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Posts Tagged ‘HUD’

Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing

April 24th, 2012 4 comments

The manufactured housing industry has been confronted with the most serious challenge to its existence in its history in the form of the Dodd-Frank bill. Supporters of the bill failed to take into consideration that, as written, the Dodd Frank bill effectively eliminates chattel (home-only) financing for loans under approximately $78,000. The bill essentially lumps chattel lending criteria in with the same real estate lending restrictions, thus ignoring the higher cost of funds for home-only loans. As the loan amount declines, and the higher cost of funds plus the fixed costs of making a loan effectively kick home-only loans into the predatory lending category once the loan amount hits some $78,000.

H.R. 3849 is a proposed bill that has been introduced into the House of Representatives by Indiana's Congressman Joe Donnelly and Tennessee's Congressman Stephen Fincher. The bill is aptly titled the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing ActIn addition to limiting the impact on manufactured chattel loans from the restrictions described above that were introduced by the Dodd-Frank bill, the proposed H.R. 3849 would exempt manufactured housing salespeople that are not deriving income from the proposed financing the salesperson is trying to arrange.

Oklahoma was the second state after Mississippi to have its entire congressional delegation signed on as co-sponsors of HR 3849. I was able to help secure the backing of Oklahoma's congressional delegation through meetings with either each of our congressmen, or with their staff member with responsibility for housing issues. The following points were helpful in securing their support:

  • Manufactured housing is not only the most affordable housing available in the United States, our production capabilities are the most efficient in the world for the production of entry level housing.
  • The manufactured housing industry although monitored by HUD, is self-funded through label fee payments to HUD. How many functions of the federal government have no financial drain on the government's resources?
  • Failure to act will eliminate the financing options for all potential purchasers in the very lowest economic sector of our market, those people trying to purchase homes under $78,000. Our industry's average loan is $58,000. The single-wide market would essentially be destroyed.
  • Failure to act will eliminate all financing options for about half of the existing 8.8 million manufactured home owners who may try to sell their homes, so they also have an incentive to contact their congressman and senators.
  • Your congressman should be receptive to our industry's message. You do need to get in front of him or her. Getting to Washington, D.C. may be cost prohibitive, but getting to the congressional offices in each of your home states should be doable.

A pressing need at the moment is to find a Democratic senator to help roll out a senate version of H.R. 3849. Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK) has agreed co-sponsor the bill on the Senate as long as we have a Democratic co-sponsor who has the approval of Senator Harry Reid for the roll out. Please inform me if that occurs and I will inform Senator Coburn. # #

Post submitted by MH Retailer

Doug Gorman

HomeMart, Tulsa, OK

doug@homemart.us

(Editor's Note: the link to the online resources above were added for your convenience. You can find your elected representatives at this link here. You can pass along a free 'third party' resource for manufactured home owners and residents to consider and engage on this issue at this link here. Our thanks to Doug Gorman for the column and for his years of ongoing volunteerism and service in manufactured housing. Others are encouraged to comment or share their own Industry Voices Guest Column about this or other topics of Manufactured Housing Industry interest. You can submit a column by emailing tony@mhmsm.com with the words Industry Voices Guest Column submission in the subject line.)

MHI and it’s varied divisions as compared to MHARR

December 14th, 2011 No comments

Over the last several years trial balloons have been released suggesting that the industry’s best interests would be served by a merger of its two major trade organizations the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). MHI serves as a trade organization for all of the major segments of the industry. Those segments (manufacturers, suppliers, communities, retailers and lenders) are represented within MHI by their own specialized division. In contrast, MHARR makes their position absolutely clear that their mission is to protect specifically manufacturers from an over reaching federal bureaucracy in the area of regulatory issues.

My position has been consistent over that same time frame that a merger of MHI and MHARR would not be a good idea for the industry. On a couple of occasions that position was incorrectly interpreted as criticism of MHI. My point instead has been that because of MHI’s role of being an overall industry trade (manufacturers, suppliers, communities, retailers and lenders) organization, taking a very aggressive role in the area of regulatory reform can be a difficult role to fill. On the other hand, MHARR makes no apologies for its repeated efforts to rein in a federal agency that is continuing to take positions and implement new regulations that will have significant cost impacts on our product with unsubstantiated benefits. As the chief executive of MHARR, Danny Ghorbani has been relentless in pursuing that mission. While he would like to be able to operate in concert with HUD, the federal agency that oversees our industry, he is not concerned about remaining pals with HUD if HUD is not functioning within the bounds of current statues.

Recently a proposal has been floated for communities to form their own organization to the point of eliminating MHI. A review of MHI’s current action list should provide a reasonably quick conclusion that one would have little confidence in the ability of a newly formed communities trade organization to accomplish even a fraction of the items on the list absent MHI. Communities (and retailers) should feel free to establish a separate trade organization if they desire to see more focus on the needs of their segment of the industry. That representation can be organized and still lend a voice to the overall trade organization as needed. As a retailer I certainly feel at times that MHI’s role is dominated by the interests of manufacturers. My solution, if so motivated, would be to establish a retail equivalent of MHARR. A retail trade organization that would then be focused on issues facing retailers. I believe that could be possible without establishing a goal of destroying MHI.

While I am not in favor of dismantling MHI, I will concede that I disagree strongly with MHI’s recent capitulation in regard to the preemption of fire sprinklers as they relate to the HUD Code and the activities and positions of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee. MHARR’s position was statutorily correct and should have been backed by MHI rather than be undermined. Over a period of twenty years or so of my relationship with MHI, this issue does not mark my first disagreement with them and I have certainly never called for their dissolution due to any of those disagreements. MHI has the capacity and the history to be a very effective voice for the industry. We should work within the organization to address those areas where we disagree.

Douglas Gorman

Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee analysis of MHI and MHARR positions

October 26th, 2011 No comments

Tony,

The industry faces the problem that the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) assessment of the composition of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) is reasonably accurate. Initially both the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and MHARR were allowed to have two of the seven industry seats. Today, HUD no longer allows that balanced and knowledgable representation.

Over the past several years we have seen other seats incorrectly given to government employees and other parties with anti-industry bias. The Designated Federal Officer (DFO) and non-voting twenty-second seat on the MHCC (the political appointee) has not been reappointed for several years now. One of the purposes for the existence of that position is to provide some perspective to the HUD Manufactured Housing Program that is not held hostage by preconceived biases inside the HUD permanent staff.

The shift in committee composition has brought with it members who tend to vote their ideology without regard to cost implications. Evaluating cost implications of proposed changes is statutory and yet is ignored by HUD staff and the MHCC with no consequences.

MHI’s recent actions in regard to fire sprinklers is well intended and is an effort to at least establish controls in advance of what MHI perceives as potentially hugely damaging costs if a preemptory sprinkler system is not advanced by the industry. MHARR’s point that extremely valuable ground in the world of preemption is being surrendered is true and does not bode well for the industry on both fire sprinklers and other preemption issues as they arise.

The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA of 2000) actually gave more teeth to the preemptive language of the original 1974 act. HUD’s manufactured housing program management staff should be valiantly defending that preemptive language when other parties take actions that violate the most recent version of that language. My experience of nearly ten years of working with HUD management as an MHCC member has showed me that HUD will not undertake that defense.

In anticipation of a worst possible outcome scenario, MHI’s actions are an effort to head off potentially devastating costs of meeting fire sprinkler requirements with no parameters. MHARR’s position is the more legally accurate, but faces unknown consequences in the efforts that would be required to enforce the strictly legal position. While I am not privy to all the arguments for both cases, I do know that I hate to give up valuable ground.

Doug Gorman
HomeMart
Former MHCC member

“HUD Seeks to Institutionalize Expanded Regulation”

October 14th, 2011 No comments

Almost as an afterthought to its March 2010 proclamation that manufacturer compliance with new expanded in-plant regulation originally billed as voluntary would, henceforth, be “not voluntary,” HUD has recently announced that it intends to proceed with a new rule that would institutionalize that expansion and, at the same time, substantially alter existing regulations defining the pivotal relationship between third-party Primary Inspection Agencies (PIAs), manufacturers and HUD.  What is worse, is that HUD plans to institute rulemaking on this major and costly alteration of the existing in-plant regulation structure without a consensus of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) and without even presenting a complete proposal to the MHCC as required by law and as requested by the MHCC itself.  Indeed, the story of how this has come about is a textbook reflection of HUD’s efforts over the past decade to minimize, circumvent and evade the program reforms of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, and a case study for Congress when it examines the Department’s failure to fully and properly implement that law.

Back in 2008, HUD approached the MHCC with “concepts” for changing the fundamental role of third-party PIAs (and particularly private PIAs) as well as the nature of their relationship with both manufacturers and HUD.  These “concepts” ultimately led to HUD proposed revisions to elements of the Procedural and Enforcement Regulations (PER), that were presented, in piecemeal fashion, to the MHCC Regulatory Enforcement Subcommittee.  That process, however, was halted by a vote of the Subcommittee in September 2008, based on MHARR objections that the consideration of piecemeal proposals – that did not allow a complete evaluation of the interaction between various components – was improper, as was the consideration of such proposals without relevant cost information or justification as required by the 2000 law.

Confronted with this rejection, HUD responded with a three-pronged strategy.  First, beginning in late 2008, it embarked on a campaign to expand and fundamentally change in-plant regulation on the ground, without first complying with the due process requirements of the 2000 law, based on an elaborate series of “enhanced checklists,” “field guidance” documents and “standard operating procedures” that were not – and still have not been – presented to the MHCC for consensus review or published for notice and comment rulemaking.  Initially, and for nearly a year-and-a-half afterward, HUD characterized the major changes implemented by these documents as a process of “voluntary cooperation,” only to ultimately deem them “not voluntary” in March 2010.  An August 24, 2011 article in the Capitol newspaper “The Hill” aptly describes this type of process (being used increasingly by regulators), stating: “Th[e] new guidelines are  supposedly ‘voluntary,’ but don’t be fooled.  The federal government … has long been engaged in an egregious and unconstitutional regulatory power grab.  The strategy simply is to saddle disfavored industries with regulations disguised as ‘voluntary,’ and therefore not subject to the normal rulemaking process and judicial review.”  Although written about a different set of “voluntary” guidelines, the same logic and analysis holds here.

Second, in 2009, HUD returned to the MHCC with a unified regulatory proposal to amend the PER regulations in a way that would legitimize and provide legal support for such “on the ground” expanded in-plant regulation.  In a formal September 2009 letter ballot, however, HUD was unable to secure an MHCC consensus on this proposal, specifically due, as reflected by MHCC minutes, to the Department’s failure to provide the Committee with adequate justification showing the need for such changes, as well as its failure to provide concrete information regarding the cost-impact of its proposal.

Third, when MHARR continued its objections to the “on the ground” imposition of such a costly regulatory expansion without compliance with relevant due process protections, HUD, on February 5, 2010, issued an “interpretive rule,” without opportunity for public comment, designed to ensure that the MHCC would never get an opportunity to review its expanded in-plant regulation checklists, “field guidance” and standard operating procedures, by simply reading catchall section 604(b)(6) – requiring MHCC consideration and related rulemaking for any change in “inspection practices” – out of the 2000 law.

Now, HUD is taking the next step to institutionalize expanded in-plant regulation.  As announced by HUD regulators at an August 17, 2011 meeting of the MHCC’s Regulatory Enforcement Subcommittee, the Department plans to go forward with a proposed rule relating to the role and activities of the PIAs without further consultation with the MHCC, despite the absence of an MHCC consensus due to HUD’s own failure, in 2009, to provide justification and cost information that the MHCC is required to consider by the 2000 law.  Questioned about this procedure, HUD’s representative stated that the MHCC had “had its chance” in 2009.

This stance, however, flouts (once again) the requirements of the 2000 law. Section 604(b) of the law requires that the MHCC consider every proposed PER regulation, absent a declared emergency.  Further, section 604(e) of the law requires that the MHCC consider the cost-impact and justification for any such proposed regulation.  The MHCC, however, has never been provided with this requisite information by HUD.  As a result, there are two possible scenarios in this matter, both of which violate the 2000 law – (1) if HUD’s new proposal is in any way different from the proposal that failed to attain an MHCC consensus in 2009, then it has never been considered by the MHCC and violates section 604(b); (2) if the new proposal is identical to the 2009 proposal, it still has not been properly presented to and considered by the MHCC in accordance with the law, because mandatory elements required for MHCC consideration in accordance with the law – cost-impact data and a showing of justification – were never provided.  Put differently, if HUD’s position were correct, the Department could effectively evade the consensus requirements of the 2000 law on every proposal simply by refusing to provide the MHCC with cost-impact, justification, or other  information needed or required for MHCC review and consensus comments.

HUD, in an attempt to minimize this further restriction of the role and authority of the MHCC and its own obligation to comply with the due process requirements of the 2000 law, noted that Committee members could submit comments during the public comment period on the proposed rule, but this misses the central point of the MHCC and the 2000 law – that regulatory changes should be based on the consensus agreement of all program stakeholders.  And there is not – and never has been — a consensus on any changes relating to the role of the PIAs or an expansion of in-plant regulation.  Simply stated, a federally-regulated industry that has lost more than 80% of its production over the past 12 years, should not allow this kind of incremental evasion of the law.

In MHARR’s view, this proposal, a vestige of prior program management that sought to minimize and bypass the reforms of the 2000 law, should be withdrawn by the new program management and re-submitted to the MHCC, this time with proper cost-benefit information and specific justification – if one exists.

MHARR VIEWPOINT
By Danny D. Ghorbani

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) is a Washington D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.

Manufactured Housing Production Rebounds at Last

October 5th, 2011 No comments

Washington, D.C., October 5, 2011 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) reports that according to official statistics compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), manufactured housing production rebounded in August 2011, posting its first increase in 12 months.  Just-released statistics show that during August 2011, HUD Code manufacturers produced 5,187 homes, up from the 4,896 HUD Code homes produced in August 2010, representing a corresponding month increase of nearly 6%.  The last time that industry production recorded a corresponding-month increase was in August 2010, when production grew by 9% over August 2009 levels.  This increase brings 2011 cumulative industry production, through the end of August, to 32,015 homes — 9.9% lower than corresponding industry production of 35,566 homes over the same period last year, but a distinct improvement over double-digit cumulative production declines earlier this year.

While any production increase is welcome news, the manufactured housing industry – given its status as the nation’s primary source of truly affordable non-subsidized home ownership — should be experiencing more significant long-term growth in the face of a sluggish economy that accentuates the affordability of its homes in relation to other types of housing and features historically low interest rates on home loans.  The fact that it has not yet benefitted from conditions that, in the past, have stoked industry growth, underscores that the sustained industry decline since 1998 is less a result of the broader economic environment than factors uniquely affecting manufactured housing – specifically, the unavailability of consumer financing and HUD’s failure to fully and properly implement key reforms of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 that were designed to ensure the parity of manufactured housing as “housing.”

Now, though, the industry’s two national trade organizations, MHARR and the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) have agreed to work together, jointly and cooperatively, to address three major issues concerning consumer financing and the implementation of the 2000 law, specifically, the need to expand sources of consumer financing and eliminate unnecessarily

restrictive barriers to entering the manufactured housing market, the appointment of a non-career
administrator for the HUD manufactured housing program, as provided by the 2000 law, and the re-appointment of collective national industry representatives to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee, the centerpiece reform of the 2000 law.

A joint MHARR-MHI delegation has already met with senior HUD officials to address these three specific issues and will follow-up accordingly.

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.

“Pathway Paved Toward Progress”

September 7th, 2011 No comments

With production of manufactured homes continuing to erode by double-digits in 2011, change — real change — cannot come fast enough for the industry or beleaguered American consumers of affordable housing. To have the most beneficial impact on the condition of the industry, however, that change needs to begin with and needs to be led by the federal program that comprehensively regulates manufactured homes and is responsible for the “superintendence” of the industry. And now, after more than a decade of intransigence and seeming lack of concern for the worsening plight of the industry and manufactured homebuyers, hopeful signs are emerging that this long-overdue and much-needed change could be in the offing.

While there is no doubt that the manufactured housing industry, since its peak production year in 1998, has suffered from numerous problems that have contributed to its decline, including restrictions (both existing and impending) that have disproportionately reduced the availability of financing for manufactured home buyers, bad practices — now corrected — that provided an excuse for such restrictions, the debt crisis that undermined the availability of floor-plan financing for many retailers, the collapse of the mortgage insurance market for lower and moderate-income buyers, unreasonable restrictions on the placement of manufactured homes and a host of others, all of these are inextricably related to the federal regulation of manufactured homes and, more specifically, to HUD’s failure to fully and properly implement the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

That law, as MHARR has often pointed out — through its “Findings,” its sweeping “Statement of Purpose” and specific program reforms — was designed to complete the transition of manufactured homes from the “trailers” of yesteryear to the modern “housing” of today, at parity with all other types of residential construction. Put differently, it was designed to end systematic discrimination against manufactured housing and manufactured homebuyers in connection with regulation, financing and a range of other issues affecting the availability and use of manufactured housing. HUD, however, has not fulfilled this vision over the past decade and the industry, as a result, has been trending downward at a time when it should be doing better.

Fortunately, though, all of this is now coming to a head for proper resolution, because MHARR, instead of limiting its focus to the symptoms of this problem, has consistently worked to address their common root cause — HUD’s failure to fully and properly implement the key reforms of the 2000 law. This effort took on a whole new dimension and heightened level of energy in the Fall of 2010 when forward-looking members of the MHARR Board of Directors, in anticipation of the changed national political dynamics brought about by the November 2010 elections, initiated a bold, multi-front approach to Congress designed to address these overriding issues, hold regulators accountable for full and proper compliance with the 2000 law and, most importantly, begin a process to rectify both the root cause and its various consequences. The overriding goal of this initiative, from its inception, has been to break the 10-year logjam on the implementation of relevant laws (most particularly the 2000 law) and advance the cause of the industry and its consumers in the nation’s capital. And now, after ten months of intensive, aggressive and sharply-focused engagement with Congress, it appears that this effort is beginning to pay tangible dividends.

For the first time in ten years, the HUD program, as a result of this congressional initiative, has come under specific scrutiny by Congress regarding its non-compliance with the 2000 law, including the impact that non-compliance has had on the industry’s smaller businesses. In the process, Congress has realized the need for comprehensive intervention and engagement on these matters, as was demonstrated at a July 20, 2011 mark-up session of the House Financial Services Committee (the authorizing committee for the HUD program) when leaders from both parties called for congressional action to address the “unfair disadvantage” faced by the industry and manufactured homebuyers. It is this ongoing “unfair disadvantage” — which the 2000 law was designed to correct — that lies at the root of nearly all the problems that have fueled the industry’s decline and needs to be corrected by Congress.

Moreover, as this intensive congressional activity has played out, it has been paralleled, as anticipated by MHARR, by significant personnel changes within the HUD program. Those changes have seen the departure of much of the career-level program management, as well as long-term program support attorneys within the HUD Office of General Counsel (OGC). These officials have been replaced by new leadership operating under a newly-appointed Acting Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner. Thus, the entire program management structure that resisted the full and proper implementation of the 2000 law, originated the “interpretations” that have undermined key reform aspects of that law, and adhered to those interpretations notwithstanding clear evidence that they were wrong, is now gone.

What all of this means, effectively, is that much of the heavy lifting to break the logjam of the past decade and change the dynamics affecting the industry and its homebuyers in Washington, D.C., has already been done. Such efforts, moreover, have created a process and opportunity for the industry to unite on the issues and press forward for their resolution.

On post-production matters, the industry has done well in identifying the key issues that need to be addressed, namely private and public financing, including, most importantly, repeal or reform of the Dodd-Frank and SAFE Act provisions affecting manufactured housing which have hamstrung consumers’ ability to qualify for and obtain manufactured home purchase loans. MHARR has — and will continue to — fully support the ongoing effort to address and resolve these problems. Conversely, MHARR expects that the rest of the industry will fully support its effort to ensure the full and proper implementation of all reform aspects of the 2000 law, in order to eliminate the industry’s “unfair disadvantage” and remedy the key problems affecting both the post-production and production sectors of the industry.

In order to advance such cooperation, and given the complexity of the issues involved in Title VI reforms (i.e., 2000 law reforms), MHARR has researched all the available documents and information generated during the 12-year effort leading to the passage of the 2000 law, and has condensed that information into a series of straightforward, easy-to-read one-page Fact Sheets that explain the key 2000 law reforms in a concise manner, as well as the importance of the full and proper implementation of each such reform. The entire set of these Fact Sheets will be officially published and released after congressional lawmakers return from their Summer recess in early September.

In MHARR’s view, the industry can and should present a united position on all of these key reform issues in order to eliminate the industry’s “unfair disadvantage” and restore its prosperity and growth.

Written and submitted by Danny Ghorbani

 

MHARR logoMHARR is a Washington D.C.-based national trade association representin Danny Ghorbani

the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.


The Emperor has no Clothes

August 21st, 2011 13 comments

There is a lot to say about what has gone wrong with our country and our Industry.  We will begin ‘at the top,’ with our Chief Executive, President Barack Obama.

What’s up with Obama’s recent bus tour?

I’m no fan of the prior president, but say what you will about President W, when he took a similar bus trip to President Obama’s, W used campaign dollars to pay for it.  Where is the “watchdog” media? Why no hue and cry when the administration buys millions of dollars of Canadian buses so President BO can tour in style on the taxpayer’s dime?

What’s up with all that?

Isn’t it ironic that BO tours campaign style after lecturing millionaires and billionaires about private jets and corporate perks?  Or is that rhetoric just a way of getting the votes of middle America and ‘the little people?’

Do you like ‘divide and conquer politics?  To me, it is plain wrong.  Talk about issues, talk records or about facts.  But don’t pit one group against another.

I need to be clear that W vacationed considerably more than BO.  But W went to his ranch or Camp David, etc.  But to add irony to injury, on the heels of all this bad economic news, BO is in Martha’s Vineyard – the haven of the elite – now?

Even left wing commentators see this vacation in the New England playground of the rich and famous as a problem.

  • Experts and government statistics suggest we have 17% unemployed and under-employed.
  • We have more people on food-stamps and welfare than at any time in U.S. history.
  • And BO will give us his ‘next’ jobs program in September, after his resort vacation?
  • Where are all those shovel ready and other jobs from the ‘first’ one?  Or were all the jobs ‘created’ at the job killing CFPB?

They say the emperor has no clothes.  Well, we have no emperor, but a president and his wardrobe looks just fine.

Ascendancy and Dependency

It is the party of dependency that is still in ascendency.

Or at least still in high office…

…dependency is a major voting block today.

Be it government labor unions, federal jobs or those on government assistance, it is an issue.  We have to put people to work, not get them used to no work. We do need federal and other government jobs.  But we can’t give everyone a job regulating someone who is working to produce a product or a service that keeps America’s wheels turning.

If we do not change our ways federally and locally, we will look like rioting old England some day, because we can’t afford to keep adding to our debt and taking on more programs that fail to foster independence.

While we have plenty of dependency programs, meanwhile, we have

  • flash mobs that form, rob, harass and harm others in our cities.
  • We have automatic weapons fire along our southern border.
  • We have three wars we are involved in instead of the previous two.

I didn’t favor W taking us into Iraq, nor do I favor BO taking us into Libya.  Even if we ‘win,’ what have we won in either case?  We spill American blood and treasure, for what?  We can’t be the world’s cop, and we can’t have wars for the sake of foreign oil, etc.

Let’s drill and do energy on U.S. soil and off U.S. shores, as safely and prudently as possible.  Think about the major jobs creation potential.

Private enterprise can pay for it all without federal dollars.  Let business people do business in America again.

Another Recession, whats up with that?

The media speaks of double dip recession.  What’s up with that phrase?

Did anyone notice that the ‘great recession’ never ended?  Did you notice that the housing markets still suffer, and Keynesian/Euro socialist economics just added trillions to our debt without giving us a stronger economy?

No jobs.  No stimulated business.  Tougher lending.  Very little respect overseas.  Where is the change we can believe in?  Or was that supposed to mean the pocket change we have left after taxes?

Third part candidate George Wallace once said there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties. Thus Wallace favored what some have for years, a third party to bring America back. But Ronald Reagan had it closer, we don’t need a third party, but a rejuvenated second party.

That means we don’t need Rino Republicans, Republicans In Name Only.  To me, W was a Rino, socially conservative, but nearly as much a man about big government as BO is.  W helped give us that darn bail out of the bankers.  W took us into two wars with no end in sight.  W’s dad may not have “finished the job” in the first Gulf War, but he had the smarts to get in and get out.

We need business friendly independents, Democrats and Republicans.

Businesses create jobs.  Jobs are what American’s need, and then they can start buying houses again!

Speaking of jobs, how about creating 20 million new ones?

I’ve read the same reports you have; that there are two trillion dollars of investment money on the sidelines – actually overseas – that could be brought back to the U.S. In short order.

But that 2 trillion fled America due to regulations and tax policies.  Do we have the political will to bring those trillions back?

Think about what Two Trillion Dollars we don’t have to borrow, or write down, would mean to our country right now.  If every $100,000 invested created only 1 American job, that would mean 20,000,000 jobs.

Think: 20 million people off aid, off food stamps, off unemployment or other government programs.  2o million more taxpayers.  Think 20 million people less dependent, means we would be that much closer to a balanced budget!

We better find and support candidates in whatever party who know how the free enterprise system works, because creating jobs by supporting business is what we should be about.

Free Enterprise, not Keynesian/Euro socialist economics, is what made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

November 2012 is shaping up now.  Who we support now for our state houses, or for Congress, the Senate and the White House will be on the ballot 15 months from now.

Personally, I’ve contacted my senators and representative and made my feelings known on economic and social issues.  But I will also make them known on the path to election 2012.

Give the man his props

One thing that our recently bus touring and now vacationing BO has done is give us an executive order we can believe in.  With all due respect to Marty Lavin, Danny Ghorbani was the first to bring it to our Industry’s attention.  We speak of Executive Order (EO) #13563, similar to President Clinton’s issued in 1993.

MHMSM.com posted EO #13563 months ago, that requires an examination of regulatory impact and its benefits.

MHARR is right.  HUD’s budget has grown, while our industry shipments have shrunk.  What’s up with that fact?

What the president – at least on paper –  has done is give us EO#13563 which could hold HUD and other regulators accountable.  Now will our national associations use that to our Industry’s benefit?

The Fall Congressional hearing on Manufactured Housing

Ooops.

Who do we have in DC “helping us” in the planned fall Congressional hearings on our Industry?  Congressman Barney Frank.  What’s up with that?

Let’s see.  Barney helped give us the SAFE Act.  Barney also gave us part of the name of the bill that in his: Dodd-Frank.

So do you feel safer or dodd-franked?

With friends like Barney, does our industry need any federal enemies?

Who is watching how our industry PAC money is spent?  Is this the type of anti-business candidate we need to support?

Where is that change we can believe in?  Or did I drop that change the last time I filed my quarterlies?

One of the best meeting planners around, but…

I asked Tony Kovach why George Allen’s Roundtable was not on the MHMSM.com calendar.  “George isn’t an association, and he opted not to pay for an ad.”

Maybe there is considerable momentum from last year’s event that MHMSM.com did promote.  I noticed that Allen is reporting more state association executives coming to the Roundtable this year.  State execs are often ‘comped’ for coming to an event.  George is one of the best self-promoters the Industry has seen in the past 2 decades.  I’d want state execs helping me promote an event of mine too.  Nothing wrong with it, a common practice.

In the manufactured home communities world, Allen’s Roundtables are unmatched.  Allen gets some fine speakers and topics in.  They are informative and enjoyable.

However, I can’t always agree with George Allen’s commentary, live or in his columns here or in his own publications.  Let’s parse some of his recent ones for a few moments.

I understand and agree with George that MHI doesn’t seem to have a plan for our Industry’s recovery.  What’s up with that fact?  I can see why the natives are restless in the NCC, even with Lisa B getting appointed.

George is spot on that MHI is failing to do half of what an association is called to do – protect and promote.

  • Where is the Industry promotion?
  • How has MHI worked to reverse the Industry’s downward new home shipment trend?  Marty was spot on regarding that topic, in his recent column.

But George’s bashing of Danny and MHARR misses the mark.  Why?

Because MHARR is an association for independent Manufacturers. MHARR don’t get paid to represent communities or lenders or suppliers.  MHARR doesn’t represent retailers,  which if you ask retailers like Doug Gorman or Dick Moore, MHI doesn’t seem to do such a hot job for them either.

George, the point is that MHARR can’t be faulted for focusing on what its members pay MHARR to do, namely, work on regulatory issues.  So George, if you want to fault Danny, fault him for something that group is paid to do.  At least MHARR has stated publicly they support the ‘post production’ sector (MHARR code words for MHI) in their efforts to modify Dodd-Frank, SAFE, etc.  I’ve not seen any similar effort from MHI back towards MHARR.  If it exists, it is behind the scenes.

I also agree with Marty Lavin that we better watch more what people say than what people do.  We better watch results, because words alone can be cheap.

Or words can costly, depending on how you look at it.

Industry Marketing and Image Campaign

Speaking of MHI and the Industry image campaign…

…I’ve seen the plan Tony, IMHA’s Mark Bowersox and others have put together.  In a word, brilliant.

In my mind, they need to consider a different name, but for now they are calling it the Manufactured Housing Alliance and Phoenix Plan.  Their plan navigates the key political issues that our industry has faced that has kept us from moving ahead.

We keep reading from MHI the statistics about our dropping new home shipments.   This gets back to the dual role that an association is supposed to have, protect and promote.

Where is MHI on this MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan effort to turn around our image, marketing and sales results?

Silent.

By contrast. I see John Bostick’s name on the page in favor of the MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan.  That makes me want to order some Sunshine Homes and get others to do the same!

Good for MHARR’s Chairman, who did not endorse it on MHARR’s behalf, but Mr. Bostick has obviously taken the time and had the guts to publicly say, hey, this can work.

Which leads to the questions:

> Where are the MHARR members or Danny on this plan?

> Where is MHI on this plan?

Marty Lavin on Danny Ghorbani

I’m the first to agree with Marty that Danny needs to polish up those lobbying skills.  In fact, let me take Marty’s points a step farther.  As I personally see it, and others may disagree, Danny has three options:

  1. change your ways, permanently and rapidly, to become more effective at what you do for MHARR,
  2. retire and consult for MHARR as needed;
  3. or just retire.

Danny, retire? What would happen to MHARR without Danny?  What’s up with that idea?  Can you even say MHARR without saying Danny G’s name?

Yes, you can.

Attorney and MHARR VP Mark Weiss is a good man.  Mark knows the law, can be reasoned with and Danny has prepared him to take the helm at MHARR, when the time comes that Danny decides to retire or when MHARR members make that decision.

For example, MHARR could bring in a new associate, give Danny a nice gold watch, and a one year transitional consulting agreement.  The independent factories that support MHARR can save money.  As or more important, they likely can get more done and advance their cause in DC with HUD, Congress and other regulators.

The timing is right for a change at MHARR.  Danny, don’t take it the wrong way, you are a smart guy and know the HUD Code as well as anyone in the manufacturing side of the Industry.  But in my personal opinion, it is time to change your ways for the better or you better retire.

The best suits and fine meetings

Danny has some of the best suits in DC that our Industry can brag about.  Danny and MHARR are spot on with some key issues.  But you can be right, and still do things in a way that turns people off.

But give the man his props, Danny is right about MHI meeting,

after meeting,

after meeting and

…where is the MHI plan?

But then, Danny – if you stay – you and MHARR should then walk the walk and have an action plan of your own. Not a some day, or five year plan, a let’s get it done now plan.

Perhaps John Bostick’s public move supporting the MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan will inspire others of stature to make their own public statements or just help launch the program.

But at some point, we need to get past meetings, and get to doing.  46,000 shipments.  We are now down about 88% from our post HUD-Code high in 1998.  How much lower can we go and still have an Industry?

  • We can’t fill empty home sites with only used product.
  • We need new homes bought from factories and sold to consumers.
  • We need retailers and community operators who attract customers with good credit, and then close them and turn them into happy homeowners who will tell their friends and once again let our Industry grow.

The Numbers on MAP

I like abbreviations. Let’s call this plan of Mark’s and Tony’s MAP for short, because this MH Alliance Phoenix can be our road MAP to the future. Maybe we can get Tony and Mark to come up with a better name.  But in the mean time, MAP it is for me.

I asked Tony to give me a projection on what he thinks MAP can do.  His answer?  First year from the launch date could double shipments without a need for hurricane season (no need for FEMA orders).

The next year could double it again.  That would be roughly 92,000 shipments in year 1. Then 184,000 shipments in year two.

Take a look at the MAP if you haven’t already.  If you have a better plan, why not share it?  But if not, get behind the plan that is out there being discussed.

I’m told that MAP can be up and running in short order.  We can do MAP, with no waiting for federal or state action!

Doing the Math, my Math not Ts

Tony has his math, I have mine.

Let’s say MAP was launched, and then MAP raised shipments back to 75,000 the first year.  Let’s further say, 1/2 of the increase went into communities.

  • That would mean 14,500 spaces filled.  At say $275 average a month per site, that would mean $47,850,000 more to MHCs a year.  Plus the profits off the home sales.
  • 29,000 additional new shipments would mean 29,000 new jobs.
  • It would mean security for those whose jobs or businesses are at risk due to declining shipments.How many MH plants would stay open?
  • At even a low $50,000 average per home, that 1.45 billion in new sales.  Think about the boost in revenue to retailers and developers.

Would you give $75 per location to boost sales $1.45 Billion and create about $48 million in new communities revenues?

If not, please go back to 5th grade math.  To me, this spells a good deal.

Let me stress, these are my numbers, not T’s or Mark’s.  But it tells me why they and others are working to see this plan happen.

Chattel Lenders

I’m not without experience in dealing with personal property lending.  While he wasn’t talking about just lending, I agree with Chad Carr’s recently published statement about MAP.  The MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan is the only plan I’ve seen that gets to the heart of fixing chattel lending for our Industry.  MAP provides solutions for image, lobbying and other practical issues too. It dares to be bold, without trying to step on any industry group’s toes.

If your chattel lender has not yet seen this, she or he better do so!  This can help us cut our repos losses dramatically.

It will help our customers – manufactured home owners – dramatically too.  That will in turn attract more customers, and more credit worthy ones.

Manufactured housing lenders need to see our losses cut.  Because that panel of lenders at the MHI Congress last April were correct.  A repo can cost 50% (or more) of the loan balance.   There are so many dark clouds that hang over personal property lending for manufactured housing right now, we have to have solutions if our Industry will ever advance.

In fact, our survival depends on it.

I asked Tony specifically about people who have and have not seen MAP.  T won’t comment about those who haven’t shared a public statement. I can respect that, but it does leave us guessing.

So someone needs to ask Marty Lavin or Dick Ernst where they are on this.  Have they seen it?  What is there take?  It is obvious that Ken Rishel has come out for it, big time, in his own newsletter and on MHMSM.com too.

Come to think of it, where is George Allen’s name on this subject?  Didn’t he say a few months ago, we needed an image campaign?  What’s up with that?

We could go through a list of industry leaders and say, what about you?  Where are you on this MAP subject?

If you are for it, why not say so publicly? If you oppose it, why and then propose your own alternative!  Mark, Tony and those working on this want to see consensus. I appreciate that, but I’d add that we can’t afford to debate stuff forever.  We need to move ahead, and pronto.

If we do not start advancing, more factories, more retailers and more communities will fail.  It is simply 5th grade math.

State and Communities Association leaders

Given that a pair of state association leaders have already publicly stated support for the MH Alliance and Phoenix plan, it is reasonable to think others have seen it too.  We need to watch and encourage this plan at the state level.

Because let’s be honest, the states are where it is at.  All politics are local, and your business happens at the state and local level.

Last year, we saw some state execs who took a leadership role to get things happening at the federal level.  We need to see that again, and we need to see that on MAP or their best alternative to it.

A pimple on an elephant’s bottom

We’ve heard this expression at meetings and coffee tables.  I admit it sadly fits the influence our Industry has politically in DC today.  We need to be working tea parties to get the party of jobs, business and growth moving ahead. We need to hold the feet of those who say they will change DC for the better to the fire, and get the gold of jobs and rising housing back to work building the U.S.A.

We have lost our nation’s AAA credit rating.  Debt piles up, what do we have to show for it?  Where are the jobs?  The lending?  The recovery?  What did we bail out anyway?  Who benefited from all that taxpayer funded largess?

We saw some amazing upsets at the midterms, and I think we can see more if we plan now for the best candidates and then mobilize for the general elections.

It is frankly another good reason to learn and get behind the MAP.  We will increase our influence at the state house and in Washington when our consumers are visibly supporting us in sizable numbers.

Let’s work and earn the support of our communities’ residents and home owners/customers!  Then we should make sure we continue to deserve it.  Without happy customers, we are as doomed as if HUD bureaucrats or others would just shut us down.

TANSTAFL

If I boiled this down, it would be this.  We can’t have something for nothing.  TANSTAFL = There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays.

We better work for truly positive change, or we will be left with pocket change.

We better look at and support a plan that can move us ahead.  I vote for the MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan.  Or we will suffer the fate of the buggy whip makers.

I shop at WalMart no more than I have to, because I believe in supporting the smaller and more independent business women and men out there.  They are more like me.  They want to serve me, and I in turn want to support them.

We better support the HUD Code builders, and they in turn, better support us too.

Talking and Doing.

Before we look at any other emperor who also lacks clothes, let’s close for now. Talk is fine, but let’s follow talk with do.

I want to thank those of you who have written.  Please do not think me rude, but for now…

…I hope you understand that some things need to be said that have gone unsaid too long.

More next time.##

post submitted by
Michael Barnabas

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CONSPIRACY or INACTION: Which is to blame?

July 15th, 2011 No comments

by Martin V. (Marty) Lavin

Our Friend

Ah, finally, I was intent on reviewing the innumerable documents, which built up on the computer I had used for several years.  As I scanned the dozens, no hundreds of files in my documents, I came upon some, which stirred memories.  Probably none more than R. C. “Dick” Moore’s “Perspective #61” of July 18, 2008.  Mr. Moore, as most know, is a longtime MH retailer and community owner.  As the spirit moves him, he puts out an occasional newsletter, Perspective.

And what was this memorable missive all about?  Well it was a fairy tale about a mysterious “friend up east” who had MH powers similar to Superman, able to unite the GSE’s, (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), Clayton Homes and maybe even Citibank, and Warren Buffett himself, in an effort to stifle all competition for chattel retail lending to the industry.  Wow!  Strong stuff indeed.

The gist of the tale is that our “friend” was paid by the GSE’s to advise them “not to buy MH paper.”  This would also lead to Citibank “pulling the rug” on Origen Financial and Palm Harbor.  Then, as all competition is wiped away, Buffett borrows $2 billion in the market which he deposits in the account of the Clayton Homes’ lenders, Vanderbilt Mortgage and 21st Mortgage.  While the story didn’t as much as make the back page of the Wall Street Journal, I hear Hollywood is interested enough in the story so they’ve spoken to Brad Pitt to play “our friend up east.”

Who is He!

Since “our friend” goes unnamed in the several other Moore Perspectives with stories which mention him, there has been substantial speculation on who “our friend up east” is.  Presumably with all the players involved in the alleged scenario, this has got to be one powerful S.O.B.  Who could it be to wield such power?  It’s not Warren.  He’s “our friend from Omaha.”

Some came forward during this series of Perspectives and had the gall to suggest that I, the writer herein, was the powerful and mysterious “friend up east.”  They have also suggested that Brad Pitt is a good semblance of Marty, and would be perfect for the starring role in the movie, or TV miniseries.  Well, I’m obviously flattered but can I be the mysterious, unnamed “friend up east.”  As H. Ross Perot said, let’s go to the chalkboard to figure this out.

The first clue is that “our friend” has been paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to “advise them not to buy MH loans.”  That assertion is partially right.  I did advise Fannie Mae for a number of years on many matters MH, especially about retail chattel lending.  Other than informal, unpaid conversation, which we all have with others, I did not work for or with Freddie Mac.  Nice people and all, but I never did have that paid assignment there.  Too bad.

No Secret

Parenthetically, my assignment with Fannie Me was never secret, no attempt was made to hide it, by either side, and I always had the assignment on my resume on my web site.  So, if I am “our friend up east,” Mr. Moore, who writes that he uncovered that “our friend” was being paid to advise the two GSE’s “about MH paper,” that “secret” information was hiding in plain sight on my web site.  Best place to hide is in plain sight, they say.  And while I counseled caution in buying MH loans, based on MH loan portfolio experience, I never counseled anyone not to buy any loans, only those likely to cause alimentary canal back up.  But that doesn’t establish me as “our friend up east,” does it?

A second allegation is that “our friend” and the Clayton folks were dining together.”  Well, yes Kevin Clayton is a longtime friend of mine, I’ve dined with him contentedly many times, including once in D.C. when I went to the hopper late in the dinner and Kevin managed to convince me when I returned that I had lost in a game to determine who got the check for the night’s dinners.  Since it was a very large group with lots of big eaters and drinkers the tab was well over $1,000.00.  I’d have paid, but . . . . Kevin had the last laugh, he intended to pay all along and he did.  Good boy.

Global Heart Burn

I must admit I did have dinner one night in Omaha, Nebraska with the Clayton folks during the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.  Kevin had invited me out as a guest and I was invited to dinner by Keith Holdbrooks of Southern Energy Homes, a Clayton subsidiary, and a whole host of Clayton “Big Shots” were there.  What was discussed at the table that night?  The only memorable discussion I recall is that the table of 12 or 14 people all believed in the myth of man-made Global Warming, except OleMartyBoy, who tried to hold his ground.  With religious fervor the group accused me of my disbelief as though I was skeptical of the Immaculate Conception, an uncomfortable situation for all.   Since that 2008 dinner my vindication is nearer.  But still, every American has the right to an opinion, even an uninformed one, and there are plenty around these days.

So the “dining with Clayton folks” can’t be used against me, unless we were discussing how man-made Global Warming could be used to de-stabilize MH chattel lending.  Can it?  Some would have you believe it can and perhaps that explains the religious fervor at the table that night.

Conspiracy Theory

So why do I go on about this?  Certainly Mr. Moore is not the only MH figure to write about an industry conspiracy.  The estimable George F. Allen, one of MH’s brightest stars, has often brought up the possibility of a conspiracy.  And of course, the conspiracy always centers around Berkshire Hathaway and Clayton Homes.  Fleetwood, Palm Harbor and Oakwood go unmentioned.  The conclusion being that the reason Clayton Homes is the best of what’s left is conspiracy related.  The strong management there, excellent home lines, disciplined retail lending by two of their companies, and the fortuitousness of being owned by cash rich Berkshire Hathaway, apparently account for nothing.  Would or could Clayton Homes be brought down to Earth if their financial backing disappeared?  Perhaps.

And finally, yes I do live in the “east,” Burlington, Vermont, being far east and regrettably, far north.  But let’s go back to the chalkboard and look at facts, not conjecture.  Here are some of the various facts to be considered to explain the industry slide.

  1. The packages of chattel loans originated and sold into the ABS market from 1995 to 2003 are amongst the very worst loans of any type ever sold to investors.  If sub prime real estate is a problem, and it is, MH ABS paper is the Uber King-of-Sub Prime.  Investors are loath to touch these MH ABS offerings, to this day.
  2. While the industry has severe operating model deficiencies, little has been done by the industry to shore up these deficiencies.  Get the same liquidity to the industry it enjoyed in 1995-1999 and securitize these loans, and the result would still be bloody.  Far too little has changed to make much difference.  And investors not always being stupid, know this.
  3. The MH industry is not seen as important enough by government to subsidize its loan losses.  It has been prepared to do so with conventional housing, but not chattel MH lending.  Scream about it if you will, but that’s the way it is.

Subsidy Withdrawn

So, how much easier it is to cry conspiracy than to accept that from 1950 to 1998, when the music stopped, the success of the industry has constantly been subsidized by lenders?  When that subsidy was withdrawn in the late ‘90’s-early 2000’s, the industry tanked.  Yet, I still hear from many “it worked for 30 or 40 or 50 years.”  Worked for whom, I might ask?  It did not work for the lenders, so most have left.

This brings us to the present, with 2011 expecting between 40-50,000 new home shipments, a continuation of a slide of 90% since 1998.  This is serious, right?  Yet the industry response has been anything but serious.  Most industry response has centered around Washington, D.C. activity.  How’s that working for us?

The question for some would be how to return to the 1974-1995 trend line of about 240,000 new home shipments per year.  This avoids the 1969-1973 bulge, during which we averaged 477,000 home shipments per year, and the 1996-1999 period when we were over 300,000 homes.  You know the record since 1998.

Whence the Volume

Let’s look at this return to a much larger industry size for a moment.  One would think that given the facts we know, the 40-50,000 home shipments might be “where it’s at” into the future.  Baring any new flood of “loose” retail lending money, how do we get back to 250,000 homes annually, or even to the 2004-2007, 125,000 homes, give or take?  We can depend on FEMA for some homes, floods, disasters and hurricanes willing, but not too many.  The LLC’s would like to buy new homes, but their forays there with buy here – pay here have not created profit enthusiasm for this model.  Thus we can’t expect much new home volume there.  Retail chattel lending is very constricted, so retailers are unlikely to help with volume.

Title I, the former “great hope” has proven to be a volume dud, not surprisingly so.  Most non-Clayton retail lenders have to stay on the positive side of 700 FICO to survive.  Can’t look to them for much volume, eh?

The Berkshire Group goes deeper, but they ain’t Greenseco re-incarnate.  Only their disciplined lending and strong servicing culture and yes, experience, makes it all work.  They are not about to pump out $6.3 billion in MH loans as Conseco Finance did in one year around 2001-02.  I would guess if the two Berkshire lenders got to $2 billion combined annually that would be a wondrous job.  So even there, not too much excitement either.

This leaves real estate placements of HUD’s, a long cherished dream to go against the site built industry and whip their azz.  We know that isn’t about to happen, no matter how fervent our dreams.  New “easy” lenders coming to the rescue?  Perhaps.  Have you tried to finance anything in your personal life recently?  If you have you well know the absolute difficulty of any sort of success.  Add in our depreciating asset, the manufactured home, and generally scratch and dent credit capability for most of our buyers, and the hope of a new lender exploding on the scene seems demented.  But hey, we all live in hope.  Remember, Tarzan always said, as he went in and out of terrible scrapes, “Where there is life, there is hope.”  Amen.  Just don’t plan your entire business on the return of Conseco, CIT Group, The Associates, Green Point Credit and the others, though heaven knows their return could carry on long enough to shore up my retirement.

Regulatory Guillotines

Unaddressed yet are the new laws affecting lending and the new consumer agency.  I can only make one comment here.  When was the last time you encountered very complex lending laws, licensing requirements, and a super consumer agency which fueled a burst of sales activity for you?  In my time in the industry since 1972, I’ve seen none.  Perhaps the impact of many new laws, such as the very HUD code itself were overstated, but without the HUD we were shipping up to 580,000 homes per year.  Have you seen that many since in one year?

My best guess, and it is only an experienced guess, is that the industry will not be able to roll back the requirement that most industry transactions will come under the purview of one or more of these regulations, will control transactions, and will cause another reduction in HUD volume.  Even as the industry struggles with ways to avoid their prohibitions, the impact is most likely to be substantial.  I do surely hope I’m wrong.

And what will be the impact of LLC owners extending their own financing for the sale, or rent with option for homes in their communities?  Again, like everything, things not done during good times but becoming a fallback during bad times usually have warts on them.  Self-financing may well be a necessity, and I readily accept that.  If you have an LLC with substantial vacancy and the normal financing available will not fill it, one must save themselves, and self-financing, properly executed, can do that.  But, it does not speak to the substantial work and personnel necessary to make it work, the need for your own capital, the ever-decreasing used homes availability, the specter of violating some arcane lending law, and not least, a liquidity crunch which would drive one to try to cash out their loans and find there are no buyers or only buyers with a huge 80-90% haircut in value.  Some deal.  Pay attention here.

LLC Fallback

So one can’t help but think that as the LLC sector, perhaps the most vibrant and last to fall goes through a contraction in numbers, that only well-located communities with a value component to their offering will weather the storm.  It has been happening already, as the supply of used homes dries up, and new homes are found wanting for self-finance, the corn fields which became communities may be headed back to corn fields or for other use.  Wal-Mart, anyone?

If you struggled through reading my “Saving Chattel Lending” you had to ask yourself, “Can it be this hard, Marty?”  I surely ask myself the same question each time I prepare one of these papers.  If it’s going to be this hard, where does one start, and of the umpteen cures I recommend, which are the five most important?  Answer:  I don’t know.  Second answer:  Note that virtually none of my suggested measures have been tried.  The only change in the industry financing model, which is “the” defect, is that we’ve gone from “fogging a mirror” to 700 plus FICO, real credit capability, a completed application, full and adequate documentation and a belief the borrower is qualified in every way to get the loan and pay for the home successfully thereafter.  That is the quantum industry leap, which has occurred, and it certainly increases lender survivability, but has destroyed lender and industry new home volume.  Want to increase home sales volume?  Find a way to attract many more folks with better credit.  Stop building many new HUD code homes and selling them and what do you think the outcome will be for most industry segments?

So I come back to an industry conspiracy.  This all has to have happened because a mysterious, unnamed “friend up east” used his magical powers to convince some very large, knowledgeable lenders to quit MH chattel lending to throw all the volume to just a few special lenders.  Now if only that powerful friend can get SACU, Triad, and USBank to leave the industry, that will be the final step in the conspiracy.

Come Now

Speaking from atop the “Grassy Knoll,” I’d feel better if the industry might look at the known factors, which have brought the industry to its knees, and worked hard to Saving Chattel Lending.  Believing in “The Conspiracy” may let you off the hook of having to do anything, but will do nothing in resurrecting the industry.  It will take far more than conspiracy theory to do that.  # #

Martin V. (Marty) Lavin
attorney, consultant, expert witness
practice only in factory built housing
350 Main Street Suite 100
Burlington, Vermont 05401-3413
802-660-9911, 802-238-7777 cell
web site: www.martylavin.com
email mhlmvl@aol.com

Editor’s Note:  As with Mr. Lavin’s earlier articles, we have honored his request to post his article “as is.”  Read his other articles:

 

SAFE Act – The Final Rule – and what it means to the manufactured housing industry

July 6th, 2011 No comments

The SAFE Act’s final rule has been released by HUD just as predicted – before July 1st. So for those engaged in captive finance who have put off dealing with the problem, it is now time to get busy.  Because the time before enforcement is shorter than might be expected in some quarters.  Predictably, there is some confusion already and the lengthy document is not even cold. This article should clarify for those who need to know and understand what the final rule means to them.

We have had a team of experts and attorneys going over the document so we can provide authoritative answers that those engaged in captive finance can count on for guidance.  A decision was made to put this article in the form of questions and answers for clarity. But the questions are not necessarily actual questions from readers.

First – The Feds verses the States – Who is in Charge?

The final rule clearly reiterates what was stated in Savanna, Georgia at a meeting when questioned by me some time back.  This sets the minimum standards for compliance with the model legislation but lacks both the power and will to restrain the states from setting higher standards.  States can set additional standards, but they cannot usurp the minimum standards.

Are retail sales people now exempt from licensing in relation to the SAFE Act?

If they follow the rules they are, but, if they fail to follow the rules, they are not.

The final rule is somewhat more liberal than anticipated, which is a huge relief for the entire industry.  But there are still rules.  A salesperson may take, and assist in the filling out, of an application for transmittal to someone else at another legal entity who actually offers to negotiate loan terms, as far as the federal government is concerned.  States are free to disagree, and to place more restrictive rules in place.  Another key feature is the salesperson may not negotiate terms or be compensated by those who do.   However, the mere sharing of general information about a financing source, discussing hypothetical financing options, i.e., options not related to a specific financing source, giving the homebuyer a list of available financing sources without recommending any of the sources, discussing a buyer’s ability to afford a home, presenting or discussing generic facts or generic rate sheets, and/or closing personal property transactions would not be covered under “offers or negotiates”.  While sales commissions on the sale of the home itself are not considered compensation or gain for purposes of the SAFE Act, if the commission is paid out by the same entity that does offer and negotiate to make a loan, those sales commissions may be subject to scrutiny as compensation or gain, and those entities engaged in any form of owner financing are urged to contain their lending in a separate legal entity, including those engaged in rent to own, lease purchase, and lease option transactions.

Is Chattel Lending for Manufactured Homes, RVs, and Boats Exempt from the SAFE Act?

No.

Is Seller Financing Exempt from the SAFE Act?

Only if it is your own residence, or vacation home.

May a Person or Entity that made a loan prior to the SAFE Act modify that loan for the benefit of the borrower without being licensed under the SAFE Act?

HUD chose to defer judgment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on that issue.  It should be noted that many states do require such and other licensure if the modification is permanent. Since this is an additional requirement, neither HUD nor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will act to ameliorate any such state requirements.

May we utilize our attorneys to originate our seller finance loans so we do not need to license?

An attorney may not act as a “straw man” for the actual lender unless the highest laws of that state specifically define those duties as part of the practice of law in that state.  Attorneys are allowed to prepare documents and provide legal advice, as well as assist in a transaction without licensure, but they may not act as originator or lender with SAFE Act licensure.  Many states will have additional requirements for lenders, attorney or not.

May we utilize a licensed loan originator to avoid our need to be licensed when seller financing?

From the federal government perspective of the SAFE Act, the answer is yes.  With that said however, there are serious complications that the final rule chose to ignore.  In all but a very few states, the practice of lending requires state licensure, so while an individual or entity engaged in providing some form of financing for the manufactured homes they sell may be able to avoid SAFE Act licensure, they must obtain state licensure as a lender.  Many states will require SAFE Act licensure as part of the process to obtain or maintain the other required licenses.  Because some states require the originator to also service the loan in total, the process becomes even more complicated.  Some states have already adapted the stance that SAFE Act licensure is necessary to modify even loans that predated the SAFE Act.  If you are interested in pursuing this strategy, make sure you have sought out competent advice on the requirements for the state or states in which you plan to operate.  There are other programs that do meet all the requirements necessary to avoid licensure of both SAFE Act and state lending licenses available in the manufactured housing industry if avoiding licensure of any kind is your goal that avoid the pitfalls of using an MLO only firm.

Is there now reciprocity between states to avoid all the duplication for multi state operations?

It is the federal government’s statement that it does not wish to encourage a “race to the bottom,” and thus is not encouraging such reciprocity, but cannot stand in the way of the states if they choose to participate in some form of reciprocity.

This synopsis of the Final Rule was created with the assistance of two nationally known law firms under retainer to Rishel Consulting Group.  It is not offered as a legal opinion to anyone reading this material, and their liabilities are limited to their retained client, Rishel Consulting Group.  Additional detailed information on the Final Rule is available in the July issue of Captive Finance News. # #

Ken Rishel, Rishel Consulting Group, ken@rishel.net

Dodd-Frank Congressional Hearing – Lost Opportunity?

June 20th, 2011 No comments

Dear Doug, George and Tony:

Because of your keen interest in this issue, We thought that you might be interested in the below Press Release regarding a June 16, 2011 congressional hearing on the “Impact of Dodd-Frank Regulations on Jobs and U.S Competitiveness.” The hearing, according to the Release, is a reflection of “widespread and growing concern that the Dodd-Frank Act with its 400 new regulations will lead to industry capital and jobs leaving the United States.”

Given the fact, as Doug so correctly pointed out in his recent open letter to CFED’s Kathryn Goulding, that Dodd-Frank, “without alteration will … eliminate the availability to finance [manufactured housing] loans lower than $78,000” when the HUD Code market averages $60,000, we were wondering whether anyone submitted, at the very least, written testimony for this hearing on behalf of the industry’s finance companies, retailers and communities? If not, that failure, in itself, illustrates the need for a separate national post-production industry association…and if yes, it should have been widely circulated for further publicity and a second bite of the apple with other members of Congress and Washington officials.

While it is true that the focus of the in-person testimony at this particular hearing related more to international regulatory disparities, the fact remains that given the potential damage that Dodd-Frank regulation could do to the industry, with its corresponding impacts on economy, jobs and competitiveness in the heartland of the United States, this matter (i.e., elimination of a whole class of affordable housing for moderate and lower income American families) should be highlighted and new markers established with Congress and other officials in Washington at every step, such as this hearing. The post-production sector and its national representative, need to be taking advantage of every conceivable opportunity and every possible forum (particularly a direct Dodd-Frank hearing, like this) to expose the plight of the industry and its consumers, and the need for a remedy from Congress. Needless to say MHARR fully supports any such action.

Thanks,

Danny

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: DANNYGHORBANI@AOL.COM


Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives

Press Release
Financial Services Committee to Examine Impact of Dodd-Frank Regulations on Jobs and U.S. Competitiveness
WASHINGTON — The Financial Services Committee will examine the international implications of the Dodd-Frank Act on U.S. economic competitiveness during a hearing on Thursday.

“There is a widespread and growing concern that the Dodd-Frank Act with its 400 new regulations will lead to industry, capital and jobs leaving the United States. This is a concern that many of us on the Committee have expressed repeatedly,” said Chairman Spencer Bachus. “Our hearing will examine the regulatory disparities between the U.S. and other nations and how that could put American companies at a competitive disadvantage and harm our economy.”

The Committee will specifically look at four crucial areas where divergent regulatory approaches taken by the United States and the rest of the world could damage the U.S. economy and the ability of financial institutions to compete against their foreign counterparts: capital and liquidity requirements; regulation and oversight of “systemically important financial institutions”; derivatives requirements; and a total ban on proprietary trading.

The hearing, titled “Financial Regulatory Reform: The International Context,” will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 16 in room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

This will be a two-panel hearing with the following witnesses:
Panel I
Sheila C. Bair, Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs
Gary Gensler, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Mary Schapiro, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Daniel K. Tarullo, Governor, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
John Walsh, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Panel II
Stephen O’Connor, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley, and Chairman, International Swaps and Derivatives Association
Timothy Ryan, President & CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
Hal S. Scott, Nomura Professor and Director of the Program on International Financial Systems, Harvard Law School
Barry L. Zubrow, Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Damon A. Silvers, Associate General Counsel, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations