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A New Housing Insurance Market?

March 16th, 2017 Comments off
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An unrelated “tiny home.” Credit: Youtube.

Although it’s still considered a small share of the market, the growing buzz around so-called “tiny homes,” has opened up a new market for insurance.

According to Insurance Journal, while enthusiasm does run high, so do the challenges and realities that the tiny home industry, and owners, face: building codes, zoning ordinances, community norms and, insurance issues.

Some of the biggest issues involve building codes that have yet to be standardized and a variety of city and municipality zoning and ordinance regulations on where tiny homeowners can place their dwelling legally,” said Mike Schmidt, business development director for the Tiny Home Industry Association and CEO of Ensemble Ventures, a Colorado Springs business development firm.

As state and local governments struggle with, and have their own rules on, exactly how to classify tiny homes, there continues to be confusion over definitions between RVIA standards (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) versus International Residential Codes (IRC), which lends to potential challenges around how to insure them.

There’s been some crossover between the two and how you apply insurance to this market is very interesting,” said Schmidt.

There are different types of tiny houses — how they are sited and built, how they are placed, whether they are on a trailer; a lot of things that are evolving and developing.

Additionally, zoning codes and regulations that classify tiny homes as RV’s create an additional set of problems surrounding permanent residency.

HUD basically mandates and specifies that you can’t live in an RV more than 30 days at a time in a fixed location which has really hampered the (tiny home) industry significantly,” said Schmidt.

We’ve spent a lot of time looking at single family homes building, and development lags in the country. There’s a serious need for affordable housing and tiny houses may have a role to play if we can get some of the conflicting zoning and ordinances cleaned up.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, even though tiny homes may look more affordable on the surface, manufactured housing provides a significantly better value per square foot.

 

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Credit: CJOB.

It appears that changes could be on the horizon, given a recent addendum to the IRC.

The addendum provides architects, designers, builders, community developers and zoning officials a means of recognizing tiny houses as an official form of permissible dwelling,” said Thom Stanton of the Housing Development Institute.

The Insurance Industry

With code and zoning issues, the insurance industry has been slow to move. But one agent has decided to dive in and work to corner the market after meeting one of the earliest adopters of tiny homes.

I met Dee Williams and she talked about the frustration of not being able to find insurance,” said Darrell Grenz, owner of the Darrell Grenz Insurance Agency in Portland, Oregon.

I started going to some of her workshops to learn about the tiny home industry and then one of my clients built a tiny home.

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A park model home by Skyline Homes. Park models are being used by some to target the ‘tiny house’ movement. These homes – depending on their size and configuration – may be built to the ANSI or HUD Code.

Then, Grenz was hooked.

It was almost like destiny. My office, located in North Portland, has become a hotbed for the tiny home movement,said Grenz.

But, Grenz ran into challenges as he started calling his carrier reps, as many said no to taking the risk. He finally got a big break, which involved Lloyd’s of London building a program to insure tiny homes.

Even with that success, there’s still concern about agents not having a full understanding of the market.

The problem is that most insurance agents do not understand the differences on all these things (in tiny homes) and the tiny home movement, if it’s really a movement,said Martin Burlingame, CEO of Colorado Springs-based Commercial Insurance Group.

It’s a disaster for insurance because you have agents doing all kinds of crazy things.

The biggest problem when it comes to insurance is whether the tiny home is a permanent residence or a rental property. Many tiny home enthusiasts have taken to the Airbnb-style home venture.

Even though Burlingame says that the market isn’t growing as fast as many would like, he sees the potential.

How the industry evolves over the next few years will be interesting to watch. The evolution reminds him of another emerging market and product evolution: the legal marijuana industry,” said Burlingame.

Why Not Manufactured Homes vs. Tiny Houses?

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Several manufactured housing professionals believe that those fascinated with tiny houses ought to be thinking manufactured homes instead.

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Brian Cira, photo credit, MHProNews.

Anybody with a brain in their head would look at a manufactured home,” Brian Cira, president, Fairmont Homes, Nappanee, IN said.

We do it much more efficiently, much more smartly. We’ve been doing this for decades. … We could build these [tiny houses] all day long.

For a detailed comparison of tiny houses and manufactured homes, see the article, linked here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Mortgage Debt: Problematic for Retirees

September 27th, 2013 Comments off

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says 30 percent of homeowners over 70 have mortgages to pay off. A study for 2001 reports eight percent of owners over 75 were carrying mortgage debt. More homeowners over 65 continue to pay on their homes into their retirement years, and that may make it more difficult for them to remain in their homes long term. Health care costs, property taxes and home maintenance will likely rise against incomes that rise little, if at all. Eric Belsky, managing director for Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, states the number of households with persons over 65 will rise by 11 million over the next ten years. As nytimes.com reports, reverse mortgages may become more prominent. The homeowner borrows against home equity, but must have enough resources to maintain insurance and taxes, or they could lose the home. Most reverse mortgages are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), MHProNews has learned. A study of 32,000 people who sought information about reverse mortgages from 2006 to 2011 will be released in Nov. 2013.

(Image credit: caudium.com)

Modular Builder in Montana Shuts Doors

September 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Canadian-American Structured Solutions (CASS) opened in May 2012 in Billings, Montana vowing to provide 100 jobs, as it filled modular housing orders for workers in the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota. Updating a story MHProNews posted Jan. 26, 2013 regarding the company’s temporary layoff of 30 employees due to a shortage of materials, on Friday, Sept. 13 the front door was padlocked and the employee entrance was boarded up, leaving am alleged trail of unpaid employees, modular homes with faulty plumbing, and previous legal claims still owing. One builder reports receiving his modular units for 12 apartments months late and with major work needed. He says water sprayed from the fixtures when the faucets were turned on. CASS allegedly canceled its medical insurance in January without telling employees, according to billingsgazette.com. One employee who called the company handling the payroll was told the contract was canceled two weeks prior.  CFO Larry Nelson and CEO Lorne Wallace reportedly did not respond to requests for comments.

(Photo credit: Katharine MacKnight/kurl-tv–CASS modular homes)

Warren Warns, Obamacare Must Go

September 19th, 2013 Comments off

Oracle of Ohama Warren Buffett says Obamacare should be eliminated because the average citizen will suffer the most without changes to the plan. He adds health care costs need to be controlled before providing health insurance to everyone, otherwise continuing as we are will lead to less competition. As newsbusters.org notes, the billionaire investor was an early supporter of Obama, but compares health care costs to a tapeworm eating our “economic body.” MHProNews knows Buffett is Chairman of the Board of Berkshire Hathaway, parent company to Clayton Homes, the U.S.’s largest producer of manufactured and modular homes, as well as Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance and 21st Mortgage Corp., both lenders to consumers of factory-built homes.

(Photo credit: businessinsider.com-Warren Buffett)

Modular Homes Replacing Beachfront Bungalows

September 16th, 2013 Comments off

In Ortley Beach, New Jersey, adjacent to Seaside Heights, where 2,200 of 2,400 bungalows were damaged or wiped out by Hurricane Sandy, builder John Westrum is beginning to replace some of them with modular homes, recently completing a model home. He says many of the bungalows are 60-years old and have such outdated wiring, plumbing and old walls it makes more sense to build new rather than repair. In order to qualify for federal flood insurance the pilings the homes sit on have to be nine feet high. Simplex Homes of Scranton, Pennsylvania built the modules for the model home, according to philly.com. He offers homes from 750 square feet to 2,000 square feet, with prices of $109,900 to $289,900. He says all the infrastructure and streets are already there, as MHProNews has learned, and he expects to sell 50 homes a year.

(Photo credit: Emile Wamsteker/The Wall Street Journal–beachfront modular)

Modular Classrooms to Assist in YMCA Rebuild

September 6th, 2013 Comments off

Five days after lightning set fire to and closed the main building of the Greater Naples (Fla.) YMCA, including the gymnasium, board members have begun planning for new facilities. Moving fast, YMCA President Paul Thein has arranged for modular buildings to be brought in so many of the classes and services can resume, especially for the younger members, hopefully within a week, as naplesnews.com tells MHProNews. While insurance will likely cover the loss, donations have begun coming in, including $10,000 from the Naples Area Board of Realtors. It is expected the Naples Children and Education Foundation will also provide assistance in the rebuild.

(Photo credit: PRWeb–Icon Construction–modular classroom)

Modular Homes Dotting the Jersey and New York Coasts

August 20th, 2013 Comments off

John Westrum of Westrum Development has seen demand rising for his modular homes in the beachside neighborhoods that were devastated when Hurricane Sandy waylaid the coast from New Jersey to Connecticut. As new federal flood maps and insurance require homes to be elevated, Westrum, who up to now has been building modular homes primarily in Pennsylvania, sees the opportunity to build as many as 3,000 homes along the coast, and will open his first in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, Sat., Aug. 24. The two-story Cape Cod modular home, built in Scranton, PA, was assembled in 28 days. While many in New York City have yet to begin rebuilding, maneuvering narrow Manhattan streets with a 14-foot wide load may be prohibitive. MHProNews has learned from wsj.com John Colucci of Westchester Modular Homes, Inc. says his business is up 80 percent, mostly due to the aftermath of Sandy, with many customers in New Jersey and Long Island.

(Photo credit: Emile Wamsteker/The Wall Street Journal–beachfront modular on the New Jersey shore)

Cavco to Release Financials

July 26th, 2013 Comments off

Cavco Industries, Inc., will release financials for Q1 of fiscal year 2014 after the close of the market Thurs., Aug 1. 2013. The following day senior management will discuss the results in a live webcast Fri., Aug 2 at 12 noon Eastern time. Interested parties will be able to listen to the webcast at http://www.cavco.com under the investor relations link. The call will be archived for 90 days under the same link for 90 days following the webcast, according to globenewswire. MHProNews knows Cavco is one of the largest producers of manufactured homes in the country sold under the Cavco, Fleetwood Homes and Palm Harbor Homes brand names. The company also manufactures park model homes, vacation cabins and modular homes, and provides mortgages and insurance to owners of factory-built homes.

(Photo credit: Stacey Hairston/franklinnews-post–Cavco plant, Rocky Mt. Vir.))

HUD Hopes to Reduce Shadow Inventory

May 7th, 2013 Comments off

The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced it will sell approximately 20,000 severely delinquent mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in an attempt to reduce the shadow inventory and hone in on areas showing high foreclosure activity. Through its Distressed Asset Stabilization Program (DASP) it will increase funds to the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund and hopefully help some of the communities hit hardest by non-performing loans. The first sale date is set for June 26, followed by a second sale July 10 for properties located in southern Calif., Chicago, southern Ohio, and North Carolina. The loans are sold competitively at a market-determined price usually lower than the outstanding principal balance. HUD sold 16,000 seriously delinquent mortgages in March, and expects to sell 40,000 this year, as MHProNews has learned.

(Image credit: news365today)

Oak Creek Opens New Home Center

May 6th, 2013 Comments off

PRWeb reports Oak Creek Homes announces the opening of its new home center, its 17th in Texas, in Midland, TX to sell manufactured and modular homes and commercial buildings. General Manager Craig Johnston says the shortage of affordable housing and the rise in apartment rentals spurred the company to open in Midland. The company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ronnie Richards, says, “Oak Creek has built over 50,000 homes and has continuously provided homes in the Midland – Odessa market since 1983.” Midland is close to the oilfield development in west Texas that has workforce housing needs. MHProNews posted a story March 28 about Oak Creek’s development of a mobile app that allows a shopper to search homes while driving around. Oak Creek is a subsidiary of American Homestar Corp., a vertically integrated factory-built housing company, primarily employee-owned, with operations in construction, financing, insurance, and retailing. The company is in its 42nd year.

(Image credit: Oak Creek Homes)