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What’s Next in Affordable Housing, or for Manufactured Home Professionals and Investors?

July 6th, 2019 Comments off

 

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” – English maxim, origin credited to George Herbert.

 

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

 

No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things take time.
You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant
.” – Warren Buffett

 

Notice: MHProNews will be doing a website theme and URL switchover this weekend. By industry standards, ours is a huge website. Expect glitches. As every seasoned and successful business professional knows, change routinely means anticipated and unexpected bumps-in-the-road. That said, patience and persistence pays. What’s coming is relevant and potentially profitable to many.

 

 

Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. SWOT. 

Every person, profession, situation in life has its own SWOT. These are not always clearly understood by those who are in the middle of their own circumstances. Thus outsiders, often with experience in that same field, are brought in by success-minded business leaders to be a second set of eyes. Physicians often refer a patient to another doctor or an expert for a second opinion.

 

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The four quads of a good SWOT analysis. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

 

Everyone that has ever owned a business that has endured for more than four years has achieved something that the majority of those who start a business can’t claim. If a business is profitable at the end of its fourth year, that is a notable accomplishment.

If that same 4+ year-old business can honestly say that they have achieved that profitability and sustainability with a high degree of customer satisfaction, so much the better. That combination of honest business success with both internal and external satisfaction merits celebration. 

Among public officials in both major parties that have studied manufactured housing with an open mind, several things become clear. Manufactured homes have been routinely misunderstood for years. 

For those who understand business strategies, that factoid and what follow are opportunities in disguise.

 

 

  About every third American is living in rental housing.

  There are some 22 million Americans living in pre-HUD Code mobile homes or in post HUD Code manufactured homes.

  Millions of conventional housing owners plan to upsize, downsize, and otherwise change housing.

  NIMBYism and land use policies that are often designed to protect or promote special interests are among the reasons that manufactured homes are often blocked by zoning and placement restrictions. HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who is the top federal official in charge of regulating manufactured homes, has made it clear that he gets those facts.  

  Education is part of the solution to that issue. Secretary Carson has personally made efforts at educating others about manufactured homes on national TV programs, in published speeches, as well as in Senate testimony. There are plenty of examples of third-party studies that span more than 20 years that debunk the misplaced fears that many have about manufactured homes.

  The new presidential executive order (EO) establishing a White House Council to promote affordable housing underscores the two bullets above. President Donald J. Trump’s new EO also specifically cited manufactured homes.

  Several Democratic and Republican lawmakers and public officials are paying more attention to manufactured homes, industry lending, and other industry business practices.

 

There is more. But those bullets are enough to make a ‘can do’ minded professional wonder why manufactured housing isn’t performing far better than it is? Why is the industry only producing and shipping about ¼th of what it did in 1998? Or why is the industry only shipping about 17 percent of what was achieved in the early 1970s?

For those whose only answer is ‘lending,’ that’s at best incomplete.  For those who say image, that’s part of it too, but that’s an opportunity in disguise for those who see clearly. Simplistic ‘answers’ like those are often going to hobble professional growth.

Why, by contrast, has the RV industry gone from being outsold by manufactured homes at a 3 to 2 margin in 1998, to RVs outselling manufactured homes by some 5 to 1 in 2018? RVs also had image problems decades ago, but they addressed that successfully. RVs – towable or motorized – for most Americans are as their name implies, are recreational. By contrast, manufactured homes, while some are used as second homes, are for the most part primary permanent housing.

Meaning, the RV industry’s potential size should only be a fraction of what the potential is for manufactured housing. That’s another outside indicator that manufactured housing should be doing several times its current sales levels.

Seen through the eyes of an honest SWOT analysis, there are clearly obstacles and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses in the manufactured housing industry in the summer of 2019. 

At a more granular and personalized level, there is a SWOT for every professional, location, business, and organization.  But the infographic below reflects the enormous potential that the industry has.  

2018DataShareofHousingMarketManufacturedHousingInfographicDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews612

 

What’s Next?

Amazon, Chinese imports, and 3D printed housing are just some of several looming threats to the domestic sales of more manufactured homes.

SunCommunitiesIncSUIManufacturedHomeSalesPriceComparisionConventionalHousingCostFeb2019IRDec312018DataManufacturedHomeCommunityDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

But at this time, HUD Code manufactured homes have a clear price-per-square foot and/or other advantages over its rivals. As HUD Secretary Carson and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Certified Business Economist Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton have both said, manufactured homes are more resilient – far safer – than most realize. 

 

SunCommunitiesIncSUIRentalofManufacturedHomeVsOtherRentalComparisionsFeb2019IRDec312018DataManufacturedHomeCommunityDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Always keep in mind that data changes over time. This information was deemed accurate by a publicly traded company at the time it was originally published.

 

·        At least on paper, manufactured homes also have an advantage due to the ‘enhanced preemption’ clause that is already law, as established in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000.

·        Manufactured housing has – at least on paper – support from the Duty to Serve (DTS) provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, that mandated support for manufactured homes. These two bullets are examples of good laws already on the books that are not being properly implemented.  That’s an opportunity in disguise for the savvy with moxie and resources.

There are also aspects of FHA, VA, and USDA (Rural Development) lending, plus several state finance programs, that offer opportunities for manufactured home professionals and investors to serve potentially millions of Americans who want to upsize, downsize, or get their first home. To be crystal clear, those opportunities exist apart from the so called ‘new class of homes’ that some in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis are promoting. That new class of homes, whatever the intention, is arguably more problematic than promising.

ClaytonHomesIhouseGenNowHome2015PrintedHouseNewClassOfHomesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Click to download and see this full sized.

 

When people think image or stigma, that too is part of SWOT. However, a crisis that is properly understood is often an opportunity in disguise.

 

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Sam Zell famously observed that when others are going left, look right. Zell told MHProNews via the late Howard Walker, JD, then Vice Chairman of Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), that the ELS chairman has never lost confidence in manufactured homes and communities. Zell has preached that they aren’t ‘trailers or trailer parks,’ in his own pointed way.

SamZellQuotesPencilHeadItsNotATrailerParkWhenEveryoneisgoingleftLookRightELSChairmanManufacturedHomeProNews

 

 

The fact that Zell-led ELS and Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway have invested billions into the manufactured housing industry, and continue to do so, should speak volumes to objective thinkers. The fact that others are following suit is likewise noteworthy.

Here is where there may be some parting of the ways between various industry professionals. To oversimplify, there are those in manufactured housing that fully grasp the realities noted and linked herein. Some are ‘black hat’ operations, while others are ‘white hat’ business. On MHLivingNews we encourage housing shoppers to discern that difference.

 

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by their president Tim Williams, Warren Buffett’s direct quotes from that same year’s annual letter, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, all line up in what attorneys who reviewed it see as ‘smoking gun’ evidence of antitrust violations. They demonstrate how thousands of independent retailers, communities, and several producers – among others – where purportedly directly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation. See for yourself: https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

 

There are candidly those who don’t get it about such realities regarding ‘black hats’ in the ranks, or are in fear or denial, or may understand but don’t know what to do about issues like the ones found in the reports linked above and below.

 

 

Each of those are thorny topics. But ‘leaders grasp nettles.’ Nettles, properly understood, are prickly but have medicinal properties. ‘Grasping nettles’ is an apt metaphor that manufactured housing industry owners, managers, leaders, investors, and professionals should strive to understand and master in the context of their own unique SWOT.  

During a time that manufactured homes should be roaring, instead, the industry seems to be snoring. There are reasons that is so, including those noted in reports linked from this article. For 9 consecutive months, there are year-over-year declines in the production and shipments of new manufactured homes, despite all of the possible good news and positive resources that are available. That fact, considered in the light of others, begs questions. How to account for the failures to advance by the industry’s self-proclaimed leaders? Or who benefits from such a downturn? 

Businesses don’t become successful because they are operated by incompetent people. The management of MHProNews doesn’t believe that those leaders in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis are incompetent; quite the contrary.  The are successful and some of them are quite shrewd.

So, there must be other explanations for the relatively low state of the manufactured home industry. There must be good reasons, ones that can lead to profitable opportunities once fully grasped, as to why new manufactured homes are selling at a slower pace than the year that Buffett-led Berkshire bought Clayton Homes and other affiliates starting in 2003.

BloombergShipmentProductionGraphicManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

May 2019 data reflects month 9th of the downturn, with nary a whimper from MHI or the big boys. Why?

 

What’s Next?

From the ranks of investors in publicly traded firms in manufactured housing, the controversy at Cavco Industries ought to sound alarm bells, especially in the light of items noted and linked from within this report.

Among public officials – several of whom correctly believe that manufactured homes offers an opportunity to increase affordable home ownership in ways that grows the personal wealth of singles and households – the facts noted and linked herein ought to be significant enough to warrant public hearings into several industry issues. Those hearings should be public and ought to proceed on a range of issues related to: antitrust, RICO, IRS tax-exempt status, and what is causing the failure of existing laws on lending and enhanced preemption to be properly implemented.  Experts from all sides and camps of the industry, including consumers, should be part of those Congressional hearings. Industry leaders should be called in to testify under oath.

Then, industry professionals and business owners, past and present, ought to ponder how the facts herein relate to themselves and their business experiences.  If the market has been rigged, as some claim based upon evidence like that linked from this article, who has that harmed and to what degree? Who benefited from the allegedly rigged system?

Because investigations and possible litigation aren’t the only steps that ought to occur, what will current and prospective industry investors and business owners and leaders do to navigate the current circumstances?  How will professionals respond to their own unique SWOT?

The fact that some businesses are honestly growing, while others are shrinking, should be carefully examined and objectively understood. 

·        There are no less than half a dozen other serious trade publishers or bloggers that are writing about industry related issues.  Why has this trade media stood essentially alone in reporting on these challenges in recent years?  Why have some among those half-dozen at one point in time identified or mentioned some of the same problems, but later went silent or flip-flopped on reporting about them?

·        Why is it that the National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) and some state association affiliates broken ranks from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)? Why did they say that MHI failed in reflecting their interests?

·        Why does the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) so often see matters in stark contrast to what the Berkshire-backed MHI does?  Which association is more accurate in their assessments? 

·        Why has Warren Buffett – his money and influence – often backed both sides of fights that MHI was engaged in? Why has MHI routinely come up short?

 

These are nuances that have been documented here and/or on our sister site of MHLivingNews

To understate: it is worth noting that per available third-party evidence and data, MHProNews readership is equal to if not significantly greater than all of the other 6 industry trade media and bloggers combined. That suggests that people recognize the difference between spin and straight talk

 

The Next Step

MHProNews is about to take its next evolutionary step.  Some of the theme changes on our new website are subtle, but others will be significant.

We already dominate the manufactured home industry in news, fact-checks, and analysis. Nothing else even comes close in size, scope, and professional audience engagement.

Our parent company’s business development and expert services have worked with several operations of all sized firms over the years successfully. Our results are proven in often very public ways, such as the rebirth of the Louisville Manufactured Home Show after years of downturn and finally its only year to be cancelled.  That achievements make us a go-to resource for those who are willing to invest in their future to grow. 

Others firms or locations that were already successful, but that were not reaching their true potential, have likewise turned to us for proven results.

But those successes mean that companies or locations that closed or sold out for less than their true value were arguably harmed by the so-called leadership of those who are striving for discounted consolidation and acquisitions, by whatever means.

 

 

Let’s note that the video interview above was performed prior to the negative news that later hit the headlines about that former MHI chairman and his company. We don’t knowingly work to promote allegedly black-hat operations.  We strive, instead, to work with the industry’s apparent white hats. Because of our pivots on MHLivingNews, we are now in a unique position to spotlight the problematic as well as white hats.

 

 

Thus, we bring a unique set of experiences, tools, and proven resources. Keen insider insights found here cause more people to logon to MHProNews daily than some of our rivals have monthly.

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Note, Barry Cole’s prior anniversary kudos message raises an important point. Most publications in the MH space failed or closed years ago. Some have since tried to make the cut, inspired by MHProNews’ success. Some noteworthy efforts have also since been suspended. MHProNews has stood the test of time, and the slings and arrows of the industry’s outrageous fortunes.

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On MHLivingNews, we’ve been quietly revising and developing a platform that addresses that common questions and concerns from the general public’s perspective.  The success in attracting readers there is notable, because individual articles there may get several times more readers than even very popular articles found here on MHProNews.

Put differently, on both platforms, we’ve proven for years measurable results at what we have strived to do. 

To make that point, Casey Mack at Legacy Housing, with his company’s general counsel’s expressed okay, said the following.

 

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MHProNews has well-known publishing arms. Our publisher is one of the most highly acclaimed pros on LinkedIn among all manufactured housing professionals.

 

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There have been hundreds of accolades – endorsements and recommendations – provided via LinkedIn alone. Others have been provided via video and in letters, etc.

 

While our business development services tend to be lower key, the results are praised in videos, written letters of recommendation, and by measurable bottom-line results. Some of those kind comments come from rivals. As Casey Mack and others suggest, our services don’t ‘cost,’ they are investments that properly utilized pay dividends.

With almost a decade of publishing the industry’s most read-trade media, we are about to turn the page to the next chapter.

While we disagree with Warren Buffett on several business ethics and related issues, we agree with him that some things simply take time. We also agree on the importance of reading for understanding, something that Buffett says he spends 5 to 6 hours a day doing and has for years. If you and your team are each reading less than an hour daily on MHProNews and MHLivingNews, then you are not yet reading enough.

Keep in mind the levels of awareness.  There are few things that doing them once is enough.

Our Republic just celebrated this week a key time in American history.  This nation began a struggle some 243 years ago that defeated the world’s lone superpower during the time our nation’s founding fathers declared the 13 colonies independence from the British king. Perhaps 1/3rd of the people in some form of fashion originally supported that effort for independence.

The U.S. and our allies defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, which some thought unstoppable. The U.S. overcame the power of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. At various times, there were those who said those feats could not be accomplished.

This is a can-do nation. If you are in business, you are likely a can-do person reading this. The industry has very real challenges, both internal and external. It will not be a quick fight, if it is to be successful.

We’re in it for the long haul. This next chapter in manufactured housing trade media is proof of our resolve.  The fact that the opposition won’t engage us directly in public debates and forums – after so many of those same people have praised our work for years – is perhaps the most telling reason to believe that we at MHProNews are ‘over the target’ in our analysis and efforts.

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The industry should be some 10 times its current sales levels. 

Our slogans are as relevant today as when we launched the site under the third logo on the right, below, in mid-October 2009.

 

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We’ve added to those mantras since then Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use.” © and News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing.” ©

 

 

The next evolutionary chapter in the industry’s biggest and most read trade media starts this weekend.  Stay tuned.

Our thanks to our sponsors and clients for making this possible.  Our thanks to our readers for seriously checking in often to consider all the news, fact-checks, reports, and analysis that we share here and on MHLivingNews.  With God’s help, the best is yet to come.  We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)  

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To see a sample of our emailed news update, click here. To sign up for the factory-built home industry’s #1 headline news, click here or the graphic above.

For marketing and other expert professional services, click here. Connect on LinkedIn here and here.

Soheyla Kovach, managing member, for LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC – parent to Daily Business News on MHProNews and MHLivingNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

Related Reports: You can click on the image/text boxes to learn more about that topic.

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

Addressing Manufactured Housing Insanity, Unusual Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) Tip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

July 5th, 2019 Comments off

TicTockJuly4thTimWilliams21stMortgageCorpJohnGreinerJDGraydonLawMessageReviewDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Consistency?

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

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

 

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

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

 

Shifting Sands in Washington and Beyond

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

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

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

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

Slow, steady progress is apparently being made.

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

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

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

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

The facts speak loudly.

ManufacturedHousingIndustryProductionShipmentsMay2019DailyBusinessNewsMHproNewsMHARR 

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Tic Toc, Tic Toc… 

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

 

InBusinessWorldRearViewMirroIsAlwaysClearerThantheWindshieldWarrenBuffettMHProNews

 

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

  

 

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

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

Williams agreed.

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

 

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

 

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

Words can be cheap at MHI, it seems?  

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

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

 

 

Subject: Tim, a formal request for you/MHI

Tim,

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

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

Thank you. 

Tony

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

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

tk

 

The screen capture that documents that email is found below.

 

TimWilliams21stMortgageCorpJohnCJackGrienerGraydonLawManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIOutsideattorneyMHProNews

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Which association is doing their stated job better?

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

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

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More on this below.

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

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

 

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

 

Unorthodox 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“But I Was Born Free”

 

 

 

Nobility Homes Bucks National Trends, Reported Serious Growth, plus Manufactured Home Stock Updates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“But I Was Born Free”

July 4th, 2019 Comments off
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Stills from Born Free music video by Kid Rock, posted further below. Collage by MHProNews.

Music gets appropriated for commercials, campaigns, causes, and political events on a routine basis. So why not do that for the interests of manufactured home professionals, investors, and the tens of millions in the affordable home seeking public?

 

Facts, figures and slogans often get swatted around like a ping-pong ball in a professional-level table tennis match to advocate for some new law.

Why not cut-to-the-chase, save time, money, and implement the good laws that are already on the federal law books?

There are unique opportunities for honest gain being forged in the crucible of often troubling circumstances. There are purported ‘black hat’ operations that have manipulated the system and political forces in order to divert existing laws while lining their own pockets. They do so at the expense of our fellow Americans, ethical businesses, and honest investors.

Why not use some jujitsu to spotlight those bad behaviors, while ‘white hat’ businesses, investors, organizations, professionals, advocates, and lawmakers come together to enforce good laws?

Why not hold hearings in Congress to spotlight the various ways that existing laws have been blocked, often by posturing or feigning which masks entirely selfish interests – often within our own industry’s ranks?

Let’s explore that case briefly below.

 

Born Free

I was born free. We believe in free enterprise and respect all honest work. It’s a holiday, yet the groundskeepers caught us by surprise – they are working outside – keeping the lawn, shrubs, and the property pristine. Wow, that’s unexpected, yet it’s amazingly American.

But some are born into vexing scenarios made worse by corrupted versions of capitalism rightly called conquest or crony capitalism. Is it any wonder that millions – seeing such misbehavior – question free enterprise?

However well intended HUD Secretary Ben Carson or his predecessor Julián Castro may be or have been, there is evidence that corporate interests have colluded with officials currently or previously at HUD to thwart existing laws. We’ll explore who and name some names in the days ahead.

But even what we already know from Senate testimony or from the Washington Post should be enough to cause alarm for observant and thoughtful professionals and honorable public officials.

Senator Thom Tillis, in a dialogue with HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “I don’t think that most people recognize how the regulatory burdens hit the poorest among us the hardest.” Tillis revealed that he grew up in what he called a ‘trailer house,’ but was more likely a mobile home or early HUD Code manufactured home. Tillis spoke about the morass of regulations that are “no doubt creating a higher price point.”

 

 

Senator Tillis (NC-R) jokingly said that in his personal case, the increased regulatory costs might have been the difference between a single wide, and a “single wide with a bump out.”  There are likely thousands of professionals in our industry that don’t even know what that means, because single sections with an extension are not so common any more. There was unquestionable more variety of manufactured homes built by more manufacturers 30 to 35 years ago than there are today. That’s not to say that there aren’t improvements, of course there are, as Secretary Carson said in the video above.  But for those who were in the industry in the 1980s, they recall ‘tip outs,’ balcony bedrooms, sunken baths, raised kitchens, and other floorplans that many today have not seen on a factory line in many years.

Tillis used his personal experience as an example to call attention for the need for regulatory stream lining that could benefit millions. That sound suspiciously like the executive order that President Trump issued just days ago. It was very much in keeping with what a Washington, D.C. based trade group has been calling public officials to do for years. Persistence may pay in the foreseeable future.

Secretary Carson, even early in his administration, noted that 22 million were living in manufactured homes and their mobile home predecessors. He said when you look at the progress made in the industry “it’s amazing.”

 

TrailerHouseMobileHomeManufacturedHomeFactoryBuiltHousingEvolution101MHProNews-MHLivingNews

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

 

Dr. Carson went on to say that a lot of the housing was hard to distinguish from site-built housing, noted that pricing on manufactured homes was lower, but “the regulations are ridiculous.”  He noted that he put a moratorium on those and were inspecting regulations from “top to bottom.” More recently, Secretary Carson said that we can solve the affordable housing crisis, and he pointed to manufactured homes as part of that solution.

Some of those “ridiculous” regulations Carson spoke about in Senate testimony were no doubt about issues related to Danner that MHProNews and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), among others, had spotlighted for years.

Who was directly in charge of implementing HUD regulations?

Pam Danner, J.D., who per sources was inserted into her role at the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP) by backers within the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).  While that claim may or may not be easy to nail down, what follows is already known.

Juliet Eilperin writing in the Washington Post in May 2018 said that it was the efforts of Mark Weiss, J.D., President and CEO of MHARR and his colleagues that got Danner removed, for her purported excesses in regulatory overreach. By contrast, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Senior Vice President (SVP) Lesli Gooch specifically stated that they did not seek Danner’s removal.

That WaPo report was not denied by MHI.

When thousands of industry professionals were howling from coast-to-coast about Danner and overreach, why wasn’t the Arlington, VA based trade group likewise pushing for Danner’s removal?

Once the ‘wheat and chaff’ are separated, what becomes clear is this. MHI postured action, but failed at the most basic and obvious step; i.e.: seeking and obtaining Danner’s removal. That’s not a conspiracy theory, that’s per the clear implication of MHI’s SVP Gooch’s own words, as reported by the Washington Post. That’s the truth hiding in plain sight.

The deep pockets at MHI – and those behind them in places like Omaha, or the Knoxville metro, and their allies – can buy more of everything than MHARR and/or our publications can.  MHI is the one that claims they have clout at the federal level.  If so, how have they used that clout?

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That reality of their deeper pockets and broader access are precisely why it is logically stating the obvious where the roadblocks in our industry are. They are often internal, and the net impact is that the industry is consolidating instead of growing.  Several of MHI’s own past and present members have said as much.

 

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Former MHI state affiliates broke away and in 2018 formed the National Association for Manufactured Housing Community Owners, NAMHCO. They cited MHI’s years of failures as part of their reason for doing so.

 

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

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Who benefits from slow growth or negative growth? Isn’t it the deeper pockets that can then buy more communities, retailers, producers, and suppliers at a discount? Doesn’t that fit the Warren Buffett mantra?

 

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Never forget that even during medieval times, castles and their moats were in fact breached.

 

Therefore, it is an obvious time for a new paradigm.

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When MHProNews spotlighted that MHI had reputedly done nothing on reaching out to the CFPB in 2017, MHI – perhaps in there embarrassment – began to move to get something done. When MHARR pushed MHI long enough on the DOE energy rule, MHI finally pivoted. It seems that MHI acts for the interests they claim to stand for best when the spotlight hits their lack of action otherwise. 

 

It is time for new alliances to be created that bridge the gaps that are causing a harmful status quo.  It is outrageous that manufactured home shipments are into 9 months of year-over-year decline.  It is a disgrace that MHI and their outside attorney threatened us for lawfully publishing the item below, when it was they who were making the false claims and promises.

 

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That this decline is avoidable is exemplified by exceptions to the rule, such as our report on Nobility Homes, linked here.

That Buffett’s ‘donations’ have found their way into the hands of MHAction and other groups opposing MHI begs the question, have they been playing the industry’s white hats with the rope-a-dope for years?

 

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

 

While MHI, Prosperity Now and others are pushing for a new bill in Congress that could make things worse. Paradoxically, the claimed goal of that bill could be rapidly achieved simply by implementing existing federal laws. Which begs the question, why not push for implementing good laws that are already on the books?  Who benefits from more delays? Isn’t it the consolidators that want to keep manufactured housing misunderstood and underperforming?

 

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There are several reasons to believe that there is collusion and corruption that purportedly violates antitrust, IRS or other regulations, and possibly laws such as RICO.

 

 

We have new and significant recent features on Manufactured Home Living News. They lay the foundation that makes the case for implementation of existing laws. They also suggest how white hat brands, organizations, honest public officials, and investors could be working with manufactured homeowners, renters, and others to reform the system by implementing existing laws.

It could – indeed should – start with public hearings by Congress and possibly states to investigate and explore what has gone wrong.  No one could be as incompetent as the powers that be in Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington have been, could they? Which suggests that a relatively small group of people could be manipulating the system in ways that cause more homelessness, more poverty, and more grief for millions that would otherwise be avoided.

 

 

More in the days ahead on specifics within HUD that should cause alarm and spark action.

Those of us born in the U.S.A. were born free.  Let’s not lose that freedom to the machinations of a few that are trying to wrongfully enrich themselves to the detriment of the many.

 

 

Roll the stone away. Let the guilty pay. It’s Independence Day.

 

 

Summing Up

The solution to the affordable housing crisis has been hiding in plain sight for years.  There is a case to be made that it is often forces within the industry that have thwarted, allowed, and diverted resources and good current laws from spurring more sustainable growth. That growth would have meant more home ownership for people otherwise trapped in rent. That kind of corruption must be exposed and punished.

Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay, it’s Independence Day.”

Now you may better understand our mantra, “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © Dig into the related and linked reports above and below to round out the picture. Let’s restore the American Dream, starting with an understanding of Independence Day. ## (News, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. All third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)

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For MH professional expert services, click here. For examples of third-party media, see links here, here, and here.

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

 

 

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https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/mharr-reiterates-call-for-dts-investigation/

 

Manufactured Housing Production and Shipments, Official HUD Data, Report for May 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berkshire’s Joanne Stevens Rips Manufactured Housing Institute

June 27th, 2019 Comments off


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NAI Iowa Realty Commercial is proud to be part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies,” says the Joanne Stevens website. The firm is a commercial real estate brokerage firm that specializes in manufactured home communities. Her website sports the logo of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), among others.

 

Stevens has her own following in the manufactured housing industry. She is known for typically being quieter and gracious.

In the June 25 release of Quarter 1, 2019 of publisher Kurt Kelley’s Manufactured Housing Review (MHR), Stevens had a column.  Under her byline, Stevens addressed the recent spat of negative news and resultant increased interest by political leaders in regulating manufactured home communities. She said that it revealed how unprepared the industry was to respond to such concerns.

Does Stevens have a point?

Saying in MHR that “Tenants, the media and legislators unleashed their outrage against rent increases and MHP owners,” she said that “What happened next [after what she described as a “significant” “rent increase”] is a commentary on how woefully unprepared the MH & MHP Industry is to make the case for the essential role mobile homes & parks provide in the low-cost housing landscape.”

Perhaps Stevens didn’t consider the full import or implications of her words. But when given an opportunity to respond, neither she nor publisher Kurt Kelly disputed the logic or accuracy of the facts outlined in a new report on MHLivingNews linked below. That report is a deeper dive into what is sparking the concerns she said that the industry is not prepared to deal with.

 

 

Her bold statement flies in the face of Nathan Smith’s pledge when he was chairman of MHI to leave the association as one that is more proactive than reactive. Smith said at that time that ‘the industry’ – which MHI members often use as phrase synonymous with MHI – had to be honest with itself. Smith said that ‘the industry’ [MHI] had failed repeatedly at being proactive. But there is more in his video, which was produced prior to Smith and SSK Communities legal and media controversies.

 

 

In praising MHProNews publicly and on camera, MHI President Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison also grudging admitted that “the industry” failed at times. Again, think of ‘the industry’ in this context as code words for MHI.

 

 

But what the new MHLivingNews fact check and analysis reveals is who and what are sparking those failures.

 

 

What Warren Buffett Said…

What Stevens may or may not know is that the word heard after Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway acquired Clayton Homes in 2003 was this. Buffett reportedly said he did not want to be seen as ‘raising the rents on grandma.’ Therefore, Buffett wanted the Clayton-owned land-lease communities out of the Berkshire family of brands. They spun off all of those manufactured home community assets.

But various Berkshire units clearly recognize the value of lending on manufactured home communities, or making personal property loans on the manufactured homes in them. The acquisition by Berkshire of Stevens’ led community side of NAI Iowa Realty Commercial was a recognition that there was money to be made in brokering land-lease communities too.

Snapshots like that are why a community leader – speaking about Buffett and Berkshire – said to MHProNews earlier this week, “Damn! That spider has webs everywhere.”

Stevens and Kelley were both given an opportunity to respond to this new report; Kelley already has, but Stevens has not yet done so.

But what they’ve arguable done is this.  Once more, they’ve obliquely made the case that it is often Berkshire and MHI connected brands that have sparked those bad news stories.  While Stevens did not name them, it was MHI member Havenpark that sparked media and political outrage. And as Stevens observed, ‘the industry’ – i.e.: MHI – was unprepared with a cogent reply to that outrage caused by their own members.

 

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Perhaps that is why? Or is there a method to the MHI madness about Berkshire and other ‘black hat’ brands causing bad news, and then not responding to it?  Does the graphic below Havenpark’s D+ rating by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) qualify as evidence of black hat behavior?  Where is MHI’s ethical code of conduct?

 

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The National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) has been asked to weigh in on this controversy. A follow up on this topic is planned in the days ahead. See the related reports, above and below.

 

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

Related Reports:

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

Independent MH Communities, Retailers – NAMHCO’s Susan Brenton Says What Fueled Break from Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)

MHARRCallsHUDSecretaryCarsonEndDiscriminatoryZoningHUDRegulatedManufacturedHomesCommodoreHomesCorpMHARR

Photo of Commodore Homes model, MHARR logo, are provided under fair use guidelines. See article and letter to Secretary Carson, linked here. https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/mharr-calls-on-hud-secretary-to-end-discriminatory-and-exclusionary-zoning-of-hud-regulated-manufactured-homes/

MH Community Leader Robert Van Cleef – Public Call – Federal Investigations of Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute

 

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Affordable Housing Crisis, Ray of Light for Manufactured Housing? Plus, Manufactured Home Stock Updates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New HUD Videos of Secretary Ben Carson, Innovative Housing Showcase 2019, Surprising Manufactured Housing Institute Reveals

June 20th, 2019 Comments off
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Still from third HUD video, posted below. Factory-built homes are visible in these videos. 

The inaugural Innovative Housing Showcase” (IHS2019) says the HUD YouTube page, “featured new building technologies and housing solutions that are making homeownership more affordable for American families and homes more resilient during natural disasters. The Showcase includes panel discussions, on-stage interviews, and demonstrations with exhibitors, lawmakers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the housing industry.

 

 

HUD has posted these two videos, shown above and below.

 

 

This third video by HUD is their ‘wrap up’ video, and features a narrative by Secretary Ben Carson.

 

 

So, HUD continues to promote the importance and meaning of the Innovative Housing Showcase.

 

InnovativeHousingShowcaseTinyHouseExpedition6.20.2019DailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

A tiny house video was posted only 4 days ago, but the total views on this over half-hour length video dwarfs all of the MHI videos combined. Can’t MHI promote their own videos better than tiny house promoters?

What about others?

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This is the Cribs with Carson video that MHProNews posted earlier this month.

 

It is interesting to note that the Manufactured Housing Institute has not made it easy to find their own vides from their own website.

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In fact, on this date, we found no way to access MHI’s YouTube videos from MHI’s own website. 

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Why not?

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Secretary Ben Carson’s address to MHI in New Orleans is also still missing today.

 

 

These raise concerns reported at the link above. MHI backers, what say you?  How do you explain these obvious oversights?  Especially during a downturn?

 

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

NOTICE: You can get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading emailed headline news updates, at this link here. You can join the scores who follow us on Twitter at this link. Connect on LinkedIn here.

NOTICE 2: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers do.

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

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

Dueling Statements, NAMHCO, MHI, MHARR, Weigh In On Controversial MH Bill, “George Allen Pawn Gambit”

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Panicking Manufactured Home Community Residents Turning to Rent Control Demands

June 20th, 2019 Comments off

 

PanickingManufacturedHomeCommunityResidentsTurningRentControlDemandsDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

Still from video, posted further below.

Residents of a manufactured home community in Marin County, California are stressing over announced rent increases that will hit them in July 1, 2019.

 

Per CBS local affiliate KPIX 5, the sharp spike may cause some to lose their homes.

It is part of a trend that has been sparking headlines in various parts of the United States.  Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), and a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful who has been rising steadily in the polls.  Senator Warren recently sent letters to several manufactured home community (MHC) operators that have drawn national attention in the wake of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s viral but errantly named “Mobile Homes” video.

KPIX’s report is posted below. 

 

 

Local media quoted resident Joan Dobkowski saying, More than half of us are on a fixed, retirement income, which means this kind of steep increase is not something that can be handled in that short time period.”

Because they’re almost doubling the rent when we sell our units for the new people,” Dobkowski said. “No one wants to move here. So, we’re losing our homes as well…we can’t sell them.”

Larkspur does not have rent control, though much of the rest of the county does.  David Levin, managing attorney for Marin Legal Aid, said “That’s something [signing a long term lease] the renters [community residents] are wrestling with right nowbecause they’ve been presented with a 5-year lease agreement and that could lock them into the rent increase schedule as proposed.”

They’re going to get less money or possibly even lose some or most of their investment,” Levin said. “In many cases, all these people own is the mobile home [sic].”

This concern is part of a larger trend in the industry, one that was highlighted by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver spotlighted.  MHProNews readers are reminded that in the wake of that report, before mainstream media reports hit, our sources in Washington, D.C. said they expected national blowback. A tangential topic that has tie-ins has drawn attention from several Democratic lawmakers, including 2020 presidential hopefuls. 

Rephrased, there are indications that issues like this one could get hotter.

Representatives for the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMA), the National Association for Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) and the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) were invited to weigh in on this and related controversies.  They have not responded as of 1:52 PM ET – but were also given an option to respond to our report once published. 

NAMHCO recently weighed in on another community-focused matter, linked after the byline and notices.

While not a producer issue, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has weighed in on a related possible solution.  See that linked further below too.  MHProNews will continue to monitor this scenario.

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

NOTICE: You can get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading emailed headline news updates, at this link here. You can join the scores who follow us on Twitter at this link. Connect on LinkedIn here.

NOTICE 2: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers do.

(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

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To see a sample of our emailed news update, click here. To sign up for the factory-built home industry’s #1 headline news, click here or the graphic above.

 

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

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MH Community Leader Robert Van Cleef – Public Call – Federal Investigations of Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute

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

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

“Trailer Parks,” Presidential Candidate, Prior HUD Secretary Julian Castro on MH Community Operators, Residents Not Knowing Their Rights

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

Dueling Statements, NAMHCO, MHI, MHARR, Weigh In On Controversial MH Bill, “George Allen Pawn Gambit”

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

MHARRCallsHUDSecretaryCarsonEndDiscriminatoryZoningHUDRegulatedManufacturedHomesCommodoreHomesCorpMHARR

Photo of Commodore Homes model, MHARR logo, are provided under fair use guidelines. See article and letter to Secretary Carson, linked here. https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/mharr-calls-on-hud-secretary-to-end-discriminatory-and-exclusionary-zoning-of-hud-regulated-manufactured-homes/

 

 

MH Community Leader Robert Van Cleef – Public Call – Federal Investigations of Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute

June 19th, 2019 Comments off

 

MHCommunityRobertVanCleefPublicCallFederalInvestigationsBerkshireHathawayClaytonHomes21stMortgageManufacturedHousinginstituteMHProNews

In a news tip today to the Daily Business News on MHProNews is the following public call by Californian Robert ‘Bob’ Van Cleef for federal investigations of some high profile organizations in the manufactured home industry.

 

From Van Cleef’s post today, found at this link here, is the following.  The post is styled “Requesting an Antitrust Investigation.” He cites and links several sources, including his representative, DoJ, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, John Oliver’s viral video, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, and Manufactured Home Living News, among others.  The hot-links are in the original.

 

Requesting an Antitrust Investigation

Posted on June 19, 2019 by Bob

This is a follow up related to John Oliver’s report on living in Manufactured Home Parks. In his report, he exposed the illegal and immoral actions, potentially violating Antitrust and RICO laws, by various companies.

     See:  HBO’s John Oliver on Last Week Tonight Mobile Homes Video

One of the major threads of his report relates to the actions of Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage and the Manufactured Housing Institute. He shows them working in collusion to violate the law.  He also shows the harm that they are bringing to the people that live in the manufactured home parks they manage.   This includes many who are seniors, disabled and living on fixed incomes.

Request to Congress

Based on my research, after viewing that report, I sent an email to a staff member for Congressman Ame Bera, who represents the district I now live in, requesting the following actions. 

First, I asked that the Congressman write a letter to Makan Delrahim, the Assistant Attorney General responsible for overseeing the Antitrust Division.  The focus of his letter should be to ask the Antitrust Division to review the actions of Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage and the Manufactured Housing Institute for possible Antitrust and RICO violations.

The second request would be to have him contact HUD Secretary Carson to have his agency enforce the existing federal laws with respect to Federal Preemption and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).

Finally, it would not hurt to supply for our Democratic Representative to reach out in a bi-partisan manner to support Secretary Carson’s efforts to treat Manufactured Homes as an asset in today’s housing crisis.

See:  HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s Speech on Manufactured Homes, “Manufactured Housing…Active Ingredient…Medication…for a Stronger America.

Affordable Housing

Mary and I couldn’t afford to live in San Jose anymore.  (We were economically evicted.)  However, after selling our heavily mortgaged home in San Jose, we purchased outright a manufactured home in Rancho Cordova.  I was amazed at the improvement of our quality of life!  The home was bigger and nicer than the one we left in San Jose.  Also, we found the new neighborhood to be open and welcoming, and best of all, it was affordable!

Everyone is talking about affordable housing.  Based on my experience and as described by Secretary Ben Carson, manufactured homes could be a valuable tool for reversing our current housing shortage. 

Why can’t more people take advantage of manufactured homes to get out of their housing trap?

That will be the basis for future posts.

##

 

Per sources and his post suggests, Van Cleef has become a leader in his land-lease community among residents there. He’s actively engaging public officials and others in an effort to find solutions to the types of troubling issues his post referenced.

MHProNews will plan to monitor his posts, as we do others that are engaged on issues relating to manufactured home professionals and consumers.

 

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That’s tonight’s final installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” ©. ## (News, fact-checks, analysis, commentary.)

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

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Views From Trenches of Manufactured Housing – Factories, Retailers, MHCs, Others Sound Off

 

Real World Economics’ Professor Ed Lotterman says “Playing Monopoly is More Than Just Rolling the Dice”

 

Manufactured Home Communities’ Dodd-Frank Moment Looms, Senator Elizabeth Warren Takes Aim at Several Manufactured Housing Institute Community Members

Dueling Statements, NAMHCO, MHI, MHARR, Weigh In On Controversial MH Bill, “George Allen Pawn Gambit”

 

Washington Leak – Justice Department Prepares Major Antitrust Investigation

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by Tim Williams, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, these all line up to demonstrate how independent retailers, communities, and producers – among others – where purportedly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation. Why hasn’t Allen told his readers how that cost them money? https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

“Have…Giants…Stifled Competition,” Antitrust Battle Lines in D.C., plus Manufactured Home Market Updates

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

MHARRCallsHUDSecretaryCarsonEndDiscriminatoryZoningHUDRegulatedManufacturedHomesCommodoreHomesCorpMHARR

Photo of Commodore Homes model, MHARR logo, are provided under fair use guidelines. See article and letter to Secretary Carson, linked here. https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/mharr-calls-on-hud-secretary-to-end-discriminatory-and-exclusionary-zoning-of-hud-regulated-manufactured-homes/

 

What Congressional Representatives, Senators, and Industry Professionals Should Be Asking About Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members Point to Positives, Problematic – Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) says, “Get the Facts on Zoning”

June 7th, 2019 Comments off
MembersPointtoPositivesPromblematicManufacturedHousingInstituteMHILogoSaysGetFactsOnZoningDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Still from video posted further below.

Among the sources for the report that follows are MHEC, MHI, and their members.

 

Let’s begin by pondering MHI’s page on zoning, which has no date on their article/post.  That is being provided in its entirety below under fair use guidelines for media under this fact check and analysis.  The MHI statement mentioning Huntsville, Texas suggests it was possibly posted in 2016. But a link to that page elsewhere on the MHI website has a date of Oct 31, 2017.  With that understanding, let’s dive in to their verbatim text under their subheading shown on a page linked here.

 

CollageMHIPageGetFactsonZoningManufacturedHousingInstituteMHProNews

Unfair Zoning Laws Can Restrict Manufactured Home Placement

There is an affordable housing crisis in the U.S. and some communities are making a bad situation worse.

There is a growing trend of municipalities trying to use zoning and other land use regulations to restrict or eliminate manufactured housing in their jurisdictions. These actions could reduce the supply of critically-needed affordable housing for working families across the country and may be discriminatory under the Fair Housing Act.

The attempts at cities discriminating against manufactured housing are wide ranging. Some cities now restrict community owners from replacing units when someone moves, others are looking at banning them altogether, and some are segregating them at locations far out from local amenities such as schools, transportation, doctors and jobs.

Local city and county government’s use a variety of land use planning devices to restrict the use of manufactured homes as an available source of affordable housing. Interestingly, these devises are often in conflict with the entity’s comprehensive plan. These cases often involve zones within a community where manufactured housing fits the character and ascetics of the zone.

 

Outright Bans
This past year, Huntsville, Texas, passed an outright ban on the placement of manufactured homes in the community, including on private property. This change in the law came despite the presence of manufactured homes and multi-family homes in the community. After an outcry from residents living in manufactured homes, the council overturned the ban.

 

Lot Size

Rural Harrison County, Kentucky is attempting to pass a requirement that manufactured homes may only be placed on lots of 10 acres or more.  These types of ordinances are found in other communities and can range from 1 to 10 acres.

Lot size is not just a rural issue. In a community in South Carolina, the Georgetown council required minimum lot size in a zone predominated by older mobile homes whereby the practical effect would be to require the accumulation of several lots to build any new home. As this case involves a zone containing a majority of African American residents, HUD is investigating for possible Fair Housing violations.

 

Layering of Multiple Ordinances
When a Mississippi Supreme Court decision disallowed Pearl’s method of excluding manufactured housing, the city undertook changes to multiple land use planning devices (density, occupancy, setbacks) which allowed the placement of a home in a land-lease community, but made it illegal for anyone to occupy the home.

 

Density
Changes to density and setback requirements cause land-lease communities to provide homes on every other lot.

 

Restriction to Manufactured Home Communities (Parks) only
An affront to private property rights is where a government restricts the placement of manufactured homes to manufactured home parks only. An ordinance in Kentucky like this was passed in London, and following a lawsuit, reversed.

 

Age
A trend in western states (Kansas and Arizona for instance) is the adoption of ordinances where there is an age restriction on manufactured homes, disallowing the placement of a home more than 5- or 10- years old. These local laws basically place expiration dates on homes, and artificially kill resale values.

 

Non-conforming Uses
The Village of Lodi, Ohio, changed its interpretation of non-conforming use such that when a home would be removed from a land-lease community, the entire park would become a non-conforming use. The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the interpretation.

 

No Reason Whatsoever
The most frustrating cases come when a city or county denies the placement of a home for no reason whatsoever. In Washington Township, Ohio, it took a court order to force a zoning panel to issue a permit for the replacement of an older manufactured home with a new one.

 

— End of MHI Zoning post —

 

The above by MHI on zoning is fine, as far as it goes.  A helpful next step would be to add videos to that page, like their new one below.  Let’s see if they do that?

 

 

The Two Biggest Missed Items

But perhaps the two most important things missing from MHI’s zoning page are two absent, key words. “Enhanced Preemption.”  MHI members have agreed with that concern.  Even those pleased with the recent event are not able to explain how MHI could have failed to properly promote this in advance or during the event with the general public.  Harder still for backers to explain is why MHI doesn’t promote enhanced preemption. 

 

Manufactured Housing Professionals, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Must Promote These Two Words

 

That’s legally powerful two-word phrase – “enhanced preemption” are found nowhere on the MHI website.

 

EnhancedPreemption672019PostInnovationHousingShowcaseManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHIlogoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

By contrast, Manufactured Housing Executive Council (MHEC) members, some MHI members, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), MHLivingNews, and MHProNews have all put “enhanced preemption” forth as important legal tools to deal with the zoning-placement issue that contributes to the affordable housing crisis.

 

EnhancedPreemptionManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReform4-26-2019ManufacturedHomesMHProNews

 

Their miss is so problematic that MHARR has launched an initiative to deal with that inexplicable oversight. 

 

 

Calling on MHI to Do Their Job on Enhanced Preemption

We’re hereby once more calling on MHI to start promoting Enhanced Preemption if they are serious about dealing with the zoning-placement issues.  Photos opportunities with administration and other leaders that don’t include “enhanced preemption” among the top items to not only ask for but obtain makes a mockery of their claim of “clout.”

GotClout-questionmark-GetItHere-MHI-ManufacturedHousingInstitute-postedMHProNews-com-

Clout isn’t measured by photo opportunities, but by bottom line results. In our industry, that must including dramatically rising manufactured home production and sales. Instead, we have see 8 months of year-over-year decreases.

Photos, graphics, videos, copy, and slogans are all fine so long as they advance the solutions that actually result in more sales.  But instead, it is shrinking sales during an affordable housing crisis that has been witnessed instead.

Emotions must be kept in check by the reality of shipments and the lack of full implementation of “enhanced preemption,” other aspects of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000, and the full implementation of the Duty to Serve not just a sliver of manufactured home production, but all manufactured homes. 

HUD Secretary Carson, in advance and during the Innovative Housing Showcase, was on several cable network and other mainstream news shows.  A video posted in the last related report linked further below by itself has about 20 times more views than all of MHI’s promotional videos on this same topic combined.

The industry needs more than claims and emotional ‘feel good’ items.  There is a need for action with measurable results.

Time will tell if they take the opportunities that Secretary Carson, two MHI members, MHARR, and others have made possible to actually improve the sales of manufactured homes.

That’s today’s second installment of manufactured home Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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3) Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Re-sources

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

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson tours Innovative Housing Showcase on National Mall in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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8 Months of Declining Year-Over-Year HUD Code Manufactured Home Production – When Will Manufactured Housing Institute Act?

June 4th, 2019 Comments off

 

8MonthsDecliningYearOverYearHUDCodeManufacturedHomeProductionWhenWillManufacturedHousingInstituteActDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Monday afternoon 6.3.2019 at about 5 PM ET, near the manufactured home display on the National Mall. Where are the crowds?

The release below is from the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), and they were charitable in not mentioning the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

 

Following the MHARR release there will be a brief analysis and some linked information.

 

MHARRlogoMHARRNewsHeaderMHProNews

HUD CODE PRODUCTION DECLINE CONTINUES BUT MODERATES

 

Washington, D.C., June 3, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) reports that according to official statistics compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), year-over-year HUD Code manufactured home production declined again in April 2019, albeit at a moderating pace. Just-released statistics indicate that HUD Code manufacturers produced 7,993 homes in April 2019, down 3.2% from the 8,262 homes produced in April 2018. Cumulative industry production for 2019 now totals 30,352 homes, a decline of 10.1% from the 33,793 HUD Code homes produced over the same period in 2018.

While the production statistics for April 2019 show a moderation in the double-digit production decline that has thus far characterized 2019, the fact that there is any production decline at all in the face of continuing strong demand for affordable housing and homeownership highlights the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – thus far – to implement the Duty to Serve Underserved Markets (DTS), particularly with respect to the personal property loans which account for nearly 80% of the manufactured housing consumer finance market. That failure, more than a decade after the enactment of DTS, effectively forces consumers into higher-rate loans that cost more than would be the case if there was, in fact, proper, market-significant DTS securitization and secondary market support, which would lower risks for lenders and promote greater competition within the HUD Code consumer finance market.  This, in turn, needlessly excludes potential buyers from the HUD Code market altogether, while making it more difficult for others to finance the purchase of a HUD Code home, both of which suppress overall market volume.  As more and more questions are being raised in Washington, D.C. by the press, government figures and others regarding such issues, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this matter can, should and must be looked-into further.

A further analysis of the official industry statistics shows that the top ten shipment states from the beginning of the industry production rebound in August 2011 through April 2019  — with cumulative, monthly, current year (2019) and prior year (2018) shipments per category as indicated — are:

ManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReformMHARRApril2019ProductionShipmentReportDailyBUsinessNewsMHproNews

The latest information for April 2019 results in no changes to the cumulative shipments list.

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of independent producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.

— 30 —

 

There has been some positive mainstream media coverage of the Innovation’s in Housing event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., But it is clearly evident from the photo at the top that the Manufactured Housing Institute, which is the industry’s umbrella or post-production association, has done a terrible job of promoting this rare opportunity.

 

HUDSecretaryBenCarsonAddresstoManufacturedHousingIndustryManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHIlogoMHIwebsiteSearchMHProNews2019-06-03_0844

MHI put a notice on their fly-in page on 5.30.2019, but that’s targeted for MHI members, not the general public. Where is their vaunted promotion of the industry? Recall their claim late last year?

ManufacturedHousingInstituteMarketingDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Pinocchio’s nose shows as it grows.

Secretary Carson seems to be doing more than any HUD Secretary in the last 2 decades. But MHI’s part of the effort is arguably badly lacking.

There will be more insights on this problematic but revealing MHI handling of this event in the days ahead, so stay tuned.

This is your 2nd 6.4.2019 installment of manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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

NOTICE: You can get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading emailed headline news updates, at this link here. You can join the scores who follow us on Twitter at this link. Connect on LinkedIn here.

NOTICE 2: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers do.

(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

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2) To pro-vide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click the link to the left. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

3) Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Re-sources

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

Related Reports:

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MHARR Weighs in, HUD Secretary Carson Letter – “Discriminatory…Exclusionary Zoning of HUD-Regulated Manufactured Homes”

https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/lead-follow-or-get-out-of-the-way/

https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/mharr-releases-study-recommending-independent-collective-representation-for-post-production-sector/

 

Cowards, How Winning Is Done, and Manufactured Housing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

June 3rd, 2019 Comments off

 

RVhorizonsMobileHomeUniversityFrankRolfeDaveReynoldsBothFingerManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoFailuresInWritingAgainMHIlogoMHProNews

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.

 

TrailerHouseMobileHomeManufacturedHomeFactoryBuiltHousingEvolution101MHProNews-MHLivingNews

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

TerminologyMattersBecausetheTerminologyDescribestheConstructionStandardsHomeBuiltToSteveDukeLMHAaMHLivingNewsMHProNewsBiggerPocketsSunshineHomesRedBayAL

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

NFPAManufacturedHomeIsNotaMotorHomeOrTrailerAlthoughItisOftenCalledMobileHomeItIsNotThatEitherNFPADailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

 

HUDSecretaryBenCarsonAddresstoManufacturedHousingIndustryManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHIlogoMHIwebsiteSearchMHProNews2019-06-03_0844

 

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.

 

 

MemoFromFrankandDaveJune12019InvestingNewsletterDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

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.

 

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IsThisTheMobileHomeParkofTheFutureDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

 

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

WinWinOpportuityThatAllParkOwnersShouldWatchForDailyBusinessnewsMHProNews

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.

 

 

WondersofMobileHomeParksinMichiganDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

HowMuchCapitalDoesItTakeToBringAMobileHomeParkBacktoLifeDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

TheOriginofAmericanDreamHowItsChangingSaveForPurposePictureofHomeDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

MajorDifferenceBetweenOwningMObileHOmesparksin1963VsTodayDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

IsItAGoodThingthatMobileHomesArentMobileFrankDaveDailyBusinessNEwsMHProNews

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).

Conclusion

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.

 

 

LessonsLearnedfromWallyByamAndAirstreamFrankDaveDailyBusinessNewsMHProNEws

 

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.

 

 

HowCreateHappyCommunityManagersFrankDaveDailyBusinessNewsMHProNEws

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

EvolvingConcernsofMobileHomeParkOwnersFrankDaveDailyBUsinessNewsMHproNews

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

BloombergShipmentProductionDataManufacturedHousingMHProNews2019-05-16_1057

 

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.

 

MarkWeissDTSQuoteManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReformMHARRDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

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.

 

WarrenBuffettTidesNoVoFoundationMHActionGeorgeSorosManufacturedHomeLivingNews

 

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

 

RepAOCleftSenatorElizabethWarrenRightTMZDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

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

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https://manufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreform.org/lead-follow-or-get-out-of-the-way/