Posts Tagged ‘NAI’

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

April 2nd, 2019 Comments off



Given the nature of the internet, bad news in one part of the country travels nationally and globally. So, while this specific incident may or may not seem to be in your market(s), or that of some professional that you know, this Gannett Company media series of exposés could well cost you potential customers.


Even if you aren’t in the manufactured home (MH) communities’ sector (MHCs), given how interconnected manufactured housing is, this report will – properly understood – reveal real-world impacts on honorable businesses and investors.

This vexing series is obviously causing angst among hundreds of residents that these stories covered.



In the American Heartland…Where Politicians Are Criss-Crossing Their State

In a series of reports by Gannett owned Iowa City Press Citizen and the Des Moines Register reflects the outrage by residents who are being hit with rent increases reportedly over 50 percent that will impact them this summer.

Residents at Golf View Mobile Home Court in the Iowa City suburb have been notified by Utah-based Havenpark Capital that they will see their rent spike from $284 to $450 on June 1 — a 58 percent increase,” wrote Ian Richardson and Zachary Oren Smith on March 29, 2019.

Havenpark reportedly did more in another community they acquired. “When the new owners of Midwest Country Estates in Waukee taped notice of a 69 percent rent increase on the doors of residents last week, they were doing the same thing at another recently purchased mobile home park in North Liberty.”

George W told the Better Business Bureau (BBB) on 02/07/2019 that, “Havenpark Capital bought eight Value Homes LLC parks in Mid-Michigan. Our rent increase (including new fees) included a 40%+ hike. Every communication from them states, “we are going to do amazing things.” Nothing amazing has or will happen. Our property manager even encourages us to contact our State Representatives and expresses displeasure in the company’s greedy business practices. Meanwhile, a whole lot of people on fixed incomes are hurting to pay their bills. Some are having to sell their homes and move.”

So, when the Gannett-owned newspaper’s journalists reported the quotes cited herein, they underscore a pattern that complaints to the BBB had already established. The bullets below reflect three quotes from an article linked here.

  • Don Lund, who’s lived at Golf View for 21 years, told the Press-Citizen he’s worried about how his current income — $700 per month from disability and about $160 from newspaper writing — will be able to handle the increase.
  • Most people buy a trailer ’cause we can’t afford a house,” said Lund, who was born without hands or feet. “I spent $40,000 on this back in 1997, and it took 20 years to pay it off.”
  • In Waukee, 91-year-old resident Arletta Swain said she’s lived in the mobile home park for nearly 50 years, and this increase will “take me right down to my last dollar.”

Or ponder the impact on residents, prospective buyers – and thus independent businesses – that reading the following bullets pulled from this link here.

  • Alex Kornya, assistant litigation director with Iowa Legal Aid…,which offers free civil legal assistance to the elderly, low-income, veterans and other vulnerable groups, sees a “high proportion” of people coming to its office with mobile home-related issues.
  • Rent will be going up to protect our community,” the letter [from Havenpark Capital] says. “If the rent did not go up, the land where Midwest Country Estates sits today would have been more valuable if it were changed into apartments, or a large retail store, causing all of our residents to be evicted.”




Havenpark Capital Partners Website

We presently own and operate 25 communities totaling approximately 5,000 home sites. We continue to source properties meeting our investment parameters and offer qualified investor access to a geographically diversified portfolio of properties through private fund offerings.” So says the Havenpark Capital Partners website.

They also stated that their investment criteria is as follows.

  1. 100+ Home Sites
  2. Located in a Metropolitan Area of 100,000+
  3. 3-5 “Star” Asset Quality


What the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Says About Havenpark

BBB File Opened: 5/31/2018
Years in Business: 3
Business Started: 1/5/2016
Business Started Locally: 1/5/2016
Business Incorporated: 1/5/2016 in UT
Type of Entity: Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The BBB currently rates this firm as a D+.




Another Comment from the BBB, and Statements from MHC Seller Barbara Hames

Horrible company! They come in added $100 to our rent, then added water bills on a well, and sewer charges and even school tax. Anyone looking to move into anything these greedy money grubbers own…DON’T. They didn’t add a clubhouse, child play area nothing of any real benefit. This area has many senior citizens who live here who will probably have to give up their meds to live here.” – Shar K, 12/11/2018, per the BBB.


Among the sellers to Havenpark Capital described by the Gannett owned newspapers was Barbara Hames, of Hames Homes.  Here is a video from their website.



Barbara Hames told the Press Citizen that they were not looking to sell two of their communities.  For half-a-year, Hames said they were getting 2 to 3 calls a week from potential buyers.



Hames, a prominent and popular figure in the Iowa Manufactured Housing Association (IMHA), explained the decision to sell to Utah-based Havenpark Capital in these terms.

  • We were absolutely not looking to sell….It is a family business here.”
  • The DNR informed us that Sunrise (Village) would need to be upgraded in a year or two and West Branch would eventually need to be upgraded.” DNR is short for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
  • The reason the offer [from Havenpark] was tempting was both [manufactured home land-lease communities] in Iowa City and West Branch would cost a lot to bring into full compliance.”
  • Hames described the hike in site fees as “surprising…”
  • Even if they raise the rent, they also invest a lot of money in the parks they purchase,” Hames told the Press Citizen.
  • The prices in eastern Iowa have been artificially low for years,” Hames said, which likely made such hikes inevitable.
  • When supply is bigger than the demand, prices go down,” Hames said, who explained that the lack of other credit sources after the fall of Green Tree Servicing forced them to establish their own lending. “The supply of manufactured home sites has been high because of the lack of financing for people wishing to purchase.”

Knowingly or not, Hames has described a pattern that the Daily Business News on MHProNews has tracked for years. More recently, our analysis reflects that several of these issues arose in the aftermath of events described on MHLivingNews at this link here. As Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage and Clayton Homes built their respective strategic moats, thousands of retailers were tipped out of business.  That in turn had a cascade effect that impacted communities like Hames’ and thousands of others too.  After all, it was those retailers that used to sell homes into communities that kept them near capacity, and allowed property owners to maintain their locations.

The well-liked Joanne Stevens was reported as the broker in the deal with Havenpark.  Per her website, “NAI Iowa Realty Commercial is proud to be part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies.”

So, on at least two levels, Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway brands are in the mix of what has transpired in these Iowa manufactured home communities.


The Intersection of Mainstream Journalism Realities and Manufactured Housing

Contemporary local media journalists have numerous pressures and limitations placed upon them.  As the number of writers and editors declines, due to dwindling ad revenues lost to competitors such as Google or Facebook, a journalist often lacks the time to dig deeper into an issue than may have been the case in years past.

To generate reader interest – which yields more clicks or sold newspapers – media sources tell MHProNews that they have to focus on controversy and attention-sparking headlines and stories.

So finer details, correct terminology, mitigating circumstances, or other nuances may not rank as high as it otherwise might have in years gone by. It’s not fake news. But it is news that by accident, media dynamics – or at times, an unstated agenda – often reflects poorly on manufactured home living.



Sometimes media has an agenda, and Brad Lovin’s comment is quite apt. But in other occasions, journalists pressed for time may not be able to dig deeply enough to understand the often subtle or complex dynamics at play. But the impact of news articles is real in either case.


For example, these bullets from the same Gannett media source.

  • Resident Janet Hook said…”We’re sitting ducks is what we are…”There’s a lot of us out here who don’t know what we’re going to do.”
  • An NAI Iowa Realty Commercial survey of 13 mobile home parks in the Des Moines metro from October 2018 showed rents ranging from $244 to $596 per month, with an average monthly rent of $436.
  • Joanne Stevens, an NAI Iowa Realty agent who helped with the Midwest Country Estates sale, said owners that want to stay in the mobile home business long-term need market rate rents to keep parks operational and well-maintained.

Nowhere is the Berkshire Hathaway connection to these events explicitly mentioned. Nowhere in these reports will you find a more in-depth explanation for how Berkshire owned brands arguably helped fuel the issues that caused these communities to lose occupancy for years.

As regular and detail-focused MHProNews readers know, the industry’s business model was disrupted in large measure by the events documented here.  There rest are details and commentary.  It is the kind of nuance – or even in-your-face-facts that mainstream journalist who are not well versed in manufactured housing, for the reasons noted above, can easily miss.


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


It will be recalled that not long after Berkshire bought Clayton Homes, the community side of Clayton’s operations were spun off.  Per sources, “Warren” didn’t want to be seen ‘as raising the rents on grandma.

Yet thanks to the domino effect, it is apparently okay with ‘Warren’ when someone else raised granma’s and others site fees.  It is even better when a firm Buffett-led Berkshire owns gets a slice of the brokerage commissions involved. Then, in an ironic twist, Buffett can go on national television, and lament how some citizens become “roadkill” that should be cared for by a Big Brother government.

Buffett has also reportedly used some of his profits to help fund the protest groups – such as MHAction – as reported by the Golden States Manufactured-Home Owners League or GSMOL – see a report, linked here.

The net results?

Real- but artificially-sparked headwinds arise or are allowed to develop.  Lacking the time to dig beyond the surface, journalists in the contemporary media environment may not be able to properly spotlight the underlying causes or contributing factors to the issues that they report on.

So, hearing from residents or others that ‘mobile homes depreciate like a car goes unchallenged, even though there is evidence by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2018 research that manufactured homes can and do appreciate.  Cases like the ones these Gannett media stories reflect may indeed result in depreciation, if someone is forced to move quickly.  But that same loss of equity could occur with conventional housing too, given similar dynamics and a hasty sale.  Stating the facts, but absent all the nuances, can thus cause still more harm to potential sellers of a manufactured home, when they might rightly ask in the wake of such reports, ‘why would I want to be next in line for this kind of situation?’


The MH Industry’s Largest Post-Production Association…

Where is the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) on this or similar issues?  The Daily Business News on MHProNews asked the Arlington, VA based national association.  They are silent. Why? Could it be because some of their ‘big boy’ members benefit from such patterns?

Meanwhile the independents of the industry at large suffer. Who suffers most? The mom-and-pop ‘family’ operations, that may or may not realize what dynamics they have succumbed to, as this report from Iowa sadly reflects.


Metaphorical IEDs in Manufactured Housing

Buffett’s and his minions’ strategic moat tactics don’t require specific foreknowledge of precisely what will occur or to whom.  All they need to know is that when a domino is tipped over, other dominoes in the chain will follow.  See the illustration at the top of this article.

What the Atlantic’s report earlier this decade pointed to impacted not only independently owned manufactured home retailers.  It also logically harmed manufactured home communities, producers, lenders – anyone involved in the manufactured home industry business-supply chain.  ICYMI, or need a refresher, you can click on the hot-linked text-image box below for more details.


Examining Derek Thompson’s Atlantic Report on ‘Mobile Home’ Retail Market as Fastest Dying Business In America


What is occurring in Iowa is like a metaphorical improvised explosive device (IED) planted by a terrorist. Only these IEDs have an economic impact on people, whose personal or professional lives are just as disrupted as soldier’s would be when hit by an unexpected land-mine.

The industry’s once multi-decades successful business model has been disrupted. It could be rebuilt. #OpenMarkets, antitrust law and other solutions must be put into play to right the imbalances (see related reports, further below the bylines and notices).



Click here to see the referenced document, quotes from Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders that year, and a video with Kevin Clayton.

But until the necessary steps are taken to change the dynamics already in play, consolidators like Havenpark Capital will do what Buffett’s “Conquest Capitalism” arguably allowed it to accomplish.

And none of the Omaha-based Berkshire brands found in the Knoxville metro, or MHI would – or could? – respond to these concerns in the presence of their peers, who met in Tunica last week to discuss just such issues.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. That’s not just a clock, it’s effectively an improvised economic-explosive device that mimics IEDs.  How long before politicos in Iowa or elsewhere decide that they will step in to ‘fix’ the problems?

If so, will their political fixes only hasten the issues that caused Barbara Hames and independents like her to sell in the first place?  See the rent control report, linked here.

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



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Warren Buffett, “the Moat,” Manufactured Housing, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt, Wells Fargo, NAI…

December 27th, 2017 Comments off


Sometimes it’s best to hide in plain sight.” – David Estes.

Warren Buffett’s ‘moat principle’ has been laid out by others in their investment commentary, such as was covered by Seeking Alpha in last night’s market report.

Thomas: Buffett Should Buy Manufactured Home Community REIT, Plus MH Market Update$

The structure and operations of Buffett’s brands that he owns outright, or has a significant stake in, lends itself to this moat principle that he’s spoken about.


There are industry voices that have expressed the concern that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) lends itself as a vehicle by which Buffett can dominate manufactured housing. MHI’s structure is powered by dues and an executive committee that is made up of four people.  Two have been Berkshire Hathaway team members for years, the current chairman is a prior Clayton Homes division president. Buffett’s dominating MHI in plain sight.


Lavin is an MHI award winner, and a success story in communities, retail and finance.

Progressive and conservative thinkers and sources alike have observed, criticized, and analyzed how MHI does the will and work of Buffett.

Maxine Waters Statement, Preserving Access Manufactured Housing Act 2017, Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes

Newspaper Names Clayton Homes, Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton In “Swamp After Storm” Post-Disaster “Corruption”

Other recent MHI executive committee members have included companies that have significant business ties with one or more Buffett-dominated manufactured home brands.  That’s included Nathan Smith, SSK Communities, and Howard Walker, JD, Equity LifeStyle Properties. 

An issue that MHProNews spotlighted some years ago has been the relatively slow growth, low volume, and high regulatory risks in the manufactured home industry. These are factors that were named by U.S. Bank when they withdrew from actively pursuing their otherwise profitable lending in manufactured housing.

Bank Vault Door Closes on Manufactured Housing Lender

When MHI’s president, Richard “Dick” Jennison was asked about growth rates with a softball interview question, (see video, below) Jennison argued for slow growth.

Why? Isn’t it obvious that more rapid growth could have been done sustainably and responsibly?


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

Appealing Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Marketing, Finance Booklet Reviewed

What other major industry association executive wants to argue for slow growth for an industry that was previously projected to become the dominant form of housing in the U.S. by 2010?

The Moat Formula Elements, Applied to Manufactured Housing…?

The formula for slowing and/or choking off manufactured housing growth, and gaining a bigger control over the industry has been expressed like this.

  • Relatively low sales volume, compared to potential and the demand for affordable housing. 
  • High regulatory burdens and risks. 
  • For a time, choking off lending.

Each of these factors forced closures, and sparked consolidations. That’s arguably a polite way of saying that small businesses were forced to sell out to larger ones.


Belsky at Harvard, others believed manufactured housing’s breakout decade would be the 2000s.  That didn’t happen.  Why?  Note that in 2003, Warren Buffett entered the manufactured housing industry.  Graphic provided by Ross Kinzler when he was then the executive director of the Wisconsin Housing Alliance (WHA).

Aren’t these elements in keeping with Buffett’s moat principles? 


Manufactured Housing Industry Potential

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) ® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun estimates there is a need for some 8 million affordable housing units.

NAR’s Yun – No Quick Fixes Spell$ Manufactured Housing Opportunitie$

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has a very similar estimate of 8 million affordable housing units needed.

NLIHC CEO Responds on HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs Report, MH Leader Reacts

Several tech giant current and/or prior owners managers have concluded that factory built homes is the best way to close that gap.

$58,000 PreFabs, Videos, Updates of More Hi-Tech Backers

Meet the Modular Housing Builder Google Picked, and their “Industrial Cathedral”

Bill Gates’ Subsidiary Belmont Plans Smart City of Future, What Role Will Factory Built Homes Play?

Plans for Floating Modular Cities, “Seasteading” is Becoming Reality

Manufactured Housing Facts 2017, By the Numbers

Contradictions and logical conflicts have been spotlighted by MHProNews that can be boiled down to some basic principles, explained to us by various MHI and other industry members.

1)    Berkshire Hathaway choked off lending, as the Smoking Gun Parts One and Two from 21st Mortgage documents.  That forced hundreds of manufactured home retail closures.

Killing Off 100s of Independent Manufactured Home Retailers, Production Companies – Tim Williams/21st Mortgage “Smoking Gun” Document 2

“Perverse”–Warren Buffett-Dodd-Frank, CFPB, Manufactured Housing, Loans, Independent Businesses Fact Check$

2)    ‘The big companies have figured out how to use MHI to get the smaller companies to pay for what the big companies want.’  Ouch, that would mean those small to mid-sized companies are feeding the hand that bites their own.

ELS’ Sam Zell – Compliance Costs Destroys Smaller Businesses = Consolidation


3)    ‘Whether or not MHI succeeds at passing the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, the Berkshire Hathaway units benefit.’ Why?  Because either regulatory burdens force consolidation, and if they ever pass it, they can then charge higher rates and fees on their loans.

Jenny Hodge, National Community Council, Public Time-Bomb Deployed on Manufactured Housing Institute, Prominent MHI Lender

4)    More than 3 dozen were in the room in San Antonio when then MHI Chairman Tim Williams explained why he didn’t neither 21st nor Vanderbilt provided the GSEs with the data they said they said they needed to more responsibly and robustly enter manufactured housing chattel (home only, personal property) lending.  Yet, MHI claimed to be working to advance DTS.  Really?  When their chairman, and two largest personal property lenders failed to practically support it?  How does that apparent contradiction work in practice?

Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$

5)    MHI was pushing for the DOE energy standards, even though MHARR and third party research demonstrated the harm it could cause the industry and hundreds of thousands of potential consumers. They eventually pivoted, but only after months of public pressure.

MHARR vs. MHI on DOE Energy Rule, Pushback Pay$ Off?

6)    MHI was silent on replacing Pam Danner at HUD, again until months of pressure apparently forced them to pivot.  Note that MHI doesn’t typically admit they are pivoting, they just do it.

7)    MHI had a reported opportunity to favorably modify the MLO rule by agreement, which hurt all sized operations, but disproportionately hurt the independents.


They declined the negotiated deal, and have pursued enactment of Preserving Access for over 5 years and at a cost of millions of dollarsThey did so, even though a former MHI Government Relations VP stated in writing to MHProNews that the odds of changing Dodd-Frank under the Obama administration were low.

Manufactured Housing Institute VP Revealed Important Truths on MHI’s Lobbying, Agenda

People can look at the facts, and are obviously free to come to various conclusions about what these concerns and allegations mean.


In front of dozens of industry professionals in Deadwood, SD, MHI SVP Rick Robinson ducked questions. Why? Why has MHI ducked the repeated offer of a public, video debate?

But if MHI was correct, why do they duck questions or offers to publicly debate via video their performance?


Credits, MHI, Cavco.


If MHI had the solutions that they claim, would the industry have seen the kind of slides witnessed since 1998?

Housing is one of the biggest economic sectors, and manufactured housing has amazing upside potential.  While labor challenges are slowing the short-term potential all types of building, a factory-building environment is arguably the most logical way to address it successfully, rapidly, and profitably.

Are there other factors – such as misimpressions caused by errant research and reporting?  Yes, and MHProNews and MHLivingNews have covered those too. But that good media can be obtained is demonstrated by the report below.

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

But as Frank Rolfe and others in the industry have observed, MHI has played a roll by so often failing to respond to so many incorrect reports.

Frank Rolfe Blasts MHI for Poor Media Engagement, Industry Reactions

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

For years, as an MHI member this writer proposed solutions to issues that the industry faced that were routinely ignored, delayed or sidelined. Efforts to advance their desired agenda were sidelined, or undermined.


“Accurate, but Misleading” MHI Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act Alert – ‘Weaponized New$,’ Fact Check$

That and other allegedly problematic and controversial patterns took place even during the time this writer was an elected MHI Suppliers Division board member.  As we called for more transparency, correcting inaccurate ‘weaponized’ reporting, and other issues, MHI didn’t reform, they arguably doubled down.

Financial Choice Act, with MHI Bill, Heading to Floor Vote, Outlook, Analysis

MHI’s response was to threaten this platform’s managing member via third parties, including attorneys, that were arguably MHI cat’s paws.  When that failed, a threatening anonymous package was sent via U.S. mail, which is a potentially criminal act.  Contents in that anonymous package named MHI, plus there’s been another MHI ‘finger print.’

Extortion? RICO? Allegedly Illegal, and Dirty Side of Manufactured Housing, Exposed

It should be noted that Buffett’s voiced concerns over anti-trust (anti-monopoly) action is reportedly the biggest concern for the future of Berkshire Hathaway after he passes away.

Who Will Replace Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway? Expert Insights, Video & Manufactured Home Industry Outlook

President Raises the M-Word, “Monopoly,” Plus Manufactured Housing Industry Market Update$

Summing Up on the Buffett/Manufactured Housing “Moat”


Warren Buffett’s own words,
the words and often contradictory deeds of MHI leaders (elected and appointed),
facts from left-and-right,
demonstrate how the industry was throttled, and consolidated using crony-capitalist control of big government, barriers of entry and staying in the business.a


Warren Buffett, right, credit Wikipedia. Tim Williams, right, credit, LinkedIn. Collage credit, MHProNews.


Several manufacturers that Cavco Industries (CVCO) has purchased were MHARR members at the time they were bought.

It all fits the Warren Buffett theory on moats, doesn’t it?


Why didn’t MHI promote these points if they really wanted passage of Preserving Access?  Richard Cordray quotes and those from the report and video on this page, linked below.

That begs the question, if all this is so, then doesn’t the industry need a new post-production trade association to represent independents?

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

And with various lending and other options in theory or actually available today, isn’t this the time for the industry to break the hold of Berkshire Hathaway over the industry?

Several industry firms are showing the path ahead.

What is certain is that if the behavior isn’t changed, then the pattern going into 2018 and beyond will likely continue. ##  (News, fact checks, analysis, commentary, satire).

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We agree with Warren Buffett on the value of the lessons of history, reading and research. Without those deep insights, the wool can be pulled over other people’s eyes.

By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

Kovach is the award-winning managing-member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC,
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