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Tic Toc – July 4th, Tim Williams 21st Mortgage, John Greiner, JD, Graydon Law – Message Review

July 5th, 2019 Comments off

TicTockJuly4thTimWilliams21stMortgageCorpJohnGreinerJDGraydonLawMessageReviewDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Part of the ‘secret’ for legal victories can be consistency, procedures, and documentation.

 

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Tim Williams, prior MHI chairman, president and CEO of 21st Mortgage Corp, photo credit, MHProNews.com

There is little doubt that Tim Williams, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage Corporation and his company has vastly more experience in legal matters than our far more modest operation does.

It should similarly stand to reason that the outside attorney for the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), John “Jack” C. Greiner with Graydon Law would likewise have more experience in legal matters than little ole us. Per Graydon’s website, “Jack is a commercial litigator with an emphasis on communications and media law. He is one of the region’s leading advocates for governmental transparency.” Transparency, how interesting. That’s one we’ll all have to place in our memory file. Jack, should nonprofits, corporations, and their officers be transparent too?

That said, it would not be surprising if they would agree with the first sentence at the top. Juries and judges look for consistency, evidence, facts, and common sense.  The court system – judges and juries – also keep an eye out in cases for inexplicable, odd, or behavior that is in conflict with their stated claims. It’s been many years since we’ve been involved in any litigation, over a decade in fact. Though it is rarely fun, we recall the lessons, and have routinely been successful on the rare occasions it was necessary.

The truth backed by evidence is an often powerful thing. My hunch is that the other side has carefully researched that claim, and knows it to be accurate.  

 

Consistency?

In 2017, 2018, and 2019 were some of the years when messages and letters were sent to the management of MHProNews by attorneys for MHI, as well as by purported surrogates for the Arlington, VA based trade group. Those messages were threats, legal or not, and arguably attempts at intimidation.

Part of our consistent response has been to call out those actions publicly but also to invite them to reply to our many fact-checks, related analysis, and reports. In early 2017 and previously, responses from Berkshire Hathaway brands and/or MHI were swift, as numerous articles and letters published over the years reflects. Williams was among several MHI leaders who publicly praised this publication publicly and in writing.

 

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It was apparently only as reasonable answers to reasonable questions posed by MHProNews became elusive for the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis that they stopped replying directly.  But they often used indirect means to communicate, including those noted above. 

Those patterns of behavior could prove relevant in several ways the days ahead.

 

Shifting Sands in Washington and Beyond

The dynamics in Washington, D.C. are shifting rather significantly in recent months. There are some things, as Warren Buffett correctly observed, that just take time.

·        Antitrust drums are heating up on both sides of the left-right political aisle.

·        More in Congress are talking and writing about the Duty to Serve, and why it hasn’t been fully implemented with respect to manufactured housing.

·        Affordable housing, homelessness, zoning, regulatory barriers, and even enhanced preemption are being discussed by more people in and out of the industry.

Slow, steady progress is apparently being made.

Those are all topics that are largely found in manufactured housing trade media only on MHProNews and MHLivingNews. Why? The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform has been on several of those topics for years, to their credit.

But by contrast, MHI sycophants are mute or deflect from those topics. Why?

MHI themselves tout their latest photo op, their latest lightly viewed videos, or the newest bill that they support. Those are all apparent razzle dazzle, but where is the beef?

Where are the bottom line results as measured by new manufactured home shipments?  Given the MHI claim that they are the umbrella trade group that should ‘lead’ the industry, what direction has that MHI leadership actually taken MHVille at large?

The facts speak loudly.

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Tic Toc, Tic Toc… 

Moments, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years go by. Some things only gain clarity from the passage of time and consistent observations. As Warren Buffett aptly said, the rear view mirror is clearer than the windshield. This is a point of agreement between our publication and Mr. Buffett.

 

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It was about 5 years ago that we brought to the industry’s attention the full length video version of this now better-known 18 second video clip.

  

 

That comment by MHI’s president made no sense at the time, but in hindsight it was arguably a piece of a puzzle. 

Because it was an odd and embarrassing MHI comment, not long after, during a time when Tim Williams at 21st was still in rapid-reply mode with MHProNews, and while this writer was still an MHI member, MHProNews asked Williams/21st – then MHI’s chairman – to have MHI’s Jennison clean that comment up publicly.

Williams agreed.

Jennison, no doubt with Williams’ prompting, did so on video camera and in front of dozens of industry professionals.  MHI’s president pledged both that the industry could achieve 500,000 new HUD Code manufactured home shipments as well as promised the passage of the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. 

 

MHI CEO Dick Jennison’s Pledge – 500,000 New Manufactured Home Shipments

 

Neither one has come to pass. Both are part of the MHI Orwellian ‘memory hole.’ 

Words can be cheap at MHI, it seems?  

JohnCGreinerAttorneyPhotoGraydonlawLogoDailyBusinessNewsMHproNewsWith the industry now into its ninth month of year-over-year downturn, MHProNews sent the following to Tim Williams/21st, John Greiner, and one of Greiner’s colleagues at Graydon Law. Greiner is MHI’s outside attorney assigned, said Greiner, to monitor our website.  MHI members, that’s where part of your dues are going to, why not rather to suing cities like Bryan, TX for failure to abide by enhanced preemption

That logical but rhetorical question aside, the meat of that message’s contents is shown below, between the dashed lines.

 

 

Subject: Tim, a formal request for you/MHI

Tim,

1)    Let me hereby request copies of any and all audio or other recordings, notes, emails or any records in any format relative to our discussion in Las Vegas during the dinner we shared with your colleagues from Berkshire Hathaway brands in the context of that year’s Congress and Expo.

2)    You and/or your colleagues are also hereby invited to respond to any of our recent or other reports.  See the below. Please email those for our mutual accuracy in handling said comments.

Thank you. 

Tony

http://www.MHProNews.com/blogs/daily-business-news/but-i-was-born-free/

Other articles are linked from the forward below. Thank you. 

tk

 

The screen capture that documents that email is found below.

 

TimWilliams21stMortgageCorpJohnCJackGrienerGraydonLawManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIOutsideattorneyMHProNews

 

We will report back on what response, if any, is obtained. 

Until then, let this be kept in mind by investors, professionals, researchers, public officials, attorneys, investigators and others.

·        There is an affordable housing crisis.  Yet with numerous positive reports that debunk the myths and misconceptions often held by the public, somehow, magically, the industry is shirking in new home shipments? Why are MHI staff given bonuses instead of being terminated for lack of performance?

·        HUD Secretary Ben Carson has valiantly laid out a thoughtful case for manufactured housing.

·        On MHI’s own website, examples of those important topics are difficult or impossible to find, and Carson’s fine speeches are not to be found.

·        Manufactured housing is now into 9 months of year-over-year declining shipments.

 

By contrast, on MHARR’s website, topics like “enhanced preemption” are easy to find several articles. An MHI state affiliate successfully obtained a letter from HUD invoking enhanced preemption, so why not MHI? Yet MHARR is a fraction of the size of MHI, and has been online only a fraction of the time that MHI has.

Which association is doing their stated job better?

To George F. Allen’s [past] credit, his blog does raise some of these same issues and concerns.  But he has contradicted himself in arguing in recent months for MHI, the Berkshire brands, and larger community operators that behaved in problematic ways – per Allen.  Rephrased, Allen – without public explanation, other than what sources say is a compensated flip-flop – has gone from criticizing Clayton, 21st, MHI and others, to now being their cheer leader.

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Frank Rolfe swore off commenting about MHI further publicly, but he and Dave Reynolds recently took this swipe at MHI. They are MHI members, taking a shot at their own trade group. http://www.mhmarketingsalesmanagement.com/blogs/daily-business-news/frank-rolfe-dave-reynolds-both-finger-manufactured-housing-institute-mhi-failures-in-writing-again/

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More on this below.

Allen, more recently has called for a boycott of this publication, a possible antitrust violation, and has urged his readers to only read other trade media in manufactured housing that he has personally approved.  Ironically, one of those publications – Kurt Kelley’s – has praised our work, and said that they are leaving our call for accountability to us.  Interesting, isn’t it?

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Indeed, Kelley has contributed to MHProNews numerous times over the years, and has commented on political topics too. He published an article by Berkshire Hathaway unit manager Joanne Stevens, which without mentioning MHI, was clearly slamming them for what her article in MHR saw as a failure of industry preparation for obvious attacks on the industry.

 

Some things take time.  With a shifting political climate in America, it may only be a question of time before topics and issues found only on MHProNews, MHLivingNews or on the MHARR websites may become more common headlines and topics elsewhere in Washington, and then the mainstream media.

 

Unorthodox 

This writer freely admits that some of what we have done in trade publishing has been unconventional by MHIndustry standards. It was also never my or our publications’ ambition to stumble into troubling facts via news tips about the underlying causes for so many of our industry’s woes. But once discovered, where we supposed to ignore them?  Turn a blind eye as others do?  Cower in fear over every threat? 

If the industry is to regain its former glory and surpass it while independents still have an opportunity, it will only happen when enough honest professionals and other people of good will stand up and force the issues.

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April data reflects month 8th of the downturn, with nary a whimper from MHI or the big boys. Why?

That said, what has harmfully impacted thousands of independents in manufactured housing has arguably been largely avoidable, and it has harmed the interests of millions of our fellow Americans. Unconventional situations can’t always be addressed in the normal ways.

 

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There are several factors that should be understood to explain the rises and falls in the sales, production, and shipments of new factory-built homes during the varied mobile home and manufactured home eras. One should not be overly simplistic. That said, the historic trend is far higher than it has been since Berkshire Hathaway acquired Clayton Homes and their affiliated lenders. Political and other factors enter into the mix as well.

Keep in mind, we’ve spotlighted examples of these topics for years, beyond having the most extensive coverage of industry stocks, business and other news. A first look at our June 2019 traffic suggests a record month for readership. Our thanks to readers like your, our business development clients, and our sponsors who make this possible.

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MHProNews’ parent operation demonstrated to MHI over the course of years options for lending, and ways to improve image at a low cost. For years, even though our parent operation as an MHI member showed the way to grow business, MHI leaders ignored those options. Why? Could it be that slow growth or negative growth allowed more consolidation and at a cheaper price for big boy companies

 

Given the choice, thoughtful professionals can discern fluff and cheerleading from logic, fact-checks, and evidence. Perhaps that’s why we are the industry’s most read, and the others that cheerlead for MHI merely lag behind. The manufactured housing industry is arguably engaged in an undeclared war, and has been since 2003.  The big boys have decided to conquer MHVille, and the remaining independents have to recognize and decide to sell out, fold, or resist. The odds favor the big boys, but when the 13 colonies declared their Independence the odds favored the Brits of that era. This too is doable. This undeclared war is winnable. 

ManufacturedHmeIndustryAchieveGreatPotentialAddressingResolvingCauseCorePerceptionIssuesLATonyKovachQuotePresentationPhoto

When the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain, they were taking on the most powerful army and navy in the world. The odds were against the rebels. But after a long struggle, the U.S. became independent. Freedom is never free. It always comes at a cost. But the price is lower, and the cause of freedom far nobler, than the cost of bondage and servitude.

We Provide, You Decide.” © Dig into the related and linked reports above and below to round out the picture. Let’s restore the American Dream, starting with an understanding of Independence Day. ## (News, analysis, fact-checks, and commentary. All third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)LATonyKovachQuoteManufacturedHousingIndustryWontReachPotentialAddresscoreIssuesArtificallyholdingitback466

L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach is co-founder of MHLivingNews and MHProNews. He is a highly acclaimed industry expert and consultant, a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, and is a 25 plus year award-winning manufactured home industry professional. Kovach earned the Lottinville award in history at the University of Oklahoma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Reports:

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John Grissim Guides Author Finger Pointed at 21st Mortgage Corporation, Notorious Tim Williams Letter Cutting Off Retailers

May 29th, 2019 Comments off

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Since its inception in 2003 this part of my web site has offered a mix of consumer news, excerpts of reports about manufactured homes, miscellaneous ideas and suggestions, Q&A snippets, updates, consumer alerts, and commentary from yours truly,” said John Grissim, author of the Grissim Guides in a Summer-Fall 2018 announcement.

 

Grissim notes he’s published 90,000 words in his various blog postings over the years, calling that book-length.  He’s perhaps best known for the research-volume aimed at consumer by that name, the Grissim Guide.

Grissim wasn’t necessarily praised by many professionals, as he was both pro-manufactured homes, but also tough on of HUD Code manufactured housing.

A quote from him dated February 2009, helps make the point why not all industry pros loved him.

After outlining a concern out of Utah, he said as follows: “Comment: With this story gaining momentum and national attention, once again HUD-ville takes a big hit to its image. It’s hard not to believe that its homes are nothing more than cheaply constructed, poorly designed housing for the working poor.”  Note to our growing numbers of new or first-time readers, MHProNews often turns quoted text bold and brown to make it pop, but otherwise the text is as in the original.

Grissim went on to say, Last summer the buzz was all about formaldehyde out gassing from travel trailers and single-section HUD-code homes used for temporary housing by hurricane victims. This is absolutely the last thing this industry needs to experience.”

It should be noted that Grissim’s audience was a blend of potential consumers and manufactured housing industry professionals. Part of his business model was selling his Ratings Guide, a book that purported to rate the quality of the various builders of HUD Code manufactured homes.

Industry purists, such as our publisher, frankly thought the very premise of the Ratings Guide to be problematic for manufactured housing. Why?

Because if a HUD Code manufactured home builder meets the construction, energy, safety standards, and all the relevant inspections, certifications, etc., that was Number One.  HUD Code homes have significant consumer protections, most notably since the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000.  That was the period Grissim was publishing such columns in.

So, of course there would be differences in fit and finish between entry level, mid-range and upscale or residential style manufactured homes. But Grissim, who could claim being an experienced journalist, was lawfully able to publish what he wished. That’s America and the right to free speech and freedom of the press.

The above tee’s up a sense of the author, because thousands of manufactured housing professionals today would otherwise be unfamiliar with Grissim. Having set the table, it’s the following quotes at length from that report of his that are the focus of this fact-check and analysis.

Let’s begin by noting that by Grissim covering this as he did, albeit incompletely, he did so well before others, most of whom to this day have ignored the topic all together.

What follows is word-for-word from his post – linked here. We’ve screen captured this page too, as a documentary reference should the site go down or be otherwise changed, which Grissim himself suggests he plans to modify his content. Following the content between the — lines, there will be an MHProNews analysis. Typos are in the original.

 

— start of extended quote —

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As recession deepens, MH plant closings mount. Industry production capability could shrink 30% by summer. What this could mean for home buyers.

Figures released early this month by the Institute for Building Technology & Safety (IBTS), the Washington, DC-based organization that tracks numbers for HUD, show a total of 169 production facilities around the U.S. are currently engaged in building HUD-code homes. That figure is down from 180 in October of last year.

But the worst may be yet to come. Some plants shut down over the holidays due to lack of orders, which are typically low during the winter months. With many retail dealerships struggling to make ends meet, and with sources drying up for so-called inventory flooring loans (loans to pay for lot models until they’re sold), orders from retailers for model homes may drop dramatically. This in turn could trigger a corresponding increase in plant closings.

One industry professional familiar with these trends told me he would not be surprised if by summer the total number of still-operating plants was in the 125 range, amounting to a roughly 30% contraction since last fall in the MH industry’s total production capacity.

Put another way, by this summer another 43 plants could be idle. For many companies, this will be catastrophic, forcing them into bankruptcy or sale. This is particularly true of builders that produce only HUD code homes, versus a mix of HUD and modular code dwellings. Unfortunately, the MH industry is generally weak, with very few players strong enough to buy their competitors, or even assume their debt.

Companies that are able to produce, in addition to HUD code homes, modular-code homes and RVs (especially park models), should fare better during the crunch, but the outlook is still grim. Adding to the challenge, some parts and materials suppliers to the RV and factory-built home industry are themselves in survival mode, and may go under.

In late January, Liberty Homes, the Goshen, IN-based builder, announced it was closing its Statesville, NC plant, laying off 90 workers. Patriot Homes, also HQ’ed in Indiana, has closed its Texas plant, and another facility in Indiana, and reportedly laid off its entire engineering staff before last Christmas. And Fleetwood, as reported last month, is closing seven of its plants.

For its part, industry stalwart Palm Harbor Homes reported company sales for the fourth quarter of last year were $89.6 million, down from $140.6 million during the same quarter a year previously. PH’s shipments to its most important markets–Texas, Florida, Arizona and California–were down nearly 38%. Larry Keener, Palm Harbor’s CEO said they expect this downward trend to continue through calendar 2009. The company is looking to free up some working capital by leveraging some of the more than $100 million in unleveraged assets on its books.

Also hanging in there is Cavalier Homes, a publicly held builder HQ’ed in Addison, AL. On January 27, 2009, Cavalier agreed to sell its in-house finance company, CIS Financial Services, Inc., to Jacksonville, FL-based Triad Financial Services, one of the industry’s oldest (and consistently successful) manufactured home lenders, for $750,000 cash plus CIS’s loan portfolio. According to the company’s CEO, “Bobby” Tesney, the transaction was in no way an indication of any change in Cavalier’s fortunes. “We think we will be here for the long run,” he explained in a subsequent phone call. In fact, Cavalier has excellent cash reserves and no long term debt, so the builder looks to be in good shape to weather a long downturn.

For home shoppers, the good news is this remains a buyer’s market with retailers bending over backwards to sell you a home, and at a very competitive price. But be certain the manufacturer from whom you’re contemplating buying is still in business and will be there to take care of your warranty needs. And don’t completely rely on your retailer for assurances. Verify all dealer claims. Visit this site for the latest news, and don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions.

With some big banks moving to block mortgage brokers from offering their loans to consumers, home buyers may have fewer choices.

 

In its February 1, 2009 edition, the New York Times reported that some large national banks, such as JPMorgan Chase, are no longer accepting home loan applications processed by mortgage brokers. [See also the story that follows this item.] Ostensibly the reason is, during the go-go subprime home loan years, many independent mortgage brokers played fast and loose with the documentation criteria they used to qualify borrowers, allowing many to obtain loans way beyond their ability to pay. The banks in turn suffered the losses, not the mortgage brokers who pocketed their origination fees and incurred no further liability.

There is much truth in that argument, but regrettably a decrease in the number of reputable independent mortgage brokers (who typically offer a wider variety of loan products than the local bank) means home buyers will have less choices and may be obliged to borrow from local institutions who often charge higher interest rates.

For their part, the mortgage brokers counter that it was the lenders, not the brokers, who determined the submitted loan documentation was satisfactory and thus it was the banks’ sloppy standards that ultimately were the source of so many subprime loans going south.

The brokers certainly have a point. In my view both parties are to blame. For several years there, the banks were busy selling their brokered loans to Wall Street’s masters of the universe for big money and they, like the brokers, could have cared less how bad the loans were because they, too, were off the hook if the loans went south. But that’s another story.

This said, I recommend my clients talk to a reputable mortgage broker as part of the process of shopping for the money before shopping for a home. For more on working with mortgage brokers, please see the discussion on mortgage brokers in chapter 4 of The Grissim Buyer’s Guide to Manufactured Homes & Land.

 

Speaking of mortgage brokers, Clayton Homes’s subsidiary finance company, 21st Mortgage Corporation will cut them off as of March 1, 2009. But wait, there’s more….

Pity the nation’s independent MH dealers. As I reported in the Grissim 2009 Report, last month the Clayton-owned subsidiary finance company, 21st. Mortgage Corp., announced that due to lack of funds to lend, it was largely pulling out of the inventory flooring business for dealers who sold homes other than those built by Clayton and Clayton-owned subsidiary manufacturers. Then, on January 30, the other shoe dropped.

Tim Williams, 21st’s president, sent an email “to all MH retailers and mortgage brokers” announcing that due to the bank’s inability to find money to lend indie dealers to finance retail home sales, effective March 1, 2009 the bank will limit its financing programs to the following (I’m quoting here):

  1. We will no longer offer any of our programs to Mortgage Brokers.
  2. We will offer FHA Title I financing for any brand home subject to retailer meeting FHA requirements.
  3. All other finance plans will only be offered for sales of the following homes:
  4. 21st Mortgage repossessions
  5. New homes built by Clayton Homes, Karsten Homes, Southern Energy or any other Clayton Homes subsidiary. The dealership must be a 21st Mortgage approved retailer.
  6. For any brand of home floor planned with 21st Mortgage prior to March 1 2009
  7. For any brand of home sold from a retailer’s inventory provided the retailer replaces the inventory with a home built by a Clayton Homes subsidiary.

 

Williams’s letter went on to say:

“We will continue to seek adequate funding so we can once again become an active lender meeting all your needs. You need to take appropriate action to apply for financing with alternative lenders, including CU Factory Built Lending, Triad Financial, and US Bank. Many retailers have found the FHA a viable alternative and I urge you to talk with your credit manager and become familiar with the terms available.”

This announcement was directed to independently owned MH dealerships that have long used 21st Mortgage’s lending programs for homebuyers. But Clayton Homes’ also owns a second finance company, Vanderbilt Mortgage, which offers similar loan programs exclusively through Clayton Homes-owned dealerships. If 21st. is having difficulty raising capital to lend, it would make sense that Vanderbilt is also dealing with the same problem.

At this writing, there has been no change in Vanderbilt’s program. However, I have learned from a reliable source that an executive at one of the alternative lenders mentioned above recently received over a two week period calls from the credit managers of 18 Clayton-owned dealerships asking about the availability and terms of both his company’s chattel and home mortgage programs. Do they know something we don’t?

The above developments will not impact homebuyers who intend to pay cash or otherwise obtain financing from their local bank or credit union. The rule here is: dealer arranged financing for your home purchase should be absolutely your last resort. The interest rates are almost always higher than you will find elsewhere in the private sector. Shop carefully for the money before you begin shopping in earnest for the home of your dreams.

— end of extended quote from Grissim website —

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Collage by MHProNews, provided under fair use guidelines.

 

That statements and views by Grissim are interesting on several levels.

  • First, not that it was every doubted, it nevertheless reaffirms that the 21st Mortgage Corp document signed by Tim Williams and previously published by MHLivingNews and MHProNews reads as the copy of an original that we’ve published, which is hereby reposted again, below.

 

21stMortgageCorpLogoLetterheadJan302009TimWilliamsRetailersBrokersCutSpecifiedLendingMonopolisticPloyConcernManufacturedHomeDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

This document was provided as a news tip to MHProNews. 

 

  • If there is any record of Clayton’s ‘captive’ lender Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) having any such issues funding issues, we are unaware of it at this time. Clayton, VMF, and 21st have all been repeatedly invited to respond to our published articles, and at each turn, they have declined.  The same invitation has been given to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), which is widely seen as dominated by Omaha and Knoxville.  The Arlington, VA based MHI has declined to respond or comment as well to the concerns surrounding the 21st letter and related
  • Grissim says those messages were sent out by email, and we have sources that say it was sent by U.S. mail too. That’s significant for reasons that attornies at Berkshire, Clayton, 21st, MHI and possibly others should understand the ramification of legally.
  • Grissim published this prior to the video interview published by MHLivingNews at the link below, wherein Kevin Clayton says in a past-present-and-future sense, that “Warren” assured them they have ‘plenty of money.
  • Grissim published that prior to the Warren Buffett annual letter, which seems to directly contradict they key claim made by Williams, namely, that they were cash strapped, and that is what allegedly forced their cutback.

The most complete report on this topic is found at the link below, which includes the quotes from Warren Buffett, and the complete video interview with Kevin Clayton, where he lays out the Buffett vision for the strategic “moat” and being a ‘tough competitor.’

 

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by Tim Williams, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, these all line up to demonstrate how independent retailers, communities, and producers – among others – where purportedly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation.  https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

 

Restated, while there is more analysis that could be done on what Grissim wrote, the above is sufficient to reaffirm concerns that Berkshire Hathaway owned brands purportedly colluded in a fashion to rig the marketplace, tipping manufactured home retailers and more producers out of business.

Newer industry readers, investors, public officials, and other researchers should keep in mind that some who received that 21st letter from Tim Williams – and survived – recall the document, and have confirmed having received it.  Several of those have thanked MHProNews for not letting this topic slide, as they knew some put under by that document, and they recognize that if it happened before, something like that can occur again.

In the light of more recent revelations published in MHProNews and MHLivingNews, there are numerous reasons for Congress to investigate in a public setting what occurred, why, and how that impacted thousands of independent businesses that may have been marginal, but had survived up until that point in time.

The role of MHI, if any, in the matter also bears scrutiny.

If their paid staff grasped the reality, and hid it, what liability or legal exposure do they have?  One might wonder, why former MHI President and CEO Chris Stinebert left as and when he did, – well prior to the events related to these 21st financing cut-off letters – and why he waited until leaving to publish a letter that politely chided his own MHI trade association on issues, including financing.  See that at the link from his name, above.

To learn more about or review the related macro issues – all of which must be grasped to understand why manufactured housing is underperforming – see the related reports, further below the byline and notices.

 

That’s this predawn hump-day edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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Senate Democrats – Including 2020 Presidential Contenders – Ask CFPB Protect Consumers Against Predatory Lenders — Point Finger at Clayton Homes, Berkshire Hathaway Lending

Shocking, True State of the Manufactured Housing Industry, plus Solutions for Profitable, Sustainable Growth – May 2019

“Game On” – “Fighting Discriminatory Zoning” “Moral Obligation” Fix “Worsening Nightmare” – State Associations Entering Spotlight

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

“The Illusion of Motion Versus Real-World Challenges”

HUD Code Manufactured Home Production Decline Continues, May Updates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senate Democrats – Including 2020 Presidential Contenders – Ask CFPB Protect Consumers Against Predatory Lenders — Point Finger at Clayton Homes, Berkshire Hathaway Lending

May 28th, 2019 Comments off

SenateDems2020ContendersAskCFPBProtectconsumersAgainstPredatorLendersClaytonHomes21stVanderbiltWarrenBuffettLogophotosManufacturedHomeMHProNews

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led a group of eight other Democratic Senators in calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to improve transparency around manufactured home financing, according to a release from the office of Senator Cortez.

 

Senator Cortez was joined in the letter signed “by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.),” said the statement informing the Daily Business News on MHProNews.

The letter, found at the link here, was dated May 9, 2019.  To date, there is no known response found in an online search on this topic made by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, or Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF).

Specifically, the letter from Senate Democrats did not name a company, which is potentially more problematic for independents.  However, it did link to the Seattle Times/Center for Public Integrity report found at this link here.  That report specifically names Clayton Homes, Berkshire Hathaway’s manufactured home lenders, and Warren Buffett.

It begins with this paragraph, “Billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett controls a mobile-home empire that promises low-income borrowers affordable houses. But all too often, it traps those owners in high-interest loans and rapidly depreciating homes.” For new readers, note that MHProNews often turns quoted text brown and bold to make it ‘pop,’ but otherwise the words are as in the original.

The original letter from the Democratic Senators is linked as a download here, and said in part “We urge the CFPB to work with consumer advocates to design and implement an appropriate disclosure form that ensures manufactured home buyers understand their options and are not steered into high-cost loans.”

Their provided copy of the letter is not scannable, so MHProNews recreated a scannable (readable) version for online researchers, which is found as a download linked here.  Thus far, no one in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis have published a response to this Democratic initiative.  Why not?

SenateDemocratsSignLetterCFPBManufacturedHousingPredatoryLendingMHProNews2019-05-27_2024

There are times that MHProNews waits to see what response, if any, Omaha based Berkshire, Knoxville metro based Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, or the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) makes. Recall Nathan Smith’s pledge that MHI should become more pro-active? Where is the evidence for that in this report? Are we to think that the manufactured housing’s powers that be don’t know about this Democratic call to action?

 

What to Expect?

Should Democrats retake the Senate and White House and hold the House of Representatives in 2020, expect this document to be a harbinger of what’s to come. Recall the deep dive on the Masthead, linked here.

That’s this morning edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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

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

Shocking, True State of the Manufactured Housing Industry, plus Solutions for Profitable, Sustainable Growth – May 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

May 11th, 2019 Comments off

 

ClaytonHomesLogo21stMortgageLogoVanderbiltMortgageLogoInvestorProfessionalManufacturedHomeLessonsLearnedMHProNews

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.

 

 

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

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.

 

UltimateManufacturedHomeHousingInfographicNotMobileHomeTrailerHouseFactoryBuiltHomeIndustryDailyBusienssNewsMHProNews-600

 

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?

 

CashPileMillionBillion100billionTrillionDollarInfographicManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

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

 

2018DataShareofHousingMarketManufacturedHousingInfographicDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews612

 

 

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.

 

HUDSecBenCarsonNOLOManufacturedHousingInstitutelogoMHIlogo2019-05-11_0933MHProNews

 

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.

 

EvidenceDisprovedMisconceptionStereptypesContinuedInfluenceLocalGovernmentsRestrictionsQuoteLisaTylerPhDExamingAttitudesManufacturedHousingMHProNews

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?

 

NARNationalAssociationofRealtorsScholasticaGayCororatonGAOReportMHIlogowebsiteManufacturedHousingInstituteLogo2019-05-11_0949MHProNews

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.

TimWilliams21stMortgageCEOthenMHIChairmanGoodArgumentsRefuteEveryStatisticsRespondEveryStoryPBSDIckErnstDailyBusinessNewsmHPronews

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?

 

EnhancedPreemptionMHIWebsiteSearch

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.

 

EnhancedPreemptionManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReform4-26-2019ManufacturedHomesMHProNews

 

 

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.

 

LeadersGraspNettlesDavidOgilvyFatherModernMarketingQuoteMHProNews

 

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.

 

WarrenBuffettQuoteCantBePerfrectCanAffordLoseMoneyNotShredReputationMeasureActWhatIsLegalHappyToHaveUnfriendlyButIntelligentReporterWriteFrontPageMHProNews

 

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.

 

https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20190420/letter-affordable-mobile-homes-are-desperately-needed

 

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.

 

https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/democrats-republicans-agree-manufactured-homes-can-play-a-vital-role-in-easing-the-affordable-housing-shortage/

 

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

WarrenBuffettBillClintonHillaryClintonBarackObamaKevinClaytonNathanSmithPhotosDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews600

 

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.

 

3ErasMobileHomesManufacturedHomesManufacturedHousingImprovementActEraSkylineChampionShipmentProductionGraphicMHProNews

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?

SeattleTimesCenterforPublicIntegrityClaytonHomesManufacturedHomeMHProNews4292019

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.

 

UnderstandingWarrenBuffettCastleMoatMetaphorsQuotesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

CaseyMackTonySoheylaMHProNewsTeamFirstCallDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which an be accessed by clicking on them.

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Manufactured Housing’s Professional Credibility

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

 

New Manufactured Home Professional’s Website Nears Launch

 

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

Lanham Act, Monopolistic Housing Institute, err, Manufactured Housing Institute, Legal Bullies, and You

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

 

WarrenBuffettCharlieMungerVideoInterviewBerkshireHathawayAnnualMeetingGSELendingAffordableHousingClaytonHomes

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.

 

MarkWeissDTSQuoteManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReformMHARRDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

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.)

 

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Related Reports:

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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?

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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

 LotsofSizzleClaytonHomesLogoSalesPerformancemanufcturedhousinginstituteLogoMHILogoMHProNewsTips

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.

 

BlackWhiteRVvsMHShipmentsYTDJune2018ManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

 WinnebagoRVWholesaleshipmentDataManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

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,

 

Figure1MobileManufacturedHomeSalesSHipmentsVsExistingingNewHouseSalesManufacturedHousingiinudstryDataMHProNews

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.

ManufacturedHousingInstitutelogoMHILogoMHIVideoStillsMillionsofViewsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

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 $$$.”

ManufacturedHousingInstituteMHILogoOctober2018HUDCodeHomeShipmentsDeclineDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

 

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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.

 

2018-12-11_1155TalkMarketsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsTopProducersHUDCodeManufacturedHomes

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.

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Related Reports: Click the Boxes Below to Read More...

 

“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

 

WhistlblowerExClaytonHomesTeamMemberOnTVDenouncesManufacturedHousingGiantsPracticesDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

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.

 

ManufacturedHousingSHipmentsBloombergQuintFactoryBuiltRebuidRecoveryDailyBusinessNEwsMHproNEws

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.

ManufacturedHomeMHShipments1990-2017DailybusinessNewsManufacturedHousingMHProNews600

RVsshipmentsTrailedMH1998WinnebagoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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?

ManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIBoardofDirectors1242018DailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

LouisianaManufacturedHousingAssociationOklahomaMHAOManufacturedHomeDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

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.

ClaytonHomesOakwoodHomesBerkshireHathawayMarketShareofManufacturedHousingEndof2003DailyBuisnessNewsMHanufacturedHousingIndustryProNews

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.

 

ClaytonHomesSkylineChampionCavcoIndustriesMarketShareManufacturedHousingIndustryConsolidationGraphicPieChartMHProNews-e1528746976415

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.

111
Maxine Waters is among those who signed the letter that this local Knoxville TV news media report reflects.

ClaytonHomesSubsidiariesDiscriminateLowModerateIncomeMinorityBuyersHighCostLoansLeaveMaxineWatersCA-DClaytonlogo21stMortgageLogoVanderbiltMortgageLogo

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.

 

CongressAsksDOJInvestigateClaytonHomesCreditTwitterWikipediaMHProNews

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.

DearTonySoheylaNoGreaterResourceSpeakstoIssuesOpportunitiesWeFaceAsIndependentRetailersGusRodriguezTejasHomesTX

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

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

September 7th, 2018 Comments off

ClaytonHomesLogo21stMortgageCorpLogoManufacturedHomesLoansLendingFinanceRepSpyingDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

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

 

TimWilliams21stMortgageCEOMHProNews

Tim Williams, photo credit, MHProNews.com

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.”

SpySpyingDefinitionGoogleClaytonHomes21stMortgageManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

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.”

 

Summary

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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.

That’s “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © by the MH industry’s most-read trade media leader, where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Third party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

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Fresh Facts, Figures, Future of Affordable Housing -Comparisons- Conventional Site-Built v Mobile/Manufactured Home Industry Data

 

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

July 5th, 2018 Comments off

RichardGenzWhyAdvocatesNeedRethinkManufacturedHomeQualityHarvardGSEHighSatisfactionDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

NewDurhamEstatesSouthManufacturedHomeLivingNewsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNEws

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.

SunCommunitiesSUI-InvestorPage11ManufacturedHomeVsSingleFamilyHousingManufacturedHomeCommunitiesIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

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.
SunCommunitiesSUI-InvestorPageComparetoMultiFamilyHousing10ManufacturedHomeCommunitiesIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

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 MHPorNews.com.

Arial photo credit, TriStar Estate, credit MHC-MD.com. 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).”

MostMenAppearnNeverConsideredWhatHouseIsNeedlesslyPoorAllTheirLivesHenryDavidThoreauManufacturedHomeLivingNews

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

RichardGenzHousingCommunityInsightLinkedInSydexManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.”

TrailerHouseMobileHomeManufacturedHomeFactoryBuiltHousingEvolution101MHProNews-MHLivingNews

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-manufacturedhomefinanceexpert-DailyBusinessNews-mhpronews

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.

2018-06-22_0521ConversionRatiosPerMHVillageLogoManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

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.

Why?

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.

ClaytonHomesOakwoodHomesBerkshireHathawayMarketShareofManufacturedHousingEndof2003DailyBuisnessNewsMHanufacturedHousingIndustryProNews

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.

ClaytonHomesSkylineChampionCavcoIndustriesBalanceofIndustryManufacturedHousingIndustryConsolidationGraphicPieChartMHProNews

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?

21stMortgageCorpLogoLetterheadJan302009TimWilliamsRetailersBrokersCutSpecifiedLendingMonopolisticPloyConcernManufacturedHomeDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

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(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

MoatCastleBuffettBerkshireClaytonHomes21stMortgageVanderbiltMortgageManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews550x305

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.”

SteveDukeLMHATheTerminologyMattersBecausetheTerminologyDefinesTheConstructionStandardsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNews1

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