Posts Tagged ‘New class of manufactured homes’

Coldwater, Tall Grass, P&Z Battles, Manufactured Home Community Plan OK’d – Manufactured Housing and the Don Westphal Back Story

May 10th, 2018 Comments off


The Coldwater Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the City Council approve rezoning 20.6 acres from the township R-3 to the city’s AA — Agriculture Residential – for a 102 lot manufactured home subdivision,” said the Daily Reporter.

Leading the charge was Don Westphal.

DonWestphalHeadDailyReporterFarrelRoehTallGrassManufacturedHomeCommunityColdwaterMIDailyBusinessNwesMHProNewsThe petitioners from Farrell-Roeh of Littleton, Colorado want to rezone the land from Coldwater Township R-3 Medium Density Residential Zoning to City of Coldwater Double-A One Family Agricultural Residential Zoning,” said WTVBAM.

Planner Dean Walrack said this was the only match between land zoning categories that the township had zoned and put on its master plan for the manufacture[d] homes,” wrote Don Reid for the Daily Reporter.

This planning and zoning skirmish was done, but it was just one of many for Westphal.

I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape architecture from Michigan State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Illinois,” Westphal told MHProNews.


I was accepted into Graduate School late in the spring of 1963 and was unable to find suitable married housing. We purchased a 36X8′ Brentwood mobile home in Muskegon Michigan, welded a hitch on a farm semi and towed it to the Glover Street Trailer Park in Urbana, Illinois. Our little home was perfect for students, but the 17 site trailer park was less than ideal. Rent then was $25.00 per month, and we ended up not having to pay the site fee, in exchange for keeping the washer and dryer in the laundry building clean and placing the mail in each mail slot daily,” Westphal said.

The well-known and award-winning Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member explained how he got into the industry.

While doing some research for a term paper on mobile homes, I found references to the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association in Chicago and paid them a visit. I met Dick Beitler and Herb Behrend there and was hired as one of two consultants to their Land Development Division which was offering site planning services to developers as a way to improve the design of mobile home parks,” Westphal said.

The industry was trying to improve its image way back in the 60’s. I ended up writing my master’s thesis on Manufactured Housing and as they say, “the rest is history.” I continued as a consultant to MHMA designing communities for several years and taught sessions on planning at several MHMA Site Development Seminars in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Interestingly, Danny Ghorbani joined the staff at MHMA a year or two after I started consulting with MHMA,” Westphal stated to MHProNews. 


Danny Ghorbani, photo credit, the Journal.

Ghorbani is an engineer by training, who worked for the precursor to what today is called the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

The award-winning Ghorbani later left MHI, and working with independent producers, founded the association that is known today as the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

He retired a few years ago, but is still an advisor to MHARR.  Ghorbani himself was involved in community planning.



Google street and satellite views can become dated, as is the case above. But this reflects how Tall Grass had vacancies before, which have since been occupied by new manufactured homes being brought into the land-lease community. Per the reports, most of those have been for rental housing purposes. The view above tells part of the tale that local media mentioned.

It’s all part of the backstory to the Tall Grass expansion approval, in Coldwater, MI.


Coldwater’s Tall Grass – Step Back, Regroup

A previous proposal to develop 9.6 acres was rejected by the planning commission at which point the developers increased the size to move forward. Donald C. Westphal, a partner and designer who lives in a similar development at Grass Lake, said the units “look like regular housing,” wrote Reid.

There are no single wide units but all will be at least 1,568 square foot homes and can be built with two car garages,” said Reid. “There are no basements but “are built solid, modern designs,” per his report in the local paper.



He [Westphal] explained the homes would be owned by purchasers and placed on leased lots which are a minimum 5,000 square feet. Larry Nelson, from Farrell- Roeh company of Colorado, said as a husband and wife team, they purchased the Tall Grass park for $2.852 million in May 2014 from bankruptcy court. They spent or will spend, by the end of the year, another $480,000 in upgrades and improvements,” per the Daily Reporter.


Michigan is one of the states where manufactured housing has been heating up in recent years. It is known for a number of more residential style land-lease communities, such as Tall Grass.

The Colorado-based company has 11 similar properties, many in the Midwest, with the Reid adding, “The developers bought two parcels totaling 20.6 acres for $203,324 and will invest another $2.3 million to develop the 102 lots.”

But as hundreds of industry professionals who’ve sat in such meetings know, there is routinely push-back from locals.

This Coldwater case was no exception.


MHC Rentals

Melvetta Swick told the commission she was upset because “riff raff” from Tall Grass had thrown trash from around dumpsters, which she claimed ended up in her yard. In response, Nelson promised to increase the size of the dumpsters and monitor that concern. He explained there is a strict policy of who can buy; monitored by a committee as well as background checks completed.

Nelson also said that even when homes are rented, “renters are qualified.”

When Farrell-Roeh took over Tall Grass there were only 177 occupied lots.  The satellite view reflects vacancies.  That occupancy increased to 226, in a year or 95 percent of physical capacity. He explained that the company has averaged 6.4 evictions for the last three years.

As MHProNews has previously reported, many firms are buying new manufactured homes for rental purposes. Farrell-Roeh has done so too at Tall Grass, reportedly purchasing 94 new manufactured homes.  Those are provided on a two year lease.

Counting the homes, there has been a total investment since Farrell-Roeh’s purchase of $6.8 million.

Westphal stated that for security reasons, there will be only one entrance to the entire development. The community will have planted screening from Garfield.

The site plan was approved, subject to the City Council approval of rezoning and adoption of certain local standards, including storm water retention requirements.

A previous proposal to develop 9.6 acres was rejected by the planning commission at which point the developers increased the size to move forward. Westphal, a partner and designer who lives in a similar development at Grass Lake, said the units “look like regular housing,” according to Reid.

There are no single wide units but all will be at least 1,568 square foot homes and can be built with two car garages. There are no basements but “are built solid, modern designs.”


More from the Don…

Westphal told MHProNews in an interview linked here that, “For years I have said that the Manufactured Housing Industry has succeeded in spite of itself. Fragmentation of the industry segments has resulted in a serious lack of consumer confidence. Many in the industry have neglected the needs of our customers who could ultimately be our best salespersons. Too many of us blame government or our regulators for the sorry state of the industry. I believe that if the industry spent more of its resources in conveying the value of our product to the public and taking care of our customers, we would have a base of support that would help us to overcome the regulatory and finance issues we face today. Think about it, potentially 20,000,000 sales people for our products and way of life.”

As the quotes above indicate, Westphal is well acquainted with planning and zoning, design and more.

Attractive Garage Additions for Manufactured Homes – Do It Right

There is plenty to unpack from each of these P&Z – planning and zoning – stories from across the country.  But a common thread is that there is resistance, at least initially, that must be overcome.

Local Star Chambers Wage War on Affordable Housing

There is also a reason to wonder why, if the homes planned for this project look residential, then what is the purpose behind MHI’s so-called “new class of homes” that they’ve been promoting for about 2 years?

Another point this case makes is that rentals are a big part of what’s driving occupancy in dozens and dozens of manufactured home communities nationally. What that implies is that there are more rentals than homes being sold at retail being shipped into properties.

Each of these are warning signs for forward thinkers, but they are also opportunities in disguise.

Until the root or foundational issues are addressed, the problem of NIMBY can be expected to continue.  Westphal’s comments, linked above on what’s necessary to advance the industry, suggest parallel issues to consider.  “We Provide, You Decide.”  ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

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

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform Demands Clarification on “New Class” of HUD Code Manufactured Home



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MIA from Fannie Mae’s Latest Housing Survey, MHI Producer Sounds Off

May 8th, 2018 Comments off


The latest Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) is out.  It’s near an all-time high, but one category is declining.


Affordability for conventional housing buyers is sliding.

Manufactured Housing (MH) was MIA – missing in action – from the Fannie Mae report.  Manufactured homes aren’t even mentioned.

The latest HPSI reading edged up to a new survey high, showing that consumer attitudes remain resilient going into the spring/summer home buying season,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae in a release to the Daily Business News. “High home prices and good economic conditions helped push the share of Americans who think it’s a good time to sell to a fresh record high. However, the upward trend in the good-time-to-sell share seen since last spring has done little to release more for-sale inventory. The tightest supply in decades, combined with rising mortgage rates from historically low levels, will likely remain a hurdle for mobility and a persistent headwind for home sales.”


An Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) producer, and not a MHARR dual member company, told MHProNews that, “I wish we could challenge the Fannie Mae folks on the Duty to Serve and have a real feedback on their prejudice and lack of support that was so severe that they feel compelled to rewrite the HUD code to a “new class [of homes]; what are we [HUD Code manufactured homes] now, chopped liver?”

If that production source is correct, then at least part of the “new class of homes” pressure is coming from one or both of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


An industry blogger texted recently to say that MHProNews was the only one tackling issues that ‘1,000 industry professionals are talking about,’ but no one else in the industry’s trade media will write about. Why?

A common theme by bloggers and others in industry commentary is to “keep it positive” about MHI.

Because of reported pressure from Arlington and Knoxville, there are a number who won’t sound off on-the-record about even obvious industry problems.

At the time when a growing number of non-profits, researchers, public officials, mainstream media sources such as the Washington Post, and others see manufactured housing as a key part of the solution for the affordable housing crisis, there is still resistance to the MH Industry’s product.

It’s an issue that MHI is paying lip service to, with ‘story telling videos’ that are getting few views, or controversial advertorials that have produced no noteworthy changes in the marketplace, as their own website statistics reflect.

An RV MH Hall of Fame inductee called MHProNews yesterday to say that the time for a new post-production association is now.


Another caller said that the opportunities for the industry are so immense, and the response from Arlington is so token, that it made that caller wonder if Clayton Homes has a conflict of interest now within MHI and the industry. Because of Berkshire Hathaway’s growing interests in conventional housing, is Clayton more interested now in site building or some blending of on-site with prefab?  Isn’t Clayton’s presence at MHI now an inherent conflict of interest with pure HUD Code and modular builders?


Facts From Fannie Latest Housing Survey

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) rose 3.4 points in April to 91.7, marking a new all-time survey high. The increase can be attributed to increases in five of the six HPSI components,” said their release.

The net share of respondents who said now is a good time to buy a home was the only component that decreased, falling 3 percentage points compared to March. However, the net share who reported that now is a good time to sell a home increased 6 percentage points month over month. Additionally, the net share who said home prices will go up in the next 12 months increased 7 percentage points in April, while the net share of consumers who said mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months increased 4 percentage points. Americans expressed an increased sense of job security, with the net share who say they are not concerned about losing their job increasing 5 percentage points this month. Finally, the net share reporting that their income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased 1 percentage point in April.”  ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

Plot Twist – Duty to Serve – Freddie Mac CEO Layton Called to Accountability w/Congressional, Administration Leaders Over New Manufactured Home Lending Revelations

Style or Substance? Lesson from Most Hated in America – Monday Morning Manufactured Home Sales, Marketing Meeting


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“Razzle Dazzle,” Says Former Manufactured Housing Institute Member

March 26th, 2018 Comments off

RazzleDazzleManufacturedHousingInstituteMHILogoNewClassofHomesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsOnce you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, per BrainyQuote.

An attendee of multiple MHI events who is an award-winning corporate leader who is also a Daily Business News reader explained what he called their “razzle dazzle.”

He specifically pointed out the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) trade association’s plans, naming their proposed “new class of homes.”


What has this extended MHI research and discussion actually accomplished?” – he rhetorically asked.

America’s affordable housing crisis is growing, yet MHI is still busy talking.”

Research may look like action, he said, but practically speaking, it is just another delay while the industry’s largest players continue to “consolidate” smaller ones

There is no denying that manufactured home production, retail, and communities continues to be absorbed into the hands of the larger MHI member companies. MHI’s own data – as well as third party research – confirms it.  Is that an accident? Coincidence? Or is it their plan?


If the proposed Skyline Champion deals is finalized, then 75 percent of the industry’s production will be in the hands of only 3 companies, all of which are MHI members, per data from MHI, and other sources.



It’s Razzle Dazzle.”

Another skeptical executive told the Daily Business News that it takes skill for MHI to be so wrong, or so late to the dance, so often.  to those MHI defenders who say it is only a ‘conspiracy theory,’ he pointed to numerous reports from inside and out of the factory-built home industry,  and then cited the opening Arthur Conan Doyle quote, used at the top.


  • the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are both saying that only more construction will ease the affordable housing crisis,
  • and MHI has demonstrably done nothing effective,
  • that requires arrogance, incompetence – or is it great skill?

In the wake of a recent Daily Business News report, some ask, is failure to advance the industry being rewarded through higher pay and bonuses to senior MHI staff? If that’s hard to imagine, then see the related MHI produced facts that prove that senior staff are getting more pay – plus “bonuses” – per MHI’s own reports; see that “Busted!” linked in the related resource reports, further below.

Given the various controversial allegations, trends, and mounting evidence against them and their dominant member – Clayton Homes and their Berkshire Hathaway sister operations – it’s understandable that a number of state associations that could, quit MHI. See that and other related evidence in the related reports, linked below.

MHI’s counting the number of potential readers their advertorials might have reached is pathetic, when you realize it only proves how ineffective their work actually is,” said an industry executive.


MHI doesn’t prove they reached 83 million Americans, but even if that claim was true, doesn’t their own facts – upon careful consideration – only reveal how ineffective their work actually is? Some 92,900 new HUD Code homes were shipped in 2017, divided by 83 million MHI claimed = .0011192771, or about 1/10 of 1 percent. Furthermore, tens of thousands of new HUD Code manufactured home sales were already taking place, which means their claimed impact was even weaker than 1/10 of 1 percent.


Another pro told MHProNews that the huge claims MHI makes about their advertorials, social media and videos are either a fig leaf designed to make themselves look good, or are actually more evidence of their years of failure to advance their own stated agenda, take your pick.  See the graphic and fact-check above, using their own numbers.

There is in America today:

  • a 300,000 to 400,000 new unit annual new home production shortage,
  • the greatest need is in the affordable housing categories – facts according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB),
  • plus NAR and the National Low Income Housing Coalition NLIHC) have reported an 8.3 million units affordable housing units needed.

4 Concerns of Homebuilders Have Impacting Every American

What those facts imply is that it would take over a decade of producing record numbers of new manufactured homes to catch up to what America needs.


Using MHI and their members own data demonstrates that their so-called leadership in the past decade has witnessed the lowest levels of manufactured home production in the industry’s history. Why would a thinking person follow such failed leadership?

When you look at the facts, isn’t it obvious why Harvard researcher Eric Belsky predicted manufactured housing would dominate?


At the time Belsky made this prediction, manufactured homes were selling over 250,000 new units per year. Yet in 2017, new home production was ‘back up to” only some 92,900 new home sales. In 2002, MHI was citing Belksy, why did they stop doing so after Clayton become their dominant member/producer?


Admissions and Excuses by Key MHI Professionals

Fancy power points and snazzy graphics – when carefully fact-checked against results – demonstrates a failure to be proactive that MHI member and former chairman, Nathan Smith himself stated.

MHI President Richard “Dick” Jennison argued for low production, why? Didn’t that just benefit the bigger companies that have bought out smaller ones at a bargain price?

The statements by past or current members of MHI are often blistering.  They’ve included, but aren’t limited to:

Smoke and mirrors,”
Illogical,” and most recently:
Razzle dazzle…

…call it what you will. The controversial report last week alleging Clayton is trying to kill off the Tunica Show is only the latest in a series that has a growing number of professionals saying, if there is smoke, there must be fire.


But for the doubters and skeptics, once you “…eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle.

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

Related Reports to Points Noted Above:

Busted! “Failure Bonus” Paid-Richard “Dick” Jennison, CEO Manufactured Housing Institute-per MHI Document$

MHI Lender Shakes Up DTS and MLO Rule Discussions

Warren Buffett Success Secret$, Video Interview Including “The Moat”

Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO

“Follow the Money” – Controversial Urban Institute Report on Manufactured Housing

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

‘Over Target’ Reactions, WHA Exec (ret) Ross Kinzler, Won’t Defend MHI Policies & Points to Prior MHI Failure

Sun Communities Annual Data and Manufactured Housing Industry Investor Presentation Highlights

Notice: if Berkshire Hathaway wanted to see manufactured housing sales grow rapidly, they could do their own media campaign. They own a number of media outlets.  See facts in their annual report, linked below.

Warren Buffett’s Annual Report to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders, Clayton Homes and Manufactured Housing


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

Marty Lavin Lashes the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) Latest Initiative


MHI is currently spotlighting 5 operations, which in some ways is arguably a disadvantage to other MHI members.

Frank Rolfe Blasts MHI for Poor Media Engagement, Industry Reactions

Frank Rolfe, MHU/RV Horizons Protest by MHAction; Nathan Smith/SSK/MHI Flashbacks?

Warren Buffett’s Political Payoff$, THIPS, and Manufactured Housing

Manufactured Housing’s “Trojan Horse”



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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News on MHProNews.

SoheylaKovachManufacturedHomeLivingNewsManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and