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Posts Tagged ‘housing’

A Texan’s MH Industry Call to Action

April 8th, 2015 No comments

As they say on television, “we now interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you late breaking news.” In this case we shift from our primary focus on the Texas Legislative Session to news coming out of our nation’s Capital.

The government affairs team and leadership of MHI has informed TMHA that H.R. 650 is expected to come to the House floor next Tuesday, April 14, for a vote. Following my comments is the call to action from MHI’s chairman on this critical piece of legislation.

Let me quickly update everyone on what has recently occurred in D.C. On March 25 H.R. 650 was voted out of the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 43-15. Notably of the 43 votes in favor of the bill, 10 were from Democrats further demonstrating this bill’s bi-partisan support.

We were thrilled to see Texas Congressman Williams, Marchant and Hinojosa all add their names as co-sponsors to the bill. Additionally, subcommittee chairman Rep. Naugerbuer and chairman Hensarling, both also from Texas, spoke during the committee hearing voicing strong support for H.R. 650.

So far so good, but then late last week an article was published that was clearly intended to cast harmful aspersions on specific companies in our industry. This effort was a joint project of The Seattle Times and the Center for Public Integrity. One could conclude by the timing of this article following the successful passage of H.R. 650 from committee, but before it is brought to the full House floor for a vote is, shall we say, less than coincidental.

Welcome to the NFL.

Like hand-to-hand combat…no one ever said passing federal legislation is easy, nor is it for the faint of heart.

This is why we are passing on Nathan Smith’s/MHI’s call to action between now and next Tuesday. We need to make sure we contact as many of our congressional leaders in the House to voice our support for H.R. 650.

For this legislation to become law it has to pass the House and Senate, and then not be vetoed by the President. Passing the House is a critical leg of this three legged stool we must construct.

What’s at stake in this legislation?

Would you like to once again be able to assist your customers through the buying process?

Do you think it will benefit MH home owners – and thus referrals from those home owners – for them to be able to get access more financing on homes under 20K or 25K?  Then ask for support for this bill.

Would you like to actually tell customers which lenders will even consider their credit application rather than pointing them to a lender list and when they ask for help have to shrug your shoulders and leave your customer adrift to figure it all out on their own?

Would you like to see lenders re-enter the lending space for homes under $25,000?

Would you like to be able to assist customers to navigate the lending application process, especially those customers who may need assistance from a bi-lingual salesperson or retailer?

Would you like to conduct your retail selling operations focused on best serving your customers and not be in constant worry that you or your salesperson might have slipped up ever so slightly and crossed over some unclear line during the course of a conversation that can leave you exposed to liability for years?

I’d ask you to think about these questions when you are deciding if you want to spend your valuable time contacting your congressman and encouraging others you know in the industry to contact theirs.

The clock is ticking.

We need to all come together as a unified and strong industry to voice our support for H.R. 650. Our opposition is fiercely attacking this bill and our industry by working against us in D.C., leveraging media plays, and we anticipate attempting to file damaging amendments on the floor intended to splinter support and neuter the needed changes in the bill.

This is a critical time. Thank you. ##

dj-pendleton-mhpronews-com-executive-director-texas-manufactured-housing-association-DJ Pendleton
Executive Director, TMHA

 

Published with Permission. The message referenced from Nathan Smith is linked here.

 

 

More – Atta Boys! – for 5th Anniversary Celebration

October 19th, 2014 No comments

(Editor's note: we continue to get comments like the one below or those shared on the home featured article from a wide variety of industry leaders regarding the 5th Anniversary celebration of the launch of MHProNews.com. What follows is one of several, we'll plan to share more in the days ahead. Yours comments and suggestions – private or for publication – are welcome too. As always, guest columns on other topics relevant to the factory- built home industry, are welcome. )

If the MH industry and its suppliers are to survive, grow or even prosper in the future – it needs a clear, honest, unbiased and reality based opportunity to have real-time information and ideas to stay relevant.

Five years ago, Tony Kovach created his online business' e-trade journal with the primary objective of contributing to the success of this industry. With over 200 clients that I have worked with in this industry since 1990, I have learned that many of the resources these organizations have available to them have been politically or self-interest motivated.

Tony’s business model for MHProNews and the new MHLivingNews are unique – he has had one objective for five years – to contribute to the success of every organization that serves this industry.

Timely and relevant news, tips and commentary from a wide variety of sources makes that goal possible.

Keep up the great work Tony with your team of writers and associates – we all need your creativity, integrity and effort. ##

tim connorTim Connor, CSP

Global sales and management speaker and trainer

mhpronews-5th-anniversary-celebration-manufactured-housing-professional-news-

Click here to read more 5th Anniversary comments from MH Industry leaders and players.

Reply to Danny Ghorbani’s, “Sobering Wake Up Call…” – “MHARR Report and Analysis “

August 14th, 2014 2 comments

(Editor's note, the following is in reply to a public message sent from Danny Ghorbani's email at MHARR, linked here, that was critical of Bill Matchneer, JD, and some recent HUD action. Since the factory named had the issue corrected, that plant's name was edited out.  Other views are welcome.)

Plants are certified (licensed to build homes) by HUD based on the strength of their quality control (QC) programs. That’s what the regs say and that’s always been the practice. All I did was make sure plants continued to maintain the level of QC the regs require and let them know that HUD could suspend or revoke the certification if the QC falls below a certain point.

This change in program emphasis was motivated by a series of homes that was shipped from a ——– plant in California with no flue connections. Several families were nearly asphyxiated. The only real complaints came from Danny.

I mostly got compliments and thanks from manufacturers who not only saw real improvements in their products but in employee morale as well.

MHI knows it’s the right way to go, as does Pam Danner, with whom I’ve had several conversations on the subject. ##

Bill-Matchneer-mhpronews-com-75x75Bill Matchneer

(Editor's Note, you can see our latest interview A Second Cup of Coffee withBill Matchneer,” at the link shown.)

Exhaustion Sets In

August 8th, 2014 1 comment

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

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

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

Story Time

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

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

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

First Class

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

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

Lacking Candor

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

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

Excited

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

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

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

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

What?

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

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

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

Not This Time

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

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

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

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

The Book

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

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

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

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

Phewff

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

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

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

How?

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

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

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

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

Embarrassment

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

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

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

Worse

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

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

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

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

No Mojo

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

Phone Call

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

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

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

“A Home Is a Home” Conversation Starter

August 5th, 2014 No comments

From time to time, it is healthy to have a conversation about the best way we can move forward in a changing world, and in doing so, think through some potential long term goals and aspirations. If we do not at least have those conversations and think these sorts of ideas through, then we are guaranteed that nothing changes.

What follows are simply conversation starters based on my personal observations, no more and no less. They represent no more than my own thoughts.

To quote the American political philosopher, Robert Nozick, “My thoughts do not aim for your assent – just place them alongside your own reflections for a while.” In that spirit, I would offer the following ideas for our industry in Virginia:

Elimination of titles for manufactured homes — While we have been quite successful in cleaning up titling in Virginia, we should have a conversation about the continued long-term need for titles for manufactured homes. We sell homes, not cars, and as such, we should think about how to find a way to convey ownership and perfect personal property security interests in a way that reflects that fact, and in doing so, simplify the process for manufactured homes that are sold as real property. To be sure, doing this would require a viable alternative method of securing personal property interests in manufactured homes. Without such an alternative, elimination of vehicle titles for manufactured homes cannot happen.

Elimination of zoning discrimination against manufactured housing — We need to think about ways to eliminate zoning discrimination against manufactured housing in Virginia. A home is a home.

Being clear about what makes us who we are — We need to be clear that we are simply a mode of construction, just like our site-built friends and our colleagues in the apartment industry. Things beyond that distinction do not define us, and we should not let them. We are not a niche or boutique industry. We are no different than our site-built friends. We are not better, nor are we worse. We build homes, many times in a more efficient manner than many of our competitors. We sell those homes. We lease those homes and the land they are on. That is no more and no less than anyone else in the housing industry.

Embracing our diversity — We should embrace the diversity that characterizes various forms of factory built housing, and in doing so, make sure that we do not allow regulators and others to play us all off against one another. We all should support equity in zoning (a home is a home); all of our homes are well-built. We should, however, also be open about the various styles of construction and what distinguishes them.

Positioning ourselves for a changing development patterns — We should have a conversation about how we position ourselves in a nation that is becoming more urban and suburban and less rural with each passing day. For example, one trend in redevelopment is the use of mixed -use, mixed-income planned unit developments. Our homes (both manufactured and modular) offer the perfect solution for a number of the residential components of these types of neighborhoods at a cost per-square-foot and at a level of quality that allows us to compete favorably with our site-built competitors. But we need to make sure we have the right regulatory and marketing framework in place.

Again, these are just conversation starters. Nothing more. Nothing less. As always, I welcome your thoughts. ##

tyler-craddock-executive-director-virginia-manufactured-and-modular-housing-associationBy Tyler Craddock, Executive Director, VAMMA.

(Editor's note: while this first appeared in VAMMA's publication, the suggestion was made that this has value well beyond their borders. Conversations are needed in the industry, this has some important topics to consider! Published here with Tyler's expressed permission.)  

“What’s Happened to the HUD Code Manufactured Home Industry?”

July 9th, 2014 No comments

Many years ago, a famous Movie Cowboy, Mayor of Beverly Hills, Editor of the Saturday Evening Post and Entertainer, Will Rodgers said, “If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?”

Manufactured housing has seen its media image perpetuated and the public perception remains consistently tarnished for quite some time. The HUD Code manufactured home (MH) appears too often to be viewed by government, Realtors  ® and the public as not being desirable. The MH Industry has seen its home production decline and new MH Communities (MHCs) have declined as well. Many of these existing communities are tired with no “Innovation” or “Cool” factor for prospects.

On this date in 2014, along comes the “Tiny House,” a version of the factories “RV Park model.”

The “Tiny House” is less than 400 square feet. It sits on a trailer frame; it has wheels and a hitch. It appears to be of the same type of construction as a RV Park Model or a small HUD Code manufactured home. Media professionals like “Tiny Houses” for stories and about those who live in them. See example below.

tiny-houses-steven-lefer-industry-voices-posted-mhpronews-com

Wow, the media’s attention is so positive to the “Tiny House” that it far exceeds that of the old and tired HUD Trailer/Mobile Home industry. TV shows with Bob Vila endorse it and A+E TV Network will begin showing “Tiny House Nation” July 9, 2014 at 10 ET/11PT on their home product.

The articles point to how “Cute” and functional this small single wide home is; and how they even have a “Cool,” “Hip” factor with “NO” negative publicity. It's astonishing. These homeowners and their tiny houses brag about the size and in some cases folks live in 120 square feet, which is no bigger than a backyard shed. A woman in the article below left a MHPark to live one, ouch!

I understand “Four Lights Tiny House Company” will be attempting to build a “Village” for people to live in a community of them. What? How? Is this not an RV Community? If you are part of the HUD Code Manufactured Home Industry, I am sure you are not aware of this image change nor have the leaders of the industry addressed or invited these competing folks to their convention. Are they part of the HUD Industry or do they prefer NOT to be? It sure makes me wonder?

credit-tiny-house-nation-series-graphic-Wednesday-july-9-10et-11pt-

Image credit FYI.TV

Here are three links for you to ponder!

http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/ae-lifestyle-network-fyi-sets-first-slate-launch-date/

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/12/31/2857011/bette-presley-arroyo-grande-house.html

http://www.bobvila.com/articles/tiny-house-village/

Where and what happened to the HUD Code Manufactured Home Industry? ##

steve-leflervicepresident-modular-lifestyles-industry-voices-mhpronews-com75x75-Steven Lefler
Vice President
Modular Lifestyles, Inc.
(888) 437-4587
Dual DRE and HCD Salesperson
Advanced Green Building Professional
CEC Solar Wind Retailer/Installer

http://www.modularlifestyles.com

(First image supplied by Steve Lefler)

(Editor's Note: MHProNews strongly believes that accurate terminology matters, and as was noted with Ken Haynes' Industry Voices guest column today, 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, was used as hyperbole and thus depending on the context, should not be taken literally. Steve Lefler well knows about the recent positive press from CBS News or the Boston Globe, among others, touting the value of today's manufactured home.

Those who know Lefler's noteworthy work in net-zero and near-off-the-grid factory built homes makes him a pioneer, and that has lead him to a level of what might politely be described as frustration with the industry-at-large and its leaders for not promoting our factory-built home product, as his column above suggests.

As a recent Masthead blog post – Manufactured Housing's Declaration of Independence – underscored, market facts tell us our industry ought to be booming.

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

About “The Lost Decade,” Revisiting and Advancing

June 19th, 2014 No comments

I think it’s good to set goals and to sometimes make them higher than we think are obtainable. My main question in response to Ross Kinzler's OpEd,

http://www.mhpronews.com/blogs/industryvoices/the-lost-decade-isnt-over-until-we-say-it-is/

…is to say that it may be take longer to get back to 200,000+ shipment levels, even with a good marketing support plan. Steady 5 to 10% annually for the next few years is doable. After that, it could be accelerated. That said, it would be wonderful if Ross is correct on how quickly we could recover.

From an advertising standpoint, Ross is absolutely correct. The dollars invested should be an unavoidable business expense such as floorplan, lot lease, utilities.

The basic rules of marketing is that 5% of gross sales should be reinvested in advertising your product. This is a minimum number and a proven business management principal.

Our industry's history dictates that if you’re not profitable you don’t advertise. That’s like saying that we won't pay the utility bill this month if we are not profitable.

Where would monster.com, google.com or godaddy.com be today without their Super Bowl Advertisements. Would we recognize any of the three names otherwise? But now they are all house hold words, because they marketed themselves.

That not to say we need to do Super Bowl ads but we do need to follow time proven business principals and always invest a percentage of our gross revenues in advertising.

jay-hamiltonC. Jay Hamilton
Executive Director
Georgia Manufactured Housing Association
199 East Main Street
Forsyth, Georgia 31029
Phone : (478) 994-0006
Cell : (478) 394-5114

The Lost Decade Isn’t Over Until We Say it Is

June 19th, 2014 No comments

A decade ago, a shipment slump hit the manufactured housing industry. It actually started earlier in 2000, but by 2004 it was undisputed that shipments had dipped all across the country. The hope was that this decline was no different from those that happened before. Surely, sales would pick up and the good life would return. Now ten years hence, those hopes have been dashed. A new normal has set in. But has it? Recently, I asked industry professionals from all across the country if they were satisfied with an annual shipment level of 60,000 units?

60,000 units is the high point over the past three years. This uptick has again convinced some that the good times are about to roll again. But really? The April shipment numbers show that for the year, 19 states have increasing shipment numbers, four states have no change and 25 states are still declining!

So, in total, a handful of states have sufficient shipment increases to mask the decline in a broader range of states.

Taking the long view, the industry since the dawn of the HUD code produced one million HUD code homes in just its first three years. Over the following years, the next million mark took 4 or 5 years but recently it took a full 12 years to go from 7 million homes to 8 million. At the industry’s current pace, it will take 17 years to reach 9 million total homes.

Production of homes of course is but one industry metric. The number of HUD code plants has declined from 550 to 123.

A move back to the average performance of the industry over the 2000’s (which would mean doubling today’s production levels) could be a starting point for an industry goal. How do we get there? First, we need to recognize that many of today’s challenges existed back then too. Finance obliviously is an even more severe hurdle for customers and the industry. But fundamentally, the industry must strengthen each of its building blocks.

average-shipment-per-decade-manufactured-home-posted-on-mhpronews-com

Customer demand leads to new sales which leads to new orders which leads to filled community sites.

How do we fuel customer demand?

Interestingly, my thought is that we begin with the desired outcome and work backward.

An honest assessment of unfilled sites would say that many are not very attractive. Empty sites often are next to undesirable homes or unkempt spaces. Not places where a customer would want to put their shiny new home. We can do better.

The lack of independent retailers is also a factor. Few points of sale means less industry advertising. Essentially in many markets, the industry has gone dark on TV and other media. Given today’s technology we can reach customers in inexpensive ways. We can do better.

Ozzie and Harriet would love our homes. Too bad, they only represent a very small share of today’s households. The recent MHI design award winners point the way to new ways to think about what customers want. Notice I didn’t say “need” because customer buy based on wants. Only the housing desperate buy based on need.

How do we get to a new brighter future? It all depends on whether you’re satisfied with 60,000 annual shipments. If you are, do nothing. If not, we have work to do. ##

ross-kinzler-wisconsin-housing-alliance-executive-director-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-professional-news-mhpronews-com-75x75Ross Kinzler
Executive Director
Wisconsin Housing Alliance

Manufactured Home Factory Tour with my Congressman

June 5th, 2014 No comments

Back in February when I visited with Congressman Bill Flores in Washington, I asked him if he had ever toured a manufactured housing plant.A couple of months ago, one of his staffers contacted me wanting information about the manufacturing facilities in Waco.I had replied with information about Fleetwood Waco and about Clayton Homes two facilities in Waco.I gave him information on the Clayton and Fleetwood facilities, explaining that while as TMHA Chairman I represented the entire state, my retail location had carried Fleetwood product for some years, but that I was sure either company would be more than willing to provide a tour.

Last Wednesday, I received an email from his scheduler, Jessica Harrison for contacting me about Representative Flores coming to visit Fleetwood Homes manufacturing facility in Waco.

Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) Director D.J. Pendleton, myself, and Gay Westbrook of the MHI, made the trip as well as Don McCann, the manager of the Clayton Homes Waco manufacturing facilities.We were joined there by Ray Parma and Zach Sanders, the GM and Sales Manager respectively of Fleetwood Waco. 

I can report to everyone that the visit and tour went outstandingly well.

Rep. Flores was very engaging of plant manager Ray Parma; the congressman asked questions during the plant tour about everything from frame camber, to shear wall design and how it impacted tie-downs.  I could just see Ray’s eyes gleaming with getting to share his many years of experience at the plant. It was a pleasure to all of us in attendance that the congressman genuinely cared about what went into our products and the people who made them.Zach had the opportunity to visit with his District Director during the tour and field questions from him as well.

fleetwood-plant-tour 6-2-2014-for-congressional-representative-flores-550x512-.png

While we can all brag about our differing product lines at shows and conventions, Ray and Don gave a great one-two punch by providing Rep. Flores with fact that between their facilities in Waco alone, there were over 750 constituent employees in his district and at least that many more in vendors that provide material for those facilities.

Rep. Flores met with all of us after the plant tour and discussed not only Dodd-Frank legislation and the CFPB, but also things that affect manufacturing facilities such as OSHA inspections and health care for employees.  It was good to see friendly competitors coming together to express concerns to the congressman. 

All in all, it was a great visit.

My sincerest thanks to all who took time out of their schedules to be a part of the event and thanks to past MHI Chairman and current Cavco CEO and Chairman, Joe Stegmayer, for allowing the use of the Waco facility for the tour. ##

karl-radde-texas-manufactured-housing-association-chairman-mhi-retailer-division-vice-chairman-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news-mhpronews-comKarl Radde, GM
Southern Comfort Homes
Chair of TMHA and Vice-Chair of MHI National Retailer’s Council
karl@schomestx.com

The RV Industry is Attempting to Amend the HUD Manufactured Housing Code

May 28th, 2014 No comments

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is pushing a proposal through the U.S. Congress to change the definition of manufactured home in the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act.  The proposed change would specifically exclude certain “RV trailers,” including Park Model RVs, from the definition of a manufactured home in the federal HUD Code.

The stated purpose of the proposed change is to provide regulatory certainty to lenders, state or local taxation and land use officials that a Park Model RV is a recreational vehicle, not a manufactured home.

Their urgency for this change is that some lenders are apprehensive about making Park Model RV loans in light of the new Dodd-Frank Act requirements.

A concern with the language, as proposed, is that it may allow ANSI Park Model RVs to expand beyond the current 400 square foot size limitation. 

This would be harmful to the HUD-Code RV Park Model industry in states like Florida by encouraging the sale of ANSI Park Models that exceed 400 square feet.

The proposed amendment states, “a park model RV that has a gross area not greater than 400 square feet based on the exterior dimensions of the unit measured at the largest horizontal projections in the set-up mode, including all floor space that has a ceiling height of more than 5 feet” (emphasis added). 

The ceiling height language was inserted to codify a 1997 HUD interpretation that loft areas which are less than 5’0” in height are not considered in determining the size of the structure. The proposed language does not limit the ceiling height exclusion to loft areas, thus allowing for the possibility of “slide-out rooms” or “build-outs” less than 5 feet high.

RVIA is emphatic that the intent is not to increase the size of ANSI Park Model RVs.

According to RVIA, concerns about enlarging the size of Park Model RVs are unfounded because specific rules are in place to measure the size and calculate the square footage of Park Model RVs. Additionally, Park Model RVs are built to standards administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a national voluntary consensus body. The ANSI A119.5 standards would have to be amended to allow for larger structures.

While these safeguards are in place today, the statute will drive future requirements. If the federal law is ambiguous enough to assert that larger ANSI RV Park Models are allowed, then the rules will change to accommodate this view. 

The RVIA is working hard to get this amendment accomplished during the 2015 HUD appropriations process. RVIA is not looking for industry support, but rather seeks to quell any opposition.

MHI has taken a neutral position on the proposal, while MHARR is adamantly opposed to it.

This proposed change to the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act will have a negative impact on the HUD-Code Park Model industry in Florida. Most Park Models are permanently sited and larger ANSI Park Model RVs will encourage permanent, year round living. ANSI Park Model RVs are designed and intended for recreational use and seasonal living only and are not built to the more stringent HUD building code.

The Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA) has asked RVIA to consider amending its proposal to specify that the 5 foot ceiling height exemption applies to loft areas only. This will ensure that ANSI Park Model RVs are not built in excess of 400 square feet.

Reasserting the current size restriction in the proposed amendment will satisfy the RV industry’s objective of clarifying the differences between ANSI Park Model RVs and HUD manufactured homes for financing and land use purposes, while promoting ANSI Park Model RVs as a desirable option for recreational and seasonal accommodations. ##

james-ayotte-Florida-Manufactured-Housing-Association-posted-on-mhpronewsJames R. Ayotte, CAE
Executive Director
Florida Manufactured Housing Association
3606 Maclay Blvd. South – Suite 200
Tallahassee, FL 32312
Ph:(850) 907-9111
F:850) 907-9119
jayotte@fmha.org
www.fmha.org