Posts Tagged ‘21st mortgage corp’

Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance – Investor Lessons Learned

May 11th, 2019 No comments



The past is prologue ideally to be learned from. When an error is made, it could be ignored, covered up, or deflected by some razzle-dazzle style head-fake. Or an error can be admitted, addressed, amends made as possible, and then one can advance with head held high.



The Daily Business News on MHProNews pondered separating these three Berkshire Hathaway owned company snapshots.  But Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) are so interconnected, and the lessons learned for investors and MHVille pros are so interrelated, that it made more sense to do this as one overview article that acts as a hub to several other linked reports.

With that said, let’s note that the nature of a con is that someone is deceived by some form of ruse. The goal of the ruse or con is to separate ‘the Mark(s)’ – the targeted victim(s) – from something valuable.

The hypothetical case for a con job in manufactured housing only requires a few people to be in the know. Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, and Tim Williams would logically be among those purportedly in on such a con job that rigs the market by using political connections, nonprofits, financing, stirring up bad news, and other means.

The vast majority who work with or for those three people have no need to know. Hundreds or thousands in their employ might be terrific personally, and unaware of the ploy. One must be fair and separate wheat from chaff.

So, for surrogates of the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis who scoff at “conspiracy theories,” they are either ignorant pawns, lack discernment, are liars, part of the head-fake, or cowardly sycophants – take your pick. By the way, linking some doesn’t mean or imply that there aren’t others.  There are some mouthpieces that arguably clean up their act better than others do.


The Elephant in The Room

The content and links herein set the stage for almost everything else that matters in manufactured housing today vs. 20 years ago.  To understand an industry, one must grapple with the realities of the elephant in the room.

After repeated and documented offers to leaders at Clayton, 21st, VMF, and MHI to clarify, correct any factual errors or offer an alternative explanation, they’ve remained silence.  That’s not proof that what is found herein or that is linked is correct.  But given that we have faithfully quoted Warren Buffett, Tim Williams, and Kevin Clayton at length and in their own words, that’s a good indicator that we are onto something significant.  The fact that we are the most read means something too.




Regular readers who already know that definitive report linked above on MHLivingNews backwards and forward, know that the evidence to support the allegations of manufactured home market-rigging with related antitrust violations are compelling.

Who says? Numerous everyday industry professionals, but also attorneys, including those into antitrust law.

Furthermore, as noted, we’ve given repeated opportunities to

  • the Claytons,
  • Tim Williams/21st,
  • MHI,
  • their attorneys,
  • and the MHI’s outside attorney assigned to ‘deal’ with us on MHI’s behalf

chances to respond in writing or live in public. No direct replies in the last year from them have denied or explained away any of our fact-checks or reports.  But there have been plenty apparent ‘over the target’ reactions from their surrogates like ones linked here and here, etc.

There are also lesser-known surrogates that have allegedly been used by the axis.  We see no value to mentioning them now.  There has also been legal saber rattling, and other ploys we won’t dive into today.  Clearly, they’ve not been successful in deterring our reports, fact-checks, and analysis.

Before making the investment case for manufactured housing, let’s make the Manufactured Housing Case as a prime solution for the well-known affordable housing crisis in brief.  Because in a housing industry that does well over a trillion dollars a year in business, the potential for manufactured housing could well be over $100 billion a year, not the paltry under $8 billion achieved in 2018.  Manufactured homes are the most proven form of affordable housing.




As you ponder motivation for doing what Buffett and his brothers in MHVille are doing or why, ponder the business potential reflected below every few years. There are few if any industries that have more upside.  You can quickly see why someone who thinks long term could be willing to accept millions of lower profits now, in order to gain billions more later, right?



U.S. housing sales are about a 1.67 trillion a year business in 2018.





Making the Case for Manufactured Homes

This week, HUD Secretary Ben Carson has made a fine summary case for manufactured housing.  It is linked below.



Oddly, as of 9:30 ET on this date, that speech by Sec. Carson – delivered to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) in New Orleans – is not found on the MHI website. That’s significant and is part of a wider pattern, as will be reflected later.




Over the years on our 2 industry-leading trade media sites, we’ve complied decades of federal, non-profit, university-level, and other third-party research.  Recently, we took some of the best or most significant of those items and published them at the link below.



Properly understood, that third party research plus Secretary Carson’s comments, collectively make a compelling fact-based case for manufactured homes.  The common concerns about manufactured homes are routinely and readily debunked.  That can be done by using non-MH industry sponsored research.



The quote is from a doctoral dissertation that used reams of university-level, peer reviewed research. Dr. Tyler was invited by this writer to participate in various panels. Her work merits attention.  Which begs the question, why didn’t MHI invite or promote her work?


Once more, those research documents are routinely not to be found on the MHI Website. Why not?



MHProNews has been spotlighting this issue for months, of MHI not proving useful research on their website. The decline in shipments continues. Perhaps if they are embarrassed publicly long and often enough, they will finally do something common sense that gets to the heart of the industry’s challenges? Until then, as of the date/time shown, there are numerous, useful, third-party research reports that are not to be found on the MHI website.


Three of those more recent linked reports, pardon the plug, happen to name me and/or one of our publications in a footnote or acknowledgement. It’s not bragging when it is true. It is important to note as it acknowledges our expertise in this realm.  So too does the praise by many of the same professionals we’ve been compelled by evidence to now critique. It is evidence of several reasons why MHProNews/MHLivingNews and this writer should be taken seriously, because the opposition does.

Sometimes, you are better known by those who oppose you.

That segue aside, there’s over twenty years of research that makes the compelling case for manufactured housing.

Which begs the questions. Why doesn’t MHI have all this potentially useful research on their website? Or Clayton on theirs?  Again, perhaps they will at some point – out of pressure – finally do the obvious.  But as of the date of this report, such research was absent on the MHI website. Let’s consider a related issue to the point that Dr. Tyler’s quoted comment could address, if it was being used.


Why has MHI for some time failed to mention Enhanced Preemption?  By contrast, why does the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) website have several mentions of the same topic?



Both sources with MHI, and MHI’s outside counsel, have stated that they monitor our website. They’ve been asked directly about this issue. No changes. Given the issues the industry faces on zoning and placement, why are they allowing one of the best arguments to go unused? This was rechecked at 2:58 PM ET, on 5.11.2019. Same result.





The answers, the evidence suggests, is because the first – MHI – postures promoting manufactured homes. They do enough promotion to be able to say that they promote. The second trade group – MHARR – isn’t marketing focused, they are federal regulatory focused, but often have powerful facts useful for researchers and marketers alike.

However one wants to spin it, MHI and Clayton are either ineffective, and/or nowhere achieving their capabilities or capacity. How is it possible that a fairly modest organization like our LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC – the parent company to MHProNews and MHLivingNews – are doing more effective promotions than far bigger and better funded operations do? Why are we able to achieve local results that blows their results away? Why has Clayton purchased locations that we’ve performed coaching and business development services at?  These are a few interesting questions we will allow to hang out for now.

Keep in mind that the Berkshire Hathaway brands of Clayton Homes, 21st, and VMF dominate MHI through dues, via influence on their executive committee, their sway at the state association level, and also via their influence over several individual members.

Yesterday, we did a similar but shorter report on Nathan Smith of SSK Communities. Thousands of industry professionals have already flocked to that report. Smith and SSK have reportedly done business with Clayton and 21st for years.


Nathan Smith, SSK Communities, Manufactured Housing Institute Leader, Profitably Correcting the Record


Rephrased, the Arlington, VA based MHI to a high degree does whatever their Omaha-Knoxville master’s and their ‘big boy’ colleagues want. An award-winning MHI success story has said as much. No questions need to be asked, no explanation of a plot has to be shared; if a directive is given by the powers that be, a directive is followed.

Simple. Easy.

Ergo, there is no need for a conspiracy, when raw power working quietly in the daylight will do.  It is entirely plausible that some at MHI or elsewhere in other nonprofits had no clue as to how they were being used.  They may well have had plausible deniability, that is, until they read about it here on MHProNews and/or on MHLivingNews. 

Frankly, given their deep pockets, it is stunning that they’ve not already sued us, even if they arguably have no valid case against us.  Either way, the as yet unchallenged evidence linked is published for readers like you to ponder and discern for yourself.


Third Party Investor Research

There are routine contacts of our operation from a variety of sources. Among the investor contacts was one that indicated they’d studied the kind of ‘strategies and tactics’ employed by Buffett and the Claytons – but they witnessed that in other industries first.  To that operation, what they’ve read here and on our sister site MHLivingNews is stating the obvious.  To them, it is part of the broader pattern of monopoly power being exercised in America.

But that knowledge of their tactics is not deterring them from advancing their own plans in factory-built housing. They believe they can outperform the Claytons. Hold that thought.

About two years ago, MHProNews floated the notion that Amazon could easily enter factory-built housing industry. They were already promoting the sales of container housing.  Last year, Amazon started that process of directly entering factory-home building via their Alexa Fund investment in Plant Prefab.  See the quotes in the infographic above.

SoftBank’s support for modular builder Katerra is noteworthy too. They could, in theory, rapidly rival Clayton in a few years.

Google is experimenting with modular at their own offices.  Other ex- or current-Silicon Valley giants are exploring the industry too.

We won’t go through a litany of other poised to get in, because some of those contacts have asked for anonymity as they prepare their own launches.  To show the flip side, there are investors like Robert Robotti, who for some time cheered manufactured homes.  He’s cooled since.  But my hunch is he didn’t grasp the undercurrents.  Robotti may not have read between the lines on MHI’s now exited president and CEO, in his parting message to the industry.


“Out-Performing the Market” Robert Robotti, Value Investing, and Manufactured Housing

But the examples shown reveal that there are those who ‘get it’ about factory-home building. From more modest investors who are thinking in terms of placing a few million into the mix – up to giant-sized firms or investment groups that could enter with a splash – there are several who ‘get it.’

Some in their own words have said that they want to set themselves apart by being ‘white hat’ firms in the manufactured, modular, or prefabricated industry, vs. the ‘black hats’ that posture being a ‘white hat.’


Manufactured Housing – White Hats, Black Hats, Investing, Consumers, MH Independents


What hat color does Buffett’s brands sport?

Let’s share some screen captures, thirds-party videos, and  links to our own research to allow our readers to answer that question for themselves. Because while vexing to the industry, it spells opportunities in disguise for those who grasp nettles.




Before diving in, here’s the bottom line for investors.  Clayton and Berkshire’s MH brands, per sources, posture nice, but can play rough.  You as an investor must be willing to fight that fight. Current industry pros, the same thing holds true.


Mobile Home Militia – “Clayton [Homes] Wants Your Cornbread Too” “Join the Revolution” – ‘You Gotta Have Swagger’


But here is the huge potential takeaway for savvy investors with chutzpah.  There are already good laws on the books that if enforced would ‘unchain’ manufactured housing.  For those that need an expert = who want to do a White Hat operation = and can budget for that role to guide that process successfully, click here.



To sum up, the potential to earn millions to billions in manufactured housing exists. One can make the argument that Clayton/MHI and other nonprofits have allowed and/or deliberately stirred up bad news to suppress and understanding of the industry. The opportunities are so big, they wanted to hide them in plain sight.  That logically helps explain why useful or good news is hidden from the public on the MHI or Clayton sites. To learn more, click the article linked above and below.



Having teed this up, let’s review the evidence for ‘black hat’ activities alleged by others against Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes, or their lenders. Because what that reveals is this. Those willing to invest, mix it up, and be the white hat in specific markets can demonstrably jump ahead rapidly.  Because there is a hunger for affordable housing.  The evidence supports HUD Code manufactured housing’s value.

A few power players may be keeping their foot on the industry’s brakes, in order to consolidate more of manufactured housing at a discount.  But have they overplayed their hand?


“Kevin…the Problem of Your Industry…”



Are they now stuck, having their grand scheme revealed here?



Warren Buffett’s Profitable Lessons for Manufactured Housing


Investors must weigh the pros and cons of that evidence for themselves, but we are presenting a sampling of the evidence of purported black hat activity, which in the light of the video posted below, reveals the value of what white hat activity could achieve. Note, we’ve since parted ways with the videographer that produced this for us – my bad for not checking his credentials more closely.

That said, the value of this video is significant on several levels to investors, skeptics, the pubic – and us too.  Note how Jim Clayton finished this video?  Is this among the reasons why the ‘big boys’ have rattled sabers, but have not in fact acted legally?



Let’s sample some pro Clayton videos they’ve made or spotlighted themselves, and then contrast those with videos by others.



Clayton Homes Third Party Videos

To be fair, here is a video that Clayton produced. It’s a fine video.  It purports to address the image issue.  Published on Sep 1, 2017, it has had as of this morning 8,985 views this morning, per their YouTube page, which said the following.

Clayton Unveils Have It Made Campaign: Clayton, one of the largest home builders in America, is kicking off its biggest marketing campaign to date focused on how its building process can help provide affordable housing to hardworking families.”



Let’s contrast that Clayton video with a customer-produced video posted by Ted Davis and published on Apr 7, 2017. Also as of this morning, Davis’ video had 22,738 views.  Keep in mind Davis has done more than one such video, as have scores of other Clayton, 21st or VMF customers.

Here’s what Davis said on the YouTube page. For first time visitors, bear in mind that on MHProNews and MHLivingNews we often turn direct quotes bold and brown, to make them pop. Otherwise, the text is as in the original.


My Clayton Manufactured Home Features .. Fake Studs

We bought a Clayton Manufactured Home summer of 2015. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was what was available. It would appear that Warren Buffet owns Clayton, and they have bought up several lesser mobile home companies, removing a lot of competition.

If you listen to Clayton, they want you to think they have a quality product, and they say they will stand behind it. So far, they have fixed a few things for us.

However, if they actually had a quality product, the repairs would NOT have been necessary. They say their product is built to HUD standards. HUD must have way different standards for mobile homes vs. site built.

Check my videos of things we have had problems with.

  • Plumbing … bad faucets, leaking pipes, pipes that fell off at a touch. The master bath tub faucets weren’t even connected to any pipes.
  • Wiring … I have never seen hardware like this before. Strange light fixtures, plugs, and switches.
  • Doors … I have discovered that the interior doors seem to be made of cardboard, as well as the door frames. Also some don’t fit right.
  • Interior studs … they are fake, little bits and pieces glued together.
  • Sheetrock … less than a half inch
  • Assembly is with tons of staples and some glue. I haven’t found any framing nails yet.
  • The lids on the toilets were cheap plastic. One broke when I sat on it the first day in the house. I now have real, wood, lids.
  • The house was supposed to have compact fluorescent lights installed. Didn’t have any. Not a single one.
  • They DID get us really nice decks, front and back, including a wheelchair ramp on the front one.”




For newcomers to manufactured housing, please note that there are legitimate answers to the issues and concerns that Davis raised.  Why weren’t they addressed?  Does Clayton want the blowback, so that more decide not to buy a manufactured home at this time?

The most common sense reputation defenses are often not followed by Clayton.  Why not, given Buffett’s statements about defending reputation?  Our sources in Clayton tell us that cancellation of retail orders or agreements are becoming more commonplace, more so now than in days gone by.




Prefabulous® is the latest Clayton Homes campaign. From their YouTube page,

Prefabulous® Clayton Homes. Published on Feb 12, 2019, “We’re building homes a different way. A smarter way. Homes that are beautiful, strong and, most of all, affordable. That’s Prefabulous®.” As of this morning, it has had 6,475 views.

Again, in fairness to Clayton, the video is cool. Quality. It is techy.  It aims at Millennials.



But the numbers of YouTube views tells the key point of the story.  Are we to believe that Clayton can’t do a better job than this paltry total?  Or is this in fact evidence that it is a fig leaf?  Window dressing? Are videos and campaigns that don’t move the needle much at MHI or Clayton ploys that look real enough to the underinformed? When in fact they routinely fail to hit the bulls eye of what keeps Americans from even considering a manufactured home, much less buying one?

Let’s let those questions soak in, as you consider the following.

By contrast, as was reported, documented, and has gone unchallenged by the powers-that-be at the links herein, Warren Buffett, via ‘dark money’ channels provided funding to Manufactured Housing Action or “MHAction.”  Buffett has de facto funded other nonprofits that have attacked the industry, and his own brands too.

MHAction and two other nonprofits teamed up to do a white paper, that was spotlighted by the Washington Post, along with others in mainstream media. A few weeks later, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured a report that spotlighted that same MHAction white paper.  Oliver’s viral video was errantly dubbed “Mobile Homes,” and you can see it either linked here with an analysis or below.

Published on Apr 7, 2019, it says, Mobile Homes: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) and has had 5,867,951 views.  Put differently, in less time, it has had almost 100 views to every view of Clayton’s Prefabulous®.  Ouch.



Ask yourself this question. Which video – Prefabulous® or Oliver’s Mobile Homes – is having more of an impact on the marketplace?

Isn’t the answer obvious?

Again, there are answers to each of the concerns raised by Oliver, which to demonstrate, are summed up in the link below.


Why didn’t Clayton or MHI reply publicly to Oliver’s hit?

Is this only a recent pattern?  Or are there other examples of bad news being created by Berkshire brands in MHVille that date back years?  Let’s look.

This next video by Democracy Now, a progressive media operation.  It spotlights both FEMA woes tied to Clayton, and also the Haiti issues that Clayton and the Clinton Foundation became embroiled in.



In fairness, here is what Clayton homes published on YouTube as an apparent response to the criticism. “ClaytonHomes, Published on Aug 24, 2010.  Per their YouTube statement, “Just after the earthquake in Haiti, Clayton Homes contacted The Clinton Foundation to offer assistance. As the world’s largest manufactured home builder, Clayton Homes was happy to help, and has already built 20 new classrooms and hopes to be able to provide more in the future.”



Reality Check appears to be a right-of-center commentator, and they published this below about the Haitan incident. Reality Check: If Haiti Is a “S***hole” Country, Who Is Really to Blame?




The Democracy Now video had less views than Reality Check, but both blew away the views of Clayton’s posted video on Haiti.

But none of those videos were as impactful as the mainstream news reports that others carried at that time.  The Clayton/Haiti tale is one that points to broader issues of how certain reports linger briefly, and are forgotten.  But not by all.  While Clayton wasn’t specifically mentioned in this next video, housing provided is alluded to, and the Reality Check video above shows Kevin Clayton with Bill Clinton in Haiti.




Bear in mind that all of this is connected to Warren Buffett, who backed Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2016, and backed Barack Obama, who helped impose Dodd-Frank on banking, which also drove manufactured home lenders out of business. Once more, that’s not meant as a slam on Democrats.  There are examples of corruption in both major parties. Manufactured housing is a non-partisan or bipartisan issue.


That noted, one can’t overlook the facts of how the game is being played, and how the system is arguably being manipulated in manufactured housing by Clayton, MHI, and others working with them.  It’s the truth hiding in plain



We’ll link up related reports, further below.  But this much ought to be clear.  While words like “alleged” need to be used to cover such reports, or attorneys could swarm us, there is significant evidence of the following.


  • Clayton Homes and manufactured housing in general are underperforming.
  • Other industry producers essentially make a similar claim, without pointing a finger at MHI or Clayton – that manufactured housing is performing well under historic trends and norms.
  • A new trade association formed last year, that broke away from MHI, specifically stating that they were doing so for a lack of performance by MHI.
  • MHARR exists and resisted merger efforts with MHI for years, because there is no confidence that MHI or their ‘big boy’ masters would properly represent the interests of their members.
  • Clayton Homes and their related lenders have sparked more apparent bad news than good news in mainstream media, and have done so for years – as even this brief survey reflects. While most industry trade media – part of an MHI ‘amen’ corner – avoid that painful reality, facts are what they are.
  • Some of these episodes of bad news can be traced back to donations made by Warren Buffett to various nonprofit organizations, see the report linked here.



In 1998, manufactured homes (MH) outsold RVs by some 3 to 2. In 2017, RVs outsold MHs by some 5 to 1. RVs recovered far more quickly from 2008. The facts raise questions. One, is the effectiveness of MHI as the post-production or ‘umbrella’ association in the country. The other question is more sobering. Has Buffett-Berkshire “Moat” strategies kept manufactured home production at historically low levels to allow a few big boy brands to consolidate others at a discounted ‘value’ by MHI insiders?


Certainly, there is evidence of positive marketing efforts by Clayton and MHI.  But they are widely outperformed by negative mainstream news or consumer created content that rips the company. Even Clayton’s hometown news outlet carried this problematic report about the Knoxville-metro based firm and their lenders. These facts, reason, and evidence beg questions.



  • Are the Berkshire brands in manufactured housing incompetent?
  • Why is Buffett funding his own opposition? Is Warren Buffett a sadomasochist?  Who would do such a thing?

Frankly, we don’t think they are incompetent or trying to harm themselves per se.  Rather, they are arguably playing the long game.

How else can one explain the periodic, almost routine episodes of bad news sparked by Clayton, and often funded by groups that Warren Buffett has donated to?


Carefully discerned, the pattern can logically suggest that Clayton is using bad news as another element of the fabled Buffett Moat strategy.  If so, that means that without warning, bad news can hit the industry, which while suppressing Clayton too, arguably harms other businesses with less financial staying power more.


The Four Purported Known Elements of the Buffett Moat Strategy

It could be summed up like this.

  • The power to tax is the power to destroy.
  • The power to regulate, is the power to destroy.
  • The power to choke off or limit access to lending or capital is the power to destroy.
  • The power to stoke bad news that harms individual business can over time involve the power to undermine a business’ value, and destroy marginal operations.


These bullets means that Clayton can acquire weakened, underperforming businesses at a discount. Recall what Ted Davis posted: “It would appear that Warren Buffet owns Clayton, and they have bought up several lesser mobile home companies, removing a lot of competition.” He’s a layperson, a consumer – and he sees parts of this pattern.

Then line that up with what award-winning, manufactured housing industry veteran Alan Amy said.





As to keeping industry shipments low, consider the odd statement by Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison made that seemingly encourages slow growth and low production totals.




When this writer, who did that video interview with Jennison, heard that coming from the mouth of MHI’s CEO, I had to control my composure.  It was a shockingly questionable statement – at best – for the president of the industry’s largest trade association to make at a time when the industry was struggling to recover. Frankly, it did not dawn on me until years later what the actual meaning of that statement from Jennison was.

In hindsight, it is far more revealing than it was at the time. It explains why he gets bonuses that we’ve dubbed failure bonuses.

That’s why history has to be part of such fact-checks.  Buffett is right about this, the rear view mirror is often clearer than the windshield.

In the light of the above, consider the summary graphic about ‘the Moat’ below.



Never forget that even during medieval times, castles and their moats were in fact breached.




Dark Grace…

The argument can be made that each of these examples of ‘black hat’ behavior can be an opportunity in disguise for those willing to behave in a robustly white hat fashion.

There is also an argument to be made that individually or in a local group, white hat firms could forge their own white hat trade group.

There is no need for perfect behavior in business when simple honesty will do. But there is a need for trade groups to have and live up to standards of ethical behavior.  If someone routinely harms the industry’s image, why should they be part of a white had trade group?

For those of us who have been in the manufactured housing business for years, and have dealt with the public directly for years, you know as well as I do that if you treat most people fairly and honestly, they are good customers.  There are a few who sadly try to twist anything to get something for nothing. But they are the exception, not the rule.  Good paperwork can deal with those kinds of clients.

For years, we’ve taught professionals not to oversell or overpromise.  Prepare customers for reality and they will be satisfied.  There is a method for training team members for doing so successfully, where the customers will be happy with what they are sold, and will send you their friends after buying.

Every road block in the industry can routinely be traced back to forces within manufactured housing that are keeping the industry at low ebb.  Who said? Prominent MHI member and controversial critic, Frank Rolfe here and here.

That’s opportunity in disguise.  For those willing to do what’s right, and who aren’t afraid to buck the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis, the upsides are many.  As to risk, there is always some risk.  I can look someone in the eye and tell them about all of the efforts that we believe the evidence suggests how the axis threw a variety of slings and arrows at us, in an attempt to try to drive us out of business.

Yet, we are still standing.

After a dip for a time in readership after an assault from the axis, we’ve not only rebounded, we are about double where we stood a little over a year ago.  Professional readers and investors want the truth.  Our opposition wants to know what’s been published here. Across the spectrum, readers from all sized firms flock here daily by the thousands on the most engaged professional trade media site in all of manufactured housing.

Pros and investors want answers that make sense, not the BS that is being shoved at them by the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis sycophants. Anyone can create an echo chamber, and illusion of cheer leading.  Doing real facts with evidence and ‘follow the money,’ takes time, thought, and preparation.

When there are 7 months of declining shipments during an affordable housing crisis, the nature of the threat and the realities of the industry are becoming more self-evident.

Our efforts – thanks to supporters, sponsors, and sources that are often within the axis – in turn gives hope and encouragement to others. Furthermore, it isn’t just us, because other firms have stood up to the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and can say similarly.

Let’s note briefly a plug with a purpose.  Just as a talk radio station doesn’t expect a sponsor to endorse them, nor does a station endorse the sponsor, so too here there are no requirement that someone has to agree with what we publishSponsors and clients can still benefit from the industry’s biggest and most engaged audience.


The plug and related business development points aside, and we could do white hats with our marketing/coaching too – leads me to this point. Frankly, I’m convinced that no one in the industry is coming anywhere close to their potential.  Why?

When 8.3 million housing units are needed, per the National Association of Realtor’s Lawrence Yun – and only factory building can logically close that gap – that means that it is possible for single firms on the production side to be doing hundreds of thousands of units a year.  Rollohome went from start up to 60,000 homes delivered in 2 years. If that could be done before, it can be done even better today. That in turn translates into big upsides for retailers or communities.

All business ultimately comes down to a local sale to a local person.  Just as all politics are local, so too all business is local.

A properly motivated company with the right people and resources can rapidly and profitably grow with proven, honest, ethical, and sustainable approaches. That’s the happy note that we will end this report about Clayton on.

What to do about Clayton’s purported black hat tricks and behavior?  Be the obvious local White Hat.  Do the homework. You’ll see that the opportunities are amazing, but one needs the guts and gumption to get the glory.



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Related References:

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Prosperity Now, Nonprofits Sustain John Oliver’s “Mobile Homes” Video in Their Reports

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Manufactured Housing – White Hats, Black Hats, Investing, Consumers, MH Independents


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Declining Manufactured Home Shipments More Serious Than Retailers, Communities Being Told

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Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger Video Interview at Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting on GSEs Lending for Affordable Manufactured Housing and Clayton Homes

Warren Buffett’s Profitable Lessons for Manufactured Housing

George F. Allen’s Unity Call for MHI, MHARR, and National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) Examined


“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”








Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger Video Interview at Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting on GSEs Lending for Affordable Manufactured Housing and Clayton Homes

May 6th, 2019 Comments off



For those that are new or want a refresher, the exclusive report by the Daily Business News on MHProNews of the Clayton Homes related 2018 data from Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway is found at the report linked from the text-image box below.



2018 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report, Clayton Homes, Shaw Data Revealed, Facts Others Lack


This weekend has witnessed the so-called “Woodstock of Capitalism,” the 2019 edition of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, NE. An estimated 40,000 plus were expected to attend.

Yahoo provided coverage of the event, and the video below is from that source.  Per Yahoo, “Buffett said it would be “very good for America” if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did more to help finance manufactured homes, such as those made by Berkshire-owned Clayton Homes.”



There is a lot to unpack from this 4 minutes, 2 second long video.

As close, thoughtful, and longtime readers of our pro-industry trade media platforms already know, there have been allegations for years of market manipulation by Clayton Homes within the manufactured housing industry and finance space.  One such report, based upon a letter from Tim Williams at 21st Mortgage Corp, the words of Buffett himself from that same year, and a nearly 1-hour long video with Kevin Clayton, are all found at the link above.

What is discerned from this weekend’s statement by Buffett and Munger ought to be viewed through that lens, and what follows.

Furthermore, there are sources inside the GSEs, and from a Berkshire brand led by CEO Tim Williams at 21st that indicated that for some time, the powers-that-be from Omaha-Knoxville metros worked first to foil, and more recently, to redirect lending from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac away from the bulk of manufactured housing.


For such reasons, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has been engaged in a tough, protracted battle to encourage the full implementation of the law, not just a partial one.



MHARR Calls on New Fannie Mae CEO Hugh Frater to Fully and Properly Implement Federal Law

With all due respect to Buffet, as the next link reveals, there have been times that what he said did not line up.

More recently, HBO’s Last Night Tonight with John Oliver viral video errantly dubbed “Mobile Homes” reflected the revelation that it was Buffett’s brands and Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) connected companies that were causing the industry blowback in mainstream media reports.  Our publisher in a letter published in 5 markets in Florida, including Jacksonville called on the public to hold those responsible for purported misdeeds, not the industry at large.

Warren Buffett must be construed in the light of not only his words, but also of the deed of the brands they own.  Furthermore, as Buffett and Berkshire has been wont to fund both sides of certain battles, that raises fresh concerns, as the report linked here documents.

Those points and the linked evidence and logic from those articles should be kept in mind by investors, advocates, researchers, policy wonks, politicos  — plus, of course, the industry’s home owners and professionals.

That said, will Buffett’s comments this past weekend could potentially be used to encourage Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend on all manufactured homes, or just on select ones, as the Clayton-MHI backed ‘new class of homes’ effort promotes? Time will tell.  But as with all things connected to Buffett, it bears a nuanced consideration. See the related reports, further below.

That’s this post-dawn Monday morning episode of professional life in MHVille, exclusively from the #1 most-read “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)



To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.

NOTICE: You can get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading emailed headline news updates, at this link here. You can join the scores who follow us on Twitter at this link. Connect on LinkedIn here.

NOTICE 2: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers do.

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3) Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Re-sources

SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

Related Reports:

You can click on the image/text boxes to learn more about that topic.


Warren Buffett’s Profitable Lessons for Manufactured Housing

“Mobile Home Militia,” Retail/Production Sources, Sound Alarm Against Clayton Homes, CMH, New “Anti-Competitive Practices” Allegation

News Tip, Document – Is Clayton Homes Engaged in False Down Payments? Deceptive Trade Practices?

CFPB and 21st, Second Shoe Drops? Flooring w/21st Mortgage Corp? Insider Tips

Tim Williams, PBS News’ Bad Bargain, Manufactured Housing Institute, Buffett’s Mirror, and Clayton’s Costume

Manufactured Housing Institute’s Monthly Economic Report Spotlights Challenge, What MHI, WHA’s Amy Bliss Said

White Collar Shakedown, Fear, Hobbs Act, and Manufactured Housing Independents Struggles



“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”


MHARR Calls on New Fannie Mae CEO Hugh Frater to Fully and Properly Implement Federal Law

“The Illusion of Motion Versus Real-World Challenges”







“Lots of Sizzle,” Clayton Sales Performance, Other MHI & Clayton Homes News Tips

December 12th, 2018 Comments off


These are #NettlesomeThings. A Clayton retailer sent a long message as part of a confidential news tip, that included the following. The Daily Business News on MHProNews has added our customary bold/brown to reflect a direct quote, but the rest are emphasis and typos are in the sender’s original message. Links were added by MHProNews as well.


We as an industry are still WAY below where all rationale says we should be, IF ONLY NORMAL MARKET FORCES WERE AT WORK HERE.  I have long felt that to NOT be the case, as you are also verifying through your investigative reporting. 

LONG before we ever heard of any “moat” per se, but you know that I have consistently said over this last decade that SOME in our industry focus on an entirely different goal every morning:  “What can I do today to make my competition go away?” – per said source.

The RV industry has to be commended in their PR and image-building efforts as an industry,” the message continued, adding “During the worst economic downturn (recession/depression/cluster-F/whatever you want to call it) that you and I have lived through, they were able to actually grow their industry, all the while with 6-figure price tags!  Outstanding work, both on the sales centers AND in the public forum.  We have all seen the ‘Go R-V’ing’ ads.  Did they have to do that?  No, they could have taken the cheap route, but OH MY the results their tactics gave them!  In my mind, that fully vindicates and reaffirms my belief that our industry needs a vibrant, on-going public relations / image program!”

Again, note that the spacing, grammar, and typos, etc. are in the original.  The comments may or may not reflect the views of this publication. The illustrations are added by MHProNews, as is the subheading below, to help clarify the various points that writer made.



This is provided by MHProNews, and was not part of the comments from the sender. These graphics are provided to illustrate the various sender(s) point, here and other comments from other sources below.  NOTE the above was YTD June, 2018, but the patterns has largely held.



Retail Lot Managers

You [MHProNews] and I agree that the sales happen on the lots.  But John or Mary LotManager is usually very busy in meeting conditions for lenders, scheduling deliveries, handling customer complaints about shoddy construction, etc.  They do not have the time, the resources, or the energy at the end of the day to combat the weathermen of this world, code-encroaching state officials, less-than-accurate national reporters who cast our homes in a bad light, etc.  That should be the role of the ‘support team’ if you will, like the state associations on the small scale.  That’s why the RV industry took their future by the reins years ago.”

The sender made reference to MHIdea, which was first conceived of as an alternative to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) for independent retailers.

That person said that a decade ago, “independent retailers numbered over a thousand [locations].  Today, we hear talk of 400 or fewer. Hind sight is always clearer.”  Readers should note that these figures were supplied by the writer, and should be understood as estimates, not to be construed as a precise number.

If you want to use any of this text, do so ‘off the record.’  Just as Frank learned (my best SWAG), RETALIATION does exist in this scenario.  After all, that’s just another way of widening the moat.”

The writer did not say who “Frank” was, but may have been referencing Frank Rolfe, who was once outspoken on MHI’s hypocrisy and failures to defend or promote the industry, but who has since gone silent on MHI controversy related issues.  “Swag” has many possible meanings, and some of them in this context are quiet humorous. The video is an example Rolfe politely blasting MHI at a state association-sponsored event.



The subject line for the sender’s message read: “Subject: MHI Year in Review.” That’s the name of the video MHI produced which aims to defend their record, and promote themselves. 

The lengthy message sender opened with these words,



There are a growing number of industry voices that believe that BH/CMH and MHI have by various action/inaction has kept manufactured home sales at historically low levels. Evidence? See Related Reports and videos, linked below, which quotes and cites BH, MHI, CMH, 21st Mortgage Corp, and other sources.



Well, well, well….

Guess somebody is feeling some heat.  GOOD JOB, TONY!  Keep the burners on full.”

Here “Tony” must mean our publisher, L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach. Like scores of other messages supporting the spotlight and “heat” cast by reports and analysis here on Buffett, Berkshire, Clayton, MHI, or their key allies and players, like Nathan Smith.

Commenting on the MHI video, “This is a lot of sizzle, but the steak’s still kinda tough.”  That’s what inspired part of the headline and the featured image at the top of this article.

The writing was so colorful, the Daily Business News on MHProNews decided to quote extensively from it, “My first reaction when I saw the opening frames [of the MHI video] was WTF?????  OBVIOUS to me at least that this was made for folks who DON”T know the real details behind the story.  In a depressed industry, with competition slowly being choked out of existence, they come out like we’re back in 1999!  What a joke. 

Especially funny to me was their [MHI] mention of being ‘financially strong’…..I would think so.  Daddy Warren has mucho $$$.”


The data from MHI, RV operations, and others broadly underscore the points shared by the message sender.


The writer suggested that the non-big three builders should provide a level of support to a new initiative to break free of Buffett led-Berkshire/Clayton/21st, et al, and MHI. 

Do you think the remaining non-Big 3 mfgrs would be open to funding such an initiative now?  If each could do so by ‘hiring’ 2 minimum wage workers to their expense, just sending those $$ to the support team,” the message said.

There was more, but publishing it would tend to reveal the source of the

lengthy message. MHProNews again reminds readers who are trying to stay off the radar of a big brother organization or company to consider avoid using their firm’s email address. At some point, sender’s may find organizations scanning team members email, looking for the sources of various comments.  That said, to date no one who has wanted to remain anonymous has indicated they have been discovered.  If sending from a non-organizational email address, MHProNews requires confirmation on a sources authenticity, etc.



To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.



The Clayton Tipster’s Calculus  

The figure suggested by the writer of the comments shared above suggested works out as follows. The equivalent of 2 minimum wage workers to boost industry growth works out to be some $30,160 annually.  That’s not insignificant, and if 25 firms signed onto that it would yield $754,000.  Its a small fraction of what MHI operates on, but as MHARR has proved, it is doable.

For new readers, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) provides lobbying and advocacy for independent producers of HUD Code manufactured homes.  From MHARR’s base in Washington, D.C., as a matter of policy, they stay focused on production and some financing related issues, like the Duty to Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing.  But MHARR doesn’t do the kind of post-production advocacy that the sender is calling on the industry to do.

Bottom line, $750k – used wisely on targeted issues – could make a difference.  What’s obvious is that MHI, spending far more per MHI budget records, and their own claims shown above, has accomplished effectively nada.


What Tim Williams Asked

Our publisher, award-winning industry services provider, and consultant, L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach was asked by then MHI Chairman Tim Williams what he thought was a reasonable budget for a pro-growth alliance to operate successfully?

Tony replied to Williams’ unexpected query with a figure of $1.6 million dollars annually. That’s still less than half of what MHI records reflect MHI gets in dues and fees. That $1.6M kind of budget – Tony explained to Williams and his Berkshire Hathaway industry member guests – would allow for an attorney, media engagement, local zoning advocacy, and other features included in the mantra PEP. Protect, Educate, and Promote.

In hindsight or looking ahead – cooperating with MHARR and NFIB as needed – such a manufactured housing independents alliance could certainly accomplish more than MHI for the industry’s independents.

Dubbed the MHAlliance was a move promoted in writing and in deed by John Bostick, President and CEO of Sunshine Homes. Sunshine’s former sales manager praised on video the growth achieved by the company using a a combination of localized marketing, videos, and training.

The data reflects that Sunshine’s sales growth far outpaced that of the industry at large, and blew away the growth rate of Clayton.



But the next insights from another Clayton-connected source was actually to point to data from Legacy Housing’s recent IR presentation, found by clicking the box linked below.


What Others Say – Legacy Housing Corp (LEGH) IPO Set for 12.14.2018


Here is the graphic we used in a report yesterday, again noting that MHProNews is providing the commentary, etc, with illustrations.



As noted above, this illustration was NOT sent by those providing the respective tips and comments, but is provided by MHProNews to underscore points those sources have made.


That source claims that the typical Clayton sales center has about 4 retail sales people per store (+/-). The source noted that about 2/3 of manufactured housing production, per MHI, goes to land-lease communities.

Using MHI’s data from the chart above, that yields about Clayton 29,327 going to retail centers. Note that figure would likely be high, due to FEMA orders, but we’ll follow that tipsters logic for a few moments.

Subtracting out roughly the number of shipments to independents and communities who sell Clayton products, that source said that the typical Clayton sales professional only sells about ‘15 new manufactured homes annualized over the course of a year.’

15 new homes a year?

When the Daily Business News asked why “annualized,” the source claimed that the turn over in Clayton’s retail sales is significant. So a sales person that starts the year often doesn’t finish the year. Thus data per professional ought to be annualized.

While the numbers are rough – and we hereby welcome clarification of the claimed figures from Clayton Homes – it certainly fits the overall data, and thus is plausible. It thereby suggests a number of fascinating points.

Buffett has said that Clayton is “best in class.” In the sense of total production, that is true. But in terms of individual performance, there are arguably individuals, local and regional firms that out-perform the Clayton “averages.”

If so, it’s a vexing commentary on Clayton’s retail performance.

Another source from the Clayton organization recently said to the Daily Business News on MHProNews that the sales leader in his region may hit 30 homes for the year. Through November, per that source, the deliveries and funded deals for the top people in that region were in the upper 20s. Again, Clayton is invited to clarify any errors.

If so, the average sales person isn’t selling nearly enough to make the kind of 6 figure income Clayton reportedly tells their sales recruits is possible selling new homes. Does that add to their turnover?



Reality Checks and What’s the Motivation?

Another item from a Clayton retail caller was the claim of a high cancellation rate of approved deals that never deliver or close.

These points raise several issues that must be unpacked. But one of them is a recurring theme with Clayton, namely, that when specific items are scrutinized, their performance isn’t as hot as the “sizzle” of their image. 

For example, the much ballyhooed new class of homes – if it is as successful as the cancelled Clayton iHouse and iHouse 2 – the program could be a disappointing outcome for all involved.

A common question Tony likes to ask those who message or call is, what’s your motivation in sharing your point?

Some have said words to the effect that the industry’s professionals and businesses – individually and collectively – can do far better. That is apparent in the lengthy message from the top of this report. Consider the related report, in the box further below.

While MHProNews leadership’s vision is somewhat different than the first writer’s message, that person did make reference to a point from the MHIdea report from a couple of weeks ago. Namely, that if the industry’s members keep doing the same things, they will keep getting the same results.

Whatever the performance of individual sales people, the point about stretched thin sales and general managers is arguably valid. The industry’s owners can address it, but it will take an investment in their operation.

But as one company who is growing their retail base has noted, from $500,000 to $2 million is invested in a new home sales center, inventory, etc. what’s another 30K on that, if it significantly increases the results?

As 2018 winds down, and 2019 approaches, these data points and claims are important ones to ponder. What will you and your team do to improve outcomes in 2019 and beyond? See the related reports, further below. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

NOTICE: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers.

(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

1) To sign up in seconds for our MH Industry leading emailed news updates, click here.


To see a sample of our emailed news update, click here. To sign up for the factory-built home industry’s #1 headline news, click here or the graphic above.

2) To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click the link to the left. Please note if your comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

3) Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Re-sources

SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

Related Reports: Click the Boxes Below to


“What Are We, Chopped Liver?” MHI Member December 2018 Reactions

Louisville and Tunica Manufactured Housing Shows, Controversial Profitable, Problematic Issues Loom



Whistleblower! Ex-Clayton Homes Team Member on TV Denounces Manufactured Housing Giant’s Practices

December 5th, 2018 Comments off



Foreword: a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member messaged our publisher, “You seem to have conceptual IQ [and] that is more important than spelling ability.”


That there are divisions in manufactured housing ought to be self-evident. That’s true for any industry or large group. But among the many questions that ought to be asked, are those divisions in manufactured housing (MH) bad?

Are some distinctions within the MH Industry useful — or even good?

Within companies there are different points of view too.  The larger the organization, the more points of view will exist.

It goes without saying that Clayton denies recurring allegations that have surfaced in 2018, that have been visible for some years in mainstream media. Before we get into the Clayton whistleblower mainstream TV news video, this topic is serious enough where it merits a giant step back for perspective.


MH Divisions

It goes without saying that neither MHI, nor the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), are entirely monolithic organizations. Because there are some dual members of both national trade groups, there have at times been some in MHVille that mistakenly believe that the two are one in the same.

Hardly. A close look at the track records of the two trade groups make it abundantly clear that there are real differences in style, goals, and more.

There are those in manufactured housing who believe there should only be one national trade group.  To that point – we ask, if that is logical – then why are there so many trade groups in:

  • Mainstream housing: National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Association of Realtors (NAR), Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and on down the list or remodeling, finance, and more.
  • Automotive – According to Wikipedia, there are some 29 pages of associations in the automotive field. Just starting with A: Auto Care Association. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. American Automobile Association. American Highway Users Alliance. American Hot Hod Association. American Motor League. Association of Global Automakers.
  • How about RVs? There are producers, dealers, owners, suppliers, and a plethora of trade groups that represent the varied interests of Recreation Vehicles (RVs). FYI – for those who aren’t into RVing, an RV is not just a motorized vehicle, towable RVs are a huge part of the RV business. Some of those towable RVs are de facto a competitor to manufactured housing.  FEMA orders for RVs vs. MH are but one example.

So, if there are so many trade associations in other industries, why are there so few manufactured housing national trade groups?

That is arguably a problem for the manufactured housing industry.  There are inherent conflicts of interest in having manufactured home (MH):

  • Communities
  • Producers
  • Suppliers
  • Lenders and Financial Services
  • Retailers
  • Transporting and Installation
  • Professional Services and more

all in one trade association.

The proof is found in the results vs. the claims of MHI.  For all the bluster and what one ex-MHI member called their ‘Razzle Dazzle’ at appealing getaway spots, the declining sales of HUD Code manufactured housing for two straight months is all the evidence needed that MHI is at its core ineffective at best.  The report hot-linked via the box below can be read later for greater depth of understanding of this issue.


“Pants on Fire” – Latest New Manufactured Housing Shipment Report


As fabled author Adam Smith said in the Wealth of Nations,People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Merely readingantitrust guidelines at an MHI meeting doesn’t automatically mean that monopolistic activity isn’t at play. When a high-profile congressional representative (see further below) and others in Congress raised that very concern about monopoly, why haven’t others in manufactured housing trade media done the same, save MHProNews?


The Elephant in the Room 

It was almost funny when some years ago when a now-former MHI leader said at one of their meetings that the ‘elephant in the room’ was Danny Ghorbani and MHARR. That’s a tip of the hat to the outsized-shadow they’ve cast, but the obvious actual elephant in the room is Clayton Homes, and the array of Berkshire Hathaway brands working in manufactured housing.

There is one kind of value to having Berkshire in manufactured housing, but it arguably already existed with Sam Zell of Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) fame and is limited to this next point.

Warren Buffett has given his seal of approval on the common sense value of manufactured housing.

But beyond that, there has been years of “consolidation” of manufactured housing production, retail, lending, supply, and more in our industry ever since Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway entered our industry.

Our HUD Code manufactured home industry’s sales have overall declined – not rose – since Clayton and Oakwood were acquired by Berkshire.



See related report, linked here.


There are a variety of reasons why the Washington, D.C. based Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has argued that there must be one or more new post-production trade groups. We’ll refer readers to MHARR’s report, when they declined expanding to compete with MHI, because they believe that the industry should be more like housing, automotive or other industries with a myriad of representative bodies.  That is a natural way of blocking conflicts of interest that are arguably evident at MHI.


MHARR Releases Study Recommending Independent Collective Representation for Post-Production Sector


It should be noted that the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA) was achieved when MHARR, MHI and state association came together on areas of mutual interest.  But that is different than unity under one umbrella, which has demonstrably resulted in far lower shipment levels than existed in the late 1990s.

Kevin Clayton has been in the mainstream news several times in recent weeks, since the MHProNews exclusive in the hot-linked box below was published.

GIGO, Esther Sullivan, Clayton Homes, Boston Globe, GSMOL on ‘Manufactured Insecurity-Mobile Home Parks and Americans’ Tenuous Right to Place’


But the reality is that what could have been done in 2011 to promote the industry and growth – according to Kevin’s own statement in a friendly video interview – has been allowed to drag on until 2018.  For whatever reasons, there is no denying that what MHI and Clayton have done in the last two years has had no appreciable change in the modest growth the industry has had, especially when compared to the strong growth of the RV industry.



So while

  • MHI’s Lesli Gooch has defended Clayton/Berkshire against charges of monopolizing the industry in a response to Doug Ryan at Prosperity Now, or
  • Clayton Homes has denied to local, regional, and national media the varied allegations against them,

there is also no denying that the claims keep popping up. In fact, when MHProNews offers MHI or Knoxville’s brands the opportunity to respond to reports like this, they’ve passed.  Why, if they had a good defense, would they miss out on the opportunity?

It is arguably absurd that the elected leadership of MHI’s current and prior 2 chairman have had serious negative media coverage, and yet have been allowed to continue as chair.  What image does that give the outside world about manufactured housing, or MHI?


It is also absurd that that all three of the current and prior chairs have clear and deep ties to Berkshire Hathaway.  The real elephant in the room is Clayton and the Berkshire brands. If they want to claim leadership of the industry – and MHI and Clayton repeatedly do so – then the results of the industry logically fall at their feet.


Louisiana is one of the top ten states for manufactured home shipments in recent years, per data collected by HUD and reported by MHARR. Clayton Homes has a serious presence in the state. Yet, sales are declining. Why???

And those results have been towards ever more consolidation of the industry in the hands of a few, including Clayton Homes and their sister companies involved in manufactured housing.


One more point must be made. When the allegations of racism and other claims of financing malfeasance were lodged against Clayton and their related lenders – 21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance – first surfaced, MHProNews and MHLivingNews leapt to their defense. Why?  Because we knew of no such examples, and asking some industry pros, they said similarly.

Lies, Advocacy Journalism and Statistics – Seattle Times/BuzzFeed Attacks, Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes Defends – charges of Racism and Discrimination – Critical Analysis


But as the claims have continued, and other facts emerged, we looked deeper.  Our understanding of the issues has matured, in part with input from others in manufactured housing.  Unlike MHI or Clayton, which rarely wants to admit in public an error, our publisher has said ‘mea culpa’ several times, as we have pivoted to our clarified understanding.



With that tee up, we now show the video from the Clayton headquarters – the Knoxville metro’s own TV news media – is shown below.



Former Clayton Team Member Blows the Whistle on TV on Clayton Homes Business Practices

With that backdrop is this ongoing controversy about Clayton Homes and concerns over racism and unjust lending practices.

Maxine Waters is among those who signed the letter that this local Knoxville TV news media report reflects.


One of several reasons to provide this to 2018 Knoxville TV news report to industry members at this time is that Waters will likely become the next chairperson for the important House Financial Services Committee.



U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Mike Capuano (D-MA). Image credit, Twitter, Wikipedia.


Waters has called Clayton and Berkshire ‘near monopolies.’ That charge may take on new meaning in 2019. The Democrats have an anti-monopoly plank in their revised platform.


As the Daily Business News on MHProNews has previously documented, there are voices across the left-right divide that are seeing the challenges to small and independent businesses from monopolies.

Monopolies and growing consolidation over time causes ripples in costs to consumers, and for employment opportunities and thus wages too.

Some will act out of habit and ‘stroke the check’ to renew their MHI membership.

Others will feel compelled for reasons that sources say are akin to RICO related concerns.

For those who don’t want to be part of feeding the hand that bites them, this is a good time to step back and decide to cancel membership in Berkshire dominated MHI, and explore other options.

To learn more, see the related reports, and click on the hot-linked boxes further below.

Finally, it should be noted that Berkshire vice-chairman, and longtime Warren Buffet partner, Charlie Munger has said on camera that he doesn’t doubt that some wrongdoing has occurred.



While denying the thrust of the anti-Clayton claims, Warren Buffett has said similarly to what Munger has said.

It’s a complex puzzle.  But MHProNews is committed to providing the facts that unravel the fog in a way that no others in MH trade media will give you.  That way, you can make more informed decisions to operate your business.


Gus’ message came in response to a series of exposes on issues within manufactured housing, as well as tips, strategies, and opportunities.

We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

NOTICE: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers.

(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

1) To sign up in seconds for our MH Industry leading emailed news updates, click here.


To see a sample of our emailed news update, click here. To sign up for the factory-built home industry’s #1 headline news, click here or the graphic above.

2) To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click the link to the left. Please note if your comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

3) Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Re-sources

SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and


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Housing Choice, Where Modular, Manufactured, Tiny, Conventional Housing Crisis, MHI and MHARR Intersect

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#$2Trillion U.S. GDP Growth via Affordable Housing Plan Few Discuss – Introducing #YimbyVictory2020





Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage’s Manufactured Housing “Spies”

September 7th, 2018 Comments off


It’s [a] standard operating procedure...”
–        Clayton representative, to the Daily Business News on MHProNews.



Tim Williams, photo credit,

At 21st Mortgage, we have access to a wide variety of resources that the independent business or professional in MH may lack.”
Tim Williams,
President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned
21st Mortgage Corp., to MHProNews


It’s another example of the truth that is often hiding in plain sight.

Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage Corp each have numerous field and other representatives. These men and women often see and hear things that are useful to Clayton, 21st, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), or other parts of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. They don’t carry the title of ‘spy.’

But the word “spying” is what an insider used to described part of their duties.  Another said, they wouldn’t be comfortable with the terms “spy” or spying,” but admitted that “reps” are in fact gathering information that’s reported and collected by management. As one Clayton rep put it, “It’s [a] standard operating procedure…”

A look at a dictionary definition of spy is revealing. The underscoring is added, but here is what the Oxford Dictionary says: “spy – a person employed by a government or other organization to secretly obtain information on an enemy or competitor.”


This reporting work isn’t necessarily ‘top secret,’ as these representatives from 21st and Clayton periodically walk into sales centers or community offices as who they are.  That happens at locations across the country.

But there are also cases, per sources, where individuals are “rewarded” by the Berkshire manufactured housing brands to go and visit competitors under cover, pretending to be someone that they are not.

All of it has a similar goal. It’s to gain information on competitors, which Clayton, 21st and others they work with then use for their own corporate benefit.  That begs questions like these:

  • Do those who allow CMH or 21st reps onto their sales lots or into their offices realize that information they collect is allegedly being collected and reported up the chain of command, in ways that may be used against an independent’s business interests?
  • Do communities and retailers realize that files are reportedly being created, updated, and maintained, per sources within those Berkshire organizations?

Those are the case, per insider and informed sources to MHProNews.


The Motivation? “Competitive Advantages”

Corporate espionage is probably not what you think of when you hear the word spy. It’s not Sean Connery with his debonair manner, nor is it Tom Cruise hanging from suspension cable;” said Investopedia. Rather, its information being gathered – including online, though freedom of information requests, through reps and/or by other means – all of which can be legal.

Knowing a competitors next product line, bid price or any other sensitive data can give a rival company a competitive advantage,” said Investopedia.


MH Associations, CMH and 21st

Sources also tell MHProNews that associations are also “fertile ground” for collecting information on people, and businesses for Berkshire Hathaway brands in manufactured housing.

Here’s an example that was used, as to how innocently it can happen.  “What do you know about…” a certain person or business, comes an innocuous sounding question at a meeting or by phone.

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) or state association executives and/or staff will routinely answer questions by the ‘big boys,’ say sources familiar with the practice.  They don’t think of themselves as “spies” for Clayton or 21st, but they will do and say things because of the how ‘gold rules.’

All of it is gathered and distilled into reports used for competitive insights, and thus advantages in the marketplace.  Some information is purchased from third parties, which can all be done legally.

It’s [a] standard operating procedure,” per a Clayton source, “and it’s been done for years.”




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Files on competitors are maintained.  It can be accessed by management as they wish. The people involved may never think of themselves as spying, or as a spy.  But they report their findings to superiors just the same.

Information is power, just as capital or financing are power in business too.

Until positive changes are made by the powers that be, these sorts of issues, plus those in related reports (found further before), are all worth pondering before:

–        More business is placed by independents with a corporate giant,

–        before an association renewal check is sent,

–        or relaxed answers are made to reps, or at a meeting to a smiling face that reports what you said to others.

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“Why Advocates Need to Rethink Manufactured Home Quality,” Harvard, GSE, Genz, “High Satisfaction”

July 5th, 2018 Comments off


There are those who slam manufactured housing as being less expensive due to inferior quality. But a “Harvard study refutes that, labeling as “exaggerated” the “concerns about the difference between manufactured homes…and [homes] built to applicable local building codes” (Vermeer and Louie 1995, section IV, 2). The study found that code standards have little to do with manufactured housing’s price advantage.”


So wrote Richard Genz in a 22 page research report on manufactured homes for a foundation for a Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE).

The document also stated that:

Housing advocates might find it surprising to walk through a couple of new homes at a dealer’s lot, keeping the monthly payment in mind and mentally comparing the local rental stock available for the same price. Interiors have good light. Insulation standards are solid. Floor plans have come a long way from the time when residents said that living in a mobile home was like living in a hallway.”

RichardGenzManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHproNewsWhy take a flashback look now at the 2001 report by Richard Genz for Housing & Community Insight?

Because the report was done for the Fannie Mae Foundation.

It cited sources such as Harvard, Foremost Insurance – plus other third-party, often peer-reviewed – researchers.

While some of the data points have shifted since Genz penned them, it has generally been improvements in the manufactured home product quality, as the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 standards have fully kicked in since Genz published his insightful work.

It’s equally valid to review this now, given the arguable short-shrift Fannie Mae has been giving to the legally mandated Duty to Serve (DTS) implementation. Compare what Genz said then, vs. what Sarah Edelman recently wrote. That linked report below, which includes Edelman’s article for Fannie Mae, can be read later for greater depth of understanding.

“Take the MH Advantage Challenge – Can You Tell the Difference?” Fisk of Sarah Edelman, Director of Duty to Serve, Single-Family Mortgage Business for Fannie Mae

Further, because the HUD Code and new home standards keep improving, what was true when Genz said it back then, is arguably as or more accurate now.


That said, the analysis that follows notes that while Genz often praised manufactured homes, he did not turn a blind eye to problems then existing in the industry. That too will be reviewed herein, because manufactured housing cleaned up key issues that Genz identified.

So, while the total numbers of residents and manufactured homes has grown since his report, and pricing has obviously changed, the percentage of savings remains the same. Then and now, the United States Census Bureau has noted consistently similar levels of statistical savings for decades.


Graphic, data, per Sun Communities (SUI).

Thus for a variety of reasons, Genz’s 22 page document merit the careful consideration of the manufactured home industry’s:

  • professionals,
  • advocates,
  • public policy pros,
  • politicos,
  • and investors careful consideration.

Graphic, data, per publicly-traded Sun Communities (SUI).  Note that Sun’s rental rates may be higher than some others in the industry..

With that introduction, the Daily Business News will review and analyze key highlights of what Genz unearthed.

It’s a potentially multiple billions of dollars worth of housing insights. Thus it’s a potentially rewarding, and highly insightful, reading experience.  As you read this analysis of Genz, keep the points previously shared in the report below in mind, which can be read or reviewed later for related insights.

YIMBY vs. NIMBY, Obama Admin Concept Could Unlock $1.95 Trillion Annually, HUD & MH Impact


Stigma and Manufactured Homes

Genz goes after the stigma attached to manufactured homes and their owners early, and often.

Here’s an example.

There is a palpable stigma attached to manufactured homes, dating back to when workers towing trailers moved from city to city, chasing jobs and crowding into muddy, unsanitary trailer parks… However, these serious shortcomings [in public policies, perceptions] are not inherent in the factory-built home itself. Rather, they are the product of laws, policy choices, and business practices that are selling millions of people short.”

Genz notes that while values weren’t the same, he explains that it was because of reasons not connected with the homes themselves.

That’s arguably a valid point then, and now.

The Fannie Mae Foundation researcher also noted that the net worth of manufactured home owners was dramatically higher – even then – than the $5,000 renting households average worth now have, per data cited repeatedly by HUD Secretary Ben Carson last year.

Median net worth is $59,000 for owners of manufactured homes, compared with $102,000 for all homeowners.”

Rephrasing that as a takeaway.  Those who own a manufactured home enjoy a significant improvement in their collective standard of living.  That’s a point that advocates like ROC USA, Prosperity Now (formerly known as CFED), or this trade publisher have often made.

Genz notes another point that MHLivingNews and MHProNews has hammered home repeatedly. It’s this.

One of the industry’s strong points is its appeal to distinctly different market segments. Owners tend to be either very young or elderly (Vermeer and Louie 1995). Although most buyers have low incomes, one segment of the market is quite well off: About 10 percent of manufactured home residents report a net worth of more than $250,000, and another 19 percent are worth more than $100,000 (Foremost Insurance Group 1999).”

Genz added to that point above, “Many of the owners with high net worth live in well- planned subdivision-style communities with recreation centers, pools, and even golf courses. These high-end communities demonstrate the potential of factory-built homes, but also represent a continuing shift away from the industry’s original focus on serving the affordable housing market.”


tristar-estates-bourbonnais-il-CreditMHC-MD-com, posted

Arial photo credit, TriStar Estate, credit Note that all of the illustrations shown were provided by MHProNews, not the original document written by Genz.

Stated differently, he makes sure that his readers know that manufactured homes are not just housing for the poor, or those who have no other options.

It’s a key factoid that some in the industry’s association world need to take notice of, and perhaps now will begin to do so?

Despite wide-spread perceptions of low quality and short life, Consumer Reports says that “manufactured housing can last as long as site-built housing,” (“Manufactured Housing ” 1998, 30).”

Readers should keep in mind that the improvements mandated by the industry-sought Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA). So whatever concerns were noted then about installation have since been dealt with.

Industry professionals, policy wonks, officials, and advocates should note that it was the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) that led-the-charge for the MHIA 2000. They did so by aligning the Texas Manufactured Housing Association’s leadership, and then finally found a change in leadership at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) they could work with. That permitted the three to then advance the MHIA through Congress, per our sources.

That segue noted, the review of Genz’s fertile work continues.

Fresh, new, private living space; easy shopping and financing; adequate quality; and homeownership now add up to a powerful appeal, and with a little reflection, it becomes easier to see why manufactured homes have been chosen by an average of 29 percent of new home buyers every year since 1980 (Manufactured Housing Institute 2001).”


For newcomers to this website, or otherwise not familiar with modern manufactured homes, you can learn more by clicking the image above or the link here.

That was debatably the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) that was, prior to the power being exercised over the Arlington, VA based trade group by Berkshire Hathaway acquired Clayton Homes in 2003. Their related lenders were acquired too, as were several other industry connected suppliers and other firms since.

Instead of MHI’s allegedly weaponized ‘research’ and maneuvers to promote a controversial, “new class of homes,” and the like – why hasn’t MHI provided encouragement for more such independent study as Genz did?

Or why does MHI fail to publicly mine such useful research today?

Those questions noted, continuing with the Genz’s analysis, there are far more gems to discover.  They are potentially as useful now as then.


Not Enough Advocacy, Said Genz


Richard Genz.

Some consumer advocacy is taking place, but not much in view of the scale of the manufactured housing sector. Government, nonprofit, and philanthropic involvement is strikingly less than in the world of “real homes.”

When one ponders the foot-dragging by the GSEs, apparently brooked by the FHFA, this quote is also noteworthy: “…a majority of buyers have held the same job for 5 to 10 years, a Freddie Mac economist notes that “except for lower incomes, the profile of manufactured home buyers seeking financing does not appear to differ greatly from site-built loan borrowers” (Bradley 1997, 4).

Note that in a systematic fashion, Genz cited his third-party, often peer-reviewed sources. Again, as the Daily Business News analysis above noted, much of what has changed since 2001 have been equally well documented improvements.

So the case made by Genz is still useful.  It is also historic.

Genz provides an independent yardstick to see what the industry’s ‘leaders’ have or have not done.


Identifying Valid Concerns

For those who never knew or witnessed sellers loading up customers with years of insurance or credit life, etc. the next quote will be a dose of reality.

For those pros who will recall, it’s a blast-from-the-past that explains some of the stiff losses by the subprime lenders of that era. “[manufactured housing] retailers can and frequently do earn commissions, rebates, or other payments on loan originations, credit life insurance, property insurance, and other services arranged for at the time the loan is closed” (HUD and NAHB 2000, 41).”

That was then, not now. Thus the report by Genz isn’t all glowing, as he takes on some industry practices in lending, some that apparently had a level of MHI support.

Rephrased, this researcher for Fannie didn’t mind questioning MHI.

By contrast today, Fannie and MHI seem to be “playing footsie,” according to several sources in MHI.

Among the examples that have been cited by those sources, MHARR and others, is that Fannie is now a MHI member. Furthermore, Fannie and MHI have reportedly held closed door meetings, without producing for the public those meeting minutes.

What’s there to hide?

Fannie Mae Touts MH Advantage Program, But Manufactured Housing Association Slams Plan as “Illegitimate,” “Bait and Switch”


GSE Commitment Canceled?

As recently as last week, Sarah Edelman, Director of Duty to Serve, Single-Family Mortgage Business at Fannie Mae and others there respectfully declined to provide minutes or any explanation of such meetings with MHI, in inquiries by this publication to the federally regulated mortgage giant.

Note that a communications team member committed to MHProNews that Edelman would answer several questions on-the-record.

Those promised replies to several specific inquiries were later delayed. Finally, the same communications team member at Fannie said they were not going to answer the questions asked.

Why not?

So much for transparency at Fannie today?

It is also worth mentioning for later review that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling has told MHProNews via a statement that he has serious concerns about lobbying by the GSE.  If so, that’s important because it would be in contravention to federal law while they are in receivership under FHFA. That related report can be reviewed later, and is linked below.

Update on Fannie Mae Lobbying, and Manufactured Housing Controversy


How Many Pre-HUD Code Mobile Homes?

Back to the research by Genz, he stated then that nearly 3 million pre-HUD Code mobile homes were still in service.

According to Gentz, “As many as 3 million homes in the nation’s current manufactured housing inventory were built be- fore the implementation of the HUD building code in 1976, when some homes had a useful life as short as 10 years (Meeks 1995; Vermeer and Louie 1995). Many of these were built in the boom years of 1968 through 1973, when 2.7 million new homes were sold.”


Make a habit of using the correct terminology.

Once more an aside is warranted. Because the data that Genz cited demonstrates that the Rollohome experience was not a one-off.

What occurred during the Rollohome era in terms of the rapid ramp up and production of more factory built housing pre-HUD Code could arguably be done today too.

Rollohome, Creating 60,000 Factory-Built Homes in 2 Years

Investors, public officials, advocates, and industry pros? Are you seeing how enormous the manufactured housing industry’s potential is? This is a theme that MHProNews and MHARR have said for years can be accomplished, because it has in fact already been previously proven to be doable.

Given the correct support, the 8.3 million housing unit shortages cited by Lawrence Yun at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) could rapidly be corrected. But if HUD Code producers don’t step up to the plate more seriously, other prefab builders cited at the end of this report have already said that they will.

Potentially tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in business annually is up for grabs.

Once more, it is almost inescapable how these facts point to what award-winning independent retailer Alan Amy said. Manufactured Housing could be the future, which is why he and others have said that the billionaires are gobbling up the industry’s assets.

Ouch, and another Ouch, but then…

Regarding gains or losses in value, “…Consumers Union reports that two-thirds of units depreciate. However, the converse is that one-third of manufactured homes have held their value or appreciated (“Manufactured Housing” 1998). Several other studies establish the simple fact that some manufactured homes increase in value, and some decline.

But Genz uses logic akin to what MHProNews has utilized, noting that “Research is needed to sort out the factors that cause values to go up or down. With better information, policies and practices that build wealth for owners of manufactured homes can be designed.

In fact, Genz has outlined several of the causes of a loss in value. He also suggested some of the keys to supporting value, like no more credit life or others previously noted.

Thus, the initial groundwork for more appreciation – which even the problematic Urban Institute report noted by the Daily Business News said is already underway – is now largely in place.

Rephrased, there are no valid reasons for the GSEs to slow-walk implementation of robust yet sustainable chattel and other manufactured home lending. There is no need for yet another apparent dodge, this time in the form of a MHI’s questionable “new class of homes.”

Secretive “NEW” Class of Manufactured Housing Raises Serious Concerns

So in retrospect, what Genz laid out was this.


Marty Lavin, JD.

When insurance is loaded up on a contract at the time of sale, or prices may vary 5k-10k per identical homes in the same market, the natural outcome is those homes ‘lost’ value. That’s similar to concerns that MHI award winner Marty Lavin raised for years.

But it must also be noted that Lavin said in a video interview with MHProNews that the industry cleaned up that act.

So once more, the rationale for slow-walking the potentially robust GSE entry into manufactured housing is missing.

Quite the opposite exists. Genz gave a veritable road map of why and how manufactured housing lending could and should be done successfully in ways that are as sustainable, as Titus Dare exclusively encouraged in statements to MHProNews.

So those abuses Genz reported then were wrenched from the chattel lending system by the lenders who remained in the market during the post-Conseco/GreenTree meltdown.

Rephrased, as Lavin noted, the remaining marketplace lenders corrected the issues.

Said Genz, “The accurate answer to the question “Can manufactured homes appreciate?” seems to be “It depends.” Like the value of any home, the value of a manufactured home over time is contingent on many factors. Unfortunately, the perception that depreciation is somehow inherent in manufactured homes is widespread. It is at the root of disinterest about them among development bankers, advocates, planners, and nonprofit developers. These professionals are rightly concerned that housing should be a foundation for building wealth, but if advocates simply write off the preference of so many home buyers for lower-cost manufactured units, we passively contribute to a problem we should be helping to solve. Available data suggest that depreciation is not a mystery. It can be understood and, in many cases, reversed.”

What Genz did was argue that the industry could reverse much of its image and fortunes.

Make some common sense changes, and much could be done.

More than 8 out of 10 manufactured homes placed in 1998 were titled as personal property, or chattel (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1998).” That number is similar today.

Genz buys into the argument made by those who want to reclassify manufactured homes, forcing all to be real estate loans. That’s a non-starter for most lenders in the industry. It is an example of how the “wheat and chaff” approach must be used with any person, or any organization.

That said, he next makes another point similar to what Marty Lavin has made.

Discriminatory treatment of manufactured home residents flows from the unexamined matrix of law, finance, taxation, land use regulation, and custom within which manufactured housing exists.”

Lavin put it more bluntly, by calling the HUD Code “a discrimination code.”

But discrimination – past or present – could be a motivation in urging industry pros to act for change in the future.

That said, what exists today are policies that can include “…many tax systems automatically depreciate manufactured homes like vehicles, regardless of their actual market value. This practice worsens the budget drain.”

Genz demonstrates how a simple change of mind can yield positive change.

Recognizing the real character of manufactured housing contributes to the asset base of an entire community. For example, the tax assessor of Henderson County, NC, decided to begin taking manufactured homes seriously in the early 1990s. Once values were established, the assessor determined that the use of depreciation schedules had systematically undervalued this stock of residential property. The result was a $53 million increase in the tax rolls over two years,” Genz said.

Then he stated a point routinely made by MHLivingNews and MHProNews. How education by that North Carolina county and discipline in the proper use of terminology could yield positive changes measurable in dollars and cents.

They [local officials] repeatedly had to explain to concerned taxpayers that a “trailer” is something you haul around behind a vehicle and that their increased valuation was based on the actual market value of a home that happened to have been built in a factory.”

Today, there are numerous studies that demonstrate that manufactured homes can and do appreciate for the same reasons as conventional housing. But the way to accomplish that isn’t by creating a problematic, unnecessary, and controversial “new class of homes” promoted by MHI.

Rather, an important part of the industry’s potential progress is achieved by education of consumers on existing homes.



That education comes in part by speaking with those who know on camera.

Education also can obviously be accomplished in part by engaging the mainstream media.

Retiring MHI Ann Parman previously praised MHProNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach for promoting that plan. But as numerous industry members – like Frank Rolfe, who previously blasted MHI for not properly engaging the media – know, MHI has allowed most slurs, miscues, and errors that slight manufactured housing to go unaddressed.

Rephrased, the facts and legitimate third-party research needed to successfully promote the manufactured home industry are available.

While the Arlington, VA based trade group has done problematic advertorials – which have at times cited ‘facts’ that other MHI ‘data’ contradicts – has posted a few lightly viewed items to YouTube, or social media, there’s been no discernible, systematic and robust effort by them to defend and/or promote the industry as needed.

MHI member MHVillage’s own data proves just how ineffective the efforts to date are.


Data per MHVillage, collage by MHProNews. 

So it is little wonder that a pair of state associations broke away from MHI, and have announced they are forming a new post-production association.

Rephrased, there is a growing body of evidence and numbers of industry voices that in various ways have alleged that MHI is debatably blowing it for the small to mid-sized operations that make numbers of that trade group’s members.

‘Tip of Iceberg’ – Rick Rand; Marty Lavin, Communities have ‘No Confidence’ in Manufactured Housing Institute, New National Trade Group Announced

As attorney Lavin succinctly put it in the report linked above, the big boys work for the interests of the rest of the industry only to the extent that it benefits the big boys.


Genz Makes the Case Concerned Industry Voices Have Advocated

Said the Fannie Mae Foundation’s researcher Genz. “Low- and moderate-income people should not be left to learn about asset-building and the meaning of homeownership from their tax assessor. The protests from mobile home dwellers confirm what our housing system has inculcated in them: that their housing is a depreciating asset, like a vehicle. How many buyers of conventional homes would trade a lower annual property tax bill for depreciating home value?

As a Deer Valley Homes sales manager James McGee, and their current president, Chet Murphree said, “It’s all about education.” as they and others praised the work done here and on MHProNews to educate.

Meanwhile, sources and evidence suggest that MHI, their surrogates and masters, have arguably sought to stymie the education necessary for the industry’s robust growth.


Warren Buffet has arguably given the correct answer. He likes a bargain.

Best Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Clayton Homes, Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, Competition, and “the Moat” Video Collection

By choking off other sources of lending, and limiting the capital flow into the industry, Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway has gobbled up large chunks of the industry.


MHI’s President Richard “Dick” Jennison, and others there or working for Berkshire Hathaway units have declined or ducked public discussion and debate on such vexing questions.


Graphic by MHProNews, using information provided by each corporation, or named entities.

Isn’t that a kind of tacit admission that these published concerns are valid?

When The Daily Business News has given repeated opportunities for MHI or Berkshire brands to respond publicly, why have they instead remained silent?


This document was provided as a news tip to MHProNews. To see the related video with Kevin Clayton, click to read and view – Smoking Gun 3

Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$


Genz’s Finale “Conclusion”

Clearing up misperceptions about manufactured housing and addressing the problems of buyers, owners, and renters should be the first priority for advocates. On a separate front, it should be possible to incorporate the cost advantages of manufactured homes into nonprofit housing developments (Wallis 1991). If stereotypes can be overcome, the nonprofit development community could eventually help reinvent manufactured homes as quality, wealth-building, affordable housing.

The report said that author “Richard Genz is Principal of Housing & Community Insight and a Project Manager with ICF Consulting, Inc.”

Genz’s report was written for the Fannie Mae Foundation.  The entire document is available as a download, linked here.

We Provide, You Decide.” © ## ## (News, event, and announcement.)

(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

Manufactured Home Owners – Satisfaction Survey Redux

Progressive “Nation” Reports on Monopolies Cites Buffett, Clayton, Others – MH Industry Impact?


Clayton Homes, Top 25 Manufactured Housing Industry Report, Trend Lines



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Seattle Times -Federal Investigations-Berkshire Hathaway’s Clayton Homes, GuruFocus Spotlights Buffett’s Clayton’s “Unethical,” Monopolistic Moat

May 21st, 2018 Comments off


Just hours or days before an expected Congressional vote in the House on their version of S. 2155, the Seattle Times is reporting on federal investigations into the business practices of Clayton Homes, Vanderbilt Mortgage, and their affiliated Berkshire Hathaway lending units.


Gwen Schablik, a former Clayton employee who was featured in the 2015 article, said officials from HUD and the Department of Justice interviewed her about the issues last year,” per the Seattle Times’ Mike Baker.  “Schablik has said that she and other staffers raised concerns with superiors about Spanish-speaking borrowers who had signed loan documents they couldn’t understand. She said managers told her there was no need to translate the documents.”

Baker’s narrative said Clayton issued a statement to them, emphasizing a claimed culture of compliance, “and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in its interactions with customers.” But when the Daily Business News asked Clayton to denounce racism last year, they did not accept the opportunity to do so.

We value working with federal and state agencies to improve processes and ensure all regulatory requirements are met and our customers are protected and treated fairly,” Clayton stated in writing, per the Seattle Times.

WBIR has a wrinkle in the report, shown below.


What It Means

The Seattle Times latest report confirmed several Daily Business News reports in 2017.

In that sense, Baker’s narrative is akin to the recent Washington Post report, which underscored facts reported by MHProNews, and/or by the Manufactured Housing for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

The Post confirmed reports by MHProNews on issues related to

  • Pamela Danner, the former administrator of the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP),
  • how the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) failed to ask HUD leadership to have Danner removed for numerous concerns over her allegedly problematic actions.    
  • MHI failed to act with respect to Danner, despite a widespread outcry against Danner’s repeated overreaches expressed by grass roots retailers, communities, producers, state associations, MHARR, and others. 
  • The overreaches were bad enough that HUD Secretary Ben Carson called them “ridiculous” in Senate testimony.


GuruFocus, Clayton’s Unethical Moats?

Days ago, “GuruFocus contributor John Engle asked the questionAre Warren Buffett’s Strategic ‘Moats’ Unethical?

 This isn’t the first time Buffett’s love of moats has been attacked,” per GuruFocus. “Berkshire Hathaway has been criticized for its business practices, which seemed to put profit over customers, particularly at its Clayton Homes division.”

It is worth noting that GuruFocus’  Rupert Hargreaves used the proper industry terminology – “manufactured home” – while Seattle Times still uses the incorrect term, “mobile home.”


For facts on accurate, proper factory-built home industry terminology, click here or above.

Clayton Homes, for example, the largest builder of modular and manufactured homes in the United States, has been accused of relying onpredatory sales practices, exorbitant fees and interest rates that can exceed 15 percent, trapping many buyers in loans they can’t afford and in homes that are almost impossible to sell or refinance.” Evidently, if the company were looking to expand its moat naturally,” said Hargreaves for GuruFocus,it would be trying to achieve the best reputation and results for customers rather than price gouging — a tactic only the largest [m]onopoly businesses tend to get away with.”

The Nation and others have also raised concerns about Clayton Homes, and their Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway lending units. 


Evidence of Monopoly?

To date, only MHProNews – thanks to a news tip from a reader – published 2 documents from 21st Mortgage Corp related to allegations of overtly monopolistic practices.

According to what attorneys have said to MHProNews who examined those 21st mortgage documents – and when compared to the facts in Buffett’s Berkshire annual letter that same year, along with the related videos – have led them to say that there is good evidence of monopolistic practices.

Is it just a question of time before word leaks out of anti-trust investigations of Buffett’s Berkshire manufactured housing industry brands? Will that include reported concerns over the trade association they dominate, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) too?

The Daily Business News report, Smoking Gun 3, is linked below. “We Provide, You Decide.” ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

Smoking Gun 3 – Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp Tim Williams – Manufactured Home Lending, Sales Grab?



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Warren Buffett’s Annual Report to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders, Clayton Homes and Manufactured Housing

February 26th, 2018 Comments off


When examining an industry or an issue, such as the manufactured housing and regulations that impact an industry, common sense dictates that one spend time looking at the proverbial elephants in the room.

In manufactured housing, one elephant in the room is arguably Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway and companies such as Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance.

Using their own annual report, Buffett’s copyrighted document says Clayton has about 49 percent of the industry’s production.

Other elephants in the room?  Financing (capital) and regulations must surely be among them.

Consider this.

  • The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI),
  • the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR),
  • state associations,
  • and thousands of industry professionals and investors would – if prodded – likely say that federal, state and local regulations are an important impacts that influence their businesses.
  • Most if not all would all likely admit the importance that capital and financing plays in the industry.

The timing of the Berkshire Hathaway annual report is noteworthy.  It comes at about the same times as the deadline for public comments that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made for the top-down-review of the manufactured housing program it regulates. Those comments to HUD are due at 11:59 PM tonight, 2.26.2018.

Federal Manufactured Housing Program Review Comments Due Next Week, 2.26.2018

The entire Buffett/Berkshire annual letter and report are found as a download at the end of this report, provided by the Daily Business News under fair use guidelines.

Let’s look at some notable quotes from the annual letter and report.  Those facts will be followed by analysis of the quotes and data.


Notable Facts and Quotes

Keep in mind that while Clayton Homes is in the housing business, Berkshire lists it under financial services. From the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 2017 annual report, page 13 (hereafter, just annual report), copyright 2018 © by Warren E. Buffett, page K21:


Finance and Financial Products

Berkshire’s finance and financial products activities include an integrated manufactured housing and finance business, transportation equipment leasing and furniture leasing. Berkshire’s finance and financial products businesses employ approximately 25,600 people in the aggregate. Information concerning these activities follows.”

Clayton Homes

Clayton Homes, Inc. (“Clayton”), headquartered near Knoxville, Tennessee, is a vertically integrated housing company utilizing manufactured, modular and site built methods. Clayton’s homes are marketed in 48 states through a network of over 2,000 retailers, including 353 company-owned home centers and 118 subdivisions. Home finance and insurance products are offered through its subsidiaries primarily to purchasers of manufactured and modular homes.

In 2015, Clayton acquired its first site builder and has since added four additional site builders. Clayton plans to continue to seek acquisitions that fit its business model. Clayton delivered approximately 49,000 homes in 2017 at various price points. Clayton competes based on price, service, delivery capabilities and product performance and considers the ability to make financing available to retail purchasers a factor affecting the market acceptance of its products.

Clayton’s financing programs support company-owned home centers and select independent retailers. Proprietary loan underwriting guidelines have been developed and include ability to repay calculations, including debt to income limits, consideration of residual income and credit score requirements, which are considered in evaluating loan applicants. Currently, approximately 70% of the loan originations are home-only loans and the remaining 30% have land as additional collateral. The average down payment is approximately 15%, which may be from cash, trade or land equity. Certain loan types require an independent third-party valuation; additionally, if land is involved in the transaction it generally is independently appraised in order to establish the value of the land only or the home and the land as a package. Originated loans are at fixed rates and for fixed terms. Loans outstanding include non-government originations, bulk purchases of contracts and notes from banks and other lenders. Clayton also provides inventory financing to certain independent retailers and community operators and services housing contracts and notes that were not purchased or originated. The bulk contract purchases and servicing arrangements may relate to the portfolios of other lenders or finance companies, governmental agencies, or other entities that purchase and hold housing contracts and notes. Clayton also acts as an agent on physical damage insurance policies, homebuyer protection plan policies and other programs.”

From annual report, page K-49:


Manufactured housing and finance

Clayton Homes’ revenues were $5.0 billion in 2017, an increase of $780 million (18%) compared to 2016. The revenues increase was primarily due to higher home sales, attributable to an increase in overall unit sales (9%) and higher average prices. The increase in average prices was primarily due to sales mix changes, which reflected increases in site built home sales, a relatively new business for Clayton. Site built homes include higher land content and unit prices tend to be higher, although gross sales margin rates are typically lower than manufactured homes. Interest and financial services revenues increased 2% in 2017 compared to 2016.

Pre-tax earnings increased $21 million (2.8%) in 2017 compared to 2016. Pre-tax earnings in 2017 from manufacturing, retailing and site built activities increased, while earnings from finance activities declined slightly from 2016. Earnings in 2017 also included a gain from a legal settlement, offset by increased employee healthcare, technology, marketing and other expenses. A significant portion of Clayton Homes’ earnings are generated from lending activities, which in recent years benefitted from relatively low delinquency rates and loan losses and from low average interest rates on borrowings. As of December 31, 2017, Clayton Homes’ installment loan portfolio was approximately $13.7 billion.

Revenues increased $654 million (18%) in 2016 compared to 2015, attributable to a 30% increase in revenues from home sales, primarily due to a 25% increase in units sold and product mix changes. Interest and other financial service income increased 1.8% from 2015. Pre-tax earnings increased $38 million (5.4%) compared to 2015. Earnings benefitted from increased home sales and improved manufacturing and retailing operating margins, partly offset by lower earnings from lending and financial services and increased insurance losses.”


More Notable Quotes

From the annual report, page 5.

Let’s move now to bolt-on acquisitions. Some of these were small transactions that I will not detail. Here is an account, however, of a few larger purchases whose closings stretched between late 2016 and early 2018.

Clayton Homes acquired two builders of conventional homes during 2017, a move that more than doubled our presence in a field we entered only three years ago. With these additions – Oakwood Homes in Colorado and Harris Doyle in Birmingham – I expect our 2018 site built volume will exceed $1 billion.

Clayton’s emphasis, nonetheless, remains manufactured homes, both their construction and their financing. In 2017 Clayton sold 19,168 units through its own retail operation and wholesaled another 26,706 units to independent retailers. All told, Clayton accounted for 49% of the manufactured-home market last year.

That industry-leading share – about three times what our nearest competitor did – is a far cry from the 13% Clayton achieved in 2003, the year it joined Berkshire. Both Clayton Homes and PFJ are based in Knoxville, where the Clayton and Haslam families have long been friends. Kevin Clayton’s comments to the Haslams about the advantages of a Berkshire affiliation, and his admiring comments about the Haslam family to me, helped cement the PFJ deal.”

From the annual report, page 13.

A final lesson from our bet: Stick with big, “easy” decisions and eschew activity.”


Quotes and Insights, According to Rupert Hargreaves, GuruFocus on Nasdaq 3.28.2017

Rupert Hargreaves in a column entitled “Warren Buffett and the Importance of Moats,” wrote: “Buffett himself only invests in such businesses [those with moats], but the problem is he’s never really set out exactly what he’s looking for in the best moats.”

Hargraves compiled this list of Buffett quotes on moats.

But all the time, if you’ve got a wonderful castle, there are people out there who are going to try and attack it and take it away from you. And I want a castle that I can understand, but I want a castle with a moat around it.” – Warren Buffett.

From the 2000 Berkshire annual meeting:

So we think in terms of that moat and the ability to keep its width and its impossibility of being crossed as the primary criterion of a great business. And we tell our managers we want the moat widened every year. That doesn’t necessarily mean the profit will be more this year than it was last year because it won’t be sometimes. However, if the moat is widened every year, the business will do very well. When we see a moat that’s tenuous in any way – it’s just too risky. We don’t know how to evaluate that. And, therefore, we leave it alone. We think that all of our businesses – or virtually all of our businesses — have pretty darned good moats.” – Warren Buffett.

“…I don’t want a business that’s easy for competitors. I want a business with a moat around it with a very valuable castle in the middle. And then I want the duke who’s in charge of that castle to be honest and hard-working and able. And then I want a big moat around the castle, and that moat can be various things.” – Warren Buffett.  

“…Most people will assume the service is fairly identical among companies, or close enough, so they’re going to do it on cost, so I gotta be the low-cost producer. That’s my moat. To the extent my costs get further lower than the other guy, I’ve thrown a couple of sharks into the moat.”  – Warren Buffett. 

Note, these quotes may reference other products and services.  But industry readers and researchers must keep in mind that these are principles that Buffett himself and his partner, Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger, have applied to all of their investments.

“…Things are all the time changing that moat in one direction or another. Ten years from now you can see the difference. Our managers of the businesses we run, I’ve got one message to them, which is to widen the moat. And we want to throw crocodiles and sharks and everything else, gators, I guess, into the moat to keep away competitors. And that comes about through service, it comes about through quality of product, it comes about through cost, it comes about sometimes through patents, it comes about through real estate location.” – Warren Buffett. 


Other Sources and Quotes on Buffett about Competition and the Moat says, In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable moats.” – Warren Buffett.

In Charlie Munger on Moats First of the Four Essential Filters, “

1.    A business with a moat,

2.    A business that can be understood by the investor,

3.    Management in place with integrity and talent, and

4.    A business that can be bought at an attractive price that gives an attractive margin of safety.” – Charlie Munger, Berkshire Vice-Chairman.

Stocks of companies selling commodity-like products should come with a warning label: ‘Competition may prove hazardous to human wealth.’” – Warren Buffett, per Sure Dividend. 

There are more such quotes about Buffett and the Berkshire philosophy, but perhaps among the most relevant for the industry are those from Kevin Clayton in the video linked in the report below.

Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO


Analysis and Commentary 

Against that backdrop, lets return to this year’s letter.

Starting bottom of page 8, top of page 9 of the annual letter.

I have told you several times about HomeServices, our growing real estate brokerage operation. Berkshire backed into this business in 2000 when we acquired a majority interest in MidAmerican Energy (now named Berkshire Hathaway Energy).  MidAmerican’s activities were then largely in the electric utility field, and I originally paid little attention to HomeServices.

But, year-by-year, the company added brokers and, by the end of 2016, HomeServices was the second-largest brokerage operation in the country – still ranking, though, far behind the leader, Realogy.

In 2017, however, HomeServices’ growth exploded. We acquired the industry’s third-largest operator, Long and Foster; number 12, Houlihan Lawrence; and Gloria Nilson. With those purchases we added 12,300 agents, raising our total to 40,950. HomeServices is now close to leading the country in home sales, having participated (including our three acquisitions pro-forma) in $127 billion of “sides” during 2017.

To explain that term, there are two “sides” to every transaction; if we represent both buyer and seller, the dollar value of the transaction is counted twice.

Despite its recent acquisitions, HomeServices is on track to do only about 3% of the country’s homebrokerage business in 2018. That leaves 97% to go. Given sensible prices, we will keep adding brokers in this most fundamental of businesses.”

  • The 97 percent statement about housing, isn’t that arguably a clearly monopolistic phrase? 
  • Or Buffett’s comments about Clayton growing from 13% in 2003 to 49% by 2017 – in the light of the quotes above and linked, isn’t it also part of a monopolistic pattern? 

For those who compete with Buffett, you must think years ahead, because Buffett and his unit managers do. 

It is worth recalling that Fleetwood was once a powerful presence in manufactured home production and retail – duking it out in the late 1990s, and early 2000s – with Champion for the top spot. But after the “smoking gun” incident, as Kevin Clayton noted in his own words in the video in the report linked further above, Fleetwood’s retail was acquired by Clayton. 

Killing Off 100s of Independent Manufactured Home Retailers, Production Companies – Tim Williams/21st Mortgage “Smoking Gun” Document 2

No doubt, in fitting with the Berkshire way, at a bargain price…

We Provide, You Decide.”  ©

Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders, and the Berkshire Hathaway annual report, are linked here as a download. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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HUD Comment Letter – FR-6075-N-01 Regulatory Review of Manufactured Housing Rules

February 20th, 2018 Comments off


The Daily Business News reported yesterday about the looming deadline for comments to HUD about regulatory reforms desired by industry members, home owners, and others interested in manufactured housing.


Federal Manufactured Housing Program Review Comments Due Next Week, 2.26.2018

The message below reflects the essence of a comment letter
by this writer going to HUD, per their request for
manufactured housing program regulatory reform comments.
For more details on submitting your own comments, click the article linked above.


Dear HUD Secretary Ben Carson, MD,

A year and one month have gone by since President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have taken their oath of office.

As Juanita Duggan, President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), or Jay Timmons – President of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have observed, the improvements in America’s economy and general confidence have soared.

Unemployment among all groups has improved in the last year, but it is particularly noteworthy among minorities and women.

The Trump Administration’s policies have yielded real wage growth, and numerous record economic milestones, in just 13 months.

But when that gaze is cast upon manufactured housing (MH), a different reality exists.

That is the focus of this MH Industry professional’s plea for regulatory relief of the much-needed, appealing, quality home product provided by manufactured housing professionals.

Reaching for the Sky, Multiple Level HUD Code Manufactured Homes

As the affordable housing crisis rages, with over 8 million housing units are needed now, per HUD, National Association of Realtors (NAR), and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) research – manufactured housing languishes at relatively low levels.



Credits, MHI, Cavco.

State of the Manufactured Home Industry, Comparing RV vs. MH Data


As industry professionals and investors say, the industry’s realities are both simple, and complex.

What is easy to grasp is this reality. The primary regulator for manufactured housing is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


The first common-sense “ask” ought to be is that the steps needed to bring to HUD’s jurisdiction back over those regulatory functions sent to the Department of Energy (DOE) ought to be taken. There is no logic to having more than one federal regulator that deals with construction, safety, and energy efficiency.


The second ask is related to the simple-yet-complex realities of our unique industry.


Wikipedia says that in 2014, over 14,000 people were employed by HUD. Consider this. Pick 10 of those 14,000 employees, none of whom should have ever worked in HUD’s manufactured housing program office. Only one of those ten should have any first-hand experience with modern Manufactured Housing (a ratio roughly equal to the national average).

Once selected, have those ten HUD staffers enter a 2-to-4-week guided immersion into the MH Industry, and its realities.

Then have those ten do a questionnaire before they begin their immersion, and then once more immediately after they finish. That will establish a snapshot of their perceptions before and after their educational/research experience.

If they are like so many others we’ve introduced to the industry, odds are good that those proposed HUD staffers will have an epiphany.

With the proper guidance, those ten will discover that perhaps the single best resource of solving the affordable housing crisis is being regulated by HUD, i.e.: HUD Code Manufactured Housing.

Those ten should then participate in a meeting with you – HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson – along with others in the agency’s MH program chain of command.

HUD will then have ten team members who could become a valuable resource for your agency in shedding light on just how billions of dollars could be saved annually at the federal, state and local levels by properly applying existing laws.

Enforcing existing federal laws, and by leveraging mostly private enterprise, could solving the bulk of the affordable housing crisis. Doing so would save taxpayers, create about half-a-million jobs (+/-), and would establish a ladder for wealth-creation to those who become the owners of those manufactured homes.


RegulatoryBarrierstoManufacturedHousingPlacementinUrbanCommunitiesHUDPDR-postedManufacturedHomeLivingNews595x357 (1)

What the HUD PD&R screen capture reflects is a lack of understanding about how enhanced preemption could solve the affordable housing crisis, using mostly private capital. The research is useful, and shows that manufactured homes appreciate in value side-by-side with conventional housing. But adding in the missing ingredient of enhanced preemption would make this priceless to millions of Americans looking to start, grow, or downsize. Click here to downlaod the report, which is part of my comments submission.

HUD’s leadership could – through this process – have an understanding that has never before been attempted or achieved by the regulators of HUD Code manufactured homes.

That suggested process could yield a report by the 10 proposed HUD staffers. It should ideally be followed up by having you – Secretary Carson, top HUD management, and other key staffers – spend 2 days in a similar immersion process.  Doing this would transform HUD and affordable housing in America, based upon facts.

Congress had a vision for HUD Code manufactured housing when they passed the legislation in 1974 that resulted in the creation of manufactured housing, starting on June 15, 1976.  That act was designed to specifically address the problems that existed in the industry during the mobile home era, while providing a dependable private sector resource for largely unsubsidized, safe, durable, and economical housing.


Until regulators understand what the modern manufactured home realities and potential are, the program will never achieve the potential that the GAO and other third party researchers have believed is possible.

The report below was published on 12.14.2014, and is as relevant now as it was then.  It includes the GAO study, and the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act as downloads, which along with other linked material, ought to be considered as part of my comments letter.

14 Years – Time to Revisit the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000?

We reported on major publications and media outlets, that have touted manufactured homes as part of the solution for the affordable housing crisis.

Bloomberg, HousingWire, Realtor and Fox all suggest Manufactured Homes as Important Solution for Affordable Housing in America

On we take mainstream reports, and often highlight how the information they produce ought to be understood through the lens of manufactured housing.


How Can You Avoid the “Hidden Costs” of Buying A House? Just the Facts!



I came to America by way of Hungary from Iran. My father was involved in housing and construction most of my life.  My educational background is in medicine, which is to say, science. As HUD Secretary Dr. Carson understands, science is about evidence, testing, and facts. Had the complex medical issues of our son Tamas not existed before his birth and for the years since, I’d be practicing medicine in the U.S., where I passed my medical examinations.

My degree from a European university in Hungary came “cum laude,” “with honors.”

I speak 3 languages and can read Arabic to a reasonable extent.

My article in support of then candidate Donald J. Trump was posted for several months on the president’s campaign website. It was picked up by thousands of others too.


While the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) paid for two pro-Clinton speakers in the closing days before the 2016 election.  By contrast, Soheyla Kovach and her family supported Donald J. Trump’s candidacy as the best for the industry, small business and hundreds of millions of Americans. One of those stories ended up on the president’s campaign website, and hundreds of conservative and pro-Trump websites.


My husband, L. A. “Tony” Kovach, has spent over 25 years in the Manufactured Housing Industry. I began working with him in various ways in this industry over a dozen years ago. We’ve lived in several manufactured homes, typically in a land-lease community setting.  We’ve worked together for many years in this industry, and have been to retail centers, communities and manufactured home production centers from coast-to-coast and border-to-border.  .  So, unlike many in Washington, we have true first-hand knowledge and understanding about manufactured homes today.


A UMH Property near Goshen, IN, where MHLivingNews was involved in a video project.

Over 9 years ago, we began publishing what is now known as MHProNews. About 6 years ago, we began publishing  Both are widely considered to be the top resources of their kind in the industry, each enjoying millions of page views and visits annually.


One of several manufacturing centers we’ve done work at, with the still above from drone footage captured by a member of our team. Sunshine Homes, Red Bay, AL. 

For a relatively small industry, that high level of engagement by the public and professionals alike should speak volumes.


A retail center in Paris, TN. This is one of several that that we’ve conducted video interviews, including the one linked from this report.

We’ve been doing video interviews for about 4 years, and written interviews for about 8 years.


The video still is from a video posted at this link here. It quickly shows what a true trailer house, and mobile home are, , and what a modern manufactured home is, as part of our public education efforts.

Perhaps no one in the industry today has interviewed more:

  • professionals,
  • actual manufactured home owners,
  • and informed experts,

about manufactured housing than our operation has.


Every one of these are photos of a HUD Code manufactured home. Millions would not believe these were built in a factory. The two-level Cape Cod with the staircase is one of several upscale projects we’ve been involved in over the years.


I’m a co-founder and managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, with my husband Tony as the other co-founder and managing member.

While we are pro-industry, we have never turned a blind eye to the cases of failures, fumbles, frustrations, and fears found in our industry.  So, in our trade publishing, we’ve covered the good, bad, and ugly.  Again, as a scientist one does not advance based upon mere wishes, advancement depends upon evidence based understanding, followed by appropriate action.

Frank Rolfe, MHU/RV Horizons Protest by MHAction; Nathan Smith/SSK/MHI Flashbacks?

We also do consulting and business development services for the industry, and also for those who are entering or researching the MH Industry.

All of that and more gives our work – and hopefully these comments to you – credibility.

We routinely hear from – and engage with – the industry’s professionals, from operations of all sizes. While I’m not anywhere nearly as active on LinkedIn as my husband is, Tony has had more recommendations and endorsements – over 1,000 – than perhaps most anyone in the industry.  He likes to say that should be considered a reflection on our team’s work.

The first points to make against that backdrop are the following.


If Manufactured Homes Today are Such a Good Value, Why Isn’t the Industry Doing Better?

I) When newcomers and researchers (investors, non-factory built housing pros, media, others) begin to grasp the amazing value found in manufactured housing today – as opposed to the outdated myths – they often ask a variation of the following. ‘Why isn’t the industry doing much better than it is?

It’s a question we’ve dealt with at various times and ways, including our report on a powerful insight by Harvard researcher, Eric Belsky, who said this.


At the time Belsky made this prediction, manufactured homes were selling over 250,000 new units per year. in 2017, the industry failed to reach 93,000 new homes sold. What happened?

So, we’ve explored that issue several times before.  But most recently we did so in doing our analysis and fact-checks about the Urban Institute report on manufactured housing.

Those Urban Institute reports need to be read, please see those linked below, which we hope you will consider as part of this request for comment.

Urban Institute Ask for Correction in Analysis of their Manufactured Housing Research, “Follow the Facts,” “Follow the Money”

“Follow the Money” – Controversial Urban Institute Report on Manufactured Housing

Note that the Urban Institute (UI) specifically mentions the comprehensive review that HUD is undertaking, and to which my comments are responding. It is therefore reasonable to presume that UI wished to influence HUD with its controversial analysis.

It must be noted what the U.S. Census Bureau and others have documented, namely, that manufactured homes cost about half of what conventional on-site built house does to build. While some believe that is because of the use of cheap materials, HUD above all ought to know better.  There are entry level manufactured homes, that do use lower cost materials, such as ‘wrapped cabinets’, which are also found in apartments and entry-level conventional housing.

“The Solution to the Affordable Housing Crisis is Hiding in Plain Sight”

Then there is also residential style manufactured homes.  The interview and video linked below walks a newcomer through a better understanding of those distinctions between ‘shade and shelter’ homes,, and those that rival far more costly manufactured homes.  Note that among the videos on the page linked below are professionals who opted for manufactured homes. They could have purchased conventional housing, but saw the wisdom of manufactured homes.  The other video on that page is with Stan Dye of Star Homes in Culman, AL.  Dye specifically addresses the issue of enhanced preemption, and expresses that thought to HUD Secretary Carson.

Rapid Acceptance of Energy Star Rated, Residential-Style Manufactured Homes Proves Need, Value as Affordable Housing Solution

Manufactured Housing’s “Trojan Horse”

  • II) Facts, Frustration, Fumbles, and Fear

The typical channels of industry communications have in many cases been influenced, corrupted and undermined, as the links below reflect. That’s a bold claim that merits evidence.  We will use the word “allege” to refer to any and all references that involve third parties, because MHI connected attorneys, and MHI surrogates, have directly and indirectly threatened MHProNews in writing with litigation over our investigative reports. That said, we have always offered evidence to back up any allegation, and they have not to date filed any actions.  Why?  We believe it is because our evidence backs up the alleged concerns.

Since the report below was published, more state association executives confirmed what the initial state executives who tipped MHProNews said that sparked that account.

Even some who are not MHI members fear making a public comment about the harmful direct-or-indirect impacts allegedly caused by Berkshire Hathaway owned operations and the Manufactured Institute (MHI) that they dominate.  See one of several possible examples in the “Sparks Fly” report linked above.

Another example.

Negative media accounts, for instance, are often unrelated to MHI, though some may involve a member company.

But MHI – that Arlington, VA based MH Industry Trade Association’s – failures to engage with media, researchers, or others leaves a problematic view of manufactured housing largely unaddressed. So, while MHI don’t necessarily cause an issue, they allow it to go routinely unaddressed.

The REAL Truth, vs. Fake News, About Modern Manufactured Homes

Even when we were members of MHI, they typically gave little or no support for our pro-industry, pro-growth efforts. Why? The balance of this letter and links report help answer that question.  But the link immediately below sheds light on that ‘why.’

What Tim Williams, Dick Jennison, Rick Robinson, Lesli Gooch, et al, Taught Me About the Manufactured Housing Institute

Typical associations will promote any good news about its products or services, regardless of the source.  So why has MHI not spotlighted “good news” about manufactured home reports, such as those linked below?


Weather Expert’s Surprising, Bombshell Statement on Tornado Deaths and Affordable Manufactured Homes


Researchers Shake Up American Dream? Rent vs. Buy, Ken Johnson, Florida Atlantic University, Exclusive to ManufacturedHomeLivingNews


Hurricane Irma Florida Survivor Relates First-Hand Manufactured Home Safety, Durability Experience


Elected Official Explains Surprising Modern Manufactured Homes, Video Interview

Now these and dozens of other points are significant for HUD’s understanding and review of the manufactured housing program.

Why? Because MHI postures advocacy for the industry, but fails to take some of the most common-sense steps to make advocacy or lobbying for effective. Who says?  Often, it is award winning MHI members.

Marty Lavin Lashes the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) Latest Initiative

Logic demands that one answer the questions, why would MHI fail to do their best for the industry at large?  To what end or purpose?

Answer?  So that thousands of MH Industry Independent retailers, communities and producers can increasingly be consolidated by a handful of large and/or well-connected companies.

Killing Off 100s of Independent Manufactured Home Retailers, Production Companies – Tim Williams/21st Mortgage “Smoking Gun” Document 2


Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$

This isn’t just conjecture or incendiary claims, as the document above and the linked reports reflect. It is the obvious reality to any who study Warren Buffett’s own words, or what Kevin Clayton said in the video interview, found in the linked reports below. Again, as with other links, I’m requesting that the linked material be considered as part of this report.


Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO

Warren Buffett, “the Moat,” Manufactured Housing, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt, Wells Fargo, NAI…


“Perverse”–Warren Buffett-Dodd-Frank, CFPB, Manufactured Housing, Loans, Independent Businesses Fact Check$

Stating the obvious for clarity.

It must be noted that there are those who agree with these assessments, those who disagree, and others who are on the fence.  That said, sources within MHI, Berkshire Hathaway owned companies, independents and others follow such reports carefully.  They do so by the thousands, in a small industry. MHI and Berkshire Hathaway owned brands have been given numerous opportunities to respond or debate these claims.


MHI and Berkshire Hathaway connected firms have not accepted those offers, why not?  If these concerns would be easily disproven, why wouldn’t they reply or debate?


Again, the reason this is important is that the Trump Administration, Dr. Carson and others must understand that while they are not responsible for what MHI does or does not do,

  • the regulatory burdens that the industry has operated under,
  • combined with the other aspects of the Buffett/Clayton “Moat” principles,
  • have led to a significant consolidation of the industry since Clayton was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2003.

For proof, see the MHI graphic, below.

That same pattern of regulatory, finance and other forces have caused thousands of independent retailers to fail or sell out to larger companies. All of that has contributed to the affordable housing crisis.



These are examples of why my “third ask” of HUD is important. Namely, that a referral be made to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the numerous claims of monopolistic practices by us and others that Berkshire Hathaway owned units involved in manufactured housing be investigated for anti-trust violations.  The same principle that tonight’s market report video reported, applied to Berkshire Hathaway, points out why the Trump Administration ought to pursue a breakup of Berkshire Hathaway, one that HUD could support by a referral.

Analogies That Teach Manufactured Housing Investors, Owners – Plus MHMarket UPdate$


What Can HUD Do and Consider About Regulatory Reforms?

Part 1 – Begin with Understanding

The foundation of regulatory reform must begin with an honest understanding of manufactured housing and the industry’s realities.  The links in this article would be just the start of such an understanding.

Common sense alone demands that a reality-based understanding of the what is vs. the outdated misconceptions regarding manufactured housing.

Then, HUD must grasp how Berkshire Hathaway owned units and their MHI non-profit are utilized to minimize the industry’s production. Why?

Because there is evidence that Pam Danner was helped by one or more MHI staff members to get and keep her job as head of the manufactured housing program as a result their influence.  While she is now removed from the program, understanding what happened, and why is critical to avoid it occurring again.

George Gunnell, WVMHI, Citing FMHA’s Jim Ayotte, Says HUD’s Pam Danner Must Go

MH Pros List “ABUSES” by Pam Danner, Current HUD Manufactured Housing Program Administrator

HUD’s Pam Danner Announces former MHI VP Lois Starkey Joining HUD


While MHARR, some MHI members, and others have voiced concerns about Clayton Homes and other BH owned units oversized influence over MHI, similar concerns have been expressed by


  • Maxine Watters (D-CA),
  • other Democratic legislators,
  • the Center for Accountability,
  • CFED rebranded as Prosperity Now,

among others.

Maxine Waters Statement, Preserving Access Manufactured Housing Act 2017, Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes




Warren Buffett is widely seen as a shrewd investor. He is wise enough to allow heavy regulations to continue unabated by the association he dominates, as part of a broader plan to “widen the moat” of Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt, et al  within the manufactured home industry.

For that MHI charade to work, they arguably must have enough ‘efforts’ that appear to busy, smaller industry players that MHI are trying to mitigate regulations.

MHARR vs. MHI on DOE Energy Rule, Pushback Pay$ Off?

The Top Twelve Questions for Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO, Richard “Dick” Jennison

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Shifts on DOE Regulatory Rule, Report, Analysis

NAHB Report – High Cost of Regulations Impact Housing – and Manufactured Housing

Manufactured Housing Institute Outgoing Chair Tim William’s Remarks vs. MHI CEO Richard “Dick” Jennison Comments, Fact Checks


But the reality is that it is often only after months of spotlighting the flawed positions of MHI that they finally pivot to the position they logically ought to have taken in the first place.  The question is how can professionals so routinely make year after year of the same kinds of errors, and be rewarded for it, unless acceptable failure to mitigate regulations was part of the Buffett/Clayton goal?

If MHI actually wanted to mitigate regulatory burdens, they would more routinely work with MHARR to achieve the kinds of common sense reforms that would benefit consumers, still protect buyers, and give a level-playing field for players of all sizes.

The Pam Danner drama is a case in point, see those articles, linked above, plus this one.

Andy Gallagher, “Ousting” Pam Danner, MHI, Clayton’s RVP, WVHI – “Transparency”

There were many voices calling for months – in some cases, for years –  to have Danner removed from her role as the administrator of the HUD Code manufactured home program. MHI said and did many things, except ask for Danner’s removal. When others saw the wisdom of Danner being replaced, why not MHI?  Why were they (once more) so late to the proverbial dance?

It fits with what Warren Buffett and Kevin Clayton have said about their use of nonprofits, foundations or other all resources necessary to expand their influence, control and power over the industry. It is a method for widening the Clayton moat.

See the links and videos from this page for more details, which again, I’m requesting be considered as part of my comments.

Then, consider what Alan Amy said about billionaires buying up the industry.

Or what the current and past president of MHARR had to say.

People and organizations are certainly within their rights to support whatever candidates they want. But where was the logic in Warren Buffett supporting first Barack Obama, and then Hillary Clinton, when the positions they took on issues such as Dodd-Frank were the opposite of what MHI claimed they wanted in terms of regulatory relief?



Warren Buffett, right, credit Wikipedia. Tim Williams, right, credit, LinkedIn. Collage credit, MHProNews.

That only makes sense in the light of the premise that Berkshire Hathaway was willing to let heavy regulations help drive others out of business, or to cause them to sell out for less than their fair market value would dictate.

Manufactured Housing Institute VP Revealed Important Truths on MHI’s Lobbying, Agenda


Part 2 – Once Understanding Exists, Then the Actual Solutions Become Easy

First, enhanced preemption must become the lived reality of the industry.  That single step would dramatically change the industry’s realities, and would open up affordable housing opportunities in cities and towns from coast to coast and border to border.

Two Great Laws Already on the Books NOW,  Can Unlock Billion$ Annually for Manufactured Housing Industry Businesse$, Investor$



Meet Donald Tye, The Flashback Fast-Forward Face of Factory-Built Homes?!


Anecdotal evidence suggests that the wrong terminology impacts price. But it also impacts people’s emotions, see the poet who rejected the use of the t-word with regard to her home, by clicking the image above.


Tye explained that public housing – an entitlement – often yields addiction. Ownership vs. renting or living in “projects” leads to integrity, a view he likens to those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Two. The HUD Code is supposed to be performance based. See the video interview with prior program director, Bill Matchneer, in the report linked below.  Any efforts to move the industry towards prescribed building standards as opposed to performance based standards is a misunderstanding and abuse of what the HUD Code is supposed to do.

Three. The 10/10 rule for FHA Title I loans ought to be immediately removed, and authority for making such loans be given to responsible, proven, industry lenders.  The iron grip of Berkshire Hathaway over industry lending must be broken, if the industry is to thrive again.

There are also FHA Title II reforms needed, specifically that force a proper appraisal of manufactured homes on land-home or lease-hold scenarios.  The Title II rules for use in leaseholds also need a modest tweak that ends the need for selling a community to resident ownership within 5 years.  Doing so would open up market-rate lending to qualified buyers in lease-hold situations.  Safeguards have already been tested more than a decade ago that demonstrate that can be done in a fashion that yields performing loans.

Entry Level v Residential Style Manufactured Homes, Modular Homes and MH Appraisals – Tom Papszycki, Arrowhead Homes – Inside MH Video Interview

Four.  Removable chassis.  There is no logic for mandating that the frame and running gear must stay with the home.  The industry has asked for this common-sense reform for about 20 years.  It would save home buyers money, allow for a lower profile and more residential installation, plus is more environmentally conscious.

Five.  There are comments already posted, and linked below, on topics such as on-site completion, frost free foundations, and other examples of HUD overreach that I’d like you to consider as part of my own comments.

Federal Manufactured Housing Program Review Comments Due Next Week, 2.26.2018

Six.  The next administrator ought to be Vic DeRose, whom MHI and MHARR both agreed upon formally 4 years ago.  He, or any other person selected for this role, ought to be a non-career appointee, as the law calls for in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

Seven.  Concepts were envisioned some years ago for the use of HUD Code homes in multi-story construction. In certain urban and suburban settings, these kinds of designs ought to be analyzed and put to work.



The Bottom Line

Vice President Mike Pence, who sources say is well informed on manufactured housing because he was governor in a HUD Code manufactured home producing state, said several times last year that the Trump Administration should be in the promise keeping business and should enforce the law.

If the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, enhanced preemption and the points noted above are put to work, the cost for housing programs would come down naturally in the years ahead, because private enterprise would be free to create more affordable housing by using manufactured homes.

Thank you for your consideration of these thoughts and suggestions.  Please consider our operation for any further needs that HUD may have in making these reforms a reality.


Soheyla Kovach, MD.

Note: again, the above is a reflection of comments from this writer to HUD. Industry members and all others interested in manufactured homes can submit comments via the link below.

For more details about submitting your own comments, click the article linked below.

We Provide, You Decide.” © ### (News, analysis, and commentary.)


Weekly news tips, often the personal insights and experiences of readers sparked by a report you are reading, are how many stories begin or develop. Sources can be on or off he record. To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.

Thousands “Get It.”

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SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for

Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

Sparks Fly – MHI, HUD Allegations Do “Not Comport with HUD Policy”

February 15th, 2018 Comments off


In a statement to MHProNews, a representative of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave their reactions to allegations flowing from a discussion among industry members in Tennessee, discussing the recent Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) winter meeting.


Part of those allegations are that a ‘representative of HUD’ spoke with one or more ‘representative(s) of MHI.’ In that discussion, an MHI source claimed that HUD told them that they would not be very cooperative with the industry, ‘until the industry spoke “with one voice.”’

Rephrasing, that claim by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) to members at their recent winter meeting means that other voices, i.e. the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), et al, had to go.

If followed to its logical conclusion, it would de facto silence other voices. Per sources as reported, it is yet another example of an alleged bold, semi-public monopolistic maneuver.  It arguably violates MHI’s own anti-trust guidelines.


Given the gravity of the claim and impact for thousands of MH industry independent companies – retailers, communities, producers, and others – MHProNews reached out first to the person who reportedly gave that briefing to members of the Tennessee Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA, TnMHA) board of directors, James McGee.


Shortly after MHProNews’ email outreach to McGee, the following message was circulated to the Tennessee association’s board members.


———- Forwarded message (note: brown text used for quote, added) ———-

From: Marla McAfee <>
Date: Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 11:25 AM
Subject: THA – Board Code of Conduct Reminder

THA Board of Directors:

This morning I received a call from one of our Board of Directors, who has been approached by a representative of the press.  The press inquiry was relative to specific conversations/updates given during our February 8, 2019, Board of Director’s conference call.

As a professional reminder, discussions held and conversations or statements made by your fellow Board members, within the context of Board meetings or conference calls, are not to be shared outside of the Board, in general, but especially with members of the press.

Sharing of information or providing specific names and content of commentators, is prohibited under your Code of Conduct agreement, as a Board member, as well as some provisions within the Anti-Trust Guidelines.


Marla Y. McAfee
Executive Director
Tennessee Housing Association (THA)
Tennessee Manufactured Housing Foundation (TMHF)
Tennessee Manufactured Housing Political Action Committee (PAC)
1002 Meb Court, Suite B, Mt Juliet, TN 37122
615/256-4733, ofc; 615/255-8869, fax

— end of forwarded message —


The Daily Business News took the emailed statement above, which came in as news tips to MHProNews, and shared it with others for feedback, insights, and reaction.  Among them, was McGee.

McGee’s employer DVLY – per sources – effectively barred McGee from speaking to MHProNews.  In fairness, given that DVLY reportedly sells millions of dollars of product to various Clayton Homes retail locations, perhaps DVLY wanted arm’s length, in part out of fear that they might lose those millions in sales?

Another source, a member of the TnMHA association that wasn’t the first to send the tip to MHProNews, made the following, very succinct statement.

They think they own us.”

The Tennessee Housing Association then sent out yet another, more strongly worded statement, that specifically named L. A. “Tony” Kovach – referencing this pro-MH Industry trade media.

That second TnMHA message, which sources say was designed to intimidate members, was then reported to MHProNews by only one TnMHA member-source as a news tip.  As noted, it contained what some believe is yet another veiled threat to their own association’s members.  Thus, the comment from another member, noted above, They think they own us.”  

Federal officials, legal minds, and some among the manufactured home (MH) industry’s independent (non-major corporation) members may or may not grasp just how chilling these kinds of intimidation tactics could be.


The Manufactured Housing Executives Council (MHEC) logo used under fair use guidelines. MHEC is made up of MH state and MH Community associations, MHARR and MHI representatives.  The association member in noted below was a state association.


Another MHI ‘affiliated’ state association executive was asked about the above message.  Part of a longer reply said in part as follows:

I’ve always believed MHI does the bidding of the big manufacturers and now REIT communities.

The answer is for the states to rebel.  But they won’t for reasons I’ve only lately understood.”


Asking Marla McAfee, TnMHA Executive Director

Following the second email to TnMHA board members, MHProNews promptly contacted Marla Y. McAfee, who sent out both messages.  The MHProNews message read as follows:

——- emailed message to Marla McAfee, TMHA ——-


I’m told that you’ve sent out yet another email, and this one specifically names me and our organization.

I’m hereby requesting that you send that to me, asap.  Also, that you retain all of your records on this subject.

Please forward asap any and all emails or other documents regarding communications with media, MHProNews or that names myself or anything associated with our enterprises.

Thank you.


L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach | | Office 863-213-4090 |


——-  end of emailed message ——-


With no response from McAfee after 3 hours and 20 minutes, a message like the following was sent to her and to Matt Kerlln, with 21st Mortgage Corp, a Berkshire Hathaway owned company, based in TN, with Kerlin as an association board member.

——- emailed message to Marla McAfee, TMHA & Matt Kerlin, 21st Mortgage (brown color added)  ——-

date:    Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 2:49 PM


Marla and Matt,

I’ve not yet heard from Marla, so I’m going to address you both in this message.  I’m also bcc’ing several people, to document the ask.

While I’m not an attorney, it is my understanding of the law that when a public official speaks or meets in an official capacity with someone or the representative of some group, that’s not privileged or confidential information.

Thus, that communication is a matter of public interest, as it is reflective of public policy.  It can’t be confidential.

Frankly, I was skeptical about the claim being made, which is why I reached out to James McGee in the first place, to determine its accuracy, and to understand the purported source of said briefing statement between HUD, MHI that was conveyed to your board members.

McGee in turn reached out to you, and you sent 2 different messages I’m aware of to date on this topic. Matt is in that cc loop, we know each other, and he clearly carries weight with 21st.

The logic of the law is that your members can’t be barred from speaking about an item of this nature, as it reflects an alleged public policy position. 

As a heads up, we intend to dig into this with appropriate federal authorities. 

Before we publish a report on this topic, I’m giving you an opportunity to:

1)  Encourage James [McGee] to tell me what he told the members of your board,

2) Encourage your other board members to do the same, as a matter of transparency, 

3)    Provide me with any and all emails or other materials that mentions communications with the media, myself, or with industry trade media, etc.

4)    That as a matter of law – again, as I understand it – you can’t bar a member from speaking about this, given that it is a claimed public policy position that ought to be – public!

Let me state the obvious. The fact that TN MHA is trying to squelch this discussion is disturbing.

As a pro-industry trade media, it seems obvious and logical that you’d encourage the sharing of information, if in fact it is relevant and important to the industry.

To say that TN MHA are discouraging communications, with what might be construed as a veiled threat to your members, ought to be a wake-up call to all, if in fact you fail to do the four steps noted above.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.



Managing Member,
LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC
Parent company to,, et al.


——-  end of emailed message ——-


Cover Up” Plus “Command and Control

Tony, this smacks of yet another cover up by MHI and their puppet masters,” said a source asked by the Daily Business News to comment about the TnMHA issue.

Another legal source told the Daily Business News,The fact that they are using fear and intimidation tactics could suggest that one or more of these associations are behaving more like a protection racket, than a traditional association,” which according to what legal sources have told MHProNews, could make MHI and all who behave in such a fashion, subject to a claim under federal and/or state RICO laws.

Readers are reminded of the “Command and Control” comment from an attorney studying the manufactured housing industry controversies, notably over anti-trust concerns, as has been reported.


MHProNews Asks HUD for Reaction to MHI’s Claim

MHProNews reached out to several sources at HUD.  HUD was provided with the emailed message shown above, from TnMHA to their board, along with some background information.  They were then asked the following emailed questions for HUD’s comments, clarification on the claims by MHI, and their reactions.


——- except from longer emailed message to HUD (brown color added for quote) ——-


…That said, my questions to you.

1) What do you know about any such meeting between HUD and MHI where such a statement may have been conveyed by a HUD rep to MHI?

2) As a matter of policy, is HUD in fact seeking only one association to deal with?

TNMHA is trying to stifle this discussion, as the below and another like message reflects.  For some inside MH baseball, the TN association is the home state of Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage.  To say that they influence that board would be accurate.

Your reply can be on or off the record, but it would help us to sort this out if we could get to the bottom of:

  • IF such a statement was made, 
  • who at HUD might have made it, 
  • and if dealing with a single MH association is a HUD goal?

Thank you so much,



L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach| Office 863-213-4090 |


——-  end of emailed message ——-

A call from HUD to MHProNews rapidly followed the email, shown above.


The MHI Claim Would “Not Comport With HUD Policy”

During that call from Washington, D.C., a HUD representative told MHProNews that the alleged claim of a HUD staffer ‘expecting the industry to speak with one voice’ would ‘not comport with HUD policy.’

Further, the HUD source said that the reason they have asked for public comments about the manufactured housing program is precisely to hear from ‘the widest possibly array of voices’ – mentioning manufactured home owners, industry members, and others interested in manufactured housing and affordable housing.  Both MHI and MHARR were named by HUD official as among those they want to hear from.

When the Daily Business News asked during that call if Pam Danner may have made such a statement, MHProNews was reminded of the obvious by that federal official; that Danner was no longer in the role of HUD Code manufactured housing program administrator.

Shake Up at HUD Manufactured Housing Program May Stop Industry Overregulation, per MH State Association

A HUD official acknowledged that ‘at some time in the past,’ such a statement ‘might have been made in a very unique circumstance.’ However, as a matter of policy, HUD ‘does not believe it is even possible‘ for the manufactured home (MH) ‘industry to all be on the same page,’ must less, ‘to speak via any one industry association with a single voice.’

That was part of a longer discussion with that HUD source.

Within an hour of the discussion with said HUD official, the call was followed up by the following emailed formal statement, which was requested by MHProNews.

——- emailed from HUD to MHProNews (brown text color added) ——-


HUD is keeping an open mind as we seek the public’s comments about our manufactured housing rules.  Right now, our only interest is to hear from anyone and everyone who has an opinion to share.


Brian Sullivan

HUD’s Office of Public Affairs

——-  some information following the title has been edited out, end of emailed message ——-


MH Industry Monopoly Concerns, Impact

As a feature in tonight’s market report reflected, manufactured housing is far from the only industry that is being harmed by the problem of monopolistic dominance.

Such dominance – and how political, non-profit, and other forces are aligned by monopolistic powers – are seen as stifling in their effects by economists and others as harmful to the economy, jobs and society.  Those points and others are made by the experts in the video feature posted on the market recap report, linked above.

That’s precisely why anti-trust laws exist.


What That State Exec Believes

The solution, said that MHI connected state association executive cited above and linked below, is for the states to rebel.  See the report that was originally cited in, below, which explains that exec’s point on why quitting MHI is so difficult for most state associations.

How Many MH Independents, Retailers Have Been Lost Recently? “They Think They Own Us”

There may be one or more states that eventually quit supporting MHI – as the ones linked below did.  But arguably, most states are no in a position to quit MHI, given the domination by Berkshire Hathaway, as the association executive in the story linked above detailed.


State Associations, Companies Quit Membership in Manufactured Housing Institute, (MHI), One Explains in Writing, ‘Why?’


What Options Remain for MH Industry Independents?

Every state, every company, and any professional – including those currently or previously working for Berkshire Hathaway firms, and/or their competitors –  have the ability to supply information to MHProNews with news tips, which is how so many of these news stories originate.

What has already been noted in other reports is that MHI – after sufficient and ongoing public pressure – tends to pivot.

As a reminder, MHProNews assures anonymity to sources, unless the source wants to be acknowledged.

If a source wants to be particularly careful in how the deliver a news tip, they could create or use a private email account using gmail, yahoo, etc.

Lawsuits for Triple Damages – Anti-Trust, Anti-Monopoly Law, Manufactured Housing, and You

There are other options, of course, such as the one noted above.

For example, it is always possible that anti-trust, RICO or other legal actions may be initiated by federal and/or state(s) officials, which are among the reasons MHProNews reports such incidents. That’s another reason why tips, emails, and documents provided by industry sources is necessary for such news and analysis posts.

Ken Corbin “the 10,000 Drop,” points to Industry Woe, Causes of Manufactured Housing’s 10 & 20 Year Collapse?

But failure to act by independents is arguably the riskiest course of action of all.  MHI’s own data, or comments such as those by former Clayton manager Ken Corbin linked above, prove it. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

Related Topics:

Urban Institute Ask for Correction in Analysis of their Manufactured Housing Research, “Follow the Facts,” “Follow the Money”

Fiduciary Responsibility to Corp Shareholders-MH Anti-Trust Concerns; Plus MH Market UPdate$

Warren Buffett Wants an MH Shark Tank – Clayton, 21st, MHI, ‘Gift that Keeps Giving’

Extortion? RICO? Allegedly Illegal, and Dirty Side of Manufactured Housing, Exposed

Weaponized, Faked News Harms Manufactured Housing Homeowners, Professionals

Billionaire Titans Battle, Overshadowing Modest Independents – Surviving, Thriving in Manufactured Housing Industry Today, Tomorrow

“Accurate, but Misleading” MHI Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act Alert – ‘Weaponized New$,’ Fact Check$

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Gives Written Responses – “Part of a Rigged, Corrupt System”


Weekly news tips, often the personal insights and experiences of readers sparked by a report you are reading, are how many stories begin or develop. Sources can be on or off he record. To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP in the subject line.

Thousands “Get It.” Sign Up Today! Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates. You’ll see in the first issue or two why big, medium and ‘mom-and-pop’ professionals are reading them by the thousands. These are typically delivered twice weekly to your in box.

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SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for

Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and