You Might Be a Redneck!

December 12th, 2013 No comments

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to
be offended by the phrase, 'One nation, under God..'

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing
the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ' Christmas'
instead of 'Winter Festival.'

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when
someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your
hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces
veterans with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an
American flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe
and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and
raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to
a friend.

You might be a redneck if you are tired of government overreach, such as ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, the SAFE Act, CFPB and an alphabet soup of federal agencies that want to throttle our businesses or run our personal lives.

You might be a redneck if you've read this far, and you've nodded in agreement more than half the time. When I read some of the above from an article that had no author's name, and I added the last ones which impact manufactured housing home owners, professionals and the rest of our country too.

God Bless America! ##
Submitted by Larry Hahn

ObamaCare: A Different Perspective

December 5th, 2013 No comments

As a retailer for over 30 years and having operated 15 or so locations, I have lost a few sales per year per dealership due to potential buyers having filed personal bankruptcies in the prior 7-14 years.  Most were due to un-insured medical expenses.

A 2007 Harvard study bears me out.  "Half of U.S. bankruptcies, affecting 2 million people annually, were attributable to illness or medical bills." An article by CNN in '09 raises that percentage to 60%.  Medically related bankruptcies have been rising steadily, up from 8% in 1981 (Businessweek).

ObamaCare – with all it's flaws – is designed to eliminate medical bankruptcy by insuring all without exemptions or caps for catastrophic illness.  What is so bad about that concept?

Just think what 3 -5 more sales per year per retailer would add up to, nationally! 

On top of that, all the site builders would also sell more homes.  Every non-commercial real estate agent would sell more existing homes and their sellers could buy a new home!

Multiply all this out, and you have thousands upon thousands of homes built and sold plus the jobs they create, and the trickle down effect on suppliers, lenders, etc.

It is just a fact that ObamaCare – if tweaked and successful – will be good for housing. I don't care about Olive Garden, I care about the Manufactured Housing Industry! 

Dodd/Frank is the looming disaster for housing, not ObamaCare.

frank-woody-republic-manufactured-homes-texas-credit-azlenews-posted-mhpronews-industry-voices-guest-blog-.pngFrank Woody, Owner
Republic Homes
Texas

(Editor's Note1: Frank Woody (r). Photo Credit azlenews. Frank is too modest to do this himself, so we are posting this for him! Weatherford Police Chief Manning presents an award to Frank Woody for going above and beyond to help law enforcement by providing them a place to conduct training.)

(Editor's Note2: this commentary by Frank Woody came as his 'reply' to the article linked below. His comments above are published at his request.)

http://www.MHProNews.com/home/industry-news/industry-in-focus/6659-dodd-frank-fix-hr-1779-preserving-access-to-manufactured-housing-act-of-2013-achieves-growing-bi-partisan-support- )

Whew! What a Whirlwind 44 Hours

October 20th, 2013 No comments

That is the NCC Fall Leadership Forum: “Building a Vision For The Future” held this past week in Chicago. First and foremost, kudos to my very good friend Jenny Hodge. Jenny is Vice President of MHI’s National Communities Council (NCC) and responsible for organizing and bringing forth this exceptional event. David Lentz is to be commended for his leadership and vision for the NCC.

While on the train from Milwaukee to Chicago I reviewed the agenda just to be certain I was up for the show which began in earnest Thursday morning. There was no doubt in mind that we were in for a very intense Thursday and Friday morning!

Wednesday evening’s reception was a very nicely arranged meet and greet with appetizers and an open bar. It has certainly been some time since we've seen MHI in a position to host such an event.

The real work began Thursday morning. The fact is that there was something to learn for everyone involved in the Manufactured Housing Community industry (MHC) whether you attended one session or attended all of the sessions.

The attendees were made up of a mix from the community business. When there was a show of hands early Thursday morning it appeared that there was a fairly even split of community owners present. One third were smaller owner with less than five communities, one third with less than 10 communities and one third owners or more than 15 communities.

rick-rand-great-value-homes-l-sam-zell-equity-lifestyle-properties-els-chairman-jim-clayton-clayton-bank-chairman-industry-voices-manufactured-home-pro-news-.jpg

Rick Rand, Great Value Homes (l) Sam Zell, Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS) Chairman (c),
Jim Clayton, founder Clayton Homes and Chairman of Clayton Bank (r)

In addition, in attendance were lenders specializing in community financing, manufactures who are interested in serving the community owners needs to provide homes for vacant sites, Real Estate Brokers who market and sell communities along home lenders and other firms providing resources to community owners.

As is not uncommon at events like this, networking opportunities were abundant. I am more than certain that new relationships were forged, deals discussed and ideas exchanged. That is part of what makes these interactive events such great opportunities for all segments of the industry.

For those who focused on the Build A Vision For the Future agenda, they were rewarded with session after session of individuals both from within the industry and from other industries sharing their knowledge and experience. Topics relating to marketing, selling, community relations and all the important component of customer service which forward thinkers in the MH Industry are working to accomplish. Not only did the presenters share their knowledge and experience, they also made time for provocative interaction and dialog amongst all of us in attendance. ##

(Editor's Note: Read more of Rick's commentary – plus photos – on the NCC Fall Leadership forum at this link here.

You can see NCC dinner cruise and event photos at this link here.)

 

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
414-870-9000 (cell)
RickRand@gvhinc.net

2013 CFED-I’m Home Retreat Snapshot

October 20th, 2013 No comments

Following a retreat for Next Step and its Partners, I was privileged to participate in the CFED I'm Home Retreat in Denver. Imagine a “for profit” mind immersed in a “non profit” retreat. It would have been easy to allow your head to spin if the topics discussed were not so familiar.

The Retreat was fully immersed in the role manufactured housing (MH) could play for the working poor as an answer for initial and replacement housing.

George McCarthy, from the Ford Foundation, gave some great statistics about those living in MH and the percentage of those populations in communities. These stats further magnified the continuing role MH communities’ play in general housing and manufactured housing specifically.

However, energies soon were redirected to the discussion on funding, both for inventory and retail; appraisals; placement, yadda yadda yadda.

As Barry Noffziger, from CU Factory Built Lending suggested – if you close your eyes, you could have sworn you were in any MH association meeting. The concerns and challenges seemed to be the same as the “for profit” side of the industry. The plea was to unite in order to facilitate change.

It was an interesting juxtaposition to find myself in the middle of a segment of the industry I knew/know little about; but yet I could appreciate their passion.

Their energy was unbelievable. Positive – glass seemed to be half full everywhere I looked.

Paul Bradley from ROC was there and talked about their success and plans for the future. 

There was a testimonial about efforts to re-house victims in a MH community affected by Hurricane Sandy; flood victims in Colorado and other locations.

Architect Bruce Tolar, of the Katrina Cottage fame, provided an overview on the lessons learned and how the Cottage is morphing for long term housing solutions. It was noted that long after the national news crews left the Gulf area, there are still victims of Katrina struggling to cope with inadequate housing – 8 years following the hurricane – FEMA gone, almost everyone else as well.

chris-nicely-posted-on-mhpronews-comHeck, that was only the first day and sadly, I had to leave. How often do you leave a meeting saying, “I can’t go, I want to hear and learn more."

Curious, the effort in the room was focused on the resident/owner and how MH can deliver more value and provide life with dignity. This, for a segment of the population most writes off as un-qualified buyers.

It was refreshing and left me wanting to know more about what I could do to help. Hopefully, I will get the chance. ##

chris-nicely-posted-on-mhpronews-com-2.jpgChris Nicely
9052 Legends Lake Lane
Knoxville, TN 37922
865.385.9675
cnicely929@aol.com  

MHI 2013 Annual Meeting Recap

October 10th, 2013 No comments

IMHA Executive Director Mark Bowersox attended the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) annual meeting held September 28 – October 1 in Carlsbad, CA. As with most recent industry meetings, speakers and conversations at the event were focused on the impact of the Dodd-Frank consumer protection legislation and reforming the CFPB’s upcoming regulations. MHI and other industry representatives continue to work with the CFBP on three key areas:

Exemption for manufactured housing appraisal requirements

Based on the most recent rules issued by the CFPB loans on all new manufactured homes, regardless of whether or not they included land, are exempt from the appraisal requirement. Loans on existing manufactured homes, not including land, are also exempt from the appraisal requirements. Additionally, all mobile homes (pre-HUD code) home loans are exempt. The CFPB’s rule solidifying these exemptions is still pending. When finalized the rule will go into effect in January.

Key rule clarifications and exclusions

Loan originator compensation guidelines issued by the CFPB this summer provide the industry with key exclusions from the points and fees calculation that lenders must perform and clarifies certain activities that retail sales staff can engage in without being defined as loan originators.

Manufactured home sales price is excluded from the points and fees definition and does not have to be included in calculations performed by lenders unless a creditor has knowledge that the sales price includes compensation for loan origination activities.

 

Retail sales commissions paid to employees is excluded from points and fees calculation requirements unless the salesperson is receiving compensation from a lender for loan origination activities.

According to MHI, activities that do not classify a retailer or its sales personnel as loan originators include:

  • Providing or making available general information about creditors and loan originators that may offer financing for manufactured housing
  • Gathering or collecting supporting information or documentation on behalf of a consumer for inclusion in a credit application
  • Providing general credit application instructions so that a consumer can complete it themselves
  • Financing the sale of no more than three homes in a year.

Activities that will make a retail employee be considered a loan originator include:

  • Filling out a credit application for a customer
  • Discussing particular credit terms with a customer
  • Directing or influencing a customer to select a particular lender or creditor

MHI continues to seek from the CFPB to provide further clarification on what activities retailers can engage in without being defined as loan originators.

MHI is still working with the CFPB and various consumer interest groups on the need to revise the upcoming High Cost Mortgage Loan triggers for manufactured home loans. IMHA will continue to be engaged on this issue, along with MHI and other interested parties. ##

mark-bowersox-imha-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews.com-75x75pxl-.pngMark Bowersox
Executive Director
Indiana Manufactured Housing Association
Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council
3210 Rand Road
Indianapolis, IN  46241

(Editor's Note: You can find more info on the LO Comp Rule and HOEPA from DJ Pendelton's article published in the Industry In Focus Reports module, linked here.

 

You can also find Mark Bowersox's “It's Now or Never” featured article, linked here. )

Most Manufactured Home Lenders Facing Major Changes Revenue Cliff for Some; Business As Usual for Others

October 10th, 2013 No comments

Wall Street calls this a “revenue cliff.” A sudden drop in cash flow. Dodd-Frank regulations that are set to take effect in mid-January 2014 will result in major changes in guidelines for most of our industry’s major Manufactured Home (MH) personal property lenders.

Among the non-captive lenders, the hardest hit will likely be 21st Mortgage Corp. This lender is expecting a decline of up to 47% in loan volume.

MH Retailers who rely on 21st Mortgage should brace for a sudden revenue loss of 50% – 75% including overall loan volume and an adjustment in origination fees.

This will be devastating for many.

An informal survey of our four credit facilities who primarily bankroll the MH chattel financing aide of the MH industry has revealed major changes expected by most, and business as usual for one lender.

Our lender headquartered in San Antonio, CU Factory Built, is at present reviewing their loan products and origination fee policies. Committees have been assembled, reviewing the new regulations and their guidelines.

Informed industry sources tell MHProNews, who advised us, that CU’s very popular “Step Rate” loan product will likely remain intact, surviving the new regulations.

However, this lender’s origination fee schedule could be cut by up to 50%, more closely resembling the origination fee guidelines of their competitor, Triad Financial Services. The final outcome is yet to be determined.

Thus MH reatailers and loan officers who rely upon CU as their primary lender need to brace for a “revenue cliff.”

Our office has learned that Triad, based in Jacksonville, FL, is expecting “business as usual.” Apparently their loan products and origination fee guidelines have been in compliance with the expected changes in regulations.

Our industry’s other major lender, US Bank, with their regional office based in San Diego, is being very tight-lipped about any changes. Their spokesperson recently declined to comment to us.

The anticipated changes in loan products and origination fees will impact everyone in the MH industry. As loan brokers, quite a few of our employees will be devastated.

Analyzing the changes at this juncture is like shooting a bullet at a speeding train. The best advice we can give you is to dig in and redouble your efforts in support of HR 1779 and related.

If each of us contacts our Congressional Representative and two U.S. Senators in favor of HR 1779 and its planned companion bill, there is still time to avoid this fiscal/financial cliff our retailers and communities who sell are heading towards. ##

dave-shanklin-mhmsm-com.jpegDave Shanklin
Loan Consultant
Empire Homes, Inc.
Santa Rosa, CA
800 – 401 – 3372
NMLS ID # 314463

(Editor's Note: All views expressed on MHProNews are those of the author, and may or may not represent those of publisher or our sponsors. We recommend that you contact the representatives of the lenders you work with and see for yourself what they expect. Take Action! You may also find this related article of interest.)

Congratulations to All Who Made it Happen

September 28th, 2013 No comments

Tony,

Congratulations on the celebration of MHMSM’s 4th year anniversary! What a tremendous contribution you have all made in such a sort amount of time to the image and promotion of manufacturing housing. 

My involvement with the Louisville Show has allowed me to appreciate the invaluable promotional and marketing assistance MHMSM/MHProNews.com has provided in the successful resurgence of the Show.

Now as the premiere media outlet for our industry, I greatly anticipate promotional and marketing efforts in the next 4 years for you and your team beyond any of our expectations.

And, on a personal note, it is a pleasure to work and talk with one of the finest and most personable leaders in our industry.

tim-williams-ohio-manufactured-home-associatio-mhpronewsTim Williams
Executive Director
Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA)
5640 Frantz RoadDublin, Ohio 43017

Manufactured Housing Institute and Consumer Groups Urge CFPB to Change Loan Originator Guidelines; Support Builds for H.R. 1779

September 15th, 2013 No comments

In a communiqué to MHProNews, MHI's Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Jason Boehlert shared the following report to Industry members.

MHI and Consumer Groups Partner to Revise CFPB Rules

On September 5th, MHI joined with a coalition of consumer advocacy organizations, including the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), to jointly urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to amend key mortgage finance rules and preserve access to credit in the manufactured housing market.

Since May, key MHI members and staff have been working with representatives of these three consumer groups to develop a compromise on rules related to loan originator compensation and classification, and HOEPA High-Cost Mortgage triggers – issues that are addressed in the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (H.R. 1779).

manufactured-housing-institute-logo-posted-mhpronews-industry-voices=guest=blog

Negotiations have been taking place through the assistance and participation of majority and minority staff of the House Financial Services Committee and Senator Sherrod Brown, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

As a result of the negotiations, MHI and the three consumer organizations have agreed to jointly ask the CFPB to clarify and amend its rules in two key areas:

Loan Originator Compensation — for purposes of classifying a manufactured home retail salesperson as a Loan Originator, urge the CFPB to better clarify that as long as no incentive is provided or offered by the retailer or the lender to the individual salesperson to steer the consumer to a certain lender or loan product, then the salesperson should not be considered a Loan Originator.

While the CFPB has issued recent rules removing the manufactured home sales price and any sales commission paid to a sales person from points and fees calculations, an individual salesperson can still be classified as a Loan Originator by performing certain activities (i.e., taking an application, and referring a consumer to a lender). This activity would then classify the retailer as a mortgage broker. Both designations carry significant requirements and liabilities, most notably supervision by the CFPB.

HOEPA High-Cost Mortgage Triggers — consumer organizations have agreed to join with MHI in urging the CFPB to reopen its previous final rule on HOEPA. As a result of the significant dialogue that has taken place between the two sides, the consumer organizations have agreed that a significant reduction in access to credit would result in January 2014 (when the rule goes into effect) for the manufactured housing market unless the CFPB modifies the High-Cost Mortgage triggers. While the two sides have not agreed to a specific number, the willingness of the groups to push for the CFPB to reconsider their prior rulemaking is significant.

MHI and the consumer organizations will continue to meet with the CFPB on a joint basis in September on HOEPA issues. Pursuing a strategy of engagement with consumer groups provides the industry the opportunity to underscore the broad impact of CFPB rulemaking on consumers and the industry. In addition, it will provide a more rapid resolution of the industry’s concern when compared to a potentially protracted legislative battle over reopening the Dodd-Frank Act.

However, it is important to note that as the industry gains ground with the CFPB and the consumer groups, Congressional support for the H.R. 1779 continues to build.

Co-Sponsors to H.R. 1779 Grow

During the month-long Congressional recess, more than 20 U.S. Representatives added their names as co-sponsors to H.R. 1779. Currently, nearly 70 Representatives have co-sponsored the measure and support continues to grow. MHI thanks its members and the national network of state associations for their hard work in urging Representatives to co-sponsor this important legislation (to view a current list of co-sponsors, click here).

As has been previously mentioned, provisions of H.R. 1779 were included in GSE reform legislation (PATH Act; H.R. 2767) that was approved by the House Financial Services Committee and MHI staff continues to work with committee staff to seek an opportunity to move the legislation separately.

While the CFPB has provided some key relief in recent rulemakings to the manufactured housing industry – with respect to appraisals and the calculations of points and fees – work still remains to be done to amend HOEPA triggers and the Loan Originator definition to better represent the needs of the manufactured housing market. Absent regulatory relief, statutory change is necessary.

The industry is asked to continue its outreach efforts to U.S. Representatives. Urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 1779. For more information, click here to access MHI’s action alert. ##

jason-boehlert-mhi-manufactuired-housing-pro=news-.pngJason Boehlert
Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)
Vice President of Government Affairs
1655 North Fort Meyer Drive
Suite 104
Arlington, VA 22209

MHI members can contact Jason Boehlert at jboehlert@mfghome.org or (703) 558-0660.

(Logo image credits to their respective organizations. Photo credit of Jason Boehlert, MHProNews.com)

(Editor's Note:  Consumer groups did NOT in fact get on board for HR 1779, as we editorially observed in this blog post here.) 

Investing in the Future of Manufactured Housing

September 8th, 2013 No comments

Tony, 

That was sort of a long read but was worth the time. I agree for the most part.

We are an industry that for years has desired the best for our industry representatives, our customers and our distribution system but for all these years have been hesitant to:

  • invest financially in training our people,

  • marketing our product's image,

  • updating our technology,

  • improving our delivery system, etc..

     

Manufacturers and Retailers have made some bold attempts at the previously listed task but always fail to follow through because they don’t see immediate profits from marketing or training programs. 

We are an industry that has the need for all of our profits to be immediate. Future growth and maturation always loses out to the need for immediate results and immediate profits. 

Until we are willing to train our people well, invest in technology, invest in customer service, invest $ in creating a brand image with the understanding that is will cost a percentage of our industry profits and will not necessarily produce immediate results we are doomed to keep repeating our same mistakes over and over.

Thank You,

 

jay-hamiltong-executive-director-georgia-manufactured-housing-association-gmha-posted-mhpronews-comC. Jay Hamilton

Executive Director

Georgia Manufactured Housing Association

(Editor's Note1: The article Jay refers to is linked here, but his remarks clearly have a broader viewpoint as well.

Editor Note2: To fully appreciate what Jay is saying, for those who don't know him well, let's share the following from his Linkedin Profile:

Employed: 18 years as a District Sales Manager, Product Specialist, Account Manager and Regional Sales Manager for Fleetwood Homes, one of America's Largest Home Builders and makers of Class (A) Recreational Vehicle Products…

Specialties: My specialties include growing and maintaining sales territories, developing professional business relationships for the Manufactured Housing Industry with Banks, Vendors, Developers, Government Agencies and Professional Associations. Building the Manufactured Housing Industry Brand Image in Georgia.”) 

(Editor's Note3: The Industry Voices guest blog is for all industry members and investors, from any size company or organization.  You are routinely invited to sound off on topics related to issues that impact factory built housing.  A variety of viewpoints are welcome.  You can email your letter to the editor or OpEd column to this email link, with the words Industry Voices in the subject line. There are no word limits.  Editorial Guidelines are found here).

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Rent Control in MHCs

September 4th, 2013 1 comment

Tony,

The phone rang one morning and a young man returned my call to him, we'd been playing phone tag. I had left a message with his wife in Oregon earlier, and he was calling about two Vermont MH communities I have listed for sale. From the voice of each, I guessed they were both far younger than I.

Speaking with him, as I answered his questions, it was obvious this was not his first call on LLCs for sale. In a knowledgeable way he wound thru the obvious questions, finally asking whether Vermont LLCs are rent controlled. Yes, I explained, they are. I went on to explain Vermont allows CPI, about 3% annually presently, without concern, and a big one, allows provable capital improvements in addition, annually. I told him that as a former VT LLC owner I had found the scheme fully workable, as do many of my contemporaries.

The next day I got an email message saying he and his partner/wife had decided not to invest in any locale where rent control is in force. OK, I get it, but that removes quite a swath of locales, many which are hot purchase markets. This philosophy allows investment in say Mississippi or Alabama, but negates purchases in Florida or much of California. Oh…

After that, my mind wondered over my experiences of the dangers of rent control and lack of it. Yes, I said the danger of the lack of it. I actually was pretty young once, had hundreds of apartments and almost 2000 MH/RV sites. With the exception of a Florida LLC, I was in no jurisdiction where rent control was in effect. And when rent control was threatened in a jurisdiction, I was the first to the battlements opposing its imposition. I was and am a capitalist, and rent control seemed an anathema to my beliefs. I'm not alone, right?

But time went by, slowly the days passed, and some of my beliefs at 40 years of age made transition to a more measured understanding as I aged and acquired experience I previously lacked. Let me be frank, I was an accomplished and notorious rent increaser, which in my twilight years brings me no acclaim by others, and more importantly, myself.

What I found was that in apartments, and we're not speaking of New York City here, the market rents in an area kinda act as rent control. You find yourself as the top dog in rent rate for your 1000 sq. ft three bedroom apartment in your area. What you are very likely to find, as I did, your apartment rents last and less, staying empty longer than it should. Recovering the lost time and money brings you back to Earth and unless your calqy is busted, your late debt payments slap Hai Karate hard. I found apartments very self correcting as to rents.

Now, on to LLCs. We all know the reasons we invest in communities; they own the dwelling unit, they can't move the house, etc. All good stuff, of course. So as I bought LLCs from original owner/developers, I found that as longtime owners they had allowed their rents to slip behind the market, keeping their management easy, with many long term residents.

Of course, the purchase price always reflected the oft unspoken premium of raising rents to market. "Hell, they can pay a lot more than that!" So I paid more than cash flow to get the community, not real unusual, right? Then the rent increases started. Often stiff and early increases happened shortly after closing.

The first few increases were swallowed, albeit with plenty of bitching by residents. We raised rents as much in two-three years as the former owner did in 10 years. Note that in some instances the increased rent still didn't pay for the capitalized investment costs. I knew that, they only knew and cared their rent had doubled in short order. No esoteric explanations of cap rates and other MH investor jargon seemed particularly persuasive to the LLC residents.

Who was it, Newton, who theorized every action has an equal and opposite reaction? I raised rents, they moved out. And I acquired a reputation in that community as a rapacious rent increaser. And these reputations are hard to escape. I wouldn't really care that much except the reputation had a very bad impact on homesite rentals. That, I did care about.

At first I did the calculation I see many others doing. Yah, I had 100 homes at $100 per month, and even though I'm quickly down to 90 homes at $111 per month, hey, I'm getting the same money with less work and expenses. And it keeps going this way as rents increase, residents fleeing like a torrent, out the MH Paradise Estates gates, which has turned into Hell Bent Acres.  And as vacancies mount, you lose control of the community, no longer able to count on the desire to live in your LLC to keep people in line. And that desire includes pricing.

Were I the only one to have followed the raise-rents protocols, then only I would have suffered the residue, but of course, such was not the case. The MH industry's then flawed model, subsidized for years by flawed lenders, finally collapsed, dropping from 373,000 shipments in 1998, then tantalizing us into believing the hurricane-inspired 135,000 shipments of the mid 2000s was the stopping point, to the grim reality of 50,000 homes in the 2010s. Yah, I hear 60,000 homes could happen any day now.

I sat in on some very contentious MHI committees in the late 2000s era trying to formulate a chattel long term lease the GSEs could swallow. In concert with this I reviewed many LLC profiles showing monthly rent and occupancy. It probably won't surprise you that the vacancy was truly scary, yet rents occurred steeply and frequently.  I had already tried that, and even with the generous retail financing by GreenTree, CIT, The Associates, Security Pacific, Chase and their ilk, it didn't work. Now we were dealing with the GSEs, who I did not find stupid, and we were trying to equate rents in LLCs to the capitalized valuation of single family conventional real estate lots. Any thought of sharply limiting rent increases to gain long term and low rate financing being the trade-off, got serious push back. Such was not to be and by then as the effort lost all bouyancy, the GSEs woke up to far bigger challenges.

As a post script I am the very first to admit that some major figures in that committee have since come far closer to the rent restraints advocated in the long term lease effort as their stated belief for industry resuscitation.  Will that be enough? I greatly doubt it, but I sure think it is an indisputable industry wide measure in the road back to something other than Warren Buffett's table scraps.

So to my young friend in Oregon, rent control, other then confiscatory NYC apartments or some California cities in MH, can be a useful LLC owner restraint, quieting some of the early animal spirits we can all exhibit before experience shackles us. Did I like going to the rent hearings in my community in Florida and taking phallus down the throat to the gag control center? Oh, I loved it.

Still, Florida LLCs are and have long been highly prized acquisitions, not greatly injured by the relatively manageable process for raising rents.  With the relatively benign rent control such as in Florida and Vermont, you and the industry are actually protected from many of the practices employed in the industry, leading to so much push back against us.

Before you believe I'm asking you to petition your jurisdiction for rent control, let me disabuse of that notion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I rail against governmental intrusion in to my affairs daily. Everyday the beast grows larger, only a financial collapse likely to abort its growth. The only point I am making is that one must practice rental increase restraint on your own. Sometimes laws can help a process.

The flip side is that lack of restraint causes lack of residents at a time LLC vacancy nationwide forebodes another step down in industry size. In places like Vermont and Florida and others, rent control, which one should practice on their own, is instilled by statute. Perhaps not the best solution, but the record says the world did not end there.

Yes, we tell a great story which seemingly has legs of truth about our affordable housing heritage. But for whatever reason, even though its great dog food, the dogs won't eat it. Perhaps a legacy of rapacious rent increases, closing parks, high default rates and high home value depreciation could be a good place to start the industry resurgence. We build great homes, but my friends, that, by itself is not enough. ##

marty-lavin-posted-on-mhpronews(MARTIN V. 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

(Editor's note: The hot link was added by us, not Marty, nor was the link requested in any way by Marty. We think it is good for others to realize that while Marty is 'retired,' he is still involved in this industry and clearly cares about manufactured housing deeply. That is why he sounds off on issues, because he cares enough to raise them for discussion, thought and action.

As always, letters and articles by you or your colleagues that may agree or take other perspectives are encouraged. Send them to latonyk@gmail.com with Industry Voices Guest Column in the subject line. )