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Posts Tagged ‘independent’

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

MHGrassroots: A Call to Action

June 17th, 2014 No comments

As I sit comfortably in a 737 at 30000 feet coming back from a thought provoking meeting at the MHI Expo in Las Vegas I don't have to go in great detail on how the world has changed since 2001.

From how we fly, how we communicate, and even how we conduct business, it has all changed in ways none of us truly imagined then.

Every day I read more about how a government I have grown up loving, is making changes that contradict the core beliefs and attributes it was built upon. With that said, let's look at a few issues that have faced, primarily as it relates to the manufactured home market in the past 15 years.

In Texas we were asleep at the wheel in 2001 when House Bill 1869 took effect. I was but one of the many independent dealers who were wondering how this could have happened. I even looked Gov. Rick Perry in the eye and told him point blank that this bill would cost Texans jobs and would reduce home order sales, which in turn would force the closing of several fine manufacturing plants.

Unfortunately I and those around me were right. Even though the TMHA through a lot of hard work was able to have this poor piece of legislature repealed in 2003, the damage was already done.

I won't go into the specifics of the law itself, but I will say it was a killer from day one. If you have any questions about it, just Google it. I have heard the experts’ state that 85% of the independents who were in the market at that time were wiped out by this law and the recession that hit us in 2008. And guess what. Those folks are gone, probably never to return again.

So let's take a look at where the train came off the tracks.

We were too late to stop one train simply because we weren’t aware it was heading for the station.

If we want to be successful in the legislative arena we have to stop the bills before they get that close to the tracks. We, the industry as a whole, must be vigilant in being aware of any laws, in every city, county, state and federal arena that could negatively impact not only us, but the people around us.

This means we have to know, and have a relationship with, the people in charge. Governor Perry signed that bill even after I told him the truth. Why? Simple, he didn't know me from Adam. No relationship equals no traction. We have to build those relationships in order for our voices to not only be heard but to be accredited.

How was it fixed? A grassroots effort. From the ground up. TMHA called upon every member….who in turn called on every state senator and state representative to repeal a bad piece of legislation. And it worked! Why? Because the industry stood up as a whole, and worked together for the common good of all. I call this a victory for the good guys.

Let's look at another victory.

Last year I received a phone call from a landlord who was my ‘competitor’ in Plainview, Texas. I use that word competitor only because we are after the same pool of customers. I call him a friend.

Basically this city was in the process of creating a city ordinance which would require an inspection on every rental inside the city once it was vacated by a tenant. Never mind the fact that this would be in direct contradiction to the HUD code on a manufactured home. Every house, apartment, and mobile home would have to be brought back to current code if this law passed.

This would mean thousands of dollars spent to update every unit.

One unintended consequence of this law would have forced the citizens to pay rent in excess of three times the current rate.

Another would have riddled the city with homes to be demolished due to the repair cost being more then the value of the home.

Yet another would have been a mass exodus of good paying tenants to the surrounding communities which didn't have this law.

So how did we stop this calamity before it was passed like Texas House Bill 1869?

We showed up in droves. There was standing room only at every hearing. Meetings with every city official we could get and we killed it before it could even be heard by city council. How? It took one phone call from each of us who took the time to make that call. And another victory ensued.

So what does all this mean to you, the reader?

It's time. It is time to make a difference and make a call of your own.

I know you are busy, but don't blow this one off.

Dodd Frank and the SAFE Act are not going away. So what are you going to do? I am calling not only those of us in the industry, but all of us.

The government doesn't need us, but this country does. We are this country's answer to affordable housing. But if the people can't get financing for that home what good are we to them?

If you don't know who to call that's ok. Call your state association. If you are not a member, sign up. If you are a member, get active. Make a difference. You can. ##

shawn-fuller-d-r-housing-new-deal-texas-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-mhpronews-com-75x75-Shawn Fuller
D & R Housing, LLC.
New Deal, TX 79350

Leading the Charge: The Back Story on S. 3484

August 8th, 2012 No comments

tim-williams-ohio-manufactured-home-association-mhpronewsWhen you get a key piece of federal legislation sponsored in the U.S. Sentate, how does that happen? We asked Tim Williams to answer that question, and here is what he told us in his own words.

“First and foremost Nathan Smith is the game changer (with the credibility and relationship) who advocated and led the industry effort with the assistance of MHI. Nathan, myself, Tim Williams of 21st and MHI’s Jason Boehlert as well as several other MHI key finance members initially met with Senator Brown in January regarding the industry’s concerns with Dodd/Frank. Nathan did a great job debriefing the Senator and his staff on the issue and encouraging  legislative consideration. It was clear Senator Brown had a good understanding and sincere interest in the issue and our industry even before the meeting started.

I was able to discuss Ohio’s strong MH Commission’s role in consumer protection under the industry led independent Ohio MH Commission (6 of 9 commissioners must be appointed per a list nominated by OMHA per Ohio  law). Senator Brown was very interested in the industry, our consumer and their protections under the Ohio Commission including the fact that 100% of all homes are inspected during three critical phases of the  installation process in Ohio. He asked many questions regarding Ohio law, demographics and industry businesses as well as the jobs aspect of our economic impact in Ohio and nationally. He was clearly engaged with us on the issue.

Tim Williams of 21st was able to succinctly condense a rather complicated issue in to an understandable dynamic all could grasp and wrap our heads around. Tim’s ability to take the issue down to its basic components was very helpful in demonstrating the practical  challenges facing the ability to finance Ohioans in to affordable manufactured home ownership. I am very appreciative of Tim and 21st Mortgage's leadership on the Dood/Frank  concerns and believe his impact on the legislative aspect of all of this is probably underestimated but nonetheless critical to our success.

I personally appreciate the effort Senator Brown demonstrated in understanding our industry and concerns as well as to brief us on the legislative dynamics of the issue. I encourage all industry members to thank Senator Brown and express support to his office in any appropriate manner.  He stood up for our consumers and industry on a challenging issue regardless of the pressures he faces in an election year.

tim-williams-ohio-manufactured-home-association-mhpronewsTim Williams
 Executive Vice President
 Ohio Manufactured Homes Association
twilliams@omha-usa.org
 O:614-799-2340
 F:614-799-0616

What is the the future of independent Manufactured Home Communities?

October 22nd, 2011 1 comment

A question brought up by an individual at a real estate investment group meeting in  Tacoma, WA did not get answered at that time so thought I would attempt to put my perspective on it and then get feedback as to other people’s opinion.

The question:   Where do you think the MHP industry (a.k.a. Manufactured Home Park, Manufactured Home Community, Land Lease Community) is headed?

To start, I will explain some of the chatter on the internet on this subject.

Many are under the impression that within 5-7 years the MHPs will fade into history. Manufacturers are not listening to MHP Owners and are not building the types of manufactured homes needed to fill the lots available in the older MHPs.

The MH Retailers have such a high markup from the factory price that the end users cannot afford their homes.

Banks & Mortgage Companies are not interested in financing a “mobile home” that is not attached to land.

So MHP Owners have had to step in and do the financing for the individuals looking to buy. Politicians are trying to over-regulate the industry by passing new laws dealing with financing, rent control, maintenance issues. Their interference with the free market is killing the industry overall.

On paper in WA (lip service?) some politicians have made efforts to extended benefits to help Owners maintain and develop MHPs as the last form of affordable housing. Yet they did not provide funding to support their magnanimous ruling on paper.

On top of all this the taxes keep going up – calculated as a commercial operation according to the Pierce County Assessor’s Office instead of as multifamily residential. That is where it stands. In order to bring some relief to the overall picture all parties need to get together and work out a solution.

There are numerous summits and all of the above are represented, except there are no representatives from Mobile Home Park Owners that count. The ones who have 500 -1000 units are there, but they do not represent the ‘mom and pop’ MHP Owners as a whole.  Community Owners need to get their input into these meetings in some way.

Another problem that will arise is that many Owners are from out of state and depend on a mismanagement company to run their operations. They do not have an office on site – their office is 5-10 miles down the road or more. These MHPs fall into a state of disrepair and then the city officials step in and close them down.

The tax base from the personal property taxes are not very much. By closing the MHPs down, then they can build a new car dealership or motel that brings in more taxes for the city. Watch over the next 3-7 years to see how many MHPs are closed by city officials and not a developer Buyer.

As for the smaller operations – business will continue as usual. A home is abandoned – take it over, rehab it or have a Lonnie Dealer do it for you with you providing concessions for them. Sell the homes and finance it with a note. Same with those that are selling their homes: Buy it at a discount, rehab it, sell it on a note – never RENT a MH. If repo homes come available in another MHP – the Owner of that MHP should jump on the opportunity of keeping the home in their MHP. If they do not and it is available, you need to buy it, relocate it to your MHP and get it occupied.

Several of the trainers for the Washington State Mobile Home Community Owners Association have provided classes explaining to all in attendance that for each home that comes into your MHP you increase the overall value of your MHP.

For example if lot rent is $400/month and you bring in a home to fill a vacancy. The rent for one year is increased by $4800 (12 X $400). Dividing this by 0.10 (10 CAP) the value of your MHP just increased by $48,000.00. As long as you have the frame in your MHP, the mobile home can be rebuilt and your income stream will continue to flow in.

One MHP can be considered a pretty decent retirement plan. Most people who get involved in the industry are not satisfied with just one and may have more. Just be careful not to get overextended. Why?  The scuttlebutt on the internet is that the commercial loans will have the same problems as the residential loans. One cause is that loans are not being made. The financial institutions are saving their funds for when interest rates climb to 11-12%. (A rumor was started that this was supposed to happen in November 2009). The main cause will be that the banks and mortgage companies will be sticking their noses up in the air and looking down on financing or refinancing of MHPs. Many MHP Owners have 3-5-7 or 10 year balloons that will be coming due soon.

Last year at the convention I brought this up and one of the instructors stated that one of his clients was in this type of predicament. One solution is for the use of Private Money to bail out fellow MHP Owners. The elimination of the banks and mortgage companies would be a great relief to many. Yet, who has deep enough pockets to take them out of the picture?

Email me your thoughts as to where you see the MHP industry going in the future. The above is my own personal observation of where things are going.   # #

Dale Osborn
Owner of 1 MHP in CO and 2 in WA.
dale_w_osborn@msn.com