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Marking Our Growth Going Into DC

February 20th, 2013 No comments

deanna-fields-mhao-industry-voices-mhpronews-com-100x100-It’s been awhile since I played with the numbers…and it’s been awhile since we’ve seen an increase in shipments.5 years to be exact. So I thought you might like a copy of “Statistically Speaking 2012.” 

MHAO's Director and MHI Certified Representative Doug Gorman from Home-Mart, Inc., in Tulsa and I are headed to D.C. next week to champion our industry in Oklahoma and to rally support from our Congressmen and Senators for some relief on the Dodd-Frank, energy credits, etc., thought I better bring some fresh data!

Oklahoma is currently number 8 in the nation in manufactured home shipments. Here is what our association will be presenting as part of our meeting with legislators.

See this handout full size by downloading the PDF at this link here. ##

 

Deanna Fields
Executive Director
MHAO = Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma

Open Letter to CFED regarding Dodd-Frank and its impact on affordable Manufactured Housing

May 24th, 2011 No comments

To: Kathryn Gwatkin Goulding
Cc: CFED Federal Policy

Kathryn,

I am receipt of CFED’s newsletter earlier today in which praises were heaped upon the Dodd-Frank Bill and its related Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Analysis of the bill by numerous manufactured housing industry financial services consultants have concluded that without modifications, this bill could destroy our industry which is currently only hanging on by a thread anyway.

The Dodd-Frank Bill is far too typical of Congress’ meddling with our system with devastating effects on lower income families. While boasting about protection for consumers, the results of the bill without alteration will be to eliminate the availability to finance home loans lower than $78,000. Since our loans average about $60,000, more than half of our market will be eliminated. Those unable to get loans will be the ones at the lower portion of our client base. I don’t think these wanted Congress to legislate them out of the ability to purchase a home. Rather than promoting the infallibility of the Dodd-Frank Bill, CFED should be rallying to support the changes needed to protect the lowest income home purchasers in our nation. Just because they are low income, they should not be forced out of the ability to purchase a home. As I assume you are aware, our industry is already at the lowest level of shipments since record keeping began in 1961. Unmodified, the Dodd-Frank Bill will most likely destroy any hope for a recovery. The sad thing is that the death of the industry will not result from the Free Enterprise rejection by the market; it will be the result of an ignorant Congress legislating low income consumers out of the ability to borrow the funds necessary to finance their home. Of course, Congress did the same thing to the US light bulb manufacturers so maybe we should have seen it coming.

Please note the comments below in a column written by industry expert and Industry Person of the Year, George Allen. Please join our industry to encourage Congress to make the modifications necessary to preserve the ability of our lowest income homeowners to achieve their goal of homeownership. I appreciate the efforts CFED has taken over the years to protect low income families. Removing their ability to purchase a home will not be to their benefit.

George Allen–
Dodd-Frank Fallout. Geesh! This bill isn’t even law yet, and finance-related businesses are closing, simply to avoid having to put up with the more onerous of its proposed/planned regulations. Already, ‘former employees,’ perhaps even potential borrowers, are paying the price for what, to many of us, appears to be excessive regulatory reach into the financial sector. Here’s the plaint of one blog flogger (i.e., reader) writing to us this past week…
‘Dodd-Frank forced us to close our mortgage company in ___________ , and lay off several employees. Reason? Our capitalization with _______________ (a major bank) as our JV partner, was slightly in excess of $1,000,000. We were not a broker, but a direct lender, using the bank’s money. Under Dodd-Frank, unless you have a ten million dollar capitalization, you get classified as a broker. And as a broker, you have additional disclosures, the required language of which pretty much scares your customers away to a direct lender. So, we are out of business. Multiply that many times, in every community in America. An apt example of ‘the law of unintended consequences,’ as well as job and prosperity killing legislation!’ (lightly edited. GFA)

…the Dodd-Frank bill is maybe the ‘final nail in the coffin of chattel finance,’ where manufactured housing is concerned? Whereas the necessity of added fees will necessitate a minimum manufactured housing loan of $78,000.00, to simply ensure the return of basic and added fees to a chattel lender. And outside certain high-priced local housing markets, how many times do we see manufactured home loans, especially on resale homes, in excess of $78,000.00? # #

Thanks,

Doug Gorman
Home-Mart, Inc.
9516 East Admiral Place
Tulsa, OK 74116
800-364-4663 Toll free
918-835-0500 Office
918-835-8146 Fax
918-250-6867 Home
918-640-1357 Cell
doug@homemart.us
www.homemart.us

Editor’s Note: Please click here to read the CFED document.

The IBISWorld Controversy and the Manufactured Housing Industry

April 13th, 2011 3 comments

Exclusive MHMSM.com Industry In Focus Report

The March 2011 IBISWorld report that cited manufactured home dealers as a ‘dying industry’ has made news inside and outside of the manufactured housing industry. MHMSM.com has contacted a variety of Industry leaders and personalities from coast to coast to get their comments. On-the-record comments have included national association leaders, as well as professionals in factory-built housing from the manufacturing, retail, communities and lending sectors.

Messages, comments and calls to MHMSM.com from manufactured home industry professionals dribbled in at first, and then gained in volume as publications such as The Atlantic and Business Insider covered the IBISWorld report. As an example of mainstream media coverage, a TV station in Houston reportedly called a regional firm to interview them about the developing IBISWorld story.

Derek Thompson, associate editor at The Atlantic, penned a commentary that included these words:

“At the center of a perfect storm of boomer burnout, a brutal recession,
and a rapidly changing industry, the mobile home retail market
could be the worst industry in America. Here’s why.”

Photo from The Atlantic
Photo from The Atlantic

“If I asked you to name America’s least fortunate industry, your mind might go to record stores, obliterated by on-demand apps; or photofinishers, left in the cold as digital cameras turn Americans into our own photo editors; or fabric makers, where business is booming … in Shenzhen, China.

“But when it comes to unlucky industries, it’s manufactured home (aka mobile home) retailers who really hit the trifecta. First they missed out on the housing boom. Then they felt the gut-punch of the recession. Now they might yet miss out on the recovery. That makes them America’s fastest dying industry, according to a new report from IBISWorld.”

Paul Bradley with Resident Owned Communities USA (ROC USA) was one of the first in the manufactured housing world’s leadership to publicly respond to this IBISWorld report. Bradley wrote a feature article for MHMSM.com that analyzed the IBISWorld report. Quoting from Bradley’s analysis:

“The (IBISWorld) report states ‘demand is dwindling’ and ‘sales are stagnant because the industry is not innovating, and that sales are likely to continue falling in the coming years.’ They go on to say, ‘Manufacturers have made cosmetics changes to manufactured homes, but they have not been significant enough to alter their life cycle stage.’ The report puts MH retailers in the ‘Industry stagnation’ category of declining industries.

“Are you kidding me? These are ‘deeply researched answers’?

“First, the headline clearly comes from their marketing division as a means of grabbing headlines. The research is not about a dying industry but a declining industry segment – one of two long-standing distribution channels in the business.

“With MH shipments in 2010 at 50,000 or 20 percent of 2000 levels, it’s not news that retailer revenues over that period declined. On that data, I’m surprised establishments are not down more than 56 percent. It suggests that the segment has excess capacity and additional closings are likely.

“Most surprising to me is laying the blame at the feet of manufacturers on the issue of design! From a ground-level market vantage point, that’s misplaced.

“The industry’s great declines came about as a result of, first, an industry-created chattel collapse where the seeds were sown in run-up to the 373,000 shipments in 1998. The collapse, and the repossession overhang which followed, began the decline like a skilled boxer’s well-placed left jab.

“The right overhand came next in the form of aggressive sub-prime and predatory lenders in the site-built market. In that run-up, traditional MH buyers – who were harder to finance for MH as a result of the chattel collapse – were lost to site-built housing in an eerily familiar boom market.

“Dazed by the right hand blow to our collective heads, the left to the body that has people reeling now is the regulatory reaction – the SAFE act, etc. – to the clearly consumer-eating lending practices of the last decade.

“The results of this three punch combination are declines of the magnitude widely reported and felt, and like a good whack, the pain lasts a while.

“Innovation in housing design, however, is not the industry’s chief failing.

“For those of us in the community market segment, in fact, innovation in new homes is a small issue – not a non-issue but a mere shadow of the aforementioned home financing issue. In fact, we are seeing demand for replacement and in-fill homes but only where we are able to arrange decent home financing. People want more efficient homes and the cost savings with new EnergyStar homes can be dramatic based on buyers with whom I’ve spoken.”

(Editor’s Note: The complete analysis by Paul Bradley can be found at this link.)

Other commentary in the form of articles proposed for publication, private and public comments followed. Thayer Long at the Manufactured Housing Institute issued this email as part of his response:

“State Execs & MHI Board:

“A very well articulated response to the IBIS report from last week by Paul Bradley which was just posted on www.MHMSM.com.

“I’d also just add that the sentiment at the Tunica Show, the Louisville Show, and the expected strong turnout at the Congress & Expo and the Tulsa Show and York Show later this month certainly don’t indicate this industry is going anywhere.

“Tony/Paul – I hope you don’t mind me sharing. We’ll see you in Las Vegas. Thanks for your support.

“Thanks-

“Thayer”

MHMSM.com spoke with Danny Ghorbani at the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) and to Thayer Long at the Manufactured Housing Institute.

Danny Ghorbani stated in a telephone interview that his comments were not the official position of MHARR, but represented his own views on the IBISWorld report and related.

Ghorbani stressed that the IBISWorld report represented the “failure” of “the post-production sector of the Industry” [meaning, MHI] in “serving that segment of its membership.”

The MHARR official then referenced two previously published documents that do represent MHARR’s official position, which were previously published on MHMSM.com in August and October 2010. These MHARR Viewpoint articles called for ‘the post-production segments’ of the manufactured housing industry to form their own national association; a thinly veiled vote of no-confidence from MHARR towards MHI.

MHMSM.com spoke extensively with Thayer Long at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). The typically soft-spoken Long was quick to respond.

Long was at times tongue-in-cheek, at other points direct in his comments about the IBISWorld report and Ghorbani’s often pointed comments on the matter. It should be stressed that Long’s comments, which follow, should be viewed as his own, and not necessarily reflective of the official view of MHI.

In an exclusive interview with MHMSM.com, Long shared the following thoughts:

Thayer Long:
“If it is a dying industry, then ok, then I guess I quit! And if Danny wants to blame it on us [MHI], okay, what else is new? … I am still struggling to figure out what he (Danny Ghorbani) is doing right now. Name one thing that he has accomplished … in the past three years? What has he accomplished…? I would love for you to think about that and get back to me. What has he accomplished? We [MHI] win and lose some battles. But at least we try. We have accomplished some things. Except, except, except… [MHARR]…nothing….

READ THE FULL INDUSTRY IN FOCUS REPORT

IBIS Report and the Manufactured Housing Retailer’s Future

April 10th, 2011 1 comment

Having spent 40 years in the industry, I have experienced every down cycle the industry has had since they started keeping records in 1961. After a peak nationally of almost 600,000 units in 1973, we suffered a dramatic plunge that was felt the most in the Southeast where I was located at the time. I relocated to Oklahoma in the 1980s and endured a drop in shipments from about 13,000 homes in 1983 to about 350 or so in 1988. Shipments again took a hit in the early 1990s as lending became almost nonexistent. The current down cycle began after a peak of nearly 373,000 shipments nationally in 1998 and has fallen below 50,000, which is lower than when the record keeping began in 1961. 

I certainly do not have the credentials to refute the recent IBIS report that labeled the manufactured housing industry as being on the verge of extinction. I also approach the subject with some trepidation as I majored in Marketing and I am keenly aware that most of the buggy whip manufacturers are no longer in business. In order to accept the results of the report from a market demand stand point, we would have to arrive at the conclusion that the demand for new homes priced below $70-100 a square foot will become no longer significant. We would also have to accept that this disappearance of market demand will occur as down payment requirements are poised to increase to perhaps 20% while terms may be reduced to as low as 15 years. In the face of enormous down payment requirements and shortened terms for repayment, suddenly prospective home buyers are going pass over housing opportunities in the $20 to $40 per square foot category? 

We would also have to accept that demand for homes that can be titled without real estate will disappear. Suddenly no one will want to allow their kids or other family members to place a home on family land without encumbering the real property?

We would finally have to believe that no one living in a manufactured home community would have an interest in upgrading their home, and the communities would have no potential for new residents. 

I read Paul Bradley’s feature article in response to the IBIS report here in MHMSM.com. I share Paul’s optimism that a possible result of increased requirements for site-built housing may shift more buyers to the manufactured housing market.

We have had to endure ongoing discrimination of the allocation of lending resources even when the Duty to Serve language is rewritten to specifically cite manufactured housing. As a retailer, I do not see any shortage of willing buyers for the homes that we build. We do experience a series of problems related to recent acts foisted upon us by the federal government. 

I observed in a LinkedIn comment earlier that our industry trade organization, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is constricted by the composition of their membership from assuming the role of a being a strong advocate for individual industry divisions. Retailers would have to form an independent organization dedicated to retailers in order to have someone in Washington, DC truly going to bat on all the issues that retailers face. I don’t see the numbers or the money being there for that to happen. In the mean time, we accept MHI with its wrinkles, knowing that the diversity of the membership does not allow for the extreme dedication to our needs that we would like to have. 

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulation and Reform (MHARR) serves in that capacity for independent manufacturers and manufacturers need that dedicated representation as they have many issues affecting them that are completely unknown to other industry segments. 

Another theory being floated by some industry members is that a conspiracy is in play to undermine the effectiveness that the HUD Code provides and bring about its demise. If that theory is true and if the conspirators have enough influence, market demand will not matter. I am not smart enough to know whether or not a conspiracy exists to destroy our industry. I would say that if it does exist, it is experiencing reasonable success. 

We do face very difficult times as an industry. I have quipped on more than one occasion in the past few years that “absence of stress is death…and I am very much alive.”

As an industry, we have taken a beating for the last twelve years. Some of that has been our own doing and some from lack of fairness by government actions or inactions. If a conspiracy does in fact exist, I am too small a player to have much impact on stopping it. Absent a conspiracy, our company plans to move forward and provide our clients with great values in housing and outstanding customer service. Hopefully our industry can see itself through the balance of any remaining down turn and see an increase in shipments in the years ahead. 

I was privileged to be invited to return to Georgia last summer to speak at the industry’s annual state convention. Given my 40 years in the industry, I was able to reflect back to 20% rates with no less than 10% down and no ability to finance land or improvements. I titled my presentation after Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

And indeed it is. # #

by Doug Gorman

Doug Gorman owns Home-Mart in Tulsa OK, and is perhaps the most award wining retailer in the U.S. today.  He has served the Industry on the state and national levels, including as Show Chairman for the Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa.  You can read his Cup of Cocoa with Doug Gorman at this Link. Contact Doug at doug@homemart.us