Unification Derailed; Suspicions

February 23rd, 2014 No comments

Tony,

Both bodies spent a lot of time and money not so long ago in formulatinga plan for the unification of the two entities.I have my suspicions as to the source of the failure of that effort.

Certainly the bad economy and the finance debacle hasn’t helped.

It’s frustrating for me, the eternal optimist, that just when things seem to be getting better, we have these issues resurface that detract from moving the industry forward.

As I have said many times ‘’this industry has succeeded in spite of itself.'Quite possibly because so many folks have found our products and our communities a desirable and affordable solutions to their housing needs.

Boy, do I wish in my lifetime that we could put these contentious matters aside and move forward with the honorable work of providing the average guy and gal with decent and affordable places to live!

don-westphal-posted-on-mhpronews-comBest wishes,
Don Westphal
Donald C. Westphal, Associates

(Editor's Note: “Both bodies” is a reference to MHARR and MHI, and this letter is in reply to Manufactured Housing's Pogo.)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Not Panicking, even when in Deep Trouble

February 18th, 2014 No comments

Tony,

I just bought a single section home, 20' x 72', three levels.

SpySea-TransomML&amp_PL 001.JPGBut it is not an MH, it's a motor yacht, the Spy Sea. We live on it in Miami Beach during the winter. As I found out recently, the most simple acts in life can have life-altering consequences. Careful! The below episode is one such occurrence.

I think I had two closings Feb 13th. First on the 72' Tecnomarine Italia Pilot House Motor Yacht, Spy Sea, and almost closed on my life. We closed the purchase of the boat in the early afternoon and my wife Pat and I went to be on the boat.

Around 6 pm, Pat had gone to the car to bring our dog over. It was very rough at Sunset Harbor Marina in Miami Beach where the boat was berthed, almost gale force winds blowing. The boat was really moving around, being pushed away from the dock. After following Pat, in trying to get back onto the boat, all I remember is starting to take a very long step from the concrete dock to the boat's swim platform, then next, being in the water, at the transom with my head above the water, not how I got there.

I don't remember hitting the water or going under, which I must have, or anything else about the fall.

I could swim, but was struggling, bogged down by wet sweat pants and shirt, and had taken several bad hits to my legs, my shoulder, and worse, had very badly banged my head, temple and ear. There was no way to get out of the water, no ladders and the boat's transom was high above my reach. I was alone and in trouble. No one was around or saw me fall.

I was struggling holding on to the trim tabs on the transom waiting for Pat's return, as there is no dock ladder there to get out of the water.

Finally, after several minutes, Pat returned to find me in the water, far below her. She quickly beckoned a passing lady who threw me a rope. The rope was behind a locked gate and Pat couldn't get to it. 

I grabbed the rope and the lady steered me towards the boat next over. The captain of that boat finally lowered his hydraulic swim platform to water level so I could get on. I was bleeding pretty badly from a chopped up ear and head bang. I was so wozzy I could barely stand.

I have no recollection of what happened that sent me into the water, but know I was taking a very long step to the swim platform from the dock and didn't make it. My front foot must have slipped on the side of the swim platform, and I must have tumbled in to the water. Then I hit my head and body against something hard, probably the concrete wall behind me or swim platform (less likely).

Why I didn't get knocked out and go under, I do not know. Had that happened, no one would have known what happened to me, as no one saw me fall. Pat would have assumed I was off visiting. Geezuz!

Only the gods saved me to be with my wife on our new boat.

Its the little unexpected occurrences that happen in life that can be big life changers. I dodged a bullet. Just wasn't my time yet, but it was close. Can I take any solace? I never panicked though I knew I was potentially in deep trouble. ##

marty-lavin-posted-on-mhpronewsMARTIN V. (“Marty”) LAVIN
attorney, consultant & expert witness
350 Main Street Suite 100
BURLINGTON, VERMONT 05401-3413
802-660-8888 off / 802-238-7777 cell
marty@martylavin.com

Nov. 2013-May 2014 Address
C/O Bill Bird Haulover Marina
10800 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33154

Subsidized Housing vs. MHCs from an MHC Owner’s Perspective

February 7th, 2014 No comments

I could believe that a lot of community owners are unaware of the subsidized housing threat. Unless you live in a city large enough to be targeted by developers and unless you are living in a state with a very active Finance Authority, you may not see what is coming down the pike.

However, if Des Moines Iowa is any example, "affordable/subsidized" housing, is coming on "Big Time" and killing both HUD manufactured housing sales and rentals.

It is likely that this will expand out into the smaller and smaller communities over time. Most "affordable/subsidized housing" is new, upscale, geothermal, and well below market. If it is not new, they are able to get millions in government grants to renovate—I don't believe community owners have access to federal or state "renovation grants.”

I can hardly turn on the TV without a least a weekly pronouncement by some politician or city councilman that, "We need more affordable housing!" Of course, what they are really saying is, "We need more subsidized housing.”

But as might be surmised, if they told the truth, the reception of that statement would be very different.

"Affordable/subsidized" housing is NOT affordable to the majority, who pay for it. In part, I fault MHI for some of our impending "affordable/subsidized" housing problems. Why, without so much as a whimper have they allowed subsidized housing to steal our "affordable housing" label? To call subsidized housing "affordable" is perverse and Orwellian, yet MHI says NOTHING. ##

Margaret-Clark-Co-owner-Grandlakeview-Retirement-MHCs.jpgMargaret Clark
co-owner of Grand Lake View Retirement MHC
grandlakeview.com
grandlakeview@gmail.com

(Editor's Note: This column was submitted in response to the following Masthead blog post, Your Thoughts on “I Am Affordable Housing.” We welcome other perspectives on this topic or others of industry interest. Editorially speaking, we are unable to accurately comment at this time on what efforts MHI or the NCC may have in motion on this subject.)

Dynamic Performance and Excellent Speakers

February 5th, 2014 No comments

I’ve seen the Louisville show near its zenith, when it took up the exhibition hall, and at its nadir, when it was not even held. The show slowly has been on the mend.

This year’s event was a dynamic performance with a pantheon of excellent speakers, covering topics critical to the industry; an expanded floor show with the latest models on display; and a handsome group of service and supply representatives on hand with their banter, wit and stockpile of knowledge.

But even more than those important things, the Louisville show remains a foremost industry venue to meet and interact with people from across the nation. For example, I met a communities’ representative from California there this year.

Finally, with the number of state association booths in prominence in 2014, the Louisville show remains an important crossroads for members and nonmembers to meet these hardworking staffs and learn the value of being part of the larger organization.

A big thumbs up. ##

andy-gallagher-executive-director-west-virginia-manufactured-housing-association-louisville-2014-industry-voices-mhpronews0com-.jpAndy Gallagher
Executive Director
West Virginia Housing Institute (WVHI)

Kudos on 2014 Louisville Show

January 28th, 2014 No comments

Louisville-logo-2014-334x166

1/28/2014 

 

Tony,

The attached information represents the trend line of show attendees for Builder/Developers, Retailers, Installers and Community Managers. As you will note we had a nice increase at this year's show. This in great part had to do with the fact that you did a remarkable job in assisting us with promoting the 2014 show.

Louisville-show-2014

In addition, we would like to complement you on the phenomenal job you did in managing the seminar programming. The seminars were well attended and well received by everyone who attended the show and went to the seminars.

We appreciate your continued assistance and support for the Louisville Housing Show.

l-a-tony-kovach-left-dennis-hill-showways-unlimited-right-posted-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-louisville-manufactured-housing-show-.pnDennis Hill
Show Ways Unlimited
800 Old Roswell Lake Pkwy
Suite 140
Roswell, GA 30076

770-587-3350

 

Photo: Dennis Hill (r), L. A. “Tony” Kovach (l).

(Editor's Note, the show totals also include over 700 exhibitors, a final tally will be provided. So over 2260 total professionals were at the KEC for the 2014 Louisville Manufactured Home Show, even during the “worst winter in 20 years,” see report linked here, which also clearly states that the show is a matter of team work. One of the number of kind words of feedback from attendees on the seminars are linked here.)

Grass Cutting, Delinquency Goals and Modern Marketing

January 27th, 2014 No comments

Tony,

Just wanted to leave a quick note about the educational seminar you spoke at regarding “Modern Marketing.” I brought a few community managers along for your presentation…it was a real eye opener for them and me. While we take pride in the fact that our managers and staff maintain their communities and do a good job in collecting site rent, there is more to being successful than cutting grass and meeting the delinquency goals. The days when our customers came to us bringing their homes into our communities are long gone. If we can implement just a few of the ideas from your presentation it will make a huge difference how we will be able to attract potential customers to purchase homes and live in our communities.

I will certainly bring more of my community managers along if you will be speaking again at the 2015 Louisville Home Show.

continental-communities-logo.jpgRegards,
Ted Gross
Theodore M. Gross
Operations Manager
Continental Communities, LLC

Our experience with Resident Owned Communities – no BS

January 15th, 2014 No comments

The “No BS about Resident Owned Communities” article that appears on this site brings to mind President George W. Bush’s comment while visiting Canada in 2004:

I would like to thank all you Canadians for your warm welcome at the airport. Especially those of you who waved (pause) with all five fingers.”

I get it. We have a successful business model that is reshaping resident ownership and that invites reactions from competitors.

I stand by our record of performance to prove we have a lot of five-finger waves and cheers in the marketplace for ROC USA® as we’ve closed:

  • 13 resident-owned community (ROC) purchases in 2013;
  • 12 in 2012; and,
  • 11 in 2011.

In fact, we have closed a ROC transaction every 37 days on average since we launched in 2008.

We got there by being 100-percent focused on making resident ownership effective and efficient and successful. The marketplace is the true judge.

One of the keys to our success is that we don’t have to chase capital to finance resident purchases. We have already raised all the financing the resident corporation needs — including funds for deposits and due diligence — in a U.S. Department of Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution.

We have current liquidity to finance $40 million of resident purchases today. No one else in resident ownership services has raised capital in advance the way we have. We did it so we could create a different transaction experience for buyers and sellers.

We’re not simply brokers who get paid at closing and walk away — we equip homeowners with the tools and training they need to successfully manage their communities. The fact is that we care about each community’s long-term performance and we know every democratic association needs leadership development and cost-effective shared services to be competitive. ROC USA has a national leadership institute for ROC leaders, a national marketing program for ROCs, and an online and in-person training system to help ROCs and ROC leaders succeed.

At ROC USA, we use the limited equity co-op for simple reasons: It is the most effective and efficient, the fairest and the most affordable model for homeowners. We stand by our work of the last 30 years with more than 140 ROCs that we took from tenants to owners.

Not one of those communities has failed.

That 30-year track record demonstrates the competency and capacity of ROC members and leaders with whom we work.

Every one of these ROCs is real ownership where each homeowner can purchase one low-cost membership interest in the corporation that owns and controls the MHC. There are no outside parties with an ownership interest in the co-op or the MHC, only the homeowners can be member owners.

ROC USA is a nonprofit and thus must serve low- and moderate-income communities, but that doesn’t limit us to small communities. Our largest completed transaction was a two-MHC portfolio transaction worth $23 million for nearly 500 home-sites in 2012. Further, and not surprisingly, every MHC we’ve worked in has sufficient numbers of low- and moderate-income — that’s not an issue.

We don’t apologize for being well-funded or widely publicized. Getting things done attracts interest and attention. Every closed transaction gets a press release and we send postcards to announce purchases. Often we’ll quote the community owner or the broker. Here are two recent ones:

The business model that ROC USA has developed is superb. It was a different transaction in that you usually have to jump through a litany of different hoops in regard to banks and bank regulations. But that simply wasn’t the case here. I would certainly do it again, and I will.”

Joel Erlitz, Broker,
First Commercial Property Corp.

 

“It’s no different than a sale to any third-party.”

Phil Johnson,
Seller in Minnesota

ROC USA does not practice public policy. In fact, we eliminated the part-time policy position at ROC USA in 201l.

We’re out earning our way in the marketplace — just like you.

That’s how we ROC ‘n’ roll. ##

paul-bradley-rocusa-president-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news-com-.jpgPaul Bradley, President
ROC USA, LLC
pbradley@rocusa.org / 603-856-0709

(Editor's Note: this article comes as a response by the Paul Bradley to the Featured Article entitled No BS about Resident Owned Communities.

Other perspectives on this topic or any that impact manufactured housing are welcome. Please put OpEd, Letter to the Editor or Industry Voices in your subject line and send proposed article to – latonyk@gmail.com and/or iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com – thank you.

As an additional reminder, we welcome tips on topics and local/regional/national/international news that impacts factory built housing. Readers like you can be and are a part of the story here! )

9 Reasons Why You Need CRM

January 15th, 2014 No comments

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is nothing new; it’s been around since the days of the Rolodex. Tickler files, ledgers, manifests, and even the ‘little black book‘ are relationship management tools that date back for centuries. But CRM has never been more important to closing sales than it is today.

Unless you do business on a very low scale (or work for only one or two clients) you are wasting precious time and missing sales opportunities if you’re not putting a CRM system to work for you. Here are 9 reasons why you need an effective CRM in your business:

Speed

Face it – the bulk of your leads and new customers likely come from online advertising – your website, directories, etc. If your customers find you on the web, they expect you to do business at the speed of the web, i.e., instantaneously. An effective CRM system should capture leads from online sources and send a response to new inquiries instantly and automatically.

The Fallibility of Memory

“The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory,” so the saying goes. And it’s true. Today’s sales professional is just too busy – and the workplace too hectic – to rely on memory alone to follow up with potential buyers. Without a single, organized place to record all client data, you will end up missing important communications – and losing sales. If you’ve ever grabbed whatever piece of paper is handy to record notes from an incoming phone call (and then lost or thrown away that paper as trash), then you know why you need a better system.

Awareness

Once you’ve attracted and recorded a new lead, you need a means to nurture their interest and remain front of mind with them. An effective CRM system will prompt you to keep in touch with prospects with relevant communications that address their key interests. Really good CRM systems will allow you to automate much of this process, including emails, phone calls, letters or post cards, and appointments. The goal: encourage a face to face meeting in your sales center.

Response

Nothing says “your not important; I don’t care” like failing to respond to a prospect’s question. Or not following up with them in a personal way. Or forgetting their name or the model or lot they’re interest in. An effective CRM system keeps all that information handy and accessible by computer, tablet or smart phone, and alerts you when you to appointments, incoming emails, or when it’s time to follow up with a phone call. And really good CRM systems allow you to store all relevant files – letters, plans, photos, etc., in the same place, so you always have every piece of information you need at your fingertips.

Management

So far, we’ve given valid reasons why every salesperson should use a CRM system. But it doesn’t stop there. If you manage a sales team, you need to know what opportunities are in the pipeline, which prospects are the most likely to close quickly, and what you can do to help move those urgent sales forward. You also need to see that every prospect is being properly followed up with by the sales consultant, and to give additional training and help where it’s needed. An effective CRM allows you to accomplish all that, and more.

Reports and Projections

What are your most effective lead sources and ROI from advertising? What are your projected sales (units and/or dollar volume) for the next month, quarter, and year? What is the average closing rate for your sales team? For individual salespeople? What is your average closing time, from initial contact to close? An effective CRM answers those questions and allows you to better manage your sales team, your advertising and your cash flow.

Service

Because your CRM program allows you to schedule appointments, tasks and alerts, you’ll be able to keep up with service calls or punch lists quickly, without ever worrying that an important call with fall through the cracks. Do you do annual maintenance, reviews, maintenance or renewals? Schedule these in your CRM, with alerts 30-days prior to the scheduled date to send notifications to customers and/or service agents. A really good CRM will automate these notifications and communications so you won’t have to.

Referrals

It should be the goal of every sales group to increase referral sales. A good goal is 30% – 40% of total sales. How do you reach that? By keeping in touch, servicing and nurturing existing customers or tenants. Every effective Customer Loyalty or retention program is powered by a CRM system. A CRM program will allow you to include past customers in any marketing events, such as open houses, seminars, or home shows, as well as send cards or congratulations on move-in anniversaries, for holidays, etc. A really good CRM will allow you to automate all of these processes, including alerts and email notifications, so that everything takes place seamlessly and without staff time to schedule.

Connectivity

While stand-alone CRM systems can provide all of the above, many will also connect and share data with other programs, such as your accounting program, inbound lead sources, rent or tenant management system, or point of sale program. This connectivity expands the value of a CRM to keep all customer data, from lead source to rent history, all in one place, saving time and avoiding ‘multi-system chaos’ that stifles use and frustrates business owners/managers.

So, there you have 9 good reasons to stop using that old, outdated spreadsheet or restrictive paper system and step up to a CRM system that will save you time, streamline your sales and marketing processes, and make your team more effective in closing more new and referral sales.

You should check out additional reasons to consider CRM at this story by Jason Brady linked below:

Start the Year off Right!

l-a-tony-kovach-scott-stroud-jason-brady-mhpronews-com1.jpg

Want to learn more? Then, join discussion moderator L. A. “Tony” Kovach, Jason Brady from ManufacturedHomes.com and me at the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show on Wednesday, January 23 at 9:30am SHARP for a special panel presentation on CRM for the Housing Industry. Go to this link at the www.TheLouisvilleShow.com site for details. ##

scott-stroud-posted-mhpronews-com-industry-voices-.jpgScott Stroud
180 Enchanted Dr.
Somerset, KY  42503
p. 606.677.04547

email:  sstroud@builderradio.com

(Editor's Note: The entire business building seminar lineup for the Louisville Show is linked here. It is currently the hottest page on their site, immediately after the home page!)

Community Owners! MHC Lessons Learned

January 8th, 2014 No comments

Join your peers in the MHC world for an exciting hour to learn real life proven methods of how to improve your land lease communities Bottom Line Performance! Get tips from seasoned professionals who have profited in large, medium and small Manufactured Home Community (MHC) operations.

This is a program you will not want to miss.

ross-kinzler-wisconsin-housing-alliance-mhpronews-industry-voices-hall-of-fame-

The panel discussion will be moderated by Ross Kinzler, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing Alliance. Ross has over 25 years of experience in the Manufactured Housing Industry. He has been active at both the national and state levels. He is a founding member and past Chairman of the Manufactured Housing Educational Institute. Ross currently serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the RV/MH Hall of Fame. In addition, Ross has taken on many leadership roles industry wide and has served on numerous boards and committees dealing with issues facing MH communities.

tammy-fonk-8-2013-cbre-posted-mhpronews-industryvoices-.JPG

Among those in our three person panel is Tammy Fonk, an Associate with the CBRE MH/RV National Group. Tammy was born and raised in the MH industry with two family owned communities. She operated the family owned company's sales and marketing business as well as having an active role in day to day community operations and resident relations. As a member of the MHRV Team, Tammy now works closely with public and private investors on building business relations and opportunities to enhance the Manufactured Housing Industry as well as the RV Resort and Marina properties in North America. Tammy works with owners and buyers of small, medium and larger communities in addition to representing large portfolio owners.

don-westphal-manufactured-home-community-development-operations-owner-posted-mhpronews-com-industry-voices-.png

The panel also includes Don Westphal President of Don C. Westphal & Associates. Don has over 40 years of experience of working in; community conceptual planning, master site design and landscape architectural design for land lease communities. Don has represented developers and owners of communities from concept plan approval all the way through final construction. He also works with owners on Community Imaging and on Marketing Plans for communities. The communities have ranged in size from a small number of home sites to those with over 500 sites. Don was featured in this interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Don Westphal.

rick-rand-l-sam-zell-c-jim-clayton-r-posted-manufactured-housing-pro-news-

The third panel member is Richard (Rick) Rand, President of Great Value Homes, Inc. Rick has over 33 years of experience in the manufactured housing industry. GVH is an acquisition, development and property management firm specializing in multiple aspects of the Manufactured Housing Industry. The Company currently operates 6 Manufactured Housing Communities and is also a distributor of Manufactured Homes sold in the communities.

In addition, GVH acts as a broker for the resale of existing manufactured homes for residents who reside in the land lease communities the Company manages. Richard also acts as a consultant to institutional investment and private firms on various aspects of the Manufactured Home Industry.

Rick was founder and President of Asset Development Group, Inc. and its affiliate, Home Source One, LLC. From 1984 time until his departure in 2004, he grew the company to the 25th largest owner of manufactured housing communities in the country. During his tenure at Asset Development Group, Inc. Rick managed all aspects of the enterprise. He was responsible for all of the Company's property acquisitions and requisite financing. From the Company's inception, he oversaw the staffing and training of the ADG/HSO employees and management team. In addition, Rick was responsible for the planning and development of over 2,500 new manufactured homes sites that were both additions to existing communities and new green field development.

Rick is featured in this exclusive interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Rick Rand.

The Louisville Seminars are one of the most popular draws for attendees to the show.

business-building-seminars-credit-manufactured-housing-pro-news-posted-louisivlle-show-com-.jpg

Come Join us at the 2014 Louisville Manufactured Housing Show! The Show was the best attended event in all of Manufactured Housing in 2013. Most industry members can attend free, learn more at the link above, and learn more about the other valuable seminars available for industry members at this link. ##

rick-rand-great-value-homes-manufactured-home-pro-news-industry-voices-guest-blog-.pngRichard J. Rand
President
Great Value Homes, Inc.
9458 N. Fairway Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53217-1321
414-352-3855
414-352-3631 (fax)
414-870-9000 (cell)
RickRand@gvhinc.net

ObamaCare and Manufactured Housing, Take Two

December 19th, 2013 No comments

In Obamacare, a Different Perspective, a well meaning Texas retailer advances his speculation that through the wonder that is Obamacare, fewer of our housing prospects will be forced into medical bankruptcy and a typical manufactured home retailer or stick built homebuilder might enjoy an increase of five or six sales per year. I believe our Texas retailer is well meaning with his speculation but several factors are not included in observation.

First: Having Obamacare does not mean you will be free from a risk of medical bankruptcy. Given the higher premiums being forced onto unwilling buyers along with massive deductibles, the risk of bankruptcy has in all likelihood been increased. Although we encounter very few medial bankruptcies, most of the ones I have encountered are able to find a path to home ownership because the medical burdens of the past are behind them. Under Obamacare the misleading information that premiums would drop has proven to be one more burden on the current administration as it proves to be untrue.

Second: Employers have laid off workers, decided to cancel expansion plans that would have required new workers and cut back the hours of existing workers due to the regulatory burden of complying with Obamacare. I have lost far more sales in 2013 due to these factors than a hypothetical increase in sales might have brought about had Obamacare been in place at the first of the year. We can get the bankrupt prospect past that event in their life and onto a path to homeownership. I can’t say the same for a client whose hours have been significantly reduced to the point of not budgeting for a reasonable house payment or a client who has lost their job.

Third: This same client will now be forced to purchase a federally mandated level of coverage which is an even greater drain on his discretionary income. Lower discretionary income means a lower likelihood of qualifying for the loan.

Fewer jobs, lower income, part time jobs, higher outgo, lower discretionary income will most likely not add up to an increase in business for the housing sector whether it be site built or factory built. Off topic, but to this mix you can add the new Qualifying Mortgage and other Dodd-Frank rules that will further erode sales. We need to dig in and adapt the best we can to all the changing rules that are headed our way. I respectively suggest that Obamacare will not be a boon to sales as was suggested.

doug-gorman.jpgRespectively,
Doug Gorman
Home Mart
Tulsa, OK