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Posts Tagged ‘Manufactured Housing Association’

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

May 28th, 2014 No comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.)

MHI 2013 Annual Meeting Recap

October 10th, 2013 No comments

IMHA Executive Director Mark Bowersox attended the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) annual meeting held September 28 – October 1 in Carlsbad, CA. As with most recent industry meetings, speakers and conversations at the event were focused on the impact of the Dodd-Frank consumer protection legislation and reforming the CFPB’s upcoming regulations. MHI and other industry representatives continue to work with the CFBP on three key areas:

Exemption for manufactured housing appraisal requirements

Based on the most recent rules issued by the CFPB loans on all new manufactured homes, regardless of whether or not they included land, are exempt from the appraisal requirement. Loans on existing manufactured homes, not including land, are also exempt from the appraisal requirements. Additionally, all mobile homes (pre-HUD code) home loans are exempt. The CFPB’s rule solidifying these exemptions is still pending. When finalized the rule will go into effect in January.

Key rule clarifications and exclusions

Loan originator compensation guidelines issued by the CFPB this summer provide the industry with key exclusions from the points and fees calculation that lenders must perform and clarifies certain activities that retail sales staff can engage in without being defined as loan originators.

Manufactured home sales price is excluded from the points and fees definition and does not have to be included in calculations performed by lenders unless a creditor has knowledge that the sales price includes compensation for loan origination activities.

 

Retail sales commissions paid to employees is excluded from points and fees calculation requirements unless the salesperson is receiving compensation from a lender for loan origination activities.

According to MHI, activities that do not classify a retailer or its sales personnel as loan originators include:

  • Providing or making available general information about creditors and loan originators that may offer financing for manufactured housing
  • Gathering or collecting supporting information or documentation on behalf of a consumer for inclusion in a credit application
  • Providing general credit application instructions so that a consumer can complete it themselves
  • Financing the sale of no more than three homes in a year.

Activities that will make a retail employee be considered a loan originator include:

  • Filling out a credit application for a customer
  • Discussing particular credit terms with a customer
  • Directing or influencing a customer to select a particular lender or creditor

MHI continues to seek from the CFPB to provide further clarification on what activities retailers can engage in without being defined as loan originators.

MHI is still working with the CFPB and various consumer interest groups on the need to revise the upcoming High Cost Mortgage Loan triggers for manufactured home loans. IMHA will continue to be engaged on this issue, along with MHI and other interested parties. ##

mark-bowersox-imha-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews.com-75x75pxl-.pngMark Bowersox
Executive Director
Indiana Manufactured Housing Association
Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council
3210 Rand Road
Indianapolis, IN  46241

(Editor's Note: You can find more info on the LO Comp Rule and HOEPA from DJ Pendelton's article published in the Industry In Focus Reports module, linked here.

 

You can also find Mark Bowersox's “It's Now or Never” featured article, linked here. )

Impressed!

June 26th, 2013 No comments

Tony,

 

I continue to be impressed with your improvements to the manufacturedhomelivingnews.com website. It continues to get better every time I view it.

 

As you know our industry continues to work diligently making sure our modern manufactured housing creates a positive image in the eyes of the general public.

 

I appreciate how much your website contributes to that mission. It shows the whole story. Congratulations on your new and improved website!

 

C. Jay Hamilton Executive Director Georgia Manufactured Housing AssociationC. Jay Hamilton
Executive Director
Georgia Manufactured Housing Association
199 East Main Street
Forsyth, Georgia 31029
Phone 478-994-0006
Cell 478 394 5114

Hearing Explores Government Role in Multifamily and Health Care Facilities

May 22nd, 2013 No comments

Even though this hearing and the Chairman’s quoted comments arise within the specific context of multifamily housing, they nevertheless are relevant to manufactured home financing as they reflect broader thinking in Congress regarding federal involvement in the housing market

Most particularly, the comments in paragraphs 3 and 4 once again confirms what MHARR has been saying all along with respect the failure of the FHA (via GNMA) and GSEs to provide adequate securitization and secondary market support for manufactured home loans and especially personal property (chattel loans) –i.e., that FHA and the GSEs have fundamentally departed from their original statutory mission of providing access to credit for lower-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers. That departure has harmed the very consumers that these entities were formed to serve, as well as the manufactured housing industry as a provider of affordable homeownership, with both FHA and the GSEs refusing to provide high-volume securitization for manufactured home loans – citing “risk” and “perceptions” without any hard data on the performance of current-day manufactured home loans – when it was the ventures of FHA and the GSEs in the “exotic” and subprime site-built mortgage market that led to the insolvency of the GSEs and now the near-insolvency of FHA.

Consequently, even though the availability of high-volume securitization for manufactured home loans – and especially chattel loans – has the capacity to turn the industry around virtually overnight and provide access to truly affordable homeownership for the lower-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers that these entities were created to serve, they nevertheless cling to discriminatory policies that have severely restricted such lending through the FHA Title I program and effectively excluded such loans from GSE support, notwithstanding the statutory “Duty to Serve” mandate. These baseless policies, moreover, have enabled the domination of the chattel finance market by a handful of companies with either pre-existing access to that restricted securitization or independent financial backing, further harming both consumers and the industry.

As this demonstrates, expanding the availability of chattel loan securitization and support to high volume levels must be a top priority for the industry in Washington, D.C.

Given the focus of the current Administration on providing fairness and increased access to home financing for the lower-income borrowers that FHA and the GSEs were created to serve, the industryhas a window of opportunity in the coming months to take concrete steps to correct these flawed policies and expand the availability of manufactured home financing. ##

MHARR-logo-posted-on-MhProNews-com

 

 

 

 

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)

1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: MHARRDG@AOL.COM

 

 

 

committee-financial-services-logo-posted-mhpronews-

 

 

 

Press Release

 

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2013

 

Hearing Explores Government Role in Multifamily and Health Care Facilities Mortgage Insurance and Reverse Mortgages

 

WASHINGTON –The Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee continued its examination of the troubled Federal Housing Administration (FHA) today with a hearing that focused on several of the agency’s programs that operate outside its mission.

This was the subcommittee’s third hearing this year examining FHA and the need to reform the agency.

“FHA runs its operations contrary to the most basic principles of insurance and is nearing insolvency, putting taxpayers at risk of another government bailout,” said Subcommittee Chairman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). “Members on both sides of the aisle strongly support FHA’s core mission of providing access to credit for lower-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers. There still is a general consensus in favor of strengthening and improving FHA, without risking further taxpayer exposure.”

Today’s hearing examined the mortgage insurance programs the FHA operates for multifamily housing, health care facilities and reverse mortgages – all of which are activities that reach far beyond the agency’s original mission. The FHA’s original mission is to provide mortgage financing opportunities for low-income and first-time homebuyers.

Given that the FHA was designated a “high risk” agency by the Government Accountability Office earlier this year, many wonder whether the FHA can viably carry out its original mission, much less these other programs that are not related to its mission.

In addition to insuring single-family mortgages, the FHA also insures other kinds of mortgages—such as those for multifamily rental housing and health care facilities—through a separate insurance fund called the General Insurance and Special Risk Insurance Fund. While this fund is not projected to incur losses in the near term, many are concerned about the role the FHA plays in the multifamily market and that its policies subject taxpayers to undue risk.

Due to a lack of transparency in the GI/SRI Fund, Congress cannot fully assess the fiscal state of the FHA’s multifamily insurance program.

The FHA also operates an insurance fund for reverse mortgages that enables those aged 62 or older to obtain additional income by borrowing against the equity in their homes. To make these mortgages possible, the reverse mortgage insurance provided by FHA protects lenders from losses due to non-payment.

In recent years, as home prices have fallen, many experts have become concerned about losses in the FHA’s reverse mortgage portfolio. An independent actuarial review released last November estimated that the economic value of the FHA’s reverse mortgage insurance program was negative $2.8 billion.

 

###

Manufactured Housing industry businesses along Shields Boulevard in Oklahoma City are still here and intact, as is MH Association of Oklahoma

May 21st, 2013 No comments

I closed the office early (Tuesday, May 20) so Corlis and I could run home. We have no shelter here at the office. By the grace of God the tornado stopped 3 miles west of my home…I live just east of Stanley Draper Lake where the tornado lifted. So my family, dogs, horses, chickens and dwelling are all safe. My heart and prayers are going out to a lot of my friends who were not so lucky. Bad thing about this is that we can’t get into the zone to help them with their horses, needs, etc.

Thank you for thinking of us Okie’s!

Tony, I was in the process of composing a letter to a reporter from Channel 9 that was bashing the industry and the park, Steelman Estates, that got leveled several days ago. Lance the reporter, said "this is what to expect from a trailer park…you can't recognize anything, when I reported about the Piedmont damage a while back at least you can still see steel frames and partial homes made of brick." What Lance forgot to remember is that the Piedmont disaster leveled homes to the foundation and killed several children taking shelter with their mom in a bathtub in their $300k home. The pond behind the leveled homes was full of lumber. He also is clueless about the high density of a manufactured home community…compared to a rural estate homes on an acre or as in Moore on a city block(s).

Well now Lance is reporting from Moore and now is saying the same thing "you can't recognize anything, homes are leveled."

The park on Sunday was in the direct path of a F4. The homes in Moore yesterday were destroyed by an F4 (might get upgraded to an F5).

Today I decided that I wouldn’t waste any more time on this reporter who obviously likes sensationalism….the media is now focused on Moore and the elementary school. Our hearts and prayers are going out to everyone who lost loved ones and their homes these past several days. ##

manufactured-housing-association-of-oklahoma-logo-posted-on-mhpronews-com.pngDeanna Fields, Executive Director
Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma

(Editor's Note: the MHAO office is also on Shield's Boulevard, right off I-240 and near I-35 in Oklahoma City, OK. This is just a short distance from Tuesday's storm path.)

Manufactured Housing Institute CEO Richard Jennison’s letter to Princeton’s WordNet requesting Definition Correction

April 12th, 2013 No comments

wordnet@princeton.edu 

Research can be valuable and informative if it approaches its subject in a non-biased, factual manner.  Your recent definition of "manufactured home" however immediately casts your research intentions into serious doubt with such prejudicial, outdated, and uninformed terminology.

Official, legal, definitions are available on many state and national government websites and will provide you a more balanced and timely reflection of the state of manufactured homes in 2013.  I request that you update your own definition using one of these, without the insertion of your flawed and outdated misunderstanding of today's manufactured homes.

Should you need any additional assistance in defining manufactured homes, please contact me and I will be happy to provide you with correct information.

Richard JennisonSincerely,
Richard Jennison
President and CEO
Manufactured Housing Institute

(Editor's Note: Dick Jennison's cogent response is published with permission, and is in response to this 'definition' published online by Princeton's WordNet as shown below:

MHProNews thanks MHI's Dick Jennison, Lisa Tyler's (Walden University) heavily documented letter, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association's Jay Hamilton, MHRetailer Jody Anderson and MHC manager James Cook for their published responses to this issue, along with the others who have directly addressed wordnet@princeton.edu to ask them to update their flawed definition of manufactured home. We have word from sources that other efforts will be made to encourage Princeton to update this obvious error.

Until Princeton's Wordnet Team has made a proper update, please take a moment and add your voice to these and other respected industry professionals who have emailed wordnet@princeton.edu asking them to correct their flawed online definition. You could use one of the examples given by others linked above, or write your own, but please do write them.

Our original column that launched this topic on MHProNews is linked here and a different version meant for the public is found here on MHLivingNews) ##

Georgia Manufactured Housing Association’s Executive Director Sounds off on Princeton WordNet’s “Definition” of Manufactured Homes

April 12th, 2013 No comments

(Editor's Note: As with the MH Retailer's letteror the MHC Community manager's letters, linked as shown, this letter below was sent to Princeton's WordNet in response to their flawed definition of manufactured homes as found online and reported in this blog post.)

Princeton WordNet

Good Afternoon,
I have always appreciated the consistency and accuracy of www.wordnet.com but recently I read an industry article concerning your definition of Manufactured Housing. A recent industry article informed me that your definition of "Manufactured Home" is as follows:  "Mobile home: a large house trailer that can be connected to utilities and can be parked in one place and used as permanent housing."

I would certainly like to think someone with the IQ, life experiences, and test scores required to be accepted as a student at Princeton or to gain employment on the prestigious Princeton Faculty could certainly come up with a more comprehensive term for Factory Built Housing or Manufactured Housing. As a matter of fact, I am 100% convinced people of your intelligence can certainly challenge themselves to a higher level of vocabulary development than what you have demonstrated thus far. People like me that have committed their entire adult lives to the success of this industry would be so appreciative.

I will leave you with a few facts. In Georgia where I am located 43% of our residents live in Manufactured Housing. All of our homes are built to the Federal HUD Code, the International Building Code (IBC) or the International Residential Code (IRC). The latter two codes are accepted worldwide. Over 70% of our homes are installed on a permanent foundation and never moved again for the life of the homes. The National Home Builders Association recognizes that our housing has recently been rated by an independent engineering and architectural firm as having an average lifespan of 53 years. That we build homes on a daily basis that exceed 2500 square feet.

Thank you for your consideration,

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

(Editor's Note: The email address for the WordNet team is: wordnet@princeton.edu please take a few moments and email them, asking them to update their definition of manufactured housing. You can use the example above, the one by Retailer Jody Anderson or by Community Manager James Cook, all of which bring a flavor and punch not found in the original sent by Tony Kovach linked here. Whatever you do, email  wordnet@princeton.edu something you like, to encourage they update their outdated and flawed “definition.“

Interview with Marty Lavin, JD

April 3rd, 2013 1 comment

Marty, before we get into the meaty topics that will follow, let's establish your credentials for readers who may not know you and your background.

  • 1) MHProNews: Please tell us about your years involved in manufactured housing, including legal, as a community owner, expert on financing and any other. Include a sense of your MHC, financing and other business interests.

marty-lavin-50-posted-mhpronews-com-industry-voices-blog Marty Lavin:

I’m now 70 years old and I look back to 1972, when as a summer intern I entered the mobile home business. I was a junior in law school and was working at Ray’s Homes, who operated owned and franchised lots up and down the east coast, from New Brunswick to Florida.

For you youngsters, 1972 and then 1973 following it were the absolute pinnacle of the mobile home industry, reaching almost 580,000 shipments both years. At today’s shipments level, that is about eleven years of shipments, in each year, back to back. Those were giddy times, and predictions of 1,000,000 annual mobile home production seemed heady, but few seriously doubted it could happen, there seemed no barriers.

There were factories building homes all the way from some constructing them in their garage to the industry giants, Champion and Fleetwood or their compatriots. Time dims my full memory of 1972 and ’73, but not the excitement of those incredible times.

What it does not dim is that our sales organization was a national scope powerhouse, selling over 5,000 new homes in 1973. Think of that, almost 1% of all national sales, in one small outfit run by 3 people! I was proud of that then and still am.

What I remember most about 1972 is a time I was asked to go to a local land lease community owned by our organization. The community had about 214 homes in it, as I remember, a very large community in our small State of Vermont.

I was to field resident complaints. As I recall, a modest rent increase had just gone in and there was an uprising. I was to go up and quell the unrest.

I arrived at 5:30 PM, alone, at the community ballpark, and I met with 200+ very angry folks, and since they had been playing softball there were lots of baseball bats in the hands of the angry. Lesson: never attend a resident meeting alone with 200 angry people with baseball bats in hand. Actually a number of lessons came from that incident, which later served me well in both the MH Community and the apartment business. After all, the folks who inhabit apartments and MH Communities are not so different.

I came back after law school graduation and spent the next five years managing the legal affairs of sales lots, calling on banks for our service company, doing other legal work, and giving zoning presentations for MH Communities and strip shopping centers. Let’s say that the strip center zoning was easy compared with zoning MH Communities in most eastern states, as it was a serious challenge, even in the 1970’s. Always the endeavor was contentious, costly and endless, not a good business model.

By 1977 I became a General Motors dealer, selling Chevys for 4 years, then Oldsmobile and Cadillac for another 5 years. Sad to say, as much as I liked selling cars, I could not succeed financially although my sales were excellent, but profits, not sales volume sets the business paradigm, in cars or MH, and I fell short there. At the time the U.S. auto business was under serious pressure from the foreigns, and GM was already a doomed giant.

Back I went to real estate and the MH business.

From 1985 until 1995 I ran fast and hard buying communities in several states. As I remember at one point I was in George Allen’s top 75 list or thereabouts of community owners. These were communities I owned mostly on my own, few partners, just bank and seller debt. And of course, whether it is equity money from public subscription or money partners, or purchase money debt, they can all be harsh masters, and the vicious real estate depression of the 1989-1993 and the RTC (Resolution Trust Corporation) had us all in workouts. Most of my friends and partners declared bankruptcy. I thought that foolish, as it seemed unnecessary. Lots of talking and court appearances, but I got through it in spite of $55 million in debt, in 1989 dollars.

Rather than bankruptcy, my own course was entirely different. I chose to be prickly, but reasonable. Prickly, in that I could not be easily rolled by the creditor, and reasonable in that sometimes a property is not working, and it needs to go to someone with greater resources.

By 1988 I had formed an MH chattel loan service company, representing a large number of northeast area banks in originating loans, for home only, going primarily into communities. The general downturn of 1989-1993, with a steep decline in MH sales and lots of repossessions, stopped the service company’s climb to the big loan numbers. But they ultimately did come. In 1998, our company, Mortgage Services, Inc. (MSI) originated over 6,500 loans, totaling $188 million in originations. Those are big numbers in chattel loans by a broker. But as proud as we are of our volume, our record of clean paper without games, is a greater source of pride.

We originated loans for Vanderbilt, Chemical/Chase Bank, The Associates, CIT Group and many others. As one lender said to me a couple years after they left the industry and was running off the portfolio, “If every loan we bought were like yours, Marty, we’d still be in the business.” Satisfying words, indeed, in an industry enshrined in the Lending World Hall of Shame for Fraud.

We hung on with ever-smaller loan volume throughout most of the 2000’s, finally calling it quits after 2008, when we could no longer make money and my eyes glazed over trying to reinvent myself.

In 1999 or thereabouts, I was elected Vice Chair of the Financial Services Division of MHI, a two year assignment, which then leads to a two year assigned as the chairman of the Division. But, the industry was cratering so quickly, that the then chairman’s company exited MH lending, dropped out of MHI, and my term of almost 4 years as Financial Services Division Chairman began quickly.

In spite of an industry decline of frightening proportions, for many the reality had not yet sunk in. Mid-2000s shipments ranging from 125,000 to 150,000 homes, only with the grace of God who sent hurricanes and the industry built homes to house the dispossessed. But for anyone who could put it together, it was obvious: things in the industry were unraveling very quickly with scant hope of recovery.

For almost ten years I wrote a monthly newsletter, “Marty’s News and Notes,” commenting on the scene in Trailerville. What was obvious to me seemed less obvious to many. The industry was putting itself in an ever-shrinking situation and was not lifting a finger to try to save itself. The MH Image Campaign was endlessly pondered, but in the end, powerful industry forces that would profit by a weak industry joined hands with industry nabobs who to this day contend that our present situation is just an industry pullback, to kill the image campaign. Today, the industry has no ability to do any general industry promoting being too small to raise the money.

The highlight emotionally of this fading late 2000’s era was my dis-invitation from a community owner’s conference I was accepted to attend. My ideas of the industry decline, its causes, potential cures, and likely outcome were too radical. “Lenders could make money, they just got scared,” they said. They’d be back. I reasoned with even “good” MH chattel portfolios into land lease communities suffering over 30% lifetime defaults, lenders were unlikely to return, and so they haven’t. My one satisfaction since is that those who dis-invited me to the conference have of late finally grasped what I was saying over 5 years ago. Welcome to the party, even if belatedly so.

I very much enjoyed my assignment with Fannie Mae from 2003-2009 as their factory built housing consultant. I tried, as did Fannie, to bring some useful and survivable lending programs to the industry, but essentially they were rebuffed. To the end, the industry wanted to shuck and jive lenders to take losses in their behalf. I found the people at Fannie to be very intelligent and knowledgeable. They knew how to research a subject.

In many regards industry performance and industry attitude have never meshed. One would think an industry which had shrunk by 80% would go into bodies they were soliciting for help with hat-in-hand. Instead, bolstered by the industry shibboleth of “America’s Most Affordable Housing Form,” demands were more common than requests. That operating form continues to this day! I call it Pit Bull lobbying.

My proudest moment was in October, 2004, when my peers at the MHI Financial Services Division awarded me the Totaro Award of outstandinglifetime achievement to the division and industry. An award of this type makes one feel that all those meetings, flights, conferences and commuters, time consuming and personally expensive as they are, did not go unnoticed.

              

2) MHProNews: Tell us what you think the outlook is for us on the legislative or lobbying fronts on initiatives to modify regulations with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) in Washington DC and why.

Marty Lavin:

One must look at the world as it is, not as one wishes it to be. Since the enactment of the Patriot Act in this nation, government found that they could pass very onerous and controlling laws, with relatively muted public outcry. In fact, the general public mood was that we wanted to be regulated. “Me, I’m ok and can be trusted, but that guy over there, let’s put him in regulatory shackles,” seemed to be the prevailing attitude.

An onslaught of rules and regulation ensued (Osama, you won, pal!). Many of them came as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, leading to an endless array of rules, regulations and laws. Nothing was left to chance. Endless government employees were hired to man all fronts. People not wanting to sit around in their government office with nothing to do, wrote their hearts out with rules and regulations. This necessitated a whole new group of people to enforce the laws, to make sure knuckles were broken for transgressors. Dodd-Frank and the Alphabet Laws ensued, and who knows what else (ObamaCare).

And what industries were targeted?

Well, all those mortgage lenders who had caused or appeared to cause the 2008 fracas. One would think the manner in which our industry had responded to being entangled by the regulation was that was they had “clean hands.” The industry acted as though they had not caused any of the lending problems which brought the regulations. Forget that from 1999 until 2005 or thereabouts, millions of MH homeowners lost their homes to the depredations of our sellers and industry lenders and the highly flawed portfolios they originated. “But we gave them a chance for home ownership,” was the industry refrain. Some chance, when portfolios were originated with well over 50% defaults.

This led to many problems for the lenders, but the primary losers for those bad portfolios were the homeowners, and the investors who bought the portfolios, just as occurred in the 2008 mortgage disaster. In the MH 1999-2005 loan meltdown the plight of homeowners with lost homes, lost jobs, divorces, financial problems, moves for other housing and the emotional distress it caused seemed unreported and without concern by anyone. But did it escape the gaze of the regulators?

When these things occurred in the real estate lending meltdown of 2008, the scope was so great and consequences so extreme, that homeowner plight did not go unnoticed. To the contrary, many undeserving homeowners were given breaks they did not deserve. Little of that occurred in the MH debacle.

The CFPB arose from that wellspring; Chattel loan shenanigans led to homeowner/borrower consequences essentially identical to the mortgage mess, so why treat them differently? To say nothing of the industry reputation for loan fraud, and dealing with many financially fragile people who were not viewed as able to protect themselves.

Don’t misunderstand my drift; I’m simply reporting what I see as the motivation for the formation of the CFPB, and by extension, the prospects for any serious changes in their rules and regulations.

Were I sitting across the table from industry lobbyists, in the back of my mind is the knowledge that exempting the MH industry from these rules is loosening the grip on an industry who hasn’t acted as though their past lending was fair to the consumer.

Yes, as the industry claims, a few more homes might be sold if rules were relaxed, but the CFPB rules and regs do not by themselves stop a 580 FICO buyer from getting financed. That’s a self-sustaining process by industry lenders for the moment. But it might protect the 660 on up FICO MH buyer from some of the known operating defects from which the industry has suffered. That’s the thinking the industry faces in seeking changes.

So, what do I think the industry lobbying efforts will gain as to the CFPB? I seriously doubt that any meaningful loosening of regulations will occur as making the case for it is not easy. At best, a few more homes could be sold and financed to responsible buyers, but regulators do not see loosening regulations which simply allow people at the bottom to “buy” more MH, and suffer a high loss of homes. And that is what the industry seeks, at its heart. My advice, onerous as the regulations are, learn to live with them and take advantage of a new competitive factor introduced by CFPB. Master the requirements and get a leg up on those who will not, of whom there appears to be many.

3) MHProNews: What is your impression of the working relationship between various industry associations, HUD and the DOE?

Down through the years I have known both sides of the continuing lobbying drama. The industry wants this and that, most of which conflicts with the regulators desire to control the industry and protect the consumer. We now have a history of going at this since the late 1970’s, without any magical results for the industry. It has recently become a highly regulated industry which heretofore, though the industry viewed itself as highly regulated, it was not. That changed. Welcome to the new America where regulation of all stripes holds sway.

Of the major industry associations, MHI (Manufactured Housing Institute) has been the compromising industry element. While individual members have been combative, the association has tried to be firm, but compromise has not been unknown.

The other group, MHARR (Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform), has catered to the industry segments which feel we can go toe-to-toe with industry regulators and have our way with them.

I think if we took a long and serious look at the actual achievements of both associations, the record reveals little success by the pit bull faction, and some, though limited success from the compromisers. But what would we expect from an industry whose main claim is that it is America’s most affordable housing, when government now finds non-profits or developer-required low-income housing as the better vehicle to deliver affordable housing, not the MH industry. The industry has become suspect, and that is at the heart of the regulations, just as it was with the mortgage industry which brought on their highly increased regulatory burden.

I’ve written at some length in this publication in the past on this very matter of the associations, and a view of that might shed even more light on the subject as to my thoughts on our associations and their operating style and effectiveness.

I do not want to leave this matter of lobbying without speaking to the state associations.

All during my 40+ years in Trailerville, I’ve dealt with them. They have many very talented people involved and members can really get involved without the major time and money cost of national association meeting attendance. Some belong to both, but at my speeches at various state associations I met many I never saw in Washington, who obviously were very involved in state matters. Their record of storming the state capitols to seek redress shows how effective close relationships can be. We see an effectiveness locally we simply do not see on the national stage.

Locally we may represent a strong voice listened to. Nationally, even when we had a fairly strong PAC $$$$, we were a minor player in most regards and were treated as such. Today with our PAC having the same money as the allowance for an 18 year-old, we don’t get too much respect or time.

In most states, with strong associations, getting into the halls of power and talking with a regulator or politician who is a personal friend of yours yields excellent results. Would it be this action was transferable to DC. But in DC relationships seem to hinge on $$$$$.

4) MHProNews: What do you think would help the industry's working relationship with regulators?

Marty Lavin:

The industry needs friends. It has few if any in government, and none I know of in the non-profit world, which takes an ever greater share of attention within government. As we’ve seen repeatedly, at all levels of government, a few loud critics, especially from non-profits, have enormous sway over board and regulators. Meanwhile, everything we say is questioned and mostly disbelieved.

Long have I encouraged MHI to join folks like AARP, who is a serious critic of the industry, in trying to resolve issues between us.

Is the water too poisoned to join with various non-profits? Perhaps, but if we can work with them on specific issues, powerful forces could be unleashed on our behalf, which would greatly enhance our clout with government. Against us they seem to be prevailing. But we must get past the ingrained industry belief that we do no wrong and do not need to change or compromise.

By ourselves, in an essentially buggy whip industry (fading), I do not see the regulators doing anything we request, save at the margin. And any slide back from regulations will quickly be rescinded as soon as industry infractions occur once more. History tells us that will happen quickly. Just look at the number of industry people trying to slide around the numerous lending regulations now hung around our necks.

5) MHProNews: What do you think would be useful in having a positive impact on our lobbying efforts for modifications in Dodd-Frank with Capitol Hill?

Marty Lavin:
I fail to come up with any positive, easy solutions to our problems, heaven knows I tried. The industry reputation of “bad-actor,” who treats consumers unfairly, who closes communities to sell 150 families out so a Wal-Mart can be built, who champion chattel lending where very financial fragile people have high default rates in communities, who raise rents endlessly, have led to not only Dodd-Frank, but to highly restrictive zoning laws, rent control laws, and a myriad of lending and non-lending regulations. These have help squeeze the life from the industry.

But let’s confront the real culprit for the fall from 580,000 homes in 1973 to the 50,000 range today, even as population has increased by 50% since 1973.

Listen intently here, Junior, it ain’t the regulations which plague us.

It is this simple fact, like it or not: Chattel lending to the average customer drawn to our product is not sustainable because of high default rates and the attendant high loss upon resale of defaulted collateral.

I needn’t remind you this is a complex, intractable problem at least for now, and solutions are extremely elusive. If lenders lend only to those customers likely to default at less than 20% lifetime rates, then this is a small industry, as we now see. If lenders follow the lending regimen of 1960-2003, then defaults will lead to huge lender losses, even as sales soar, for a while anyway.

Since the ABS MH meltdown of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, lenders are aware of this fact. Sad to say, after innumerable industry meetings, I note only our lenders seem to appreciate this fact. The rest of the industry seems unconvinced, not wanting to be confused by the facts.

Thus the present extreme caution in lending, as even six months of lending error will likely bring an enterprise down, results from the reported facts of the ABS era. MH Lenders have decided that it will not be them who subsidize the industry through loan losses.

The GSE’s were probed to take over that role and even though they did so with real estate mortgages with disastrous ramifications, they refused to do so with MH.

HUD/FHA through its lending programs has always been probed to have them assume that role. Once the 50 year lender subsidy of the industry was withdrawn, reality set in as to the real size of the industry. Not the 1975 to 1999 trend line of 250,000 homes annually, but a mere 50,000 home shipments per year, was the real size.

And even if the hurricanes run wild again, will government turn to us again for homes?

That leaves only government-subsidized loan losses in order for the industry to be able to return to those golden 250,000 annual home shipments. So far every government agency has refused to do so, especially after the losses suffered in the Title I, Chattel Loan program, which the GAO report demonstrated was a serious loser. No one wants to be our bitch.

I dare say that the loan losses and its connection to industry size were well recognized by some by the late 1990’s, when I heard a senior GSE official say that only with government subsidies could the industry succeed once lenders retreated. That hasn’t happened. I was gape-jawed at the time, but how right they were!

So going to Capitol Hill on Dodd-Frank almost seems like deck chair moving. Let’s suppose all Dodd-Frank and other new lending license requirements were repealed, does selling self-financed used homes to 580 FICO borrowers save the industry?

I think not and clearly stated as such years ago when an industry scribe was waxing eloquent about the potential for self-finance to save the industry. It is not going to happen for a variety of reasons, and I told him so as well. It may help some individual organizations, but the entire industry? Yeah, right.

6) MHProNews: What closing thoughts would you like to leave with industry readers today?

Marty Lavin:

Tony, in those dozens of “Marty’s News and Notes” I wrote in the 2000’s I proposed many changes in the industry operating model I thought would help. Of course, most all of them were unenforceable, were likely to be violated by many, and some were deemed to make industry action more difficult, as though if not enacted the industry would get better and easier.

The Image Campaign was an excellent example. After Roper Associates polled the public on industry public perception, their report to the industry said that in their 30+ years of polling, no industry had been so poorly perceived by the public and their customers. This was strong incentive indeed for an industry seeking to refurbish itself. We did nothing. So they don’t like us? Who gives a rat’s azz?

Regulators deal in the real world. They read the newspaper account of another tenant revolt in a community after a rent increase. The photos of another community closing with pathetic people having to move a worthless 40 year old home to another elsewhere and not having the resources to do so can’t help but move the public.

Not our problem you say? Perhaps, but our regulators and critics wield their dictatorial power against us, even as the industry seems oblivious to it. And like the drip of the Chinese water torture, little by little our operating style has gone out of style. Yeah, but dick-head, we are moving to create green homes! That will help.

In spite of everything I’ve said in here, let’s zero in on the most important fact I can remind you of today.

Like the stock market which is a market of individual stocks, this is not an industry, but an accumulation of individual opportunities, all revolving around a factory built home.

There are plenty of players surviving, even flourishing in their own endeavors.

It would be nice to have a strongly growing industry to help business, but the industry has shrunk enough, shedding many enterprises, as it seeks its new level. Some elements, like the communities, will likely continue shrinking as the cornfields which became mobile home parks courtesy of crazy lending, revert to cornfields.

You know that from those endless real estate broker-sent emails asking for offers on troubled properties, with 50% occupancy, almost all of which are owner financed homes. Mercy, Jesus…

Don’t plan your business around Dodd-Frank, or SAFE or CFPB being modified or overturned. The chances of that are slim. Pay attention to your own unique niche. Follow the rules, stay out of trouble, and meld business needs with empathy for your buyer or community resident. Become the “good guy” in a sea of others.

Hard as it is, do the things required by law if necessary to succeed. If the laws are overturned or modified, you can quickly revert, but you are wasting time trying to battle what is in place now.

Know that GreenTree Financial is not returning and the industry lenders, few as they are, will not become GreenTree. Don’t worry about that rumored 580 FICO industry chattel lender coming to the sales lot close to you. It isn’t happening. And if it does, keep those bottom right drawer loans denied by everyone else flowing to it quickly, as the life expectancy is about three years.

Nothing is likely to change. Partner with your local hometown bank(s), protect them, and reap the rewards that can flow from that association. Make your plans based on increasing regulations, not less. Your ability to operate easily in that regulatory environment will be the key in the future.

Finally, the hot button of this moment; titling what has historically been personal property as real estate, that is the home-only, even in land lease communities.

I first bumped into this around 2004 at a meeting of land lease residents and non-profit employees who ran the communities. This was described as the new panacea, after all, we know how secure real estate secured mortgages can be, especially with sub-prime lenders and borrowers. This change in titling protocols would fix everything for the homeowner.

Then about 5-6 years ago a law professor from the University of Minnesota contacted me to discuss the concept. She was writing a law review article on the matter, as I remember, and had liberally quoted a lot of my written work. Very complimentary. I will tell you the same thing about titling personal property homes as real estate by fiat as I told her. You can do it by law if you chose to but to what end?

Presumably, doing this well-intended move is a desire to remediate the whole purchase, default, repo resale process. That process entails two issues: first the incidence of loan defaults, or what percentage will default, and severity, or how much money will be lost on the repossession and resale of the home. With broadly expansive chattel lending, these two have plagued the industry since the very first, and by extension, plagued the homeowner.

Of course, if by fiat one can entirely change the character of an item, I am all for it. I would start by declaring Martin V. Lavin as a young, handsome, vital man instead of an old, ugly, tired man. Well, of course logic tells us that in both the home and the man, the declaration by fiat of something it isn’t is doomed to failure.

Don’t let that hold you back. Perception is reality. Remember, put a tooth under the pillow and the good fairy comes.

The refrain always is; it works in New Hampshire, why not elsewhere?

This is a refrain that can only come out of a mouth of someone who hasn’t been in a three year old home which has gone into default, the home has been owned by uncaring people, the rugs stained, the appliances and furniture taken with the former owners, and during the repo period, neighborhood kids stoned all the windows and took a dump on the floor in the bathroom. They missed the hopper.

I’ve been in those homes, often located in a community with very substantial home vacancy and the owner just loves those substantial, frequent rent increases. So why does it all work in New Hampshire and a few other states as well even without real estate titling? The key to low frequency and severity hinge, on several factors:

  • High home values in conventional housing in the area
  • A relatively tight area housing market
  • A home placed in a community with low vacancy
  • Landlords/community owners who exercise rent increase restraint or rent control
  • Low numbers, if any, of community-owned homes

New Hampshire has most of these factors. Take away the vaunted “real estate” designation and do you think the MH market in New Hampshire would noticeably change. I think not.

Alternately, go to rural Alabama or Mississippi and go into some of the typical communities there, which do not share the factors above enumerated and do you think that real estate titling will change anything? “Hot damn, my trailer just became a mansion by the new law passed,” said Johnny Hayweed. All I can say, is if passing a law which says that chattel is real estate is all that is needed to correct frequency and severity, bring it on! Do you really think that is the answer?

From the recollection I have of dealing in New Hampshire financing years ago, the process was more onerous than a simple chattel loan for whatever that means. On the positive side real estate financing brings with it a number of borrower protections that pure chattel transaction have not always enjoyed. I’m not sure that with all the Alphabet Laws plus Dodd-Frank that protections on pure chattel transactions are now lacking.

But again, it doesn’t really matter whether this move has any particular merit or not, get your throat ready for the shove-down, its coming. And who is pushing it? Why the aforementioned non-profits, especially the Ford Foundation and its many allies. You know, the people the industry has failed to engage and who are now calling the tunes. Wake me when it’s over.

For the record, I still own a manufactured home community, remain comfortably retired, but keenly interested in the manufactured housing industry. And I still get an occasional consulting and expert witness assignment. ##

(Photo Credits: Supplied by Marty Lavin)

(Editor's Note: As with all of our Industry Voices guest articles and other featured articles, the opinions expressed are those of the the writer, or in this case, of Marty Lavin, JD, who thoughtfully and candidly replied to each of our questions. A careful look at Marty Lavin's thoughts will reveal that this is not pure 'doom and gloom,' as he points out exceptions to the rules that he has witnessed. We at MHProNews.com welcome posted comments or reply columns on this article and encourage similar or differing points of view. You may submit a guest column with the usual editorial guidelines to us by email. Use the words Letter to the Editor or Industry Voices Guest Column in the subject line to: iReportMHNewsTips@MHMSM.com or latonyk@gmail.com Be sure to ask for a message confirming your submission, thank you.)

Emily Goode vs City of Richland, Mississippi

October 12th, 2012 No comments

jennifer-hall-mississippi-manufactured-housing-association-executive-director-posted-mhpronews.com-75x75pxl-The Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA) was very encouraged when HUD sent the City of Richland a letter regarding their requirement to home owners to update their manufactured homes to the current HUD code standard. MMHA had requested such letter in April of 2012 and received a response in August of 2012. Below is a summary of the case.

Mrs. Goode owns a 1984 HUD Code certified manufactured home located in the city of Richland, MS. In late September of 2010, she contacted the city to have her water turned off because she would not be staying at her home for some time due to family and work related issues, and did not want to risk her water pipes rupturing due to freezing weather while she was gone.

While Goode was gone, her utilities remained connected and she continued to receive mail to her home. She would periodically check on her home since all of her belongs were still located in her home.

In March of 2011, Mrs. Goode contacted the City to have her water reconnected, but the City informed her that her water would not be reconnected because the City claimed that the property had been abandoned for over 90 days in violation of the City Ordinance 2007-1 and had not been maintained according to the standards set forth in this Ordinance. She tried several attempts in vain to explain her situation to the City. The new Ordinance required that the home had to be updated to current HUD standards. On August 17, 2011, the Richland Municipal Court found Mrs. Goode guilty of violating City Ordinance 2007-1. Her attorney, Robin Hood, contacted MMHA for assistance.

The MMHA Board decided to have our attorney assist with this case. Mrs. Goode then asked MMHA to assist her in appealing her case to Rankin County Court.

The appeal was heard in County Court on April 9, 2012. During the trial it became apparent that the City was attempting to use City Ordinance 2007-1 to require Goode to maintain her 1984 manufactured home according to the most current version of the HUD Code. We were able to get Mrs. Goode’s case dismissed because of the evidence that the city attempted to use to show that Goode’s home had not been maintained in accordance with the current HUD Code was not obtained by the City until after the June 6, 2011 issuance to the citation summons charging Goode with violating the ordinance 2007-1.

The court entered an order dismissing the City’s case against Goode on May 2, 2012. On April 17, 2012 we petitioned HUD to write a letter to the City regarding their ordinance requiring homeowners that their manufactured homes had to be updated to the current HUD standard. After the trail, we learned that the City had adopted yet another manufactured housing ordinance which requires an inspection of a long list of items for manufactured homes to be located or relocated within the city.

When we received the copy of HUD’s letter to the City of Richland, we met with their attorneys to discuss the matter further. We reviewed the inspection list and discussed which items on the list applied to Mrs. Goode’s case. The City of Richland replied back to HUD that they would comply with HUD’s letter.

After months of going through this legal maze, on October 4, 2012, MMHA assisted Mrs. Goode in obtaining the appropriate permits to begin the process of getting her home prepared for her to move back into. MMHA will be present when the city inspector inspects Mrs. Goode’s home to make sure only the items pertaining to Mrs. Goode are inspected. Hopefully the next report will be that Mrs. Goode is living “happily ever after” in her manufactured home. ##

HUD Letter on Preemption in Response to Richland, MS Zoning issue, August 2012.

jennifer-hall-mississippi-manufactured-housing-association-executive-director-posted-mhpronews.com-75x75pxl-Jennifer Hall
Executive Director
MMHA