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Posts Tagged ‘affordable’

A New Manufactured Home Community Brings Excitement

July 12th, 2017 No comments

How exciting it is that we are having a new community being built in Oklahoma!   We have existing communities that have expanded their communities, but it’s been over 30 years since a community of this scale has broken ground for a MHC in the state, let alone Oklahoma County.

CrystalPriceKOCOTV5NewsOKC-OK-manufacturedhousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-575x315

Deanna Fields is Op-Ed is reacting in part to local news story, which has been covered by MHProNews at the linked here

Per the Oklahoma County Planning department, their permit will not be revoked. They have done everything the county has/is asking for.  The development will be built.

Even though a special use permit was granted in 1980’s, they have to comply with “today’s” requirements with setbacks & paved streets.  They will be hooked up to a Water District for their water/sewer. and they will be using a aerobic system for their greenbelt.

Plans for a community center, community shelter(s), fencing the perimeter are also projected.  This is going to be a fabulous community bringing forth an affordable lifestyle for hundreds of families!

Currently they are working on erosion control.

DeannaFieldsMHAOLinkedInIndustryVoicesMHProNews.

Deanna Fields, MHAO, credit, LinkedIn.

This development does come close to estate homes in the Edinborough Point Addition (west side) which is in the Edmond city limits.  This MH community is not in the Edmond city limits, which is considered a “bedroom community” a bedroom community suggests that residents sleep in these neighborhoods, but normally work elsewhere; also that there is little commercial or industrial activity beyond a small amount of retail, oriented toward serving the residents.   Edmond residents traditionally protest any large development that infringe on their “bedroom community” lifestyle.  Edmond residences recently protested having a huge upper end apartment complex with a green-belt, Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Warren Theater, all would of put forth “curb appeal”….but the residents said no and won.

There will be a barrier between the MHC development and the Addition.  On MHC east side boundary it is unincorporated land zoned  industrial…so I’m sure a strip mall of some type will probably go in there….or a huge gas station.    Yes, those that live in those estate homes are upset but there is NOTHING they can do about it….unless they want to buy out the developer…..which I doubt will happen….since approved MHC zoning is liquid gold and once they see this community being developed by local developers who care about their neighbors they should be good neighbors.   If not MHAO does have studies available showing existing homes next to a community does not depreciate their homes.  Our industry has studied ourselves extensively over the past several decades.   Plus, comps are already established  in the subdivision.

The only unpleasant problem the industry will see is the County staff are now currently going through their files finding unexpired permits…they have found several for parks.  MHAO will continue our working relations with the Oklahoma County Planner and monitor any proposed changes in their zoning.

MHAO-manufacturedHousingAssociationOfOklahomaDeanna Fields
MHAO Executive Director
6400 S. Shields Blvd., OKC, OK  73149
Email:  mhao@mhao.org
Website: www.mhao.org

 

Discrimination, Zoning and Disparate Impact on Manufactured Homes, Owners, Prospects

August 25th, 2016 No comments

The discriminatory exclusion of manufactured homes by local governments is a major problem for the industry and consumers.  It artificially stunts industry growth, while it unfairly deprives Americans of access to the nation’s most affordable housing — effectively excluding lower and moderate-income citizens from entire communities.

While this phenomenon is dressed-up as “zoning” by those on the other side of the issue — in part because the federal government has historically been reluctant to interfere in local “zoning” matters — we need to be clear about what is actually going on, in the language we use to refer to it, and how we address it.

The reality — in many, if not most cases — is that “zoning” is simply a fig leaf for what amounts to discrimination; discrimination against our homes to be sure, but, more importantly, discrimination against the people who buy them, own them and live in them.

MMarkWeissJDMHARRCEOPresident-ManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReform

As MHARR has stressed before, there have never been more tools available to the industry and consumers to address this issue at — and beyond — HUD.  These include not only the enhanced preemption of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, but HUD’s new rules on affirmatively furthering fair housing and the recent Supreme Court decision allowing discrimination claims to be pursued based on evidence of “disparate impact.”  ##

(Editor’s note: This was the first for publication commentary sent in the wake of the Daily Business News report on a discriminatory zoning case, linked here. Two more Op-Eds on zoning are linked here and here.)

MMarkWeissCEO-MHARR-ManufacturedHousingAssociationforRegulatoryReform-posted-IndustryVoices-MHProNews

 

Mark Weiss
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: MHARRDG@AOL.COM

CFED’s Doug Ryan Sounds off on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Report on Manufactured Housing and MH Financing

October 4th, 2014 No comments

cfed-logo-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews-com-.gifThe CFPB report supports what CFED and other nonprofit organizations have said in recent years:  Manufactured Home loan borrowers are vulnerable to expensive products and are often not well-served by the current financing market due to the lack of competition, lack of liquidity and the costs of the loans.

I have no doubt, as the Bureau reported, that many borrowers of chattel products could have qualified for traditional, less expensive mortgages but did not get the chance simply because they were not offered or made aware of the options. Indeed, one clear way to address this issue would be for industry to support titling reform that would give families the option to title their homes as real estate and the opportunity to access real estate loans.

The report supports, quite explicitly, the need for the Bureau’s current rules to remain in place and enforced. As the Bureau wrote, “the manufactured housing borrowers being charged interest rates or upfront fees above the HOEPA thresholds are the very populations that HOEPA is designed to protect."

I also believe that this report, and related efforts by industry and CFED and its nonprofit partners, offers an opportunity to develop new loan products, expand the pool of lenders and, ultimately, lower the costs of borrowing.

CFED absolutely believes manufactured housing must be part of the affordable housing solution in communities across the US. Far too many advocates and policy makers are unaware of the quality and aesthetic appeal of manufactured homes. There is no doubt industry has made great strides to modernize the energy efficiency, the design and the value of the homes. Quite simply, the CFPB’s report underscores the need for the financing to be modernized, as well. ##

doug-ryan-cfed-posted-manufactured-home-living-news-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews-

Doug Ryan
CFED
dryan@cfed.org

 

 

Related Links:

1) – MHI's Response to CFPB's Report (Note, the MHI link includes the full CFPB report as a free download)

2) – MHARR's Response to RV legislation and CFPB's Report on Manufactured Housing

3) – CFPB Report on Manufactured Housing Signals Areas of Future Concern

4) – Manufactured Housing Institute Responds to Doug Ryan-CFED commentary on CFPB report on Manufactured Housing Finance

(Image credit: Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED logo.)

(Editor's Note: As with any opinion column, the views expressed by Mr. Ryan are his own and/or those of the organization he works for, and should not be construed to be the views of MHProNews or our sponsors. Other viewpoints on this or other industry topics are encouraged.

MHProNews plans an Industry in Focus Report using extensive comments from a range of industry professionals on this topic. Watch for it mid-week at the news/reports module link above!)

Exhaustion Sets In

August 8th, 2014 1 comment

I’m exhausted, Jerry, exhausted I tell you. “Exhausted, Marty Boy, why?” Well there are many reasons, and in trying to sort it all out, I’ve exhausted my feeble brain.

I speak of course about the state of the industry. It starts with L. A. ”Tony” K, the MHProNews impresario, whose boundless industry enthusiasm doesn’t quit. Now all this, mind you, as we scrape along on an annual shipments level which in the past we equaled and surpassed in a single month.

Getting your head around that enthusiasm is hard to sort out. So many reasons why MH should be great but woeful results, that’s what is exhausting me.

Story Time

Let me tell you a little story. Sometime along the mid 2000’s, say 2006 or 2007, I was invited to join Urban Land Institute, ULI, a well-known and respected real estate trade association/think tank. It is populated by some of the largest and most powerful real estate interests, a pretty awesome “who’s who” of the Big Boys in real estate.

Inside Trailerville then were people who had come to our industry from the real estate industry and thought manufactured housing communities was a land use that should be represented at ULI. An MH council was formed and I was invited, along with 30+ others, to join and was frankly flattered to accept. ULI has a great reputation.

I started going to the ULI meetings and the MH luminaries were everywhere in the council. My consulting assignment at Fannie Mae at the time profited from my attendance as I was at the industry’s train of thought at the highest level. All good, right?

First Class

Now, understand something, ULI is not MHI or MHARR. ULI goes first class only, no Motel 6’s here. They meet at the very highest level venues, read this to mean “Expensive,” and invite powerful and well-known guests and speakers. Contrasting this with the MH world is eye-popping. If one spends an average of $1,000-$1,500 to attend an MHI convention, ULI seems to come in at $4,000-$6,000 per conference, a not inconsiderable sum for poor boys like me who peeled those dollars out of my own back pocket to attend.

I don’t really mention the cost of attending an MHARR meeting, as long distance phone rates are so low that the occasional MHARR meeting takes little time and virtually no expense. Networking is not really what MHARR is all about.

Lacking Candor

Back to ULI. I found most of the early meetings of the MH council, or whatever its name, a poor version of MHI meetings. While the intent was to foster an exchange of ideas and information from the very highest level of MHdom, the Big Boys were there, but they were all wearing vests so they could keep thoughts and information close to their vests. Even when we were to break for lunch seemed to be a secret. The lack of candid response from participants, who seemed to be going through the motions, disappointed me.

Here we had the greatest minds in MH, but I could gain better industry knowledge and information from the third string attendees from the same companies at an MHI meeting, at 1/3rd to 1/4th the price. I was beginning to waiver about my continued involvement in ULI.

Excited

Then, a ULI conference was announced, where the MH council was to feature a housing study by a prominent economist whose expertise was in housing demand. Whoa! Here’s something I could get my head around. Maybe after the study was presented I could relearn the words to “Happy Days Are Here Again” which in ’06 or ’07 I hadn’t sung since that 1998 post-HUDcode record of 373,000 home shipments. The best industry performance since the 1973 573,000 homes shipped, which had occurred when I was a young man and before the HUDcode.

The economist came, the lights went out, and the demand charts started to flow. Holy craps, Robin, get that song out! It was back. So I kept following the economist’s report carefully and he said the same things then we are still saying today: low cost housing demand, high conventional housing costs, factory built quality, yada yada yada, it was all falling into place, Jerry. Music!

But despite the obvious buy-in by most participants there, their choirboy gleams revealing, I had the uneasy feeling that, just as I do today, of an unfinished report.

Finally, biding my time, as I was as insignificant a participant as there was there, I screwed up my courage and asked the following: Yes, of course, I understand the demand side of the MH equation, but can you tell me, Mr. Eminent Economist, how your exuberant MH sales expectations will be financed?

What?

Huh? He was a housing demand expert. not a finance guru. He hadn’t the slightest idea as to how it would be done. Note that as you hear all the reasons today why MH should be kicking housing azz, that question remains unanswered for the most part.

I could see narrowed eyes around the room directed at me, the thought clear on its face; how dare you, you F’ing Azzhole, challenge Mr. Eminence? He just returned from Mt. Sinai with this report! I though it a fair question to ask, just as I do today.

In 1972 I came into the industry. By the time of the ULI economist meeting I had been kicked around HUDville 35 years. Even with my extraordinarily thick cranium, some knowledge had managed to creep in. By the early 2000’s I had seriously begun to question whether the 1998 shipments top and heavy decline thereafter was a “normal pullback” as had happened frequently in the past. Ah, it will all be back soon was the industry refrain. If I believed that early on, by 2002 there were clear signs to me this time was different, very different.

Not This Time

Working against the industry grain, my study of MH loan performance, the horrific losses suffered by lenders and their investors, got me to thinking the industry had real, long-term problems, from which recovery would be difficult, at best. Did I envision a drop to 50,000 annual HUD shipments? No, I was not born in swaddling clothes.

Further, and this was hard to grasp and accept, since the industry’s real volume emergence in 1969 to the 1998 top, the great volume the industry enjoyed was based on faulty lending losses by most lenders during that period, averaging close to 250,000 annual shipments. I then did the presumptive math on what volume might be with a rigid, but survivable lending regimen, and the numbers were scary low. Not as low as they got, but low.

If you don’t understand the preceding paragraph, read no further until you do. Every time you hear of glowing future prospects for HUD Code homes ask the predictor “How will they be financed?”

Huge industry volume subsidized by huge lender losses. It was an illusion, and it went on so long we all believed it would always continue. When I wrote about this early on in my Newsletter, “Marty’s News and Notes,” I can say the concept was neither generally accepted nor was my writing and lecturing about it well received. Let’s just say I was not the industry’s Favorite Son.

The Book

Fast forward to the present. I just plowed though “Dueling Curves; The Battle for Housing” by Bob Vahsholtz. This is a prodigious work, with the slant from a man well familiar with much of the industry’s early years and a home designer with great home building knowledge. His book is worth reading for the history lesson and for his ideas for reviving the industry going against the site builders.

I sought the answer from his book to my “How will it be financed?” and found in his multiple step program to improve the industry the following on finance:

Accept the penalty of chattel financing or leasing and use it to include such necessities as skirting and exterior storage. Repos should result only from family disasters and crooks. Even better financing – even from local small-town banks – will come with a proven track record. Good affordable homes need no subsidies. Earn a solid reputation from performance rather than waiting for the government to enforce its arguable notions of engineering and financing.”

Very little to argue with there, but will that guide us back to 150,000 to 250,000 HUDcode homes? Annually? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Phewff

Exhausted, Jerry, exhausted, I say, that questions just exhausts me.

Let’s be clear here, whether I was writing my newsletter, on my consulting assignments, at ULI or MHI, reading Vahsholtz’s book, or discussions with L. A. ”Tony” K and others, THE question which must be answered is to find a way to finance the demand for our housing, at a 150,000 to 250,000 annual sales level. The present sales level just won’t create a stable, growing industry.

So what is it that causes such low sales volume with such high demand? It is because a great part of our demand comes from a tier of people whose credit capabilities make them unfinanciable. Yah, Marty, no big secret there. And when we can finance some of our demand, it comes with a high tariff, an interest rate generally applied by Guido in his transactions These rates, often more than twice and even three times the present rate for site-builds, are needed to ameliorate our high default rates and high losses on defaults.

How?

Let’s deal with the most important reason for this missive; how does MH create demand that has a greater chance of being financed, assuming stupid lending money is not stage left, waiting to enter? How, indeed?

Sometime in the mid 2000’s, the industry commissioned a market study by Roper Associates to ascertain the public’s view of MH. Let me cut through the bull pucks, they reported they had never compiled a study where the industry had such a negative public perception. Oh, man, we finally were the best at something!

A lengthy industry discussion set in, mostly at MHI, meeting after meeting, innumerable committees, and finally a joint meeting with the RV boys to discuss the merit and results of their “Go RVing” campaign. The RV’ers were exuberant about their campaign and urged us in the strongest terms to do our own campaign.

The RV industry had a different problem than MH, just the opposite. Their customer demand came from buyers with good credit, they just weren’t seeing enough of them. On the other hand at MH, we see many customers, enough to fuel many more sales, we just don’t see enough customers with sufficient credit capability. We needed to find a way to get more credit capable people tromping our sales locations. The intent of the Roper study and the follow-up presentation was to lead to a campaign to induce more credit capable buyers to our stores. You know, a campaign to boast the image of the industry and consumer acceptance through increased positive knowledge.

Embarrassment

So meeting after meeting, discussions aplenty, and finally two outcomes, one embarrassing the other catastrophic. The first result was the campaign presentation meeting should have climaxed in a buy-in to move forward with the pros.

The initial presentation was hardly a finished campaign, but the MH Yahoos raised such a ruckus about their vision of what the campaign should be, that it turned into a bitching session of the first water. I saw MOBES who can’t spell “campaign” reaming the pros, turning into a bewildering babble of conflicting ideas. I found that in their other job, sales lot operators and LLC managers, carried out image campaigns, professing to know more than the pros, howling with authoritative criticism. The pros didn’t know MH. They, on the other hand, are the folks who brought you the 40-50,000 annual sales volume, so yes, they know MH.

I met one of the leaders of the campaign presentation after the meeting and he could only shake his head. Yes, not everything they had ever done for others went smoothly, but this was a different order of foolishness. He wondered why they had been hired, as the industry appear to have all the answers. Why, indeed?

Worse

But bad as that was, and yes I was embarrassed to see all of the negative comments I had heard about the industry from outsiders played out before me, the following was worse.

I don’t think I spill any secrets saying a small coterie of individuals run the industry associations. A cocked eyebrow from one of these Brahmins effectively ends any discussion. So the industry opportunity at salvation, already fleeting as all this occurred, tumbled completely due to the well-engrained industry principle, “never do anything that might help a competitor.” And the industry moment when there was still barely enough $$$ muscle to fund an image campaign passed, and with it the last of the passing life rafts.

Succinctly stated, so no one misses my meaning: The industry must find a way to attract a far more capable buyer to our sales locations, or what you presently see is what is likely to prevail. Chances are the image campaign train has left the station and another does not follow close behind.

Bear in mind that some people are prospering under the present scenario. Not too many, but a few, especially those with eyebrow power. Reduction of competition can be salubrious, even if it only consists of a larger portion of a smaller industry. I can only assume as the image campaign was eye browed down, people would know that, or at least suspect it.

No Mojo

So we now find ourselves as an industry with insufficient muscle to fire up any sort of campaign. Some have wondered whether social media or other Internet driven endeavors might substitute for the traditional media campaign we can no longer fuel as an industry, being a real block buster campaign driven by a $20-30 million effort, one that can successfully reach a broad segment of American consumers and educate them about the many advantages we claim for our housing, to attract those folks we so sorely need. Whether the vaunted Internet driven efforts can succeed, I have no knowledge, but I’ve seen no evidence it is being much attempted or positive residue therefrom.

Phone Call

Would it be that in 5 years someone calls me and says “Yah nana nana, you F’ing jerk. See I told you the ad hoc campaigns could work.” I’m not staying up nights in fear.

The years go by, the same silly things are repeated endlessly, about industry promise, the quality of the homes, the future of all homes to be factory built, the far lower cost, and on and on. All great stuff of course, but how do you sustainably finance 150,000-250,000 HUD homes annually? On that, which is the number one issue, the industry is remarkably silent. ##

marty-lavin-posted-on-mhpronews75x75MARTIN V. (MARTY) LAVIN
attorney, consultant, & expert witness
350 Main Street Suite 100
BURLINGTON, VERMONT 05401
802-660-8888 office / 802-238-7777 cell
marty@martylavin.com

MHGrassroots: A Call to Action

June 17th, 2014 No comments

As I sit comfortably in a 737 at 30000 feet coming back from a thought provoking meeting at the MHI Expo in Las Vegas I don't have to go in great detail on how the world has changed since 2001.

From how we fly, how we communicate, and even how we conduct business, it has all changed in ways none of us truly imagined then.

Every day I read more about how a government I have grown up loving, is making changes that contradict the core beliefs and attributes it was built upon. With that said, let's look at a few issues that have faced, primarily as it relates to the manufactured home market in the past 15 years.

In Texas we were asleep at the wheel in 2001 when House Bill 1869 took effect. I was but one of the many independent dealers who were wondering how this could have happened. I even looked Gov. Rick Perry in the eye and told him point blank that this bill would cost Texans jobs and would reduce home order sales, which in turn would force the closing of several fine manufacturing plants.

Unfortunately I and those around me were right. Even though the TMHA through a lot of hard work was able to have this poor piece of legislature repealed in 2003, the damage was already done.

I won't go into the specifics of the law itself, but I will say it was a killer from day one. If you have any questions about it, just Google it. I have heard the experts’ state that 85% of the independents who were in the market at that time were wiped out by this law and the recession that hit us in 2008. And guess what. Those folks are gone, probably never to return again.

So let's take a look at where the train came off the tracks.

We were too late to stop one train simply because we weren’t aware it was heading for the station.

If we want to be successful in the legislative arena we have to stop the bills before they get that close to the tracks. We, the industry as a whole, must be vigilant in being aware of any laws, in every city, county, state and federal arena that could negatively impact not only us, but the people around us.

This means we have to know, and have a relationship with, the people in charge. Governor Perry signed that bill even after I told him the truth. Why? Simple, he didn't know me from Adam. No relationship equals no traction. We have to build those relationships in order for our voices to not only be heard but to be accredited.

How was it fixed? A grassroots effort. From the ground up. TMHA called upon every member….who in turn called on every state senator and state representative to repeal a bad piece of legislation. And it worked! Why? Because the industry stood up as a whole, and worked together for the common good of all. I call this a victory for the good guys.

Let's look at another victory.

Last year I received a phone call from a landlord who was my ‘competitor’ in Plainview, Texas. I use that word competitor only because we are after the same pool of customers. I call him a friend.

Basically this city was in the process of creating a city ordinance which would require an inspection on every rental inside the city once it was vacated by a tenant. Never mind the fact that this would be in direct contradiction to the HUD code on a manufactured home. Every house, apartment, and mobile home would have to be brought back to current code if this law passed.

This would mean thousands of dollars spent to update every unit.

One unintended consequence of this law would have forced the citizens to pay rent in excess of three times the current rate.

Another would have riddled the city with homes to be demolished due to the repair cost being more then the value of the home.

Yet another would have been a mass exodus of good paying tenants to the surrounding communities which didn't have this law.

So how did we stop this calamity before it was passed like Texas House Bill 1869?

We showed up in droves. There was standing room only at every hearing. Meetings with every city official we could get and we killed it before it could even be heard by city council. How? It took one phone call from each of us who took the time to make that call. And another victory ensued.

So what does all this mean to you, the reader?

It's time. It is time to make a difference and make a call of your own.

I know you are busy, but don't blow this one off.

Dodd Frank and the SAFE Act are not going away. So what are you going to do? I am calling not only those of us in the industry, but all of us.

The government doesn't need us, but this country does. We are this country's answer to affordable housing. But if the people can't get financing for that home what good are we to them?

If you don't know who to call that's ok. Call your state association. If you are not a member, sign up. If you are a member, get active. Make a difference. You can. ##

shawn-fuller-d-r-housing-new-deal-texas-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-mhpronews-com-75x75-Shawn Fuller
D & R Housing, LLC.
New Deal, TX 79350

Appalled by Gary Rivlin’s New York Times Article on “The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U”

April 8th, 2014 No comments

As an experienced industry professional, former owner of a manufactured home, and academic scholar completing a dissertation on attitudes and perceptions towards manufactured housing, I am appalled by the seemingly acceptable exploitation of low-income residents and lack of corporate social and ethical responsibility conveyed in this article.

Gary Rivlin’s article portrayed Frank Rolfe’s business model and success as the standard for the affordable housing side of the manufactured home industry.

According to peer-reviewed academic research, the negative social construction of low-income families profoundly influence opinions of affordable housing residents (Nguyen et al., 2012).

Contemporary mass media and popular culture, such as Rivlin’s piece, contribute to the negative stigmatization through the depiction of manufactured housing residents as alcoholics, crack heads, drug dealers, wife beaters, sex offenders, and the mentally ill (Kusenbach, 2009).

While Rolfe’s tales of tenants “weirdness” certainly adds humorous entertainment to his lesson of exploiting the poverty class, the damage inflicted through contributing to negative stigmatization of residents is concerning.

Rivlin’s article is a prime example of media coverage that increases misconceptions through inaccurate and outdated information, as well as the omission of information about advancements and improvements.

I am disappointed that The New York Times would contribute to the unflattering depiction of manufactured housing residents and use of deprecating names (i.e. trailer) that reduce social prestige and contribute to negative social perceptions.

According to research by Mimura et al. (2010), accurate media coverage should use proper terminology instead of dated slang words and report truthful and unbiased aspects of the product.

Perhaps Mr. Rivlin should spend some time with one of the industry manufacturers and gain an accurate perspective of the product and targeted consumer market.##

lisa-tyler-walden-university-posted-manufactured-home-professional-news-mhpronews-com-50x50-(1).pngLisa Tyler
Walden University
lisa.tyler@waldenu.edu

(Editor's Note: A broad, industry based response to the Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U, which includes comments MHI's Chairman Nathan Smith and other industry veterans, is found at this link below.

http://www.ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com/sensationalistic-cold-hard-lessons-of-mobile-home-u-new-york-times-article-by-gary-rivlin-draws-manufactured-home-industry-ire-desire-and-fire/

The story linked above, as the second one below, have both been leading reads on their respective sites.

Reader responses to this topic or others of industry interest are welcomed at latonyk@gmail.com or iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com please indicated your topic in the subject line, thank you.)

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.)

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! )

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. )

Leading the Charge: The Back Story on S. 3484

August 8th, 2012 No comments

tim-williams-ohio-manufactured-home-association-mhpronewsWhen you get a key piece of federal legislation sponsored in the U.S. Sentate, how does that happen? We asked Tim Williams to answer that question, and here is what he told us in his own words.

“First and foremost Nathan Smith is the game changer (with the credibility and relationship) who advocated and led the industry effort with the assistance of MHI. Nathan, myself, Tim Williams of 21st and MHI’s Jason Boehlert as well as several other MHI key finance members initially met with Senator Brown in January regarding the industry’s concerns with Dodd/Frank. Nathan did a great job debriefing the Senator and his staff on the issue and encouraging  legislative consideration. It was clear Senator Brown had a good understanding and sincere interest in the issue and our industry even before the meeting started.

I was able to discuss Ohio’s strong MH Commission’s role in consumer protection under the industry led independent Ohio MH Commission (6 of 9 commissioners must be appointed per a list nominated by OMHA per Ohio  law). Senator Brown was very interested in the industry, our consumer and their protections under the Ohio Commission including the fact that 100% of all homes are inspected during three critical phases of the  installation process in Ohio. He asked many questions regarding Ohio law, demographics and industry businesses as well as the jobs aspect of our economic impact in Ohio and nationally. He was clearly engaged with us on the issue.

Tim Williams of 21st was able to succinctly condense a rather complicated issue in to an understandable dynamic all could grasp and wrap our heads around. Tim’s ability to take the issue down to its basic components was very helpful in demonstrating the practical  challenges facing the ability to finance Ohioans in to affordable manufactured home ownership. I am very appreciative of Tim and 21st Mortgage's leadership on the Dood/Frank  concerns and believe his impact on the legislative aspect of all of this is probably underestimated but nonetheless critical to our success.

I personally appreciate the effort Senator Brown demonstrated in understanding our industry and concerns as well as to brief us on the legislative dynamics of the issue. I encourage all industry members to thank Senator Brown and express support to his office in any appropriate manner.  He stood up for our consumers and industry on a challenging issue regardless of the pressures he faces in an election year.

tim-williams-ohio-manufactured-home-association-mhpronewsTim Williams
 Executive Vice President
 Ohio Manufactured Homes Association
twilliams@omha-usa.org
 O:614-799-2340
 F:614-799-0616