaker will complete them with porches, roofing materials and some interior finishes.

The homes offer features including metal roofs, large porches, pine floors and wood walls, along with modern finishes like open family room and kitchen combinations, large bathrooms and walk-in closets.

“It’s built just like a stick-built home. It just happens to be built in another location,” said Steve Drake, a Houston-based financial consultant who owns one of the homes in Round Top.

Using same materials

Modular building has been around for decades but has often been associated with double-wides and cheap, temporary structures.

“Modular has a bad connotation. People think of trailer homes,” said Boehm, explaining how the company uses all the same materials and techniques as traditional on-site construction.

Pushing the envelope

Vanegas said the company is “pushing the envelope” on an industry not known for its technological breakthroughs.

“It’s definitely an option that offers tremendous opportunities to customize, get things done faster, and more affordably,” he said.

GroundForce has 50 employees, including 35 factory workers. The company builds 30 to 50 homes and commercial structures in Texas a year, including convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, medical offices, and school science and learning labs.

The company would not release financial details, but Boehm said the company is profitable.

Kenneth Neatherlin, who grew up in the residential real estate business in Houston, formed GroundForce and patented certain key aspects of the process.

His grandfather ran a house-moving business, and Neatherlin later started his own home-building company that he eventually sold.

He bought the factory in Navasota because he couldn’t find the right property in Houston.

The warehouse sits on 55 acres, giving the company plenty of room to grow.

Done in 125 days

Neatherlin says the company can complete a building and deliver it in 125 days with few change orders.

The manufactured buildings have other benefits, too, including certain tax advantages through a shorter depreciation time than permanent structures.

Eventually, the company hopes to recruit other builders to sell its homes.

“At some point we’ll simplify our system such that other manufacturers can license our system,” Neatherlin said.

MHMSM Markets Report—Major Housing

Industry Stocks Experience Strong Gains

Stocks closed solidly higher on Wall Street Wednesday with the DOW moving up 274 points and back above the 10,000 benchmark to close at 10,018.28. Major housing industry stocks also experiencing strong gains. Skyline Corp. boosted its share value by more than six cents, closing at $17.74. Equity Lifestyle Properties moved up to close at $48.69. Sun Communities rose just short of five percent and closed at $27.00. Other MH industry stocks also moved into positive territory. Both Sun Communities and UMH Properties are in positive territory for the year.

In other investment news, the financial magazine Smart Trend released its ranking of the top five companies in the Residential Real Estate Investment Trust industry as measured by dividend yield. Sun Communities ranks first with a dividend yield of 8.7 percent, UMH Properties ranks second with a dividend yield of 6.9 percent, and Associated Estates Realty ranks third with a dividend yield of 4.9 percent. Not too far behind, American Campus Communities and Home Properties have dividend yields of 4.7 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

When the stock market opened this morning, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were noticeable absent. Ordered to delist by their conservator, the Federal Housing Finance Administration, Wednesday was their last day on the New York Stock Exchange. The two companies have been under conservatorship since September, 2008. Beginning today, Fannie and Freddie will start trading on the over-the-counter bulletin board under the symbols “FNMA” and “FMCC.” At the close of trade on their last day on NYSE, Fannie shares were off 17 percent at 25 cents, and Freddie was down 5 percent at 34 cents.

“Up next, NAHB Applauds EPA’S Decision to Delay Lead Paint Certification Enforcement

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by LifeStylist.com – Lifestyle Driven Designs by Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber. Furniture, Decors and Model Homes designed for your budgets and your customers’ lifestyles. Contact them on the Web at answers@lifestylist.com or LifeStylist.com or call 214-941-8341.

and “Now, back to the news…”

NAHB Applauds EPA’S Decision to Delay

Lead [led] Paint Certification Enforcement

June 21, 2010 – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to delay enforcement of the new Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule will provide much-needed time to get more remodelers and other contractors trained—and for EPA to get the word out to consumers about the importance of hiring a certified remodeler, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“EPA listened to our concerns and did the right thing,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

In revised guidance released on June 18, EPA acknowledged that remodelers in many parts of the country have been unable to obtain the required training to comply with the rule—a problem that NAHB has urged the agency to solve since the rule was announced two years ago.

The issue came to a head in May after floods devastated parts of Tennessee and there weren’t enough certified remodelers to complete much-needed home repairs. NAHB and its state home builders association proposed a delay in enforcing the rule—a decision EPA consented to in its letter on Friday.

While remodelers, electricians, heating and air conditioning technicians and other contractors must adhere to lead-safe work practices, including special equipment filters and a ban on open flames, EPA will not take enforcement action against firms that have been unable to obtain certification until Oct. 1 of this year.

Individual contractors must apply to enroll in a training class by Sept. 30 and complete the training by Dec. 31, 2010.

“This rule potentially affects about 79 million homeowners. That’s how many homes were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned,” Jones said. “We need significantly more contractors certified than the 300,000 who have taken the training course, and we also need to make sure that affected homeowners understand the importance of hiring a certified contractor.”

Homeowners can find a certified firm at cfpub.epa.govslashflppslashsearchrrpunderscorefirm.htm. Remodelers can search for an EPA-approved training provider at cfpub.epa.govslashflppslashsearchrrpunderscoretraining.htm or contact their local home builders association at nahb.orgslashlocalunderscoreassociationunderscoresearchunderscoreform.aspx to find Certified Renovator training sessions.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, Industry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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NAHB Announces Call for Entries for the 2011 National Sales & Marketing Awards

July 7th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Contact FHFA and Congress Immediately to Request Modification of the Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Proposed Rule,detrimental to the Manufactured Home Industry. YOU are called to respond!

But first…this story:

NAHB Announces Call for Entries for the

2011 National Sales & Marketing Awards

July 6, 2010 – The National Association of Home Builders’ National Sales and Marketing Awards is now accepting entries for the 2011 competition. New home sales and marketing professionals are encouraged to enter their projects for these awards, informally known as “The Nationals,” which are sponsored by NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Council.

The Nationals is the nation’s largest competition for new-home sales and marketing professionals and communities, typically drawing over 800 entries and more than 500 attendees. Now in its 30th year, The Nationals will recognize this year’s winners during an awards ceremony held during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla.

“The Nationals Awards help remind us of the great work that our new home sales and marketing professionals have produced, despite having been through the one of the worst economic downturns of our time,” said Gaye Orr, MIRM, chair of the 2011 Nationals. “Our industry has taken on so many challenges; it’s wonderful to be able to recognize our peers for the ingenuity, foresight and commitment they have exhibited this past year.”

New this year is the all-digital entry process, eliminating the need for binders and hard copies. Entry materials are available online at thenationals.com. Residential projects with homes available for sale between September 1, 2009 and September 1, 2010, along with individual and sales-and-marketing-council categories covering the same time period are eligible to enter. Entrants have until October 15, 2010, to submit their projects for consideration.

The 53 categories set for this year’s Nationals will recognize professional excellence in various aspects of design, marketing, interior merchandising, advertising and sales achievement, along with a few new categories such as Online Sales Counselor of the Year, Best Staging of a New Home, Best Unique Space, Best Outdoor Living Space and Best On The Boards Interior Merchandising.

Silver Award winners (finalists) in each category will be announced online on November 12. Gold Award winners will be announced during The Nationals Gala on January 12. Visit thenationals.com for complete entry guidelines and entry forms.

MHMSM Markets Report – Industry

Stocks Mixed, with UMH Properties up

A report released Tuesday by Citigroup analysts ranks the public homebuilders’ exposure to the Gulf Coast areas affected by the Deepwater spill. The report defines “exposure” by the percentage of the company’s actively-selling communities within 50 miles of affected areas of the Gulf Coast. Meritage Homes Inc., has the highest exposure, with 22 percent of its actively-selling communities within the 50-mile radius. Meritage has 32 actively-selling communities in the Houston area, out of 147 total communities in the U.S. Beazer Homes USA, with 27 Texas communities and 7 more in Florida, is next, at 19 percent. Others topping the list include DR Horton, Inc. (17 percent), Lennar Corp. (15 percent), The Ryland Group, Inc. (13 percent) and KB Home (11 percent).

This in from Alberta, Canada: The Edmunton Journal reports that insolvent modular home manufacturer Winalta Inc. has been given a court extension until August 6 to come up with a restructuring plan. The company was granted court protection from creditors April 26 when it could not meet its debt obligations.

Winalta last week blamed a $5.2-million second-quarter loss on divestiture of its construction division, reduced modular-home inventory and minimum output from its Acheson [ATCH-eh-son] manufacturing plant. Shares were down almost six per cent to 80 cents Monday.

The DOW broke a seven-day slide Tuesday, closing up at 9,743.62. Manufactured housing stocks did not follow the industrials up, however. Most active include Cavco Industries, which closed down .88 [point 8 8] arriving at a share price of 34.44. Equity Lifestyle Properties closed down .92 [point 9 2, etc.] at 46.99 a share. Skyline Corp closed down .72 at 16.66 a share. Sun Communities was down .34 at $25.72 a share.

Tuesday’s exception was UMH Properties which closed up .02 at $10.33 a share.

“Up next, Contact FHFA and Congress Immediately to Request Modification of the Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Proposed Rule”

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by MHMSM.com/solutions.

Do you have vacant homes or sites?  Does your financing, marketing, sales or management need a boost?  From high Return on Investment online marketing, to public relations, sales, lead and management systems and more, make us your Solutions Resource. When you are ready for the answers to your needs, visit MHMSM.com/solutions.

and “Now, back to the news…”

Contact FHFA and Congress Immediately

to Request Modification of the Enterprise

Duty to Serve Underserved Markets

Proposed Rule (Action Needed by July 22,

2010)

On June 7, Federal Housing Finance Agency or FHFA released a proposed rule (Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets; 75 FR 32099) that excludes personal-property lending in the Government Sponsored Enterprise or GSE duty to serve the manufactured housing market.  Specifically, the proposed rule would “consider only manufactured homes titled as real property for purposes of the duty to serve the manufactured housing market…FHFA is proposing that only loans titled as real property be considered towards the Enterprise’s duty to serve.”

In the proposed rule, FHFA identifies three key reasons for declining to include personal-property lending as part of the GSE duty to serve manufactured housing, including:

1.    A lack of existing business activity in purchasing personal property loans and, in order to develop a business in purchasing or guaranteeing personal property loans would require GSEs to develop operational capacities and risk management processes not currently in place

2.    Extensive consumer protection requirements would have to be developed by the GSEs in order to ensure that personal property lending was done responsibly.

3.    Personal property lending is inconsistent with GSE conservatorship and would require too much effort to ensure safe and sound operations in this area.

MHI opposes this proposed rule and urges FHFA and Congress to expand GSE activity in this area. Given the prevalence of personal-property lending, FHFA’s proposed rule essentially ignores the needs of both the manufactured housing industry and the consumer.

FHFA and the GSEs have an obligation to serve manufactured housing and the 18 million Americans currently residing in manufactured homes.

GSEs cannot fulfill their “duty to serve” manufactured housing by ignoring 21 percent of the total housing market and manufactured homebuyers who are in desperate need of this source of affordable housing.

More than 60 percent of manufactured home owners have relied on a persona-property loan in order to finance their home purchase; it is exceptionally difficult to faithfully serve any market if more than half of it is excluded from consideration.

The charters of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have always allowed for the purchase of personal property loans and the GSE’s have purchased Asset Backed Securities (ABS) collateralized by manufactured home loans and has purchased loans directly from lenders for their portfolios. Congress and HERA [hair-uh] recognized this reality by specifying FHFA consider loans secured by both real and personal property in assuring the GSEs dutifully serve the needs of the manufactured housing market.

Estimates indicate that personal property loans account for at least 60 percent of manufactured housing lending. Enhanced liquidity for new homes will help expand and stabilize the existing home market.

Industry lenders operate responsible and profitable programs for personal property lending and follow all appropriate laws such as Truth in Lending (TILA), and the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act), as well as all appropriate state laws. However they have been shut out from a secondary market due to GSE policies, industry lenders can provide GSEs and the American taxpayer adequate protection from any loss

What is the action needed?

Interested parties are asked to submit comments to FHFA Comments by July 22, 2010.

Submit comments via email to regcomments@fhfa.gov (include “RIN 2590-AA27″ in the subject line of the email). For mail-in  comments, see details at mhmsm.com/10/323. Please forward copies to MHI.

Interested parties are also asked to contact their Representatives and Senators, via fax or email.

Contact FHFA directly to request the agency modify its proposed rule to require the GSEs to consider personal-property lending in their duty to serve manufactured housing.

Contact leaders of the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees and specifically request FHFA amend its proposed rule; Senators and Representatives serving on these committees are especially urged to make this request.

A complete list of Congressional e-mail addresses and fax numbers is available at manufacturedhousing.org/government_affairs/find_congress.asp.

This request for action was submitted by MHI and also appears in the Industry Voices blog at MHMSM.com. For more information, contact MHI Vice President of Government Affairs Jason Boehlert [BELL-ert] at jboehlert@mfghome.org or 703-558-0660.

Links to a copy of the proposed rule and sample letters and emails for submission to FHFA and your representatives in Congress are available at: mhmsm.com/10/323.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, Industry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach,  and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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MHARR Comments on Grossly Inadequate DTS Rule

July 6th, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, As seasonal Hurricane risks rise, Studies prove Modern Manufactured Homes are a safer bet

But first…this story.

MHARR Comments on Grossly Inadequate

DTS Rule

As promised earlier, MHARR has prepared and filed these comments — detailing the gross weaknesses and inadequacies of the proposed Duty to Serve or DTS rule — as early in the comment period as possible. This Is so that they can be shared and used as a model, basis, or support, as needed, for individual comments filed by industry members. Given the unparalleled importance of restoring and expanding the availability of private purchase-money financing for manufactured housing — to both the industry and its consumers — MHARR urges all industry members to file comments on this extremely important proposal. Comments are due no later than July 22, 2010. The Federal Register notice, available on the FHFA website (www.fhfa.gov), contains specific instructions for both electronic and mail/hand-delivery filing of comments.

In particular, comments are critically needed from retailers, community owners and finance companies that have first-hand experience with the current unavailability of consumer financing for the industry’s homes and the devastating impact this has had for the industry and consumers of affordable housing. FHFA needs to hear from community owners with vacant land-lease spaces they need to fill with homes that are primarily financed as chattel — but are excluded from DTS by the proposed rule. FHFA needs to hear from struggling retailers with willing, qualified buyers who cannot buy because there is no private financing. FHFA needs to hear from finance companies that want to enter the manufactured housing market, but effectively have been barred.

The proposed rule is as bad as it is — essentially tracking the demands, complaints and historical prejudices of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and anti-industry special interest groups — because not enough industry grass-roots members commented last year in response to FHFA’s original Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), allowing that proceeding to be swamped and dominated by detractors of manufactured housing. The industry simply cannot afford for this failure to be repeated.

The importance of the Duty to Serve or DTS as a mechanism for expanding the availability of private financing for manufactured housing, is only underscored by the industry’s continuing and inexplicable inability to secure the full implementation of a workable FHA Title I public financing program. Notwithstanding a pledge by Ginnie Mae to lift its moratorium in the wake of the issuance of FHA June 1, 2010 Title I Mortgagee Letter, its June 10, 2010 announcement limiting future securitization of manufactured housing loans to those originated by lenders with a minimum adjusted net worth of $10 million plus 10% of outstanding manufactured home mortgage backed securities (MBS), will severely restrict its reach to only a very few companies. This means that the entry of new lenders into the manufactured housing market will be artificially and unnecessarily restricted, leaving consumers, retailers and others with the few limited choices that they have now, with little, if any, expansion of the current availability of FHA Title I loans.

The continuing inability of the industry to advance the implementation of both DTS and FHA Title I in Washington, D.C. (not to mention the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000) is preventing the industry and its consumers from participating in what should be a robust revival of the affordable housing. With many industry members in the nation’s capital during the week of July 11, 2010, the continuing unavailability of manufactured home financing — and specifically the inadequate implementation of DTS and FHA Title I and the roadblocks being placed in the path of both programs — should be the main focus of industry contacts with both Congress and the Administration.

Congress passed both DTS and FHA reform in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) to help the industry and its consumers. It is essential that the industry do its utmost to advance the full and timely implementation of these laws in Washington, D.C. in the weeks ahead. # #

More details on this DTS story and related documents and website links are available at the MHMSM.com under the MHARR news and Industry Voices Guest Blog links.  MHMSM.com strongly supports and encourages industry members to sound off electronically or by mail on this critical topic.

“Up next, As seasonal Hurricane risks rise, Studies prove Modern Manufactured Homes are a safer bet”

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by MHMSM.com/solutions.

Do you have vacant homes or sites?  Does your financing, marketing, sales or management need a boost?  From high Return on Investment online marketing, to public relations, sales, lead and management systems and more, make us your Solutions Resource. When you are ready for the answers to your needs, visit MHMSM.com/solutions.

and “Now, back to the news…”

As seasonal Hurricane risks rise, Studies

prove Modern Manufactured Homes are a

safer bet

CHICAGO IL, JULY 6, 2010 – Hurricane season is upon us and analysts are predicting a particularly active season. Hurricanes and tornadoes spawn not only damaging winds, but also a rash of sensational reports damaging to the image of manufactured housing. These reports often create fears among consumers. But is that fair to scare prospective customers for today’s factory built home industry? Study reports suggest the answer to that is no.

This year hurricanes named Alex, Bonnie and Colin could bring injury and damage to homeowners along the eastern seaboard and in Gulf States. With Hurricane Alex already making its way into Texas, we’re reminded that Philip J. Klotzbach’s forecast team at Colorado State University predicted on June 2 that the 2010 season will bring 18 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes.

Ironically, most of the names that will be used in the 2010 hurricane season are the same as those used in the active season of 2004 when Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne – these names retired – made landfall in Florida. A closer look at how manufactured homes faired in that 2004 hurricane season makes good sense. “Tragically, an unprecedented hurricane season in 2004 saw four major hurricanes with sustained winds ranging from 105-145mph at landfall, impact 60 of 67 counties in Florida within a span of six weeks (DHSMV, 2004).” That season left more than 3,000 people dead, including 152 in the U.S., and caused more than $42 billion in property damage.

K.R. Grosskopf, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville did a study called “Hurricane Survivability for Manufactured Housing: A Case Study in Disaster Mitigation for Low-Income Housing.” Grosskopf studied 152 manufactured home communities and 29,274 manufactured homes surveyed after the 2004 Florida hurricanes, 3,583 units were totally destroyed or non-reparable. However, none of the 4,056 manufactured housing units constructed after the 1994 U.S. Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standard were destroyed or seriously damaged.

This year the chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast is 76 percent, compared to an average of 52 percent for the last 100 years, according to the prediction. The chance of a major hurricane hitting the Florida peninsula and the U.S. east coast is 51 percent, compared to an average of 30 percent for the last 100 years.

According to the Insurance Information Institute; Florida accounted for 22 percent of all U.S. insured catastrophe losses from 1980-2006, losses which equate to $59.0 billion. Yet the experience of the 2004 hurricane season showed as never before that subject to more stringent codes, newer manufactured homes can weather the storm.

The study also compared the methods, materials, waste generation and energy use of manufactured housing to site-built homes in 110-mph wind speed zones. It should be noted that those Wind Zone III standards put in place in 1994 readily handled the sustained winds recorded by the hurricanes of 2004. The study also found that manufactured housing has less waste, is energy efficient and more cost effective.

Some insurers have taken note.

Bob Ritchie, president and CEO of American Integrity Insurance Company, gave an exclusive interview to MHMSM.com on this subject. American Integrity Insurance Company announced last week that it is reducing its rates by an average of 10 percent statewide for customers who live in manufactured homes that are 10 years or newer in certain non- coastal Florida regions.

Ritchie told MHMSM.com that for Florida the homes ten years and newer rival or are in some cases superior to site-built. That fact, he says “can make people’s head turn.”

Best prepared are homes built after the adoption of the federal HUD Code manufacturing standards in June 15, 1976. Florida installations standards were added in 1994 and imposed by the Sunshine State in 1999.

The study noted the requirements in 1994 that came as a result of the destruction caused by hurricane Andrew in 1992.

“It’s all for naught if you build the (homes) right but don’t install them correctly.” Ritchie says. “In Florida you take (manufactured) homes that are ’94 and ’99 and newer and they are superior. That was proven by Hurricane Charley in 2004 where you had newer manufactured homes still standing next to a site-built home that was demolished.”

t is pre-HUD Code mobile homes that: “…are more vulnerable to wind-driven losses, so that cost per thousand for that needed coverage is much more.” Ritchie stated. However, the facts are different for modern manufactured homes, where the issue is loss “severity times frequency. That component is typically lower than site-built.”

To rephrase this, pre-HUD Code mobile home losses are higher, and yet manufactured housing losses are lower. Modern manufactured homes performed as well or better as conventional construction in the hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004. But how often does that fact get reported by the mainstream media?

“When the mainstream media, public officials or others incorrectly lump modern manufactured housing in with older pre-HUD Code mobile homes, it does an injustice to everyone. It is like comparing a new iPhone to a 50 year old dial phone.” stated L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, manufactured housing industry consultant and publisher of the Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal.

“I recall a conversation with an Oklahoma City weatherman, back in the 1980s.” Kovach said, “Why do you give this type of portrayal of manufactured housing when it comes to wind storms? Why don’t you use the proper term of manufactured home vs. mobile home? His answer was, ‘We are essentially lobbying for better standards.’ What he didn’t want to realize is that those standards already existed when the HUD Code went into effect on June 15, 1976! Those standards and the updates to the HUD Code that have followed since then just keep making our industry’s homes perform better and better.”

According to the study done by K.R. Grosskopf, Ph.D:

“Manufactured housing has become a staple in the US affordable housing market in spite of a prevailing public opinion that such housing is unsafe. However, University of Florida research shows units constructed after 1994 US code changes survived an unprecedented 2004 hurricane season with little damage. Produced in one-fifth the time and at half the cost of site-built homes, manufactured housing assembled in a factory environment uses fewer materials, generates less waste, and fosters greater worker productivity than comparable site-built construction.”

“The facts demonstrate that modern manufactured homes are stronger, smarter, safer stylish and provide major savings. That is the message that the policy makers, the media and the home buying public needs to grasp. As an industry, we have to do a better job of communicating those facts! You cook, clean, eat, live and love the same in a factory built home as any conventional house, but you can live better because you live for less.” Kovach said.

The complete story is available at mhmsm.com/10/315

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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New Orleans Slowly Embracing Sustainable Building Practices

July 2nd, 2010 Comments off

MHMSM.com presents News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, HUD PROPOSES NEW RULE TO ALLOW ON-SITE COMPLETION OF FACTORY-BUILT MANUFACTURED HOMES

But first…this story.

New Orleans Slowly Embracing

Sustainable Building Practices

By Jennifer Goodman for EcoHomeMagazine.com

Five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, home builders are still working to rebuild the city’s homes, and more of them are doing it with sustainability in mind.

According to Jon Luther, executive vice president of the HBA of Greater New Orleans, nearly 90% of homes in the area sustained damage in the massive 2005 storm and ensuing levee breaches, which left more than 200,000 housing units completely destroyed or in need of major renovation. Green building proponents quickly called for sustainable rebuilding of the Crescent City.

“In the really early aftermath of the storm, as you might imagine, we had folks from all over the world and the country that were in good faith and with good intentions suggesting how we might go about getting ourselves rebuilt and rehabilitated,” Luther recalled during a recent Webinar presentation about the rebuilding of New Orleans. “But right after the storm, we were just trying to stay viable…  As we started to make progress once we literally got our legs underneath us we started to look at a lot of these initiatives.”

At first, some HBA members were reluctant to explore high-performance home building, Luther said. “In terms of the energy-efficient and green building technologies that started to be introduced here, I would say we were starting from less than scratch,” he said. “We’ve always been a site-built, stick-built kind of region with very little experimental or alternative building going on.”

For example, before Katrina, New Orleans had no municipal recycling program or uniform state building code. Many houses were built with little or no insulation, and local pros were skeptical of the idea of super-tight dwellings.

“Their immediate concern was to not button up the houses too tightly,” Luther said. “They know that the houses down here have to have decent air exchange.”

But while the rise of green home building in New Orleans has been slow, progress is being made, Luther noted.

“Since the hurricane, we’ve been seeing two or three years of progress in green building in New Orleans,” said veteran green builder Ron Jones, also a Webinar panelist. “It seems to me that a good portion of the membership has turned the corner and is now offering a more updated and responsive version of the product they’ve been offering all along.”

Luther said he is not worried that the recent BP oil spill affecting parts of his jurisdiction will slow down the momentum toward more sustainable home building in the New Orleans metro area. But closer to the spill in the Grand Isle and Venice communities, almost all construction has come to a halt.

“Literally everyone is out there trying to respond,” he said. “It’s a Herculean effort.”

If the problem isn’t resolved soon, Luther said, there will be fallout for many local builders.

“The folks who build and renovate homes for people in the fishing industry and the oil and gas industry will take a real hit,” he said. “A lot of the lessons we learned from Katrina about how to get our legs back under us are relevant here with the BP spill but we haven’t had to employ them, yet.”

“Up next,

HUD PROPOSES NEW RULE TO ALLOW ON-SITE COMPLETION OF FACTORY-BUILT MANUFACTURED HOMES

This podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by MHMSM.com/solutions.

Do you have vacant homes or sites?  Does your financing, marketing, sales or management need a boost?  From high Return on Investment online marketing, to public relations, sales, lead and management systems and more, make us your Solutions Resource. When you are ready for the answers to your needs, visit MHMSM.com/solutions.

and “Now, back to the news…”

Thornton: Planning for affordable,

energy-efficient homes

By Susan Thornton
The Denver Post

A small but creative housing development in Lafayette, the Paradigm Project, is likely to guide future affordable housing construction across the nation.

The idea for the pilot project came about as the Boulder County Housing Authority sought to develop housing for low-income people that would cost less to build than conventional homes, would be highly energy efficient, would make use of renewable energy, and could be replicated elsewhere.

Finding land for the project was not an issue. Boulder County owned the site of the county’s former maintenance facility in Lafayette. Finding funds for construction, however, was a challenge.

The authority saw that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities 2008 grants were available and partnered with Denver to apply as a subset of a grant that the city was submitting. Ultimately, the authority received funding from not only Solar America Cities 2008, but also Energy Outreach Colorado and Temporary Aid to Needy Families.

Executive drector Frank Alexander said the authority wanted to build three of the most energy-efficient, affordable duplexes possible while testing the use of renewable energy, new building technologies and modular assembly.

The first three pilot homes were opened last October. The homes have solar panels, passive solar design and an orientation to increase day lighting and make the best use of solar energy.

As a result, the homes are up to 80 percent more energy-efficient than the average home site built in the mid-1990s. The need for air conditioning has been eliminated and the homes generate almost as much electricity as they use.

The homes also greatly lower heating costs. Alexander said the duplexes reduce natural gas use by an amazing 80 percent, while lowering the annual emission of carbon dioxide from 15 metric tons to three metric tons per home.

Because of their modular design, the duplexes were less expensive to build than a typical “stick-built” home. Cost came in at $90 to $110 per square foot, compared with about $140 per square foot for a traditionally built home, said Scott Simkus, housing development manager at the authority.

As an added benefit, the Paradigm Project created a “green” field-training program for unemployed workers. The program taught six unskilled people techniques in building energy-efficient homes and installing renewable features such as solar panels and geothermal systems.

The lessons from the Paradigm Project will be shared nationally in a best-practices manual due to be published by the Department of Energy. They also will be used during the construction of a 153-unit affordable housing development in Lafayette, Josephine Commons.

The new 14-acre development will be designed as the first Near Zero Energy community for low-income people in the United States, with 92 affordable housing units for seniors and 61 affordable units for families. The homes are expected to include all of the energy efficiency and renewable features of the model Paradigm Project, including geothermal energy to help ensure reliable, year-round heating and cooling.

The Paradigm Project is a win-win for low-income families and for all of the organizations involved.

HUD PROPOSES NEW RULE TO ALLOW ON-SITE COMPLETION OF FACTORY-BUILT MANUFACTURED HOMES

PressZoom) – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is proposing new regulations that would permit builders of manufactured housing (mobile homes) to complete construction at the home’s installation site, rather than in the factory. Under current HUD regulations, a manufacturer must obtain HUD approval for on-site completion of each of its designs.
HUD’s proposed rule would simplify the manufactured housing construction process by establishing new uniform procedures that would, under certain circumstances, permit manufacturers to complete construction of their homes at the installation site without obtaining advance approval from HUD. The proposed regulations would not apply when a major section of a manufactured home is to be constructed on-site. Public comment to this rule is due by August 23, 2010.
National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 authorizes HUD to establish and amend home construction and safety standards for the industry. It also authorizes HUD to conduct inspections and investigations necessary to enforce these standards.

The Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) contributed to the draft of this proposed rule. MHCC is a Federal Advisory Committee authorized by law to provide HUD with recommendations regarding Federal manufactured housing construction and safety standards and related procedural and enforcement regulations. It is composed of 21 voting members representing manufacturers, retailers, consumers, organizations with interest in manufactured housing, and public officials. ;
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“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor Tony Kovach and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla, G’day!”

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