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Posts Tagged ‘FHFA’

Finance Expert Dick Ernst of FinmarkUSA: introduction at Tunica Manufactured Housing Show 2014

May 20th, 2014 No comments

Editor's note. This public introduction was videoed during the business building seminars held during the 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show.

Note that the Speakers knew they were being filmed.

Dick-Ernst-Financial-Marketing-Associates-tony-kovach-mhpronews-com1

An exclusive interview with Dick Ernst is planned to be featured in our upcoming June issue. Dick moderated the finance panel at aDick-Ernst-Financial-Marketing-Associates-tony-kovach-mhpronews-com3 packed room of industry professionals at the 2014 Tunica Show. Dick Ernst also moderated MH home lending and commercial panels, in an overflow crowd during the 2014 Louisville Show.

Dick is a key figure in meetings with industry and public officials, including the CFPB, FHFA and more.

Dick-Ernst-Financial-Marketing-Associates-tony-kovach-mhpronews-com2

You'll get exclusive insights into the widely acknowledged top man in the manufactured home finance business, into industrymhpronews-interviews-with- finance issues, how to generate more profits and much more. Watch for it – and the. Watch it – in June!

More video Interviews available today are found at this link below.

http://www.MHProNews.com/home/industry-news/industry-in-focus/7540-global-eyes-on-manufacturedmodular-home-movers-shakers-and-news-makers

Our thanks to Dick Ernst at FinMarkUSA.com for his profit-making and protecting leadership for businesses, associations and others, and my thanks too for his kind words shared in the video above. ##

(Image and video credits, ManufacturedHomes.com in association with MHProNews.com)

No God, Jerusalem or Manufactured Housing?

September 16th, 2012 14 comments

by Michael Barnabas

You don't have to be Jewish to feel deep concern about what took place at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Responding to political pressure to put the word "God" back in their platform as well as to once again name Jerusalem as Israel's national capital, DNC delegates where asked to pass the motion by a 2/3 vote. The video I've asked to be posted below tells the tale. For those who question the commitment by Democrats to fair elections, please watch this CSPAN video and share it with others.

Once you've watched this objectively, everything else is spin and commentary.

Among the emails that come into me are from a White House 'group.' Some months back, there was an outreach by that White House group to the business community. The president, it was said, wants to help ease burdensome regulations, to make it easier on small businesses.

Excuse me?

How can we take such an election year outreach to small businesses seriously, by those who executed Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare?

Talk to an independent manufactured home builder. Ask them, with consumer complaints at new lows, why is HUD pushing more and more 'voluntary' – and other – regulations? Why don't we have the Duty to Serve implemented by the GSEs/FHFA?

The energy sector creates demand for factory-built housing, in places such as North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states. The current administration's policies, up until election year, were favoring gas prices of $8 to $9 a gallon for gas, as this video clip of testimony by Energy Secretary Steven Chu demonstrates.

While this next video clip has been pieced together, it reflects in President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's own words, a path designed to foil coal fired energy production in the United States.

Without belaboring the point, some believe that anti-domestic energy policies such as these were a path to promote green energy by making conventional domestic energy sources harder to come by. Such policies directly harm domestic energy firms. But they indirectly harm our industry, which often provides housing for those workers, especially when they are in areas with high demand for housing.

We scarcely hear about enhanced pre-emption for HUD Code Homes these days. Why not? Wasn't it part of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000?

Community operators created some 10 billion worth of paper to finance manufactured homes in their land lease locations. This was a free enterprise solution designed to fill the gaps created when lenders who vaporized – such as Conseco – went good-bye. But SAFE, Dodd-Frank and a plethora of other laws and regulations have so squeezed this 'captive finance' free enterprise solution in MHCs, that now community owner/operators are turning to rental homes in their properties instead.

Rentals?

Rentals in once all owner occupied communities?! The entire business model of community operators is being changed by the Regulators and their political allies who passed and fund those regulations. Shame on us if we let the party of Regulation be rewarded.

I'm appalled that some still want to believe in "hope and change," when we are heading "forward" towards a new fiscal cliff and a new recession in 2013. Some commentators already believe we are already back in recession.

How could we move "forward" by following the advice of those who gladly took Fannie and Freddie's PAC money? Politicians such as Congressman Barney Frank and then Senator Barack Obama? ACORN, community organizer Barack Obama and the Clinton Administration worked together to force lenders to issue loans to those who were not credit qualified. No doubt there were Republicans who colluded. Shame on all involved.

But it is gutless by Republicans to let the Democrats dish it out and not respond to such fables, blaming Bush II for the mortgage/housing meltdown when Democrats had a firm hand in the cookie jar that caused that whole fiasco.

They should call it the mortgage/financial services industry's version of Russian roulette.

When government interferes so massively in the free market, of course there will be unintended consequences.

But to falsely blame supply side economics for the mortgage/housing collapse is a creative lie or brutal ignorance. Neither the option of lie or ignorance are worthy of credence or support.

We don't hear much in Manufactured housing circles about how the run-up to the mortgage meltdown harmed our Industry. But it did! Easy qualifying, liar loans and the like created a false opportunity for hundreds of thousands of conventional housing buyers. A percentage of those buyers were or normally would have been manufactured home owners. As some manufactured home lenders about those owners who walked away from their HUD Code homes to get conventional houses during the run up to the mortgage/housing bust.

That put pressure on MH lenders and the MH market in general. As MHs where being left behind, of course values dropped, just as they have more recently in conventional housing neighborhoods plagued by foreclosures.

So federal policy harmed our industry in the early 00s, as thousands of our home owners left what become over-leveraged HUDs for what turned out to be over-leveraged conventional houses.

You can thank those politicians who made that happen to us then and more recently.

But let's not thank them by rewarding them with our support or our votes. That is like rewarding the thief by putting him in charge of law enforcement.

When politicians plunder the public treasury to fund with borrowed and tax payer money programs contrary to the Constitution and the public interest, it is time to end such madness.

Research I've seen indicates that some 44-47% of voters will vote for President Obama no matter what he says or does. That means the rest of us who are capable of a critical analysis and independent thought better show up at the polls and cast ballots wisely.

While applauding columns like the one on Voter Fraud, I was frankly disappointed when MHProNews published an interview with Congressman Joe Donnelly. Donnelly may be a co-sponsor of HR 3849, but he also voted for HERA 2008, which gave us the SAFE Act. Donnelly voted for Dodd-Frank. So while I understand the desire for 'balance,' I question the timing or "political correctness" of publishing the Donnelly interview during campaign season.

What we need when the industry is already in the lifeboats and are looking at possible new waves looming on the horizon is enhanced clarity, not confusion.

When even Time Magazine, Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine are publishing stories and OpEds that call into question or openly attack the Obama Presidency, MH trade publications need to be coming out loud, clear and strongly in favor of less government, lower taxes/regulations, a sane pro-domestic energy program and more free enterprise leadership.

The first pair of drafts of this article I was asked to edit and tone down. So this is the toned down version. I was also told that the editor would add a disclaimer and an invitation for responses. So be it.

Back to the top. Sham votes matter. They speak volumes.

Election year political posturing, via asking independent business owners and executives how to reduce the burdens or regulations matters too. It is the age old trick of seduction at work. We are being divided and conquered.

We are watching borrowed money and our tax dollars being turned against us to destroy the greatest economic system and the most free society in world history.

9/11 and U.S. Embassies ablaze reminds us why Jerusalem and God matters to America, and why that Democratic sham of a platform vote matters.

Manufactured housing matters too. President Obama stood in Elkhart, IN – an area where so many manufactured housing plants and suppliers are – talking jobs. Are there connections between all that is being covered in this column? Yes. They are just different corners of the same bolt of American political cloth.

If we sweep the current left wing crop of Democrats and RINO Republicans aside in favor of more free market oriented leaders, manufactured housing can blossom and grow again. All we need is a level playing field.

Some speculate that Ben Bernanke may have decided on QE3 – de facto printing money – to boost stock prices short term to help Team Obama win re-election. Whatever his motivation, the credit down grade cited below reminds us that the Bernanke/FED/QE3 policy is misguided. It will harm the middle class and seniors. Economic history reminds us that you earn, not print, your way to success.

“Ratings firm Egan-Jones cut its credit rating on the U.S. government to "AA-"

from "AA," citing its opinion that quantitative easing from the

Federal Reserve would hurt the

U.S. economy and the country's credit quality.” – CNBC

If we have supply-side Republicans in charge of the House and Senate, but fail to sweep out Architect Obama – the leader of our changed and hopeless society – we have not done enough.

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

26th President of the United States

For anyone who votes to re-elect the man who wants to move us 'forward' off the looming fiscal cliff, such a person could qualify as unpatriotic by Roosevelt's definition.

Don't let that happen. Half measures won't be enough. ##

(Editor's Note: All Industry Voices and other opinion columns, including the Masthead blog, et al, represent the views of those who write them. They do not necessarily represent the views of MHProNews.com or our sponsors. It has been our long standing policy to invite guest columns from people with opposing perspectives. You can send your own letter to the editor or OpEd column on a subject connected to factory built housing to the email address linked here, with Industry Voices in the subject line. Thank you.)

Post submitted by
Michael Barnabas

Reading The National Association

August 12th, 2011 2 comments

The Journal

I get “The Journal” monthly, the Jim Visser published magazine that appears to be the sole remaining print manufactured housing periodical. Others, including the much beloved Manufactured Housing Merchandiser, dropped by the wayside in the recent past, as advertising support fell off. Take HUD Code home shipments from 372,800 in 1998, and let them free-fall to some 50,000 in 2010, and that 86% drop annihilated much of an entire industry. We see the results about as everywhere.

I read The Journal regularly, reading some articles carefully and skimming others of less interest to me, but I look at all of them. Note that all of the writers therein are either executives at MH trade associations, or consultants. The tradeoff for the publication is a plentiful supply of written material for free, which they sandwich around their advertising. The writers, mostly consultants, get no pay but are happy to write the pieces to highlight their acumen in their area of expertise, sometimes leading to paid consulting assignments.

We also get some “infomercials” from paid advertisers. They buy an ad and the periodical allows them to write a “puff piece,” often nothing more than a glorified press release. No worries mate, The Journal is not the Wall Street Journal and no one expects it to be.

All the materials therein provide information, which is what advertising is meant to do. The reason Jack uses Enzyte after playing golf is that it makes him a “bigger” man. Informative, right?

Read the articles written by a number of the regular contributors in The Journal or an online ezine like MSMSM.com, and you begin to have a feel for the person or organization producing these pieces.

Trade Associations

As an example, both the manufactured housing trade associations, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) use the pages of The Journal and MHMSM.com to report their goals and positions on industry matters they deem important. It is also very obviously a recruitment tool for them.

And what can we glean from the decade plus of pieces there by the two national associations in The Journal?

The first thing we deduce is that MHI, through its last three leaders, strikes a measured approach to Washington matters. Being a collection of both home production and the dreaded “post production” segments, they come across as informed, conciliatory, and doing what they can to further the industry’s goals, as envisioned by a few large and powerful members, especially those who are heavy dues payers.

The MHI employee count has plunged in the last 10 years almost as much as industry home shipments, yet I do not notice that much fall-off in their accomplishments. This either says a great deal about the efficiency of the present crew there or the common occurrence in organizations to grow employees more than accomplishments.

On the other hand, MHARR has been, with a brief hiatus in the last few years, almost exclusively the venue for the HUD Code home producers. At MHARR “post production” seems like two dirty words. The HUD Code, the feared federal regulatory scheme of the late 1970’s, brought cries of “it will destroy the industry” before it’s taking effect. Since then, like the “Stockholm Syndrome” it has taken full control of MHARR, and their strong expressions in the pages of The Journal and everywhere else they’ll be heard.

One can only view it as a hate-love relationship with the HUD Code as interpreted, declared and attacked by MHARR’s fearless battering ram, Danny Ghorbani. Say what you will about Danny, he is knowledgeable about the HUD Code as no one else, and relentless in his pursuit of seeing it applied as he sees its meaning.

Danny’s problem, of course, is that not everyone sees it his way. I haven’t noticed MHI being quite so animated in its pursuit of “the Code.” Oh, I’m still waiting for Danny to complete the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000) Subpart I mandates, his 10-year quest I think as yet uncompleted.

Different Heads

Anyone who has read the pieces by the national association heads here at MHMSM.com and elsewhere will have the feeling that MHI and MHARR are very different organizations. If I’m asked which is more effective I can only comment that neither has been able to stop the regulatory onslaught nor marshaled a unified approach to correcting the deficiencies of the Manufactured Buggy Whip industry. Their efforts have all been in Washington, where they all live and work. Other than the “Duty to Serve” inserted into the GSE mandates, I’ve seen little or nothing which would sell one more home, which should be the aim of the national associations, not the ease of home production.

Blocked weather radios?

Well Hells Bells, Boy, that saved $40.00 per home! Look how that saved $40.00 spurred the sale of homes!

The industry has a whole news media constantly telling the public of the danger of turbulent weather towards manufactured housing. So the battle against weather radios comes off in the media as lack of care for consumer safety by the MH industry. Instead, the weather radio, perhaps not the best weather Paul Revere, could have been taken by the industry and used to show how much MH cares about consumer safety in a lemons to lemonade move. The industry might also have supported proper installation and anchoring of homes. Those moves were fought everywhere, including Florida, where anchors were slammed down our craw. Who was the first to take credit for the very fine job anchored MH demonstrated after the numerous hurricanes in Florida? You tell me!

Waiting to See

But here’s the article I’m awaiting to see in MHMSM.com and in The Journal, by both organizations: Here is a list of the items we have accomplished in Washington, and elsewhere WHICH HAVE LED TO THE SALE OF x MORE HOMES AND MADE THEM A BETTER VALUE FOR OUR CONSUMERS. Wanna see that one? I sure do.

Perhaps it’s unfair to pick on the two national associations. They are both staffed with good people doing what they think is right for the industry. Maybe our expectations for their results are too high.

Could it be these national associations exist only to create and support networking opportunities between industry players and to inform of matters deemed to be important or interesting as it affects the industry? Long ago I came to that conclusion.

The starkest example of the inability of the national associations to really matter beyond information and networking occurred during the period of 2001-2010, especially in 2004-2008, as frequent attempts were made to “restructure” the so-apparent industry defects which were destroying industry sales.

For a variety of reasons, none of the grandiose measures proposed, vetted and formulated in writing came to fruition, as we saw our associations have no ability to restructure an industry. Only the marketplace has that ability, and it proceeds to do so apace. Note that shipments through June of 2011 were down almost 12.3% from last year. Let’s face it, we blew what little wad we had in Elkhart in June of 2010 when FHFA, the GSE’s regulator, told the industry plainly: Our Duty to Serve (DTS) the MH industry doesn’t extend to chattel lending, as the GSE’s already have enough problems without getting into new and potentially troublesome areas, where they have very limited expertise. So much for Duty to Serve and all the homes it would sell through new chattel financing from the GSE’s.

Minor Success

The associations did help get FHA Title I (Chattel Loan) reformed last year, after the program was long time moribund. First year loan volume in 2010 was hardly encouraging, but OK, put that on the list as an accomplishment, limited as it is.

The horse has left the stable on SAFE, Dodd-Frank, other regulations and Super Consumer Agency. Both national associations are actively trying to reform major portions of the laws to exempt MH retailers and others from the force of the laws and their regulations. I suppose a strong selling point by the industry can be the straightforward reputation MH has for integrity in the sale and financing of homes. (Ah, they may have to back off from that one.) I think instead they are going to use affordability of our homes and limiting consumer choices as reasons to exempt manufactured housing from the new regulations. That event, should it transpire, should turbo-boost new home shipments! Right?

Wait a minute. Those laws, bureaus and regs haven’t been in effect all during the explosive industry dismantlement since 1999, so even if the above laws do not take effect against MH they will only reduce the slide, and do nothing to increase shipments. Whoops!

Communiqués Aplenty

Every month we read the numerous communiqués from both national associations. MHI seems the more measured with a range of information and an attempt to influence law makers and regulators with an effort to strike a balance between persuasion and facts. They do not seem to get much done, but then again, why should we expect the MH industry, a true 90 pound weakling, to get things done on SAFE, Dodd-Frank, and Super Consumer Agency when real powerhouses like the Mortgage Bankers and Realtors have had so little success. How, indeed?

Read one of the missives from MHARR and at first blush these beautifully structured sentences and paragraphs speak of power, passion, and a non-compromising attitude. I suppose the reality would be more palatable if not for the fact that this association is a loud-mouthed 90 pound weakling, but a weakling nonetheless. Their endless wrangling with HUD and others almost seems like that cartoon where Bugs and Elmer Fudd go to work every day, punch the time clock, spend 8 hours abusing each other, then punch out at day’s end and go home for a burger and a cold beer. It’s all a game.

And I don’t really blame the staff at MHARR, as they are employees who are guided by the officers and members of the association. It is they who foster this pugnacious attitude. If they have turned MHARR into a “wind them up and let ‘em pummel” HUD or whoever, it is because many in MH have this deviant thought that the “affordability” of the homes the industry produces allows them special prerogatives at the political table. What they do not apparently understand is that affordability of our homes is in the eye of the beholder, and in any event, loan defaults trump home affordability. The industry and their national associations make too much of “affordability” and the results show.

This would all be amusing, of course, if in the course of being a lobbyist, which MHARR is, it actually got things accomplished. Instead, we see a lobbying effort whose response from those they lobby is to roll their eyes about MHARR and call in sick when they are expected to visit.

MHI is conciliatory but gets little done and MHARR is pugnacious and gets little done. Maybe our expectations are too high for what each can and does accomplish. And certainly as shipments have plunged, so has the industry’s importance, PAC money and influence. Hang on to that affordability, it’s all we’ve got!

The Roles

Currently, as the MH industry press explores the roles of the two national associations and whether another is needed, or whether there is any hope the existing two could and should merge, I’m bemused by all the attention to this concern. (Merger you say? Sure! Fool me once, shame on you, etc.) The role of each seems clear to me. MHI is the broad purveyor of consensus and civility, calling on uncaring bureaucrats who do little for them, but meet with them. MHARR is the pit bull, knocking on D.C. doors wherein frightened bureaucrats lie prostrate, with the door well locked. Don’t come in! One tries persuasion, the other intimidation. Both can work in the right hands and proper hands, but the limitations of each, as it applies to the industry, is clearer than ever.

At the heart of the matter is that mortgage defaults and loan losses trump home affordability and consumer choice. No matter the strategy employed by the two national associations, talking home affordability has its limits. In fact I daresay it is not affordability which drove bloated 1990’s MH shipments and sales. No, it was transaction ease, that is, it was easy during the Greenseco era to buy and finance a manufactured home. Home affordability to a degree remains, but transaction ease left, with the results we now see. I’m not sure how the national associations can react to that, for in order to re-establish transaction ease, someone has to take on some massive chattel loan losses. Any volunteers? Danny? Thayer? Anyone? # #

Post by

MARTIN V. (MARTY) LAVIN
attorney, consultant, expert witness
practice only in factory built housing
350 Main Street Suite 100
Burlington, Vermont 05401-3413
802-660-8888
802-238-7777 cell
web site: www.martylavin.com

email mhlmvl@aol.com / marty@martylavin.com

 

 

 

 

Congressional Hearing on Federal Role in Housing Finance – Report And Analysis

September 16th, 2010 1 comment

MHARR logoBack from its Summer recess, Congress has embarked on a process that will ultimately determine – as soon as 2011 – the future role of the federal government in private-sector housing finance and the future role, structure and character of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs).

On September 15, 2010 the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises held a hearing on “The Future of Housing Finance – A Progress Report on the Government Sponsored Enterprises.” Although the “duty to serve underserved markets” (DTS) mandate imposed on the GSEs by the Housing and Economic Development Act of 2008 (HERA) was not addressed as part of this more broadly-focused hearing, both the implementation of the DTS mandate and the future availability of private consumer financing for manufactured homes will ultimately be at stake in this process. Moreover, the challenges that the industry faces in this process were underscored in testimony by both the Administration and the current federal regulator of the GSEs, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as well as in statements by Subcommittee members.

While the Administration has not yet offered a detailed plan for the future of the GSEs, and is not expected to do so until early 2011, Michael S. Barr, Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, reported on the steps taken by the Administration in response to the financial crisis as they relate to the GSE’s as well as the Administration “Objectives and Goals for Housing Finance Reform” – i.e., widely available mortgage credit, housing affordability, consumer protection and financial stability to achieve those goals. He then outlined several policies including the necessity for “clear mandates.” Specifically, institutions that have government support, charters or mandates should have clear goals and objectives. Affordable housing mandates and specific policy directives should be pursued directly and avoid commingling in general mandates, which are “susceptible to distortion.”

Follow-up questioning by the Subcommittee focused on who was responsible for letting the GSEs get out of control and what contributed to their collapse. Some Republican members alleged that the housing goals forced the GSEs to get involved in sub-prime lending and to acquire sub-prime mortgage backed securities. Democrats and Secretary Barr responded that the GSEs acquired sub-prime mortgage backed securities to increase profits and that the housing goals did little to impact the GSEs collapse.

Significantly, though, subsequent testimony by FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco, expressed reservations about the Administration’s strategy, stating:
“Recently there has been a growing call for some form of explicit federal insurance to be a part of the housing finance system of the future. The potential costs and risks associated with such a framework have not yet been fully explored.”

Without either explicitly endorsing or opposing such a role for the government, he stated three specific concerns in his testimony:

First, he rejected the premise that no private firm would risk funding a 30-year mortgage, “at least at any price that most would consider reasonable.” Rather, he asked “whether there is reason to believe that the government will do better?” noting that “if the government backstop is under-priced, taxpayers eventually may foot the bill again.”

Second, he stated that a government guarantee could allow politicians to favor some areas or demographic groups, noting the government “would likely want a say with regard to the allocation or pricing of mortgage credit for particular groups or geographic areas.”

Third, he stated that a guarantee would shift capital toward housing, which already benefits from other government support.

Discussion among Subcommittee members then addressed moving forward – with some Republican members favoring complete privatization and the elimination of all housing finance goals. Their view is that goals will distort the market and lending will be to higher risk or with less of a down payment.

Regardless of whether there is any such specific guarantee, however, and regardless of the ultimate nature of the GSEs or successor entities going forward, the original mission of GSEs – as embodied in and strengthened by the DTS mandate – to provide home ownership opportunities for lower and moderate-income Americans, was not responsible for the GSEs’ failure and must be maintained in order to ensure that home ownership remains available to as many Americans as possible.

Another hearing on the GSEs is slated to take place later this month. MHARR will continue to carefully monitor these hearings and take further steps relating to DTS and proper GSE support for manufactured housing consumer financing as appropriate.

MHARR will keep you apprised as new developments on this important matter unfolds.

Transcript of letter from MHI Executive VP Thayer Long to FHFA General Counsel Alfred M. Pollard

July 21st, 2010 No comments
MHI Logo

July 21, 2010
Alfred M. Pollard
General Counsel
Federal Housing Finance Agency
Fourth Floor
1700 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20552

Attention: Comments/RIN 2590-AA27

Dear Mr. Pollard:

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), a trade association representing all segments of the factory-built housing industry including manufacturers, lenders, community owners and retailers, appreciates the opportunity to submit formal comments in response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets notice of proposed rulemaking (75 FR 32099).

BACKGROUND

There is a long history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failing to serve the needs of the manufactured housing market. The possibility of establishing substantive liquidity for manufactured home loans is severely undermined by the effective monopoly the GSEs have on the secondary lending market and the lack of service provided to the manufactured housing industry.

Ultimately, this hurts consumers and those most in need of affordable housing. Congress recognized this reality, and through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA; P.L. 110-289), specifically established a duty for the GSEs to serve underserved markets, including manufactured housing.

Less than one percent of GSE business originates from manufactured housing. While the GSEs may purchase small amounts of conforming real property manufactured housing loans, they offer virtually no funding for personal property loans. However, since 1989 manufactured housing has accounted for 21 percent of all new homes sold in this country, and in 2009 manufactured housing accounted for 43 percent of all new homes sold under $150,000 and 23 percent of all new homes sold under $200,000.

In requiring the GSEs dutifully serve the needs of the manufactured housing market, Congress intended “to increase the liquidity of mortgage investments and improve the distribution of investment capital available for mortgage financing for underserved markets.” HERA provided further direction that the GSEs “shall develop loan products and flexible underwriting guidelines to facilitate a secondary market for mortgage on manufactured housing.”

Personal Property Lending

MHI is disappointed in FHFA’s proposal to “consider only manufactured home loans titled as real property for the purposes of the duty to serve the manufactured housing market.” HERA specifically provided FHFA the authority and direction to consider loans secured by both real and personal property in evaluating whether the GSEs are in compliance with their duty to serve obligation. Given the prevalence of personal property lending in the manufactured housing sector, FHFA’s proposed rule essentially disregards the wide-scale needs of both the manufactured housing industry and consumer, as well as Congressional intent.

A manufactured home financed with a personal property home loan is among the most affordable forms of homeownership as no land is involved in the loan transaction. Today, the industry estimates that personal property home loans account for at least 60 percent of manufactured housing lending.

The proposed rule indicated that with the GSEs in government conservatorship, FHFA is restricted in its ability to approve any new product lines, including personal property lending. While GSEs do not currently purchase personal property home loans, they have in the past purchased asset-backed securities collateralized by manufactured personal property home loans and have purchased loans directly from lenders for their portfolios. The GSEs cannot serve the manufactured housing market by eliminating the 60 percent of manufactured homebuyers who finance their homes using a personal property home loan.

The industry is willing to consider all facets of a responsible lending program for personal property lending that would give the GSEs adequate protection from loss, including:

  • Single-family, owner occupied, primary residence limitation
  • Fully documented income
  • Fully amortizing loans
  • Fixed rates
  • Fixed payment
  • Low prepaid finance charges and fees
  • Longer term leases in land-lease communities
  • Minimum FICO Scores
  • Maximum 90 percent loan-to-value ratio
  • Self-Servicing by lenders and community owners
  • Internal reserves for losses (self-insured)
  • Risk sharing by lenders and community owners

In its proposed rule, FHFA indicated there are questions regarding consumer protections on personal property home loans. However, there are various laws and standards, both at the federal and at the state level, that protect consumers receiving a personal property home loan for a manufactured home.

For instance, HERA included amendments to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), known as the Mortgage Disclosure Improvement Act of 2008 (MDIA). Regulation Z, which implemented TILA, was also amended to implement MDIA.

In general, TILA requires creditors to disclose the cost of credit as a dollar amount (the finance charge) and as an annual percentage rate (APR). To better protect consumers, MDIA broadened these guidelines by requiring lenders make certain disclosures to consumers about the terms of their loans. All loans subject to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) must include TILA disclosures. The manufactured housing industry applies the provisions of TILA to all loans where real property is involved as well as to personal property home loans. A number of MDIA requirements that now impact personal property home loans for manufactured homes include:

  • TILA disclosures must be given to the customer (by delivery or placing in the mail) no later than three business days after the lender receives the consumer’s application for a loan;
  • Closing cannot take place until, or after, the seventh business day after the delivery/mailing of the TILA disclosure;
  • If the APR provided in the TILA disclosure changes beyond a specified tolerance for accuracy, the lender must provide a corrected disclosure, which the consumer must receive on, or before, the third business day before closing;

No fees, except for a bona fide credit report fee, can be collected by the lender before the consumer receives the TILA disclosure.

Other MDIA requirements affecting manufactured housing personal property home loans include: the creation of a category of higher-priced mortgage loans; lenders must now specifically determine a consumer’s ability to pay and are no longer able to make loans on stated income; and, lenders must verify a customer’s ability to pay based on the customer’s income.

Additional federal consumer protections include the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act), also enacted as a part of HERA. The SAFE Act is designed to enhance consumer protection and reduce fraud by requiring states to establish minimum standards for the licensing and registration of mortgage loan originators, including originators of personal property home loans.

The SAFE Act’s primary objectives include the creation of a comprehensive licensing and supervisory system with uniform application and reporting requirements. All states are required to implement legislation that meets the minimum requirements of the SAFE Act. To date, most states have enacted legislation implementing the SAFE Act. The SAFE Act also directs the establishment of a nationwide mortgage licensing system and registry. Manufactured housing lenders are required to have their loan originators licensed and registered in accordance with the SAFE Act.

The industry is willing to engage FHFA in addressing its concerns with respect to personal property lending. Ultimately, MHI believes FHFA must reconsider its approach to personal property lending and approve this type of lending activity by the GSEs.

Manufactured Housing Community Lending

Unless a GSE has been engaged in the commercial lending market for manufactured home communities prior to the implementation of government conservatorship, FHFA’s proposed rule precludes the GSEs from developing new activity in this arena. MHI strongly believes the GSEs should be directed to purchase commercial manufactured housing community loans under their multifamily goals.

The recent slowdown in commercial lending has made it extremely difficult for owners of land-lease communities to refinance their properties. The ownership of a manufactured home sited in a land-lease community is one of the most affordable forms of home ownership.

In 2008, Fannie Mae’s multifamily loan volume through its Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS) program was approximately $33 billion. However, only $1 billion of that total volume was in manufactured home communities. Historically, manufactured housing community loans have performed well and land-lease communities offer one of the most affordable forms of homeownership for moderate-, low-, and very low-income households. GSE activity in this area is vital to maintaining the health of this sector and to ensuring the availability of this important supply of affordable housing. Additionally, we understand that the proposed rule now precludes Freddie Mac, who was actively engaged in preparing to enter the market by the 3rd quarter, has now curtailed these efforts. Fannie Mae has demonstrated for years they have been able to operate in this space, why should Freddie Mac not also be allowed to compete for this business, and bring this very important capital source to the market? This policy must be reconsidered.

Land-Home and Real Estate Manufactured Housing Mortgages

The GSEs have existing mortgage loan programs that provide for financing of manufactured homes. While Fannie Mae’s MH Select program provides for a 97 percent LTV, no loans have been originated due to the program’s highly restrictive nature.

These programs are very limited primarily due to the unavailability of private mortgage insurance (PMI) for manufactured housing. Private mortgage insurance companies routinely deny coverage for manufactured housing loans, or in a limited number of cases, coverage may be available on an 85 percent LTV loan where the costs of PMI are higher than for site built housing.

The requirement to have PMI on any loan greater than 80 percent LTV places a reliance on a private insurance product that is generally unavailable and has historically had a negative impact on the GSEs’ financing of the industry’s homes.

FHFA is urged to approve some form of self-insurance mechanism for the GSEs, similar to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance program, which eliminates the dependence on a private insurance industry that is not currently positioned to provide sufficient loan level loss protection.

For many years, manufactured housing industry lenders self-insured against credit loss and can provide valuable assistance in developing the levels of reserves needed to cover losses. This mechanism can also allow FHFA and the GSEs to address non-conforming loans in rural areas where appraisals and comparables are not readily available. We believe that a graduated premium, dependent on the LTV and the credit evaluation, is a model the industry can embrace.

Another underwriting issue relates to appraisals. Manufactured home appraisals occur in two situations: 1) a new home purchase that includes both the cost of the home and all typical installation and set up items; and 2) an existing home purchase where the home is already sited and ready for occupancy.

The unique nature of the manufactured housing land-home transaction has resulted in the need for flexibility in appraisal methods. The typical manufactured housing land-home appraisal requires both a market analysis and a cost analysis. The majority of land-home appraisals for manufactured housing occur in rural areas where little or no comparable sales data exists, thereby limiting the effectiveness of the sales comparison approach. There needs to be latitude for appraisers to determine whether or not the sales comparison approach, the cost approach, or a blend of the two is the best measurement of value depending on the information that is available.

Underwriting guidelines for land-home transactions should also maintain personal property characteristics for titling purposes. We believe that maximum flexibility should be provided to the GSEs in permitting lenders to select the lien perfection approach that provides the most effective means of default resolution.

Three broad categories of lien perfection for manufactured housing exist.

  • Home only loan transactions: occurs when a security interest is recorded on the title of the home and the home remains personal property and not affixed to the real estate
  • Traditional mortgage transaction: where the lien recordation and perfection is on the real estate and all improvements including the home; the lender follows the normal foreclosure procedures identical to those of site built homes
  • A hybrid of the two: the lender files a lien on the home only and records a lien against the real property as well; this allows the lender the option of separating the home from the real estate for both a quicker resolution towards default resolution and quite possibly a lower loss severity; this option provides lenders with maximum flexibility in protecting their secured interests

MHI recognizes the GSEs are in a weakened state and hesitant to make changes to their existing business models. However, Congress, through HERA, recognized a fundamental lack of service existed and specifically directed the GSEs to begin to dutifully serve the entire needs of the manufactured housing market.

The manufactured housing industry can appreciate the difficulty and uncertainty of operating in a stressed environment. New manufactured home construction has fallen 86 percent over the past ten years, which has accounted for 167 plant closures, more than 7,500 home center closures, and over 200,000 lost jobs. Most importantly, thousands of our customers have been unable to buy, sell, or refinance their homes.

While we appreciate the concerns raised by FHFA to ensure the GSEs remain viable economic institutions and that adequate consumer protections are in place, FHFA and the GSEs have an obligation to serve manufactured housing and the 18 million Americans that currently reside in manufactured homes.

The proposal to potentially eliminate personal property lending from the GSE duty to serve requirements not only fails to serve the underserved manufactured housing market; it fails to serve the larger underserved affordable housing and rural housing markets.

MHI looks forward to working with FHFA in the weeks ahead on these issues. If you need further information regarding any area discussed in this comment letter, please contact me at (703) 558-0678 or tlong@mfghome.org.

Sincerely,
Thayer Long signature
Thayer Long
Executive Vice President Manufactured Housing Institute

It is Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

July 20th, 2010 No comments

By Ken Rishel

Anyone familiar with the Captive Finance Newsletter knows I have very little faith in any government backed chattel finance program coming to fruition or, if it does, being the answer to the manufactured housing industry’s prayers. If it happens, it will only double the current sales volume and that is not enough. However, it is worth some effort to try to make it happen because doubling industry sales is an important thing, even if it isn’t the whole answer. While I still believe that owner assisted financing is the real answer, I am asking you to join me in a last ditch effort to help MHI in their efforts to make this thing work.

For those of you who don’t know, MHI made a plea last week at their Summer Meeting in Washington DC for industry members to email the government and their Congressmen and Senators asking FHFA to not ignore their duty to serve. Greg O’ Berry of Hometown America went even farther and suggested both at the MHI meeting and in this ezine that community owners and operators ask their residents to also email everyone explaining that the value of their investments in their homes would be adversely affected if government backed chattel financing did not come to fruition.

Because I am skeptical about this program ever emerging and because I am so focused on more complete solutions, I have not lifted a finger to help. I have however, come to realize that is the wrong attitude. Nothing is ever won by people finding fault, or not trying to make something work, and I now do not want to feel as if I did nothing when something could make a difference. This manufactured housing industry is something special, and all of us owe it more than we can ever repay. We just need to realize it, and pay up in some measure. I know that, because that is what has kept me running 16 hours a day while being called a fear merchant for the last several years, when I could have been on a beach in Hawaii watching my wife learn the Hula. I know it, but I didn’t act on it when it came to this issue. I am ashamed of my lack of action. To those of you who have already gotten involved, I apologize for my lack of action.

Perhaps it was Greg’s impassioned plea, but it struck me that all of us in this industry, no matter how cynical, could at least stand up and be counted on this issue. As a result, I am emailing everyone that makes sense tonight ( FHFA, Congressmen, and Senators) after I finish this article to you. My question is, “What are you going to do”? Will you make the same effort after reading this? Will you reach out to others and persuade them to do the same? If you are a community owner, operator, or manager, will you follow Greg’s lead and ask your residents to do the same? Will you stand up and be counted?

Ken Rishel of Precision Capital Funding is a leading expert in chattel financing of manufactured homes and in starting and running owner assisted finance operations. His organization was named MHI’s Service Supplier of the Year for 2010, and he authors and publishes the Chattel Finance Newsletter which goes out to over 9,000 people on a monthly basis.

GSE’s Duty To Serve

July 13th, 2010 8 comments

The decision by the FHFA to exclude loans on manufactured homes on leased land from their proposed rules to implement the duty to serve underserved markets as outlined in HERA will be financially devastating to existing manufactured homeowners. If the GSE’s do not offer loan programs for MH homeowners, the financing available to potential home buyers will be severely limited, costly or non existent.

We recommend that community owners encourage their residents to write their congressional representatives and let them know that the GSE’s exclusion of MH loans in land lease communities will be devastating to the value of their homes, significantly limiting their ability to sell their home for a fair value, thereby causing severe financial loss if the resident needs to move. The resident should suggest that the FHFA should treat a manufactured homeowner the same as a stick built homeowner and not abandon the support of millions of MH homeowners living in MH communities.

MHI will be developing a sample letter in the next few days for distribution to community residents. The deadline for comments is July 22nd, so we must mobilize swiftly if we are to get resident comments to the FHFA by July 22nd.

Greg O’Berry
President and COO
HometownAmerica

July, 2010 “MHARR Viewpoint” Reprint

July 6th, 2010 No comments

MHARR logoIn the MHMSM.com download area please find the reprint copy of the “MHARR VIEWPOINT” article titled “RESTORING THE STATURE AND STATUS OF THE MHCC” published in the July, 2010 issue of the Journal magazine.

A great deal of misinformation has been circulating around the industry regarding the status of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) and recent steps taken by HUD regulators and attorneys that threaten to turn the MHCC into an impotent and irrelevant forum akin to the now-defunct National Manufactured Housing Advisory Council (Advisory Council).

The must-read MHARR Viewpoint article details these ongoing efforts to downgrade the role, authority, functionality and independence of the MHCC, placing them in the context of the background and history of the MHCC as one of the centerpiece reforms of the 2000 law. By tying together the history and development of the MHCC as an independent replacement for the HUD-dominated, rubber-stamp Advisory Council, the column shows just how far recent changes have degraded the MHCC and the extremely negative impacts that these changes will have going forward, unless they are halted and reversed.

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com

ACTION ALERT -Action Needed by 7/22/10

July 6th, 2010 5 comments

MHI LogoContact FHFA and Congress Immediately to Request Modification of the Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Proposed Rule (Action Needed by July 22, 2010)

On June 7, FHFA released a proposed rule (Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets; 75 FR 32099) that excludes personal property lending in the GSE duty to serve the manufactured housing market. Click here to view the proposed rule. Specifically, the proposed rule would “consider only manufactured homes titled as real property for purposes of the duty to serve the manufactured housing market…FHFA is proposing that only loans titled as real property be considered towards the Enterprise’s duty to serve.” Click here for more detailed information on this issue.

In the proposed rule, FHFA identifies three key reasons for declining to include personal property lending as part of the GSE duty to serve manufactured housing, including:

A lack of existing business activity in purchasing personal property loans and, in order to develop a business in purchasing or guaranteeing personal property loans would require GSEs to develop operational capacities and risk management processes not currently in place

Extensive consumer protection requirements would have to be developed by the GSEs in order to ensure that personal property lending was done responsibly

Personal property lending is inconsistent with GSE conservatorship and would require too much effort to ensure safe and sound operations in this area

MHI opposes this proposed rule and urges FHFA and Congress to expand GSE activity in this area. Given the prevalence of personal property lending, FHFA’s proposed rule essentially ignores the needs of both the manufactured housing industry and consumer.

FHFA and the GSEs have an obligation to serve manufactured housing and the 18 million Americans currently residing in manufactured homes

GSEs cannot fulfill their “duty to serve” manufactured housing by ignoring 21 percent of the total housing market and manufactured homebuyers who are in desperate need of this source of affordable housing

More than 60 percent of manufactured home owners have relied on a personal property loan in order to finance their home purchase; it is exceptionally difficult to faithfully serve any market if more than half of it is excluded from consideration

The charters of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have always allowed for the purchase of personal property loans and the GSE’s have purchased Asset Backed Securities (ABS) collateralized by manufactured home loans and has purchased loans directly from lenders for their portfolios. Congress and HERA recognized this reality by specifying FHFA consider loans secured by both real and personal property in assuring the GSEs dutifully serve the needs of the manufactured housing market

Estimates indicate that personal property loans account for at least 60 percent of manufactured housing lending. Enhanced liquidity for new homes will help expand and stabilize the existing home market

Industry lenders operate responsible and profitable programs for personal property lending and follow all appropriate laws such as Truth in Lending (TILA), and the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act), as well as all appropriate state laws, however they have been shut out from a secondary market due to GSE policies; industry lenders can provide GSEs and the American taxpayer adequate protection from any loss

Action Needed

MHI members are asked to submit comments to FHFA (Click here for sample comment letter or click here if you have Microsoft Word. Comments must be submitted by July 22, 2010. Click here for talking points and background information.

Submit comments via email to regcomments@fhfa.gov (include “RIN 2590-AA27″ in the subject line of the email) and via mail (see address on sample comment letter). Please forward copies to MHI.

MHI members are also asked to contact their Representatives and Senators, via fax or email, and request (Click here for the sample letter or click here if you have Microsoft Word) that they do the following:

Contact FHFA directly to request the agency modify its proposed rule to require GSE’s consider personal property lending in their duty to serve manufactured housing
Contact leaders of the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees and specifically request FHFA amend its proposed rule; Senators and Representatives serving on these committees are especially urged to make this request.

A complete list of Congressional e-mail addresses and fax numbers is available at www.manufacturedhousing.org/government_affairs/find_congress.asp.

For more information, contact MHI Vice President of Government Affairs Jason Boehlert at jboehlert@mfghome.org or 703-558-0660.

Submitted by MHI Vice President of Government Affairs Jason Boehlert

MHARR Comments on Grossly Inadequate DTS Rule

July 1st, 2010 No comments

MHARR logoAttached, for you information, review and use, are MHARR’s comments in response to the proposed Duty to Serve Underserved Markets (DTS) rule published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – the regulatory agency for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — on June 7, 2010.

As promised earlier, MHARR has prepared and filed these comments — detailing the gross weaknesses and inadequacies of the proposed rule — as early in the comment period as possible, so that they can be shared and used as a model, basis, or support, as needed, for individual comments filed by industry members. Given the unparalleled importance of restoring and expanding the availability of private purchase-money financing for manufactured housing — to both the industry and its consumers — MHARR urges all industry members to file comments on this extremely important proposal. Comments are due no later than July 22, 2010. The Federal Register notice, available on the FHFA website (www.fhfa.gov), contains specific instructions for both electronic and mail/hand-delivery filing of comments.

In particular, comments are critically needed from retailers, community owners and finance companies that have first-hand experience with the current unavailability of consumer financing for the industry’s homes and the devastating impact this has had for the industry and consumers of affordable housing. FHFA needs to hear from community owners with vacant land-lease spaces they need to fill with homes that are primarily financed as chattel — but are excluded from DTS by the proposed rule. FHFA needs to hear from struggling retailers with willing, qualified buyers who cannot buy because there is no private financing. FHFA needs to hear from finance companies that want to enter the manufactured housing market, but effectively have been barred.

The proposed rule is as bad as it is — essentially tracking the demands, complaints and historical prejudices of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and anti-industry special interest groups — because not enough industry grass-roots members commented last year in response to FHFA’s original Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), allowing that proceeding to be swamped and dominated by detractors of manufactured housing. The industry simply cannot afford for this failure to be repeated.

The importance of the Duty to Serve, as a mechanism for expanding the availability of private financing for manufactured housing, is only underscored by the industry’s continuing and inexplicable inability to secure the full implementation of a workable FHA Title I public financing program. Notwithstanding a pledge by Ginnie Mae to lift its moratorium in the wake of the issuance of FHA June 1, 2010 Title I Mortgagee Letter, its June 10, 2010 announcement limiting future securitization of manufactured housing loans to those originated by lenders with a minimum adjusted net worth of $10 million plus 10% of outstanding manufactured home mortgage backed securities (MBS), will severely restrict its reach to only a very few companies. This means that the entry of new lenders into the manufactured housing market will be artificially and unnecessarily restricted, leaving consumers, retailers and others with the few limited choices that they have now, with little, if any, expansion of the current availability of FHA Title I loans.

The continuing inability of the industry to advance the implementation of both DTS and FHA Title I in Washington, D.C. (not to mention the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000) is preventing the industry and its consumers from participating in what should be a robust revival of the affordable housing. With many industry members in the nation’s capital during the week of July 11, 2010, the continuing unavailability of manufactured home financing — and specifically the inadequate implementation of DTS and FHA Title I and the roadblocks being placed in the path of both programs — should be the main focus of industry contacts with both Congress and the Administration.

Congress passed both DTS and FHA reform in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) to help the industry and its consumers. It is essential that the industry do its utmost to advance the full and timely implementation of these laws in Washington, D.C. in the weeks ahead.

Please let us know if MHARR can be of any further assistance to you on this very important matter.

Danny D. Ghorbani, President
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com