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Pending Home Sales Slip, Realtors Say 110810

November 8th, 2010 Comments off

Pending Home Sales Slip, Realtors Say

Pending home sales retreated after two monthly gains, signaling an uneven recovery entering 2011 with some near-term disruptions from the foreclosure moratorium, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index slipped 1.8 percent to 80.9 based on contracts signed in September from an upwardly revised 82.4 in August. However, Realtors say the index remains 24.9 percent below a surge to 107.8 in September, 2009 when first-time buyers were jumping into the market to take advantage of the initial deadline for the tax credit last November. The data reflect contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months. The Northeast slipped 1.7 percent to 59.6 in September and is 28.3 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 5.7 percent in September to 64.2 and remains 33.0 percent below September 2009. Pending home sales in the South declined 3.5 percent to an index of 87.6 and are 19.1 percent below a year ago. In the West, the index rose 3.5 percent to 104.6, but is 24.7 percent below September 2009.

Broker Says Elections Unlikely to Impact Housing Market

Andrew Duncan, president and CEO of the #1 Keller Williams Real Estate Team in Tampa Bay, Florida wrote in a Benzinga.com column that the recent elections are unlikely to have much impact on the market. Duncan writes that real estate has never been about politics or who is in control of the House, Senate or Presidency – but rather supply, demand and cost. And supply in particular could remain abundant for some time to come. Duncan says even if the Fed keeps pumping money at the problem to keep interest rates so low and tax credits are put back in place, it is not going to fix supply vs. demand. There could be years of shadow foreclosure inventory waiting to be put up for sale, plus demand is strongly impacted by high unemployment and how the economic cycle has made it impossible for many would-be buyers to qualify for a loan.

Las Vegas Could Reach 25 Percent Office Vacancy

It’s unclear what impact struggling real estate markets had on the recent elections, but if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s return is any indication, the answer is not much. Things are not looking up there, however. A report on NuWire Investor says Las Vegas office vacancies continue to grow, and nearly a quarter of all office space in Vegas may become vacant by the end of the year. With nearly $17.2 billion in distressed assets across all commercial property types, Las Vegas ranks No. 1 among U.S. metros by proportion of distress to total inventory in the local market, according to New York-based Real Capital Analytics.

Canadian Realtors Group Lowers Sales Projections

From Canada, CBC News reports that Realtors there have cut home sales forecasts. The Canadian Real Estate Association Friday predicted sales nationally will fall to 442,200 in 2010 compared with the year earlier and home sales in 2011 would fall by nine per cent, to 402,500, compared with 2010. (CBC) Sales in the three months ending in September were weaker than expected.

Delaware School District Request Waiving Back Taxes on Manufactured Homes

From Delaware the Cape Gazette again reports on an attempt to clear the books of delinquent taxes and rid the county of abandoned manufactured homes. According to the report, Cape Henlopen School District acting Superintendent David Robinson told school board members on Thursday, Oct. 28, that the county approached all school districts in Sussex County asking them to waive back taxes and penalties for modular and factory-built homes, so the county can clean up rundown and dilapidated homes. With back taxes waived, the abandoned homes can be dismantled and moved, helping revitalize the communities. The report indicates nearly half of the delinquent $11.3 million owed to the county and school districts can be attributed to residents who live or have lived in manufactured homes on leased land. About $2.2 million, or 20 percent, is owed to the county, while the remaining 80 percent is owed to county school districts. About 20 percent of Sussex residents live in manufactured housing.

Residents Express Concerns about Planned MH Community

From Virginia, the Huntington BelleHaven Patch reports that Mount Vernon Council of Citizen Associations’ Environmental Committee members expressed concerns to county planners about environmental aspects of a planned manufactured home community. Fairfax County has been planning an 11-acre manufactured housing complex, called the Residences at North Hill, and an adjacent 22-acre community since 2007. According to the article, if the Board of Supervisors approves a financing plan next spring, construction could begin in the summer.

Factory-built Housing in the News

Haven Custom Homes Completes Pennywise Greek Revival Farmhouse

Haven Custom Homes in partnership with Artisan Fine Homes announced recently the completion of the first Russell Versaci designed modular home in Maryland. Located on a 12-acre horse farm in northern Maryland, the “Currier” home is a classic 19th-century Southern farmhouse with Greek Revival details designed by Russell Versaci. The two-story home features 3,035 square feet of living space with three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a basement and covered porches. Connected to the Currier by a covered walkway is the “Carriage” house, a two-story compatible outbuilding that serves as the garage and home office. The Currier and Carriage house are both part of Russell Versaci’s newest home collection, Pennywise Factory-Built Homes. The companies say these homes, authentic in historic style, are cost-effective, quick to build and sustainably green. The Collection includes two sets of designs: the Simple Farmhouse Portfolio and the Simple Cottage Sampler. The Simple Farmhouse Portfolio homes range from 1,600 to 3,200 square feet and offer compatible outbuildings. The Simple Cottage Sampler homes range from 650 to 800 square feet and make for ideal guest cottages, studios and home offices.  Following the home installation by Haven, Artisan Fine Homes completed the home in eight weeks so the homeowners could move in and enjoy their new home by Christmas.

Investment Site Bullish on Cavco, Skyline

Cavco topped a list of the top five stocks in the homebuilding industry within earshot of their 52-week highs by the investment site Zacks. The site says Cavco is now trading at 86 percent of its 52-week high of $43.41. The stock has risen 29 percent from its 52-week low. And for commentary, Zacks says these levels are important to watch as breaking out to new highs is a very bullish signal. Also on the list were NVR, Toll Brothers, Meritage and manufactured home builder Skyline Homes.

Jobs Added, Dow Shrugs

The U.S. added 151,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate holds at 9.6 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. That didn’t provide the expected bump in the stock market however. The Dow responded by adding just nine points after being down most of the day. Most manufactured housing and related stocks weren’t far off Thursday’s closing numbers, with notable exceptions. Deer Valley moved up seven and a half points to close at 43 cents a share and Universal Forest Products was up nearly three percent to close at $33.12 a share. The Manufactured Housing Composite value was down nearly two percent.

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Ginnie Mae provides new Guidance on Manufactured Home Loans 110510

November 5th, 2010 Comments off

Ginnie Mae provides new Guidance on Manufactured Home Loans

Housingwire reports that Ginnie Mae issued new guidance on pooling Federal Housing Administration manufactured home loans. Ginnie guarantees investors the timely payment of principal and interest on mortgage-backed securities containing federally insured loans, mainly FHA. Effective with issuances on or after October 1, 2010, Issuers may pool manufactured home loans electronically through GinnieNET. Eligible collateral for the Ginnie Mae II custom pool type, “C MH,” shall only include FHA Title I home loans whose loan application dates occur on or after June 1, 2009. Manufactured home loans whose loan application dates occur prior to June 1, 2009, will be ineligible for pooling within the “C MH” pool type, and will not be eligible for pooling within any Ginnie Mae security beyond a September 2010 issuance. More detailed information is available at mhmsm.com.

A Muzzle for the Web: Elections Bring Setback for Net Neutrality

As CNN and later talkingpointsmemo.com reported recently, the concept of net neutrality suffered a substantial setback Tuesday. All 95 of the candidates who pledged their support for related legislation lost their elections. Talkingpointsmemo.com says the FCC has been trying to expand its authority to regulate broadband internet providers, initially losing a court case in April. After that, it pushed Congress to pass legislation that would prevent the providers from blocking access to certain internet content, and force them to treat all web content providers equally. Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and create artificial scarcity. In short, without net neutrality, it may become more difficult to access sites like mhmsm.com.

Delaware Court Says HUD Seal Requirement for Lease Transfer Arbitrary

Boston.com posted a story this week about residents of the Bay City Mobile Home Park in Delaware who found out the lease for their lot can’t be transferred and remain in the community if it doesn’t meet the current Bay City’s mobile-home standards. According to the report, one of these standards was that the manufacturer placed a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department seal certifying compliance with federal standards on the factory-built home at the time it was manufactured; HUD seals are not placed on such homes manufactured prior to 1976. One resident sued and won in a trail court finding that both a square footage and HUD seal requirements were arbitrary and capricious and, thus, would not be enforced. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the decision on appeal. The court pointed out that HUD seals did not exist in 1960, when the home in question was built and a home built in 1976 could have the seal, yet have been in dilapidated condition by the time a transfer was requested.

Manufactured Home Restrictions Melting in Snowflake

From WMI Central in Arizona comes a story about a request for a variance that has led to the consideration of creating several overlay zones in residential areas. At a recent Snowflake council meeting, Michael Stratton asked for a variance that would allow him to place a manufactured home in a residential zone. Snowflake’s town code says manufactured homes are allowed in Ag (agricultural), R-2 acres (residential two acres) and R-1 acre zones, but not in the R-10,000-square-feet zone in which he wants to place his home. Stratton told the council he had removed an old manufactured home from the property and would replace it with a new one. Moreover, several other lots in the R-10,000 zone had manufactured homes. Snowflake Planning Director Dale Call pointed out that, although manufactured homes weren’t allowed in the R-10,000 feet zone, they can have the same look.

The Future Just Became More Expensive

Another estimate on the final taxpayer tab came Thursday from Standard & Poors. As reported on CNBC, costs to “resolve” U.S. mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and capitalize a new entity to replace their roles in supporting the nation’s housing market, could reach $685 billion. The debate on the future of Fannie and Freddie is expected to go into full swing early in 2011.

MH Owners in Britain Seek Legal Protections

The BBC reports that approximately 100 manufactured home owners there recently held a protest for changes in the law. Residents want change in the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to stop park operators from preventing the sale of homes at the “approval of the buyer” stage. One resident said some “unscrupulous” community owners were preventing residents from selling their homes in the hope of getting the properties themselves on the cheap.

All American Looks to Enhanced Accessibility

Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA), a division of VGM Group, Inc, and All American Homes recently announced a partnership to provide new homes designed with accessible needs in mind. “Being on the cutting edge of specifically designing new homes to meet the needs of those with accessibility issues fills a special niche within our program offerings,” says Jerry Keiderling, President of AHIA. All American Homes is one of the nation’s leading builders of residential modular housing. Founded in 1970, All American Homes has a large network of independent builders that serve homebuyers in most states.

MHI Urges Support of Energy-Star Tax Credit

Congress is currently scheduled to return for a lame duck session the week of November 15 to complete work on a number of must-pass legislative measures, including a potential energy tax incentive package. MHI is seeking assistance to ensure legislation extending and expanding tax credits available for the production of Energy Star-qualified manufactured and modular homes is included in any tax package considered by Congress. The legislation would amend the tax code to provide a credit of $1,500 for qualifying Energy Star manufactured homes, an increase from the current $1,000 credit. The credit increases to $2,500 when new, more stringent manufactured housing Energy Star requirements go into effect in 2011. MHI says for the highly price sensitive manufactured home market, tax credits are vital in helping offset the added costs associated with the construction, purchase and ownership of an Energy Star home. MHI members are urged to contact members of the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to co-sponsor S. 3935. Read more in Industry Voices at mhmsm.com.

MH Index, Dow Move Higher

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 220 points or nearly two percent on Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced plans for more bond purchases and earnings beat analyst estimates. The Manufactured Housing Composite value bested the market in terms of percentage points, moving ahead nearly eight percent. Big individual-share value movers include Palm Harbor Homes, up more than 11 percent; Cavco, up nearly nine percent; Skyline Corp., up seven and a half percent; and Drew Industries, up nearly five percent. Penny stock All American group was down 25 percent.

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Election Night a Nail Biter for Voters and Candidates 110410

November 4th, 2010 Comments off

Election Night a Nail Biter for Voters and Candidates

Races important to the manufactured housing industry seemed to be tightening Tuesday as Americans went to the polls. Receiving a morning endorsement from the Elkhart Truth and news of ever decreasing margins, Indiana Congressman Joe Donnelly awaited the outcome of his race with opponent Jackie Walorski. Election projection.com favored Donnelly by just one percent. As late as October 26, the lead for Donnelly was five points or more.  In Nevada, polls showed Sharon Angle was up one to three points on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  With 66 percent or precincts reporting, Donnelly had moved ahead 48 percent to 47 percent for Walorski. By 9 p.m., most other House races in Indiana had been called for Republicans. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Donnelly maintained the one point lead, but still the race hadn’t been called. At 99 percent Donnelly was still in the lead with less than 700 votes standing between a win and defeat. At 9:33 Donnelly’s Facebook page came up with a message that said “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the great people of north central Indiana in Congress for another term.” At 9:50 the margin had widened favoring Donnelly, but ABC News still hadn’t called the race. At 9:55 ABC News called the race for Donnelly. See this and other election coverage at mhmsm.com.

Despite Wide Turnover, Many Industry Friends Return to Washington

In the biggest gain in the House of Representatives in decades, Republicans were swept into at least 60 seats Tuesday. Some familiar faces to the manufactured housing industry stood despite the sea change. Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, Florida Republican Bill Posey and Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson return to the House. In addition, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Alabama Senator Richard Shelby were re-elected.  Those not returning include Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln, Indiana Democrat Baron Hill and Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers. “We’re glad to see our allies return to Congress,” says Mark Weiss representing the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform. “We are sorry to see Travis Childers lose. He really went to bat for us in dealing with HUD. He wrote to HUD and met with leadership to address some regulatory issues. He was a very strong advocate for us.” Find the full report on mhmsm.com.

U.S. Chamber Says Voters Elected for Growth, Rejected Taxes

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue told constituents that voters elected for job creation and economic growth and rejected more government spending, higher taxes and burdensome regulations. “We agree with voters across the nation who clearly stated that a strong and vibrant private sector is critical to reviving our economy, creating jobs and putting us on a path to long-term growth,” Donohue said. “We will work with members of both parties who support policies that enable businesses of all sizes to do what they do best—create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity. Congress will have another opportunity to make restoring economic growth its top priority and, with more balance, they will have to work on a bipartisan basis to achieve it.”

Facebook Fans Predict Winners

CNBC Correspondent Julia Boorstin observed Wednesday that of the 98 House races tracked by Facebook, the candidate with more “Fans” won 74 percent of the time. Of the 34 Senate races Facebook tracked, the stats are even higher: 82 percent of Senate winners had more Facebook fans than their opponents. There are exceptions: defeated Florida Democrat Alan Grayson had 30,000 to opponent Daniel Webster’s 4,600 fans.

Divided Congress Could Mean Two-Year Stalemate

An analysis at Reuters indicates a divided Congress could mean it may be two years before we see a comprehensive fix for the broken U.S. mortgage market. In addition, President Barack Obama’s veto and Democratic Senate power will likely block any attempts by Republicans to roll back the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that Obama signed into law in July.

MA Voters Say Keep Affordable Housing

Voters in Massachusetts said no to repealing the 40B Affordable Housing Law, which sets a goal of 10 percent affordable housing for cities and towns. It has been credited with creating some 30,000 affordable units in the state over the last four decades, but has also been criticized for allowing developers to sometimes skirt local zoning laws.

Modular Subdivision Comes to Montana

From Montana the Sidney Herald Leader reports that a modular subdivision known as Millers’ Corner is becoming reality. The controlled subdivision will have six one-level duplexes built as townhouses and two one-level individual units. Barvista Homes of Colorado, a green construction company, will build the modular units. Modular homes were chosen to have a quicker process for pre-sale as homes. Homes will cost in the low $200,000 range.

Affordable Housing Units Open in New Jersey

In South Amboy, New Jersey the city officially opened the Robert Noble Manor Oct. 21, just over a year to the date from its groundbreaking. The 40,000-square-foot building of affordable housing apartments has 40 one-bedroom units and is designed to house 40 to 50 seniors.  The construction budget for the project, which was funded with county, state and federal dollars, was about $6 million. According to the report, modular construction helped to keep the costs down.

HandCrafted Homes to hold Open House

Modular Builder HandCrafted Homes announced plans for their fall open house to be held on November 14th between the hours of 1pm to 5pm. The event will be take place at HandCrafted’s Model Home Center located in Henderson, NC.  Additionally, in an effort to help local area children, the company announced that in cooperation with Vance County Chamber of Commerce and the United States Marine Corp. they will be collecting toys for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation during the event. The model home center features a total of three homes that range in style and design.

Fed Takes Additional Steps to Jumpstart the Economy

CNBC reports that the Federal Reserve launched a controversial new policy on Wednesday, committing to buy $600 billion more in government bonds by the middle of next year in an attempt to breathe new life into a struggling U.S. economy. Observers say the decision takes the Fed into largely uncharted waters and is aimed at further lowering borrowing costs for consumers and businesses still suffering in the aftermath of the great recession.

Dow Gains as Investors Digest Election Results

The Dow gained 26 points Wednesday as investors pondered the potential impacts of the election. The Manufactured Housing Composite value moved ahead a tenth of one percent. Big movers included Nobility Homes, up more than two percent and Cavco up 1.7 percent. Those losing share value Wednesday included Palm Harbor Homes, off by more than ten percent.

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Homeownership in Decline 110310

November 3rd, 2010 Comments off

Homeownership in Decline

All the bad economic news is adding up to fewer Americans owning their own homes. CNN reported Tuesday that nearly 3 million fewer Americans now own homes compared to the first quarter of 2005, when homeownership peaked at 69.1 percent, according to Census Bureau figures. During the third quarter of 2010, the homeownership rate was down to 66.9 percent, unchanged from a quarter earlier. Moreover, many Americans are renting apartments while homes sit vacant. The single-family home vacancy rate is at 2.5 percent, but the vacancy rate for rental properties has dropped from 10.6 percent to 10.3 percent in the third quarter. The data also confirm that regions with the most affordable home prices have the highest rates of home ownership. In the Midwest, home ownership has declined from 73 percent in 2006 to 71.1 percent; in the South, homeownership has declined from 70.8 percent to 69.9 percent; in the Northeast, it’s down to 63.9 percent from 65.5 percent, and for the West it’s down to 61.3 percent from 65.3 percent. For younger Americans (those under 35), 39.2 percent owned homes last quarter, down from 43.3 percent at the beginning of 2005.

Remembering the Lustron Home

From Michigan the Kalamazoo Gazette brings us a story about a 60-year-old Lustron home made of steel that is still standing strong. After World War II, to help meet the demand to house returning servicemen, the Ohio-based Lustron Corporation started producing homes made of steel with porcelain coated exterior panels, steel framing, interior walls and ceiling. The company shipped all 3,000 components to a building site. The pre-fabricated houses were designed to be maintenance free and were considered to be three times stronger than a traditional stick-built home. They were advertised as rodent proof, fire proof, lightening proof and rustproof. Soap and water were all that was needed to keep them clean. Approximately 2,500 units were produced between 1948 and 1950. According to Wikipedia, The Lustron Corporation declared bankruptcy in 1950, despite being an extremely well-funded, well-publicized, government-supported enterprise manufacturing a desperately needed product. Production delays, the lack of a viable distribution strategy, and the escalating prices for the finished product all contributed to the failure. Additionally, local zoning codes also played a part. In Columbus, for example, an ordinance prohibited homes with steel chimneys.

Clayton Lays Off More than 50 at Texas Plant

Porchfrontnewstexas.com reports that more than 50 employees at a Clayton plant were recently given the pink slip. On November 1, 54 employees at the manufacturing plant is Sulphur Springs were apparently layed off due to the sluggish economy and slow home sales. General Manager Mike Duncan told the reporter the “lay-offs” were direct and indirect manufacturing positions. Employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits and will receive any unpaid vacation time they have credited to their accounts.

Organization Helps Residents Purchase MH Community

From Pathstone.org we learn that Meadow Valley Park, Inc. has purchased the Meadow Valley Manufactured Home Park in Unadilla, New York, creating the first ever resident-owned manufactured home community in the Southern Tier. The $755,000 purchase was financed by ROC USATM Capital, the finance arm of a non-profit social enterprise that supports resident ownership of manufactured home communities across the country.

With the purchase, Meadow Valley residents will have an opportunity to buy a membership in Meadow Valley Park, Inc. and become part owners in their community.

According to the report, the homes in the community will continue to be individually owned by the homeowners, but the land, roads, water and sewer systems and other infrastructure will be cooperatively-owned by homeowners and operated on a non-profit basis.  The community was purchased at a foreclosure auction held on September 29.  Since June 2009 the community had been managed by its lender, which foreclosed on the previous owner, Pittsford Capital Mobile Home, LP.  PathStone Corporation is a community development organization based in Rochester that runs a Manufactured Home Cooperative Program and provided technical assistance to the residents. PathStone is currently working toward resident ownership of several other manufactured home communities across New York and also plans to expand the program into Pennsylvania and Ohio in the coming year.

Modular Building at Fort Bliss Earns LEED Silver Rating

Permanent modular housing at Fort Bliss constructed by Warrior Group has earned LEED Silver Certification from the USGBC, the company reports. The recently completed housing complex in El Paso, Texas encompasses 1.5 million square feet in 34 two-story buildings containing more than 2,000 apartments for unaccompanied enlisted personnel. Warrior Group, a provider of premier construction services for permanent modular and conventional construction, served as the primary subcontractor to deliver the buildings using a “hybrid” construction method, which combines Permanent Modular Construction (PMC) with site-built components. According to Warrior Group, PMC was a key factor for the Fort Bliss UEPH complex, meeting a number of LEED Certification prerequisites and earning a total of 34 points for LEED Silver Certification.  “Permanent Modular Construction not only promotes the building of LEED-certified structures, but also helps the building process stay as environmentally-friendly as possible, making it an ideal solution for any government facility,” said Gail Warrior, president and chief executive officer of the Warrior Group.

Home Sales in Victoria, BC, Better, But Still Slow

From the Victoria Times Colonist in Canada, we find that homebuyers there are remaining cautious. Despite low interest rates and plenty of homes on the market, buyers remained cautious as the economy recovers, agents say. Data from by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board show the number of homes and properties sales sold through the Multiple Listing Service during October hit 467. That was up 18 per cent from the 395 sales in September – and the best sales total since July, but a sharp 37 percent decline from the 742 sales in October of 2009. The number of properties available for sale at the end of October declined to 4,046, but was still 26 percent higher compared to the 3,219 available properties in October last year. Last month’s sales included 252 single family homes, 128 condominiums, 50 townhomes and 15 manufactured homes.

America Goes to Vote, Stocks Climb

Stocks climbed 64 points Tuesday as Americans headed to the polls. The prospect of a Democratic Senate and Republican House makes any additional economic stimulus unlikely, and analysts said the expectation of this was already built into the market. It’s thought that a divided Congress can be good for the economy, but as David Stockman, former Office of Management and Budget director under President Reagan said in a CNBC story, the debt is growing at twice the rate of GDP and we’re going into a new Congress that’ll be totally stalemated. In the near term, the markets are likely to be more interested in an upcoming meeting of the Federal Reserve, which could set off a new round of asset purchases. The Manufactured Housing Composite value moved ahead almost two and a half points Tuesday with specific stocks logging sizeable gains. Penny stock Global Diversified Industries moved ahead 26 percent, Skyline Corporation gained more than six percent, Barnes Group and Universal Forest Products each gained more than three percent while Cavco and Sun Communities rose between two and three percent.

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Housing Price Drop Could Fall Another Eight Percent 110210

November 2nd, 2010 Comments off

Housing Price Drop Could Fall Another Eight Percent

CNN reports housing prices could fall another eight percent. Problems facing housing include a weak economy, sluggish hiring, tight mortgage underwriting, falling home prices, slowing sales and the potentially disastrous number of foreclosures that may occur over the coming years. Adding 8 percent to the drop would put the total peak-to-trough decline at 34 percent.

Tornado Video Misleading, Manufactured Homes Safe

From Chattanooga, Tennessee and News Channel 9 comes a story on the safety of manufactured homes during tornados. A television station there posted surveillance video from the Chickamauga Dam showing a tornado destroying two construction buildings. The video made many manufactured homeowners ask, how safe are they at home? Inspectors, however, told the station that manufactured homes are not any more vulnerable than conventional houses. Darlene Warren with the Tennessee Department of Commerce Manufactured Home Division explained to the reporter that homes in Tennessee are built to wind zone-1, which can handle wind speeds up to 100 miles per hour. The modular buildings seen getting blown away in the surveillance video are not strapped down. Warren said that’s because the law doesn’t require anchoring for temporary buildings at construction sites. Explore more about the safety of manufactured homes in wind storms in an earlier report at mhmsm.com, Tornado Caused More Destruction to Conventional Construction than to Mobile or Manufactured Homes

Delaware County Seeks to Clear Up Manufactured Homes with Back Taxes

From Delawareonline.com, Sussex County officials are targeting abandoned manufactured homes to clear up county tax rolls and help landowners rejuvenate residential home communities. The report indicates nearly half of the back taxes and fines owed to the county and local school districts are owed on manufactured homes located on leased land, which may be worth less than the taxes owed. People who live in manufactured homes on leased land owe the county and schools $5.3 million, out of $11.3 million total for all properties in the county. To collect some of that revenue, the county will pursue state legislation and develop a local plan to deal with future delinquencies. Some of the taxes may be waived. An official pointed to one home with a tree growing through the center, not inhabitable, but still amassing taxes and penalties.

UMH Purchases Five PA Communities

RTT News reported that UMH Properties reported Monday it reached a definitive agreement to buy five manufactured home communities located in Pennsylvania. The aggregate purchase price to be paid by UMH in this transaction is approximately $25 million. The transaction is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2010. Company representatives did not respond to a request for comment by the filing of this report.

New Manufactured Housing Plant Comes to Indiana

From Indiana the Greene County Daily World reports that commissioners there passed a resolution Monday that designates the entire county an Economic Recovery Development Zone and opens the door for a new manufactured housing plant. Stone Creek Homes, a manufactured housing firm, will utilize the bonds for the opening of a facility in the old Sunbeam plant. Winalta USA and Advanced Building Concepts previously occupied the building. The county’s share of low-interest bonds for public works projects were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

On Again, Off Again Development Irks Homeowners

Fox 5 in San Diego, California reports that Seniors residents at a Mission Valley factory-built housing community have been “living in limbo” since a national developer sent multiple lease termination notices over the last three years. Residents told the reporter Archstone-Smith Group, has recalled and resent notices announcing it was going remove the [single family homes] and build more than 400 condos. According to plans, Archstone-Smith wanted to build a 444-unit complex with a retail value of roughly $400,000 per unit. Neighbors indicate the lack of resolution is stressful.

Atlanta Neighborhood Becomes Home to New World Modulars

Mother Nature Network reports that a revitalization project in the Reynoldstown neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia is home to a new green affordable housing pilot program. The pilot program is the result of a partnership between New World Home and Resources for Residents and Communities (RRC). The new eco-friendly housing development is within walking distance of Atlanta’s public transportation system, which is an important part of creating a 21st century sustainable community. The community being called Legacy Pointe will feature approximately 14 New World Homes built on the company’s New Old Green Modular (NOGM) housing platform.   The first model home in the Legacy Pointe community is scheduled to open next month.

Homeway Homes Produces Green Home for Its General Manager

The Schieler family manufactures over one hundred modular homes each year for families in five Midwest states with their company, Homeway Homes in Deer Creek, Illinois. Now, the company has manufactured a special one for general manager, Ted Schieler, and it’s green. Schieler’s new house, a 1,700 square foot, ranch-style home based on the company’s existing “Concord” model, incorporates energy-efficiency, water capture and conservation, sustainable or recycled products, and measures to protect indoor air quality, and doesn’t sacrifice on style or attractiveness. The home also includes a geothermal energy source instead of fuel, which refers to a process using heat from deep in the earth to heat or cool the home. The Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have endorsed ground source heat pump systems as among the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly heating, cooling, and water heating systems available. Schieler’s new home includes ENERGY STAR appliances, low flow plumbing fixtures, dual flush toilets, a rainwater retention system, low to no VOC paints, and sustainable building products throughout.

Drew Says MH Performance on Par with 2009

Drew Industries Incorporated (NYSE: DW), a leading supplier of components for recreational vehicles (RV) and manufactured homes, reported net income for the third quarter ended September 30, 2010 of $8.0 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, compared to $7.2 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, for the 2009 third quarter. Drew say net sales in the third quarter of 2010 reached $147 million, 21 percent higher than the $122 million of net sales in the third quarter of 2009. This sales increase was largely the result of a 17 percent increase in industry-wide wholesale shipments of travel trailers and fifth-wheel RVs, Drew’s primary market. Drew’s RV Segment represented 83 percent of Drew’s consolidated net sales in the 2010 third quarter. Industry-wide production of manufactured homes in the third quarter of 2010 is estimated to have been level with last year.

Dow Flat After Wild Ride

Finally, after an early day surge of more than 100 points, the Dow closed just six points higher Monday. The Manufactured Housing Composite value was essentially flat, gaining just two tenths of one percent. There were some big movers among manufactured housing and related stocks, however. Cavco and Sun Communities moved ahead more than two percent while Drew Industries, Barnes Group, Nobility Homes, Palm Harbor Homes, All American Group and Skyline Corporation lost value

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Surprise! HUD Alters Consensus Committee Charter 110110

November 1st, 2010 Comments off

Surprise! HUD Alters Consensus Committee Charter

Those attending the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee meeting October 27th and 28th found out HUD had altered the committee’s charter earlier this year without input from the public or the committee. Susan Brenton, outgoing MHCC Chair and Executive Director of Manufactured Housing Communities of Arizona, told MHMSM.com that HUD made the decision under the authority of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Brenton contends, however, the MHCC is not an advisory committee because, unlike any other advisory committee, under the original charter MHCC doesn’t expire. While her term expires in December, Brenton says no move has been made to establish a new chair or vice chair for the committee and expects HUD may end up running the meetings. Moreover, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), which was represented by Mark Weiss at the meeting, sent out a statement saying in part that, “The original MHCC Charter acknowledged that as a statutory committee, the MHCC has an ‘indefinite term of duration.’ The new purported Charter leaves the door open to an effort by HUD to abolish the MHCC in two years, stating “unless renewed by appropriate action prior to its expiration, the [MHCC] will terminate two years from the date this Charter is filed.” MHARR also reports that altered charter contains no provisions for the appointment (and duties) of an MHCC chairperson. Brenton says Congress may need to be involved in “straitening this whole thing out.” Representatives of the Manufactured Housing Institute were not immediately available for comment. Look for a full report soon at MHMSM.com.

Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell thanks MH Residents

From Delaware the Cape-Gazette reports U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell thanked a standing-room-only crowd of area manufactured-home residents for giving her a platform four years ago when she first entered the political arena. Republican O’Donnell is locked in a battle with Democrat Chris Coons in a special election to fill the seat vacated when Sen. Joe Biden became vice president. The newspaper reports O’Donnell was the featured speaker Monday, Oct. 25, during the monthly Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association meeting. Also according to the report, during a question-and-answer session, association president Ed Speraw asked questions related to manufactured home issues. O’Donnell responded that although she would be limited in what action she could take at the national level, she would advocate for the rights of manufactured homeowners. O’Donnell also told the reporter local manufactured-home advocate Jeannie Sisk of Rehoboth Beach has her ear.

Barney Frank Participates in Massachusetts Manufactured Housing Meeting

As reported in the Manufactured Housing Institute’s Week in Review, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank participated in the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA) at the invitation of its executive director, Mary McBrady. Frank was honored for his support of the manufactured housing industry. During his presentation, Frank responded to questions from the audience, including one from MHI Executive Vice President Thayer Long on the possibility of Congress developing technical corrections legislation to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Frank indicated that a technical corrections bill was almost certain to move through Congress next year and pledged his support to work with the manufactured housing industry on issues of concern.

Foreclosure Moratorium Hits Struggling Real Estate Market

Just as it pokes its head into recovery, the real estate mole has taken another whack. Bloomberg News reports that home foreclosure sales are slowing in the states hardest hit by the real estate crash. In Arizona, California and Nevada, foreclosure auctions on courthouse steps, known as trustee sales, are down 42 percent since Sept. 20, according to the website ForeclosureRadar. In addition, a Florida broker told the news service that fewer foreclosures there have led to 18 percent sales declines this month.

Australians Buying up U.S. Foreclosures

CNN Reports Australian companies are helping investors there buy up U.S. foreclosures and make a small fortune on rent. The article points to one house in Nashville purchased for $60,000, rented for $925 leaving $700 a month in profit. CNN reports unemployment in Australia is just 5.1 percent. Home prices there, which did not fall, average $500,000. Plus, the Australian dollar is at near record highs, equal in value to its U.S. counterpart. Says one investor, “The beauty is, the U.S. economy will recover one day. You guys have hit a rough patch, but we know you’ll be back with flying colors.”

Reno-area Land-Lease Community to be Converted into Owner Lots

From Nevada the Reno Gazette-Journal reports that the Yerington City Council voted 4-0 at its Oct. 25 meeting to approve an extension of time for a tentative map for Pony Express Village, LLC, a manufactured home community, in southwest Yerington. The map is part of a plan to convert the existing 23 lots at Pony Express Village Mobile Home Park into a manufactured housing subdivision.

Ecospace Homes Featured in New Book

Ecospace, a London-based architectural company, announced its homes have appeared in a book by Christian Troester entitled Dream Homes Under 200,000 Euros: Architects’ Buildings for Small Budgets. As specialist providers of modular buildings, Ecospace focuses on designing and manufacturing properties that can be customized to suit the individual taste and specification of each customer. Christian Troester’s book has featured Ecospace alongside various other respected architects, and also placed them on the front cover. Committed to reducing the UK’s carbon footprint without compromise, London-based company Ecospace creates aesthetic living spaces either to client specifications, or based upon modular building designs.

Patrick Industries Reports Third-Quarter-Plus Financial Results

Patrick Industries, a major manufacturer and distributor of building and component products for the recreational vehicle (RV), manufactured housing (MH) and industrial markets, reported its financial results Thursday for the third quarter and nine months ended September 26.   For the third quarter of 2010, Patrick reported an increase in net sales of approximately $14.5 million, or 25 percent, to $72.8 million from $58.3 million in the 2009 period, based largely on continued year to date strength in the RV industry.  According to industry associations, wholesale unit shipments in the RV industry, which represented approximately 56 percent of the Company’s sales in the quarter, increased approximately 19 percent in the third quarter of 2010 compared to the prior year period.  The Company estimates that unit shipments in the MH industry, which represented approximately 30 percent of sales in the third quarter of 2010, were down approximately 1 percent from the third quarter of 2009.  The industrial market sector, which is tied to the residential housing market, accounted for approximately 14 percent of the Company’s third quarter sales.  The quarterly and year-to-date sales increases also reflected the contributions of two acquisitions completed during the year.

Analysts: Cavco to Turn Profit

SmarTrend and others reported Friday that Cavco Industries is expected to turn a profit this year. In the last fiscal year, the company lost $0.52 per share. Cavco Industries is now estimated to attain profitability and earn $0.09 per share this year, based on 6.5 million shares outstanding.

Palm Harbor Homes Up, Dow Flat

The Dow moved ahead five points Friday to close at 11,118. The Manufactured Housing Composite value lost a little more than one point. Most manufactured housing and related stocks on our watch list experienced modest gains or losses, but several including Palm Harbor Homes, which closed the day more than three percent higher, provided interest in a day of little variation.

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Website Equates Modular with Living Light 102910

October 29th, 2010 Comments off

Website Equates Modular with Living Light

Shopping might be good for the economy, but modern times call for adaptability, and adaptable is something that can be hard to be with too much stuff. An item from John Gerzema at psfk.com makes that connection and ties in modular housing. “It took the Great Recession to make pre-fabricated housing a fashion statement,” Gerzema writes. “Today, the American dream is shifting from needing lots of stuff to ‘liquid living’, where the cardinal virtues are nimbleness and adaptability to circumstance.” Gerzema writes about traveling the country for a new book called Spend Shift and finding lots of Americans who equate excessive consumption with undermining their freedom. He indicates sixty-three percent of Americans disagree with the idea that “the more I have, the more I want,” while “two-thirds are happier with a more down-to-basics lifestyle.” The article references Blu Homes, a company bucking the downturn in real estate by offering energy-efficient, low-cost homes built with green materials. Blu Homes is one of fifty companies interviewed for Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution is Changing the Way We Buy, Sell and Live.

Rooftop Turbine Spins Savings

If you’re looking to cut energy costs, reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more green, you’ll be interested to learn about a new rooftop wind turbine coming on the market. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a Canadian-made turbine designed to fit on roofs and help power homes and small businesses will go on sale in December. The Honeywell wind turbine is designed for the roofs of homes and small commercial or agricultural operations. Reg Adams, president of manufacturer WindTronics, told CBC News the turbines will appeal to homeowners who are environmentally conscious, or need emergency backup power. The turbines will be sold at Home Depot and other major retailers across Canada.

Delaware Manufactured Homeowner Association Answers Critics

From Delaware the Cape Gazette reports that the Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association (DMHOA) finished last year with net income of more than $3,800. The nonprofit organization raised just over $35,000 and spent $31,100. More than $17,000 of the Lewes-based association income in 2009 came from government grants; the organization also raised $8,100 from membership dues and $3,300 from special events. The financial report was sent to the Cape Gazette by attorney Peter Schaeffer on behalf of DMHOA after accusations surfaced concerning the organization’s finances made by Patty Weyl, a resident of Bay City Mobile Home Park near Long Neck.

West Virginia Fund Takes Ownership of FEMA Housing

Website GovMonitor reports that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin recently announced the award of $500,000 from the Governor’s Contingency Fund to the West Virginia Housing Development Fund to assist in its continued efforts of helping families in Mingo and Wyoming counties recover from previous flooding. The WVHDF is taking ownership of FEMA manufactured homes currently being used as transitional housing for those who were displaced by storms that caused severe flooding in 2009. More than 55 families are currently living in the FEMA-owned manufactured homes. The WVHDF intends to sell the homes to eligible families at an affordable price on the condition they move to a flood-safe site.

Is the Manufactured Housing Industry Feeding the Hand that Bites Us?

This is the question addressed in today’s Industry Voices Guest Blog by Greg McClanahan on www.MHMSM.com. McClanahan responds to Eric Miller’s report on MHI-Pac Mid-Term Election Spending, citing the need for principles rather than positions.

Court Says Californian Can Return Manufactured Home

From Maryville, California the Appeal Democrat reports that in a case involving a home’s access for a disabled resident, a state appellate court has affirmed a Sutter County judge’s order that Feather River Homes of Yuba City must take back a manufactured home valued at almost a quarter-million dollars. According to the report, the buyers signed a contract in 2006 with Feather River Homes to construct the home and 20-foot driveway on a lot in Dell-Wayne Estates. The home was well-valued, but the problem was discovering that half of the driveway was constructed on a neighboring lot.

Sun Communities Reports 2010 Third Quarter Results

Sun Communities, a real estate investment trust that owns and operates manufactured housing and recreational vehicle communities, reported third quarter results Thursday finding revenues up $5.8 million or 3.0 percent to $197.8 million. Home sales increased 32.6 percent, from 811 units to 1,075 units. Also reported, during the third quarter of 2010, revenue-producing sites increased by 76 sites, compared to a decrease of 46 sites during the third quarter of 2009. For the nine months ended September 30, revenue-producing sites increased by 510 sites, compared to an increase of 243 sites for the nine months ended September 30, 2009, an improvement of 267 sites period over period. “We have finished the quarter with a strong gain of 510 occupied sites year-to-date with gains being achieved throughout the portfolio,” said Gary A. Shiffman, Chairman and CEO. “Demand has been increasing as applications to live in Sun’s communities have grown each year with 2010 final estimated results of over 22,000 representing more than double the 10,270 applications in 2006. Growth has also been fueled by the fifth year of increased home sales, which have approximately tripled since 2005. We are experiencing continued positive fundamentals reflected in the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year quarterly FFO growth.” A conference call to discuss third quarter operating results will be held on October 28 at 11 A.M. Eastern. To participate, call toll-free 877-941-0843 or visit www.suncommunities.com.

Browsers Beat Apps

Got an app for that? Even if you do, information from eMarketer suggests mobile users may prefer web browsers. The online marketing information site reports mobile users polled by Keynote Systems for Adobe prefer mobile browsers to access virtually all mobile content. Games, music and social media were the only categories in which users would rather use a downloaded app than browse the mobile web.

Markets Move Lower

Stocks moved lower by 12 points on Wall Street today. The manufactured housing composite value moved down nearly two percentage points. With the exception of Universal Forest Products which moved up a third of one percent, manufactured housing and related stocks on our watch list were universally lower. The biggest decliners include Palm Harbor Homes (off nearly two percent), All American Group (off nearly seven percent) and Nobility Homes (off almost nine percent).

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Home Purchases Increase to “High End of Miserable” 102810

October 28th, 2010 Comments off

Home Purchases Increase to “High End of Miserable”

Bloomberg reports that sales of new homes rose in September for a second month. According to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department, purchases increased 6.6 percent to a 307,000 annual rate that exceeded the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The news outlet indicates demand is hovering near the record-low 282,000 reached in May. Aaron Smith, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania told the paper sales are “still only at the high end of miserable.”

Mortgage Applications Up

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey Wednesday for the week ending October 22, finding an increase in application volume. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 3.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 3.1 percent compared with the previous week. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.25 percent from 4.34 percent, with points increasing to 1.0 from 0.81 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans. The 30-year contract rate matches the rate from the week ending October 1, which was the second lowest ever observed in this survey.

News at Noon Available on iTunes

Did you know MHMSM.com’s News at Noon is available on iTunes? Take the news with you and listen at work, in the car or wherever it’s convenient. Simply launch iTunes and type MHMSM into the search box and the Podcast list will appear.

Exhibitors Lining Up for 2011 Louisville MH Show

It’s official! The 2011 Louisville Manufactured Housing Show is returning to the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky January 12, 13 and 14, 2011. MHMSM.com publisher L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach says presenting manufactured homes on a stage like the Louisville show is crucially important to conveying the story of manufactured homes to the public. “Homebuyers need to know about the quality of product created by the manufactured housing industry today,” Kovach says. “The Louisville show is an ideal stage and I can’t think of a more important cause for the industry than supporting the event.” For more information, contact Dennis Hill at 770-587-3350.

Employee Celebrates Forty Years at Chief Industries

From Nebraska, the Aurora News Register ran a feature on Rex Nissen who, after serving four years in the Air Force, showed up at the site of a construction project on the northwest edge of Aurora looking for work in 1970. He was hired by Chief Industries to help build the new BonnaVilla Homes plant, a 50,000-sq.-ft. facility in the Aurora Industrial Park. Today Nissen proudly claims to be the only person who has worked with the manufactured housing company for its entire 40-year history. Nissen told the paper he has no plans to retire. The company has built mobile, modular, manufactured and custom homes.

Residents Get to Keep Homes on Flood Plains

From Texas the Little Elm Journal Star reports that residents have won in a battle over placing manufactured homes near a lake. A recent public hearing regarding four requests for specific-use permits for manufactured homes resulted in an ordinance specifying all existing additions on the property are declared legal non-conforming uses in relationship to the zoning ordinance. In 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers told residents they were living on the Corps flood plains and were asked to remove the structures.

Modular Senior Complex Opens

From the Garden State, NJ Today reports that dozens of South Amboy residents plus city and county officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Robert Noble Manor Thursday to mark the opening of the city’s third senior housing complex. The 37,000-square-foot modular building will provide affordable housing for low- and moderate-income senior citizens. According to the article, construction on the building began last fall and includes 40 one-bedroom units with parking, walk-in showers, a meeting room and a community garden.

Cubed House Turning Heads

While Census Data in the United States shows home sizes are on the decline, a curious home in British Columbia, Canada has them all beat. According to the Westcoaster, something called a micro “cube” home is turning heads. Known as twelve-cubed, the homes are a 12-foot-by-12-foot, two-story, high-tech home that includes a washer-dryer and dishwasher and costs about $35,000. In addition, the article suggests that – unlike other small homes – because the Twelve Cube units are on a foundation, they can be mortgaged.

MHARR Says Regulators are Out of Touch

In a recent Industry Voices guest column, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) opines that HUD’s continuing unnecessary and costly impositions on the manufactured housing industry and consumers reflect a gross disconnect between the federal program and the people it is supposed to serve. With consumers of affordable housing facing unprecedented obstacles obtaining financing and with the small businesses that constitute the heart and core of the manufactured housing industry struggling every day to survive, MHARR says HUD regulators have demonstrated once again that they remain woefully out of touch with – and insensitive to – the struggles of the federal program stakeholders. Read the full text at mhmsm.com Industry Voices guest blog. http://www.mhmsm.com/blogs/industryvoices/regulators-show-they-are-insensitive-and-out-of-touch/

South Carolina Looks to Fill Vacant Urban Lots with Manufactured Homes

Mark Dillard, Executive Director at the Manufactured Housing Institute of South Carolina (MHISC) uses a photo of a vacant lot near his office, just blocks from the state Capitol to demonstrate the potential to place manufactured homes on vacant urban lots throughout the state. In the state capital of Columbia, Dillard says there’s already a trend of bringing condos and retail downtown, and the addition of more moderately priced workforce housing in the form of manufactured homes makes sense. It’s just one example of using manufactured homes to provide much needed housing in urban areas. Find out more in a comprehensive report at mhmsm.com: http://www.mhmsm.com/blogs/industryvoices/some-say-the-future-for-manufactured-homes-is-downtown/

Markets Mixed, Cavco, All American Gain

The Dow closed down 43 points on Wednesday, representing a recovery from performance earlier in the day. The Manufactured Housing Composite Value, however, was up 1.2 percent. Leading the way was All American Group, up more than seven percent and Cavco Industries, finishing off the day more than two percentage points higher. Nobility Homes, Palm Harbor Homes, Sun Communities and Universal Forest Products all closed modestly lower.

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Home Price Increases Slow Down, Decrease in August 102710

October 27th, 2010 Comments off

Home Price Increases Slow Down, Decrease in August

Data through August, 2010 released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show a deceleration in the annual growth rates in 17 of the 20 MSAs and the 10- and 20-City Composites in August compared to what was reported for July 2010. The 10-City Composite was up 2.6 percent and the 20-City Composite was up 1.7 percent from their levels in August 2009. Home prices decreased in 15 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites in August from their July levels. David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s called the report disappointing and an indication that the housing market continues to bounce along the recent lows. Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Washington, DC were the only five cities that recorded marginal improvements in home prices over July.

Donnelly Poll Lead Narrowing

According to the latest New York Times FiveThirtyEight election forecast, the Indiana race between incumbent Joe Donnelly and Republican Jackie Walorski is narrowing substantially. Donnelly’s chance of winning at about 72 percent, down from 83 percent earlier in October. Electionprojection.com currently has Donnelly winning the race by 2.3 percent. Donnelly is the top recipient of PAC money from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and has also received contributions from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

New PA Law Takes Aim at Lot Rent Increases

From Fort Washington, Pennsylvania comes a report by North Penn Life about Act 80, a new state law passed this week intended to eliminate unreasonable and unexpected increases in lot rents for people living in manufactured housing communities. The legislation’s sponsor, Democrat Rick Taylor called the bill one of his proudest accomplishments in the state House. Governor Ed Rendell signed the legislation into law Tuesday. According to the report, under the new law, manufactured home community owners would be required to provide potential lessees with a disclosure that includes information about how and when rent can be increased, a three-year history of the rental rate for the tenant’s lot and information regarding utility fees and park facilities, rules and regulations. The text of Act 80 is available for download at http://mhmsm.com/downloads/hb2212-act-80.pdf

PA Bill Would Eliminate Dual Licensing Requirement

Also from the Keystone State, HB 2547, a bill that would eliminate the dual licensing requirement created with the passage of the Mortgage Licensing Act (MLA) last August for those engaged in lending activities involving chattel loans, moved through the State Senate. The bill, which now goes to the Governor’s desk for signature, will allow the manufactured housing industry to continue to retain their business licenses under the Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act (installment sellers and sales finance company licenses). However, individual licenses, where employees are engaging in MLA regulated activities, such as taking credit applications, will continue to be maintained under the MLA, keeping Pennsylvania in compliance with the federal SAFE Act.

MH Education Trust Donates to Political-action Group

The Capistrano Dispatch reports that the Manufactured Housing Education Trust (MHET) along with the Building Industry Association (BIA), a Los Angeles-based California Real Estate PAC, made donations to a group that sent out flyers criticizing San Juan Capistrano Mayor Lon Uso. Three pieces mailed by a political-action group called Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods revealed a decade-old misdemeanor DUI and alleged that Uso raised taxes on school children and supported medical benefits for illegal immigrants. The Manufactured Housing Education Trust, based in Rancho Santa Margarita, donated $5,000. On its web site, the Trust defines itself as a California non-profit association dedicated to promoting … the manufactured housing community industry through the education of its members, community leaders, manufactured home owners and the public about … manufactured housing community issues. Uso said he suspected the BIA and Realtors were upset because he supported a building-fee increase to balance the … budget.

Clayton Reports Sales Gains in Woodenville

From Washington State the Woodinville Weekly reports that manufactured home sales there are increasing. According to the article, Clayton’s numbers for the first half of 2010 are up 22 percent from this time last year. The article also references numbers from The New York Times that show manufactured homes made up nearly a quarter of all new homes sold for less than $200,000 in 2009. The reason? Manufactured homes provide bang for the buck. More, those seeking energy efficiency are finding it in manufactured homes without the expected high price. The report also says sales are expected to remain strong for the next few months.

Modular Designs Make Traditional Homes Affordable

Haven Custom Homes, a leader in the construction of custom modular homes for more than 40 years, in partnership with Artisan Fine Homes recently announced the completion of the first Russell Versaci-designed modular home in Maryland. Located on a 12-acre horse farm in northern Maryland, the “Currier” home is a classic 19th-century Southern farmhouse with Greek Revival details designed by Russell Versaci. The two-story home features 3,035 square feet of living space with three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a basement and covered porches. Connected to the Currier by a covered walkway is the “Carriage” house, a two-story compatible outbuilding which serves as the garage and home office. The Currier and Carriage house are both part of Russell Versaci’s newest home collection, Pennywise Factory-Built Homes. The company says these homes, authentic in historic style, are cost-effective, quick to build and green. The Collection includes two sets of designs: the Simple Farmhouse Portfolio and the Simple Cottage Sampler. The Simple Farmhouse Portfolio homes range from 1,600 to 3,200 square feet and offer compatible outbuildings. The Simple Cottage Sampler homes range from 650 to 800 square feet and make for ideal guest cottages, studios and home offices. Russell Versaci, an award-winning residential architect, is a champion of the use of factory fabrication as a way to make high-quality traditional homes accessible and affordable.

Warrior Group Moves into Nation’s Capital

From Virginia the Washington Business Journal reports that Dallas-based Warrior Group, which builds modular housing complexes on military bases, has opened a Washington-area office. Warrior is one of the largest women and minority-owned construction companies in the country. Company CEO Gail Warrior told the paper the new office will help the company support government clients and monitor legislation that can impact the industry. The company’s projects have included housing complexes at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Fort Carson.

Dow Closes Higher

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher Tuesday, rising five points or .05 percent. Most manufactured housing stocks experienced modest losses or gains. The biggest movers included Equity Lifestyle Properties, down 1.6 percent and UMH Properties, down one percent. The Manufactured Housing Composite Value was off a third of one percent.

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NAR Affirms Housing Recovery Begins 102610

October 26th, 2010 Comments off

NAR Affirms Housing Recovery Begins

Existing-home sales rose again in September, affirming that a sales recovery has begun, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing-home sales jumped 10 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million in September from a downwardly revised 4.12 million in August, but remain almost 20 percent below the 5.6 million-unit pace in September, 2009 when first-time buyers were ramping up in advance of the initial deadline for the tax credit last November. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing market is in the early stages of recovery. “A housing recovery is taking place, but will be choppy at times depending on the duration and impact of a foreclosure moratorium. But the overall direction should be a gradual rising trend in home sales with buyers responding to historically low mortgage interest rates and very favorable affordability conditions.” According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.35 percent in September from 4.43 percent in August; the rate was 5.06 percent in September, 2009. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $171,700 in September, which is 2.4 percent below a year ago. A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 32 percent of homes in September, almost unchanged from 31 percent in August.

Bernanke Says Fed Looking Into Improper Foreclosures

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke commented on the efforts by state attorney generals to investigate whether banks have been using proper procedures in regards to foreclosures. During welcome remarks at the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Conference on Mortgage Foreclosures and the Future of Housing in Arlington, Virginia, Bernanke notes the Fed has been concerned about reported irregularities in foreclosure practices at a number of large financial institutions. “The federal banking agencies are working together to complete an in-depth review of practices at the largest mortgage servicing operations,” he said. “We are looking intensively at the firms’ policies, procedures, and internal controls related to foreclosures and seeking to determine whether systematic weaknesses are leading to improper foreclosures. We take violations of proper procedures seriously.” Preliminary results of the investigation are expected next month.

Freddie Says Foreclosures Taking Longer

CNBC reports that the foreclosure process is taking longer because of an increasing need of owner evictions. Freddie Mac reports that homes are taking as long as eight months to work their way through its foreclosure pipeline, two months longer than was typical before the housing crisis began. The report notes the delay is the result of more borrowers staying in their homes for months after foreclosure proceedings have begun, requiring Freddie Mac to evict them before it can put those homes back on the market.

Mortgage Bankers Outline Two Steps to Rebound

Also from CNBC come comments by the chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association on the prospect for a housing rebound. Chairman Michael Berman told CNBC Monday that two changes need to take place before that happens. The first is clarity about the foreclosure process and the second is clarity about the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

PA Prepares for Sprinkler Mandate, MH Industry Exempt

From Pennsylvania the Altoona Mirror reports on a debate on the costs of a sprinkler mandate. The latest state building codes will require that all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses have fire sprinkler systems installed starting in 2011. Manufactured housing is exempt from the requirement. The code, which will go into effect Jan. 1, has been challenged by groups such as the Pennsylvania Builders Association which says the systems could increase the cost of a new home by as much as $10,000. The state Senate has passed a bill that would delay the sprinkler requirement on new construction until Dec. 16, 2011.

Minnesota Candidate Knows Manufactured Housing

From Minneapolis the Star-Tribune reports one candidate for the chief attorney of Washington County has manufactured homes in his background. Candidate Kevin Shoeberg is a private attorney and city prosecutor for Landfall, a manufactured home community next to Oakdale. He’s running against Peter Orput, a Hennepin County prosecutor.

“Trailer” Watch: Word Repeated in AP, NPR Stories of California MH Residents Uniting to Improve Community Conditions

The word “trailer” surfaced again recently in an Associated Press story that was featured on National Public Radio. The headline “Migrants Unite for Better Trailer Park Living” concerns several manufactured home communities south of Los Angeles. According to the article, hundreds of hidden and largely unplanned communities provide housing to migrant workers. Residents there are fighting to improve conditions and are suing their landlords in state court. A judge in Riverside recently ordered one owner to restore power, maintain sewage and electrical systems and refrain from evicting tenants or raising rent in retaliation. The article further states the recent victory marks the first time an entire community has organized itself and represents a turning point in a decades-long debate about how to address an affordable housing crisis that has plagued the eastern Coachella Valley. “Trailer” is, of course, not the correct word to be used. We will be sending along our manufactured housing guide for reporters.

All Eyes on Modular Building Event in MA

Sterling Homes Development Corporation announced the company will host an exclusive press event today, October 26, in Wellesley, Massachusetts to demonstrate the real-time construction of a modular home piece by piece. “Most people don’t realize that modular building is happening in affluent towns like Wellesley, Weston and Concord,” explains Russell D. Busa, president of Sterling Homes. “Modular construction is still largely misunderstood in the marketplace, but this is changing. Well-educated homeowners are beginning to realize the benefits of modular construction such as design flexibility, energy efficiency, and shorter construction times.”

Winalta Emerges from Bankruptcy

From Canada the Winnipeg Free Press reports that Winalta has received court and creditor approval for its plan of arrangement and will emerge from bankruptcy protection. The new Winalta will rent, deliver, install, maintain and dismantle modular camp units, sleepers, well site trailers and portable power, water and waste treatment system rentals to the oil and gas, construction, mining and forest industries in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It intends to have the units manufactured by third-party vendors.

Blu Homes Hires Consultant

Green home builder Blu Homes announced Monday they have hired Michael Harris as a consultant and appointed him to its board of advisors. Harris has been a career-long innovator in the modular housing industry. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of Lindal Cedar Homes since 2006. Prior to that, Harris was President and CEO of Deck House, Inc. of Acton, Mass. where he worked for 31 years.

Dow Closes Up

The Dow closed up 31 points for the day. The manufactured housing composite index moved ahead .30. Most manufactured housing and related stocks experienced modest gains or losses.

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