Archive

Posts Tagged ‘nc’

Manufactured Home Factory Tour with my Congressman

June 5th, 2014 No comments

Back in February when I visited with Congressman Bill Flores in Washington, I asked him if he had ever toured a manufactured housing plant.A couple of months ago, one of his staffers contacted me wanting information about the manufacturing facilities in Waco.I had replied with information about Fleetwood Waco and about Clayton Homes two facilities in Waco.I gave him information on the Clayton and Fleetwood facilities, explaining that while as TMHA Chairman I represented the entire state, my retail location had carried Fleetwood product for some years, but that I was sure either company would be more than willing to provide a tour.

Last Wednesday, I received an email from his scheduler, Jessica Harrison for contacting me about Representative Flores coming to visit Fleetwood Homes manufacturing facility in Waco.

Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) Director D.J. Pendleton, myself, and Gay Westbrook of the MHI, made the trip as well as Don McCann, the manager of the Clayton Homes Waco manufacturing facilities.We were joined there by Ray Parma and Zach Sanders, the GM and Sales Manager respectively of Fleetwood Waco. 

I can report to everyone that the visit and tour went outstandingly well.

Rep. Flores was very engaging of plant manager Ray Parma; the congressman asked questions during the plant tour about everything from frame camber, to shear wall design and how it impacted tie-downs.  I could just see Ray’s eyes gleaming with getting to share his many years of experience at the plant. It was a pleasure to all of us in attendance that the congressman genuinely cared about what went into our products and the people who made them.Zach had the opportunity to visit with his District Director during the tour and field questions from him as well.

fleetwood-plant-tour 6-2-2014-for-congressional-representative-flores-550x512-.png

While we can all brag about our differing product lines at shows and conventions, Ray and Don gave a great one-two punch by providing Rep. Flores with fact that between their facilities in Waco alone, there were over 750 constituent employees in his district and at least that many more in vendors that provide material for those facilities.

Rep. Flores met with all of us after the plant tour and discussed not only Dodd-Frank legislation and the CFPB, but also things that affect manufacturing facilities such as OSHA inspections and health care for employees.  It was good to see friendly competitors coming together to express concerns to the congressman. 

All in all, it was a great visit.

My sincerest thanks to all who took time out of their schedules to be a part of the event and thanks to past MHI Chairman and current Cavco CEO and Chairman, Joe Stegmayer, for allowing the use of the Waco facility for the tour. ##

karl-radde-texas-manufactured-housing-association-chairman-mhi-retailer-division-vice-chairman-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news-mhpronews-comKarl Radde, GM
Southern Comfort Homes
Chair of TMHA and Vice-Chair of MHI National Retailer’s Council
karl@schomestx.com

Are Frameless HUDs a MOD under state laws? 

June 3rd, 2014 No comments

The question of whether a “frameless” factory built home might be considered a modular home under state law is an interesting question.

To me, if the definition of “manufactured home” is amended to delete the requirement that a manufactured home have a permanent chassis, it wouldn’t matter what state law says.

If a frameless home receives a HUD label, that label is preemptive and the home is a “manufactured home” within the federal meaning of that phrase.

What is more interesting is if the term “manufactured home” is amended to exclude RV trailers larger than 400 square feet so a larger RV trailer could be built, since that unit is not defined in a federally preemptive way, then yes, state law could define that unit as a modular home.

So for the RV industry to produce a non-regulated home at either the federal or state level, they would need to amend federal and all state laws. ##

ross-kinzler-wisconsin-housing-alliance-executive-director-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-professional-news-mhpronews-com-75x75Ross Kinzler
Executive Director
Wisconsin Housing Alliance

 

(Editor's note: an industry savvy attorney, not affiliated with MHARR, who saw MHI's statement on frameless HUDs voiced concerns about the issue. See this article, supplied by MHI for publication.

http://www.mhpronews.com/mhi-news/7691-about-the-rvias-efforts-on-changing-some-language-in-the-hud-code-for-manufactured-housing

Jim Ayotte made this statement on a related issue;

http://www.mhpronews.com/blogs/industryvoices/the-rv-industry-is-attempting-to-amend-the-hud-manufactured-housing-code/

As on any article of topic of industry interest – private or public (ie: for publication) – feedback on this subject is welcomed.)

Who’s in Charge Here?

June 3rd, 2014 No comments

Rick Rand’s excellent proposal for an all-industry conclave at a neutral location is gathering momentum. Such a venue should certainly not screen out the smaller operators who have always been a prime source of innovation, and it is vitally important that the “big guys” also be at the table. Make room for the various associations charged with the thankless task of placating the placating the industry’s many voices.

As a long-retired veteran of manufactured housing, I’m appalled at the conflicts, back-biting and lack of leadership that has always hamstrung our young industry. It was understandable in the early days when the largest manufacturers controlled less than ten percent of shipments and no other industry constituent was in a position make things happen beyond his own company (in those days, the leading players were all men).

Today, though manufactured housing is a shadow of its former self, the product itself is far better, the need for affordable housing is far greater, the leading manufacturers remain profitable, the market for manufactured housing communities is heating up and the stick competition is in disarray. So why are our sales volumes in the dumper?

It is true of course that we, as an industry, have made many mistakes. And we’ll make more.

In a free enterprise system, we learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward. That’s exactly what needs to happen at the kind of meeting Rick has proposed. Pull the tribe together with an agenda focused on the problems we’ve created, the opportunities ahead and agree upon a broad based strategy to deal with today’s challenges. Ideas and innovations are often sparked over a cup of coffee or glass of beer, and contacts have always been the lifeblood of the industry.

But far more is needed than griping about Dodd-Frank and what names we should use for our products. Consider some fundamentals.

Housing is one of America’s least efficient industries. That includes stick builders and us too. Why is that? Well, there’s no serious foreign or domestic competition, no real industry leadership, way too much regulation and negligible innovation. That’s been the case for a hundred years.

Academics and all sorts of advanced thinkers have, for at least that long, looked to industrializing the building process to break out of housing’s quagmire. It has finally happened. The industry we now call manufactured housing has demonstrated the ability to build good housing at roughly half the cost of traditional methods, and we have the black eyes to prove it.

As one result, America’s largest home builder is one of us, and one of the world’s richest men bankrolls MH financing. Something like 20 million Americans live in homes we’ve built and the vast majority of them appreciate the comfort and value those homes provide. There’s ever so much more that could and should be done, but we’ve made a better start than any other tilter at housing’s windmills. Many have tried.

One thing the MH industry agreed upon some 40 years ago was to unite under the HUD banner. That turned out to be a painful process with about as many negative as positive outcomes. We banded together again to reform that process with the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000), but guess what? Big Brother has its own ideas about “Improvement” which do not include a lot of use for industry committee input.

We’ve got a lot going for us, and yet the squabbles continue. If there’s an industry strategy, it did not emerge from my recent research. What is happening is a plethora of tactics, put forward under various banners, mostly going nowhere.

As an industry professional, you can put forward some ideas for how to deal with these challenges. So can I, and I’ve done so in my recent book, Dueling Curves. It’s not enough.

Maybe at Rick’s gathering of the tribes, some sort of consensus can be reached, on a whole bunch of nifty ideas.

But that’s not enough either.

The single most important objective of such a congress—or whatever it’s to be called—should be to the emergence of industry leadership. Not a task force, committee or agency, but a person of vision who commands the respect of the industry.

A tribal chief who can weave the disparate strengths of the manufacturers, suppliers, financiers, retailers, MH owners and community operators into a strategy we can all salute. Oh well, yes, there will always be a few curmudgeons. No one will be entirely happy with any strategic vision adequate to unite us; not even the leader who ultimately propounds it.

But let me suggest this. Should we fail to unite behind competent leadership, I can suggest who will become take charge of the industry. Well, maybe I shouldn’t name names, but the initials are H.U.D. ##

bob-vahsholtz-author-dueling-curves-battle-for-housing-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews-com-manufatured-housing-professional-news-75x75-Bob Vahsholtz is the author of DUELING CURVES The Battle for Housing Bob can be reached at kingmidgetswest@gmail.com. Web: www.kingmidgetswest.com

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

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

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

Some Say the Future for Manufactured Homes Is Downtown

October 24th, 2010 2 comments

Industry in Focus Reporter Eric MillerMark Dillard, Executive Director at the Manufactured Housing Institute of South Carolina (MHISC) uses a photo of a vacant lot near his office, just blocks from the state Capitol to demonstrate the potential to place manufactured homes on vacant lots throughout the state. In the state capital of Columbia, Dillard says there’s already a trend of bringing condos and retail downtown, and the addition of more moderately priced workforce housing in the form of manufactured homes makes sense.

Single-section HUD-Code Home, Oakland, California
Single-section HUD-Code Home, Oakland, California

Most manufactured homes produced today are destined for suburban and rural locations, and Dillard’s vision would defer to the exception rather than the rule.  Experts say an increasing amount of residential development in the coming years will be in urban areas and inner suburbs. Even within the suburbs, development will not be of the ranch-style-home-on-half-acre-lot most manufactured homes emulate, but of the new urban sort with sidewalks and a mix of retail office and residence. It’s a cost-effective thing for the utilities and municipalities, says Dillard. “What we’ve seen thus far is condos, but we’re talking about individual affordable homes. It seems like it fits the trend.”

Even so, this may present a problem as well as an opportunity for the manufactured housing industry.

An article in the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA) earlier this year argues that manufactured housing could solve the affordable homes crisis in urban areas, but only if planners help local people to overcome their prejudices.

Writing in the winter issue of JAPA, two leading urban affairs and planning experts—Professor Casey Dawkins and Professor Theodore Koebel from the Center of Housing Research at Virginia Tech—urge urban planning officers to support proposals for manufactured homes. The research was sponsored by HUD and has yet to be released in its entirety.

In the research, Dawkins and Koebel argue that the planning process discriminates against people with low incomes unless planners speak up for the design improvements, longevity, and value for money that make manufactured housing a feasible and affordable alternative to traditionally built homes.

Their new research shows that planners see high land prices and citizen opposition as the biggest barriers to manufactured housing developments in urban areas.

According to the journal article, government subsidies—including grant and loan programs supporting low-cost housing construction and rehabilitation, tax incentives and gap-financing programs for low income borrowers, tax credits for affordable housing production, and public and nonprofit ownership—have been the most common tools for increasing the supply of affordable housing in the United States. Alternatively, policy could focus on reducing market barriers to low-cost housing producers.

In South Carolina, Dillard says a major barrier is zoning restrictions.

“A lot of the municipalities in South Carolina banned manufactured housing 20 or 30 years ago,” Dillard explains. “We’re looking for opportunities to talk to them about affordable housing and the declining population a lot of municipalities have.”  It’s that window for conversation, opened by the sagging economy that may help bring changes to zoning laws to welcome manufactured housing.

The potential application for manufactured housing in this arena is significant. Absent subsidies, the researchers at Virginia Tech say manufactured housing costs less per unit than any other housing type because of economies of scale in production and because it uses standardized inputs and labor processes. In metropolitan areas with high land costs, manufactured housing offers potential for substantial cost savings by substituting other inputs for land.

Koebel told MHMSM.com that high land costs in urban areas make residential development with a low price point problematic. That has been helped with the use of modular housing, and it can also be addressed with manufactured housing, but builders are not likely to mix the two.

“Most builders are not going to do mixed-production types in a subdivision,” Koebel says.  “It’s a question of how are you going to do subdivisions that are going to pay for the cost of land. It’s hard to do it with any type of construction with a modest price point. If they’re going for a modest price point, they’re either going to go modular or manufactured, I don’t think they’re going to be mixing and matching.”

If the zoning laws can be amended to allow manufactured housing, Dillard says there are benefits for South Carolina’s cities and towns. The first is a reduction in suburban sprawl, which he says is a frequent goal in the state. The second is a savings on infrastructure costs. Another prong of their approach has been to contact power companies and explain the benefits of using manufactured housing for infill development. He points out that a power line with 10 houses on it is more efficient than one serving six. Municipalities can realize those same benefits with transportation and sewer and water infrastructure.

Previous Efforts at Infill and Brownfield Development

There have been efforts and successes over the years to bring manufactured housing to both brownfield and infill sites in urban areas. Most notable perhaps is Oakland, California.

“Oakland is certainly an example of using HUD code to promote infill,” Koebel says.

Structural innovations now allow modestly pitched roofs, as well as two-story stacking of units, although most manufactured housing units do not have these attributes. Those innovations have helped the East Bay city to demonstrate the utility and cost advantages of placing manufactured housing on infill lots in a built-out city.

Multi-section Single-family HUD-Code Home, Oakland, California
Multi-section Single-family HUD-Code Home, Oakland, California

There are other examples including several in the Pacific Northwest the researchers looked at. Also in 1997 the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) undertook a pilot project to bring manufactured homes to five major urban areas. Working in conjunction with architectural firm Susan Maxman & Partners, the project focused on Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Louisville, Kentucky; Birmingham, Alabama; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Later in a 2003 showcase example, the Mills of Carthage project in Cincinnati brought 15 manufactured and modular homes to a brownfield site there.

MHI says on its web site the initiatives were intended to address the outdated assumption that manufactured homes are not appropriate for placement in major urban and suburban areas. Also in the case of the 1997 initiative, the project was designed to highlight any impediments and challenges to using manufactured homes, and help pave the way for a more extensive use of manufactured housing in future efforts.

The North Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute (NCMHI) began another venture to demonstrate that manufactured homes can be architecturally compatible with existing homes in urban settings and also be a solution to the affordable housing crisis facing many of the state’s urban and inner suburban areas. 

3 BR, 2BA bungalow style home blends in with it's Raleigh, NC neighborhood.The result was an attractive three bedroom, two bath, 1500-square-foot home in the shadows of the North Carolina statehouse in downtown Raleigh. Designed complete with a factory-constructed front porch, the house blends in with the 1920s bungalow-style architecture of the neighborhood in the southwestern part of the city. It was also priced some $80,000 less than comparable homes in the neighborhood.

Yet despite its affordability and quality, manufactured housing continues to face opposition and legal barriers. In Raleigh the new home was allowed under an exception to a Raleigh city ordinance, which currently prohibits manufactured housing within the city.

Those issues are not confined to North Carolina. As the Virginia Tech researchers point out, perhaps the most significant barrier to siting new manufactured homes in metropolitan areas is the presence of zoning codes that restrict the size, design, location and even existence of manufactured units. 

Overcoming Barriers

According to the research, several factors motivate local governments to adopt these and other manufactured housing regulatory barriers, including general prejudice against all forms of low-cost housing and the low aesthetic appeal of the traditional but outdated “trailer park” community design. Citing a variety of research, the authors conclude that planners are also influenced by erroneous perceptions that manufactured home residents constitute a transient population, that manufactured housing is substandard and unsafe, and that manufactured housing appreciates more slowly than traditional site-built homes and negatively influences adjacent housing prices.

However, as the authors point out, evidence suggests that nearly all of these claims are either illegitimate or unwarranted. Despite this evidence, negative stereotypes of manufactured housing persist, making it likely that local government officials will continue to impose regulatory restrictions on such housing.

A 1996 survey of 1,172 communities conducted by the American Planning Association, found that while almost all communities permit manufactured homes in some residential districts, on individual lots, considerably fewer allow them in all or in the most restrictive residential districts. Only 29 percent of responding communities had regulations that treated site-built homes and manufactured homes comparably.

“Our research shows that having a HUD code subdivision increases the number of homes going into an area,” Koebel says. “Having more land already zoned—small lot development at modest price points—and having areas of that sort identified and pre-zoned helps increase the number of units.”

x
Tri-section HUD-Code Home Located in the Hills, Oakland, California

The authors received responses from 940 communities regarding the perceived barriers to placing manufactured housing. The survey respondents were asked to rate a list of potential barriers to HUD-code homes. The potential barriers with the largest share of respondents saying they were significant or would prevent placements were: the high cost of land (42.4 percent), citizen opposition (36.1 percent), no new parks (35.6 percent), zoning codes (33.4 percent), not much land (31.1 percent), deed restrictions (26.8 percent), and historic district regulations (26.1 percent). Fees, permits, wind codes, snow load standards, fire codes, and environmental regulations were the most likely items to be identified as “not a barrier” or a “minor barrier.”

The authors also found that by-right zoning, when manufactured housing is treated equally in single-family housing districts, has a positive impact on unit placement that is greatest when explaining whether a community has any manufactured housing placements at all as opposed to none. The effect of by-right zoning on the odds of placing one unit or more is three times higher than it is on the odds of placing more than 20 units. Above 50 units, the impact of by-right allowances diminishes in magnitude even further, although it is still statistically significant.

To some in the industry the idea that local zoning can impact the placement of manufactured homes in urban areas, or anywhere, runs counter to the intent of the Manufactured Housing Act of 2000 that says the HUD code should be broadly and liberally interpreted. Local zoning or aesthetic requirements, as well as building requirements, cannot be placed on homes built to the HUD code.

But Koebel says most manufactured housing placement has come by way of state preemption that allows manufactured homes in single-family neighborhoods. 

“I think HUD and the federal government would be highly reluctant to get into the details of preemption in terms of land-use regulations,” Koebel comments. “That’s just such a heavily state-oriented function. Some states require that you allow manufactured homes in single-family zones as a by-right use. You usually have that with some design standards. I personally don’t think the federal government is going to take on state and local governments on that.”

HUD Program Manager Edwin Stromberg told MHMSM.com the research was part of a wider effort to gain insight into barriers to affordable housing and that the report should be released within the next few months.

How Big is the Potential Market?

According to a 2009 study by RCLCO, both retiring baby boomers and maturing echo boomers are looking to move away from the suburbs. Both groups reported wanting to live in more urban, mixed use, mixed age areas that offer services, community and walk-ability. A study released in 2009 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency titled “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions” shows that there has been a striking move back to the urban core in many markets. While Generation X is small, experts say the larger Generation Y will be looking for urban amenities, but may not be able to afford living downtown. 

Manufactured Housing Institute Executive Vice President Thayer Long says Generation Y, the next generation of homebuyers, is a group bigger than the baby boomers and just coming of house purchasing age. The group is more environmentally aware and as far as preferring urban areas, Long says there may be more opportunities for the manufactured housing industry to get involved.

Most manufactured homes produced today, and at any time in the past, however, are destined for rural and suburban areas. For the past half-century the bulk of new residential development has occurred in greenfields, which is land that hasn’t been previously built on. Researchers now say the amount of new development occurring in brownfields and urban infill is on the rise. Manufactured home producers may wonder what the risk is of not meeting the needs of the urban market or homebuyers who prefer walkable urban districts.

“If we reached the point of having 25 percent infill/brownfield, that would be achieving a great deal,” Koebel says. “There’s some evidence that infill and redevelopment has increased market share.”

Koebel says modular products are well suited to infill development and that there are systemic barriers to significant placement of manufactured housing in high-priced urban areas.

“The industry got itself into a market segment that’s targeted to a rural, lower-end product and has never figured out how to take advantage of other market segments,” Koebel says. “Partly it’s the retail structure. The industry has serious problems with path-dependency. It got itself into a rut in terms of how you use the product and who is the market for the product, all the way down to how it gets advertised and sold; all of that becomes reinforcing and limits its use in urban areas.”

Conclusions

The researchers conclude planners can promote affordable housing by projecting the potential demand for manufactured housing in a number of ways including devising educational programs to promote community acceptance, reviewing and modifying existing regulations so they treat manufactured housing the same as site-built single-family housing and by designing incentives to promote affordable redevelopment using manufactured housing on vacant infill lots.

Dawkins and Koebel want planners to educate their local communities away from thinking that manufactured housing means “mobile” homes, “trailer parks,” and anti-social behavior. 

For Dillard, the solution is about education, but also about promotion. Part of his vision is to have major producers set up a cul-de-sac showcase of manufactured homes where they can be on display and later purchased.

But that’s down the road. For now, with the photo of a vacant lot in hand, he’s working to win over municipalities one at a time.

Notes:

HUD photos: Thanks to Steve Hullibarger

(Raleigh Photo: http://www.manufacturedhousing.org/developer_resources/urban_design_raleigh.asp