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Moblehome, not Mobile Home

July 9th, 2014 5 comments

Does it not roll off your lips? Moblehome. It has a certain rhythm and melody to it. You can say it as one syllable, and not sound like an idiot.

Moblehome, as in a noble home, not a mobile home.

At one time HUD code homes were the only manufactured homes. Not any more.

Man-u-fac-tured-hous-ing, does not roll of your lips. In fact, it is quite laborious to say, with six syllables and no rhythm nor melody. It’s antiseptic. Moblehome is poetic.

Mobile Home is 100% all-American.

I know it’s crazy and against the grain, but I was in it long enough to spout off about it.

Mobile Home should not be a four letter word anymore.

I started in the mobile home finance business working for GECC in Dallas, in 1971, directly for Harry Gilmore, who worked for Fred Wiesenberger, who worked for Scott Conroy, my maternal uncle. Sometime prior to that, Uncle Scott had convinced General Electric to create a “Special Products” division of General Electric Credit Corporation, now GE Capital Corporation, for the sole purpose of offering wholesale and retail financing for mobile home retailers on a national basis.

At the time there were few national lenders, all full recourse, and limited to 84 month retail installment contracts.

I was a mobile home account manager handling about 1500 owners. I managed anything and everything to do with the financed home (primarily collections) from point of sale to completion of contract or repossession, by phone or in person at the residence.

Anyone who was in the business in 1971 knows exactly what kinds of mobile homes were offered to the public. It was not pretty, and in some cases, downright scary.

We all see, on a regular basis, unless you live completely in an urban environment, the vestiges and remnants of the sales heydays of the early 70’s.

There are hundreds of thousands of trailer houses and mobile homes across this country, from coast-to-coast and border-to-border, still in use, well after their intended life span, all pre-HUD, half of them currently uninhabitable by today’s standards, a fourth of them uninhabitable upon leaving the factory, and a fourth of them, like Rollohome, built exceeding the HUD code before there was a HUD code.

The HUD code created a new nomenclature, which has been described by Allen Wallis of

the Natural History Magazine as having four phases;

  • from 1928 – 1940 the travel trailer period;
  • from 1941 – 1954, the house trailer period;
  • from 1955 – June 14, 1976, the mobile home period; and
  • from June 15, 1976 to now, manufactured housing.

Since 1976, we, as an industry, without exception, no matter what sector of the industry one is involved with, as a group, were on a single mission; trying to eradicate all previous terms when describing manufactured housing built to HUD code specifications. It is a valiant and endless chore, perpetually trying to reach the general population, and primarily, our regulators and legislators.

Yet here we are, in 2014, and I still hear on local broadcasting; “trailer,” “trailer house” or “house trailer” and “mobile home,” rarely “manufactured home.”

On national broadcasting, one hears mobile home, an occasional trailer house or trailer park, and rarely, manufactured home.

I see National, State, and County elected officials being interviewed, saying trailer house and mobile home, never manufactured home. Sometimes they will call a HUD home a modular.

I cannot count the times an RV has been referred to as a mobile home, whether it’s a trailer or a motorhome. Motorhome, mobilehome, what’s the difference? Ignoramuses! Are the FEMA trailers ever called anything but the FEMA trailers, even though half of them are HUD code homes and not travel trailers. I doubt you will ever hear, “FEMA manufactured homes.”

I am not saying we have failed, but we sure seem to have a long way to go, after already working on it for 40 years. I have called and emailed I don’t know how many TV stations and networks complaining about their cavalier use of “trailer house” for the last 30 years, although I haven’t called lately. I don’t work in the business any longer, but I do follow it and I do try to educate morons from time to time.

The fact is, the general public has not embraced the term manufactured housing and probably never will. HUD Code manufactured homes are called about everything but manufactured homes by the general public and public officials.

Not mobile home, moblehome, or if you’re nutty about spelling, mobilehome, but one word and when we say it, we are not talking about your grand dad’s mobile home, we are talking about a state of the art, preferred single family residence, blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying give totally up on trying to get the general population to say

manufactured housing, but it’s a slow boat to China. I personally like to say moblehome and I make it perfectly clear I am not talking about a trailer, although the steel is always there, so technically, it’s a trailer with a house on it that trails behind a tow vehicle at some point in its life.

At least we are not called come alongs. ##

ken-haynes-jr-new-mexico-manufactured-housing-association-past-president-manufactured-housing-living-news-com75x75-Ken Haynes, Jr. Please see his commentary on the literally historic and very relevant today document attached to Drawn Quarters – Then and Now.

 

 

(Editor's Note: MHProNews strongly believes that accurate terminology matters, so the thoughts and statements made above are solely those of the writer.

Further, there are points in this commentary that are broad statements that could be construed as technically inaccurate, and should not be taken literally, eg; “half of them currently uninhabitable by today’s standards,” should be read as hyperbole to make the author's point, rather than taken as fact.

As on an issue of industry relevance, MHProNews accepts submissions of articles that may represent other viewpoints. Subject line, “Letter to the Editor” or “OpEd for Industry Voices blog” can be sent to latonyk@gmail.com.) 

ObamaCare and Manufactured Housing, Take Two

December 19th, 2013 No comments

In Obamacare, a Different Perspective, a well meaning Texas retailer advances his speculation that through the wonder that is Obamacare, fewer of our housing prospects will be forced into medical bankruptcy and a typical manufactured home retailer or stick built homebuilder might enjoy an increase of five or six sales per year. I believe our Texas retailer is well meaning with his speculation but several factors are not included in observation.

First: Having Obamacare does not mean you will be free from a risk of medical bankruptcy. Given the higher premiums being forced onto unwilling buyers along with massive deductibles, the risk of bankruptcy has in all likelihood been increased. Although we encounter very few medial bankruptcies, most of the ones I have encountered are able to find a path to home ownership because the medical burdens of the past are behind them. Under Obamacare the misleading information that premiums would drop has proven to be one more burden on the current administration as it proves to be untrue.

Second: Employers have laid off workers, decided to cancel expansion plans that would have required new workers and cut back the hours of existing workers due to the regulatory burden of complying with Obamacare. I have lost far more sales in 2013 due to these factors than a hypothetical increase in sales might have brought about had Obamacare been in place at the first of the year. We can get the bankrupt prospect past that event in their life and onto a path to homeownership. I can’t say the same for a client whose hours have been significantly reduced to the point of not budgeting for a reasonable house payment or a client who has lost their job.

Third: This same client will now be forced to purchase a federally mandated level of coverage which is an even greater drain on his discretionary income. Lower discretionary income means a lower likelihood of qualifying for the loan.

Fewer jobs, lower income, part time jobs, higher outgo, lower discretionary income will most likely not add up to an increase in business for the housing sector whether it be site built or factory built. Off topic, but to this mix you can add the new Qualifying Mortgage and other Dodd-Frank rules that will further erode sales. We need to dig in and adapt the best we can to all the changing rules that are headed our way. I respectively suggest that Obamacare will not be a boon to sales as was suggested.

doug-gorman.jpgRespectively,
Doug Gorman
Home Mart
Tulsa, OK

The Customer from Hell

July 2nd, 2012 No comments

Every new home builder – whether you are a modular home builder, manufactured home retailer, community, developer, a stick builder or other kinds of pre-fab builder – has had one or more “customer from hell.”  Once you’ve signed the contract and the house is in process there’s little that can be done with one of these buyers except consulting a lawyer who will probably tell you to complete the contract you signed and forget them after your warranty period.

Easier said than done!

 

customer-from-hell-from-modular-home-coach

 

 

 

 

So how do you avoid these people in the first place?  It’s not as hard as you would think. They usually fall into certain categories.  The biggest problem you will have is turning one of these down if you’ve got nothing on your plate and you’ve got to get some work. 

Here are the types of new home buyers to avoid:

  • I need another quote:  This prospective home buyer wants you to draw floorplan after floorplan and quote everything.  You will never quite get it right but eventually they will give you the OK and sign a contract only to be your worse nightmare during construction because you “just don’t understand what we want.”
  • Selective hearing:  Having this type for a client is bad; very bad.  During the quoting phase, they only wanted you to lowball the price.  You got the contract but now they want changes that they say you said were included.  You didn’t but that doesn’t matter now.
  • The legal eagle: The threats are real.  Anything you do seems to provide a reason for your buyer to contact their lawyer.  Instead of talking to you about a problem they go to their lawyer first.  Now you have the customer from hell and the lawyer he rode in on.
  • I’m unavailable:  Have you ever had the client that can’t be reached when there is a decision to be made?  You call, you get voice mail.  You email, it goes unanswered.  Your texts are ignored and just when you are about to give up, they call wanting to know what the delay is.  Where’s the rifle?
  • Micro-manager:  We’ve all had this client.  I once had a buyer move a travel trailer onto the building lot and lived there while we built his house.  He was under foot and a master of questioning everything.  My subs hated him, my workers hated him and eventually I didn’t even want to go to the job site. 
  • Gossiping Guy:  This guy will speak sweet nothings to you when you’re face to face but will talk to all your subs and employees trying to get some dirt about you that they can gossip about to anyone that will listen.  You usually don’t find out about this until the house is almost finished and someone says something to you about it.  95% of the time, the gossip is false but the damage is done.
  • The bargain hunter:  Hopefully you will not sign a contract with this buyer until you call their bluff.  No matter what price you quote for the house, they claim to know someone who can build it for less.  The best response to this bluff is, “This is a fair price.  If you can get your house built cheaper, go for it.”  It is better to lose them before the contract is signed.
  • Never-happy guy:  Occasionally you’ll run into buyers who aren’t happy no matter what you do.  Changing their attitude can be difficult – sometimes impossible.  As long as you do what is in the contract, your conscience should be clear.  Their never-happy attitude could stem from a variety of things: maybe their very busy or afraid of being scammed by you or their simply shy.  Do your best and treat them with respect – the rest is up to them.

All of the above could be signals that you have a customer from hell. Spare yourself perdition's flames, and just say no on the front end! Do it before the deal is signed, so hellfire and brimstone don't come your way. ##

Gary Fleisher 
modcoach@gmail.com
http://www.ModularHomeCoach.com