Archive

Posts Tagged ‘manufactured home’

Communities Themes Point to Rebound and Revitalization

September 25th, 2012 No comments

by Richard “Dick” Jennison

richard-dick-jennison-ceo-mhi-1-posted-industry-voices-mhpronews.com-mhmarketing-sales-management-75pxl-75pxl-As President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), I participated in a manufactured home communities focused event held this year in San Diego, Calif. During my presentation, I took the opportunity to educate the approximately 250 members of the land-lease community sector of the manufactured housing industry on the work that MHI undertakes each day representing industry interests in Washington, D.C. I also outlined the benefits and importance of the National Communities Council, the only national organization devoted to advancing the interests of manufactured home community owners, managers, developers, lenders, brokers and service suppliers. Such forums as this also provide me an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand from industry members and to clarify and reinforce MHI positions on key industry issues.

The annual gathering of the land-lease manufactured home communities industry drew approximately 250 attendees from 27 states to discuss the state of land-lease communities.

Reinforcing the sentiments of other manufactured housing industry events over the past 12 months, the meeting featured three key themes:

  • a renewed or new confidence in the role and value of land-lease manufactured home communities;
  • innovation on the part of manufactured home builders in terms of new, creative designs for homes built specifically for placement in land-lease communities, as well as new financing programs designed to assist communities to retain residents and boost occupancy rates; and
  • the continuing need for dialogue between financial lenders/analysts and community owners on how to accurately valuate land-lease communities.

On the first point – renewed or new confidence in land-lease communities – it was both somewhat surprising and encouraging to hear more than two dozen investors declare their strong interests in acquiring land-lease communities across all regions of the country. This level of enthusiasm and confidence will be critical in maintaining and rebuilding land-lease manufactured home communities as a viable housing option for low- and middle-income American families.

As to the issue of innovation by manufacturers in home designs, there were numerous “business development officers” from major manufacturers who were there with the sole focus of reaching out to community owners to showcase their new series of manufactured homes designed specifically to accommodate the smaller lot sizes of older land-lease communities. From what I heard and saw, their efforts were greatly appreciated by the community owners who are looking for ways of upgrading and filling their communities with homes that appeal to a broader audience.

Another key factor in maintaining manufactured home communities is helping community owners and managers keep their occupancy rates strong and ensure the financial viability of communities. Several new financing programs designed to build partnerships between the financial services sector and community owners, such as the C.A.S.H. Lending Program from 21st Mortgage Corp., were highlighted and generated a significant interest on the part of the community owners. Again, this ability to fill communities with new residents and new homes is vitally important in maintaining the viability of land-lease communities.

Yet the meeting was not without some points of debate.

There was continuing concern voiced over how financial analysts and investors valuate land-lease communities, with many community owners encouraging analysts and investors to rethink their valuation formulas and approaches. While this “friction” is not ideal, the point is that this issue was openly discussed and methods for resolving it are “on the table.” Such open communication and debate are the proper way to creating valuation methods that serve both the investors’ and owners’ interest.

All of these meeting themes – even the need for ongoing dialogue – reinforce the positive outlook for our industry that I hear and see every day, both from our industry colleagues and from people interested in being part of our industry renewal.

Land-lease manufactured home communities are critically important to the residents who live and depend of them for a “quality-of-life” hard to find elsewhere in today’s housing marketplace, as well as to the owners and operators who have invested so much time, energy and resources to build and maintain their communities.

It is genuinely encouraging to see and hear that all forces within the communities sector are moving in the right direction, looking at the future with confidence and innovation. Such sentiments bode well for both the communities sector and the manufactured housing industry at large. ##

richard-dick-jennison-ceo-mhi-1-posted-industry-voices-mhpronews.com-mhmarketing-sales-management-75pxl-75pxl-Richard Jennison is President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). He can be contacted directly at (703) 558-0678 or visit www.manufacturedhousing.org.

Unintended Consequences Can be a Good Thing

August 15th, 2012 No comments

Dan Rinzema posted in MHProNewsAs I read Lance Inderman's, Tyler Craddock's and DJ Pendleton's recent articles, a number of things came to my mind. One of them was The Law of Unintended Consequences. The Law of Unintended Consequences states that any purposeful action will produce some unintended, unanticipated, and unwanted consequences. A corollary states that the unintended consequences can turn out to be even more significant than the intended action.

Except for the “unwanted” part, that is in many ways what’s happened with MHVillage since 2004, when my partners and I decided to invest substantial amounts of Datacomp’s money and employee time into it’s creation. I'll recap another time some of the good unintended consequences of MHVillage, but for the moment let me focus on something that could bring rapid, immediate value to an issue that was raised by Lance Inderman, Ronnie Richards and others here on MHProNews.com.

Some months back, MHProNews ran a story that featured a lengthy video interview of Kevin Clayton. In it, Kevin Clayton expressed what Warren Buffett told him one day. “Kevin, it seems to me that the problem of your industry is resale.”

Resale or a remarketing path is in part what makes conventional housing and real estate perform better.

Conventional home builders don't have to tell a customer what their potential exit strategy is. The home buyer knows they can sell it themselves (FSBO or For Sale By Owner) or they can use a Realtor to sell their home. But what do we have in manufactured housing that works the same?

While there has been discussion back and forth about possible resale mechanisms, or using a recent Supreme Court ruling to list and facilitate the resale of more manufactured homes, the reality is that all of those approaches have time and cost challenges. The only resource that is up and running right now today is MHVillage and our MLX system.

The MLX or Multiple Listing Exchange is a rapid, low cost way that the industry at large could be tapping into the potential revenue and enhanced resale value that arguably must be part of the future to manufactured housing success. That is important for lenders, who may need to sell a repossession, and would rather do it without moving the home. It is also important for homebuilders, community owner/operators, and retailers as well as those 9+ million manufactured and mobile home owners.

Lance Inderman is correct. We have a great product in manufactured housing. Beyond his points, what keeps more well qualified potential home buyers from pulling the trigger? A 750 credit score or cash buyer customer will ask or think the following question. “What is my exit strategy when it comes time for me to sell this manufactured home?”

When you as a manufactured homebuilder, community owner/operator, or retailer can look that 750 credit score or cash buyer in the eyes and say, well, “We have a large and active Internet marketplace called MHVillage where you can either list through a broker or sell your home yourself,” that makes sense to that strong prospective customer.

Frankly, it was beyond our expectations that MHVillage would become what it is today, where 45,000 visitors – about 85% of whom are retail home consumers – visit daily to buy, rent, and/or use other services that all drive dollars for the manufactured home businesses involved. That was a good unintended consequence for us and others – one that I hope to cover in a future article here on MHProNews.com. But beyond MHVillage, there are other efforts that make sense for manufactured housing that can get or keep us in front of good customers interested in buying a home.

For example, we see value to efforts like Tony Kovach's new consumer focused MHLivingNews.com website, which promotes the positive aspects of the manufactured home lifestyle. We plan to support, engage in and encourage that effort, including but not limited to, providing content for them. MHLivingNews.comcan help over time improve the industry's image, which Lance's article discussed.

We see value to this MHProNews site, which has become the most robust platform of its kind. Articles on best practices, news, issues and discussions of problems and solutions must take place in our Industry in order for us to move beyond survive to thrive.

There are also efforts being put in place from state and national associations to drive the industry past the regulatory and other challenges that we face. I'm sure there are other private and planned efforts beyond those mentioned here.

The point is that when we learn to work together using the resources that we have, unintended consequences will happen and can be turned in our Industry's favor. That won't happen by itself. It will only happen as more savvy associations, businesses, professionals and pro-industry trade media platforms pull together to make it happen.

We tend to think of unintended consequences as bad. But some can be good, especially when we recognize the forces at play and make them work in our favor. It all starts with simple steps, often simply making use of resources that are already available today. ##

Dan Rinzema posted in MHProNewspost submitted by
Dan Rinzema
CEO, MHVillage and DataComp

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 Manufactured Housing Competes Against

August 7th, 2012 5 comments

l;ance-inderman-mhpronewsI think we need to take a serious look at what our industry is competing with in the housing marketplace and the regulation that each of our housing competitors are facing.

We worry way to much about what one of the 3-C's of manufactured home building are doing than we should. As a percentage of new homes sold, we just keep loosing ground.

The site builders are pushing us further and further into the rural abyss. I have a partner that builds homes with me in Lubbock and we are able to build a brick home with porches and 6/12 roof pitches for around $40 a square foot including material and 100% subcontract labor.

I have another friend that builds about 125 new homes a year with annual sales of about $35,000,000 and a little over 10% net bottom line. He does this with 9 employees, no multi-million dollar building, total work in process and finished goods of about $1,500,000. He has no licensing requirements. His company and his salespeople have no continuing education requirements. He does not offer paid vacations to his employees or laborers. He is not faced with massive unemployment taxes if he does not have a house to build tomorrow. Government mandated health insurance does not affect him. Basically he has almost no regulation and very little overhead. He builds a quality product and is very successful.

I drove down the beach between Beaumont and Galveston and pass one RV park after the other with all types of RV's up to buses that cost over a million dollars.

I saw manufactured homes that were at least 12 feet in the air to protect a $40K double wide from flooding. The construction cost to complete these jobs has to be close to exceeding the cost of the home itself. This does not appear to be a very efficient way to supply housing to me. It looks to me that the RV industry is getting a big piece of our pie and the site builders are getting an ever increasing bite as well.

We have to become more efficient at what we do from the factory to the finished product.

I think the factories do a fabulous job building 16×76's, its the most efficient 3 bed 2 bath housing I have ever seen. But by the time we: 

  • market that 16×76 to our customer at retail,
  • deal with all the regulatory requirements to install and complete the home,
  • deal with private finance against government subsidized financing on site built's,
  • escrow over priced insurance and taxes and
  • then deal with the cost of servicing a home in the middle of nowhere,

our monthly payments are as much or more than most people can buy a new starter home including land in a tract home subdivision.

We must do everything in our power to control these costs, including, but not limited to:

  • getting our finance on a level playing field,
  • getting higher deductible lower cost insurance in our market,
  • factories working with the retailers/installers to do everything possible to lower the cost of installs and
  • last but not least keeping the regulators at bay.

I think our industry has a remarkable product that we can build and a great story to tell but all you hear and see is "I don't want a trailer in my back yard."   Most of those yards now include a brick home with an RV in the driveway.

I've said it a 1000 times that if we did not have FHA, FNMA and Freddie Mac that our industry would be producing the most affordable quality housing option on the market. What gives?

Lance Inderman

l;ance-inderman-mhpronews(Editor's note: Lance Inderman is arguably one of the most successful independent retailers of manufactured homes in the country. Champion Homebuilders recently purchased Athens Park Homes, a HUD Code, modular and park model builder that Lance and his associates operated. He was the Chairman for the Texas Manufactured Housing Association in 2010-2011 and remains an active player there. Lance plans to attend the TMHA annual event.)  

Intolerant Tolerance

August 3rd, 2012 2 comments

Michael Barnabas posted in MHProNewsby Michael Barnabas

For the purposes of this column, it shouldn't matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It shouldn't matter what your nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation happens to be. There are a number of trends in our land that should concern business owners, executives and professionals – including the 250.000 or so professionals involved in manufactured housing – that could bite you or others one day. We might call this trend, intolerant tolerance. We have potentially profitable lessons to learn from this, but there are concerns that must be understood and dealt with to avoid negative, sudden impact.

Unless you've been on vacation off the planet, you have likely heard about the controversy that has erupted when mayors in Chicago, Boston and other public officials have come out strongly against the expansion of Chick-fil-A in their respective areas. For example, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that Chick fil A's values were not "Chicago values." He therefor wants to block a new job-creating location that the chain has in mind to open there.

Chick-fil-A's Facebook page says, "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

Is there anything missing in that statement worth troubling ourselves over?

So why should that company be targeted by those who happen to hold a different personal viewpoint? Are we approaching a point where if your beliefs – or mine – don't happen to be the same as those of a local, state or national official, that we better fall in line, or else face threats against our business or profession?

Objectively – and sadly – one must answer this question today with a 'yes.' Which is precisely why we as business professionals need to take action at the polls and in jury boxes when called upon and in sounding off via letters to the editor and with public officials.

You don't have to be an expert in European history, or of Hebrew descent, or in one of these other groups to ponder the importance of the following:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

This was originally attributed to German Protestant Pastor, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).

Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A – whose views are the ones in question – is, to my knowledge, a Southern Baptist. So it was noteworthy when this public response came out on July 29, 2012 about the controversy:

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval…”

– Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago.

Good for him.

What we are witnessing is a series of over-reaches by local, state and federal government. This isn't new, but it has reached a pitch in the last few years that is unprecedented in America for at least two generations.

The entire purpose of the American Constitution and our system of limited government is to protect citizen's from over-reaches by others who may wish to misuse the power of government to oppress others.

Thus the point by community owner –Jefferson Lilly– made in his recent Industry Voices column are spot on in importance, because his issue and this one both come back to this simple point about limited governmental powers under the Constitution.

Making many issues facing businesses – and manufactured housing – SIMPLE

We don't elect kings and queens in the United States. We don't elect dictators, benevolent or otherwise.

We elect officials who take an oath of office that calls upon them to abide by the strict limits of their office's powers. When government officials, elected or otherwise, go beyond their limited authority, the result is that someone's rights are being trampled.

This ought to be junior high school civics 101, but sadly, this is often not properly emphasized in too many schools. It is under-reported by too many in the media, because those reporting often have their own agendas. So many citizens learn about this much later in life; if at all.

The first question that should come to any U.S. Citizen's mind when government over-reach seems to be taking place ought to be: is this law or regulation constitutional?

The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as the first 10 Amendments.

Per Wikipedia, the First 10 Amendments to the federal Constitution are as follows:

1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

9. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The reality is that we have drifted far from these Constitutional limitations. This has taken place to the advantage of a few and the peril of virtually all of us.

The Payoff for Standing Up for what is Right

What the long term consequences and outcomes of the Chick-fil-A controversy will end up being, no one can yet say. But what we do know is that in many cities across America, customers are lining up at their restaurants as a sign of support, as this photo from the Huffington Post demonstrates.

When driving past a Chick-fil-A location yesterday after the lunch rush, I couldn't help but notice a packed parking lot. CNN columnist Tim Stanley wrote: “…the sheer number of people involved in the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day suggests that turnout will matter in November.”

There is a political reaction taking place. This is something that not only ought to be happening, but is something manufactured housing professionals ought to tap into in our own struggles with regulators and public officials.

Applying this to Manufactured Housing

Might we – with the right foundation and approaches – benefit from the over-reaches of government, as Chick-fil-A seems to be gaining from the over-reaches of Big Brother minded public officials?

There has certainly been a call by some state associations and MHI to involve manufactured home owners in our issues. The MHLivingNews website is in the ideal a concept in that mold. What impacts us, on matters such as Dodd-Frank, impacts manufactured home owners too, as Ronnie Richards compelling article points out.

There is something that must not be missed here in why Chick-fil-A seems to be benefiting from this attack on their liberties. The obviously have loyal customers. Manufactured housing does too. What we must do is intelleigently tap those manufactured home owners in positive fashion, to line up there interests along with ours. We must care for them, as true professionals do, so they in turn will care for us. This is part of the dynamic working well for Chick-fil-A.The article linked here describes a Texas bank that will challenge the constitutionality of Dodd-Frank. We need to take every possible step at limiting the impact of that ill-conceived law, which has reportedly already resulted in most banks abandoning free checking to help cover the costs of this bill.

Public officials have to learn to live within their means, just as we do. Public officials must be reminded of the limits of their authority. Spending and regulations have to be reigned in, or else this slope we are on only gets steeper and more slippery.

Intolerant Tolerance must be ended.Tolerance should mean standing in solidarity and protecting each other's rights.

True tolerance and equality ought to mean that all citizen's have the same basic rights, duties and responsibilities. It doesn't mean sharing the wealth of others under the guise of 'fairness;' which would be a form of legalized theft. It doesn't mean equal outcomes.

Tolerance ought to mean mutual respect. It ought to mean you can practices your beliefs – or lack of beliefs – without the fear of having those beliefs imposed upon you by the force of government.

What Chicago and Boston's mayors, among others, threaten is political correctness on steroids. If you don't fit their 'values' your business could suffer. This type of discrimination is not new to manufactured housing. By learning the lessons of this episode, we could tap into the same dynamics that are playing out well at present for Chick-fil-A.

Part of the lesson is that we too should stand up for those whose rights are also threanted. As Martin Niemöller's verses above remind us, if we don't stand up for the rights of others, some day it may be our rights which are threatened. ##

By Michael Barnabas

(Editor's Note:Since Michael Barnabas' column on Getting Zuckered was published, their stock's value has dropped by over 50% from their high.)

When Eminent Domain Becomes Eminent Injustice

July 18th, 2012 2 comments

Jefferson Lilly MHProNewsSeizing private property through eminent domain for the gain of private individuals is clearly unconstitutional, yet given a recent Supreme Court decision and the newly-announced plans of a venture capital firm, you may one day have your property seized by a politically well-connected investor.

Let’s be clear, by 'unconstitutional' I mean what the Constitution actually says, not, unfortunately, what the current Supreme Court says it says. Today’s Supreme Court is running 5-4 against the constitution. I won't get into Obamacare. For those of you not familiar with it, consider reading up on the Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London

Please also consider reading up on last week’s announced plans by Mortgage Resolution Partners, a venture capital firm, to seize home mortgages through eminent domain.

http://realestate.msn.com/can-your-city-seize-your-mortgage?_p=16ff831b-8667-4491-80e7-c9b0250d12ed

Quick details on Kelo: The City of New London, CT seized a single mother's home (along with others) through eminent domain and sold them to a developer to build Pfizer's new corporate headquarters. The private property would not become part of an airport, bridge, dam, or other public *use* as the Fifth Amendment's eminent domain clause requires. The private property would become part of a for-profit corporation's investment portfolio.

The Supreme Court deemed this seizure to be a constitutional use of eminent domain because it agreed with the government's (the City of New London's) argument against the people that expanding government's revenues (higher taxes on improved land) was in the public interest.

The Fifth Amendment states the seized property must be put into public *use.* It does not say something vague, like the seizure must be in the public 'interest' regardless of what is done with the land, and it certainly does not say that enabling government to grow larger is necessarily in the public interest, nor that it is constitutional for one private citizen to use eminent domain vs. another citizen. Yet this is how the Court interpreted the Fifth Amendment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Given the unconstitutional tendencies of the Supreme Court, and given the disparity in lobbying power and financial resources of a well-connected real estate developer backed by a Fortune 500 Corporation vs. that of a single mom, it is perhaps not surprising how this decision turned out.

The Supreme Court has opened the door to ending private property rights in America. Anyone more politically connected than you can seize your home. The implications haven't 'trickled down' into society yet, but Mortgage Resolution Partners' bold and unconstitutional plan to ‘partner’ with government to seize mortgages for their own profit is a first step toward a plutocracy in which only the politically well-connected will own property.

Not surprisingly, Mortgage Resolution Partners' Chairman, Steven Gluckstern, is a well-heeled and well-connected fundraising bundler for the Democrats. But make no mistake, there is nothing to limit abuse of eminent domain to the Democrats.

Ms. Kelo’s property was a traditional site-built home. As such, it was a significant improvement to the land upon which it was built, and increased the City’s tax revenues. If such already-improved land was not generating enough money to satisfy the well-meaning bureaucrats of New London, CT, think now of how government will view mobile home parks. Most mobile homes are not permanently attached to land. As such, they are not considered improvements, and the underlying land is taxed as unimproved property. Perhaps some other well-meaning, politically-connected financier is hatching a plan right now to help government help themselves to your mobile home park next.

Final ironic note: Ms. Kelo's home and land were seized and sold to the developer. The home itself was moved with private funds to a nearby location to serve as a memorial to the injustice of the Supreme Court’s decision. The CT developer was ultimately unable to secure financing, and went broke. The land Ms. Kelo’s home once sat upon is now abandoned and unimproved. It generates less tax revenues for government than it did prior to government getting their hands on it.

My plea: Vote for pro-Constitution candidates. ##

Jefferson Lilly MHProNews IndustryvoicesJefferson Lilly is a private investor, manufactured home community (MHC) owner and MHC consultant. www.lillyandcompany.net That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” – Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

Dying to tell the Truth

July 2nd, 2012 No comments

New York Times Columnist, Tom Friedman,  wrote a thoughtful column about the hard truths leaders around the world seem unwilling and unable to tell their own citizens.

Citing problems including the “global credit crisis, the jobs shortage and the need to rebuild Arab countries from the ground up,” Friedman writes that their solutions require “extraordinary leadership that has to start with telling people the truth.”

Unfortunately, Friedman concludes, “that is not what we’re seeing from leaders in America, the Arab world or Europe today.”  A shame, says Friedman, because telling the truth is not only the right thing to do but it also binds people to you and results in their own positive action.

Smart, seasoned gents, like successful manufactured home community owner, attorney, finance expert and consultant Marty  Lavin have been telling us for years: 'MH, we are dying.  Wake up, smell the coffee and take the cure.'

One of Marty's many columns on manufactured housing is linked here.

Marty Lavin has communicated in part:

  • some will make money,
  • we may see FEMA,
  • oilfield boom related or other upticks,

but as an industry we are dying.  Marty has written for us at MHProNews.com, not because he was looking for a new client, but rather because he cares enough about the industry to tell the truth as he sees it.  That's a giving-back form of leadership.

Last year, IBISWorld named MH retailers as among the top ten dying Industries in America, along with:

> DVD, Game & Video Rental

> print publishers

> photo finishers and others. 

Maybe someone with an MH factory may think, it is a shame, but that's ok, I'll sell to communities or developers.  Maybe someone else reading this owns a community and thinks, that's okay, I still have 70%-80% physical occupancy…

…but the point is that if we fail to think of appendages of our industry as important or of value, we could in fact lose even more of the Industry in the process.

Ladies and gents, whatever you do in MH – even if you are profitable – there are warning bells that call for rapid change.   It's great that we've seen a 9 month rise in shipments, but to make that rise long term, business people like yourself will have to take concrete steps, or risk their future in our industry.

Until you fix – at least in your firm in your market(s) – what 's wrong in manufactured housing, sooner or later, you and your business will go the way of the buggy whip.   Who says?  Smart guys like Lavin and others.

Not because we don't have the best housing value in America, but in spite of that fact.

Until we get to the root cause of our issues, we may see bright spots here and there, but overall, individual businesses will be faced with decline.

There are reason why Tony and his team of expert writers and sponsors have built the largest audience of its kind in the industry.  A key part is telling the truth.  A willingness to put the facts or opinions out there, and openly take public or private comments from readers.

When a mistake is pointed out on MHProNews.com, guess what Tony does?  He corrects it, thanks the person for pointing it out.  With thousands of pairs of eyes on his pages daily, that’s a rare form of transparency and accountability. ##

 

Posted for

Tim Connor

Marketing & Sales, Website, Advertising and MHSpeakerTrainer.org Manager

MHProNews.com = The MHIndustry's #1 News, Tips and View you can Use © resource.

MHLivingNews.com = Free resource to enhance MH HomeOwner Satisfaction and MH Image Building

See some of our client Testimonials here

Connect with me on LinkedIn, send an invite to connect to:

Tim@MHMSM.com

704-895-1230

Getting Zuckered! Lessons Learned.

June 6th, 2012 No comments

(Editor's note: in every monthly issue of our Featured Articles, 6-12+ articles we receive are not published – at least at that time – for a variety of reasons, including logistical ones. That is what happened to this article for June. But when the following news item linked below about Facebook came up, we felt this article was worth sharing on Industry Voices, our thanks to MB, please enjoy.http://www.cnbc.com/id/47674474)

The handwriting was on the wall when Warren Buffett said – before Facebook's (FB) over-hyped IPO – that he wasn't going to buy; certainly not at the start. GM had just pulled 10 million in annual ads on the FB site. FBs own public offering statements indicated that the advertising model was not working yet as planned. Some experts think the true value of FB might be under ten dollars a share, not in the thirties. But some buy into hype. It had less to do with NASDAQ's errors – as serious as those were – than the simple fact that FB was overpriced.

But what's undervalued?

Manufactured housing.

Why?

Failure to properly promote! The failure to create millions of Raving Fans!

The proof is hidden in the FB experience.

The hype about FB came in part as a result of millions of raving fans.

You have tens of millions of potential customers today and tens of millions more tomorrow for manufactured housing. Those Manufactured HomeOwners have to become believers. MH Owners have to be so happy, that friends tell friends, and then businesses like yours grows like crazy.

What are you going to do about it? ##

Posted for
Michael Barnabas

Retail Sales Trend Up Despite New, Looming Threat

May 25th, 2012 1 comment

According to Statistical Surveys, a provider of objective industry data, Texas' new manufactured home retail sales were up 29 percent for the three months ending March 31 over the same period last year. This follows on the heels of a flat Q4 2011 when compared with Q4 2010. Texas also ranks first in national shipments to retailers through March 2012 with a 20 percent share, and number one in units produced with a 27 percent share according to the latest MHI Monthly Economic Report for March 2012. 

While great news for the industry, an ominous threat lies ahead as the young Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) begins rule writing for implementing Dodd-Frank and the S.A.F.E. Act.

On behalf of the membership, the TMHA Board approved taking an active part in the federal arena, where this will all play out, at our May 18 Third Quarter Board Meeting. 

I have been in the industry 43 years – the spectrum of consequences we face from this new regulation is something never witnessed.   

 

Some examples:

  • New rules could potentially force lenders to discontinue making lower balance loans such as what we typically see for single section home-only loans, and result in an exit of lenders.
    • One of the largest industry lenders estimates 40 percent of their loan volume is under this threshold.
  • These new federal rules would also certainly impact retailers, manufacturers and communities.
    • While MHI introduced an industry-supported bill in Congress (HR 3849) to reduce regulatory burdens that impede access to affordable manufactured housing financing, the likelihood of this passing anytime soon if at all in our deadlocked Congress is slim.
      • We have been told this directly by those that should know and have extensive knowledge of the current national legislative climate.

 

Experience has shown it's much easier to influence the writing of a new rule than it is to change a rule once it's written. TMHA is not going to sit on the sidelines to see what happens.

 

We want an industry voice to be heard.
 

Your association has several key resources that, if combined with that of MHI, fellow state associations and industry members, will see that manufactured housing has direct input in the federal rule writing process:

  1. First, our large, informed and dedicated member base understands the dynamics of our business model and that it relies heavily on portfolio lenders.
    • While mortgage lenders in the traditional housing market produce loans, sell the servicing to another party and look to the government through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to take the risk of loss, our lenders do none of that.
    • MH lenders originate loans, service their loans and take the hit on any loss.
      • This requires different loan pricing, fees and loan origination systems than previously envisioned by those writing the new federal laws and most likely the officials charged with writing the rules.
  2. Secondly, our seasoned board and Executive Director DJ Pendleton will give us a voice in this process.
    • DJ brings a strong academic and professional background as an attorney coupled with industry experience, allowing him to understand the new laws, rule writing process and nuances of guiding the consultants we will require to help ensure the industry is heard.

Finally, through conservative fiscal policy, financial support from members over the years and God Bless our Texas economy, TMHA has the financial resources to commit in coordination with others to support this effort in D.C. While no one can guarantee our success, we will at the very least have a voice at the table.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ronnie Richards
Chairman
Texas Manufactured Housing Association

Getting Results

May 9th, 2012 No comments

Every business professional wants better results. In 30 years of working with companies – many in the factory-built and log housing arenas – I've yet to see a client or prospect say, "We want to sell less and lose more money next year." That would be absurd, the CEO would be replaced or a mental institution would be called for such top leadership thinking. Business people want to grow results, period.

The question then becomes how do we get results? What are the things we must do differently to achieve our organizational targets? Who do I have to involve to get my goals done? What are the costs? What are the potential rewards? What are the risks? And so on.

I attended the informational/educational seminars at the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show last January. The array of practical business building topics was a solid. I didn't hear anyone say, gee I wish I had not come. Yet it rained all day on day one of the show, and snowed on day two. Nearly 1100 attendees from manufactured home retailing, land-lease communities, developing and installation were there, along with hundreds more who came to engage those professionals with their products and services. People drove or flew in from many parts of the country. Homes were sold. Products and services engaged.

It was a fine example of everyone involved winning.

Knowledge is power. Goal and solution orientation. A willingness to adapt to be more successful. These are among the keys to success.

Certainly Dennis Hill's office does a great job of organizing and running events like the Louisville Show. But let's not forget the role that Tony Kovach and the MHProNews team played, because certainly the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation (MMHF) member state executives didn't forget their role. I've seen the positive comments on Tony's linked in profile from those execs. I've listened to people acknowledging his work on this trade media website.

For 2.5 years, Tony's MHProNews (MHMSM.com) online trade media website has gotten results for the Industry and his clients. Award winning retailer Doug Gorman said Tony is one of the best go to guys in the Industry. Hall of Fame award winning Dennis Hill and the MMHF execs have applauded Kovach's work. The seminars at the Louisville Show were all organized by Tony. I also sat in this year on a some training sessions on marketing and sales that Tony was doing for some retailers via webinar. The material was terrific, but more important, the client company was getting results.

Tony has been exploring ways we could deliver more training to more companies and their team members. I'm told that various states are keenly aware of the need and thirst for business building education. Tony will be at the Texas Manufactured Housing Association's (TMHA) event on August 19-21, presenting on How to Get More Customers with Cash or Good Credit. Now I imagine that many readers aren't in Texas, but would like to have quality business building information and training by multiple professionals like Tony and others. Well, I've been throwing out ideas to get it done Tony. A plan is being formed. When Tony gets involved in a plan, factory built housing pros should take note and listen. But before talking about the plan, a survey of the landscape is in order.

I've watched and worked with companies in this great industry for decades. What has often baffled me is that some things just don't seem to change. Some of the same old things keep plaguing manufactured housing.

For example, the subject of tornadoes.

How many times do we have to hear from the weather man that if you 'live in a 'mobile home,' you better run for cover or you may die.' Crawl into a ditch if you have to, but leave that mobile home.'

Isn't it beyond odd to tell people living in manufactured housing that they are safer outside then inside in a windowless room, say a bath or closet? Haven't these same TV weather men shown us video footage of cars and tractor trailers being carried up by the winds? Haven't they shown us photos and videos of leveled houses – and I mean conventional site built buildings – where the people inside we're carried off by those winds? Do they really believe that you are safer outside in a ditch, waiting to get sucked up by the winds than inside?

That's Absurd! But it has gone on for decades! Why? Because there needs to be a systematic approach by the Industry to solving the problem, that's why. If you don't like the results, you have to do something different.

With state association budgets at record lows in too many cases, there is only so much an association executive can do, their plates are full. But what can be done is to form a task force in every state to reply to the media – on behalf of the Association and it's members and under the guidance of the Association – to answer each and every time that negative news happens.

But what answer should be made that would help manufactured housing? What should the goal of such a task force be?

Glad you asked.

Every piece of bad news is an opportunity to engage the media and turn it into an opportunity for free – and positive – publicity. Hollywood stars have the mantra, there is no bad publicity. The very biggest companies turn negative news into a positive, all by engaging the media. They have the budgets for it, but guess what? If you start to turn media lemons into lemonade on topics like tornadoes and manufactured homes, you will sell more homes and you will have the bigger budgets too.

I've been talking with Tony about having a mix of online training and live events. The online events could be started in short order. They could tackle topics like engaging the media successfully, something Tony and others in this industry can talk about first hand.

We could do management, marketing, sales and other subjects online too. Ways to build your business without even leaving your desk, just an internet connected PC, laptop or tablet computer and a good telephone line.

I've been nudging Tony Kovach on this training and event topic for some time now. Because we need someone like him that can get the word out, and provide the promotion and audience we would need, and can connect with the various states that would want this for their members.

Think about this. How would you like your business to double in the next year? How many customers and sales are you missing that you ought to be closing?

i read what Tony Kovach writes, and MHMSM.com (MHProNews.com) has gone from 10,000 page views a month on this site two and a half years ago when he launched to over 800,000 page views from last month. Do the math, and you'll see that its is 8000% growth in 2.5 years. Doug Gorman, Dennis Hill and others are right. Tony gets results!

And that power can get you results too.

Watch for updates. Get involved. Don't let old patterns trap you. We could start with a topic like how to change negative tornado stories into positive publicity in YOUR state or market. We could start with a topic like change management, something I do. We can cover those or a vast array of topics from your favorite speakers and writers, because MHProNews.com has the platform and audience.

That audience is made up of smart business people like you. When you read this far, it is because you are ready to get results.##

Post by
Tim Connor, CSP
tel:704-895-1230
tim@timconnor.com