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SECO Woes – Southeast Community Owners Symposium – Tom Lackey, Industry Pros, & MH Consumer Legal Clouds

August 3rd, 2018 Comments off
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To be forewarned can lead to being more prepared, more cautious, and prudent. The collage is made up of elements from SECO, with text graphics by MHProNews.

From time to time, a variation on the question is asked, ‘What happened to the reports about Tom Lackey, Stoney Pointe manufactured home (MH) community, missing titles, owner-carry, SECO and all those consumers who lost their homes?’

 

 

The short answer?

Based on the latest reports to the Daily Business News on MHProNews, this is not likely a dead or forgotten travail,

Rather, its more likely the quiet before the next storm.

Why? Because there are several ways that this tragic series of incidents are very much brewing. Let’s run through some of the elements.

 

First, for those not familiar with the matter or who need a refresher, click the link below, or other related reports through this, and at the end of this post.

 

Spencer Roane w/Southeast Community Owners (SECO), Praises Tom Lackey, Accused of Rent-to-Own Manufactured Home Sales Improprieties

 

Second, there have been multiple outreaches by media related to this case. They have reportedly contacted Lackey, and numerous others in the industry. Some of those outreaches by media have been referred to, or directly contacted the publisher of MHProNews. Rephrased, we don’t think there are possible problems, we’ve got strong reasons to believe this is ongoing. It could surface perhaps more forcefully in round two than the earlier round of troubling media reports.

 

Third, there has been legally-related outreaches to MHProNews on several industry issues – including Tom Lackey/SECO/Stoney Pionte – referred to our publisher.

 

Fourth. Based upon those third-party inputs and outreaches – plus tips from industry readers with ties to SECO – this provides a brief update on what appears to be underway about the allegations swirling around this troubling series of incidents at Stoney Pointe, and their related ‘finance’ operation in northern Georgia.

 

We’ll begin by reminding readers that allegations are just that; Lackey and those connected to SECO are deemed innocent in the eyes of the law, until proven guilty by a plea arrangement or conviction.

That said:

GeorgiaDeptofBankingFinanceLogoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

There are indications that multiple agencies are investigating, as well as “plaintiffs attorneys.” 

1) The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance is reportedly investigating. Such matters can take time, as interviews are done, and a case is built. It could be months before something official is heard.

Per industry sources, officials in GA are keenly interested in the contract for title/rent to own related problems. Rephrased, there are indications that not just Lackey will be caught up in this matter legally. Rather, others connected to SECO are = per sources – being scrutinized too.

 

2) Tom Lackey has reportedly told a small circle of SECO connected contacts that he is suspending his contract for title/rent to own business. Consider that in the context of the above and what follows. Coincidence?

 

2018-08-03_0443SECOSoutheastCommunityOwnersSymposiumLogoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Caution is urged to all of those who have been connected to SECO’s ‘education’ on seller financing. You may want to seek legal counsel.

 

3) SECO has yet to remove Lackey from their planning team. Amazing, but true. There are two well know Vietnam veterans involved in MHVille who are connected to SECO. Vets – which this publication respects and thanks for their service – exhibit at times an interesting type of loyalty. Industry sources close to the matter have mentioned that in this context, as loyalty to Lackey. As noted previously, linked reports can be read later for increased depth on this topic.

George Allen Blasts MHI, NCC Ignoring Own, Spencer Roane, SECO, COBA7, Tom Lackey Controversies

 

4) There are reportedly at least two levels of legal investigations underway. One is from public officials. The other is from reportedly multiple attorneys interested in filing suits over claims related to the consumers allegedly wronged in this matter.

 

5) SECO promoters, including MHVillage, continue to promote the next event without any warnings or notices to their past or prospective attendees. Is there possible liability for those involved?  Better ask the private attorneys, public officials, or get your own attorney to explain what the potential risks and ramifications are reportedly connected to this ‘vexing mess.’

 

There are those in MHVille who continue to be silent, or even defend Lackey and SECO’s ties to this multi-layered, problematic series of concerns.

While some have thoughtfully informed MHProNews, does the silence of others say to communities and other industry professionals that nothing is wrong? Are they being made aware of the possible ramifications? Are SECO board members, or even those who have previously registered to attend, aware that they could be witnesses? Or worse, possible targets?

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How would mainstream media view the industry’s promoters and attendees, in the wake of those who allegedly lost their ‘investments’ with Lackey’s operations?

What has been done to past SECO attendees – including those who have done/are doing ‘seller financing’ and/or ‘contract for title’ ala Lackey – to mitigate their risks?

There is no immediately evident clues from SECO or MHVillage promotions on any of those very real concerns and questions. Why haven’t other industry bloggers or publishers raised these issues, to give potentially hundreds of industry pros fair warning?

 

For Balance on SECO

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Click to learn more about this upcoming wholesale event, which is not related to the story posted.

Some long-time SECO believers have messaged and/or spoken with MHProNews.

Among those SECO believers are those who stress the ‘good things’ being taught and promoted at SECO.

Some provided photos and video of before and after pictures to reflect how communities could be improved.

The Daily Business News on MHProNews has not at any time advocated tossing baby’s out with the proverbial bath water.

This publication has long said that most of the industry’s professionals strive to do what’s right, day by day.  MHLivingNews and MHProNews have made it clear that most of the industry’s consumers are happy.  That’s proven by both third party research, and our own interviews.

 

Happy MH Owners? Good Professional Actors? Overlooked, “Honorable People”

 

Affordable Housing Focus Group – Comparing Housing Options – Conventional Houses, Condo, Rentals, and Manufactured Homes – Up for Growth, National Association of Realtor, Studies

 

As the publisher of the MH Industry’s top two leading trade media, the record shows that we’ve very carefully noted – especially in recent months – the need for a “wheat and chaff” discernment approach about sources, groups, etc. No one is perfect. Mistakes that are corrected are arguably what honorable adults in business strive to do.

That said, let this stand as a reminder that ‘education’ at SECO may – per sources – have in some fashion contributed to what occurred.

 

Recaps and Lessons 

Certainly – per our sources in media, legal, SECO connected, and the broader MH industry – there is a likely of more ‘bad news’ to come from outside media and legal issues.

With media and with most legal matters, there are calms before and between the storms. The indications that MHProNews has at this time is that this may be such a period of calm. To be forewarned, is to be forearmed.  We publish these stories, one, because they are real, and two as morality tales in the hopes of keeping good people out of the kind of trouble that the report below reminds us can occur.

Criminal Charges Filed Against Manufactured Home Community Owner

 

We also publish the far more enjoyable to write about ‘good news’ stories that others miss or understate.

Ryan Kirk–Investor & Entrepreneur-Gets Positive Media via Airbase Estates Mobile/Manufactured Home Makeovers, Exclusives, Videos

Let anyone connected with SECO carefully consider what their contact might mean to a plaintiff’s attorney, or legal authorities in GA, to the media, consumers, and beyond.

What image of the industry and its members does this series of controversies project?

Finally, the related reports below are reminders why it is wise to be transparent. And why – as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, doing what’s right is always the right thing to do. Ponder that as the first of today’s “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use.” © 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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Fresh Facts, Figures, Future of Affordable Housing -Comparisons- Conventional Site-Built v Mobile/Manufactured Home Industry Data

George Allen Blasts MHI, NCC Ignoring Own, Spencer Roane, SECO, COBA7, Tom Lackey Controversies

May 30th, 2018 Comments off

GeorgeAllenSpencerRoaneTomLackeyManufacturedHousingInstituteMHISECOCOBA7SeeSayHearNoEvilCashDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

The absurdity of publishing only half-truths, ‘happy talk,’ endless self-promotion, and polite platitudes has been on full display in manufactured housing for years.

 

Google’s dictionary defines absurd this way:

  • wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate – “the allegations are patently absurd”
  • arousing amusement or derision; ridiculous – “gym shorts and knee socks looked absurd on such a tall girl

 

MHR and MHInsider have featured Spencer Roane and George Allen recently in glowing terms. At least one of those was published after the Tom Lackey controversy erupted. In a free society with First Amendment guarantees, it is their absolute right to praise whomever they want to. As the MH Industry’s leading trade media, MHProNews defends their right to praise and elevate on a pedestal Allen, Roane, or anyone else.

Rights recognized, the wisdom of giving only praise without an honest analysis ought to be contrasted with the allegedly unethical – and perhaps illegal – acts committed by a follower and colleague of Allen and Roane; Tom Lackey.

Lackey stands accused by several people of ‘selling’ homes he did not own.

TomLackeySECOSoutheasternCommunityOwnersSymposiumManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

SECO still shows Tom Lackey on their planning committee, as of 12:27 PM ET, on 5.30.2018. Why?

Lackey – per more than one mainstream media source – plus local officials, ‘sold’ often older manufactured homes, that were in poor condition to individuals via “contract for title.”

TomLackeyTimesFreePressDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

That method of so-called “seller financing” is promoted by Roane at SECO, who in turn is promoted by Allen and COBA7.

TylerJettChatanoogaTimesFreePressManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Fairness, Balance

MHProNews contacted Lackey directly and indirectly through his SECO/COBA7 allies, to give him an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or inaccuracies that may exist in the mainstream media reports, and/or the allegations by local officials and those customers of his.

Lackey was invited by MHProNews to comment himself, or via an attorney.

Days later, Lackey has done neither, which of course is his right to remain silent.

Meanwhile, Allen and Roane – as the Daily Business News has previously reported, have repeatedly given cover to – or even praised Lackey.

Spencer Roane w/Southeast Community Owners (SECO), Praises Tom Lackey, Accused of Rent-to-Own Manufactured Home Sales Improprieties

That cover by Roane and Allen has occurred several times after the allegations by public officials and customers of Lackey have come to light. The most recent public embarrassment is in a report on 5.27.2018, by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, linked here.

TonyaEvansAllegedVictimTomLackeyManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNEwsMHPronews624

It is important to note, as the Daily Business News previously reported, that reporter Tyler Jett and their paper have made it clear that they are sticking with this story-line.  There will likely be more such reports.

There have already been several troubling news items done by that media outlet, and another.

So, there is clear evidence that this is not a one-and-done affair for that publication.

TimesFreePressStoneyPointeMobileHomeParkRossvilleGADailyBusinessNewsMHPronEws

This is the latest example of how head-in-the-sand is not an option for the majority of honorable professionals in manufactured housing.

MrMcGooSeeSaySpeakNoEvilManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryMHProNews

 

See No Evil…

Certain state associations, an industry museum, and others have promoted Allen and Roane – per state-based sources – for industry ‘political’ reasons.

Yet the pair have for years been openly promoting concepts that arguably led to the tawdry allegations about Lackey. Those accusations are being leveled from public officials, consumers, and which are found in the mainstream media.

For an industry with an ongoing image issue, it’s madness to be silent about such apparent outrages. Absurd.

Consumer protection is at the heart of the HUD Code for manufactured homes (MH).  Why doesn’t the MH Industry take that consumer protection to the next level, by protecting would-be buyers via warnings against predatory operations?

 

MHI?

MHProNews asked MHI to weigh in on this serious post-production issue, giving MHI an opportunity to defend their industry.

MHI’s reply? Silence. As of the time this is being written, there is no press release.  Nor any other apparent public response by MHI. It’s their right to not weigh in, of course.

But isn’t it absurd?

TimWilliamsMediaRelationsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBuisnessNewsMHProNews-500x277

A far more prudent posture would be the Biblical analogy, using the example of the wheat and the chaff. Allen and Roane have done good things in their lives, such as serve America in the military. That deserves recognition and respect.

The pair of Allen and Roane – to an apparently authentic degree – care about their peers, notably those in the community sector. There have been times the duo have done good things. The RV MH Hall of Fame recognized Allen and Roane both as inductees. That’s reality.

Fair, balanced, and honest reality ought to be a central tenant of every news report, and commentary column.

It ought to be disclosed that this writer has on various occasions engaged Allen and Roane, privately and publicly. MHProNews gave Allen and Roane several opportunities to clarify or rebut the Chattanooga Times Free Press report.

Here below was Roane’s on-the-record reply.  The image is a composite, faithfully representing everything Roane said.

SpencerRoaneManufacturedHousingIndustryTomLackeyDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Against that backdrop, where are the public voices of reason from MHVille?

One that bears mention is the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association’s, Jay Hamilton.

jay-hamiltong-executive-director-georgia-manufactured-housing-association-gmha-posted-mhpronews-com1-1

Jay Hamilton, Executive Director, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA).

In a polite, and hypothetical fashion, Hamilton told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in his own words the following, in an indirect way.

When there is something allegedly wrong with a member company, a good association with a code of conduct will review the evidence. Based upon that internal review, a good association may recommend expulsion, or even a referral to a regulatory agency.

Of course. Bravo.  Hamilton’s exact words are found in the Times Free Press article, which once more, is linked here.

MonkeysHearSaySpeakNoEvilWehaveAbrotherWhoLeftForCareerInPoliticsDailyBusinessNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

 

Defending the Indefensible?  Why?

As reporter Tyler Jett spotlighted, Allen has given cover to Lackey and Roane. In Allen’s self-touted blog post on 5.29.2018, he mentioned nothing at all about the controversy surrounding Lackey, SECO, COBA7, or himself published by Jett.

Had Allen thought the report inaccurate, wouldn’t Allen stand on his own soap box, and decry Jett’s accuracy?

So, de facto, one may logically presume that Jett’s Times Free Press report accurately quoted Allen and Roane.

And yet, Roane denied the accuracy of the report.  He said to the Daily Business News: “Those familiar with this situation are unwilling to comment further because statements already reported by news media were inaccurate or out of context.

Roane stated that via an email, which a collage of the screen capture, is shown above.

Can’t these two gents even get their stories straight?

And why would Allen assert to the reporter, Tyler Jett, that Lackey gave title to an alleged victim? Why say something so absurd, when local officials, at least one other media outlet, and numerous consumers all say that the title was never given?

It’s absurd. The allegations are tragic, on so many levels.

While Allen and Roane struggle against saying anything negative about themselves, or their SECO board member and colleague – Tom Lackey – Allen yesterday published his latest broadside against the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

Allen will be quoted at length below. A few things ought to be noted, to set the table.

Allen and Roane are human. This writer, and all other mere mortals, make mistakes. When a publicly impactful error in judgment occurs, it ought to be acknowledged. Amends ought to be made. Normal people accept mistakes that are admitted, and may even respect the humility of the confession.

DonSeeEveryonesFlawsDontListenToEverythingYourToldDontspeakIfItsNotKindYesButTimesMustSpeakOutAbusurdiayManufacturedHomeIndustryMHProNews

But instead, Lackey said nothing in public. If there is an attempt to make amends to those alleged “contract for title” victims, there is no public evidence of that yet known.

Meanwhile, Allen and Roane are tripping over each other in offering apparently phony red herrings, or praising Lackey for his role in SECO.  What?

Absurd.

Scenarios like Lackey’s were predictable. As Roane himself told Jett – per the Chattanooga Times report, and his own on-the-record emailed statement to MHProNews – the ‘contract for title process’ is “complicated.

So, with limited training” in a once a year “class,” Roane is teaching a process he calls “seller financing.” That on its face uses terminology that the CFPB has previously called a “disguised credit transaction.”

It’s absurd. Tragic.

Why are Allen and Roane given stage time and/or cross-promotions for this type of activity by state associations? It’s absurd. In hindsight, isn’t it being too polite, for “political” reasons? Are associations – or a museum that does so – opening themselves up for liability?

Every state the trio are an association member of, and every museum or institution that has given them a platform or promotion, ought to ask for a public apology — by each of the three.

Absent an appropriate public apology with amends, to protect the reputations of other members, and to protect the public who might keep doing business with such people, shouldn’t each of the associations they are connected to do what Hamilton said hypocritically could be done?

 

Forewarned

This writer has at various times urged Allen and Roane to reconsider the problematic parts of their enterprises. Clearly, to no avail. But someone in the industry must at least try do it.  Why? Because the majority of the honest businesses in this industry will continue to suffer so long as inexplicable, ‘allegedly’ problematic behavior is tolerated.

What’s ironic, is that when Allen publicly slaps MHI – which the Arlington, VA based group has arguably committed their own mistakes – is the retired Marine officer looking in the mirror?  Isn’t he as reticent to admit wrongs, and failures, as MHI is?  What happened to Semper Fi?

Where has that hiding-from-the-truth led the manufactured housing industry?

Answer, it is a self-evident part of a pattern that during an affordable housing crisis has led to the industry’s lowest sales levels in its history.

ManufacturedHousingIndustryShipmentsFEMAManufacturedHomesNotMobileHomesTrailersIndustryResearchReportsDataMHProNews

Manufactured housing is well below its historic highs. Credits, MHI, Cavco.

Tragic. Absurd.

ThreeStogesSaySpeakSeeNoEvilManufacturedHousingINdustryCodeofConductDailyBuisnessnewsCommntaryMHProNews

 

And such behavior is no doubt what has led members and staff of the Arizona and Nevada community owner’s association to stand up to MHI, and announce the launch of a new national association.

 

Before turning to an extended quote from Allen’s blog, a related point is in order.  Multiple sources within and tied to the land-lease community sector have advised MHProNews about a now-aborted effort to launch yet another new national trade association.

Per those source, Allen “derailed,” and “sabotaged” that other new post-production association effort.

As a long-time, now-former client of Allen once told this writer, with George, “…it is AAA. All about Allen.”  That source said that AAA explains much of Allen’s behavior.

Final point before Allen’s extend quote.

With the above noted, there are times that Allen makes useful observations and speaks the truth. Chaff and wheat.  So, one must be discerning.

It is interesting to note that Allen apparently tosses his own COBA7 and MHI under the bus, in the except below. The one mentioned accurately, is the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). Allen is right in saying MHARR represents independent producers of HUD Code homes. He is also correct in saying that MHARR has advocated for an effective, robust post-production association.

Allen also correctly noted the frustration by state associations with MHI. The later points have of course been reported by MHProNews in more detail, and with specific evidence.

—- Start of Extended Quote from George Allen blog —-

GeorgeAllenBlog485MobileHomeLandLeaseCommunityAdvocateExpertDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

What happened to George Allen preaching against the use of the term “mobile home?”

National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (‘NAMHCO’)

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new national advocacy presence ‘soon to be’ on the manufactured housing industry scene! Being formed to represent and advocate for business interests of land lease communities, from the smallest to largest in size, by rental homesite count.

Where do I stand on this potentially controversial matter? As administrator of COBA7, I am not one of NAMHCO’s organizers, though I certainly understand the pent-up frustration of state MH associations and property owners, feeling underserved by the three present day national MH advocates. Today’s status quo relative to the realty asset class? In my opinion,

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is 100% HUD-Code housing manufacturer focused. Land lease community owners/operators are not eligible to belong. Though MHARR does advocate for a new national presence to represent all non-manufacturing segments of the manufactured housing industry. (202) 783-4087

Manufactured Housing Institute is the ‘broad brush’ national advocate serving all segments of the manufactured housing industry. It is primarily financed and perennially led by the ‘Big Three C’ HUD-Code housing manufacturers: Clayton Homes, Champion Home Builders (soon to be, I believe, Skyline Champion), & Cavco Industries. MHI, through its’ National Communities Council division, since 1996, has, in this industry observer’s opinion, given little more than lip service to the land lease community real estate asset class it claims to serve…

Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance was launched in early 2014 to serve the product and service needs of land lease community owners/operators nationwide. COBA7…”

—- End of extended quote from George Allen. —-

The need for a new, post-production association ought to be self-evident.

The need for honorable professionals to police their own industry ought to be ever-more apparent.

AllTruthPassesThrough3stagesFirstRidiculed2ndViolentlyOpposed3rdAcceptedAsSelfEvidentManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBuinessNewsMHProNews

That new national association that AZ and NV are promoting, along with current ones, ought to take steps to insure the following:

  • Organizations ought to be established or reorganized with a structure that keeps big companies from dominating the smaller ones.
  • An association’s professional code of conduct ought to be enforced, in a fair manner, that protects vulnerable consumers and the reputation of honest business people.

Once more, the story by Tyler Jett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press is linked here. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary)

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