Posts Tagged ‘frank rolfe’

Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, Both Finger Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Failures, in Writing, Again

June 3rd, 2019 Comments off



Dave on left, Frank on right.

It has been a while since we’ve done a focus article on Frank Rolfe and Dave Reynolds, partners in RV Horizons, Mobile Home University, and other manufactured home industry related ventures.  Per third-party sources, RV Horizons is now financially tied to TPG Capital.  TPG and RV Horizons were the subject of a recent letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), investigating their business practices.  Frank Rolfe also featured prominently in the April 2019 attack by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver errantly named “Mobile Homes” which featured the image of a modern manufactured home.



So, in spotlighting “Frank and Dave” on the Daily Business News on MHProNews, we do so with our normal ‘wheat and chaff‘ approach – separating the good (wheat) from the problematic (chaff).  There are controversial things that they have said and done over the years, that MHProNews and MHLivingNews have objectively spotlighted as problematic.  There are also things that they’ve said and done that are arguably useful and/or positive.

To clarify, our quoting the pair below at length, that should not be construed as an endorsement.  Nor are we doing a fact check per se, as terminology is but one of the problems that they continue to arguably go awry on.  Even the names of their various enterprises exemplify imprecise and inaccurately applied phrases.  There have been no mobile homes built since June 15, 1976 – as the duo well know.  But they continue to use terms as if “mobile home” and “manufactured homes” are interchangeable.  They are not.



You must meet people where they are. Terminology must be taught and caught. Make a habit of using the correct terminology.


The terminology matters because
the terminology determines the
construction standards a home was
built to,” Steve Duke, LMHA.


This is not a perfect definition, but it is clarifying.


That said, at a glance, many of the claims they make in their June, 2019 letter – which was brought to our attention by members of their team – are objectively reasonable enough.  It appears that some of their comments this month are done as part of an oblique response to regulatory ‘heat’ coming from Senator Warren, legislators in Iowa, and from still more third-parties.

That said, we’ll begin with their punch line, from the very end of their lengthy column: If you’re not a member of your state MHA then you’re making a mistake because these groups have become virtually the only representation park owners have in government today.”  That’s as much of a slam on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) today as it was in 2017, when Frank Rolfe said the following to MHProNews.



That said, let’s not overlook the fact that Berkshire Hathaway brands are routinely promoted by “Frank and Dave.”  Nor should we overlook the role that Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett has apparently paid in funding through so-called dark money channels MHAction, and others that have in turn been part time flame fanners who also attack the manufactured housing industry’s businesses.

The duo said: “It’s always interesting to hear what our peers are worried about, and to collectively brainstorm on the issues…”  and also “HUD’s Secretary Ben Carson has been outspoken on the benefits of manufactured housing.”  In doing so, they again obliquely call into question that punch-line already noted about the lack of effectiveness of MHI.  Because once more, as of this morning, Carson’s potent address on manufactured housing is AWOL from MHI’s own website, even though Dr. Carson’s talk was given at an MHI meeting.




But it also can be construed as a swat against the new community trade group, NAMHCO.  The National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) themselves have slammed MHI, whom they publicly broke ranks from.

In NAMHCO’s defense, Neal Haney made a statement about the Disney controversy – which when last checked in late May had not been corrected, thus has not gone away.  That said, there is not much that one can see that NAMHCO has done beyond hiring as a lobbyist a former staffer at MHI, the very organization they broke away from?  That was questionable logic at best. We’ll look at NAMHCO in the days ahead, as we are awaiting a response to some questions put to them on manufactured home community and industry issues.

With that tee up, that Rolfe himself in a video that follows this report reflects the notion that they are using improper terminology, we quote at length below the “June Mobile Home Park Investing Newsletter.”  In doing so, we are editing out the numerous plugs they give to Berkshire Hathaway brands, and a few others.  What remains is interesting on several levels, some of which are already noted above.  All third-party images are being provided under fair use guidelines for media.  The images and text are as in the original, sans advertising.




Image are as from the Frank and Dave monthly memo, and are provided under fair use guidelines for media. This month’s message was brought to MHProNews’ attention by members of their team.

June is the first month of Summer and is also the start of the dreaded “mowing season” in mobile home parks. Why is it so dreaded? Because the average park owner has no control over the behavior of the residents regarding their lawn maintenance, and it can drive you nuts. While most park owners mow and edge the common areas and vacant lots weekly, many of our residents feel it’s OK to get out the old lawn mower once a month. As a result, the park manager is put in the unenviable position of having to be referee of which lawns have to be “forced mowed” when our mowers arrive (a “forced mow” is when the park’s lawn company mows the resident’s yard due to excessive height and then the park bills the customer for it). Of course, this typically results in an argument by the homeowner that “my yard wasn’t that bad”. At some point, the park owner thinks “maybe I should just mow all the yards every week and include that in the rent”. The problem with that concept is that we are in the affordable housing business and that will result in a monthly rent increase of probably $50 per month just to break even – a huge increase. The other issue is that the residents will now collectively complain that the mower has damaged their personal items in the yard or skirting and want monetary compensation. There’s no way to win. The workable solution is to simply do what city government does – even in McMansion subdivisions. You simply let people do their thing and you set a firm guideline of what is clearly not acceptable for the good of the community and you act only in those cases to bring them back into conformance. And you back those decisions up with photographic evidence of how tall the grass and weeds are to stop any potential argument from the homeowner (or judge if it ever came to that). While Summer is the best time of the year for mobile home sales and rentals (equivalent to the retail industry’s Christmas season) many park owners secretly smile when freezing temperatures return and the grass turns brown.






The average American never pays attention to it, but mobile home parks share a common trait with the animal kingdom: they are becoming an endangered species. But the culprit is not climate change or the removal of the rainforest. Instead it’s an environment in which land values are constantly increasing while park owners are criticized for raising rents (or in the case of four states with rent control, stopping rent increases altogether). Contrary to what some people may think, without increasing rents, mobile home parks become other uses, such as the one pictured above. Why is this occurring?

Why mobile home parks are easy targets for re-development

In many cities, mobile home parks are the most valuable development site in the entire market. Why? Because most cities will do whatever it takes to get the mobile home park torn down. They have this motivation for two reasons: 1) the local residents unfairly blame the mobile home park for all local crime (which studies have shown is actually the Class C and lower apartment buildings) and 2) mobile home parks cost city government huge amounts of money in school tuition vs. actual property tax income (which is true in many cases). Since the city wants the mobile home park to be gone, they are willing to grant any type of zoning the builder applicant desires, such as ultra-high-density apartment (which they won’t allow anywhere else). Want to obtain once-ion-a-lifetime zoning for your development? Just buy a mobile home park and propose to tear it down.

How higher rents are essential to keep parks alive

There’s a misguided narrative in America right now that would suggest that the solution to all social ills is to hamper the ability to increase rents. Advocates try to do this politically (although it has failed miserably to date) or through cajoling park owners that higher rents are evil and sending them nasty letters. What these folks fail to grasp is that higher rents are actually the only way to keep parks in business. Without higher rents, the owner cannot afford to make the capital upgrades that most parks need for the next half-century. And, of course, without higher rents there are just too many other uses for the land that are more attractive. Case in point, the average apartment rent in the U.S. is $1,270 per month, while the average mobile home park rent is only $280 – about $1,000 per month different. That’s why so many mobile home parks are being torn down and made into apartments.

Should mobile home parks be subsidized by the U.S. government – just as apartments are?

Regarding the argument that higher rents will ultimately price the most marginal residents out of the housing market, the same argument could be made for apartment rents, which have risen far faster and higher than mobile home parks could ever accomplish. Yet there’s no push back from housing advocates because the poorer tenants are kept afloat through Section 8 – HUD’s assistance program that pays roughly 80% of the rent in many cases. So why should the government deny all assistance to mobile home park residents who are marginal? Good question. HUD passed a program of support to mobile home park residents a while back but then failed to enact it – so I guess you’d have to give them a call to find out the reasons. Perhaps the biggest is simply that the program – by HUD’s own admission – has no room for new customers.

Could tax breaks hold the key?

A few years ago Congressman Keith Ellison proposed a tax incentive that gives the mobile home park owner attractive tax breaks if they keep the property in that same use post-sale. Many people agreed with the simplicity of the concept (effectively reducing capital gains tax if the park is not re-developed) but nobody felt the issue was important enough to even vote on it. That’s a shame, as it might have saved some of the parks – and homes of thousands of residents – that have fallen under the wrecking ball since the idea was first bounced around.

What other things could be done to make owning a park more attractive?

When you add together city hostility, the absence of government assistance, and the constant negative pressure of special interest groups, it’s a wonder that more parks are not torn down than the current pace. We are not advocating that all Americans should install a bumper sticker that says “Hug a Park Owner” but there definitely needs to be more media narratives on the positive side of the industry and the important role that park owners play in solving the affordable housing crisis. It’s only fair.


Mobile home parks are the only workable solution to the U.S. affordable housing crisis. But they are a finite commodity and it’s dwindling every month. Politicians, media and the U.S. public need to understand the factors at play and support the industry like never before. Mobile home parks are limited in number and every time one is re-developed another one does not take its place. While many may argue over the importance of the Australian Water Frog, this is one endangered species that will result in huge ramifications for millions of Americans.



Patricia and her husband had fallen on hard times and had spent the previous eight months living in their van. Pat explained that during their time without a home they boiled water from streams in the mountains to make it drinkable and Pat worked odd jobs to put food on the table. Her husband is ill and disabled. They always set money aside, and eventually were able to save up the down payment on a small travel trailer and placed it on a lot in our property in Grants, New Mexico. For eight years they were a model resident, never being late on the rent and always being a good neighbor.  But it was extremely difficult for them to live full-time in a tiny RV, particularly with a disability.

Recently a used mobile home became available in the property, with a nominal value. Our manager – and everyone in the community – had an idea. What if they could remodel the home and put Pat and her husband in it? To us, it was a great idea. Here we had a resident in need, who had been a pillar of our community, and we had the opportunity to give back to them, as well as to ignite the spirit of giving in others. Our manager, other company associates, and friends from their church contributed money and labor to remodel the home and to fully furnish it. Her pastor bought a new flat screen television – the generosity was contagious.

When Pat and her husband were presented with their new home, everyone present was crying. Statements were overheard “I have never felt this good before!” and “this shows there are still good people in the world!”. With building a strong sense of community an important mission of all park owners, it’s this type of project that really ignites this concept. Time magazine wrote a glowing article on the mobile home park industry a couple years ago that said that “mobile home parks are like gated communities of the less affluent”. They raved about how the bonds between residents were strong and highly important to a healthy life. We completely agree and were happy to help push this concept forward in our property.




We have always been big fans of Michigan – even back when few people were in the 1990s. We knew that this is a great place for the housing industry and have done extremely well there. So what makes mobile home parks so successful in Michigan?

Why most people don’t understand Michigan to begin with (hint: the impact of Detroit)

The first issue is why anybody would not be attracted to Michigan in the first place. The answer, of course, is the collapse of the auto industry beginning in 1970s and the perceived impact on Detroit. For many years, the simple mention of Michigan struck terror into the heart of park buyers and lenders because they just couldn’t get the visual image of inner-city Detroit out of their mind. But that’s a ridiculous situation as the state is vase and Detroit is just one tiny piece of it. The Michigan that we know and invest in has zero exposure to the auto industry and is on the whole other side of the state. Cities like Ann Arbor and Traverse City have never had a notable recession and are economic powerhouses far removed from the world of Henry Ford.

Why it has a robust economy: a review of the state’s stats

Let’s review the stats for the State of Michigan today:

  • The unemployment rate is 4%.
  • The median home price is $151,700.
  • The average two-bedroom apartment rent is $915 per month.
  • There are 30 of the Fortune 500 companies based there.
  • There are 210,957 millionaires that live there.

Does that sound weak to you? And that’s despite the decline of Detroit, which was once the world center of automobile manufacturing.

Why it is a great market for mobile home parks

We have always said that to have successful mobile home parks you have to have a housing “contrast” – do have demand for affordable housing you need to have expensive housing. And Michigan has expensive housing. This may be due to economic factors as well as simply supply & demand as there is not a vast amount of buildable land in an area if water features and significant topography. On top of that, the customer base in Michigan is just wired different, with outstanding collections and pride-of-ownership that is only found in the northern states. The final unique feature to Michigan – although it’s growing throughout the U.S. – is higher rents. The typical lot rent in most of Michigan is $300 to $500 per month, and that’s even in lower population market. At that rent levels, it makes mobile home parks very valuable and worthy of significant time and effort to turn them around.


We are huge fans of the “Great Lakes State”. We own a significant number of mobile home parks there and really enjoy the quality of the product and the customer. If you don’t understand the true status of Michigan, we urge you to study it. And don’t forget that western Michigan is a great place to visit this Summer, with some of the best beaches in the U.S. and fantastic scenery.




We have spent that past 25+ years bringing old mobile home parks back to life. It’s a passion that more American investors are starting to share. Re-positioning an old mobile home park for the new century typically requires capital investment. So how much does it really cost?

Big dollar items

When bringing a mobile home park back to life, there are some really big dollar projects that are required in some properties. Here is what those are and roughly what they cost (of course, the cost is dependent on many factors ranging from size of property to number of vendors and even weather considerations):

  • Roads. This can include everything from pothole repair to asphalt skim coat to full road base and asphalt replacement ($10,000 to $250,000+)
  • Utility line replacement. This can include water, sewer, power or gas line upgrades ($100,000+)
  • Parking pads. These may be gravel, asphalt or concrete 20’ x 20’ squares ($50,000 to $100,000+)
  • Park-owned home renovations. Our average cost is $4,000 per home, so it’s completely contingent on the number of park-owned homes and the condition ($20,000 to $100,000+)

Medium dollar items

  • Tree trimming. This can range from a single dead tree to a virtual forest ($5,000 to $50,000+)
  • Restoration of the old mom and pop residence. These old homes typically have a ton of deferred maintenance including roofs, foundations, flooring and HVAC ($10,000 to $20,000+)
  • Restoration of the old clubhouse and/or pool. Basically taking the old shell of a building and installing new flooring and painting, or bringing the old pool back to life ($5,000 to $30,000+)
  • Large amount of fence installation. Many properties have large-scale privacy fencing separating the park from neighboring uses, or chain link fence on the lots ($5,000 to 15,000+)
  • Scrapping of obsolete park-owned homes. Sometimes mom & pop owners don’t take the time and money to remove vacated structures that are a detriment to the park ($4,000 to $20,000+)
  • Painting and skirting select homes. The park owner has to act as the catalyst even on the homes they don’t own, mostly taking care of home renovation projects for residents who are financially incapable of getting the job done ($5,000 to $15,000+)

Smaller dollar items

  • Entry fencing. Costing about $10 per linear foot, this would typically be three-rail white vinyl fence that is used to make our entry more attractive ($2,000 to $4,000)
  • Entry signage. This is the nice sign at the front of the property that sets the first impression for the residents and the community at large ($1,000 to $2,000)
  • Interior signage. A continuation of the entry sign design, these include all stop signs and street signs and are typically based on utilizing white vinyl posts and caps ($1,000 to $2,000)
  • Marketing materials. These range from banners to pennant streamers on homes, as well as “for rent” signs for windows and yards and brochures ($500 to $1,000)
  • Seasonal color. These are the flower beds at your entry sign and often the office ($100 to $500)
  • Debris removal. This would include the initial roll-off dumpsters and labor ($1,500 to $3,000)
  • Mowing. This would be the initial reclaiming of the property including all common areas, vacant lots, removal of grass from parking pads and edging of streets. ($2,000+)

Free items that still have a huge impact

  • Enacting professional management. Residents really appreciate a manager who is fair to everyone and shows no favorites, as well as consistent in enacting systems (collections and rules enforcement)
  • A cheerful manager that cares about the residents. Happiness and enthusiasm is contagious, and this is a very powerful force in building a successful resident base.
  • Building a sense of community. The relationships between our residents and the resulting support network are the bedrock of one of our biggest amenities. Time magazine noted this in their article a couple years ago titled “The Home of the Future” in which they raved about resident relationships in mobile home parks. Owners create this with the inclusion of a friendly manager, as well as treating residents with respect and enabling relationship-building by bringing “gathering spaces” (like picnic tables and playgrounds) back on-line.


Bringing old mobile home parks back to life costs money. It also requires smart planning and persistence. It’s not as simple as some people think, and it works to the benefit of all residents. The net effect is a gain for society and a resulting financial success.




MHProNews editor’s note: It should be noted that HUD Secretary Carson, NAR, and others have clarified and debunked the notion that manufactured homes depreciate. Click links to learn more.


What is the “American Dream”?

According to Wikipedia, “the American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the “American Dream” by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal” with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

One big part of the “American Dream” has always been the ability to be a homeowner. When you ask the average American “what’s the American Dream?” they will always answer “owning your own home”. That’s been reflected in American culture for over a hundred years, even in small items like the piggy bank from the 1930s – shown above – that references that saving for your home down-payment is your #1 priority. So how has that opinion changed over time, and where is it heading?

Rates of home ownership increased for decades

The rate of home ownership in 1960 was 65.2%. It increased steadily to 69% by 2004 – the peak year of home ownership in American history. At that time, it seemed as though the rate would continuously inch upward until the ownership rate was ultimately nearly 100% — with the only renters being those who were saving up their down-payment for the home purchase.

And consider the financial performance during that period

In 1960, the average home in the U.S. cost $11,900. Inflation adjusted, that amount in 1960 is the same as $102,737 today. Yet the average home cost today in the U.S. is nearly $200,000, which is twice that of the rate of inflation. That would rank single-family homes as one of the most successful investment models of the 20th century. So were home buyers really chasing the goal of owning their residence, or were they merely following a traditional investment path?

But now things have changed

However, since the single-family home mortgage bubble burst and the Great Recession of 2007 began, the current rate of home ownership is 64.2%, which was lower than 1960. This would have been considered impossible to “American Dream” purists. But, of course, those who coined the phrase “American Dream” were born in the 19th century.

Unlocking the driver to home ownership

So the key question is: how much of home ownership is based on the desire to not be a renter, and how much of it is simply an investment strategy? And is the rate of home ownership declining simply because Americans are no longer convinced that homes are a great investment based on the financial performance and they prefer the freedom of renting over ownership? In that case, will this trajectory change in the years ahead?

What the “American Dream” of the future may look like

If younger generations do not share the “American Dream” and fail to believe in the investment strategy of a stick-built house or the necessity to own one simply because that’s what they’ve been told, then what happens? That’s an issue that builders and realtors across America are beginning to ponder. As the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) retire at the rate of 10,000 per day and downsize, who will be buying their homes? Will it be the end user, or companies that specifically buy these homes merely as rental property?

The impact of this theory on mobile home price appreciation arguments

One constant complaint by many people is that mobile homes do not appreciate – that they follow the same path of an automobile that declines in value annually because of age. But this complaint is only valid if you believe that home ownership is simply about the investment model. At the other end of the spectrum, you could also argue that the mobile home owner is smarter than the single family investor, since they spend a far lower amount monthly on their housing, and can invest the difference in other things that gain in value, or hold value, better than a dwelling.

The future is all about flexibility

Mobile home parks offer the ultimate in flexibility. The resident rents the land and has an investment as low as $2,000 or so in a used home up to $40,000 in a new one (about 80% to 99% less than stick-built home prices). And they can still be a homeowner without gambling on the single-family home business model. This also hedges their risk on mobility, as the stick-built owner is burdened by selling their gigantic investment that can sometimes take years, while the mobile home owner has a much smaller risk and a more robust market of those needing affordable housing. While most Americans have virtually all of their net worth invested in their home, mobile home owners do not have all their eggs in one basket.


Home ownership and price appreciation are rapidly evolving. Mobile home parks strike a good middle ground that offers low cost and greater mobility and this is clearly resonating well with the new America as demand has never been higher.




We were recently able to interview a mobile home park owner from 1963, who is among the oldest living members of a state association. And we were stunned by the major difference between park ownership back then versus today. Apparently, the hardest thing a park owner had to a half-century ago was to obtain financing. And that fact ties many things together in the industry today.

The difficulty of financing in 1963

The owner told me that they approached every bank in the local era and were almost immediately turned down. Just when it looked like financing was unattainable, they ran into a loan officer that was a Mason, and they agreed to take a look at the deal. It was the affiliation of both men with the Masonic Lodge that made the loan possible.

In contrast to today

Mobile home parks have the lowest – or second lowest – default rate of any commercial loan year after year. As a result, banks love the loan product today. The modern park purchaser has access to regular bank loans as well as CMBS “conduit” debt and even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “Agency” debt. In fact, there has never been a better climate to obtain a mobile home park loan in.

Why this ties many facts together

There are two main byproducts of this past difficulty in obtaining debt that are demonstrated in today’s industry:

  • The abundance of seller financing. Since most mobile home park owners of the 1960s had a terrible time obtaining a loan, then that’s probably the reason that so many mobile home park owners are willing to carry the financing – they just assume that getting bank debt is impossible.
  • Why there were so many parks built in the HUD program of the 1960s. There was a huge mobile home park financing program offered by HUD in the late 1960s and it provided up to 97% LTV at a low interest rate. Since it was so difficult to borrow money back then, this explains why there were so many parks constructed under this program.


Today’s mobile home park owners take for granted the ability to easily obtain bank debt. But it was not always the case, and the owners of the 1960s had this as one of their primary concerns. Since real estate investing is based upon the sensible leverage, it’s a miracle that the mobile home park industry was able to get off the ground back in its formative stage. Once again the “Greatest Generation” defied the odds and blazed the trails that we all take for granted today.



The media often makes the case that it’s a terrible thing that mobile homes aren’t really mobile. It’s true that 98% never move a second time, and that’s probably the result of the high cost to do so (around $5,000) coupled with the simple reality that an older home is not really road-worthy. Frank is often criticized for his economics lesson for Bloomberg reporter that mobile home park residents are like customers chained to their booths in a Waffle House, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just as seat belts restrict your movement in a car but have many positive attributes. So what are the benefits of mobile homes not being mobile?

The capability of having a larger home

Let’s not forget that the reason that it costs $5,000 to move a mobile home is that they are huge. They were able to transform from 8’ width to up to 18’ width, and 38’ length to as much as 100’ length, thanks to one-time moving permits. This loophole was found by Selby Industries in the 1960s – namely that the Highway Department would allow things to be moved down the highway that were bigger than an RV if you used professional drivers and rigs to handle that wide load. What do you call a mobile home that’s easy to move anytime you want? It’s called an RV. If that’s what you want, there’s a dealership down the highway that will be happy to sell you something that does not exceed 400 square feet typically – while mobile homes are around 1,000 square feet in many cases.

Greater sense of community with stable residents

One of the most important amenities for mobile home park residents according to Time magazine’s article “The Home of the Future” is the sense of community that mobile home park residents enjoy. In a transient situation, there is no such amenity. In RV parks – where customers come and go as they please – there are no long-term relationships forged and support network attained. Whether you’re a young person or a senior, people like to know their neighbors and feel unity with them. Lack of mobility creates this opportunity.

Closer to stick built than RV in all regards

Have you ever compared the interior of a mobile home and that of an RV? One thing you’ll immediately notice is that all RV furniture is nailed to the floor. That’s because mobile structures can’t have the attributes of stationary. Most people like conveniences and aesthetics of big kitchens, fancy bathrooms with real toilets and showers, chandeliers, and big furniture. They also like drywall, draperies and real doors. None of those are possible in homes that can move freely. The reason that mobile homes resemble stick-built structures is that they are extremely close in size and complexity – the only difference being that they arrive from a factory and not from raw lumber delivered in a field.

The ability to sell the home

One unfair criticism of the industry is that mobile homes can’t be moved so the customer is “trapped”. First of all, exactly what form of housing, besides RVs, is not “trapped” based on that definition. And what do you do in a brick house in a subdivision if you want to move? That’s right, you put a sign in the yard and you sell it. Mobile homes are no different. Each year, thousands of American households sell their mobile home and move to a new location. They don’t just abandon it or say “well, I guess I can’t take that job because I can’t move this home”. And mobile homes sell fast when priced appropriately, as the demand for affordable housing is huge and growing (just check out the active home market on MHBay and MHVillage to see for yourself).


The fact that mobile homes are not truly mobile is actually a benefit, not a detraction. If it was not for the complexity and expense of moving a mobile home, you would not have big sizes, nice finish-outs and the all the attributes of the American Dream, not to mention stable neighborhoods with a high sense of community.





Back when the mobile home and RV product were one and the same, the Airstream would have been the wealthy relative of the modern mobile home. And the creator was Wally Byam, shown here with his Airstream trailer in 1933. Byam’s efforts at high-quality lifted the industry from mediocrity to a high level of professional design and construction, and spurred similar efforts by other notable individuals including Charles Lindbergh.

Wally Byam (1896–1962) was a mythical figure in the RV industry, who published a magazine selling “how-to” kits in the 1920s and began experimenting with building travel trailers out of Masonite in his backyard in Los Angeles. His fascination grew with this hobby, and he ultimately started producing units out of aluminum, which was a novel concept at the time. These shiny aluminum creations were much in demand by customers as they were light in weight, extremely low maintenance and had classic good looks. His greatest achievement was the introduction of the Airstream Clipper in 1936, which is still the essential design for Airstream to this day. Of the more than 400 travel trailer builders in 1936, Airstream was the sole survivor of the Depression. All other manufacturers went bankrupt during this period.

There are two main lessons to be learned from Wally Byam. The first is to always be on the quest of building the best product in the industry. That’s what allowed him to survive the Great Depression when all around him collapsed. The other is to be a master promoter of your product. Byam was known to organize Airstream tours of America and even international events, to demonstrate how great his product was. He was also a vocal RV industry proponent that led the industry following the end of World War II and the production again of RVs (the industry voluntarily ceased during the war due to a shortage of materials). Great products and great marketing are always a successful combination.




There is no powerful force in attracting and retaining residents in a mobile home park than a “happy manager”. This bright bastion of positivism puts customers at ease and infectiously spurs on their pride-of-ownership and sense of community. So how do you create happy community managers?

Choose the right person

There’s an old saying “don’t send a duck to eagle school” yet that’s what some mobile home park owners do on a regular basis. To have a happy manager you have to have the right raw ingredients. These qualities include self-confidence, a feeling of purpose, the enjoyment of dealing with people, and a cheerful personality. If the candidate is dour in the interview, then why would you expect them to be cheerful once hired? Look for potential managers that are upbeat and positive.

Train them properly

No manager is happy if they are failing at their job or lost as to their duties. The key is training. You have to show them what you expect and how to carry out those responsibilities. Only when you ask them “so are you 100% clear on every aspect of the job?” and they honestly answer “yes, I’ve got it” is your job truly done.

Treat them fairly

If you want to take the cheer out of any manager, then treat them unfairly. Nobody likes to be judged incorrectly – think back when you’ve put in the work yet are told “you don’t try at all”. Or worse when you made the basket fairly and the referee said your foot was over the line. The Golden Rule applies here. You should never consider yourself better than the manager or be quick to judge before you have the facts. Snap judgements – not supported by facts – lead to decision reversals which sour the manager and the damage cannot be undone on trust and sense of justice.

Let them know how they will be judged: eliminate uncertainty

There are only about five gauges on a mobile home park owner’s dashboard: 1) collections 2) occupancy 3) water and sewer recapture 4) property condition and 5) budget adherence. As a result, these are how a park manager should be judged. A manager that excels in these five categories should never have to worry about being scolded based on taking a “sick day” or “casual Friday” attire. When a manager feels that they are not being appreciated they start looking for different employment – and a successful manager will have no problem in finding a new home.

Don’t put them in impossible situations with residents

If you really want to create an unhappy manager, then go ahead and stick them into impossible situations with combative residents. Some owners, for example, use the on-site manager to serve all evictions paperwork when the same could be accomplished using the U.S. mail or a process server. The manager of the park needs to be a positive force and not a negative one. A good manager is able to get rules enforced and rent paid as a consultative friend wanting the resident to have a successful life – not a negative force that strikes fear in the hearts of residents. Don’t mix the two.


A happy manager is infectious, and spreads joy throughout the community. The happy residents tell all their friends and relatives and occupancy and collections hit 100%. The unhappy manager makes everyone miserable and never hits any targets. Happy managers are part born that way and part managed that way by the owner. Be part of the solution and not the problem.



We are on the Board of the Iowa Manufactured Home Association and recently attended their annual meeting. In the room were a number of park owners, both large and small, and they had a similarity of concerns about the industry right now – topics that resonate not only in Iowa but also across the United States. Here are some of the key issues that all owners are concerned about right now, as well as our predictions on where these topics are heading.

The political climate

No park owner is happy with the unfair stereotype that mobile home park owners are trying to “take advantage” of the residents. If this were the case, U.S. rents would mirror Denver at around $750 per month, not the roughly $280 current average throughout America. However, most politicians fail to grasp the reality of the situation and a few vocal non-profits have been able to steer weaker leaders to follow their incorrect narrative. As a result, legislators are continually filing new bills (which fortunately fail consistently) that attempt to disrupt normal business practices to reward those who don’t pay or fail to conform to the rules of society in general. We see this as a cycle that has probably happened before and will ultimately dissolve as the truth about the industry’s practices in providing good quality affordable housing comes to light while the false narrative of its opponents becomes readily apparent. To quote Abraham Lincoln “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”.

Unfair media coverage

The media loves to make fun of mobile home park residents and owners. They feel that their audiences find this funny and it’s one item they can pick on that offends few of their fans (since 92% of Americans do not live in mobile homes). The media portrays all mobile home residents as “hillbillies” and “lesser beings” while stereotyping all mobile home park owners as “evil” and “opportunistic”. This is unlikely to ever end as long as audiences like this portrayal, and the media simply wants to please those that pay their bills. Of course, it’s ironic that only a few decades ago, the media loved the mobile home park industry, and portrayed the residents as highly successful and park owners as nice and supportive – that’s why Elvis Presley lived in a park in two movies (and in actuality in the farm land behind Graceland) and why “I Love Lucy” had a continual storyline of how nice the landlords were to the Ricardos.

Laws that don’t work

Park owners are tired of some of the laws out there that make no sense and cause extreme confusion and liability exposure. Take, for example, the corrupted “companion animal rules” that essentially allow the resident to claim that any animal they choose is required for emotional support by buying a certificate on eBay and thereby circumventing any restrictions on pets. We think that this odd entitlement will soon be coming to a close thanks to the airline and lodging industries, which have a problem with Americans bringing their pet donkey on a trip under the veil of emotional support. One airline has already refused to allow an “emotional support” peacock on a flight, and there has already been at least one lawsuit from an “emotional support” pit bull attacking a customer on a flight. We’re hoping that somebody starts bringing “emotional support” livestock to Congressional hearings so these same politicians can suddenly get the intelligence to end the abuse of what was intended to be an actual medical requirement from a licensed doctor.

Rent control

Thankfully, only about four states enacted rent control in the period around World War I – yes, it’s been that long since most states even considered such terrible legislation and, even then, over 90% of states said “that’s a bad idea”. However, we now have a new state that has taken the mantle of rent control: Oregon. Apparently in an attempt to stem the hike in apartment rents in Portland, the entire state is now burdened with this idiocy which even they don’t support or like (just read the interviews with mayors outside of Portland on the enactment). Rent control is flawed for many reasons, but foremost is the fact that it doesn’t work. At all. What happens is that landlords, as a result of it, don’t put any capital investment back in properties (why should they?) and, at the same time, find loopholes to get around it. It also reduces property values and – in the end – results in higher housing costs. Just look at Los Angeles and New York City as the textbook examples. And that does not even include the cost to administrate the program, which are millions of dollars per year and burden all cities with massive compliance costs that they can’t afford and have no offset in higher property tax (as values actually go down). We believe that rent control will be as popular today as it was in World War I and that few states will be dumb enough to support its flawed rationale.

Little government assistance beyond financing

HUD’s Secretary Ben Carson has been outspoken on the benefits of manufactured housing. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s “Agency” debt program has been very successful, and now accounts for over 50% of total mobile home park loan volume each year. But when will their be support of the homes themselves and the customers who want to buy them. Currently, it’s only the park owners that support this cause, bringing in the homes and renting and selling them through programs administered by the home manufacturers. There’s absolutely no way that industry production can get much about 100,000 units per year (vs. around 400,000 two decades ago) unless the government participates in making loans possible for the consumer to go to a dealer and buy the homes themselves. We know the demand is there – affordable housing is in dire need virtually across America – but there can be no improvement in the number of households that attain it without greater government assistance. Unlike Section 8, these programs cost nothing to the U.S. taxpayer – so why are they so long in coming? Our opinion is that the government will tepidly explore this important topic, but in a manner that is more P.R. perception than reality and that park owners will remain the only source of significant new home purchases.


It’s always interesting to hear what our peers are worried about, and to collectively brainstorm on the issues, If you’re not a member of your state MHA then you’re making a mistake because these groups have become virtually the only representation park owners have in government today.



Let’s begin with a graphic that corrects their estimate of 400,000 new manufactured home shipments, which was actually above some 372,000 shipments that year.




Let’s note too that this pull quote from Frank and Dave above: “There’s absolutely no way that industry production can get much about 100,000 units per year (vs. around 400,000 two decades ago) unless the government participates in making loans possible for the consumer to go to a dealer and buy the homes themselves,”  is of interest for several reasons.

  • Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, MHI, Berkshire, and the GSEs are arguably a big part of the reason why there isn’t more lending than the law actually mandates. Rephrased, that’s an oblique slam at Berkshire Hathaway, one of their bigger strategic allies. It is one more reason why this is also a shot at MHI, see that closing paragraph by Frank and Dave again.
  • That tee’s up several related reports from MHARR relative to the GSEs, which while it isn’t a community organization, is arguably doing more for the independent communities in the industry than MHI is doing.



Allen has pointed out the obvious, that MHARR is a sponsor of our website. But that’s out in the open, MHARR has banner ads here. What Allen fails to mention is that MHI used to sponsor MHProNews too as did Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage Corp. Our coverage has been based upon our LLC’s own research and work, without favor. Savvy sponsors do so because they find the largest and most engaged audience in the industry here.


Frank and Dave also spotlighted the Oregon zoning law, which MHProNews previously reported on at the link below, and in more detail.


Rent Control & MH – Politicians “Are Carpet-Bombing Our State With Regulations That Will Deliberately Destabilize The Housing Market And Leave It Obliterated”


This pull quote from their last section by Frank and Dave is another noteworthy one: “Park owners are tired of some of the laws out there that make no sense and cause extreme confusion and liability exposure.” Because it makes a similar point, using a different example, that our publisher made last month at the link below.


Rope-a-Dope – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, Mom, Dad, & You


Frank, Dave, and Brandon Reynolds are all known to be among the regular readers on MHProNews, per our sources. Our publisher – L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach – has noted that Frank Rolfe has routinely been willing to generously give time to speaking to industry professionals when asked, as the Inside MH videos below reflect. That deserves to be favorably mentioned (wheat).



Agree or not, terminology and controversies aside, Frank was routinely a fairly straight shooter about MHI, up until 21st Mortgage purportedly pulled his chain for blasting MHI, and they stopped commenting ‘on the record’ as readily as they did previously

Kovach said Rolfe’s content is superior in several ways to rival George Allen, as their above newsletter reflects. Frank and Dave also produced significantly better results that dwarfed Allen’s community experience. The later has toned down his attacks on the duo, perhaps because of his newfound love for MHI and their big boy backers.

That said, even these brief corrections make it clear that while Frank and Dave have useful concepts to share, they also have hyperbole, and errant points too.  In some cases, one must be pretty well informed about the industry in order to separate the good from the problematic. Precisely because they are successful, they are often not closely questioned within the industry, but from outside the industry, they are routinely met with skepticism.

This recent snapshot of the controversial professionals is useful on several levels in understanding what is ailing the manufactured housing industry. See the true state of the manufactured housing industry, below the byline and notices at the close of this article.

There are good things occurring as a result of Frank, Dave and their team’s work, such a dozens of older communities being brought ‘back to life’ through private capital investments, as the RV Horizon partners outlined above.



But there are also wildly controversial and problematic videos of their own that predate the formation of MHAction, which has made the pair’s operation a target.  The video dubbed “Trailer park millionaires” by the Guardian, above, has had over 1.8 million views.  That smokes the viewership of anything that MHI, or much of the best that Clayton Homes has produced. So they’ve been a lightening rod for some time.



Sources in the RV Horizon’s/Mobile Home University family of brands have told MHProNews that while Frank Rolfe is not easily intimidated, he has been concerned about some of the MHAction protesters.  Not the protests themselves, but allegedly some among those protestors have targeted Rolfe personally.  Per sources, specific MHAction protestors have appeared to the maverick community operator to be mentally unbalanced.  Perhaps at that time, Rolfe did not yet realize that money that flows from 21st and other Berkshire brands also went from Warren Buffett’s wallet via dark money channels to the NoVo Foundation, the Tides nonprofit, and onto MHAction, to protest the pair’s controversial work.




All is not as it first appears from the outside looking into MHVille, and that applies to this successful pair of manufactured home professionals.



Rep. AOC, left, Sen Warren, right.

While MHProNews has editorially debunked several of freshman Representative Alexandria Occasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policy pronouncements, this recent quote is a bit different than several of her others. “Housing is one of the most complicated policy issues that we have, period,” AOC said, per the left-of-center Common Dreams. She was speaking to a group that reportedly included manufactured home community resident-activists. “Because you have everything from city council, from how things are zoned, to state rent laws, to federal tax breaks, and all of it comes together to make a picture that all too often enriches people who are already powerful and impoverishes people who are already vulnerable, and we cannot allow that to happen anymore.”

The solution that AOC and other Democratic legislators want, said Common Dreams, was to support “Housing Justice for All, a campaign led by the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance, a coalition of tenants, homeless people, manufactured housing residents, and advocates in New York” in their event to “pressure New York state legislators into passing a package of nine housing bills “that would supercharge rent protections in New Yorkby making rent control universal statewide, before current laws that affect millions of New York City residents expire on June 15.”

So, the controversial work of several manufactured home community investors that purportedly gave rise to the viral video, Mobile Homes, by John Oliver, and has sparked an inquiry by Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) that specifically targeted RV Horizon’s and others is fueling calls for rent control and other forms of regulatory oversight.



Some of the poster-boys for manufactured housing: Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, and a raft of MHI connected operations that include Frank Rolfe by name in the video above, are also bringing down often harsh media criticism that fuels demand for regulatory controls.  That complexity that AOC mentioned is real enough, but what she fails to say is that their solutions are not effective.  Indeed, one can argue that their ‘solutions’ have paved the way for larger firms to consolidate smaller ones.


Gannett Media Exposés, MH Community Owner Moves Sparks Outrage – IEDs of Manufactured Housing


Rolfe himself has pointed the finger at MHI numerous times over the years as being part of the problem, not part of the solution.



While long-time president of historic Dick Moore Housing opens in the video below, much of the commentary is by Frank Rolfe.  Rolfe candidly laid out the case why Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act would never pass.  Rolfe thought it a waste of time.  That too is a not subtle slam on the backers of the bill, which was led by MHI, Clayton Homes, and 21st Mortgage Corp.



This is all part of the complex picture of manufactured housing today. Good deeds are overshadowed by problematic ones, and the industry finds itself at sub-100,000 new manufactured home shipments as a consequence.  In a lengthy look at Preserving Access, our publisher who in principle backed the concept, called it in hindsight a “Rope-a-Dope” measure, designed to wear out community owners and retailers, several of which sold out to big boy firms, or folded.


Rope-a-Dope – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, Mom, Dad, & You


Quoting Frank and Dave, from their column above, “Park owners are tired of some of the laws out there that make no sense and cause extreme confusion and liability exposure.” The charge for those laws that are confusing and make no sense have been led by candidates who garnered the support of Warren Buffett, or prominent MHI member Nathan Smith, of SSK Communities. Smith is a high prolife Democratic party leader in his home state of Kentucky, who backed Secretary Hillary Clinton’s campaign, that promised to strengthen Dodd-Frank. Smith was blasted by Rolfe in the quote below.



Indeed, the mainstream news videos on the page linked here make it clear that Rolfe was not exaggerating his concerns over the harm done by Smith and SSK Communities to the image of manufactured housing.

Some of the most prominent people in manufactured housing are what a perspective manufactured housing industry investor deemed ‘black hat operators’ in a conversation with MHProNews. While MHI has white hat firms too, it is the black hats that spark the onerous legislation that the white hats are left to struggle under.

Rolfe and Dave are arguably correct in his ongoing, if oblique, attack on MHI.  But it is worth noting that a non-community operation is trying to do something about it that would be good for affordable housing seekers, manufactured homeowners, and the industry’s independents. See that report linked here.

That’s this Monday, Monday look at manufactured home “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 Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

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NPR Targets Manufactured Home Communities, Including Sun, RV Horizons, Frank Rolfe, Buffett-Berkshire Hathaway Related Details

January 30th, 2019 Comments off



NPR’s Anna Casey begins her narrative about manufactured homes and communities with two errors in her first very sentence.  She missed the estimated totals and is mostly incorrect about the proper terminology for this type of factory-built housing.


Roughly 20 million Americans live in mobile homes, once billed as low-cost living. But mobile home parks have become a target investment for real estate companies who are jacking up fees,” begins Casey’s NPR narrative, a lead-in to her radio interview transcript.

Their headline?

Mobile Home Owners Are Upset About Rising Costs To Rent Land.” That too is at best only partially correct, as there are actually some 22 million Americans living in millions of pre-HUD Code mobile homes, and more post-HUD Code manufactured homes.  Why does Casey say, “…once billed as low cost living…” – does anyone who studies the facts doubt that manufactured home living is less costly than other housing options?




The end of NPR’s article has this disclosure:

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.


That audio is found below.



To set the context for the potential impact of this type of public media ‘journalism,’ “According to Nielsen Audio Fall 2017 ratings, the total weekly listeners for all programming on NPR stations is 37.7 million people – a record that has been maintained since the Spring of 2017. NPR’s Newscasts, updated live every hour, can now be heard on 947 broadcast stations by nearly 28.7 million listeners,” said NPR on Mar 28, 2018. NPR says that about 2/3 are white listeners, with the balance being members of a minority group.

Numbers of NPR affiliated stations operate in rural areas that may be underserved by other competing news radio stations. Put differently, in the very markets where manufactured housing sales are often the strongest – due to placement issues in towns across America – NPR broadcasts like this one may be one of the only radio news sources.

Before going deeper into this Daily Business News on MHProNews report and analysis, ICYMI, this is a good place to see part one of this series on PBS and NPR for useful background.


PBS & NPR Reporting on Manufactured Housing News, Pulling Back the Veil



The terminology matters because
the terminology determines the
construction standards a home was
built to,” Steve Duke, LMHA.


Next, after the graphics that follow is the full NPR transcript, from the audio posted above.  Following that NPR transcript, MHProNews will provide analysis.

We note again, via the graphics above and below, that NPR is routinely misusing the terminology.  They and PBS have often done so over the course of several years. One might ask out loud, why?  Why are they using outdated, inaccurate, or even prejudicial terminology?




This above is not a perfect definition, but it is clarifying.


Start of NPR Transcript 


About 20 million Americans live in manufactured or mobile homes. Some own the structures. Most rent the property underneath. And for many, rents are rising. Here’s Anna Casey of Illinois Public Media.

ANNA CASEY, BYLINE: Terry Baker has lived at Wilson’s mobile home park in Urbana, Ill., for more than 20 years. Baker is a retired home health worker and a proud grandmother who was looking for a place of her own after her divorce.

TERRY BAKER: I could not get over the rent. When I moved in here, my rent was $142 a month. Where else was I going to live for that kind of money?

CASEY: Baker’s rent has doubled now. It started to rise three years ago. She describes a letter that residents got.

BAKER: Dear Wilson’s resident, Dennis and I are writing to inform you we have made a difficult decision to sell Wilson’s on University.

CASEY: The local owners sold the community to Colorado-based RV Horizons. It owns mobile home parks in more than 25 states. Its business model is to buy up mom and pop parks and raise the rent. Frank Ralph works at RV Horizons and something called Mobile Home University, a so-called investors’ boot camp that teaches people how to buy mobile home parks. This is from a promotional video on their website.


FRANK ROLFE: You only rent the land when you own a mobile home park. And the customers are relatively easy to please. They’re just happy to have a roof over their head.

CASEY: The investor who bought the park where Baker lives and 12 others in the county has steadily increased rent and fees. Frank Rolfe wouldn’t return a request for an interview, but in this video from 2015, he laid out his business strategy.


ROLFE: Yeah. Well, raising the rent is simply part of the Day One purchase because often, the mom and pop has not raised the rent in years. So they’re far below market.

CASEY: It’s unclear how many mobile home parks remain family-owned, but they’re an increasingly popular investment. Just five of the biggest mobile home real estate companies now own nearly 300,000 sites. The largest is Michigan-based Sun Communities. Russell Watson is with the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of Florida. He liked living in a Sun Community.

RUSSELL WATSON: These guys keep the parks as parks. They aren’t looking to simply displace you and send you on your way.

CASEY: In larger cities, mobile home communities are increasingly redeveloped as more profitable real estate. But Watson, who moved to a mom and pop park in Fort Pierce, says the downside is rents become less affordable when corporate owners take over.

WATSON: And they will rapidly price out people who came to those parks because it was affordable housing.

CASEY: Back in Illinois, residents like Terry Baker are worried that more rent hikes are coming.

BAKER: And if I wanted to move this place, it’s going to cost me $5,000 to $7,000 to move it and set it back up. OK? And they own almost every park around here. They got me by the butt.

CASEY: That’s why Baker and some other Illinois residents are advocating for rent-control measures. But there’s a ban on rent control in Illinois and at least 20 other states. Mobile home owners worried about escalating rents fueled by speculators are pushing for legislation to control them. For NPR News, I’m Anna Casey in Urbana, Ill.

### End of NPR transcript ###


The National Geographic (NatGeo) video posted is not part of the NPR report, but helps establish some related context for those readers who may not be familiar with RV Horizons, Mobile Home University, and “Frank and Dave” Reynolds operations.



Dave Reynolds (l), Frank Rolfe (r), of RV Horizons, MHU, MHP Funds, Mobile Home University, Mobile Home Park Store and RV Horizons.


Frank and Dave’ where both invited to comment, days prior to this report, and again yesterday.  Reynolds responded to another inquiry recently, for a report that included his detailed statements linked here.  But for whatever reasons, they did not respond to our inquiry for this report.

It’s worth noting Brad Lovin, executive director of the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Association (NCMHA) quote, shown below.  Lovin’s logic is that even where the information may seemingly be close to accurate, hand-selecting what sounds bad, and/or leaving out necessary context, can cast much of the manufactured home industry in a bad light.




While the NPR narrative focused on larger owners, which includes RV Horizons, and those top five shown in the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) National Communities Council (NCC) list below, there are numerous details that NPR left out.  Some of those are found in the MHProNews infographic, further above.

At the time the list below was compiled by the NCC, the top 5 manufactured home community operators would have had some 296,087 sites. While significant, what NPR failed to mention is that there are an estimated 4.2 million land lease sites in about 44,000 manufactured home communities nationally.  So, the image painted by the NPR narrative is skewed for lack of data and context.



Also missing are disclosures by NPR, regarding possible conflicts of interest in their reports.

Among them are the numerous ties between “Frank and Dave” operations and Berkshire Hathaway brands operating in manufactured housing. Why is that important?

That’s perhaps just part of the biggest surprise.

The following is another case of “follow the money” and the truth hiding in plain sight. What follows is per the Gates Foundation website.



Takeaways? Facts and Implications?

MHLivingNews and MHProNews have previously documented that Buffett money has flowed through other organizations into groups that have literally targeted manufactured housing. Among those targets have been “Frank and Dave” and their firms.  That may or may not be with Frank or Dave’s knowledge. This portion of the report could be a surprise to them, or maybe not.




But what is certain is that there are several money-trails that have already been documented that connect Buffett-Berkshire money to news outlets and other groups that have stirred up the pot against manufactured home industry firms.

Those negative news stories in turn – while they may appear to an industry professional to be company specific, can nevertheless influence the general public perception well beyond a given company. Online quotes previously cited by MHProNews from the general public anecdotally have served to make that point.

Note that MHAction has been asked about this, as has Prosperity Now, and they’ve been mute.  But does their silence on this funding/money trail matter? They’ve both apparently been paid by Buffett’s bucks, through ‘dark money’ channels.   The money trail is documented.  A rival resident group (see related reports, below) have likewise pointed the finger at MHAction.





Normal business people don’t think like this.  In fact, industry, public officials, advocates, and mainstream media callers have a asked MHProNews – ‘Why would Buffett’s Berkshire help fund attacks on their own industry?’




The answer is lies in “the Moat” philosophy that Buffett espouses (see related reports). They’ve even allowed or funded attacks on Clayton Homes. Specifically, how?  Attacks and critiques have occurred from organizations they’ve directly or obliquely organization helped fund – such as Prosperity Now (formerly CFED) and the Center for Public Integrity.

Strange?  Perhaps, but nevertheless true.

So, this recent journalistic hit on Sun Communities, RV Horizons, and Frank Rolfe delivered via NPR – or previous ones from PBS and NPR – are purportedly part of a broader pattern. It should be noted that a high-level source at 21st Mortgage are among those that have brought this pattern to the attention of MHProNews.

The money trail, facts, and evidence have included – but are not limited to – those found in the related reports, linked further below.

So this isn’t mere speculation or a wacky conspiracy theory. Rather, these are documentable facts using the ‘follow the money’ methods preached by independent journalist, Sharyl Attkisson.

Federal authorities are known to be investigating such matters. A letter from a state attorney general’s office has come into MHProNews just yesterday.  It indicates they’ve been looking into issues related to “the Moat” and how it operates.


Sometimes the truth is hiding in plain sight. Follow the facts, evidence, and the money. Actual quote, per source as noted.


Some Satire – to Make the Points…


Satire used to drive home relevant points.


Satire used to drive home relevant points.


The Bottom Lines?

Industry professionals are waking up in Louisville, KY to talk shop and do business. They will be talking to Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – which is dominated by the Berkshire brands, Shaw and other firms that operate in manufactured housing.


Remember-Anything You, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison, Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, or Anyone Says Publicly at Louisville Show May Be Recorded by Audio, Video – Legal Details


Numerous state associations are likewise purportedly weaponized by the Berkshire brands. It should be noted that there are voices and sources associated with the above that provide news tips and other insights to MHProNews, so this isn’t a blanket condemnation. Wheat and chaff.  Discernment must be used.




This quote is serious, not satire. MHProNews looks at the facts, considers the sources, and follows the evidence. MHI earlier last year, and for years before, MHI routinely replied promptly to all inquiries. But since we’ve spotlighted the problems and concerns, they’ve gone silent. Why? If the facts are on their side, why not make offer a cogent explanation?


The money trail, facts, and evidence all purport to paint this picture.  Warren Buffett and Berkshire – with Bill Gates’ foundation as but one funding tool – have weaponized several media and nonprofits against manufactured housing. Stunning, but just look at the evidence.




Why are shipments still at such low levels during an affordable housing crisis? Don’t reports like this one help answer that question?  See the related reports, further below.


FollowThe MoneyPayMoreAttentionToWhatPeopleDothanwhatTheySaySpySea72MartyLavinYachtManufacturedHousingINdustryProMHProNews

Ask yourself. Do these Marty Lavin dictums apply in this case?


That’s MH “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)



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

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“Top 10” – RV Horizons Lost License, Reports Mainstream Media, Protests, MHU/MHP Funds Leader Responds

January 4th, 2019 Comments off



Since Colorado-based RV Horizons purchased Houlton’s St. Croix Meadows RV Park in the fall of 2015, Town of St. Joseph Town Board has twice voted to deny renewal of the park’s operating license, citing various infractions including failure to pay its bills to the city,” said the Wisconsin-side of the St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN metro’s Hudson Star Observer.


The Hudson newspaper cited this as one of their top 10 stories for 2018. An official for RV Horizons said off the record about that point from the newspaper’s report, “I guess it’s good that a community license renewal is a top story in this town and there are no bigger issues to report on. That’s the kind of town we like to invest in!

The Hudson paper did make it clear, later in their story, that the RV Horizon’s license was renewed.  RV Horizon confirmed that in an extensive comment published further below.

But an industry’s activist group, MHAction has put this incident out to their followers in a variety of ways.  They played a prominent part of that news media’s report.

That further muddies the waters, when MH spin and their own media efforts, are more commonly entering the media mix.  The image below is from earlier in this effort by MHAction.



The photo at the top is from a December protest of MHAction of a different ‘Frank and Dave’ event.



Beyond the Mainstream Report

To get both sides of the story, MHProNews reached out to Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe, principals in RV Horizons and other manufactured home related operations.




Dave Reynolds sent the following, detailed response to a series of questions from MHProNews to RV Horizons.



Dave Reynolds (l), Frank Rolfe (r), of RV Horizons, MHU, MHP Funds. 


Here is my response:


  1. Status of water issues  –  water is tested regularly as required by Wisconsin DNR and is safe for consumption.   We have just recently installed a second well to provide more capacity as well as a backup.
  2. Status of Payments  –  We are current on our payments and actually tried to prepay this a year in advance and the Town would not accept that payment due to their accounting procedures.    We are in constant contact with the Town and provide them a report each month that includes a community occupancy map and the monthly parking fee tax payment.
  3. Shandra/MHAction Statements –  I would be happy to talk to her to hear her concerns.
  4. Cosmetic vs. structural changes  –  We are doing both, and both are important.  Structural improvements include the upcoming sewer project at a cost of over $200,000 which will be completed in the spring, a new well has already been drilled, a generator will ensure water is always flowing to the residents even in the event of a power outage, dangerous trees and tree limbs have been removed or trimmed back.  The majority of improvements are infrastructure improvements and not cosmetic.  But cosmetic improvements are important as well and we will continue to improve property appearance  – something we will never apologize for.    To date we have spent approximately $250,000 on property improvements on top of over $200,000 in new home inventory.
  5. Management Problems  –  We have had excessive turnover in the Community manager position, and the district manager position for that matter.  This is where the miscommunication stemmed from and we have addressed that situation to highlighting the importance of maintaining a strong commitment to our relationship with the Town, our residents, and towards continued improvements to the community.    This community went for many years with no improvements prior to our ownership.    While we look forward to completing all of our projects to improve the community, it doesn’t happen overnight.     There is a strong need for affordable housing in this market and our goal with this and every community we own is to improve them each and every year.”

Dave Reynolds
PO Box 457
Cedaredge, CO 81413


Collage by MHProNews.



Returning to Local Media Report

Back to quotes from the Star Observer about RV Horizons -“Both votes — the first in June 2017 and the second in June 2018 — were reversed, allowing the company’s continued presence in the community.”

I wish I could change what’s happened in the past,” RV Horizons district manager Rod Engh told town officials in September before they voted to reinstate the license, per John Russett’s narrative.I can’t. But I can say that it’s going to get better — I promise.”

Russett added that, “What preceded the vote was nearly two years of back-and-forth between Houlton MHP, LLC — the subsidiary created by RV Horizons to run St. Croix Meadows RV Park — and town officials on the company’s failures to meet its obligations to the town.”

Mark Hazelbaker, an attorney with Kasieta Legal Group, LLC, in Madison, attended the Sept. 13 meeting on behalf of RV Horizons with Engh.

There is some back and forth of events, including claims- and counter-claims about improvements.  But perhaps the most important part of the account to potentially thousands of manufactured home industry professionals is that a spokesperson for MHAction was cited and quoted extensively.

What follows is the conclusion of their  article, which appears to rely solely on Sandra BP-Weeks, as if she was a manufactured home community expert, or a neutral third-party.

Here is that extended quote from the Star Observer follows below, between the — lines, but the entire, original report is at this page linked here.

Since the mid-1990s, manufactured home communities have shifted largely from locally owned entities to ownership by multi-state corporations, according to Shandra BP-Weeks, one of three organizing directors for MHAction, a national movement of manufactured homeowners pushing back against the consequences of corporate ownership.

“There’s not a clear process at most of these companies for residents to make their concerns heard,” BP-Weeks said. She added many corporate models are designed with a focus on a return for investors as opposed to quality of life improvements for residents.

While some corporate owners make a point to maintain local management, she said a growing trend is to consolidate parks under one manager by purchasing multiple parks in the same area.

I think that the management style is something that seems to be sort of led by RV Horizons, so we’ve seen recently that a couple other companies are starting to do that,” Weeks [reportedly] said.So this is definitely a pattern we’ve seen with them in that they’ve mentioned on their mobile home university website as a good strategy with buying mobile homes to buy them in regions so they can share managers between the communities.”

— end of Hudson Star Observer  report.


The above quote framed the account in a fashion that made not just RV Horizons, but other firms in the manufactured home industry appear to be problematic. There was no balance on that from RV Horizons, which is one reason MHProNews sought their vantagepoint.  Professional readers now have some balance, with this report.

As a relevant bookend, the Public, a progressive publication sympathetic to MHAction, recently said about different cases that, “…Residents have joined the Manufactured Housing Association of Illinois ( and Manufactured Housing Action ( In December, 2017, Jeff and Debbie Kiel of Urbana joined other protesters in confronting RV Horizons at a Mobile Home University Workshop in Austin, Texas.

This month (December, 2018), the Manufactured Housing Association of Illinois is launching a campaign to call attention to the destructive business model used by RV Horizons and Kingsley…”

What the Star Observer and the Public have in common is this. There is a multi-state effort underway by MHAction, often teaming with other state-based resident groups, to advance their agenda. The MHAction narrative is to call significant swaths of the community sector as a “destructive” business model.

Would the improvements at St. Croix Meadows have occurred in the absence of private capital?


MH Industry Takeaways?

While this account is about RV Horizons and ‘Frank and Dave,’ it is more broadly a case of the manufactured home industry in the U.S. currently having no effective post-production national association.  Modestly funded MHAction has a spokesperson that is actively engaging the media, to essentially attack the industry.  Where is something similar occurring for industry professionals?

Rolfe has made that point previously, and rather politely, before going quiet on such issues.



  • The absence of an engaged-on-such-issues, post-production national manufactured home trade association means that no one routinely steps-up-to-the-plate to defend such cases with communities.
  • That also applies to retailers, who do battle with zoning and other officials.
  • It is essentially true for almost anyone else in the industry, save for selected cases that may tilt toward a favored MHI member.

With MHAction actively engaged with media, and with politicos – such as Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), who is ‘exploring’ a run for the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 – the industry’s members should be keenly aware of the potential risks from having no effective voice to respond to such issues.

So MHPros are left with an ironic, #nettlesome, and troubling picture.  MHAction is more active with the mainstream media to create a poor image than the Manufactured Housing Institute is to defend the industry from such problematic reports.

And ‘Frank and Dave’ are MHI members.

The bottom line in this particular case appears to be that RV Horizon did what they needed to do to resolve the matter with local officials in Wisconsin. But the ongoing activities by MHAction to stir-the-pot against private enterprise is not to be overlooked.

While this isn’t the only issue creating artificial headwinds for the industry, no wonder industry shipments are down.  See the related reports, further below the byline and notices.

MHProNews will monitor select cases of such matters and report accordingly. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)



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Facts & Analysis – Senator Elizabeth Warren re: Manufactured Housing Institute Memo to MHI Members, 10-3-2018


Expose! Why Has Warren Buffett/BH Funded Anti-MHC Activists, MHAction? Why Fund Attacks on ELS, Frank Rolfe, Blackstone Group?






Expose! Why Has Warren Buffett/BH Funded Anti-MHC Activists, MHAction? Why Fund Attacks on ELS, Frank Rolfe, Blackstone Group?

October 20th, 2018 Comments off



Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.


On the surface, it sounds preposterous.

Or even bizarre.

Why would billionaire Warren Buffett, his family, and related foundations make ‘charitable’ contributions of Berkshire Hathaway stocks, cash, and/or grants to a left-wing activist-organizations that in turn paid MHAction, which disrupted HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s address to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)?





That’s where the news tip, facts, and evidence point to – in what could develop into the biggest manufactured housing exposé since Smoking Gun 3.

It was a resident group member that tipped the Daily Business News on MHProNews to the statements by the president of the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owner League (GSMOL) that MHAction – Manufactured Housing Action – was getting funding from the Tides Foundation.




Among the donors to the leftist Tides?

The NoVo Foundation, with Warren’s son Peter and his wife as organization’s Co-Presidents. In the year shown, Buffett backed NoVo Foundation gave millions of dollars toward the Tides.  See that new report on MHLivingNews, at the link below.


Manufactured Home Resident Group President Cautions Against MHAction, Surprising Background Reveal to Manufactured Housing Action


The Tides in turn gave to MHAction, stated the GSMOL President Michelle Smith.

Smith blasted MHAction for trying to wrongfully take credit for work that they – GSMOL – had in fact done.

What Smith didn’t say was the “dark money” trail from Buffett – who’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate owns Clayton Homes, 21st and Vanderbilt, among several other firms connected to manufactured housing – has purportedly funded MHAction.




But Tides and groups funded by Buffett and billionaire George Soros haven’t funded through intermediaries  MHAction alone.  There are other radical activist groups that have been funded too.

We didn’t want the details to leak before publishing this, but soon plan to ask how

  1. Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS),
  2. “Frank & Dave,” RVHorizons, and Mobile Home University (MHU),
  3. or the Blackstone Group

feel about having Berkshire money flowing into anti-business protests that have been aimed at them?

MHAction, as MHProNews has previously reported, protested each of those groups. See the video above for one example, with more in the related reports, further below the by line.

Further, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has elevated Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA-D).  Warren, was a keynote for an MHAction and other radical activist groups address.


Facts & Analysis – Senator Elizabeth Warren re: Manufactured Housing Institute Memo to MHI Members, 10-3-2018


‘Pay More Attention to what People Do…’ and ‘Follow the Money.’ 

You decide if Marty Lavin’s dictum applies.




FollowThe MoneyPayMoreAttentionToWhatPeopleDothanwhatTheySaySpySea72MartyLavinYachtManufacturedHousingINdustryProMHProNews

Ask yourself. Do these Marty Lavin dictums apply in these cases?  Some of the same people who make left-wing protests against ‘capitalists’ are funded by left-wing billionaires.  Can you spell ‘head fake?’  Can you spell ‘con game?’






Where’s the Logic?


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MHAction – through the Tides Foundations, and via other mechanisms – are connected

  • to Black Lives Matter,
  • New York Communities for Change (NYCC),
    AntiFa (so-called Antifascists, who ironically use the brownshirt and violent tactics that fascists used),
  • and other radical – sometimes violent and destructive  – groups.  It should be noted that NYCC and others spun off from ACORN, which was disbanded after allegations of voter fraud, and other illegalities surfaced.

The above facts appears to confirm the oblique links between Buffett’s billions and those of left-wing activist billionaire, George Soros.



GSMOL, Other Resident Groups Should Be Disturbed

It’s no secret that the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WHA) and GSMOL are often at loggerheads with each other.

But are each group missing something in this revelation?

How is it that Democrats are getting backers like:

  • billionaires Buffett and Soros,
  • state resident groups are also often backing Democratic candidates?
  • In California, sources say that the WMA backs Democrats too.
  • Who is fooling whom?


MarketWatch Reports Warren Buffett’s Midterm Campaign Contributions


When you look at the pieces of the puzzle, it makes you think back to corruption of Tammany Hall,” said L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, publisher of MHProNews, manufactured home industry consultant, service provider, and expert.




How is it that members of the Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association (DMHOA) failed to realize the import of their own statements? Didn’t they realize that Democrats have the lion share of the PAC money in the U.S., and apparently in their state?



The comment above was said with respect to another recent topic, but relates to this issue too.


Why are there so many cases of both residents and industry insiders backing the same party’s candidates?


MH Communities, Owners, MH Independents Alert – NMHOA and MHAction Next Steps? – Part 1


Paying to Stir Up Trouble…

Manufactured housing is a microcosm of what is taking place in other parts of the national scene.  There are paid agitators in Washington, D.C. and other places. There are organizations that have formed with money from billionaires and others that are organizing the protests that disrupted



More on this in the days ahead. But suffice it to say for today that the billionaires are paying to stir up trouble for the members of the industry on several levels.

Part of the image issue of our industry is fueled by the protests of MHAction and others.  That impacts not only those who are being protested, but arguably, the industry at large.

And the party that Buffett and Soros backs are the Democrats.  The Democrats are the ‘beneficiaries’ of AntiFa and related groups, that operate similarly to how MHAction are being used in MHVille. In fact, as a prior report revealed, MHAction attends other leftist groups protests, and vice versa.

Where is MHI on this?  Oh, yes, pardon me.  They are being funded by Berkshire Hathaway too.

On MHProNews, we follow the leads, evidence, tips, and money.


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


So that manufactured housing industry professionals can be alert to the kinds of purported schemes that cost thousands of professionals their businesses, that either sold for a discount, or were closed and lost. See the related reports, linked further below. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Frank Rolfe. Manufactured Homes and Communities. Industry Politics. It’s Complicated.

October 11th, 2018 Comments off



It’s complicated.


There is little doubt that Frank Rolfe is a believer in affordable housing, manufactured homes, and what he routinely – albeit controversially – refers to as “mobile home parks1 or “trailer parks.”2

Rolfe’s known for saying controversial things others don’t want in print.

Oh my God I’m going to be killed,” Rolfe told Mark Ferguson for an investor podcast, adding “because my only experience with mobile home parks was with what I saw on TV like the movie Pink Flamingos and Griffin of course, by the things in the past, it looked kind of scary. So I thought, “Oh man I’ve got to go get a concealed handgun license.”

MobileHomeParkOwnersGuideSuccessfulBattlefieldTacticsRecaptureProfitabilityInvestorsGuideFrankRolfeMHProNewsIf that makes some industry purists cringe, he went onto say the following in that podcast.

So I went down and I did that, I bought myself a nice pistol and loaded it up and put it in my pocket and showed up at the park and I soon learned that most of my stereotypes were completely wrong at the park. One thing that it was not and that was scary, I think I don’t know why I was so obsessed with the idea that I had my personal safety an issue, but that was definitely not the case.

So pretty soon after I got in there, I learned most all of the ideas I had of the industry were stupid. I started morphing into where I am today. So I no longer carry a gun. I no longer are terrified to go into a park. Basically, a mobile home park is just like any old subdivision. It’s just the homes are much smaller and the people typically are lower income earning but to me, it’s a much more safe environment than for example an apartment complex.”


Rolfe on Why “Parks” Are Rising Value?

Limited numbers, with almost no more being added is the answer.  Here’s how Rolfe explained it to Ferguson.

So by far the majority of the parks we own were built in the 60’s and there were still a lot built in the 70’s and pretty much ended by the 80’s and by the 80’s what happened is that most cities passed laws that you could no longer build mobile home parks in their city and in fact today, you pretty much cannot build a mobile home park in any city in the United States. There are only about 10 parks in the entire United States built per year. So the window pretty much closed in the 80’s.”


Rolfe on “Mobile Home” Durability

It’s a common misconception that these homes are — that they wear out, that they have a shelf life like a car. The industry kind of did that to itself because it used to be like a car. In fact, many mobile home sellers, dealers used to be car dealers. So they would tell people, “Oh you have to trade that in after so many years.” That’s bunk. What is a mobile home? A mobile home is just like your house; it’s two by four’s, it’s metal, it’s resins, it’s plastic and then it’s sheathed in metal, it’s not going to die. There are no moving parts in it, it’s not like an engine on a car. So they really never wear out.”

Rolfe has told MHProNews that he is wont at times to exaggerate while making a point. So, he’s not saying in the above that there’s no maintenance. He knows that roofs need care or replacement, along with other components like AC, heat, or appliances.


Rolfe On What Can’t Be Fixed

Real estate is about location. Lots of things, you can’t fix, you can’t change location. You can’t go out and take your property in the bad location and make it a winner because of the bad location. It’s very critical, in real estate you buy it right on the front end because you can’t fix it, you just can’t. No matter how good a manager you are, if the property has — if the lots are too small, if the water sewer is failing, location’s terrible, you can’t make it any better,” he told Ferguson.



Frank Rolfe ‘teaching’ on often controversial industry issues. Still from one of two videos posted on this page from that address by Rolfe to dozens of industry professionals.

Rolfe About Teaching

Then when I got out of Stanford I kept on teaching public speaking at SMU in Dallas for 30 years approximately. So Dave did the same thing on accounting out there in Colorado so we’ve always loved teaching. Teaching is fun, if you do something, it’s always fun talking about it and showing people how you do it but that’s what our education stuff is about, it’s basically, it’s about honesty and factual — it’s just a different deal and I think people respond well to it because they can tell that it’s no BS and that we really enjoy doing it.”


Rolfe on Action and Thought

There’s the old saying, “Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.” Thinking and learning and not taking action that never works. But equally as dangerous as taking action without knowing what you’re doing.”

Rolfe, like Warren Buffett is a reader, as well as a doer.

If you’re going to do something, learn — learn, learn. Read the instruction manual, that’s how you save yourself from bad endings. Benjamin Franklin who never owned a mobile home park, but back in the 1700’s wrote that due diligence is the mother of good luck.”


Rolfe on Cities and “Trailer Parks”

Rolfe argues that it is not stigma alone that keeps cities and towns from allowing more of them. “A lot of people think, “Oh well, it’s because cities hate trailer parks and trailer park people.” I mean sure, they are not excited about it, right? Any city would rather have a big mansion neighborhood than a trailer park.” He went on to say that the taxes are higher with more expensive housing than with older mobile homes or manufactured homes.

Those are not meant by Rolfe to all be value judgements.  Rather, they are matter-of-fact (to him) observations. Again, he has been known to speak his mind in often colorful ways, no doubt in part to entertain and attract an audience.  As with anyone, quoting Rolfe isn’t meant to imply that every thing he says or does is being endorsed.  MHProNews takes a ‘wheat and chaff’ approach, and is happy to source information from across a spectrum of people, opinions, and views.  One key is being accurate in fair in citing sources and sharing quotes.

Is the quote accurate and being used in an accurate application or context?  Then, have at it.

By the way, here’s Rolfe explaining terminology, in his own words.

Footnote 1: Some land-lease communities truly are ‘mobile home parks,’ in the sense that they were built during the mobile home era (pre-June 15, 1976), and have mostly mobile homes in them.

Footnote 2: Role would likely admit if pressed that trailers and mobile homes are different. There are RV ‘trailer parks,’ that’s their given name. But manufactured homes are not trailers, and they are not mobile homes. Manufactured homes and manufactured housing are legal phrases, applied to housing built to preemptive federal standards.


The terminology matters because
the terminology determines the
construction standards a home was
built to,” Steve Duke, LMHA.


Rolfe on Some Big Manufactured Home Industry Controversies

When it comes to Frank Rolfe’s willingness to weigh in on controversial topics, what once was, is now noticeably toned down.


1)         Rolfe – who today, with his associates is the number 5 manufactured home community operation in the U.S. – has previously blasted MHI for controversial positions.

2)         One example is Rolfe leveling Nathan Smith, MHI’s former Chairman, for what Rolfe said is the terrible publicity Smith has brought to the industry. See more on Smith, MHI and other related references which are linked at the end of this report.

3)         Rolfe blasted MHI’s mindless pursuit of the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, which he correctly said ‘had no chance’ of passage during the Obama Administration.

4)         Rolfe repeatedly blasted MHI for failure to engage the media, on positive or negative news topics that impacted the industry.


On bullet #4 above, here is Rolfe in his own words.


MHI is currently spotlighting 5 operations in their videos, which in some ways is arguably a disadvantage to other MHI members. It is also worth noting that those 5 videos are not getting many views.

So, there were plenty of people in MHVille that followed such comments, here on MHProNews, or on other venues when Rolfe shared such talking points.

It is obvious that Rolfe his own controversial stances. Let’s turn to some more…


Rolfe On Politics


Click here or on the graphic above to learn more, which is not connected to this report.

One of the controversies that’s gone underreported in manufactured housing trades – until now – is his pre-2016 election day stance on Hillary Clinton.  Clinton was the Warren Buffet led Berkshire Hathaway pick for president in 2016.

Rolfe thought Hillary would win.  On that topic, MHProNews was correct in projecting and informing the industry of the path for the victory of Donald J. Trump in 2016.  While our styles are different, we too believe in education and information – all with a purpose.  That purpose is going more business, and serving more home owners well.

Back to Rolfe and 2016.

With former President Bill Clinton along with his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are hitting the speaking tour in the coming weeks.  Mainstream media outlets are doing past and present ‘compare and contrasts’ reports.  So, why not do so here on the Daily Business News on MHProNews too? Why not do it through the lens of Rolfe’s comments and related?



Frank Rolfe on Hillary Clinton

In the days just before the 2016 election day vote, and here’s what Rolfe said on NuWire Investor.

The U.S. Presidential Election is in only about a week. But the stats are showing that Hillary will probably win at this point – it would take a miracle to change the outcome. So if Hillary is the next President, what does that mean for real estate investors across the nation?

He made an interesting statement on interest rates under President Obama, which technically is controlled by the Federal Reserve, which is supposed to be independent of the White House. Let’s set that aside, and look at other extended pull-quotes by Rolfe to NuWire.

Keeping banks happy

One of the key issues that came up during the election was the apparent tight relationship between Hillary and big banks. They paid her millions of dollars in “speaking fees”, and the contents of her speeches (while only released by Wikileaks) would suggest that she intends to keep things status quo regarding banking policy. Since real estate is typically using leverage of 80%, a strong banking industry is imperative to keeping real estate prices healthy.


Keeping the economy weak

Following the U.S. Great Recession of 2008, we have entered into an era of extremely weak economic growth and employment. It would take a bold plan to exit this rut, and Clinton is unlikely to foster that. Her focus on higher taxes and more subsidies would suggest that the U.S. will remain just as it is for four more years. And that’s good for real estate, as this stable market allows investors to make safe decisions and obtain attractive loans.


Stabilizing immigration

Many sectors of real estate – particularly multi-family and mobile home parks – have a strong focus on Hispanic customers in many states, and removing the threat of immigration enforcement will make many owners breathe a sigh of relief. This issue has already pretty much gone away, but Clinton will probably finalize it during her administration.


Causing problems with capital gains tax

This is one huge downside to the Clinton presidency: anticipated higher capital gains taxes. This means that you might spend more or your profits in taxes to the IRS in the years ahead. Clearly, this is not a plus. However, it will still be difficult to get such legislation passed through Congress, so the key issue is whether or not the Democrats take control of Congress in this election. Our bet is that the issue will be muted and, if it does go forward, the effect will be gradual rather than overnight.”

No mere mortal one gets it right 100 percent of the time.  Rolfe’s analysis has a mix of correct and incorrect observations. You can read the entire Rolfe statement as a download at this link above.  Rolfe’s full commentary is found at the download, linked here.


Why Does This Rolfe Topic Matter to MHVille Now?

It’s complicated, but simple.

Follow the Money.

And follow how politics has evolved into a purported shell game for mega billionaires like Warren Buffett.

Because the mega rich, along with others, are arguably willing to manipulate markets – or allow inaction to harm the interests of tens of millions – while a few benefit at their expense.

Sources to MHProNews:

  • with Berkshire ties,
  • evidence of marketing and other benefits to Rolfe and his colleagues, from Berkshire’s manufactured housing brands
  • along with the evidence of Rolfe going silent about public criticism of MHI,
  • or holding a lower profile on other issues that Berkshire cares about –

all suggests an effort at influencing the narrative in the industry.

It isn’t limited to Rolfe.


That narrative to MHVille matters deeply to Berkshire brands like:

  • 21st Mortgage,
  • Clayton Homes,
  • Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance – which has begun lending on communities
  • suppliers like Shaw Carpeting,

–       and others who broker communities or provide other products and services. Politics, media, nonprofits – these are demonstrable tools used by Berkshire Hathaway, as Kevin Clayton has explained in a video linked from related reports, further below.


Clinton vs Trump, Round 2 – Buffett, Soros, Rolfe and MHAction

Rolfe has previously cited concerns over left-wing billionaire George Soros’ influencing mainstream media.

It’s arguably another apt point Rolfe’s made.

He made that point very specifically with respect to Soros, citing a source that claims that the Center for Public Integrity – which played a role in the ongoing Seattle Times controversies surrounding Clayton Homes and Berkshire lending in the manufactured housing industry.

What Rolfe doesn’t say is that billionaires like Soros and Buffett can take some negative media, help fund the creation of some of that media themselves, and can still benefit. They can benefit to the tune of billions in revenue annually.

Negative media tends to impact others in manufactured housing, not just the target of a report.  That is the contention of others in the manufactured housing industry, as messages via social media, email, text or by phone to MHProNews has contended.

There are a variety of bullets that purportedly impact manufactured housing in ways that keeps our industry from recovering to its more higher production ‘glory days.’

There are reasons to believe that those controversies impacting manufactured housing will continue.  At least that is the logic – which Rolfe believes in – of the matter, until the motivation to stop the kinds of behavior that causes controversy remain largely unabated.

Rolfe and his colleagues were invited to participate in this article, and declined.  They’ve also been invited to participate in another industry related article which is planned in the days ahead. Stay tuned for that upcoming episode of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing.” ©  Where  “We Provide, You Decide” © who you will vote for in the rapidly approaching 2018 midterms.  Will you vote for those who rig the system, or for those who are trying to level the playing field for small to mid-sized operations of all kinds?  (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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“Thou Shall Not Steal,” $2 Trillion Annually Lost to Lack of Affordable Homes, Making the Manufactured Home Case

August 4th, 2018 Comments off


After years of arguably failed polite talk, perhaps more direct and blunt words are needed.


The logic of research economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti is that improper land use policies are costing the nation some $2 trillion dollars a year.


See the Daily Business News report on that topic, at this link here. It includes a download of their research.

The reasoning of National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun is that only more and faster new construction will fix the housing affordability issue.


Collage by MHProNews.

It is this Daily Business News on MHProNews writer’s understanding, Dr. Yun prompted Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton, Certified Business Economist (CBE) to research manufactured homes. Among her 30 pages of reports, charts, and data include the following.



See more of her research, at this link here.


The logic of Trulia’s research, summarized by the data in the graphic below, supports that of the research economists above. Affordable housing has negligible impact on all other housing nearby. Both forms of housing are growing in value, side by side.


The Trulia research reinforces what HUD’s PD&R on manufactured homes (MH) found, that MH appreciated side by side with conventional housing.

But what if that affordable housing are manufactured homes? Do manufactured homes harm property values for neighboring conventional housing?

The university level research that HUD commissioned in their PD&R report preceded the Trulia study. It looked at manufactured homes as infill in cities, right next door to conventional site built, single family homes.

The results?

Housing values of both conventional homes and the manufactured homes appreciated side-by-side.


The research from multiple cities documented that manufactured homes appreciated side-by-side with conventional housing. The findings are similar to what Trulia’s study learned.

The summary of the logic of the third-party researched facts are overwhelming when laid out side-by-side like this.

But the irony is that Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies researcher Eric Belsky came to the conclusion over 16 years ago that manufactured homes where likely to surpass conventional housing in production. No doubt for the kind of reasons Cororaton more recently cited.


At the time Belsky made this prediction, manufactured homes were selling over 250,000 new units per year. This year, MH won’t reach 40 percent of that total. What happened?


Richard Genz did research prior to the statement by Harvard’s Belsky, making the case for manufactured home quality and durability in a study for the Fannie Mae Foundation.


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

So what happened?  Why were Genz and Belsky – the obvious logic of their clear view that manufactured homes deserved support and were bound to grow – why were their visions not realized?

How is it possible than when manufactured homes (MH) – by law – must perform dynamically the same as conventional housing in safety, durability and energy savings – and when MH costs less, why aren’t more HUD Code homes being sold?



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


The simple answer is that a variety of seemingly unrelated forces have been at play.

Those forces included, but where not necessarily limited to:

–   ignorance,

–   prejudice,

–   greed,

–   political and regulatory pressures, fostered by the above,

–   and perhaps a failure to put all these facts back-to-back, to see reality vs. outdated perceptions. Fear and falsehoods were allowed to drive too many people’s thinking.

President Gerald Ford said prior to the HUD Code that the “mobile home” industry would always be necessary. It was market-based affordable homes, that routinely required no taxpayer subsidizes.

U.S. President Praised “The Mobile Home Industry,” Manufactured Homes are “Here to Stay”

Failure to heed that observation caused city after city on “both coasts” and the interior of the U.S. to lose decades of opportunities for more housing affordability.

The upshot?

Growing homelessness, including vehicular homelessness.

“Vehicular Homelessness” Rising, Land Use, and Manufactured Housing Policies


The answer being sought by many among the politically connected is to build more subsidized housing. In fact, for over 50 years, those housing programs have proven to be unable to keep up with the ever rising demand. The Heritage Foundation estimated that those social programs – which included subsidized housing – cost the nation some $22 trillion dollars in 5 decades.

That’s virtually the same amount as the national debt.

Isn’t it lunacy to continue doing more of the same self-evident failures? Why not turn to the proven solution?  Why not use free market driven investments by entrepreneurs vs. tax dollars?



What’s Missing in the Data? Real Harm to Real People

We as a society can’t change what’s happened. But we can learn from it. Perhaps the data needs to be humanized?  Do we need poster children to show what’s happened, and how that’s harmed Americans?

Almost every retailer who has sold a manufactured home direct to the public for at least a year has encountered the following scenario. Often numerous times.

A single, couple or family/household owns or wants to buy a manufactured home for a piece of property. But a local official stops that placement. Isn’t that using the force of law to rob people of the opportunity to own an affordable home?

The non-profit Equal Justice thinks so, and successfully sued a town on that issue. They are now suing another city.

Lawsuit Filed Against City to Defend Manufactured Home Owners Rights, led by Equal Justice Non-Profit

What does that process of denying Americans affordable housing actually cost such persons or families?

More personal wealth.  Keep in mind that HUD Secretary Carson spent some time in 2017 telling people that home owners had an average net worth of some $200,000, while the average renting household only has $5000 net worth.

The logic of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Professor Kenneth Johnson’s research indicates that manufactured home ownership may yield the most wealth for a household. The lower the cost of the housing, for a disciplined saver/investor, the greater the potential for other investments, thus increasing personal wealth.


FAU’s Ken Johnson made an eye opening point that applies to manufactured homes in terms of the ability for manufactured homes to help build more personal wealth

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Cororaton’s research both demonstrated that manufactured homes are the lowest cost form of permanent housing. Less than rent, and even when higher rates and shorter loan terms, manufactured homes dramatically lower price yields the lowest monthly payments.


But we can put a face, a family, to this snapshot.

The Rev. Donald Tye, Jr. said that their affordable pre-HUD Code factory-built home made it possible for he and his wife to do things for their family they could not have done any other way.  Tye told MHProNews that planners are missing out on the many social and economic benefits that affordable home ownership provides.


He also addressed the lost tax benefits, as well as the prejudice against manufactured homes, and the misuse of terminology like this.


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


Mark Weiss, JD, weighed in on that same point, saying the the use of the t-word is offensive to millions.


A poet who sold her conventional housing to buy a manufactured home was shocked at the prejudice generated by others.

Taking on the Trash Talk! Are People Defined by their Housing Choice? Video, Photos

There are letters-after-letters, stories-after-stories that have a similar refrain.  Here’s a pair of others.

“Home Sweet Home” – Assistant Mayor Wants to End Housing Choice Stigma

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Part of what should have been learned in recent decades is that there is a huge cost to taking opportunities from others. That arguably becomes a form of theft.  Thus the commandment that most faiths believe to be true – “thou shall not steal” – reasonably applies.

It includes mobile and manufactured home community owners who in various jurisdictions are increasingly being told that they can’t replace an older home with a new one. What?

“Unconstitutional Taking,” “Gentrification on Trial” in Recent Oak Hill Manufactured Home Community Ruling

A state supreme court ruling in one case was described by an attorney as an “unconstitutional taking.” That community owner won. But how much time and effort did it cost that community owner to be allowed to use their own land as a place where affordable home ownership can occur for families?  Those legal costs have to be passed onto others, those who live in those affordable manufactured homes.

Time and again – however well intended the local policies may be – the net result is that it is costing millions opportunities for more affordable home ownership.


The High Cost of Ignorance and Prejudice

This writer told a group of business professionals last year in Deadwood that manufactured homes were the civil rights issue of our times. That message was applauded by those who know first-hand how difficult it can be to sell a manufactured home, and get it safely installed on an appropriate permanent site and foundation.



Tony Kovach doing a presentation in a packed room of industry professionals.  The essence of the talk was the importance of educating people locally about the truths regarding modern manufactured homes.

The logic of these facts is this.

$2 trillion dollars a year is lost in GDP – that’s the cost of ignorance and prejudice against manufactured homes in America.  Take 326 million Americans, divide it into $2 trillion dollars lost annually, and that’s like $6,134.97 per man, woman and child.

For a family of four, that’s $24,539.88 in lost U.S. GDP.

It’s an avoidable loss, and can be fixed by a proper understanding coupled with the application of existing laws, as you will see below.


Terminology Matters

People wrongly believe the terminology for factory built homes is optional. It’s not. The correct terminology is a matter of law – the code which a home was built to meet.


After more than fifty years of short-sighted and prejudiced thinking, it’s decades past the time that modern manufactured homes be seen for what they are.  It’s time to stop cherry-picking exceptional tales, and to look at the broad facts.


To see the report on tornadoes and manufactured homes, click here.


Manufactured homes are the solution for the affordable housing crisis that’s hiding in plain sight. It must be noted that modular and other forms of factory home building can all perform a vital part of the solution to America’s costly affordable housing crisis.

But because of the genius of the HUD Code, setting national standards with regional requirements, much of the harm caused by local regulators is avoided with manufactured homes.


Every photo above is a manufactured home.  For newcomers to the website not familiar with modern manufactured homes, learn more by clicking the image above or the link here..


Solutions? Parallel Path One

The former chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Tim Williams, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage, said the following.

People cited in this column today might later say something different, perhaps because they may (errantly) believe that money tempts them to do so.  Some back off due to other pressures.

But they can’t unring the bell on what they’ve already said.

A consistent theme of MHProNews and MHLivingNews for years has been the need to honestly and sustainably grow the industry. We have never advocated, for example, for the kind of poor lending practices that led to the post-1998 nosedive of manufactured home sales.

Education – sound information are a key step.  21st’s Williams was right, and so was Frank Rolfe, who said that the media must be engaged with the truth when errant information crops up.



Solution – Parallel Path 2 – The Logic of Sound, Sustainable Lending

Lenders are protected when home values are protected.

Home values are protected and enhanced by demand and sound lending.

Sound and profitable lending is good for business, good for people, and good for the economy.

Good information – vs. prejudice or short-sighted thinking for whatever motivations – is how bigoted influences are pushed out.  This is how information and sound lending, parallel paths, can support each other, as a train running on a track is supported by parallel rails.


Manufactured Housing Appreciation?

The Urban Institute, and the National Association of Realtors ® have both reported what MHProNews and MHLivingNews has said for years. Manufactured homes can and do appreciate. But why are there times that they don’t rise in value?

First, all housing rises and falls in value for much the same reasons.

I’m not speaking for ‘Gay’ Cororaton when I share my take on a conversation this writer and she had a few weeks ago. I asked her about the economic logic of the following

Home appreciation is fueled by the following factors.

  • Location,
  • Condition of the home (maintenance, appearance),
  • Demand for housing,
  • Local economic factors (wages, employment opportunities, etc.), and
  • the availability of reasonable lending. Other points could be mentioned too, but those are key ones.

So, if any of those factors are reduced or eliminated, then the value would be lessened. Think about conventional housing post 2008, lending dried up, housing dropped in value.

My understanding was that she agreed with those principles.  My hunch is most objective thinkers and economists would too.

That being so, consider this.

Because manufactured homes have had lending options artificially reduced due to the absence of robust support from the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then to some degree, that will influence resale values. Again, my understanding was that she agreed with that premise.

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

In our comments letter to HUD, we stressed that since the GSEs were arguably not doing their job, that FHA could step up to the plate, as should VA and USDA (Rural Housing) loans.

Now, let’s rephrase that to make the following point.

For decades, the GSEs have resisted lending on manufactured homes. Fannie Mae’s highly touted MH Advantage is arguably another artful dodge, as it forces manufactured home builders to meet additional criteria beyond what the HUD Code mandates.


“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

Who worked with Fannie Mae on that MH Advantage program? Our sources say, past and current members of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

Why would MHI argue for a so-called “new class” of manufactured homes – where there is no data or track record – when there is decades of data and track record that proves the value of millions of units of HUD Code manufactured homes?


Collage by MHProNews.

That was the logic of Mark Weiss, JD, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform.

Rephrased, who benefits, and who is harmed by this questionable ploy between MHI and the GSEs?

Hold that thought for latter.

Because the bottom line is this. Manufactured homes have proven their value. Their value would logically be enhanced, given a proper understanding of their safety, quality and durability.


Two Types of HUD Code Manufactured Homes?

This writer has told people for years that there are broadly speaking, entry level manufactured homes, and residential style manufactured homes.  Both styles must meet the safety, energy and construction standards set forth by federal law under HUD and the DOE.

When you go shopping for a vehicle, there’s a wide array of sizes and styles to select from.  There are entry level cars, mid-range, and luxury ones too. That can be said about cell phones vs. smart phones, RVs, laptops, or most any product one cares to consider.

So, with manufactured homes, it is similar. If all you’ve seen are entry level manufactured homes, then you need to see a residential style one.


One must stress that any and all manufactured homes must all meet HUD’s safety, energy, and durability standards. From the least costly, all manufactured homes (MH) get consumer protection not found in conventional housing that costs many times the price. It was the MH industry that fought for that legislation – MHARR MHI, and states like Texas too – as part of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000.


Credits are as shown, collage by

But another key part of the MHIA of 2000 was enhanced preemption. That enhanced preemption is the key to unlocking $2 Trillion dollars a year in increased GDP for the U.S. This needs 5 stars next to this point.

Put differently, there is no need to wait for local jurisdictions across the land to get a backbone, or learn the truth the obliterates their ignorance, prejudices, sweetheart deals to favored developers, etc.

All that’s needed is for HUD to enforce existing law.  Enhanced preemption for manufactured homes is already the law of the land.

Let’s say that again for emphasis. All that’s needed is for HUD to enforce existing law.  Because the MHIA of 2000 preemption protects the rights of everyday Americans to buy and safely install a manufactured home on any buildable property.

We don’t need decades of battles, or more studies. The logic and the realities have been hiding in plain sight for years.


The Urban Institute’s Vital 2018 Question

Urban Institute researchers in a January 2018 report came to some similar points about manufactured homes, appreciation, and related. They asked a key question. Why aren’t more manufactured homes being sold, when they are a proven part of the solution to the affordable housing crisis?  Here’s how they phrased it, in the caption above “We Follow the Money.”


What they didn’t say was as important as what they did say.

One researcher was Edward Golding, who used to work for HUD. That wasn’t disclosed in their report. Golding had Pam Danner, JD, periodically report to him. Danner was the Administrator for what the Washington Post called the “once obscure” Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP).

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

Which begs this question. Why didn’t Golding and others at the Urban Institute mention enhanced preemption in their reporting on manufactured homes?

After all, zoning, economic prejudice, and enhanced preemption all intersect.

When manufactured home businesses and state association executives from coast to coast say that zoning/land use/placement are key issues, how could Golding or the Urban Institute fail to mention enhanced preemption?

Hold that thought. Because another undisclosed fact was the connection of Warren Buffett as a lifetime trustee for the Urban Institute. It’s mentioned on the big Urban Institute site, if you got hunting for it. But there was no disclosure on the article that Golding and his fellow researchers published on the topic.


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

Nor did the Urban Institute mention that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) helped forge their paper. A source at the Urban Institute told us that “anonymity” was promised to MHI and Clayton, for their role in crafting their report.


Since when do non-profits and university level style researchers not state their sources? Since when are possible conflicts-of-interests not disclosed by nonprofits or researchers in publishing their findings?


Smoking Guns…?

Eric Belsky made another statement about housing that very much applies to the question the Urban Institute asked.


It’s a statement that most every manufactured home retail or community professional who experienced the slide from 1998 to 2008 know all too well. For more on Belksy, and MH, click here.


Let’s go back to what Belsky and Genz said over 15 years ago. Belsky expected manufactured homes to advance, so did Genz.

Why didn’t they?

Short answer, lending was choked off. Absent enough lending to supports home sales, there will be fewer manufactured homes sold. Duh, right?


Kenny Lipschutz, Home First Certified Communities.

Absent a level playing field on lending or resales, manufactured homes are placed at a disadvantage in resale values.

Another issue is appraisals. Thousands of appraisers misunderstand manufactured homes. But that too is and educational issue, noted here as a placeholder.

So, we see the need for factual, evidenced and reason-based thinking about manufactured homes. Among the best-informed investors is arguably Warren Buffett. He reads and reads, per his own statements, and that of others who know him.

So why did Belsky miss his projection about manufactured housing achieving dominance in production over conventional builders by 2010? Arguably, the short answer is that Belsky did not count on Warren Buffett entering the industry in 2003. Belsky didn’t count on what Berkshire Hathaway did, as they began to deploy the Buffett strategic “Moat.”


Who speaks of “the moat?” Warren Buffett explains his principles of “the Moat” in a video on the page linked below. So does Kevin Clayton, in a separate video also found below.  Clayton says in his own words in that video that “Warren” stresses widening “the Moat” against competitors on a routine basis.


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


The Truth is Not Political

We believe that truth is apolitical, but political officials may use – misuse, ignore, or abuse – the truth.

A closer look at the problem of why there is not more manufactured housing being sold can be summed up by the notion of the impact of failure to educate, and monopolistic practices. Who says?

GuruFocus and the Seattle Times.


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


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

And the evidence that manufactured housing’s ascendancy was derailed by forces within the industry is found in part with documents and quotes from Berkshire owned 21st Mortgage, Warren Buffett’s own words, and Berkshire dominated MHI’s own chart.

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

Thousands lost their businesses, and millions arguably lost the opportunities to benefit from manufactured home ownership. It’s cost taxpayers a fortune, that can be measured in the trillions of dollars in losses to the GDP, and avoidable costs to federal taxpayers.

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


The Problem of the One Percent

We won’t hype the issue of the 1 percent, nor understate it.

What this will propose that may be unique is a free enterprise solution to the problem of the one percent. It’s this. De facto monopolistic forces are at work in manufactured housing, and in other parts of the economy, such as the tech giants.  Apply the logic of the NY Stern professor to manufactured housing, and it is just as apt as it is when applied to the world of the tech giants.

We’ll let Professor Scott Galloway make his case in tech.


“Winners and Losers,” L2 Founder, Prof Scott Galloway on Monopolies

But for those who believe that monopolistic forces harm Americans, we can point to voices as politically separated as Senator Ted Cruz and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

If we start listening to the factual points – vs. the opinions or spin – of what others are saying, those facts can lead someone to the root issues.  Facts are what is.  Opinions and interpretations are a dime a dozen.

The opportunity to use evidence, facts, and objective reasoning to discover the underlying causes – and thus the cures – of the affordable housing crisis is possible.  Keep in mind, that sooner or later, monopolies arguably harm workers and consumers.


Does Monopoly Power Impact Workers’ Stagnant Wages? MH Industry Impact$


The irony may be this. Aren’t even monopolists harmed by what they create?  Think about that $2 trillion a year in lost GDP.

Regardless, society as a whole is harmed, and that is why anti-trust laws exist.

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


The Fix is Applying Existing Laws

There is no need for years of delays in hearings or more studies.

Antitrust laws debatably need to be applied to Berkshire Hathaway, and to all others in business who’ve become invasive, as Galloway said.

The Smoking Gun 3 documents, facts and related quotes from officials who are part of Berkshire speak for themselves.  It would be difficult for them to unsay, what they’ve already said that arguably proves they are monopolistic.

MHI and Berkshire Hathaway has been given repeated opportunities to respond to any of these concerns.  Rather than respond, instead of debating the merits or misses in this reading of the facts, they’ve tried a variety of other tactics.  But if they could easily disprove this, why haven’t they?  Those from Berkshire brands who once praised us, now sit in silence as we publish reports like this one. Why?


Part of several messages for publication by Tim Williams to MHProNews. MHI’s president praised us for some years to, as this mirthful short demonstrates. 

MHI should be scrutinized for fostering the conditions that allowed manufactured housing to be derailed from what Belsky thought was a bright future. Some who see the problems outlined herein hold out hope that MHI can be redeemed. This writer – based upon sources, evidence and past history – believes that people can change, but that said, the evidence is that MHI’s leadership isn’t changing.  Thus, they need to be exposed, and supplanted with something entirely new.

MHARR does its job, but an MHI award winner says that MHI works only for the “the big boys.”


MHProNews looks at the facts, considers the sources, and follows the evidence. MHI earlier last year, and for years before, MHI routinely replied promptly to all inquiries. But since we’ve spotlighted the problems and concerns, they’ve gone silent. Why? If the facts are on their side, why not make offer a cogent explanation?


I’ve said for years that pretty pictures alone are not enough to convince people of the truth about manufactured homes, and what it can do to transform for the better millions of lives.


Education is the answer. Refuting false claims must be part of that educational process.  People aer entitled to their opinions, but not to their own facts.

Understanding the issues are can help avoidable for others the tragedies caused by ignorance, greed and the evidenced based factors alleged herein. Millions of Americans have been robbed of what they could have had, instead of subsidized housing, or a life of rental, give people the information and opportunity to increase their personal wealth through affordable home ownership.

There are numerous voices that have blasted MHI’s hypocrisy. The one above is just one of many.

It’s time for the disinfectant of sunlight to cure what decades of ignorance, private agendas, monopolistic forces, and prejudice has caused.

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

It’s time for the truth that’s been hiding in plain sight.

The reward is $2 trillion dollars in enhanced GDP annually, just by applying existing law.

The reward is that affordable home ownership could would do for millions of all colors and creeds.

Let’s stop robbing people of the possibility of a brighter future.  That theft has debatably occurred by misusing government and economic power.

Rather, lets allow existing laws to go to work, so that Americans select the home of their dreams, wherever they have a buildable home-site. More can be learned from the links from this article, but that’s enough said for today. “We Provide, You Decide.” ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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

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Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

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Related References:

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MHVillage Confirms Data, and Michigan Operational Slide Revealed

June 22nd, 2018 Comments off


In a message forwarded to the Daily Business News, MHVillage (MHV) confirmed troubling data that has been presented in person to dozens of gathered industry professionals.

DarrenKroloweskiMHVillageCoPresidentManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNEwsMHPronewsThe factoids were shared by MHVillage’s Co-President, Darren Krolewski, using a positive-spin narrative.

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, MHVillage Inc. is the nation’s premier online marketplace for buying and selling manufactured homes with more than 25 million unique visitors annually. Last year, more than 80,000 homes were sold on MHVillage with a combined transaction value exceeding $3 billion,” said their promotion of a George Allen event.

Accepting their data claims at face value, the numbers on the surface appear impressive, which is their obvious intent.  They’re claiming they are the “premier marketplace.”

But when the MHVillage data is viewed more closely, what they reveal ought to be troubling to marketers and sellers of HUD Code manufactured housing.

The ratio of sales of homes on their site is a tiny fraction of a single percent.

Specifically, using MHV published 2017 data,

  • it is only about 1/3 of 1 percent of all visitors to their site ends up buying a manufactured home, so,
  • the average sales price of the home listed and sold there would be $37,500.
  • Considering the U.S. Census Bureau said that the average sales price of a new manufactured home was $72,900 in Dec 2017,
  • meaning the average HUD Code manufactured housing unit sold there would be 51.44% – roughly half the value – of the average new manufactured home shipped in December 2017.



More Woes? Michigan Data Reveals Shipment Slide

According to the April 2018 shipment data supplied by a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) source, Michigan – one of the top 10 states per Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) data – is sliding.


Several questions about the decline and related were posed to the Michigan Manufactured Housing Association’s executive director, over the course of a few days.  Neither Bill Shaefer, nor the association, opted to answer.

What’s going on?  It’s part of a previously reported trend, which can be read in the linked article below after this column is finished.

While Manufactured Housing Overall Rises, Some Slip Sliding Away

Krolewski is on record sharing this view, “I think one of the challenges we have as an industry is that there is not enough positive news about manufactured housing to counter the negative.


It’s a reality check, not a slam to do the math. If MHV is the industry’s “premier marketplace,” then the industry’s image woes are center stage, and Krolewski’s own statement explains why.


Bob Crawford, left, Frank Rolfe, right. Still credit, Inside MH video, by

For years, we have wondered WHY there was so little pro-industry advocacy from MHI to government movements, proposals, rules, etc. that were [often] not in the best interest of this industry,” said Bob Crawford, president of historic Dick Moore Housing, a BBB A+ rated firm.

On the MHU blog, Frank Rolfe has said, MHI – the industry lobby group…what’s with the concept of silence is golden? Negative articles on the industry are met with “no comment”. Positive news opportunities are met with “no comment”. 
I’ve never seen anything like it
.” 1

Krolewski has said at one point that the industry would be getting support from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) on image building and messaging.  In fact, MHI has an active social media campaign, and reportedly one or two public relations people on staff, and has contracted others at times too.

That being so, where are their measurable results?


MHInsiderManufacturedHousingINdustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsThe industry is slowly crawling back from the bottom hit in 2009/2010. Aren’t new manufactured home sales the final metric that matters?  Isn’t that how the National Association of Home Builders ™ (NAHB), or the National Association of Realtors ™ (NAR) are measuring results?  Don’t sellers see want to know how many housing starts, and how many actual conventional housing unit sales?

We always hear about the tornadoes, flooding, fires, residents getting evicted from their homes so a shopping center can be built, unreasonable rent increases, how manufactured homes depreciate in value, etc,” Krolewski has said. “I think it’s less about the industry not responding appropriately, than it is us constantly having to play defense when we do.”

And all of this from the publisher of the MHInsider?

Rolfe has said, “…it’s my belief that the only way to elevate the public opinion of our industry is to explain to people (who are often full of negative stereotypes from such movies as 8-Mile and television shows like COPS and Trailer Park Boys) the truth about our product and business model.”


Kurt Kelley. Credit: MHProNews.

Kurt Kelley, JD – a colleague of Rolfe’s in the MHR project – pointed out that: “My Dad used to tell me, ‘Perception is the reality of others. So you better make sure you are perceived accurately and positively.’ If you let others define you, you’re stuck with their definition of you.”

Historically,” Kelley said, “the MH industry has been defined by the lowest common denominator, and not by the great value offered by our homes or the excellent living choice MHC’s offer across the country. A recent poll showed that 85% of all Republicans and 60% of all Democrats didn’t trust the media. You can fight back successfully.”

Editorially, we note that Kelly’s point is precisely what MHLivingNews and MHProNews has done, fight back with facts.

So why did MHI, while this operation was still their member, undermine and allegedly attempt to derail our pro-growth industry efforts?  One of hundreds of examples can be found at the link below.


Readers can circle back and check out the article below, which points to facts useful for the manufactured home industry.

The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist,” the late, great Zig Ziglar said.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism,” said the inspirational minister, author, and speaker, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, according to BrainyQuotes.

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things,” said Winston Churchill, per the New Statesman.


Critiques, fact checks, aren’t personal. Rather, they are a professional necessity.

Frank Rolfe, Marty Lavin, Bob Crawford, L. A. “Tony” Kovach and others are among those that have recognized that the industry’s post-production sector – specifically Arlington, VA based MHI – has failed to deliver on image building.

The result?  Historically low sales levels, which have contributed to industry consolidations.


What was accomplished previously in sustainable shipment levels, can clearly be done again.

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

Having identified the problems, the next step must be to move toward solutions.

The communities sector, after breaking last year with MHI, is launching their own post-production national association.

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

What about those in retail, installation, lending, suppliers, and services, etc.? To learn more, see the related articles, linked below. ##  (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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

Footnote: 1) Typo in the original.  In fairness to Rolfe, in England, quotes are placed as he used it, inside the punctuation mark.

Related Reports:

Only 3 Options – the Elephant in the Room


George Allen Reply to Mainstream Media re: Roane/Lackey/SECO Exposé, Plus MHI, MHARR, et al – “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again”

Frank Rolfe Blasts MHI for Poor Media Engagement, Industry Reactions


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George Allen Reply to Mainstream Media re: Roane/Lackey/SECO Exposé, Plus MHI, MHARR, et al – “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again”

June 6th, 2018 Comments off


Finally, in 2018, a rallying cry, an apt theme, a worthy goal, for the manufactured housing industry! Here it is: Make Manufactured Housing Great Again!”

So said Vietnam veteran, MH Industry blogger, and retired Marine Lt. Col. George F. Allen, on 6.4.2018.

Perhaps he’s forgetting that ‘his’ theme was a headline and featured image he and a number of his readers likely saw here on the Daily Business News approaching two years ago. Note the date on the screen capture.


It should be noted that the Daily Buisness News periodically references this article, and the featured image has been shown several times since it was first published. Thus, Allen has likely picked up that Make Manufactured Housing Great Again phrase right here.



As an upcoming MHProNews report will demonstrate, there are:

  • multi-billion-dollars-a-year in missed new manufactured home sales opportunities,
  • as well as ethical reasons

why Allen’s recent blog-post is worthy of a few minutes consideration.

While some of what Allen wrote will debatably be shown as problematic, plagiaristic, etc., there are also a range of useful, timely, and important issues he has once again brought to light.

So, a careful reading of each part of this analysis is warranted. If you’re in a hurry, let’s politely suggest that you read this later, as a skim will likely cause misreading of this report.

Because even though he’s arguably ‘stepped in it’ here or there, the moving-toward-retirement Allen has provided a fresh glimpse at important issues. Thus, we’ll correct-the-record in the fisking of his post where needed, but the focus will be why his latest topic matters, though perhaps not always as he intended.

This analysis will also point out Allen’s reply to the controversy which erupted after mainstream media reporter Tyler Jett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press quoted Allen, and his COBA7/SECO buddy, Spencer Roane, defended embattled SECO board member, Thomas Lackey.

Lackey’s community business stands accused by several consumers, media, plus local officials, of allegedly “selling” homes “contract for title” that he did not own.

So, top to bottom, this will be a careful fact check, and analysis of issues that Allen raised and purports to address.

As Allen and Roane get stage-time, promotion, and support from some state associations, plus an industry museum, this analysis will be important for more than land-lease community operators.  Allen and Company’s actions impact retailers, producers, associations, and thus all sectors in manufactured housing.

Each section of this analysis relates to the ethics, image, and profit issue raised in the report linked below.

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

With that prolouge, let’s follow several more lines from Allen’s latest missive.


“Yes, You’re…Right!” Says Allen

 Continuing that ‘borrowed’ theme of “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again,” publisher and COBA7 leader Allen said this.

Yes, you’re reading that right! It ‘says it all’,” opined Allen, “hinting at our turn of the century loss of easy access to chattel capital, to the reality that quality, energy efficient, attractive HUD-Code manufactured housing can be, & is, the practical answer to the ‘affordable housing’ crisis!”

There too, Allen borrows a theme from another article first published by MHLivingNews years ago.  The linked articles can be accessed later, and are provided to document facts Allen neglected, or are otherwise related.

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

The refrain of “manufactured housing as the solution to the affordable housing crisis that is hiding in plain sight” is one which several mainstream media outlets have since picked up, using it in a positive way.

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

Editorially, we note that even when MHProNews dives into a seemingly negative issue, it is with the intent to heal, not harm.  Borrowing a principle from my better half’s profession, an untreated disease can kill a person.  A proverbial cancer in a business can kill a firm too.  Or if the plague spreads extensively enough, ‘cancer’ can be the death of a marginal or vulnerable industry.  The proper response to phyiscal or professional illness isn’t turning a blind eye, but rather, to treat the causes of the issue.

Next comes Allen’s literal punch line, allegedly aimed at this publication.

Plus, is the manufactured housing trade press up to the task of promoting this end, or still mired in backstabbing & innuendo?”

George, we’re not only “up for that challenge,” we’re happy to stand on our record of doing positive promotion and problem solving, not just talking about it.

As the above links demonstrated, it’s Allen who provided a selfy-style photo fit to sit next to the textbook definition of Chutzpah.


Some of Allen’s followers have periodically forwarded examples of his alleged “back stabbing,” so the quoted phrase arguably are more posturing for his audience than an actual challenge.

But for the second week in a row, what his opinion piece never does is directly address the serious allegations of wrongdoing raised by the Times Free Press, or the Daily Business News.   What’s George’s Answer to the Times Free Press, and other allegations? 

Allen’s answer is no answer.  Instead, he arguably practices the Ds of duck, dodge, detract, distract, and defame.

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

The absence of any denials or correction from Allen leaves him reduced to name calling, finger pointing at others, and a series of interesting distractions. Said themes are perhaps an attempt to take his readers minds off the woes Allen, Roane, and Lackey have voluntarily stepped into, see the above linked article for more details.


Chutzpah and Hypocrisy or MAGA on Display? Decoding Allen 

The above is arguably vintage Allen, according to veteran “Allen decoders,” which includes readers of his who are readers here. It’s his own readers who tipped us about some of his recent emailed messages, and posts.

Allen has “the chutzpah” to misappropriate themes first published by each of our trade media sites, while attempting to point fingers? Was that something he learned or taught in one of the Bible lessons he’s been known to share? If so, Oy-vez! 

But in fairness, again, besides metaphorically inedible chaff (e.g.: some of his quotes above), Allen provides some fine wheat too, which will be examined further below. Both the chaff and the wheat are useful to understand, because he’s public.

He, Roane, and Lackey are part of the forging of the problematic image of our largely noble industry.

So, let’s dig deeper into the thoughts of Allen, an RV MH Hall of Fame inductee.


Allen’s Bold Red Herrings…

The timing of Allen’s chest-thumping and finger-pointing are both noteworthy. He admits in his own post that his star has been sinking, because he admits to declining attendance at his round-table, and in his readership.

While admitting declines, he then lashes out with verbal challenges he posed to his long-time peers, and supporters. On several levels, they are stunning. 

Seemingly ignoring any suggestion that his or SECO’s Spencer Roane protection of scandal-challenged Tom Lackey – spotlighted by a mainstream media reporter Tyler Jett – was in any way flawed, he ignores those scandals and controversies, while lashing out at his peers and followers.

Allen – who his friends remind this writer knows and likes magic tricks – arguably attempts a series of verbal slights-of-hand.


Allen Lashes Out At Land Lease Community Owners, and Other Operations

Paraphrasing an unnamed source, Allen said:

I cringe every time I hear someone talk of these [land lease manufactured home] communities as being ‘cash cows’ – ready for the milking; real estate brokers casually talk of how easy it is to upgrade; and, others advocate ‘fix & flip’ strategies. Every time someone overpays for one of these communities, the writing is on the wall, warning the rest of us will suffer the consequences.”

While there are elements of tasteless wheat present in that quote, how many of his followers realize that it’s Allen, Roane, and Lackey who are putting the reputation of good communities or honest retailers at risk?

Haven’t the apparently unrepentant trio made themselves the poster children for yet another series of problematic reports that make our industry look bad? Haven’t they done so at the precise time manufactured homes (MH) are needed by millions?

Chutzpah firmly in hand, Allen plows ahead.

Your experience with neighboring communities that went downhill, reputation and appearance-wise, during 30 years of passing from one owner to another, is a sad but accurate testament to what happens when owners/operators don’t understand the cost of maintaining, let alone upgrading such properties; don’t have the funds to do so; or just don’t care,” the reportedly now-former MH Community owner Allen wrote.



Isn’t Allen describing the kind of problematic property that Tom Lackey is accused of running? If so, why isn’t he just calling him out, and calling for his ouster from the SECO planning committee? Why are MHInsider, and MHR promting this trio of trouble?

Allen continues, “There’s nary a land lease community owner reading these words who hasn’t experienced similar scenarios, whether they’ve suffered the consequences of being a neighbor to such malaise or profiteering – or, sorry to say, are guilty of it themselves! Yes, this is where the image improvement, affordable housing, and desirable lifestyle cycle begins and ends. Where do your properties fit into this perennial cycle?”

So, what are you doing; what are you willing to do, as a land lease community owner, to MAKE MANUFACTURED HOUSING GREAT AGAIN!?” said Allen.

Doesn’t he boldly ignore his, Roane’s, and Lackey’s hypocrisy? Isn’t the retired colonel finger-pointing in almost every direction – save the face in his mirror – odd, given he fails to hold himself or his colleagues to similar ethical standards?

Can you spell “Chutzpah,” George?  Are you colonel up to the challenge of debating all of this publicly, on video?


Here Comes Red Meat. Allen’s Shots at MHI, and a Swing-and-a-Miss at MHARR

In addressing the issue raised by MHARR about the lack of an effective post-production sector association, Allen says the following.

For example; it’s a given, HUD-Code housing manufacturers, the Big Three C firms in particular – who controlling 70%+/- national market share, are in the driver’s seat at the Manufactured Housing Institute they fund.”

On technical points, the soon—to-be-retiring Allen may not have noticed that the Skyline Champion deal closed Monday, so it’s no longer the 3Cs.

Skyline Champion Corporation Created as Skyline and Champion Home Builders Announce Closing of Business Combination, Exclusive Details

Nor did he notice the graphic below, which based upon their respective corporate data, reflects the fact that the big three now have 80 (+/-) percent of new HUD Code manufactured home production market share.


Allen’s points are interesting, and in a few moments, it will point to the challenge revealed in the trend spotlighted in the MHProNews graphic, above.

Factual errors aside, Allen’s next point is wheat.

Weak Link? The post-production sector,” wrote Allen – with post-production sector = code words for MHI. “In fairness, this industry observer can only opine on one of several sectors, that comprised of land lease community owners/operators nationwide. And yes, in my opinion, that sector continues to ‘go begging’ for attention and support, via advocacy and representation, within and outside Washington, DC. Not much [to] point [to] here, to repeat the ills and shortfalls of [MHI/NCC] leadership to date…”

What’s interesting, is that Allen has privately and in writing admitted his COBA7 isn’t an association, and doesn’t do the work of an association.


From a prior George Allen blog post.  The insights above are one of several reasons one can’t ignore the man, because he does make some arguably valid points – the wheat must be separated from the chaff.

The following is an extended, and interesting, extended quote from his June 4, 2018 blog. Typos are in the original (disclaimer/note: in our blizzard of publishing and other industry related work, we have typos too).

Referring to the same MHARR Press Release, five tasks are recommended for attention to MHI and or, as MHARR puts it, “a new independent, collective, national post-production association.”. Heavily edited, they include:

  • Aggressively engage in all aspects of manufactured housing consumer finance 1) including secondary market support for – and securitization of – all types of manufactured home loans…”, & 2) establish secondary market for home sales.
  • Effectively oppose local regulatory and zoning barriers to all forms of affordable housing, and the development of land lease communities.
  • Ensure reasonable, cost-effective housing installation and placement criteria promoting balance between regulation and affordability. Frost Free Foundations!
  • Promote professional property management within land lease communities, as well as strong, effective representation and advocacy on the national level.
  • Commit to and engage in national brand advertising, to stimulate and maintain growth and prosperity throughout the manufactured housing industry.

No question but that they’re many other measures to achieve this end, but it’s a start. Perhaps the overarching goal, among all manufactured housing-related trade sectors should simply, to

Make Manufactured Housing Great Again!

There are several points worth pondering in the above, which was inspired by MHARR’s June report, linked here.


Final Swipes, Allen’s Own Admissions, and Contradictory Praise 

Allen admits he’s no longer as diligent in writing, and is no longer as read as he once was. It’s a note of humility.

He praises other trade publications, including one where his own work appears. Go figure. It’s worth noting that he praised MHInsider, which in turn has recently promoted Allen again.  MHInsider did so, even after he, Roane, and Lackey have attracted a wave of negative media.  Those are the ‘insiders’ – their self-description – go figure.

But the oddity from the AllenWorld vantage point is that those periodicals are tilted strongly toward MHI, which Allen bashed moments before. If you want consistency in thought, is that Allen?

Then without naming the publications or the publisher he borrowed his blog post theme of – “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again” – namely, MHProNews and MHLivingNews, he takes the following vague shot.

Quoting that part verbatim, without editing or filling in via [brackets] intended or implied words, he says of this publication team;

One online ezine, reportedly widely known – in this industry observer’s opinion – risks discrediting, as it brick bats those whose words and actions don’t mirror or support the editorial stance, and industry agenda, espoused by said ezine. One way to evaluate practitioners of such a fifth estate, is to number, identify, and critique the writing quality its’ stable of writers.”

It’s another classic Allenism, which only Allenites and Allen decoders can understand.  Keep in mind the “decoding Allen” tip from a former Allen client, found in the article linked below. “With George, it’s AAA.  All About Allen.”

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

Apparently, it is OK for Allen to critique the industry, which he clearly — and arguably, correctly —  believes that critique is necessary to advance the cause of manufactured housing.

Let’s underscore that point of his, because a good critique, and analysis are needed to make the manufactured housing industry great again.

Put differently, Allen is right to say that there are several festering issues that are harming the industry’s advancement.

But what some of Allen’s own followers tell MHProNews is this. It’s essential to have standards to base a critique on. It’s about principles, not mere posturing.  Lip service is posturing for an audience. Thus our topic on ethics, linked below.


NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

Allen and this writer agree on some issues, such as the troubling patterns, and arguably abject failures of MHI to represent the interests of the industry at large.

Despite numerous efforts by this writer over the years to bridge the gap with Allen, and get him off mere platitudes and to consistently focus on issues that matter, the reality is it hasn’t worked yet.


Allen’s Several Gifts to the MH Industry

All that said, the debatably plagiarizing, narcissistic Allen has done, and/or has attempted to do, the industry several favors.

Before diving in, in fairness to the veteran, one should ask the following questions. Why is Allen so wounded? What demons does he battle?

One possible example might be how he was allegedly betrayed by the Manufactured Housing Institute/National Communities Council (MHI/NCC). How so?

Per sources, a few years ago, MHI/NCC entered into discussions with Allen to buy out his annual roundtable event, his publishing, and training. After several discussions, there was ultimately no deal made.  But as part of the buyout discussions, MHI required Allen to enter into a non-disclosure agreement, and he revealed ‘everything’ to them during those discussions.

In turn, after failing to buy out Allen, MHI’s NCC division went into direct competition with a member/company.  What MHI/NCC did by going into competition with their own dues-paying member was outrageous on its face, isn’t it?

As MHI has thus far refused to provide MHProNews with their bylaws and other non-profit documentation, it is uncertain if they violated Allen’s rights in that sense. That said, objectively and ethically speaking, it seems like a clear conflict-of-interest for MHI to compete with a smaller, dues paying member company.


Nor is Allen alone in that regard, again per past and/or present MHI member statements.

In as much as Allen too has called out, and finally quit MHI and the NCC – the later of which he and others helped co-found – he’s also done the industry a favor.

Tossing aside the chaff, here’s a summary of the wheat.


Summary of the Good Wheat

Mistakes or allegations aside, “Allen and Roane” by example did the following for MHVille.

1)   Allen and Roane have shown the industry that motivated professionals can gather a group of hundreds of industry peers together.  SECO is a nonprofit, COBA7 – per sources – is not.  But they had the potential foundation for a genuine association.

2)   With the correct elements, a number of which MHARR has listed (see linked related resources, further below), a new post-production sector can be forged. Will there be one or more post-production trade associations? That remains to be seen.

3)   Allen has shown by painful example what MHI/NCC behavior looks like. What MHI/NCC did to Allen is copy several of his topics and services, and then proceed to give ‘them away with’ MHI/NCC memberships. That’s arguably unethical by MHI/NCC, and possibly illegal and/or legally actionable.

4)   Isn’t what MHI/NCC alleged to have done to Allen a variation on what MHI award winner Marty Lavin says the association has done for years?

5)   Putting that 4th point differently, Marty Lavin recently said that MHI works only for the interests of “the big boys.” The allegations, inferences – and by deductive reasoning – Allen and Lavin have made the following clear. If you aren’t a big boy operation, at MHI, your firm is a potential meal of a big boy.

Allen, Lavin, MHARR, we, and others have not necessarily been on the same page as to approaches. But all see the problems that have flowed from the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

Frank Rolfe has sadly gone silent on this, allegedly enticed by Berkshire Hathaway ad dollars, and other benefits, per sources. But Rolfe was arguably correct in calling out MHI’s hypocrisy. He was debatably correct on saying that the industry’s greatest challenges are from within, i.e.: failures at MHI.

It’s on that point about MHI being a key part of the industry’s problem that:

  • Allen,
  • Lavin,
  • MHARR,
  • Rolfe,
  • Roane,
  • the AZ and NV associations – which are forming a new national communities/post-production trade association,
  • and MHProNews, thanks to those who’ve made this industry leading site possible,

…all have agreed upon.  It’s this.

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

MHI’s antics tilt toward the interests of a few big companies, arguably at the expense of smaller companies.

7 Surprising Keys to Unlock Manufactured Housing Industry Sales Success

It’s sad that Allen has allegedly been wronged by an association he served for so many years. Perhaps there are good reasons for Allen’s bitterness, which may explain why he lashes out at voices – including ours – that share similar concerns.

It’s not our job to condemn anyone.  But it is the job of media – including trade media – to hold “the powers that be” accountable. Speaking “truth to power” isn’t easy or fun. It’s not to be done lightly.

  • To the extent Allen and others have raised the red flag about MHI, they are to be commended.
  • To the degree that Allen and others have arguably been wronged by MHI, they deserve justice.
  • To the degree that Allen, Roane, Lackey, and MHI have wronged others, they ought to make amends.

Again, in as much as various organizations or persons are failing to address the root issues that hold back the industry, for manufactured home professionals reading this, your share of the additional billions of dollars a year in sales are arguably being lost.

We Provide, You Decide.” ## (News, fisking, fact checks, analysis, commentary.)

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

Related Reports:

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

Study Recommending New Manufactured Housing Association for Independent Retailers, Communities, Lenders, Others Released

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

HUD’s New Man, Officials Statements, with Insider Info Beyond the Media Releases

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

MHI Lender Shakes Up DTS and MLO Rule Discussions

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


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L. A. “Tony” Kovach, photo by Mark Simon, shows Kovach engaging with SAAs in NY.

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Tony is the award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and


“Trapped. Threatened. Scared.” “Mobile Home [SIC] Owner’s Fears Reflect National Crisis”

May 5th, 2018 Comments off


Trapped. Threatened. Scared. That is how thousands of people across the Front Range are feeling and they all have one thing in common: They live in manufactured homes,” says Denver 7 in their report on a manufactured home community in Thornton, Colorado.


At a time when about half of all manufactured homes are being shipped into land-lease manufactured home communities – what Denver 7 and others incorrectly call a “mobile home park *” – the solution that manufactured housing offers is being obscured by a steady wave of negative news.




With housing costs out of reach for many people in Colorado, the only path to home ownership is often through a mobile home park.*” said Denver 7.

The problem is that while they own the home, they do not own the land it sits on and that puts them at the mercy of their landlord.”


Several residents reached out to Contact7’s Theresa Marchetta about problems they face in their mobile home community.

After weeks of digging for answers and accountability, Marchetta uncovered the problems at one local mobile home park reflect a growing national crisis and a system failing to protect those who live there,” said their report.

Management, says Contact7, wouldn’t speak to them on camera.

That’s reminiscent of a comment from Frank Rolfe, who has often spoken with the mainstream media.  Rolfe says that he’s also scared about talking to the media. But he says that failure to engage only cements the stereotypes. He argues that engagement is necessary, noting that’s especially true, because the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and others won’t do it.


Friendly Village

At Friendly Village of the Rockies, homeowners say management does not live up to the name,” said Denver7.

You can either do it or just get out,” said one homeowner who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation by park management.

“Put a note on your door, do this within a certain amount of time or you’ll be fined,” said another resident in the community, Anthony Velasquez,” per Contact7.


The Pattern and the Trend

MHProNews asked then MHI Chairman, Tim Williams about the failure of MHI to engage on negative or problematic media accounts.  His reply to that inquiry is linked here.

Part of what Williams said is that there is a good case to be made that the engagement should take place routinely.

Hasn’t years of reports like Denver7 made it obvious that routine engagement with media and others is necessary?

Another Tim Williams, from the Ohio Manufactured Home Association, responded when bad news hit his state.  One of several examples of his pushback are linked below.

Tim Williams, OMHA, Responds to Issues Raised by NPR Report on Manufactured Home Communities

Rolfe has argued on stage in front of dozens of industry professionals that every time something harmful to the industry takes place, there should be push-back by the industry that clarifies any false or misleading issues.

Another state association executive told MHProNews that they have a policy of ‘not defending bad actors.’  Those two principles apply balance and context.

Because sometimes, there are simple, and yet unstated to the media, explanations for concerns that arise.  For example, enforcing guidelines for living are similar to a deed restricted residential subdivision enforcing their standards on residents.

In the case in Thorton, CO in the video above, the following is unclear based upon local media reports: did the home owners with the fencing concern agree to no fencing in writing, before they moved in?

That’s the sort of detail that Brad Lovin told MHProNews last year is often left out of such reports.

At the same time, should community operators reconsider certain standards?  In Paradise Cove in Malibu, home owners are allowed privacy fencing. Some other manufactured home communities (MHCs) allow for it, within specific guidelines. While fencing isn’t the only reason that the rich and famous move to a place like Paradise Cove, operators ought to consider the more upscale type of residents that allowing fencing or other appropriate additions may attract.

Baywatch Bombshell Actress Pam Anderson’s Famous Malibu “Mobile Mansion” Up for Sale, Photo Spread, Videos

Should that $3,000 fence be reconsidered by that management company?

If the Thorton community owner is indeed unable or unwilling to defend their fencing policy on camera or in writing to local media, how does that one-side local news report reflect on them?  Or how does that video report impact other MHCs in the same market, who are also in the land-lease community business?  How are retailers impacted?  Factories, lenders, and on down the list of industry connected professionals?

Part of the troubling answer is found in the Channel7 video.  The quotes below from the video are statements made by a sociologist that’s studied this issue, and they are telling a tale that isn’t entirely comfortable for the industry to hear.

University of Colorado Sociologist, Esther Sullivan, says 80 percent of the residents in places like Friendly Village own their homes,” said Denver7.

When I share with you the predatory practices I’ve seen in this mobile home park,* you’re not surprised by that?” Channel7’s Theresa Marchetta asked the professor.

No, this is indicative of cases occurring across the country,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan says she has become an expert on the topic, spending nearly a decade documenting “housing insecurity in mobile home parks.*

These issues that you see at Friendly Village may seem unique to this one park, but they are indicative of the capricious and arbitrary actions landlords take in mobile home parks across the nation. You hear these same stories over and over again,” said Sullivan.

The professor and author said she lived in “two mobile home parks* in Texas and Florida and documented the impact as they were sold off and closed down.”

They’re subject to rent hikes, often without notice, upon fees that are tacked-on, a lack of maintenance or an expectation they maintain the land that they don’t own,” Sullivan said.


Sullivan is not anti-manufactured housing. “Absolutely. We can’t build our way out of our current affordable housing crisis which we all can see in Denver,” Sullivan said. The industry’s members would be wise to properly engage with voices like hers, along with business that operate in a way that gets them A+ BBB or similar ratings.


The Broader Issues for MHVille, Current and Prospective Home Owners

The issues point to an image problem for commercially operated MHC properties owned by individuals, or portfolio operators. Failure to address the issue has arguably plagued the industry’s good operations.

The issues has been a boost to the image of resident owned communities (ROCs), which are often mentioned as the solution to this problem.  But that’s an oversimplification, as it ignores good community operations.

Who says?

ROC USA President Paul Bradley has stated repeatedly to MHProNews that there are a number of good operations in the country.  Bradley says they should not be lumped in with those who may fail to provide the same level of “economic security” for their residents.

Rephrasing, there are different kinds of privately owned companies.  But if the individual property owners don’t make that clear to prospective and current residents in their own markets, then they too can be harmed when bad news hits other nearby land-lease properties.


Resolution to the MHC Image Issues?

Common sense – sound reason – suggests there are two, and only two ways that this issue will find positive resolution.

  • 1) A community operator, or any other manufactured home industry business, must do is own marketing, and make their case to the public in their market area(s).  UMH Prosperities CEO Sam Landy has stated as much to MHProNews.
  • 2) Independent operations with shared values that provide residents an appealing lifestyle must band together, and work to resolve these issues through an association or alliance.

While some state associations strive to do just that, it is obvious from the steady drum beat of negative news that it is not yet enough.

What is self-evident is that years after MHProNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach presented to MHI attendees a positively received message on engaging the media, MHI has failed to directly engage the news in an effect way.


Observing a problem without offering reasonable solutions is called whining. Consultant and publisher Tony Kovach pointed to actual cases of properly engaging with residents and media, in a highly praised presentation. Years later, what has MHI done with those examples shared?

Instead, MHI has focused on social media and controversial advertorials. If those were effective, would their own website traffic, and the industry’s ongoing image issues persist?

Note that Denver7 gave more than one favorable mention to manufactured homes as an affordable housing solution.  Professor Sullivan did too.

It’s the related image-harming issues that are causing ongoing problems for many in the industry.

The data doesn’t lie, see that report, linked below.

What are the FACTS about Manufactured Housing Industry Traffic vs. Real Estate? MHVillage, MHProNews, Manufactured Housing Institute Data

Head in the sands won’t change what’s self-evident.  There’s proof that the proper local efforts can work.  The logic of collective efforts is clear.  The reality of failure to act is demonstrably harmful.  Rather than deal with the issues, MHI stands accused of trying to silence those voices that raise the concerns or who provide meaningful solutions.

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

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

* This is a terminological problem, mobile home and manufactured home are not interchangeable terms.  To learn more click the second linked related report, below.


Related Reports:

Hundreds of New Manufactured Home Communities Opened, But How Many Have Closed? Industry Research Result$

The Ultimate Manufactured Home Industry Fact$, Data, and Insights – Bullets plus at-a-Glance Infographic

Study Recommending New Manufactured Housing Association for Independent Retailers, Communities, Lenders, Others Released


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The Apprentice – Proper Understanding, Planning, and Execution – Monday Morning Manufactured Home Marketing and Sales Meeting

April 30th, 2018 Comments off

Do you want the welder with one class worth of experience, or do you want the welder trained under and expert, and who’s been an apprentice for several months, or a year?  Doesn’t more training produce better work and results?

Let’s summarize what clear data (facts), Frank Rolfe, and MHVillage’s Darren Krolewski statements should be informing all manufactured housing professionals, owners and investors.


Modern manufactured homes are widely misunderstood. If this weren’t true, you’d be selling many times more manufactured homes at your location(s) than is currently true.

That summary is an important element to understanding how to grow sales in your local market. For the details per Frank, Darren and the relevant data, click here.

Because the problem – ignorance, prejudice, bias, NIMBY, and misunderstanding are well known – the highly profitable solution becomes clear. It’s simple, yet profound.

The solution is market-based, local-level educational efforts. 

Education must be on two levels. Professional education, plus the education of the public including  opinion influencers. 

Well qualified home buyers, which routinely describes those buying conventional housing, shop for weeks or months (sometimes, years) before making a decision.  They may only call, message, or come out to look after they’ve been doing their homework online or doing drive-by-looks for weeks or months. That means your online strategy must account for that reality. 

For the personal engagement with consumers, if you handle them professionally, they may make what seems to be rapid decision. But remember – in fact, they’ve been shopping for quite some time.  If they come to you, that often means you have to screw up to not sell them. 

So don’t screw up.

Every location that wants to grow sustainably needs one or more apprentices. 

The investment in the correct online, video, and sales coaching/training is tiny compared to the ROI.  It’s common sense.  It’s honorable and ethical, and thus sustainable. Once understood, its less stress than many current sales models. To learn more, click or call.  To see the relevant data and comments from Frank, and Darren, click the link below. ## (Marketing, research, educational, data, analysis and commentary.) 

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

Related Reports:

RVHorizon/MHP Funds Investing/Mobile Home Univ Communities Leader, Frank Rolfe’s Hidden Gem



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