Posts Tagged ‘Dick Ernst’

Frank Rolfe: Pressured into Silence? Manufactured Housing Industry, and Journalism

November 28th, 2017 Comments off

WhereManufacturedHousingJournalismMeetManufacturedHomeNotMobileHomeIndustryProNews_001There are some who due to habit, bias, ignorance, or other limiting factors simply don’t know or see the truth on a given issue.

That naturally applies to manufactured housing, and to journalism too.

Those who say that journalism is dead are exaggerating.

Far more accurate to say that journalism is made up of people. All people have areas of knowledge, ignorance, and biases.

There are also areas one may think they are informed about, but in fact, are misinformed on.

 That can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • modern manufactured homes,
  • journalism,
  • politics,
  • economics,
  • social, historic,
  • or other issues.

The corollaries are also true.

Some in manufactured housing distrust a given source, because something about them may not fit their world view. Some like CNN, others prefer Fox, etc. Each tends toward a bias.


Not only should journalists seek understanding and the truth, but so should investors, doctors, attorneys, scientists, business professionals, etc., etc. The facts and the truth matter, and are worth the effort.

Understanding requires considering the objective Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of good journalism, which includes using other perspectives.  Once something is properly understood, only then it can be properly communicated to others.


Manufactured Housing and Journalism

Given the incredible affordable housing crisis, there are many causes for the industry’s relatively low numbers.


Some of those causes are internal to the industry, other limiting factors are external.

What the precise mix of cause and effect are is a debatable point.

But what isn’t up for serious argument is that some factors are more harmful or limiting to the progress that can and should be made by the HUD Code manufactured home (MH) industry than other factors are.

Against that backdrop, there’s a rumor that Frank Rolfe has been ‘silenced’ on a variety of manufactured housing industry issues.


If so, that’s interesting. Because he recently wrote in MHR that he was no longer going to engage the media.  


Now, besides the self-evident contradiction (writing for media, while saying he will no longer address media), one might ask, if Rolfe is being silenced, why?  

If Rolfe is being silenced, then by whom?  What leverage would someone – or some group – have over the rising portfolio community owner, to get him to be silent? 

Frank Rolfe Blasts MHI for Poor Media Engagement, Industry Reactions

But if Rolfe has indeed decided to stop commenting to media on MH Issues – or has been stopped from commenting about the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), etc. – does the industry’s professionals really need to hear more than what Rolfe has already said, on the record, and/or on camera?

Rolfe has:

  • Blasted MHI and Nathan Smith for “hypocrisy,”


  • said MHI’s Preserving Access bill was a waste of time, and had no chance,

  • said MHI’s failure to engage the media was harmful to the industry,
  • stated that his statistics on community counts are correct, implying MHI’s are wrong.

Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, George Allen, Manufactured Home Community Controversy Continues

  • …and so on, and so forth.
  • Rolfe has also said there are nice people at MHI. Of course. Who would dispute that? 
  • But if MHI is truly ‘the leader’ of the industry, who else shoulders the blame for the performance the graphic below highlights?

If MHI is the national leader, as they claim, how do they respond to the “who is responsible” for the current state of the industry question that is quietly posed by this chart produced by Ross Kinzler, then with the WHA? Note the rhetorical question is posed by MHProNews, not Kinzler.


Berkshire Hathaway Owned Brands, and Frank Rolfe

A highly placed source at 21st Mortgage told MHProNews,Yeah, we work with those guys,” meaning, Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds and their colleagues.

Frank and Dave have also plugged 21st, and Clayton Homes, too.

The ‘when and substance’ of the 21st/Frank & Dave conversation was not revealed.

Is it a stretch to think that an ask was made?

The MH Industry and Frank Rolfe

As MHProNews and MHLivingNews have previously reported – and is common for anyone with a higher profile – Rolfe has supporters and detractors in the community sector, and the industry in general.

Sensationalistic ‘Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U’ New York Times article  by Gary Rivlin draws Manufactured Home Industry Ire, Desire and Fire

The so-called resident groups and some non-profits have also made Rolfe a brand they like to wield against the industry in their own media engagement.


The collage above is part of a fact check on Kevin Borden, who’s organization has targeted Rolfe and his comment. and related media coverage.

The quote attributed to Rolfe, that living in a manufactured home community is like a Waffle House where the customers are chained to their booths” is a club used by non-profits and resident groups against not only Rolfe’s organization, but the community sector in general.

That “infamous” quote – Rolfe’s words – used by the non-profits has also been cited by Time in their “Home of the Futurereport on manufactured homes earlier this year.  Time said, “It’s like owning a Waffle House where the customers are chained to the booths,” in the words of Frank Rolfe, who co-owns more than 250 parks across…” the U.S.

Tampa Bay in a 2014 report cited that same Rolfe quote, adding, “Even more enticing for investors: The supply of mobile home parks [sic] is largely static.”  The Tampa Bay article ran under the headline, “Mobile home park investors bet on older, poorer America,” which noted that “About 1.8 million Floridians today choose to live in a mobile home…”


To keep the number of SIC’s in this article to a minimum, it is only being used at this one point. Since there have been no mobile homes built in the U.S. since June 15, 1976, it’s not factually accurate to call most land-lease communities a “mobile home park.” A commonly misused term doesn’t make it the correct name. Media should learn and use the correct nomenclature, just as they would for people, products, and professions other than manufactured homes.  The article linked below goes through the proper use of terminology on several common factory-built housing industry issues.

Your Words Matter: Proper Terminology for Factory Built Homes

Rolfe Reacts to the Mainstream Media on his Own Waffle House Quote

On his own MHU blog, Rolfe said “Several media outlets have recently used my old quote that the mobile home park “is like a Waffle House where the customers are chained to their booths”. However, they have taken the quote completely out of context, and the truth takes the air out of their sensationalism, unfortunately for them.”

Rolfe states in that post that the it – the infamous Waffle House quote – “…was used to describe the incredibly consistent revenues of the mobile home park asset class.”

His MHU post then bullets these points.

  • But it really does cost a ridiculous amount of money to move a mobile home
  • But it costs a whole lot more to move a stick-built house
  • But that does not mean that you can’t sell your home if you want to move – just like traditional stick-built homes
  • So why would you move a mobile home?
  • So the “Waffle House” quote meant consistent revenue, not lack of freedom of choice…”

In fairness to Rolfe, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) engaged Dick Ernst to speak to PBS about their now infamous report on manufactured housing, and it was widely viewed that quotes from Ernst were not his strongest points made.

About Responding to PBS Newshours ‘Bad Bargain’ report by Stephen Fee

Whether it is Rolfe, MHI, or anyone else, certainly the case can be made that virtually all media picks what goes in, and what falls to the cutting room floor. That editorial selection process can slant a story from being accurate, to misleading, or worse.

Which is why MHProNews has for years provided link-backs to the entire statement made to our publication, so that thoughtful readers can dig deeper, if desired. An example is the Tim Williams quote above.

That MHProNews journalistic practice is

  • rather unique,
  • is being pioneered by us,
  • acts as a self-check/public check on our accuracy,
  • and thus encourages all involved in the process, knowing they will get what are often emailed comments accurately reported. No ‘gotcha’ journalism. Who else in MH trade media does as much?

The video Williams referred to about PBS is posted at the link below.

What PBS NewsHour Missed About Manufactured Home Living

If Rolfe has indeed ‘hung it up’ in speaking to other media than his own, hasn’t he as an MHI member already laid out the case against MHI’s shortcomings, in his own words?

Hasn’t Rolfe also – by word, deed, and experience – shown the rewards and pitfalls of engaging a media that often, as he said, seeks to sensationalize a story?  “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, fact checks, commentary.)

Related to the Rolfe comments on MHI.

Note: Another related report is planned, and that link will be added below as an update.

(All third party image credits are as shown and are provided under fair use guidelines.)


L. A. “Tony” Kovach, photo by Mark Simon, shows Kovach engaging with SAAs in NY. Kovach has a proven history of respect for residents, homeowners and is pro-MH Industry. He’s the publisher of the industry’s two largest and most popular trade media, and

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

Managing Member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC.
Publisher of and
host of the Inside MH storytelling video series.
Expert, consultant, and service provider to the MH industry.



Sunday Morning Weekly Recap Manufactured Housing Industry News August 13th to August 20th, 2017

August 20th, 2017 Comments off

Week of Aug 13 to Aug 20, 2017.

Our new August issueOur theme for this month: Awful, Awesome August 2017 in MHVille

featured articles will be available on the home page. Our May theme will be available mid-week this week.

 To see the line-up of over 2-dozen featured articles for this month, along with the headline commentary, please click the link above.

Manufactured, modular and prefabricated home professionals know that how a home got to its location should not define a person or their dwelling.

What the Daily Business News spotlights day-by-day are the tragedies, triumphs and struggles for acceptance of the obvious solution for millions for the growing affordable housing crisis in the U.S. and beyond.


When you read the lineup for the month found on the home page, you can reflect on another motto as you chart your own professional path ahead: “We Provide, You Decide.”  ©


What’s New On MHLivingNews

Billionaire$ and Millionaire$ Proudly Hang Out in New York Manufactured Homes, Condo Resort

“Po-Dunk” Performer Kid Rock, Eyes Senate Run, Makes Manufactured Home Living 

Rising Renters Nation, Pew Research, Overlooked Affordable Home Ownership 

What’s New On MHProNews

August 19th, 2017


August 18th, 2017


Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump, Salon.

August 17th, 2017


Paul Bradley, left, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, right – still from an Inside MH video interview.

August 16th, 2017


August 15th, 2017


Images on MHProNews are routinely used under fair use guidlines, as is the case with the images in the collage above.

August 14th, 2017


August 13th, 2017


Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Credits, Linkedin, MHProNews



Freedom of Speech, Rep. Jim Renacci, Don Glisson, Jr. Triad Financial, and Dick Ernst

August 15th, 2017 Comments off

Featured image credits, CNN Money, Pexels, Rational Standard, MHProNews.

The Central Government should be limited to basic functions. Defending the nation against foreign enemies, preserving order at home, mediating our disputes.” – Milton Freidman.

The widely cherished First Amendment rights – especially to freedom of speech – is a hot topic on many fronts.

I believe that churches have a right of free speech and an opportunity to talk about positions and issues that are relevant to their faith,” said Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio.

We think it’s very, very discriminatory [the MLO rule] to the [MH] industry, and it hurts the consumers,” said Dick Ernst, manufactured home industry finance consultant, to MHLivingNews.


Dick Ernst, consultant and MHI Financial Services Chair.


U.S. Representative Jim Renacci. Credit, Renacci.House.Gov.

While seemingly unrelated, in both cases, freedom of speech is being restricted by the U.S. government, through what some say are problematic applications of federal laws.

The quote by Representative Renacci, per Newsmax, is regarding a GOP bill which would allow churches to be able to back political candidates.

It would be in keeping with a Trump Administration campaign promise to Evangelicals and others faith-based groups that provided his ticket and the GOP with important support last November.

Currently churches, as well as non-profits, are banned from taking a political stance and endorsing a candidate during any elections, while they receive tax-free benefits.

The proposed bill would allow them to once more openly back a political candidate, should a house of worship choose to do so.  Under the plan, faith-community support could occur without the risk of losing their tax-exempt status.

Supporters say this would restore a fundamental right of free speech.

There is plenty of controversy about the bill.

Some opponents suggest that political endorsements by faith-communities could become a way to funnel tax-free funding into election campaigns.

Others simply don’t believe a pastor or church should be able to tell you who to vote for.

On the other side is the fundamentally constitutional question. Shouldn’t that speech be protected under the First Amendment?  Shouldn’t churches have the same rights as, certain supporters say, a labor union?

This bill would seek to correct that problem.

Free Speech and Manufactured Housing

Similar to this faith community scenario, another piece of legislation has restricted the freedom of speech in the manufactured housing industry. The Dodd-Frank Act was passed in reaction to the market crash in 2008.  Democratic lawmakers sought a solution to what they felt was a too-big-to-fail problem. A way to ensure that nothing of the sort ever happened again.

Congressman Frank denied before the meltdown that there was a risk. GOP leaders warned against the looming problems by 2003, as the video below reflects.


Credit, Seeking Alpha.

The Dodd-Frank Act, which was signed into law in 2010, was never intended to have anything to do with manufactured housing – said a letter by Barney Frank to an MHProNews reader, which read in part:

I do not think it is necessary to include manufactured housing as part of our effort to prevent abusive mortgage practices, and I am now working with my staff to see if we can find a way to make a change that would deal with the problem you correctly point out… “

But somehow along the line, that understanding vanished.

Soon after the law was passed, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) had set up a whole new set of regulations surrounding the financing of manufactured homes.

It’s cutting off a route to home ownership for low- to moderate-income families around the nation — especially in rural areas,” said Ernst in an exclusive to MHLivingNews.

don glisson jr triad fin svcs credit

Don Glisson, Jr., Credit: Triad Financial.

This would be like going to a car dealer to buy a new SUV, and when you ask for help securing a loan, they hand you the phone book and say they can’t help you, so just pick one out yourself,” said Don Glisson, Jr., President and CEO of Triad Financial Services.

The net result forces people to risk violating a law, lose customers looking for information, or causing under-informed buyers to shop for lenders in a market that has a limited number of lenders.

One example MHLivingNews shared is the story of Eric Powell, who planned to purchase his father’s single-section manufactured home. But due to the restrictions placed on lending after the implementation of Dodd-Frank Powell was unable to secure a normal loan, and ended up paying a much higher rate than would have occurred prior to the CFPB’s regulations.

Our compliance costs have quadrupled in the past three years alone,” said Glisson.

The limitations on what retailers can and can’t talk about with the individuals looking to purchase a manufactured home, while different than endorsing a political candidate, is still a violation of free speech, say industry professionals.

In the past, a retailer could pre-qualify a buyer by accessing their credit reports and analyzing their income — just like every Realtor ® in America does — and with that info they could at least determine what lender not to send the application to,” says Glisson.

Ernst said something similar.

Realtors refer customers every day to lenders, but CFPB says they’re exempt, because they’re not being compensated. But our people aren’t either,” says Dick Ernst.

While the two laws were born out of understandable concerns – in each case the impact has been a problematic harm to free speech rights. MHProNews will continue to track and report on such constitutional issues that impact business and politics.  ## (News.)

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

JuliaGranowiczManufacturedHomeLivingNewsMHProNews-comSubmitted by Julia Granowicz to the Daily Business News for


What’s the Truth About the Manufactured Housing Industry’s Potential?

April 3rd, 2017 Comments off

opportunities-threats-buttons-ManufacturedHousingIndustryIllustrationDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsWhether or not truth is reported, or distorted, reality – the truth – is. Truth exists.

That is so on any issue you care to mention: sports, fashion, politics, religion, health, fitness, business — including manufactured, modular, and prefabricated housing.

Factory-home building – says John Bostick, Sunshine Homes president –  is widely accepted in Japan, but is resisted here.


Like our domestic manufactured home industry’s politics, the honest answer isn’t simple. Rather, “It’s Complicated.”

If the answer were simple, then the industry would be producing hundreds of thousands of homes per year, as leaders such as Bostick, or:

> Sam Landy, President and CEO of high flying UMH Properties, or

> M. Mark Weiss, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform,

> L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, multiple award-winning MH Industry trade publisher and consultant, are among a variety of industry professionals who have said so.

Among the topics we will dive into during the month of April are the issues that can be identified or suggested as causes for the modular and manufactured housing industry’s relatively low levels of sales, juxtaposed to its significantly higher potential.



MHI President, CEO Richard A. ‘Dick’ Jennison, Left. MHARR President, CEO M. Mark Weiss, JD, right. Photo credit,

MHARR’s rival, the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) president and CEO, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison, flipped from saying in 2014 that the industry should not expect a more robust recovery. Jennison said in a 2014 MHProNews interview that the industry would slowly rise towards 100,000 (+/-) annual shipments. After that interview, when he was pressed on that claim, he later publicly said less than a year later that the industry was capable of 500,000 shipments a year.

That’s a notable swing. But in both cases, Jennison qualified even that lofty half-million new homes a year potential by saying it would have to be achieved over time, at a relatively slow, steady pace.

Why should the pace be slow, instead of a more rapid recovery to the industry’s historic new home sales levels?  Given the affordable housing crisis, isn’t the industry’s potential even greater today?

Is Jennison correct? Are there technical or practical reasons for a slow growth in manufactured housing?  Such questions deserve a look.


Dick Ernst, consultant and financial services board member at MHI, says there is “no lack of capacity” among the industry’s current lenders to


Dick Ernst, FinMarkUSA, click image above for exclusive interview.

finance credit-worthy sales.

Credit Human’s (formerly CU Factory Built Housing) Barry Noffsinger has agreed on that point.


Barry Noffsinger, photo credit, MHProNews. For an in-depth interview, see A Cup of Coffee with…Barry Noffsinger, at this link here.

Noffsinger added an interesting twist, when he told 2017 Tunica Show seminar attendees that the Manufactured Housing Industry needed “to fish in the right pond. “


Slide provided by Barry Noffsinger, Credit Human, to MHProNews.

His analogy was to convey the notion that if real estate agents and home builders could attract and sell qualified customers with an average FICO score around 728, then why is manufactured housing’s average credit score so much lower?


Slide provided by Barry Noffsinger, Credit Human, to MHProNews.

Says Noffsinger, it’s the pond of less qualified customers the manufactured home industry is generally fishing in.  The charts and graphics on this page were produced by him, and the entire presentation is linked as a download, here.


Slide provided by Barry Noffsinger, Credit Human, to MHProNews.

LATonyKovach-Louisville-2015-mhpronews-com-275x156It is noteworthy that Noffsinger’s points dovetail with several of those that consultant, marketing, and sales trainer L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach has practiced and taught for years.


Tom Fath, New Durham Estates.

Results reported by Tom Fath, of New Durham Estates – in an upcoming, special video presentation by Fath – will be provided in the days ahead. In that video, Fath details the changes their operation made, and how it dramatically increased their sales and boosted the quality of the cash and good credit customers they profitably attracted.

Other industry lenders on the same finance panel made similar points to Noffsinger’s, pointing out that certain operations attract and sell higher credit scores or cash buyers.


Labor Force

Several HUD Code manufactured home industry producers have told MHProNews that a challenge for them is getting and keeping good factory workers as one of the industry’s limiting factors.


Gary Dobbs, l, Lindsey Bostick, c, John Bostick, r, with Sunshine Homes at a ball game. For an exclusive with John Bostick, click here.

Yet, per figures supplied by Sunshine Homes sales manger Stan Posey, their firm is growing at twice the rate of the industry at large. Sunshine Homes is clearly keeping up with attracting the right pool of labor.

Bostick has told MHProNews that they could “easily” ramp up to double their current rate, in a period of about 60 days, without sacrificing quality. What does Sunshine Homes do that keeps quality and satisfaction of their wholesale and retail customers high, while allowing them to grow their labor force at a more rapid pace?  That too will be the subject of Inside MH videos coming in the days ahead.

The MH Industry Take-Away

That there is a rising need and demand for affordable housing is unquestionable. University, government, and non-profit surveys all point to that reality. That the industry could be growing more rapidly is proven by diverse operations like Sunshine Homes – which markets and sells only through independent retailers, communities and builder/developers, or operations like the Fath family’s, or others noted above.

The potential for more rapid and sustainable growth is apparent.  It’s a theme that consultant and publisher Kovach has hit for years.  See two of his graphics above and below as examples.


The industry’s potential, as shown in another graphic above, is nothing less than enormous, given the proper lobbying, marketing and sales best practices.  Graphic by

What’s the Truth About the Manufactured Housing Industry’s Potential?

The facts and views from informed professionals presented here strongly suggest that the potential for rapid and sustainable growth is enormous.  There is no need to return to the failed ‘easy credit’ policies that caused Conseco and other manufactured home loan programs to collapse. The views of those above and others in the manufactured home industry underscore how the industry could climb rapidly and sustainably into several hundred thousand new home sales per year.

MHProNews, as pro-manufactured home industry trade publishers, will continue to spotlight the threats, heartaches, achievements and opportunities for growth in a periodic series of reports, found only here, your home for – Industry News, Tips and Views Pros Can Use. © ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

(Note: Links added/updated on 4.7.2017.)

SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-News and commentary submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News, on

Why did Ishbel Dickens/NMHOA decline a Debate with Carla Burr about PBS NewsHour’s Manufactured Housing Report?

January 14th, 2016 Comments off

bad_news_good_news__Jan_14_2016Opening with an analysis about the dynamics behind mainstream media coverage, MHLivingNews publisher L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach used that to focus attention on the recent PBS NewsHour report that featured Carla Burr, titled Bad and Good – Two Sides – Manufactured Home Living and News Reporting.

Kovach reminds us of the rule of thumb in the newsroom: “If it bleeds, it leads!” Bad news travels fast and gets there first, and is often the lead—on TV and other news media. He provides examples of that, before moving onto the thrust of the article, which is the recent PBS NewsHour and Seattle Times/BuzzFeed stories.

Kovach acknowledges that there are rotten apples in every industry, and provides linked examples of how MHProNews and MHLivingNews has drawn attention to apparent bad actors from MH in the news. Thankfully, there are not many examples of criminal behavior in MH today. But when other media misrepresents or unjustly slants the news, Kovach makes it clear that we have and will spotlight errors and correct the record.

Carla Burr/Ishbel Dickens and NMHOA invited to debate PBS NewsHour topics, they decline

However, Kovach says it’s not just that the reporting was slanted on the PBS video and on the seattletimes/buzzfeed  “stories,” but there is a hidden agenda: interviewee Carla Burr is not a typical resident of a manufactured home community that the PBS happened upon. Burr is the vice president of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) and a known activist on MH finance and community issues.

Burr’s role in the activist group was not mentioned in the PBS broadcast. Moreover, a close look at the PBS report reveals she does not fit the profile PBS painted of MHC residents in general.

Kovach has since offered to debate Burr or Ishbel Dickens, the executive director of NMHOA on the PBS NewsHour video in Washington, D. C. in early February. Dickens formally declined. For the correspondence, click here.

Additionally, some of Dick Ernst’s key comments were edited from the script. Based upon Dicken’s emailed message noted above and other factors, Kovach suggests that special interests working against MHI supported legislation aimed at stopping the common-sense reforms in Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act reform of Dodd-Frank that would benefit millions of MH home owners and businesses was the aim behind both stories.

Just as bad news travels faster, one may not hear from media reports about the millions who live in manufactured homes who love their lifestyle and affordability. According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO), manufactured homes have lower payments and lower cost than conventional housing or most rentals.

For the full story with related videos and downloads, click on – Bad and Good – Two Sides – Manufactured Home Living and News Reporting##

(Image credit Deer Valley Homebuilders and MHLivingNews)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Manufactured Housing to be Featured on PBS

December 30th, 2015 Comments off

mhi_logoA memorandum from Dick Jennison, Manufactured Housing Institute President and CEO, informs MHProNews that PBS NewsHour has set Sat., Jan. 2 to air its story on the manufactured housing industry. The story has already been delayed, and it may be delayed again depending upon news priorities.

MHI expects the segment will be 8-10 minutes long, and likely will include social activists and perhaps others who are not so keen on manufactured housing, or do not share the importance of pending legislation that can reform MH lending.

Although Jennison says a balanced report is anticipated, he adds, “We know that the reporter has interviewed and will likely feature individuals and families who are living in manufactured housing and are struggling financially or otherwise. We believe the reporter visited communities in Northern Virginia and West Virginia, but we have no way of knowing whether residents from those states or others will be included in the final report.

Chairman of MHI’s Financial Services Division, Dick Ernst was the industry’s spokesperson interviewed on camera at the Washington, D. C. PBS studio. He was asked primarily about MH financing and legislation, although the reporter later followed up with questions abut manufactured home communities.

If the air time changes MHI assured us they will send word. ##

(Image credit: Manufactured Housing Institute)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Marty Lavin, JD – Dodd-Frank, CFPB Manufactured Home Regulations Impact on Owners, Businesses

September 22nd, 2015 Comments off

MartyLavinCFPBManufacturedHomeLendingRegulationsVideoInsideMH-ManufacturedHousingProNews-com-5 years after its passage, Dodd-Frank remains one of the hotly contested legacies of the Obama Administration. Supporters of the law believe that it provides important consumer protections. Others point to facts suggesting CFPB over-reach with respect to manufactured housing chattel – or personal property, “home-only loans” – are creating a Renters Nation.”

Into the hotly contested debate over The Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act – HR 650 and S 682 – is a newly released Inside MH video interview with attorney Marty Lavin.

Lavin’s background includes taking consumer advocacy positions, while maintaining his status as an expert on manufactured home finance.

In this in depth interview, Lavin is asked about such hot-button topics as:

  • Is Manufactured Home Lending Predatory?
  • Is Fraud and Abuse of Customers Prevalent in MH Retail Today?
  • What is the impact of CFPB regulations on the values of an estimated 4 million manufactured home owners living in 1.7 million MHs in the U.S.?
  • What is the impact of the CFPB’s MLO rule on manufactured home shoppers and sellers?

The PBS Newshour is said to be ‘holding’ video interviews of its own, that informed sources suggest to MHProNews will be slanted against the MH industry’s positions.

Sources have advised the Daily Business News that the PBS interviews by Stephen Fee could be released 10 days before any Senate floor debate. While MH lending consultant Dick Ernst was asked to represent the views of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), sources suggest that the Gwen Ifill interview about OZY Media’s take on manufactured housing could be an important clue as to how those reports will be slanted.

Manufactured home personal property financing – which Fee and others in the media mislabel as ‘mobile home loans’ – will likely come to the forefront, as a Senate vote on a bill that includes the language of S 682 is expected to come up for a vote this fall. Fee has not yet responded to our contact for comments.

PBS’ MH lending focused videos, along with other media reports expected in the run-up to the fall Sentate debate and vote, could make this exclusive Inside MH video interview with Marty Lavin an important part of the discussion, as it takes an in-depth look at the MH loan issue.

A detailed list of other resources on the manufactured home lending topic are found at this link here. ##

(Image credits: Roberts Resorts and Communities, MHProNews, Inside MH.)

Is the CFPB Protecting us from Buying Homes?

September 1st, 2015 Comments off

rent versus buy   rent-directWriting in MHHomeLivingNews, award-winning writer Jan Hollingsworth recounts the story of the older gentleman, likely a farmer, in bib overalls who visited a manufactured home dealership in Kentucky. After two hours of perusing the possibilities of different homes, he chose one. But when he asked the salesman for help in filling out the finance application, he was told federal regulations prevent manufactured home retailers from assisting customers. The man left, unhappy, and later found a salesman elsewhere who was willing to break the rules to provide the old farmer with what may be the house of his dreams.

The story highlights the incongruities written into the Dodd-Frank Act and now promulgated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Barry Noffsinger, a regional manager for CU Factory Built Lending, one of the nation’s leading MH lenders, said, “He wasn’t asking the salesman to do anything that a real estate agent doesn’t do every day. It just makes no sense at all.

With compliance costs quadrupling in the past three years for MH lenders, as Don Glisson, Jr., CEO of Triad Financial Services says, many small banks, credit unions and other MH lenders have shuttered their MH lending operations, leaving prospective buyers to rely on high interest loans or continue renting.

While co-author of Dodd-Frank, former Congressman Barney Frank says in a letter to a constituent that the measure was not intended to apply to manufactured homes, it is since the CFPB regulations went into effect, effectively prevents those with low-to-moderate incomes who want to move from renting a home to buying a home.  These are the very people the CFPB alleges it is trying to protect. It particularly harms someone wanting to finance an MH valued under $20,000 from the sale— again, often hurting the most vulnerable.

Hollingsworth tells of a young family man with good credit in Louisiana who wanted to purchase a used manufactured home for $7500 to site on family-owned property. Unable to find an MH lender, he ended up paying a non-MH lender 36 percent interest, a payment which turned out to be less than half of apartment rental. “Our desire to buy the home outweighed our desire to not pay 36 percent interest,” said Eric Powell.

The Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) rule which prevented the salesman from helping the farmer fill out the finance application also stems from Dodd-Frank, fall-out from the 2008 mortgage crisis that saw lenders steering borrowers to specific high-interest subprime loans in exchange for kickbacks. Although it has nothing to do with manufactured housing, the CFPB targeted the industry with special restrictions.

Realtors refer customers every day to lenders, but CFPB says they’re exempt, because they’re not being compensated. But our people aren’t either,” says MH finance consultant Dick Ernst, president of Financial Marketing Associates, Inc. There is a huge difference between suggesting a possible lender for the purchaser of an MH and “steering” them to someone who might take advantage of them.

Two-thirds of purchases of manufactured homes are financed by chattel loans, secured by the home only. Few MH retailers can afford to keep an MLO-licensed sales person on staff, so applications to finance a home are shot-gunned to every potential lender, regardless of whether the prospective consumer may qualify with those lenders or not.

In the past, a retailer could pre-qualify a buyer by accessing their credit reports and analyzing their income — just like every Realtor ® in America does — and with that info they could at least determine what lender not to send the application to,” says Glisson. When the MLO went into effect in 2014, Triad had to hire employees just to deal with the sudden onset of applicants who could not qualify for a loan.

He said, “Our origination cost per loan has skyrocketed. Pre-2014, we would approve about 50 percent of the applications we received, as they were pre-screened. Currently we approve about 30 percent … so our efficiency went down the tubes and we are working harder and spending more to make the same amount of loans. But not being able to show the customer any options is a disservice to the home buyer.

Often, prospective home buyers get discouraged after being denied time and time again, and return to the rental market. Joseph Ravenelli in Ohio was pre-qualified for a $100,000 single-family home but decided he wanted to buy a $40,000 manufactured home in a community. He was unable to find a lender for the MH, and now continues to rent.

On the other side of the coin, a woman in Kentucky had a buyer for a used $20,000 MH, but financing was not available and she finally sold it for $5,000 cash.

It’s not just smaller lenders that are leaving the MH lending business: U. S. Bank said the regulatory environment was not conducive to MH lending and withdrew that arm of its operations.

MHLivingNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach quotes CFPB Director Richard Cordray when he appeared before the Senate Banking Committee last month: “I don’t know what to make of some of the problems people are raising to me … because some of these lenders are quite profitable.” Kovach says: “The agency did not respond to a recent query asking how the profitability of “some” lenders, or even one lender, relates to consumer protection or consumer access to affordable home ownership — or how it compensates for shrinking opportunities to either buy or sell low-priced homes.

Sam Landy, President and CEO of UMH Properties, Inc., no longer offers financing of MH in their many communities because of the new regulations, unless it’s third-party financing. In the past they had $30 million in loans to residents in their communities. Now, their rental market is booming.

Lenders who met with CFPB staff about the impact of Dodd-Frank on the industry came away empty-handed, with no direct answers, and no suggestion that the agency will change its rules, although it has the opportunity to do so.

However, despite opposition from the CFPB and other consumer groups, the House of Representatives passed the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, H. R. 650, which will remedy the MLO rule and return private lenders to financing MH that may sell for $20,000 and less. The companion bill in the Senate, S. 682, is expected to be voted on in the coming months.

Says Glisson: “All we want is a level playing field with the site-built real estate brokers and home builders who still have the ability to help their buyer find the best financing option for their situation.

In last month’s Senate Banking Committee hearing with CFPB Director Corday, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), noting the impact of Dodd-Frank on many of his low-to-middle income constituents in Tennessee who are having a hard time purchasing a home, said rural communities have few rental opportunities, and payments on a manufactured home are often less than rent.

Cordray responded: “That doesn’t sound optimal from anybody’s standpoint.

For the complete article, please click here. ##

(Image credit: rentdirect)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

The Path to the Rebirth of the Manufactured Housing Industry

June 3rd, 2015 Comments off

mhi  photo credit  mh under productionThrough a series of interviews with manufactured housing industry professionals, politicians and consumers and a bevy of statistics and graphs, MHLivingNews and MHProNews publisher L. A “Tony” Kovach documents the pitfalls and stumbling blocks that prevent manufactured housing from becoming a major player in meeting the growing need for affordable, unsubsidized housing for many low and middle income residents of the United States. Not only would it provide housing—it would also provide a leg up for people to build equity, achieve independence, a sense of security, and realize the American dream is not just for the one percent at the top, but for everyone.

Alan Amy of Royer Homes in Opelousas, LA, who has been selling manufactured homes for 44 years, says if federal regulations changed, 20,000 more homes would sell immediately. Sam Landy, CEO of UMH Properties, Inc. says his company is doing okay renting manufactured homes. “We lend money to people who have ten percent down and 30 percent of their income covers their lot rent and finance payments. We lend them that money at only eight percent interest rate,” says Landy. He says it’s ridiculous to think they might want to sell a home to someone who cannot afford it. He states, “The current status of the law is, if we made a good faith determination that said someone had the ability to repay, and somebody second-guessed us later, the cost to litigate that would wipe out any profit we made from nine other good deals.

Quality is up, complaints are low, the three largest trade shows are strong and growing, and production, despite the regulatory roadblocks, continues to expand, as MHProNews reported in an earlier story. Both sides of the aisle in Congress as well as consumer groups agree that federal regulations need to be modified.

As Jan Hollingsworth reported in Dodd-Frank and Manufactured Home Financing:The Place where Good Intentions and Unintended Consequences Collide, when Eric Powell tried to borrow $7500 to buy his father’s manufactured home that was sited on family-owned property in Louisiana, because of the Dodd-Frank Act that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), despite good credit the only loan he could find was at an interest rate of 35.91 percent. The monthly payment was only $350 a month. Loans under $20,000 on manufactured homes generate as much as $3000 in points and fees to originate because the CFPB classifies them as “high cost,” which drives lenders away.

While former Congressman Barney Frank agrees the measure that bears his name was not intended to affect manufactured home loans as it has, the CFPB ignores industry lenders who have tried to explain how MH lending differs from traditional mortgages. Dick Ernst, involved in MH finance for 40 years, says, “It’s been a three-year battle with CFPB, because they have the discretion to change things. It’s been very discouraging, because they have a certain mindset.” That mindset does not accept that consumers are the ones suffering from not being able to purchase a manufactured home, regardless of the interest rate, the price, or any other factor.

One reason chattel loans bear a higher interest rate is the cost of repossessing a ten to 30 ton home if the buyer should default. Another reason is the lack of a secondary market that could amass a portfolio of loans and spread the costs out over thousands of them. Originators of chattel loans have to carry their own paper.

Kovach says better education of public officials, consumers and the media would go a long way towards correcting the misconceptions that surround the MH industry. Passage of The Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act would not only spur the MH industry to build more homes, but that in turn would create jobs and more demand for furnishings and other home goods as well as financial services products.

The federal government is said to spend $40 billion in rent subsidies annually. Says Kovach, “Why not channel those dollars into programs that can yield home ownership via quality, appealing, affordable, energy-saving manufactured housing? Why channel dollars into the hands of those who will keep raising rents, and yield no equity for those millions involved?

Home ownership is the single best path to a higher net worth. For those who say that manufactured homes depreciate, what they fail to consider is that site-built housing dropped like a rock in value when the mortgage crunch hit in 2008. Conventional housing is artificially supported by federal policies and lending support. To deny a similar application to MH is a form of policy discrimination. Leveling the playing field helps consumers, lenders, public coffers, professionals – indeed all involved.

For the complete article, please click here. ##

(Photo credit: Manufactured Housing Institute-new manufactured homes under construction)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Manufactured Home Community Owners Group to Bestow Awards, Discuss Issues

May 11th, 2015 Comments off

california_mobilehome_parkowners_allianceThe California Mobilehome Parkowners Alliance (CMPA) will honor seven manufactured housing industry members at its symposium May 31-June 1, 2015 in Las Vegas. Barry Cole of Manufactured Housing Insurance Services will receive top honors as recipient of The Chelu Travieso-Earhart Lifetime Achievement Award. Attorney Phil Woog will receive the Freedom Fighter award, and the Advocacy Fighter honor will be bestowed upon Jess Maxcy of the California Manufactured Housing Institute (CMHI).

The Soaring with the Eagles Awards are given in three different categories: Finance, Manufacturer and Dealer. Dick Ernst of Financial Marketing Services is being honored with the finance award. Golden West Homes is receiving the manufacturer honor, and Horizon Home Sales will be honored in the dealer category. So Cal Manufactured Housing Construction Inc. is being honored for their overall contributions to the industry.

In addition the symposium will offer panel discussions regarding legal and rent issues, as well as the effect of the current drought crisis in California on the manufactured housing industry, as CMPA informs MHProNews. ##

(Image credit: California Mobilehome Parkowners Alliance)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.