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Posts Tagged ‘interview’

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

August 14th, 2014 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

Bill-Matchneer-mhpronews-com-75x75Bill Matchneer

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

Finance Expert Dick Ernst of FinmarkUSA: introduction at Tunica Manufactured Housing Show 2014

May 20th, 2014 No comments

Editor's note. This public introduction was videoed during the business building seminars held during the 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show.

Note that the Speakers knew they were being filmed.

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An exclusive interview with Dick Ernst is planned to be featured in our upcoming June issue. Dick moderated the finance panel at aDick-Ernst-Financial-Marketing-Associates-tony-kovach-mhpronews-com3 packed room of industry professionals at the 2014 Tunica Show. Dick Ernst also moderated MH home lending and commercial panels, in an overflow crowd during the 2014 Louisville Show.

Dick is a key figure in meetings with industry and public officials, including the CFPB, FHFA and more.

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You'll get exclusive insights into the widely acknowledged top man in the manufactured home finance business, into industrymhpronews-interviews-with- finance issues, how to generate more profits and much more. Watch for it – and the. Watch it – in June!

More video Interviews available today are found at this link below.

http://www.MHProNews.com/home/industry-news/industry-in-focus/7540-global-eyes-on-manufacturedmodular-home-movers-shakers-and-news-makers

Our thanks to Dick Ernst at FinMarkUSA.com for his profit-making and protecting leadership for businesses, associations and others, and my thanks too for his kind words shared in the video above. ##

(Image and video credits, ManufacturedHomes.com in association with MHProNews.com)

Appalled by Gary Rivlin’s New York Times Article on “The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U”

April 8th, 2014 No comments

As an experienced industry professional, former owner of a manufactured home, and academic scholar completing a dissertation on attitudes and perceptions towards manufactured housing, I am appalled by the seemingly acceptable exploitation of low-income residents and lack of corporate social and ethical responsibility conveyed in this article.

Gary Rivlin’s article portrayed Frank Rolfe’s business model and success as the standard for the affordable housing side of the manufactured home industry.

According to peer-reviewed academic research, the negative social construction of low-income families profoundly influence opinions of affordable housing residents (Nguyen et al., 2012).

Contemporary mass media and popular culture, such as Rivlin’s piece, contribute to the negative stigmatization through the depiction of manufactured housing residents as alcoholics, crack heads, drug dealers, wife beaters, sex offenders, and the mentally ill (Kusenbach, 2009).

While Rolfe’s tales of tenants “weirdness” certainly adds humorous entertainment to his lesson of exploiting the poverty class, the damage inflicted through contributing to negative stigmatization of residents is concerning.

Rivlin’s article is a prime example of media coverage that increases misconceptions through inaccurate and outdated information, as well as the omission of information about advancements and improvements.

I am disappointed that The New York Times would contribute to the unflattering depiction of manufactured housing residents and use of deprecating names (i.e. trailer) that reduce social prestige and contribute to negative social perceptions.

According to research by Mimura et al. (2010), accurate media coverage should use proper terminology instead of dated slang words and report truthful and unbiased aspects of the product.

Perhaps Mr. Rivlin should spend some time with one of the industry manufacturers and gain an accurate perspective of the product and targeted consumer market.##

lisa-tyler-walden-university-posted-manufactured-home-professional-news-mhpronews-com-50x50-(1).pngLisa Tyler
Walden University
lisa.tyler@waldenu.edu

(Editor's Note: A broad, industry based response to the Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U, which includes comments MHI's Chairman Nathan Smith and other industry veterans, is found at this link below.

http://www.ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com/sensationalistic-cold-hard-lessons-of-mobile-home-u-new-york-times-article-by-gary-rivlin-draws-manufactured-home-industry-ire-desire-and-fire/

The story linked above, as the second one below, have both been leading reads on their respective sites.

Reader responses to this topic or others of industry interest are welcomed at latonyk@gmail.com or iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com please indicated your topic in the subject line, thank you.)

Why Retailers and Community Operators should go to Tunica!

March 19th, 2014 No comments

As I read the digital 2014 Tunica Show brochure and business building and profit protecting seminar line up, it became crystal clear why Retailers and Community Owner/Operators ought to be in Tunica next Wednesday morning through Friday at noon (March 26-28)!

Retailers and Communities can get free:

  • Networking with your peers,
  • Compare Manufacturers side by side, over 80 homes will be on display!
  • Compare products and services needed by your business side by side,
  • Get the latest on Manufactured Home Lending available TODAY, from all the major lenders all under one roof.
  • Get expert guidance on Commercial Lending on MH Communities,
  • Get marketing and sales tips in the Dominate Your Local Market 2.0 Seminar, featuring manufactured housing marketing and sales veteran, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.
  • Compare CRM products in a free panel discussion with Scott Stroud and myself, and learn why they are a key to growing your sales in 2014 and beyond.
  • Get success tips on MH Communities (MHCs) from pros with successful firms who know!

Let me give you a quick snapshot of the last bullet point above, which will provide the reasons you need to grab your business cards, and have your photo ID so you can enter the Tunica Show, free!

In the last decade, as the numbers of retailers and shipments declined, manufactured home communities (MHC) have of necessity become on-site-home leasing and selling operations.

Communities have always had to do the types of services and duties that developers and multi-family operations have provided in the conventional housing world.

Tunica has become a magnet in recent years, attracting more communities as well as more retailers than in prior years.

Here is the line up of on the panel for MHC Lessons Learned, to be held Thursday, 10:00 AM – 10:55 AM on March 27th.

Success Tips from Manufactured Home Community Owners & Executives!

For anyone in or thinking about getting into the land-lease community business, this panel discussion is for you! Hear practical tips from community operators that can help you operate your community more professionally and profitably.

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Jenny Hodge, Vice President of the National Communities Council (NCC), will be your panel moderator.

You can learn more about Jenny in this month's MHProNews exclusive interview A Cup of Coffee with…Jenny Hodge.

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Among those on the three person MHC panel is Tammy Fonk, an Associate with the CBRE MH/RV National Group. Tammy was born and raised in the MH industry with two family owned communities. She operated the family owned company's sales and marketing business as well as having an active role in day to day community operations and resident relations. As a member of the MHRV Team, Tammy now works closely with public and private investors on building business relations and opportunities to enhance the Manufactured Housing Industry as well as the RV Resort and Marina properties in North America. Tammy works with owners and buyers of small, medium and larger communities in addition to representing large portfolio owners.

maria-horton-newport-pacific-capital-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news-com

Maria Horton is a regional manager with West Coast powerhouse, Newport Pacific. Maria's bio is linked here, but having met her, let me tell you what her resume doesn't say. This is a warm, delightful engaging professional! You will love to hear here insights and experiences on this panel discussion.

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Rick Rand (l), Sam Zell (c), Jim Clayton (r)

Last and not least, is Rick Rand, who made quite a stir recently with this guest column. Rick was the subject of another MHProNews.com interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Rick Rand.

If online registration for the Tunica Show is closed by the time you read this, don't worry! You can bring your business card and a photo ID, retailers, communities, builder-developers, realtors and installers will be able to sign up at the door, free with those credentials!

Let me close with a tip of the hat to L. A. Tony Kovach. Dennis Hill recently gave Tony quite the well deserved public shout-out, for his key role in the come back of the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show.

Community Operations executive Ted Gross, with Continental Communities praised his session as being the best marketing presentation he had seen since coming into the MHC business.

We've worked with Tony about 90 days now, and let me tell you from first hand experience his deep passion for the MH Industry.

Tony cares about the success of people, operations and loves to see happy consumers enjoying our product.

I don't personally know of anyone who gives more time away for the benefit of the industry.

Tony's consulting and banner ads have helped our company's growth and presence in MH significantly! On MHProNews, he brings out the articles, experts and tackles the topics others shy away from, and is a friendly, peace loving professional and family man.

When you think about it, Tony's efforts to inspire our industry to do more and grow at shows like Louisville and Tunica are part of the rising tide of sales in our industry. You may or may not know it yet, but he makes you money just by being here and spreading the good word about our industry on sites like ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com and here on MHProNews.com.

These are among the reasons why I'll be voting for him as MHI Supplier of the Year, and I hope others that read this will consider doing the same.

We will be at booth 13H in Harrah's Convention Hall. Change your plans! Make your travel arrangements! Fly, drive or hitch a ride, but we hope to see you in Tunica for the 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show! ##

brad-nelms-coo-manufactured-homes-com-posted-mhpronews-comBrad Nelms
COO
ManufacturedHomes.com

Why the Continued Conflict?

March 8th, 2014 No comments

One has to ask themselves why this conflict continues? You ask what is the conflict and why do we as an industry need to concern ourselves with this issue? The answers are simple; the conflict is the continued divide between MHARR and MHI. The reason we must concern ourselves is obvious; industry unity will bring us further and faster than continued disunity.

I am not alone in asking this question about the root causes of the conflict.

Recently individuals from both inside the industry and the regulatory sector have written about the approach and tone of the messages sent by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform's (MHARR) President and CEO, Danny Ghorbani.

There is no reason for messages of the nature like the one linked here to continue.

Just this week the industry received some well needed good news that Pamela Beck Danner, JD, was appointed as the new Career Administrator for the HUD Manufactured Housing Program.

Rather than just leaving the message as a congratulatory letter, Danny stated that MHARR will challenge HUD’s change to the law regarding the position to being a career vs. non-career administrator.

Even if HUD has inappropriately changed the law, why send this widely distributed mixed message? Why not just congratulate Pamela and then quietly send HUD an objection that would not be widely distributed?

Continuing this pattern of creating conflict is not beneficial to anyone involved in Manufactured Housing regardless of which area of the industry one is involved in. Are these the types of messages that we want as we work to accomplish our industry goals? I think not.

Just think how much more our industry could accomplish by working together! It is critical that as an industry we focus on the target and develop a cooperative effort to move our goals forward.

Both organizations do not always have to agree; in fact we may agree to disagree. Even in that case, we must show our public unity and spend our collective time working on the core issues.

By not working together some think we weaken our message. By contrast, when we work together we can send a more powerful message to Congress, the Regulators and all others involved that we stand together to accomplish our collective goals.

Clearly MHI is moving the ball forward in this regard, on both the regulatory and legislative fronts. One might ask, if MHI can do it alone, without Danny Ghorbani/MHARR, will MHARR and Danny become politically irrelevant?

I have been in the Manufactured Home Community and Home Sales businesses for over 32 years. During this time I have worked with manufacturers that were members of both MHI and MHARR. In fact, some of the manufactures whom I purchased homes from were only MHARR members. Naturally, I have spent a great deal of time with the principals of these companies along with Danny discussing many issues.

We have developed close personal relationships from working together. From our times together I have learned much about many issues, some which I was not aware of previously, others that could affect my business. There have been issues on which we have not agreed upon, yet we never treated each other rudely or without mutual respect.

That is the type of relationship which both organizations must strive to maintain, especially in today’s difficult times.

Those of us in the business are all very conscientious of whom we choose to work with or purchase products from today. Our decisions are influenced by many factors; company history, price, service, product mix, warranty and personal relationships. I am about to purchase new homes to place in my communities. One consideration that I would be remiss to not consider in my decision making process is which manufacturers support the industry's goals that I support.

In addition, I have very strong reservations on working with a supplier who supports continued conflict and inappropriate messages being distributed by MHARR's CEO. Why would one work with a supplier who is not aligned with our industry's or my personal goals?

This is no different than one deciding to no longer buy homes from a manufacturer who lacks in timely, quality post-sale service and warranty support.

To financially support a manufacturer who through his association dues allows this discord and strife to continue in this small industry is questionable at best. We need to vote with our wallets! Maybe that will get the attention of those who fund the emailed or print messages that slow or harms our industry's message in Washington, DC.?

Maybe that would stop this avoidable and counterproductive multi-decade conflict. ##

rick-rand-great-value-homes-manufactured-home-pro-news-industry-voices-guest-blogRick Rand
Great Value Homes
Milwaukee, WI.

(Editor's Note, Rick stresses he is writing as an industry business professional, and not on behalf of any association. Rick was recently interviewed, see A Cup of Coffee with…Rick Rand., and is also in a video interview shown on the paged link here.)

Community Owners! MHC Lessons Learned

January 8th, 2014 No comments

Join your peers in the MHC world for an exciting hour to learn real life proven methods of how to improve your land lease communities Bottom Line Performance! Get tips from seasoned professionals who have profited in large, medium and small Manufactured Home Community (MHC) operations.

This is a program you will not want to miss.

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The panel discussion will be moderated by Ross Kinzler, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing Alliance. Ross has over 25 years of experience in the Manufactured Housing Industry. He has been active at both the national and state levels. He is a founding member and past Chairman of the Manufactured Housing Educational Institute. Ross currently serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the RV/MH Hall of Fame. In addition, Ross has taken on many leadership roles industry wide and has served on numerous boards and committees dealing with issues facing MH communities.

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Among those in our three person panel is Tammy Fonk, an Associate with the CBRE MH/RV National Group. Tammy was born and raised in the MH industry with two family owned communities. She operated the family owned company's sales and marketing business as well as having an active role in day to day community operations and resident relations. As a member of the MHRV Team, Tammy now works closely with public and private investors on building business relations and opportunities to enhance the Manufactured Housing Industry as well as the RV Resort and Marina properties in North America. Tammy works with owners and buyers of small, medium and larger communities in addition to representing large portfolio owners.

don-westphal-manufactured-home-community-development-operations-owner-posted-mhpronews-com-industry-voices-.png

The panel also includes Don Westphal President of Don C. Westphal & Associates. Don has over 40 years of experience of working in; community conceptual planning, master site design and landscape architectural design for land lease communities. Don has represented developers and owners of communities from concept plan approval all the way through final construction. He also works with owners on Community Imaging and on Marketing Plans for communities. The communities have ranged in size from a small number of home sites to those with over 500 sites. Don was featured in this interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Don Westphal.

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The third panel member is Richard (Rick) Rand, President of Great Value Homes, Inc. Rick has over 33 years of experience in the manufactured housing industry. GVH is an acquisition, development and property management firm specializing in multiple aspects of the Manufactured Housing Industry. The Company currently operates 6 Manufactured Housing Communities and is also a distributor of Manufactured Homes sold in the communities.

In addition, GVH acts as a broker for the resale of existing manufactured homes for residents who reside in the land lease communities the Company manages. Richard also acts as a consultant to institutional investment and private firms on various aspects of the Manufactured Home Industry.

Rick was founder and President of Asset Development Group, Inc. and its affiliate, Home Source One, LLC. From 1984 time until his departure in 2004, he grew the company to the 25th largest owner of manufactured housing communities in the country. During his tenure at Asset Development Group, Inc. Rick managed all aspects of the enterprise. He was responsible for all of the Company's property acquisitions and requisite financing. From the Company's inception, he oversaw the staffing and training of the ADG/HSO employees and management team. In addition, Rick was responsible for the planning and development of over 2,500 new manufactured homes sites that were both additions to existing communities and new green field development.

Rick is featured in this exclusive interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Rick Rand.

The Louisville Seminars are one of the most popular draws for attendees to the show.

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Come Join us at the 2014 Louisville Manufactured Housing Show! The Show was the best attended event in all of Manufactured Housing in 2013. Most industry members can attend free, learn more at the link above, and learn more about the other valuable seminars available for industry members at this link. ##

rick-rand-great-value-homes-manufactured-home-pro-news-industry-voices-guest-blog-.pngRichard J. Rand
President
Great Value Homes, Inc.
9458 N. Fairway Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53217-1321
414-352-3855
414-352-3631 (fax)
414-870-9000 (cell)
RickRand@gvhinc.net

George Allen Forecasts Manufactured Housing Industry Change and Future

April 6th, 2011 No comments

Part IV: Manufactured Housing Industry Change and Looking Forward

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a four-part series of the exclusive interview George F. Allen gave MHMSM.com Industry in Focus Reporter Matthew J. Silver.

MHMSM: What have been the major changes in the industry you have witnessed in your 25+ years in the business? 

GFA: We’ve covered some of it. But it goes back to some of the trends, mainly the consolidation trend. But you have to understand, before 1990 there was not even a dearth of knowledge about operating statistics, or occupancy percentages, or any kind of numbers – it just did not exist. And the prominent players at the time did not want it to exist. They may not say that, but it’s true.

When I hung out my shingle as a consultant, I thought of what kind of statistics would be helpful to the industry. But my detractors were the very people I was trying to help. The attitude back in the 90s was, “Why document this information, and publicize it; it’s only going to attract investors.” People are only going to want to compete for this limited number of properties. It wasn’t until Sam Zell took MHCs public, and the Wall Street analysts asked, “What’s your occupancy, what’s your operating expense ratios?” Basically, what the companies claimed to do did not make the Wall Street guys happy because they had no norms to compare them to.

Then the major guys came to me because they wanted to go public, and started supporting me as an independent third-party researcher and writer. That changed the whole landscape. Other investors started showing up, and that made it a whole different ball game.

Some of that same attitude exists today, and it works in two ways:

1. I guarantee you in the next few months, I will get calls from people who want to know the numbers in the Allen Report, but they are the same people who refused to give me numbers when I was putting it together.

2. The other is, there are still areas that are totally unexplored. How much do you pay a community manager? Is it based on the size of the community? What’s the nature of the manager’s duties? Nobody wants to share. We’ve tried several times through MHI to survey these 500 portfolio people at national meetings, and no one wants to participate. They don’t want to reveal what they are paying, and they don’t want their managers to hear what other people are paying their managers. We are notoriously low pay for what we require. But they don’t participate in the HR surveys that they claim to want.

MHMSM: What are you going to do after you semi-retire this year?

GFA: I have a number of personal and family projects I want to be engaged in and enjoy. Not that I don’t enjoy what I’m doing now. The problem is I’m so passionate about the industry that it’s hard for me to pigeonhole my time to enjoy these other areas. I don’t plan to disappear entirely.

MHMSM: Do you have other speakers lined up for the International Roundtable later this year? Are you locked in on a location for this year’s Roundtable?

GFA: I’m working on that right now. I’m working on my speaker list and the location. Sept. 14-16 is what I’m targeting now. I always try to come up with some sort of a theme. I think it’s going to be, “The Past, Present, and Future of Landlease Communities.” I normally have one or two keynote speakers. But this time, if the three different entities I’m in negotiations with right now to sell my report, step up to the plate and buy sections of what I’m doing, they will come together at the Roundtable. They are looking at my Report from three different perspectives. I’m not going to identify them, but one is a national not-for-profit that’s looking at using certain things I do to continue to serve the portfolio owners from coast to coast. That’s the big picture. The second group is a for-profit that wants to serve the 85 percent of the small ‘mom and pop’s’ across the country. The third part of the puzzle could very well be a first time ever academic presence that wants to better serve the research and statistic gathering and publication requirements of both the manufactured housing industry and the land lease community asset class. I’m in discussion with all three of these entities.

It’s not just the report they’re looking at – it’s my newsletter, my database, various other reports I do. I think they could pick up what I’m doing and move ahead in their specialty areas. Nothing would please me more. And I think the three organizations could do a better job than just one person. That’s my cautiously optimistic view of what I would like to be able to market at the Roundtable this fall as being a turning point in the history of the asset class.

Thirty years ago, none of this existed. Today it exists in a sole proprietor fashion, but going forward, in 2012, it could be more encompassing, more efficient, and better serve all the community owners across the country. So, the plan is to bring these three to the Roundtable. Two of them have been there before. And even if we weren’t negotiating now, they would be there anyhow, but representing only much smaller parts of what they have been doing up to now. What I’m hoping is that the Roundtable might represent the coming together of all three of these entities, giving them the opportunity from the bully platform to say, “This is what we’re picking up from where George is leaving off.” The only thing I might have a problem with, is all three want me to continue to be involved. That could be a greater time commitment than I have now.

MHMSM: Do you think the industry as a whole is on an upswing, or will it just maintain this somewhat tepid – bumping bottom – atmosphere, with new home shipments hovering around the 50,000 home mark annually?

GFA: The school book answer is, “Of course I’m looking for a bright future for manufactured housing.” But the truth of the matter is, there won’t be a bright future for that half of the industry until third-party chattel financing returns. If the retailer could take the buyer by the hand and lead them to a Green Tree, say, and tell the customer that they can have a 650 score and we will underwrite the loan for your new home. Until that happens, and it’s not even on the horizon yet, we will be at 50,000 homes a year.

But I call it the ‘double dual’ industry. You have the factory and distribution side of the house that’s on the ropes. Then you have the real estate investment and development side of the house, the communities, smiling all the way to the bank. Yes, we have to take risks to make it work, but it’s a seller’s market. This is the only type of real estate investment you can be involved in that, if you are willing to take an extra risk, you can add value by reselling your homes on site and carrying your own mortgages.

MHMSM: If you had to do it over again, what might you do differently?

GFA: That’s a broad question. I could have been a much wealthier person concentrating on buying and selling more properties, than concentrating my energies on creating and developing all the resources I am now selling. Even if I get my dream price for this, I will have made far less than if I had bought and sold manufactured home communities as an investment. I have been very happy on the consulting side. It’s been more personally fulfilling.

MHMSM: Anything you want to add?

GFA: What is not widely known is that through most of that 30-year period of time I have been involved in the industry, there have been individuals involved with portfolios of manufactured home communities who have contributed significant financial support to what I’ve accomplished, who have by choice remained unidentified to this day. I feel they deserve a lot of credit that they’ve not received, and probably will never receive, at their preference. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished; I just regret that they’re unsung heroes, to whom individuals and companies who own a land lease community in this country and in Canada owe this debt of gratitude, but will never be able to express it. It bothers me, because they made it possible for me to do what I am doing, with money and otherwise. I keep the communities as a separate business, but it could never have supported me in doing what the individuals did quietly, behind the scenes. That may change later in the summer. Stay tuned.

MHMSM: Thank you for your time.

Reporters note: GFA could have retired 20 years ago, but found the consulting work more satisfying than even a zillion dollars. # #

Click here to read Part I

Click here to read Part II

Click here to read Part III

George Allen Sounds Off in Exclusive Interview on Key MHC and Industry Issues

March 15th, 2011 2 comments

Part I:  Are Manufactured Housing Communities (MHCs) a Good Investment?

Editor’s Note:  This is the first in a four-part series of the exclusive interview George F. Allen gave MHMSM.com Industry in Focus Reporter Matthew J. Silver.

MHMSM:  You’ve stated that an estimated 15 percent of all manufactured housing communities are in the hands of portfolio operators. What is your guesstimate of the total number of manufactured housing sites in the U.S.? Given this number, how many sites would be in the hands of portfolio operators and how many with independent ‘mom and pop’ owners?

George F. Allen (GFA):  The generally accepted number of manufactured home communities is 50,000. For several reasons we may never know the exact amount, mainly because that type of property is regulated in only about a dozen states. It goes back to the early days when bathrooms were not required to be in ‘trailers;’ therefore, if you were going to have a trailer park*, you would have to have a gang shower and a gang bathroom. The board of health would inspect to make sure these facilities existed for the general health of the public.

That is a law that’s been around for many years in these 12 states that’s never sunsetted [been taken off the books]. In other words, once they started these inspections, they didn’t want this source of revenue to dry up. But once manufactured homes started having bathrooms inside, the major need to inspect mobile homes* no longer existed.

The problem is, from state to state, the threshold, or what constitutes a mobile home park*, varies. It could be as few as three or four sites in Indiana, which is not really an investment size property, and a different threshold in Ohio or Illinois. So if you have a different baseline in every state, you are never going to know. And since 38 states don’t have a list of the communities, we’re never going to really know.

When I was writing my second textbook about the development, marketing and operation of manufactured home communities in 1992, I went to the state board of health to get their list of the 1100 manufactured home communities in Indiana. 

What I came up with was – and I compared it to other states – because of the extremely low number of sites that constituted a manufactured home community, 85 percent of the properties in most states were properties of 100 sites or smaller, with a few exceptions. And that’s important because those are referred to as ‘mom and pop’ operations, because they lack the economies of scale to be a really strong source of passive investment income. It’s not until you get to 150 or 200 sites or larger that the economies of scale will support a remote property management operation. The average size property in portfolios today is around 222 sites, because it takes that many to support a centrally located management operation. The exceptions I referred to earlier are Florida, Arizona and California, where the percentage is more like 78 percent, because there are a larger number of retirement properties in the Sunbelt states. So, of the remaining 15 percent in the other states, six and a half are over 200 sites. This remaining 15 percent is in the hands of 500 individuals, partnerships, and corporations.

According to the Allen Report, the average portfolio is estimated to be 24 properties for each player. Granted, you could have five little communities or one big 500 site community to get on my list. But at the other end of the spectrum is Sam Zell, who owns three or four hundred communities. He’s the biggest player in the world. When Buffett bought Clayton, he acquired 60 communities, but he owned them for only a couple of years and then sold them. They are now owned by a company called YES!  Any properties over 200 sites we call institutional or investment grade properties, because the return on the investment is so great, that’s what the big money goes after. The 100 to 200 site owners I call the young wealth builders. They want to play in this arena, and they are bigger than the ‘mom and pop’ operators, but they can’t compete in the same field as the Sam Zells of the world, so they content themselves with two properties, ideally in the same town, so they can have one management team look after them.

MHMSM:  You have a good idea of how many people it takes to manage and maintain a manufactured housing community (MHC). While it would certainly vary, based on the size of the community, based on your experience, from the community manager or owner, to maintenance, sales and support people who might work on an as-needed basis, what do you think a typical MHC employment would look like? Given this number, how many do you think are employed by MHCs nationwide when there are an estimated 50,000 MHCs in the U.S.?

GFA:  The answer to that is counter intuitive. If we were talking about apartment communities here, the more people living in the apartments, the larger the staff has to be. Statistics show there is a 60 percent turnover rate in apartments, which means you have to paint the rooms when someone moves out, clean the carpet, maintain the appliances and mechanical parts, have a leasing staff and maintenance. Plus you have to mow the grass. At an MHC, there’s only five to ten percent turnover every year. But people own their homes, they are responsible for taking care of everything in their house, inside and out, and they cut their own grass. That means a lot less staff. Proportionally, the larger a community gets, the fewer staff people necessary. I would say a 200 site community would require a full time manager, a part-time assistant, and one and a half guys working outside, mostly maintaining sites not occupied and policing the trash. It would take only half that many people to operate a 100 site community. I would estimate there are fewer than a thousand full time employees of manufactured housing communities.

MHMSM: How many people do you estimate live in MH Communities?

GFA:  Ask Thayer Long.

MHMSM:  How many vacancies do you estimate there are in MHCs?

GFA:  Just under ten percent vacancy.

MHMSM:  How difficult do you think it would be to mobilize these residents and employees of MHCs into following an agenda the “protects and promotes” regulations and laws that govern the purchasing, financing and overall well being of their communities?

GFA:  That’s a loaded question. It depends so much on whether or not they already have landlord-tenant legislation. In California and Florida, that bridge has already been crossed. But if you’re talking about the Midwest, the answer becomes more germane, because it depends on two things: How bad the abuses are by the landlords, and how intelligent, socially conscious and activist-oriented the tenants are in those properties. Those are two very subjective factors. Without an answer to those, I can’t give you an answer to your question.

MHMSM:  Some operators focus only on used and repossessed homes for their sales. Why is it important for community operators to sell new homes?

GFA:  Someone’s making an assumption. Some operators prefer to buy used and repossessed homes and I ‘m one of them. The reason is, there’s a greater margin for profit. If I can buy a slightly used home for five or ten thousand dollars, put in a couple of thousand dollars in new carpet, new appliances, and turn around and retail it for 18 or 20 thousand dollars, that’s a good return. Then I give the buyer terms they can afford so I make money on the interest and money on the ground rent as well. The main advantage to me of a new home is it upgrades the community. The biggest problem I have with buying new homes is, unless you buy a half dozen or a dozen at a time and get a significant discount on the price, you’re going to take a hit on the depreciation. It’s like an automobile. If it’s not attached to the ground, it loses its value instantly. We don’t like to talk about that in the industry, but that’s what happens. Over time, it will hold its value, and the community will look nice and be worth more. But the general trend is a new home will depreciate, because the homes are still considered ‘mobile.’

MHMSM:  What makes an MHC a good investment?

GFA:  Look at page nine of my Allen Report.

Number one is scarcity. There is no money available to develop new ones, there’s no money for third party financing for homes, and local planning commissions are beset by NIMBY – ‘not in my back yard.’
Stable occupancy. Thirty years ago you could back your pickup truck to your 12 x 40 factory-built home and move it out. Today it costs thousands to move your home from one side of town to the other.
Stability, competitive homesite rent.
Low operating expense.

Let me take you through an example. If you and I each had $75,000 to invest, we could either buy a 100 unit apartment building with that $150,000 or buy a three hundred homesite factory-built community. First of all, each one would return about the same amount of income. Secondly, 60 percent of the tenants in the apartment building won’t be there a year from now. In a landlease community, only ten percent of the residents will move in a typical year (five percent of the home). The consequences of people moving out of apartment communities is the manager has to repaint the unit, clean the carpets, service appliances, and advertise widely, to find and attract prospective tenants. Staff winds up working seven days a week. However, in a land lease community, when your occupancy rate reaches 90 percent or higher, it’s hardly necessary to advertise at all.

You may have to pick up some loose trash around a homesite, but the responsibility is a lot less. Now how does that translate into dollars? According to national averages, in an apartment community, 55 percent of all the rent that comes in has to go back out for operating expenses. Seven days a week, mowing the grass, extra maintenance guys painting the walls, cleaning the floors, advertising expense. If we leverage that apartment building and pay interest on the loan, 40 percent of that 45 percent left over goes for interest on the loan. That means we will split five cents of every dollar we take in. For the factory-built community, for every dollar we take in, 40 cents goes for operating expenses. That’s 15 cents more we make, and we don’t have to work seven days a week. But if we’re talking about the Sam Zells of the world who have 400 or 600 home site communities, that expense figure drops to about 20 cents. So if the 150 site community doubles to 300 sites, our expenses don’t really increase. So, on the bigger communities, if we have the same leverage of 40 percent, we would split 60 percent.

*Terms used by GFA.

Next week:  Part II:  The Allen Report on Manufactured Housing Community Portfolio Operators: Then, Now and Tomorrow # 

An MHMSM.com INdustry In Focus Interview Report with the Honorable Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC3)

July 21st, 2010 6 comments
Eric Miller Industry in Focus Reports

by Eric Miller with L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach for MHMSM.com

MHMSM: Congressman Jones, we want to thank you for taking this opportunity to share your views on Manufactured Housing Industry related issues with us. Tony had a good time talking with you last week at the MHI Industry Reception in Washington, DC.

WJ: Thank you. I enjoyed it myself and I am delighted to talk to you and have this opportunity. I think you know I’ve been asked to co-sponsor the licensing clarification act and I am now a co-sponsor.

MHMSM: How important is the manufactured housing industry in terms of employment and providing affordable housing to North Carolina and the country in general?

Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC-3) PhotoWJ: I have always felt that affordable housing is important to almost any area. Because people work hard to make a living, we certainly want them to have the opportunity to have adequate and appealing housing. It’s been one of my beliefs for years and years, long before I came to Congress. To me, if a family or an individual desires to have their own home, I think the availability is what’s important.

As we discussed last week at the reception, unemployment is a grave concern. As we have more and more unemployment, it’s impacting the industry as well. By creating the financial and other channels needed for prospective home buyers to purchase today’s quality manufactured housing, we can also create or sustain more employment for American workers. Each of these is important to North Carolina and to our Nation.

MHMSM: We are all interested in good government. The current situation with FHFA and the Duty to Serve provisions demonstrates how the intent of Congress can be hampered by regulators. The biggest problem in the manufactured housing industry today is a lack of reasonable retail financing, especially home-only financing which is about 60% of all Industry finance transactions. Congress passed the Duty to Serve provisions two years ago, but many in the industry say they’ve not been properly implemented, and personal property financing is still largely unavailable. What can we or the Congress do to get the FHFA and the GSE’s to provide home-only financing to help make affordable manufactured homes accessible?

WJ: When I met with a representative of MHI last week, he brought such issues to my attention; that’s why I went onto [Congressman] Joe Donnelly’s bill, because whenever Congress passes laws where agencies institute regulations, many times there are unintended consequences. As a legislator, what you are seeking is to try to help a given situation. As it was brought to my attention, here we are with a multitude of regulations that at this point aren’t carrying forward the intent of the Congress.

I was at Clayton Homes center a few weeks ago with an effort by their Mr. Fox to sign a banner to send over to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, something he’s done for at least the last five years. When I was there, I overheard a family who had walked up to sign the banner. But they also said to Mr. Fox, “We really appreciate our home, thank you for helping us finance our home.” In some situations, the way the SAFE Act is being viewed at present, the salesman on the sales lot cannot recommend a financial institution that the family can go to and borrow money to purchase a manufactured home. That is cumbersome for everyone involved, starting with that prospective customer. We need to clarify that with the regulators, because it wasn’t the intent of the SAFE Act law.

Well, as I knew before I came to Congress, not all the financial institutions are into loaning money for manufactured homes. The way I look at this, I know I see the growth and development in the manufactured homes industry and how these homes today are not what they were even 20 years ago. They are quality homes now and homes I would be glad to live in if that were my choice. I know that the respect for manufactured homes is at a whole different level than it was years ago. Financing and regulations should reflect that new reality of the quality of today’s manufactured home.

MHMSM: In another example, Congress with good intent passed the SAFE Act, but this is another piece of legislation that observers say that once it got into the hands of regulators, has had serious unintended consequences. The SAFE Act was designed primarily for the conventional housing and the mortgage industry, but regulators have been interpreting it to apply to manufactured housing. That puts a heavy strain on small mom-and-pop-size businesses, but also larger firms as well. Industry lenders are facing huge costs of compliance. The HR 5369 amendment would exempt MH sales people and community managers from the provisions of the Act. What do you think we can do to move this ahead through the Congress?

WJ: I’m on the bill now. I think you’ve got to educate and go back to States and business leaders. To me, this is of great interest to the person who owns the sales lot, but should also be of interest to local chambers because there are many people who desire to own a manufactured home. I think education back home in the States where we have these manufactured homes being sold is an important step. They need to educate the people to the fact there is a bill to clarify the meaning of the SAFE Act, which I think is very important and that is to bring the freedom to communicate, to sell. To muzzle sales people or a community manager under the guise of the SAFE Act was never the idea behind that law. HR 5369 can help address that issue.

MHMSM: Danny Ghorbani, who heads up the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) said that Congress “loves the manufactured housing industry.” He also said that Congress has given us these great pieces of legislation such as the MH Improvement Act of 2000, FHA Title I reform and the Duty to Serve underserved markets. Does Congress need to hold hearings with regulators to help implement these good laws as intended?

WJ: Sometimes members of a committee and particularly members of an oversight committee have the authority to hold hearings to see if a law can be implemented as it was intended by Congress. Sometimes it can be helpful. I think again, in this case, that educating the people in the federal government or in a State to understand that these rules and regulations come from legislation. Too many times they need to be reviewed for the reasons you noted. It always helps to review and make sure a law is implemented as intended. A lot of times, it’s a matter of a member of Congress writing to a regulatory agency asking how they implemented the law. It doesn’t have to be a committee holding hearings to get attention. I’ve been part of a number of members of Congress writing letters to regulatory agencies asking how they are interpreting the law. You don’t get a quick answer, but you get an answer. They go to their legal staff to help them respond so it will be accurate.

MHMSM: Are there any additional parting thoughts you would like to share?

WJ: Be involved. The world we live in today is so different. Whether its manufactured homes or not, I would say to any industry or members of the community, be involved. Residents of manufactured homes are very active in the community and they should let their interests be known. Really, I think that’s the reason the manufactured homes industry has evolved into the respect it has earned. Because you are providing a quality home for people. That’s what makes the difference in the Federal legislature and the State legislatures. When you have arrived at this current level of quality and appeal, and you have earned the respect by providing a quality product, then that changes the whole debate.

EM: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

TK: Congressman, I just wanted to personally thank you. You’ve made some excellent talking points. Once we finish putting the interview together, we’ll make sure your office has a copy and I hope that you’d be open to doing this with us again sometime in the future.

WJ: I’ve enjoyed it, thank you very much; and I have a great appreciation for your industry, I really do.

TK: I can sense that and I had a fantastic time chatting with you at the reception.

WJ: Thanks for that, too.

TK: You’re one-of-a-kind and just God bless you, sir.

WJ: God bless you, too, both of you, and may God continue to bless America; we sure need His love.

TK: Amen to that, sir.

WJ: God bless.

EM: Bye-bye.