The Manufactured Housing Revolution – Ted Gross, Continental Communities

February 10th, 2017 No comments

Tony, It was nice to see you at the 2017 Louisville home show last week!  I just wanted to drop you a line about your book, “The Manufactured Housing Revolution.

Continental Communities purchased 15 copies for our managers last year to review and get some ideas for sales in their communities.  We found “A Journey in Successful Marketing” and “Twelve Things Every Sales Super Star Knows” extremely helpful for our sales staff.

Great articles in the entire book!  We are on our way to increased sales!

I hope you’re a back next year at the 2018 Louisville Home Show running a few of your informative seminars again!

Thanks for everything!

Ted Gross

TedGrossOperationsManagerContinentalCommunitiesCreditMHProNews100x100Theodore M. Gross
Operations Manager
Continental Communities, LLC
2015 Spring Road, Suite 600
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523

(Editor’s Notes: the headline was supplied by MHProNews, but the rest of this message for publication is by Ted Gross. He has been a follower and advocate for MHProNews, MHLivingNews and the education efforts of our platforms and services for several years, see this prior article by Ted, and a video interview as examples.  The graphics and links on this page are provided by the publisher.)

TedGrossBookReviewManufacturedHousingRevolutionByLATonyKovach-postedIndustryVoicesMHProNews

MHARR’s Mark Weiss Reaction to Jim Ayotte’s GSE’s Duty to Serve Commentary

January 24th, 2017 No comments

We at MHARR have the greatest respect for Jim Ayotte, but his recent commentary on the final Duty to Serve (DTS) rule issued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is far too charitable.

It’s one thing to see the proverbial glass as half full versus half empty.  It’s another to accept a few droplets as half a glass.

And that is what consumers and the industry have gotten from FHFA – a few drops at the bottom of the glass, window dressing that is not likely to lead anywhere soon, despite the urgent need now for affordable and competitive chattel-based consumer financing for manufactured homes.

If Congress had meant the “duty to serve” to be optional, it would not have called it a “duty.”  The dictionary definition of a “duty” has – at its core – a mandatory responsibility.  And Congress is presumed to use words according to their ordinary and customary meaning. But nothing in the FHFA rule would require Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to do anything to support MH chattel loans – not even a “pilot program” (more about that in a moment).  So the “duty” instituted by FHFA is not really a “duty” at all, but a choice left to entities that have steadfastly refused to provide secondary market support for MH chattel loans – which prompted the “duty to serve” in the first place.

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If all this sounds familiar, it should. It mimics HUD’s “interpretation” of its statutory “responsibility” to appoint a non-career administrator for the federal manufactured housing program as “not mandatory” even though Webster’s says it is.  But HUD (and maybe now FHFA) has gotten away with it because much of the industry plays along.

It’s hard to see, then, how a non-duty which leaves Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac free to ignore the 80% of the manufactured housing market represented by chattel placements (not 70% as reported elsewhere) lives up to the directive of Congress.

While it’s true that FHFA’s final rule leaves the door open just a crack for chattel, rather than slamming it shut as it did in its proposed rules, what does this really do for consumers and an industry that needs competitively-priced and readily-available chattel financing in order to reach its full potential?

DTS was enacted by Congress nine years ago. If either FHFA or the Enterprises were really interested in MH chattel financing, there has been plenty of time to do the groundwork and obtain the necessary loan performance information.  There has even been time for a “pilot program” or two over the last decade.  No, instead, we’re supposed to take it slow, with a non-duty “duty,” while consumers are needlessly herded into higher-cost loans, paying more than they would in a truly competitive financing market not distorted by official discrimination that would be unacceptable in any other context.

With nine years already gone, how much longer will consumers have to wait for the industry to demand full financing parity with other types of housing?  Washington, D.C. is traditionally a graveyard for all kinds of “pilot programs” started with the best of intentions.  Given a “duty” by Congress, the burden is not – and should not – be on the industry and consumers to prove their worthiness. The burden should be on FHFA and the Enterprises to show why they are not complying with the will and word of Congress now. ##

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By M. Mark Weiss, JD.
President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

(The graphic above and the headline are provided by the editor, as is customary with many publishers. The content expresses the views of the writer.)

Tim Williams Encouraged by Regulatory Freeze Ordered by President Trump

January 23rd, 2017 No comments

I am deeply encouraged that less than 24 hours into President Trump’s term, he has frozen new, potentially burdensome regulations.

The immediate impact assists working people and those on fixed incomes – as well as others of low and moderate income – to realize the dream of affordable manufactured homeownership and cannot be overstated.

Onerous regulations were in the process of adoption by the previous administration that would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of manufactured homes, thus pricing tens of thousands of Americans from realizing the dream of homeownership.

Those regulations range from excessive energy mandates, to overkill foundation rules, as well as needless additional regulation of home construction.

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Image credit, MHProNews. The headline and image are provided by the editor.

Manufactured homes are the ONLY form of housing where each home is rigorously inspected and approved by government in the design, construction, and home placement process.

The strong existing consumer protections will continue without the regulatory over kill which would have stifled expanded homeownership and cost thousands of construction jobs. ##

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Tim Williams, OMHA.

Tim Williams
Executive Director
Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA)
244 Bradenton Avenue
Dublin, Ohio 43017

NPR’s Syringa Mobile Home Park Story, Revisited by Community Owner

January 23rd, 2017 No comments

In the NPR story, the blame is on the community owner, tenants, county, and state.  This failure is across-the-board and does not represent the industry as whole, but is a growing problem that needs to be addressed when communities are used for investment purposes by those who don’t know what they are doing.

  • There is no excuse for the manufactured home community owners’ absence in managing his property.
    • Public utilities and infrastructure needs to be addressed.
    • It should be noted that with old infrastructure, you are going to have water line breaks and rare system failures. Many can be avoided, but some can be unknowable in advance.  Redundancy and daily inspections help prevent system failures.
    • The owner may not have the revenue to repair systems, and may need to tap utilities into local public water and wastewater systems.
  • Where is the tenant accountability?  Homes are personal property (unless units are rentals), and there is trash and debris everywhere in the photos from Syringa Mobile Home Park, in Moscow, ID.
  • Judging by the state of a many of the homes in the photos; they should be repaired, demoed, and/or replaced.  By allowing the living conditions to exist, the owner becomes part of the problem.
TomFathNewDurhamEstatesonCommentsOnNPRMobileHomeParkStory-postedIndustryVoicesMHProNews

Image credit, MHProNews. The headline and image are provided by the editor.

  • If homes are being left and are personal property, the county should be responsible with the community owner/tenant to remove homes. ##
tomfathnewdurhamestates-manufacturedhousingindustrymanufacturedhomecommunity-industryvoices-mhpronews

Tom Fath, co-owner, New Durham Estates.

Tom Fath | Operations Manager
New Durham Estates and Home Sales

Todd Lamb on NPR’s ‘Mobile Home Park Owners Can Spoil An Affordable American Dream’

January 4th, 2017 No comments

Tony, you are the third person sending me this NPR article. I read it and have BIG problems with the way the article was written.

The biggest problem is that it makes the City [of Moscow, ID] look powerless. In my experience, for far less, I’ve seen fines issued and many other tactics delivered to owners to force their way. Also, the city should have delivered the solution and fined the owner.

Where is the City or County responsibility in this issue? Really 90 days without water – I doubt that. If that is true (which I have no idea how those people lived without water for 90 days), the City should have been involved.

While it is true that community owners can direct the look and feel of a community, the safety of water and supply of water comes from the City or County.

SyringaMobileHomeParkMagarEMagarNPRDaniel ZwerdlingMobile HomeParkOwnersCanSpoilAffordableAmericanDreamManufacturedHousingIndustryVoicesMHProNews

While the letter is that of the author, Todd Lamb, the headline, and images were supplied by MHProNews – the publisher, as illustrations – common with letters-to-the-editor or an op-ed.

In Texas, there are plenty of Government agencies to make sure manufactured home community residents are safely delivered gas, water, and sewer at the Community owner’s expense.

Anyway, this owner is horrible, but the reason there are not many, if any other owners like him, is because it is stupid and bad business.

Who spends their life savings trying to buy an asset to let it go – to become run down and worthless?

It’s more likely that someone ends up in this situation by going into the project undercapitalized and inexperienced. However, that did not sound like the case with this jerk.

This NPR article was written with a consumer advocacy purpose in mind.  A very slanted view of the reality of the actual power and responsibility of a Community owner. ##

ToddGLambLambInvestments1postedIndustryVoices_ManufacturedHomeCommunities-MHIndustry-MHProNews200x200Todd Lamb
Lamb Investments

Kelley Reacts, NPR’s “Mobile Home Park Owners Can Spoil An Affordable American Dream”

January 2nd, 2017 No comments

There are bad operators in every industry that disgrace themselves and their fellow industry members.  Presuming Syringa Mobile Home Park is as bad as these reports suggest, Mobile Home Park owners across the country will fully support government and tenant actions against the owner.  By all means, prosecute your actions against the owner.  Jail him.  The situation is bad for the tenants, the community, the park industry, government officials, and even the crappy owner/operator himself.  His park is probably now worth a fraction of what it would have been if maintained properly.   This is a lose-lose scenario.  And that’s why there are so few of these situations.

As a landlord, I pay money for maintenance, cleaning, upkeep, property beautification, water, sewer, waste management, property taxes…  All of these expenses are good for my tenants and my community.  Even presuming I’m a cold hearted, self-centered, evil capitalist, these expenditures are smart for me too.  My property investment is preserved, and maybe even enhanced.  My lender doesn’t call my loan and may even encourage me to borrow more money.  My insurance company will charge me lower premiums.  My tenants will be happy and pay rent.  And if I lose a tenant, I’ll have a new tenant eager to move in.  This is a win-win scenario.  And that’s why there are more like mine than like Syringa Mobile Home Park.

SyringiaMobileParkKurtKelleyNPR-AllThingsConsidered-MobileHomeParkOwnersCanSpoilAffordableAmericanDream-IndustryVoicesMHProNews

Regarding tenant owned parks, some like those put in place by ROC are indeed nice places that afford the owners a decent place to live.  However, it’s also a fact that housing projects that offer affordable housing like some manufactured home subdivisions (where the home owners also own the land) are generally worse kept, worse managed, and overall worse places to live compared to a Mobile Home Park (where a landlord owns the land).  In parks, a Lease requires that all tenants behave and keep their home site and home up to minimum standards.  The Park owner has an incentive to keep it nice.  In affordable home subdivisions, less stringent property management and behavior rules couple with less ability and fewer incentives to enforce them.  This results in less desirable places to live.  There’s no one with the time, money and incentives to manage all the residents in a manner that enhances the subdivision for all.

The NPR article is an interesting story about a bad landlord and unnecessary suffering by our fellow man.  However, it’s not an accurate depiction of typical Mobile Home Parks and owners across the country.   And its premise that land ownership by the Mobile Home Owner would universally solve issues like those in Syringa Mobile Home Park is simply wrong.

kurtkelleyjdpresidentmobileinsurance-postedindustryvoicesmanufacturedhousingindustrycommentarymhpronewsKurt Kelley
Typical Landlord

(Editor’s Note: the headline, photo and graphics above and to the left are provided by the publisher, the rest of the content are just as Kelley sent it to us for publication.  That said, Kelley is being a bit modest and perhaps tongue-in-cheek. Kelley is an attorney who operates an insurance agency that works with hundreds of manufactured home communities across the country.  So his observations as a landlord and as a highly informed professional are a pointed refutation of what NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling claims is typical. NPR responded to questions by MHProNews by saying that they stand by Zwerling’s report.  An update with link and additional information will be coming, so please check back to this post.)

Paul Bradley ROCUSA Reacts, NPR’s “Mobile Home Park Owners Can Spoil An Affordable American Dream”

January 2nd, 2017 No comments

Part I of the NPR story needed a balanced industry response that came clean first and then provided many real examples how “the charges” are not typical.  I personally know a lot of very good operators and I always offer them as examples when I’m called.

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Part II of the NPR story delved into resident ownership and I expect more coverage as reporters look to bring voice to President-elect Trump’s voters.  Couple that with the entrepreneurial spirit and return to local ownership that is resident ownership through and through and you can see why I expect great opportunities under President Trump and his focus on America first.

Paul Bradley
President
ROC USA

(Editor’s Note: Bradley is reacting to the NPR story, see our initial report, linked here. Bradley recently purchased a manufactured home for his mother, see that story linked here.)

Tim Williams, OMHA, Responds to Issues Raised by NPR Report on Manufactured Home Communities

December 28th, 2016 No comments

National Public Radio (NPR) did a two-part report released this week on manufactured home communities, part one of their controversial story – Mobile Home Park Owners Can Spoil An Affordable American Dream” – including initial manufactured home industry related responses, are linked here.

tim-williams-ohio-manufactured-home-association-mhpronews

Tim Williams, OMHA.

Against that backdrop, the following questions were addressed to Tim Williams, Executive Director of the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA) by MHProNews, to get Williams’ reaction to the issues raised by NPR.  Williams’ replies are in brown, following each question.

Q – How many manufactured home communities are there in Ohio?

1,800.

Q – NPR reported 20 communities in Ohio with drinking water problems. Isn’t that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of all communities in the state? 

Ohio EPA indicated 6 system failures in MHCs over 4 years, according to information shared with us in 2015 by Ohio EPA staff. That’s 3/10ths of one percent.

Interestingly, Ohio EPA was the subject of numerous negative news stories in 2016 when it was forced to fire two of its employees for failure to properly monitor lead contamination in the water supply of Sebring, Ohio…a community of 4,300 people. Where was NPR’s coverage of that catastrophe?

DanielZwenderlingNPR-TimWilliamsOMHA-ChallengingJournalistsNarrativeManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Collage by MHProNews, see related story, linked here.

The Ohio EPA director incredibly indicates in the NPR story,Those owners “are very happy to be able, on a monthly basis, to receive rent checks from all of the folks that live in a manufactured home park, but not continue to think that they have a long-term [obligation] to maintain those assets.”

The real story is the Ohio EPA’s failure to properly monitor water quality test results from their own certified water operators in the highly-publicized Sebring, Ohio debacle – where they failed to perform their job monitoring monthly water quality test results from their own certified water operators.

OMHA has repeatedly testified before the Ohio Legislature regarding the Ohio EPA lapses and proposed legislative and regulatory overreach.

OMHA has indicated in public testimony our commitment to water quality in manufactured home communities (MHCs) and our strong support in bringing in to compliance those rare instances of water supply compromise.

Q – In your experience, do most community operators ignore health and safety concerns, or do they try to provide a clean, healthy environment for their residents?

MHC water quality operators are certified by Ohio EPA and conduct water quality test results monthly, which they report to Ohio EPA. The MHC operators immediately correct any quality issues even before Ohio EPA needs to intervene

Ohio has the most stringent home installation program in the nation with 3 inspections and 100% inspection of all home installations. Ohio new manufactured home sales have tripled in six years. Obviously, Ohio citizens find manufactured home living not only affordable, but of high quality and satisfaction.

Ohio has extensive training, legal support and a record of integrity in assisting OMHA member MHCs in complying with all government rules and regulations.

Q – Because news media in general has a reputation for looking for trouble or the sensational rather than the good, do you think that NPR has pained a balanced view of manufactured home community living?  Do you think most community operators are heartless, or do you see them in a different light than NPR has portrayed in this story?

The NPR article creates a false narrative of uncaring manufactured home community (MHC) operators.

NPR should be held accountable for balanced news reporting, where the truth of manufactured home living is accurately portrayed.

NPR didn’t even bother to contact the only industry trade association – OMHA – to obtain more than one side to their reference regarding the Ohio EPA director’s comments.

NPR seems to subtly imply in their anecdotal profile of a few residents in Idaho that the millions of Americans who choose the option of manufactured home living are somehow subjected to inferior conditions. I find that discriminatory, elitist view offensive to our lower and moderate income MH residents and totally unrepresentative of the MH living experience.

As Americans have become increasingly aware, the bias of many news media organizations, like NPR, that promote false social narratives – such as victimhood and identity politics. Rather than accurately report the facts that don’t fit their liberal agendas, [that part of the media] is increasingly out of touch with the pulse of America. ##

(Editor’s Note 1: The video above reflects thousands of examples of public water systems problems, such as the one Williams’ response above raised.  “An invisible infrastructure problem was illuminated by the Flint water crisis: 5,300 U.S. water systems violate lead rules; this affects roughly 18 million Americans,” Dave Packman Show.

Editor’s Notes 2: The headline, graphics, video, and introduction are provided by MHProNews.com. The story Williams has responded to – along with other related information – are linked here. Williams’ responded to MHProNews’ inquiry with the above details in about an hour from the time we contacted him. By contrast, NPR has also been contacted for comment – and 20 hours after they acknowledged their receipt of our first questions – NPR has failed to provide any further details to address industry concerns about the slanted nature of their first report. MHProNews will provide further follow-up on this controversial issue as it develops. To check out a prior interview, A Breakfast with…Tim Williams, click here.).

FHFA Issues Final Rule on Duty to Serve GSEs Will Receive Credit for Chattel Loans

December 20th, 2016 No comments

On December 13, 2016, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a final rule to implement the “Duty to Serve” (DTS) requirements.  The statute requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) to provide leadership to facilitate a secondary market for mortgages on housing for very low-, low-, and moderate income families in three underserved markets.  The underserved markets include: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing.

By way of background, the FHFA issued a proposed rule on December 15, 2015.  The proposed rule provided that Duty to Serve credit would be given to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for financing manufactured homes titled as real property, but not manufactured homes titled as chattel.  The agency’s rationale was that real estate loans perform better and have lower default rates than chattel loans.  In anticipation of a firestorm of criticism, the agency invited public comment on whether the final rule should authorize Duty to Serve credit for the purchase of chattel loans.

The industry jumped on this opportunity and submitted over 3,100 comment letters to the FHFA.  Shortly after the issuance of the proposed rule, industry representatives and the GSEs began meeting on an ongoing basis.  Some of the meetings were with organized groups, like the MHI Duty to Serve Task Force, while others were one-on-one with industry stakeholders, including: lenders, community owners and consumer advocates.  From all indications, these meetings were productive and the GSEs gained a better understanding and appreciation for the chattel manufactured housing market.

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A variety of viewpoints has been presented on this FHFA final rule topic, some of them, are found from the article linked here.  Other perspectives are welcome.  The full MHARR commentary Jim referenced is linked here.

The final rule provides Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with Duty to Serve credit for purchasing chattel manufactured housing loans, but does not mandate them to do so.  Whether the final rule is positive or negative for the industry depends on which national industry trade group you listen to.   MHI’s take on the final rule is that it is a step in the right direction.  MHARR believes that because the FHFA did not mandate the GSEs to make chattel loans that it is highly unlikely that any chattel loans will be made.

The truth of the matter is that the industry is closer to getting a viable secondary market program for chattel manufactured home loans than it has been in nearly two decades.  While the industry would have preferred the FHFA to mandate the GSEs to make chattel loans, this was not going to happen.  However, over the past year the GSEs have demonstrated a genuine interest in understanding chattel manufactured housing financing as it exists today, not as it performed in the late 90’s.  If the industry continues to meet with the GSE’s, shares industry operating and loss data, and provides suggestions for properly structuring a chattel loan program, including a flexible approach to loss mitigation, the GSEs will ultimately initiate a secondary market program for chattel manufactured housing loans.  This will not happen overnight and the program will start small, possibly as a “pilot”.  Over time, the program will expand based on the good loan performance of chattel manufactured home loans. ##

jimayottefloridamanufacturedhousingassociationfmha-industryvoices-manufacturedhousingindustrycommentary-mhpronewsJames R. Ayotte, CAE
Executive Director
Florida Manufactured Housing Association
1284 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL  32312

FHFA, GSEs and the Duty To Serve Manufactured Housing – Mark Weiss, JD – Viewpoint

December 14th, 2016 No comments

Chattel lending is crucial to the availability of affordable manufactured housing for American families, representing as much as 80% of consumer loans for the purchase of new manufactured homes.

Knowing this, Congress specifically included manufactured home chattel loans in the “Duty to Serve” provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

The total exclusion — thus far — of those loans from two proposed DTS implementation rules is, therefore, incomprehensible and has never been explained or justified in any credible way by either the GSEs or the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

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The headline and graphics on this page are provided by MHProNews, and not the writer. Other viewpoints on this or other manufactured housing related topics are welcome. Image credit, MHProNews.

The nearly ten year delay in properly implementing this simple and straightforward congressional directive has harmed both consumers – who have been left hanging with no remedy — and the industry, which continues to suffer from unnaturally low production levels due to discrimination by the GSEs.

While a mandatory pilot program including chattel loans – combined with a specific commitment to transition to a full “going basis” securitization model within a short and finite timeframe — would potentially be a step forward, a chattel “pilot program” in itself would not fulfill the mandate of DTS. ##

M-MarkWeiss-MHARRPresident-ManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReform-posted-MHProNews-com-75x75-Mark Weiss, JD
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004