Archive

Posts Tagged ‘MHMarketingSalesManagement.com’

Grass Cutting, Delinquency Goals and Modern Marketing

January 27th, 2014 No comments

Tony,

Just wanted to leave a quick note about the educational seminar you spoke at regarding “Modern Marketing.” I brought a few community managers along for your presentation…it was a real eye opener for them and me. While we take pride in the fact that our managers and staff maintain their communities and do a good job in collecting site rent, there is more to being successful than cutting grass and meeting the delinquency goals. The days when our customers came to us bringing their homes into our communities are long gone. If we can implement just a few of the ideas from your presentation it will make a huge difference how we will be able to attract potential customers to purchase homes and live in our communities.

I will certainly bring more of my community managers along if you will be speaking again at the 2015 Louisville Home Show.

continental-communities-logo.jpgRegards,
Ted Gross
Theodore M. Gross
Operations Manager
Continental Communities, LLC

9 Reasons Why You Need CRM

January 15th, 2014 No comments

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is nothing new; it’s been around since the days of the Rolodex. Tickler files, ledgers, manifests, and even the ‘little black book‘ are relationship management tools that date back for centuries. But CRM has never been more important to closing sales than it is today.

Unless you do business on a very low scale (or work for only one or two clients) you are wasting precious time and missing sales opportunities if you’re not putting a CRM system to work for you. Here are 9 reasons why you need an effective CRM in your business:

Speed

Face it – the bulk of your leads and new customers likely come from online advertising – your website, directories, etc. If your customers find you on the web, they expect you to do business at the speed of the web, i.e., instantaneously. An effective CRM system should capture leads from online sources and send a response to new inquiries instantly and automatically.

The Fallibility of Memory

“The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory,” so the saying goes. And it’s true. Today’s sales professional is just too busy – and the workplace too hectic – to rely on memory alone to follow up with potential buyers. Without a single, organized place to record all client data, you will end up missing important communications – and losing sales. If you’ve ever grabbed whatever piece of paper is handy to record notes from an incoming phone call (and then lost or thrown away that paper as trash), then you know why you need a better system.

Awareness

Once you’ve attracted and recorded a new lead, you need a means to nurture their interest and remain front of mind with them. An effective CRM system will prompt you to keep in touch with prospects with relevant communications that address their key interests. Really good CRM systems will allow you to automate much of this process, including emails, phone calls, letters or post cards, and appointments. The goal: encourage a face to face meeting in your sales center.

Response

Nothing says “your not important; I don’t care” like failing to respond to a prospect’s question. Or not following up with them in a personal way. Or forgetting their name or the model or lot they’re interest in. An effective CRM system keeps all that information handy and accessible by computer, tablet or smart phone, and alerts you when you to appointments, incoming emails, or when it’s time to follow up with a phone call. And really good CRM systems allow you to store all relevant files – letters, plans, photos, etc., in the same place, so you always have every piece of information you need at your fingertips.

Management

So far, we’ve given valid reasons why every salesperson should use a CRM system. But it doesn’t stop there. If you manage a sales team, you need to know what opportunities are in the pipeline, which prospects are the most likely to close quickly, and what you can do to help move those urgent sales forward. You also need to see that every prospect is being properly followed up with by the sales consultant, and to give additional training and help where it’s needed. An effective CRM allows you to accomplish all that, and more.

Reports and Projections

What are your most effective lead sources and ROI from advertising? What are your projected sales (units and/or dollar volume) for the next month, quarter, and year? What is the average closing rate for your sales team? For individual salespeople? What is your average closing time, from initial contact to close? An effective CRM answers those questions and allows you to better manage your sales team, your advertising and your cash flow.

Service

Because your CRM program allows you to schedule appointments, tasks and alerts, you’ll be able to keep up with service calls or punch lists quickly, without ever worrying that an important call with fall through the cracks. Do you do annual maintenance, reviews, maintenance or renewals? Schedule these in your CRM, with alerts 30-days prior to the scheduled date to send notifications to customers and/or service agents. A really good CRM will automate these notifications and communications so you won’t have to.

Referrals

It should be the goal of every sales group to increase referral sales. A good goal is 30% – 40% of total sales. How do you reach that? By keeping in touch, servicing and nurturing existing customers or tenants. Every effective Customer Loyalty or retention program is powered by a CRM system. A CRM program will allow you to include past customers in any marketing events, such as open houses, seminars, or home shows, as well as send cards or congratulations on move-in anniversaries, for holidays, etc. A really good CRM will allow you to automate all of these processes, including alerts and email notifications, so that everything takes place seamlessly and without staff time to schedule.

Connectivity

While stand-alone CRM systems can provide all of the above, many will also connect and share data with other programs, such as your accounting program, inbound lead sources, rent or tenant management system, or point of sale program. This connectivity expands the value of a CRM to keep all customer data, from lead source to rent history, all in one place, saving time and avoiding ‘multi-system chaos’ that stifles use and frustrates business owners/managers.

So, there you have 9 good reasons to stop using that old, outdated spreadsheet or restrictive paper system and step up to a CRM system that will save you time, streamline your sales and marketing processes, and make your team more effective in closing more new and referral sales.

You should check out additional reasons to consider CRM at this story by Jason Brady linked below:

Start the Year off Right!

l-a-tony-kovach-scott-stroud-jason-brady-mhpronews-com1.jpg

Want to learn more? Then, join discussion moderator L. A. “Tony” Kovach, Jason Brady from ManufacturedHomes.com and me at the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show on Wednesday, January 23 at 9:30am SHARP for a special panel presentation on CRM for the Housing Industry. Go to this link at the www.TheLouisvilleShow.com site for details. ##

scott-stroud-posted-mhpronews-com-industry-voices-.jpgScott Stroud
180 Enchanted Dr.
Somerset, KY  42503
p. 606.677.04547

email:  sstroud@builderradio.com

(Editor's Note: The entire business building seminar lineup for the Louisville Show is linked here. It is currently the hottest page on their site, immediately after the home page!)

Community Owners! MHC Lessons Learned

January 8th, 2014 No comments

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

This is a program you will not want to miss.

ross-kinzler-wisconsin-housing-alliance-mhpronews-industry-voices-hall-of-fame-

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

tammy-fonk-8-2013-cbre-posted-mhpronews-industryvoices-.JPG

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

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

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

rick-rand-l-sam-zell-c-jim-clayton-r-posted-manufactured-housing-pro-news-

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

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

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

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

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

business-building-seminars-credit-manufactured-housing-pro-news-posted-louisivlle-show-com-.jpg

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

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

Most Manufactured Home Lenders Facing Major Changes Revenue Cliff for Some; Business As Usual for Others

October 10th, 2013 No comments

Wall Street calls this a “revenue cliff.” A sudden drop in cash flow. Dodd-Frank regulations that are set to take effect in mid-January 2014 will result in major changes in guidelines for most of our industry’s major Manufactured Home (MH) personal property lenders.

Among the non-captive lenders, the hardest hit will likely be 21st Mortgage Corp. This lender is expecting a decline of up to 47% in loan volume.

MH Retailers who rely on 21st Mortgage should brace for a sudden revenue loss of 50% – 75% including overall loan volume and an adjustment in origination fees.

This will be devastating for many.

An informal survey of our four credit facilities who primarily bankroll the MH chattel financing aide of the MH industry has revealed major changes expected by most, and business as usual for one lender.

Our lender headquartered in San Antonio, CU Factory Built, is at present reviewing their loan products and origination fee policies. Committees have been assembled, reviewing the new regulations and their guidelines.

Informed industry sources tell MHProNews, who advised us, that CU’s very popular “Step Rate” loan product will likely remain intact, surviving the new regulations.

However, this lender’s origination fee schedule could be cut by up to 50%, more closely resembling the origination fee guidelines of their competitor, Triad Financial Services. The final outcome is yet to be determined.

Thus MH reatailers and loan officers who rely upon CU as their primary lender need to brace for a “revenue cliff.”

Our office has learned that Triad, based in Jacksonville, FL, is expecting “business as usual.” Apparently their loan products and origination fee guidelines have been in compliance with the expected changes in regulations.

Our industry’s other major lender, US Bank, with their regional office based in San Diego, is being very tight-lipped about any changes. Their spokesperson recently declined to comment to us.

The anticipated changes in loan products and origination fees will impact everyone in the MH industry. As loan brokers, quite a few of our employees will be devastated.

Analyzing the changes at this juncture is like shooting a bullet at a speeding train. The best advice we can give you is to dig in and redouble your efforts in support of HR 1779 and related.

If each of us contacts our Congressional Representative and two U.S. Senators in favor of HR 1779 and its planned companion bill, there is still time to avoid this fiscal/financial cliff our retailers and communities who sell are heading towards. ##

dave-shanklin-mhmsm-com.jpegDave Shanklin
Loan Consultant
Empire Homes, Inc.
Santa Rosa, CA
800 – 401 – 3372
NMLS ID # 314463

(Editor's Note: All views expressed on MHProNews are those of the author, and may or may not represent those of publisher or our sponsors. We recommend that you contact the representatives of the lenders you work with and see for yourself what they expect. Take Action! You may also find this related article of interest.)

Manufactured Housing Institute and Consumer Groups Urge CFPB to Change Loan Originator Guidelines; Support Builds for H.R. 1779

September 15th, 2013 No comments

In a communiqué to MHProNews, MHI's Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Jason Boehlert shared the following report to Industry members.

MHI and Consumer Groups Partner to Revise CFPB Rules

On September 5th, MHI joined with a coalition of consumer advocacy organizations, including the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), to jointly urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to amend key mortgage finance rules and preserve access to credit in the manufactured housing market.

Since May, key MHI members and staff have been working with representatives of these three consumer groups to develop a compromise on rules related to loan originator compensation and classification, and HOEPA High-Cost Mortgage triggers – issues that are addressed in the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (H.R. 1779).

manufactured-housing-institute-logo-posted-mhpronews-industry-voices=guest=blog

Negotiations have been taking place through the assistance and participation of majority and minority staff of the House Financial Services Committee and Senator Sherrod Brown, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

As a result of the negotiations, MHI and the three consumer organizations have agreed to jointly ask the CFPB to clarify and amend its rules in two key areas:

Loan Originator Compensation — for purposes of classifying a manufactured home retail salesperson as a Loan Originator, urge the CFPB to better clarify that as long as no incentive is provided or offered by the retailer or the lender to the individual salesperson to steer the consumer to a certain lender or loan product, then the salesperson should not be considered a Loan Originator.

While the CFPB has issued recent rules removing the manufactured home sales price and any sales commission paid to a sales person from points and fees calculations, an individual salesperson can still be classified as a Loan Originator by performing certain activities (i.e., taking an application, and referring a consumer to a lender). This activity would then classify the retailer as a mortgage broker. Both designations carry significant requirements and liabilities, most notably supervision by the CFPB.

HOEPA High-Cost Mortgage Triggers — consumer organizations have agreed to join with MHI in urging the CFPB to reopen its previous final rule on HOEPA. As a result of the significant dialogue that has taken place between the two sides, the consumer organizations have agreed that a significant reduction in access to credit would result in January 2014 (when the rule goes into effect) for the manufactured housing market unless the CFPB modifies the High-Cost Mortgage triggers. While the two sides have not agreed to a specific number, the willingness of the groups to push for the CFPB to reconsider their prior rulemaking is significant.

MHI and the consumer organizations will continue to meet with the CFPB on a joint basis in September on HOEPA issues. Pursuing a strategy of engagement with consumer groups provides the industry the opportunity to underscore the broad impact of CFPB rulemaking on consumers and the industry. In addition, it will provide a more rapid resolution of the industry’s concern when compared to a potentially protracted legislative battle over reopening the Dodd-Frank Act.

However, it is important to note that as the industry gains ground with the CFPB and the consumer groups, Congressional support for the H.R. 1779 continues to build.

Co-Sponsors to H.R. 1779 Grow

During the month-long Congressional recess, more than 20 U.S. Representatives added their names as co-sponsors to H.R. 1779. Currently, nearly 70 Representatives have co-sponsored the measure and support continues to grow. MHI thanks its members and the national network of state associations for their hard work in urging Representatives to co-sponsor this important legislation (to view a current list of co-sponsors, click here).

As has been previously mentioned, provisions of H.R. 1779 were included in GSE reform legislation (PATH Act; H.R. 2767) that was approved by the House Financial Services Committee and MHI staff continues to work with committee staff to seek an opportunity to move the legislation separately.

While the CFPB has provided some key relief in recent rulemakings to the manufactured housing industry – with respect to appraisals and the calculations of points and fees – work still remains to be done to amend HOEPA triggers and the Loan Originator definition to better represent the needs of the manufactured housing market. Absent regulatory relief, statutory change is necessary.

The industry is asked to continue its outreach efforts to U.S. Representatives. Urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 1779. For more information, click here to access MHI’s action alert. ##

jason-boehlert-mhi-manufactuired-housing-pro=news-.pngJason Boehlert
Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)
Vice President of Government Affairs
1655 North Fort Meyer Drive
Suite 104
Arlington, VA 22209

MHI members can contact Jason Boehlert at jboehlert@mfghome.org or (703) 558-0660.

(Logo image credits to their respective organizations. Photo credit of Jason Boehlert, MHProNews.com)

(Editor's Note:  Consumer groups did NOT in fact get on board for HR 1779, as we editorially observed in this blog post here.) 

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.“

Irresponsible Weather reporting by Media and National Weather Service

April 11th, 2013 No comments

Tony,
It's that time of year again for bad weather, and of course, the local news weather reporters, The Weather Channel & the National Weather Service are busy scaring the hell out of Manufactured Home owners and residents with ridiculous 'info' about 'trailers' during storms.

Recently, a new 'weatherman' at a Dallas/Fort Worth station told his audience to just get out of "mobile homes" & other poorly built structures.  He didn't say to go to a shelter, or underground, basically just for people to go outside of their "mobile home."

We need a national campaign to educate media 'Weather' reporters, the National Weather Service, and the like in the mainstream media about two things:

  • Manufactured/mobile homes are not trailers. TRAILERS are travel trailers & aren't tied down.

2. Manufactured homes are anchored & the walls are built to withstand direct force sustained winds of high mph minimum standards set by HUD, meaning its federally regulated.

As you know, the average Manufactured Home goes through a dozen earthquakes and 2 hurricanes just getting from he factory to a dealer's lot!

Can you use your vantage point to forward this message to State & National MH groups to get an organized campaign going to stop all this negative & incorrect publicity?

Thank you.
Frank Woody, Owner
Republic Homes
Weatherford & Early, Texas

p.s. I'll follow up on Jody's letter to the Princeton WordNet team, as well.

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.)

2 Modular Companies Building Granny Pods

December 18th, 2012 No comments

Over 20 years ago, my wife and I built a home and during the planning stages we incorporated a separate living space for my mother where she could live independently but at the same time she was comfortable in the knowledge that a single unlocked interior door was her lifeline to our family. At the time, this was called a 'mother-in-law' suite.

Today more than 23,000,000 elderly, disabled and mentally challenged people depend on the help of extended family to help them enjoy a fuller, more enjoyable life. Many of them live with their family while others are in assisted living facilities or group residencies.

With baby boomers beginning to retire in record numbers, many are turning to their families for support or to support others. Many boomers have parents in their 80's that are now requiring more attention due to medical and physical problems. What to do to help is becoming a burning question for many.

Enter modular construction. Two companies, which both use modular home factories to build their product, have entered the Assisted Living market. Med Cottage and PALS Built are quickly becoming the nation's leaders in this field. The two have different approaches to helping with this growing need to bring quality housing to family members.

Med Cottage designs a line of stand alone modular units that can be placed next to a family's home with walkway connections. This gives the person living in it a feeling of full independence and usually includes everything that you would find in any home. Kitchen, Bedroom, ADA Bath and Living rooms.

 

  

 

The PALS Built modular is an addition-based unit that works by attaching a module to an existing home. Most of their models appear to only have a bedroom/living room and an ADA bath with a doorway into the main family home making the person living in it feel like anintegral part of the everyday routine of the family.

Both are great ways to go. The most important thing to remember is that modular home factories are stepping up and building these specialized units quickly and cost effectively.

 

Gary Fleisher
ModCoach.com

Housing Starts Climbing – Now is the Time to Begin Major Marketing Efforts

September 24th, 2012 No comments

gary-fleisher-modular-home-coach-posted-mhpronews.com-industry-voices-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-management- (1)Reports coming out of Washington state that housing is beginning actually see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a another train headed our way.

If you are a new home builder or factory owner/management, now is the time to implement that Marketing Plan so that Spring 2013 will see more orders. Marketing first…Sales next.  Without a marketing strategy your sales will probably be no better than they are right now.

good-news-every-one-posted-in-mhpronews

New-home construction in the U.S. probably rose in August to the highest level in almost four years, showing residential real estate is sustaining a recovery even as the broader economy sputters, economists said before a report today.

Builders broke ground on homes at the annual rate of 767,000, up from 746,000 in July and the most since October 2008, according to the median estimate of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Another report may show sales of existing homes advanced for a second month.

We expect housing to be a bright spot,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, a U.S.economist at BNP Paribas in New York. Nonetheless, “there’s still foreclosures, there’s still delinquencies, people are still cutting on mortgage debt.” ##

gary-fleisher-modular-home-coach-posted-mhpronews.com-industry-voices-manufactured-home-marketing-sales-management- (1)Post submitted by
Gary Fleisher
Modular Home Coach
modcoach@gmail.com