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Is Tim Williams - 21st Mortgage CEO, MHI Chair – at Odds with Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett?

That headline question will be front and center, after the facts provided to MHProNews are laid out.

A source at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – with Chairman Tim Williams’ specific okay – provided MHProNews the following PowerPoint that Williams used for an MHI meeting presentation.

It was requested and provided with the specific and clear understanding that MHProNews would publish this at some point in time.

That time is now.

TimWilliams21stMortCorpMHIChairmanDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsFirst, we will show Tim Williams - President and CEO of 21st Mortgage Corporation – presentation in its entirety. To our knowledge, while we’ve referenced this previously on MHProNews, this will be the first time this presentation by him is made public in this fashion.

Next, we will simply state that there would be broad agreement between our editorial view that the industry should be capable of far more growth that it current experiences, and what Williams thoughtfully lays out, step by step, in the presentation below. 

The facts in Williams’ presentation would likely be widely agreed to by MHARR, MHI, MHEC, NMHOA...almost everyone in the industry. 

Right up to Williams’ final slide.  That’s where the fireworks will be found.

After the 7th slide, we will ask a few simple questions.  They will cut to the heart of what the headline states. With that brief intro, let’s begin.











Arrows and caption in the above are by MHProNews.


A progressive flagship publication, the Huffington Post, cited on 4.2.2015 Warren Buffett’s support for “former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next president, and he's not bothered by the questions about the private email account she used while at the State Department.”

"What I care about is what she believes in, and her ability to get what she believes in turned into law,'' Buffett said.  That support is known to have continued, right up to the 2016 election.

Sec. Clinton and President Obama both had support from Warren Buffett.  President Obama supported the passage of Dodd-Frank. He supported the passage of ObamaCare (ACA). Clinton favored both.

Questions, Questions…

Q1) Can one doubt that Warren Buffett’s stated public policy positions line up with those of “progressives?” 

Q2) Does MHI Chairman Tim Williams, who is president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s 21st Mortgage Corp, oppose Warren Buffett’s beliefs?

Q3) How does Williams’ reconcile MHI’s claim to be trying to modify Dodd-Frank, with Warren Buffett’s support of candidates that installed and want to maintain Dodd-Frank?

Q4) Does anyone else see the disconnects between slide 7 and MHI's claimed agenda?

Q5) Is this why a well-known company owner with MHI connections said to MHProNews that he “would not lift a finger” to lobby for modifying Dodd-Frank via Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing, because “one call from Omaha” - where Warren Buffett’s operation is headquartered – to then President Barack Obama could have fixed this for the industry, if Buffett wanted it fixed?

Tim Wiliams’ presentation is laden with facts and insights. They are thoughtful and hard to argue with.

Q6) But do they also stands in stark contrast with what MHI claims to want?  And to what the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway de facto has worked to support, namely candidates who favored Dodd-Frank?

Manufactured housing advocate, Rev Donald Tye, Jr., speaking about Warren Buffett’s lack of support for changing policies that harmed the industry said this, So it is with most billionaires. They could care less about regulations or deregulation! They buy influence on either side of the aisle. It’s just business.” 


Tye has reportedly worked with several billionaires.

ManufacturedHousingIndustryStatistics2007 2015FastFactsReportSunshineHomeManufactturedHomes credits ManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNew

To see an article that explains the distinction between residential and ‘entry level’ or ‘shade and shelter’ HUD Code manufactured homes, click here. To see a video on that same topic, click here.

The actively retired businessman and minster concluded his remarks to MHProNews by saying on a related topic - linked here – that “The system is rigged.” ## (Flashback, manufactured home industry news, analysis.)

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

LATonyKovach QuestioningNYSAAteam NewYorkHousingAssociation MHProNews com PhotoCreditMarkSimon 250x167L. A. “Tony” Kovach, Managing Member, LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC -dba and All Rights Reserved.


Photo taken while L. A. “Tony” Kovach was questioning MH regulators in NY.

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), National Communities Council (NCC), Data, Statements Trustworthy? Track Record, and Their Goals?

  • Written by Soheyla Kovach

The short answer to the headline question is, “it depends.”

On some facts, such as the number of monthly shipments of manufactured homes, where more than one easy cross-check is available, MHI is reasonably accurate in reflecting third-party statistics.

But there are other subjects which they’ve published under their claimed mantle of speaking for all segments of the MH Industry. Among the documents and claims made to the general public, their claimed facts are a mix of accurate and inaccurate information.

A few examples below are from the MHI website, and/or other official MHI sources. They include, but are not limited to what follows.



The Red-Hot MH Community Sector

Interest and investments in the MHC sector are high. Lenders and investors, as an MHI member company official told MHProNews, want and need trustworthy data. It’s important to members and the industry, not just a matter of curiosity.

I) The total number of manufactured home communities (land lease communities, a.k.a. ‘mobile home parks’ (some are indeed ‘MHParks,’ when they are primarily pre-HUD Code homes in them, but in most other cases that use that term or ‘trailer parks’ ought not to be applied).

A) In a May 2017 press release, MHI’s National Communities Council (NCC) stated there were some 38,000 manufactured home communities (MHCs). That indeed is close to the estimate of their member and supporter, MHVillage/DataComp (see screen capture of their association's published information, below).

2017 08 14 1023ManufacturedHousingInstitutePostedMHProNews

B) But their member MHPFunds/RV Horizons/Mobile Home University pits the count at 44,000 MHCs, which they state has been verified.  They’ve told MHProNews they believe the actual count may be closer to 45,000, or perhaps higher.

C) Their co-founding NCC member, George F. Allen, claims the MHC count is an estimated 50,000 properties.

3 different MHI members. Three different MHC tallies.

Note that the last member - in an emailed comment to MHProNews - said they are a “direct, dues-paying member” mainly to protect their interests against encroachment by MHI/NCC of their own work, services, and products.

Quoting Allen, “Yes, I continue to be a direct, dues-paying [MHI/NCC] member, more to protect my business interests from imitation than anything else.” Ouch.

So the question should be: how did MHI’s NCC make their choice between those three very different figures? 

With community closures and related issues on the rise, where is MHI’s action plan on this hot community focused issue?

Retail Manufactured Home Financing

Almost any honest, informed professional will say that financing - how much down, how much a month, and what credit requirements/points/fees/terms are needed - are critical for the success of any big-ticket item.  That includes housing sales.

At an MHI/NCC event, ELS’ chairman Sam Zell said that it was a failure for the industry (read MHI?) in securing its retail credit base.


Beyond Zell’s noteworthy concern, what about MHI publishing clearly erroneous information about manufactured home financing in information intended for the public? One must ask: did this information get proofed by experts?

Further, once the error was published, why has it been left uncorrected? 

We’ve publicly called this out before.  Yet as of 8.14.2017, MHI still have not made what could be an easy ten-minute fix.  What does that say about MHI?  

How many consumers read information from MHI - and trusting it - stopped considering a manufactured home?


Facts, Flubs, Fibs, or Fiction?

MHI is a lobbying organization.  So why have they failed to obtain their own key agenda items for so many years?

KennyLipschutzQuotePoorJobOfLobbyinginMHIndustry postedMHProNews48thMHINCClist

Kenny Lipschutz is an MHI/NCC member.

Regarding communiques to their members, public officials or the media, several alleged errors, failures, and omissions by MHI on lobbying or other issues arise.

Since MHARR, MHProNews, and/or MHLivingNews or others have challenged them on such topics, and MHI leaders, members and staff are regular readers of MHProNews - what does that say about their organization?

If accuracy in facts matter for credibility and other practical reasons, then on issues MHI engages in, based upon examples like those shown, doesn’t there have to be a question mark behind many things that comes from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and/or their National Community Council (NCC)?

Alleged - Conflicts of Interest? By Laws? Budgets? ScoreCards?

An MHI insider tells MHProNews that the organization was incorporated in Illinois. Under state law, there appears to be several state law issues that relate to conflicts of interest.

“Elections” at MHI for their Executive Committee - which is where the organization’s elected power is vested - are problematic at best, say sources.

MHI members have told MHProNews that they already consider the new slate of Executive Committee members to be "a done deal."

If so, then are MHI elections a subterfuge?

A few years ago, member George Allen challenged that body with a slew of hand-carried proxy votes. But without bylaws being made widely available to the members or the public, how can one know if Allen won?



The question should not be construed to imply support for Allen, but rather as a legitimate question about the validity, integrity, and legality of their organizational management processes.

More MHI Alleged Errors, Half-Truths,

Omissions, and Position Shifts - Communicated to their Own Members

There are several examples. To keep this brief, we won't rewrite previous reports. But we will hereby provide links to several issues, analysis, and concerns raised by professionals inside and outside of MHI.

MHI has been given several opportunities to address these concerns. Neither in their own emailed updates, nor directly to MHProNews, has MHI ever... 

  • Denied, or attempted to debate any of the items below.

Climate Change, Tornadoes, and ‘Mobile Homes’ – Dangerous Oversights – Mark Skidmore Admits Michigan State Univ Study’s Omissions; Revealing Analysis & Report

  • Written by L. A. “Tony” Kovach

tony kovach 2If the climatologists are right about the continuing effects of climate change,” said Mark Skidmore, MSU economics professor and co-author of the study, “then people living in mobile homes could be particularly vulnerable to tornadoes in the years to come.” – states the Michigan State University (MSU) study, “CLIMATE CHANGE, TORNADOES AND MOBILE HOMES: A DANGEROUS MIX.

Every good story has at least one hook, and one hinge.

In the analysis of the controversial study on Climate, Tornadoes and ‘Mobile Homes’ that follows, we will focus on some hooks and hinges.

Was the MSU study ‘Hip and Hyped’ as well as ‘Misleading and Inaccurate?’

We’ll also spotlight exclusive admissions from Professor Mark Skidmore, direct quotes from a respected MSU economist. He, along with his colleagues, co-authored the study. Skidmore has made key revelations exclusively to MHProNews that undermined the sensationalized claims made in MSU’s multi-hook headline.

Let’s tease just one of several surprising Skidmore’s on-the-record, written admissions to MHProNews.

  • I think the benefits of manufactured homes are great,” Skidmore, the MSU economist said.

What?  Is that the takeaway someone would find from the original MSU publicity piece that launched their “Climate Change, Tornadoes And Mobile Homes: A Dangerous Mix” report?  (See link here.)

I think the benefits of manufactured homes are great,” is just one of several admissions missing from MSU’s PR piece about their controversial report.

In fact, Skidmore’s quoted statement above is almost the opposite of what one would gather from reading their report. 


What other surprises await that raise doubts about the hooks and hinges in their published research?

We’ll look at many of their key admissions, below.  We’ll also consider the evidence provided by Dr. Tim Reinhold, Ph.D., Chief Engineer for the independent Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), who sees manufactured homes as superior to many conventionally built houses in durability.

But next, we’ll briefly consider the climate change side of the controversy.

Because each of these elements is important to what was missed and/or overhyped in MSU’s publicity piece, the net effect is that it radically changes the meaning and exaggerated ‘danger’ claimed in their widely published report.


If the climatologists are right about the continuing effects of climate change,” said Skidmore; and that first word “If” is one of several hinges to the provocative study that Mark Skidmore, Andy Henion and their colleagues at Michigan State University (MSU) hinges on. We note as the duo did the contributions of Jungmin Lim, a doctoral student, and professors Scott Loveridge and Robert Shupp, all with MSU’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.

Interestingly, RC Williams in a report published for MHLivingNews examined a report from Climate Depot, just days before Skidmore's story was released.

Climate Depot provided data that question some of the findings of climatologists, and provides their statistical reasons why they find indicators at odds with other scientists (see that report, linked here).

There are passionate voices on both sides or the climate question. Each of those voices are backed up by their own set of special interest groups. So we don’t claim to be making any definitive statement on that topic, but we will shed some light.


For simplicities sake - let's note for now that climate has always been changing. Humanity obviously influences their environment. That’s been true since the days the first human made a fire, hunted, fished, picked fruit, or grew crops. 

We know the earth has gone through heating and cooling that – for example – some scientists say climate change killed off the woolly mammoth. So, without claiming to settle the debate about global warming/climate change and mankind’s impact on that issue - that first hinge - MSU’s opening "if" - is a significant one, and while popular, that isn’t as some say, ‘settled science.’

Are ‘Mobile Homes’ More Vulnerable to Tornadoes?

That box [a manufactured home] is going to be built better than any [conventional] home, unless it’s built to hurricane standards,” said Dr. Reinhold, of IBHS.

What?  How is that possible, when we’ve all seen photos of devastated mobile homes?

Precisely the point.  Because ‘mobile homes’ and ‘manufactured homes’ are two different things.  When MSU – or any other researchers – miss that point, they’ve skewed and flawed all of their research.


Skidmore admits the distinction between mobile and manufactured homes was not broken out in his research, because the Census Bureau data they used didn’t make a distinction according to the age of the homes, or if they were truly mobile homes or post-1976 code manufactured homes. 


While Skidmore and his colleagues can blame the Census Bureau for that, isn’t there responsibility on the part of the researchers to check the accuracy of the data they were examining, to see if it may be misleading in various ways?  Why didn’t MSU contact us, MHARR, or other industry experts, before publishing their study?

Below is a screen capture of part of the abstract from their apparently tainted, and thus questionable, research.


So, the hinge in the Skidmore and Henion's headline of "mobile homes," is a term that the researchers did not use with precession. 

That is an important hinge, because there have been no mobile homes built in the U.S. in over forty years.

Skidmore’s Admissions

You can see the ‘raw material’ of the various published accounts, plus the emailed, on-the-record discussions, linked here and here.  So there is no he said, she said.  It’s all documented. 

Mark Weiss, President/CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), engineer Danny Ghorbani (prior MHARR President and CEO), and myself engaged Skidmore and his colleagues in emailed discussions.

Please note that we tip the hat to Skidmore for his candor. Because as the open-minded reader will see, their answers effectively undercut most of their own MSU research. Perhaps for that reason, they did finally call a halt to their engagement. 

At that point, Weiss jumped in and said, “Mark, you stated last week that you would be happy to engage in such a discussion.  Having set this episode in motion with hyperbolic language and some dubious assertions, I would ask that you please do respond to the questions posed by Tony Kovach, thank you.” No further response from Skidmore or MSU, as of the time of this publication.

We have reached out again, to encourage him and his fellow researchers to be a part of the solution in clearing up the confusion that their research – and in fairness, others like it – have produced.


The Key Bullets of What Skidmore Admitted

The below focuses on-the-record admissions weren't in MSU's media releases. Let's commend Skidmore's candor (note, the almost blow-by-blow exchanges MarkSkidmoreMSUEconomistFlawedTornadoMobileHomeResearchPostedManufacturedHousingIndustryResearchDataReportsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewscan be read at the two links above, for those who want more details)

Quoting Skidmore:

  • “I think the benefits of manufactured homes are great.”
  • “I see them as filling an important niche in the housing market.”
  • “Maybe it’s just the older mobile homes.”
  • “Or maybe its improper tie downs.”
  • “Or maybe is the improper additions you highlighted.”
  • “Certainly there is variability in quality of manufactured housing…I’d be quite happy to live in some but others are shoddy.”
  • “Perhaps additional analysis could help zero in on what is happening?? “

What’s happening – the last bullet – is this. There’s been no mobile homes built in the U.S. in 40 years. Manufactured homes aren't mobile homes.

The issue of mobile homes safety and design were precisely what caused the industry to seek federal regulation, a fact that engineer and prior MHARR CEO, Danny Ghorbani has pointed out before, because he was witness to those early 1970s evolutionary events.

So, whenever weathermen, university, or researchers fail to make distinctions, false conclusions occur.

How Great is the Risk The MSU Research Has Hyped?

Let’s draw to a conclusion by looking at the facts on how many died in ‘mobile homes,’ per federal data.

In 2016, NOAA reported 12 tornado-related deaths in “mobile homes.” A 0.00000055% chance of dying in a tornado.

Rephrasing, the odds were 1,833,333-to-1 in your favor that you wouldn’t die in tornado in 2016.

How does that compare with other cause-of-death or serious injury incidents? Let’s look.

  • For example, says, “Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44.”
  • The says, “Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following: More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke),” as of Dec 1, 2016.
  • Per the website, “In 2014, the Coast Guard counted 4,064 accidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

Far riskier than living in a ‘mobile home’ is using a bathroom.  Seriously. 

  • The CDC reported in 2008 that in 2008, approximately 21.8 million persons aged ≥15 years sustained nonfatal, unintentional injuries (1), resulting in approximately $67.3 billion in lifetime medical costs.” 2/3 of those injuries were in the tub or shower, only 2.2% while entering or leaving a tub or shower. 
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a 2012 report on bathtub drownings. From 2006 to 2010, total deaths were 434 for an average of 87 per year. Since almost every residential dwelling has a tub or shower, that makes that part of a house, condo or apartment over 6 times more dangerous than being in a ‘mobile home’ during a tornado!
  • The Chicago Tribune reported that in 2015, drug overdose deaths grimly broke past the 50,000 mark for the year.

So, there are many activities that are riskier than ‘mobile home’ living. Should safety precautions be taken?  Yes, and when we report or do a video on this issue, we stress that every time.  But those safety precautions would apply to conventional housing too.

The Sad Multi-Billion Dollar Impact of Flawed Research and Reporting

False impressions discourage many from realizing housing dreams with a manufactured home. Those ‘mobile myths’ costs businesses, investors, and taxpayers billions of dollars annually. It also costs renters the equity they'd build. 

The federal, state and local governments have proven after 50 years of efforts to be unable to create enough subsidized housing for the millions who need a more affordable home.

The manufactured home industry has a tremendous, honest story to tell that requires no hype. 

However, manufactured home enthusiasts and professionals must see that routine engagement is required with researchers, media, public officials, and the general public.

Without that ongoing engagement, others will continue to regurgitate misinformation that exists about mobile and manufactured homes.

CFED is among those consumer organizations that promote the value of manufactured home living, especially for those that the MSU study would call disadvantaged. Why? Because CFED knows that manufactured homes offer people with a lower income perhaps their best or only chance at owning a non-subsidized form of housing.


The bulk of the issues around what we’ll call the ‘mobile home myths’ is ignorance of the fact that mobile homes are no longer being built in the U.S.  Manufactured homes, federally regulated, certified for safety, energy and durable construction, are what we’ve seen built in the last 40 years.

Manufactured homes can further be broken into two categories – entry level housing and residential style manufactured homes. Both will meet all of the safety standards.  The residential style homes are attracting buyers among the upwardly mobile (pun intended), and frugal millionaires. Those buyers are making informed decisions before they buy a manufactured home.

MHLivingNews interviewed two engineers in Paris, TN. Each thoroughly studied their options. One of those had his home in a reportedly EF2 tornado. His conventionally built neighbor’s home had serious damage, collapsed roof, etc. His home had minor damage, even though a tree was ripped from his yard, just feet away from his home.

Again, we don’t claim manufactured homes are tornado or hurricane proof.  What we do assert is that properly installed, and with proper add-ons, they are as or more safe than conventional construction.  Engineers, not this author, are the ones who say so.

We will watch to see what MSU says in the aftermath of this and other reports on their incomplete, and thus tainted, research. We thank Mark Skidmore for his candor. We hope he’ll be part of the solution in clearing up the aftermath of this and related study issues. ##

(Image credits and videos are as shown, and when by third parties, are provided under fair use guidelines.)

tony kovach 2By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

An Executive Summary – 400 Words – Manufactured Housing Industry Obstacles and Billions in Opportunities

  • Written by Tony Kovach

by L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

tony-kovach-2-50It could be boiled down to the 3-letter acronym at the end. Let’s first take a 400 word walk through the top obstacles and opportunities. 


1) We’re in a trillion-dollar annual U.S. housing market.  There’s a growing demand for affordable housing.  So why is manufactured housing hovering at only 1% of the total U.S. housing market?


2) “Probably the greatest enemy to the growth of the … industry into a mainstream form of real estate investment is … our industry itself,” Frank Rolfe told MHProNews.

3) MHI spent $15 million dollars (+/-) – and about $2.5+ million on Richard Jennison, Lesli Gooch, and her predecessor - in 5 years for dealing with regulatory issues and advancing MHIndustry acceptance in the marketplace. What practical achievements can MHI point to for those millions spent?

4) "There’s nothing mean or villainous about stating the truth.  In fact, most appreciate it when you do.” Kurt Kelley, JD, financial services provider, from comments posted here.

5) “For years, we have wondered WHY there was so little pro-industry advocacy from MHI to government movements, proposals, rules, etc. that were [often] not in the best interest of this industry.– Bob Crawford, president of Dick Moore Housing, a BBB A+ rated retailer and long-time community operator.


6) Positive, MH Lending options and opportunities have allegedly been sidelined by Mr. Jennison and company.  Those options and opportunities cost the industry more sales.

7) The MHIndustry needs MHLivingNews and MHProNews as pro-industry media voices that are independent, so sayeth Richard Jennison and Tim Williams, MHI’s current president and chairman.  So, MHProNews and MHLivingNews merit support and are a good investment.

8) In terms of dollars/cents and potential ROI, what MHI is allegedly wasting could bring the industry billions more in sales, via a combination of our media and properly channeled/funded national association work.


9) MHI needs to:

  • Reform to become more effective for all members.
  • Have top staffers exited, for failure to achieve goals, and other unforced-error issues.

10) If MHI doesn’t promptly do the above, the industry needs to:

  • forge a new post-production association,
  • see if MHEC and/or MHARR will expand their role(s) to do what is needed that MHI is failing at, or
  • And/or forge a relationship with a larger, pro-business independent association.

PEP.  Protect. Educate Promote.


MHProNews/MHLivingNews have years of proven profitable, pro-industry results working with solution-oriented companies, professionals, and associations to advance manufactured housing to historic levels of sales and profits.  ##

(PS: For more details, see links and/or images above, contact us, or see this in-depth and referenced report, linked here.)

(Image credits are as shown.)

latonykovach-louisiville2015-mhpronews-business-building-seminars-1By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach. Tony and Frank Rolfe will be among those presenting at the Tunica Show, on the topic of Successful and Profitable Media Engagement.  Click the image at left to learn more.

Photo of Tony presenting on SuperCharged Marketing and Sales to an audience of MH industry professionals.


Paving the Road to Hell – MHAction’s Kevin Borden & NYCC’s Jonathan Westin

  • Written by Kovach, L. A. 'Tony'

Most know the maxim: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The Hill op-ed by Kevin Borden and Jonathan Westin on “The Private Equity Takeover of Americas Neighborhoods” at best typifies hellish "good intentions."

KevinBordenExecDirMHAction-TheHill-postedManufacturedHousingIndustryInFocusMHProNews300x458Key facts they ignored arguably harms those they claim to want to protect.

Using exaggerated or misleading examples distorts genuine dialogue. As an industry veteran and trade publisher, my focus is to correct-the-record regarding their problematic claims about manufactured homes and communities.

Using anti-capitalist lingo, the duo's account begins with Margie Mathers, a retired Florida woman whose site fees (a.k.a. "lot rent" or "ground lease" for her manufactured home) allegedly rose by some $400 in just 3 years. For argument’s sake, let’s presume their claim is true.

It’s what Borden/Westin didn't disclose that’s misleading.

In researching their allegation, this writer contacted a senior manager who previously supervised Buccaneer Estates, North Fort Meyer, Florida -- where they say Mathers lives. It's owned by Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS). As disclosures, note that supervisor no longer works for ELS.  As a trade publisher, we have industry clients, but ELS isn't among them.

The former ELS manager said Florida has some of the best safeguards for manufactured home community residents. Among them is the prospectus. JonathanWestinNewYorkCommunitiesForChangeExecDirNYFoundationPostedManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-

Before purchasing a manufactured home – or a pre-HUD Code mobile home - the buyer is given the terms in a prospectus. That prospectus is revealing; binding the resident and community owner. Terms detailed includes ground-lease rate increases, often tied to CPI.

So, while there's no rent control in Florida (a good thing – see linked example – the harm done by rent control can be addressed another time), the consumer knows precisely what to expect.

Furthermore, when a shopper buys an existing home from a long-time resident, they may be able to assume the old prospectus – and thus below-market rates
on the ground-lease.  Those site fees may at year’s end go to market rate, and then follow CPI, or whatever terms that prospectus has.

The point? 

The Borden/Westin example of retiree Mathers is a smokescreen. She was given a prospectus, knew what she was committing to, and purchased anyway. That’s informed freedom-of-choice.

Odds are, Mathers obtained a bargain, not a raw deal. Her site fees adjusted towards a market rate she accepted in her prospectus.


Facts and Comparisons Paint a Different Picture

The Borden/Westin example was a shock tactic -- completely misleading to uninformed readers.

For those unfamiliar with land-lease, Hawaii and Maryland are states where conventional housing is routinely built on leased-land.  A few years ago, this writer lived in an upscale manufactured home community in Glenview, Illinois – about half-a-mile from million-dollar-houses built on leased-land.

While they differ, a Home Owners Association (HOA) is a useful comparison. Thousands of conventional housing, townhouses or condominium developments have HOAs. Trulia reported in 2015 that median HOA fees were $310 to $356 in Fort Meyers and Miami.

DataComp/JLT Associates says site fees in Florida average $487 monthly in all-age communities and $478 monthly in 55+ manufactured home land-lease properties. In Florida, the highest fees for waterfront and golf-club style properties are up to $1500 monthly; far less than comparable Sunshine State country-club style developments.

Depending on the U.S. jurisdiction, a manufactured home owner:

  • often pays zero real estate taxes, paying a modest personal-property tax instead;
  • pays tens-of-thousands less up-front for land-lease than purchasing property, especially important for Borden’s and Westin’s example of a senior like Mathers;
  • saves - the U.S. Census Bureau reports new manufactured homes are about half-the-cost of comparable conventional housing - and
  • buying an existing (pre-owned) manufactured home may be thousands less than a new one the same size/location; much the same as new conventional construction is costlier than similar existing housing.

Borden and Westin made retired Mathers look like a victim. More likely, she's intelligent and saved big. Were Borden and Westin deceptive?

All income groups – including the middle class, stars and frugal millionaires - live in manufactured home communities.

Are there ne'er-do-wells in MHVille? Sure, just like any other profession.

Bloomberg, HousingWire, Realtor and Fox News did recent affordable housing stories.  They asked, why aren't more new manufactured homes - which are mistakenly called “trailers” or “mobile homes” - being sold?

Part of the answer lies in hellishly false narratives, like the Borden/Westin op-ed.

We hope Dr. Ben Carson, nominated by President-elect Donald Trump for HUD Secretary, digs into manufactured home realities vs. the misconceptions. We hope he'll clean up manufactured housing regulatory hurdles and enforce the law - the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

If Carson does, taxpayers will save billions - while creating good jobs, as the free market Borden and Westin mistakenly disparaged - produces affordable, quality manufactured homes. ##

tony-kovach-2L. A. “Tony” Kovach is the publisher of and, the leading trade publications for consumers, manufactured homeowners, MH industry leaders, investors and public policy professionals who want up-to-date lifestyle and business news.

Manufactured Housing - "Where Do We Go from Here?" - Industry Discussion

  • Written by Soheyla Kovach

with - Kevin Clayton, Joe Stegmayer, Keith Anderson, Gary McDaniel, Todd Baker and Don Westphal 

"We have to learn how to reach out and communicate with them (Millenials)."

-- Keith Anderson - Champion Home Builders

Model home, Champion Home Builders.

Moderated by energetic 45-year industry veteran Dick Ernst, the "Where Do We Go From Here?" session was the first packed MHI Congress and Expo forum in years.

Some 700 professionals were in the room to hear CEOs:

 Kevin Clayton – Clayton Homes

 Joe Stegmayer – Cavco Industries (CVCO)

 Keith Anderson – Champion Home Builders

 Gary McDaniel – Yes! Communities

 Todd Baker - Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS)

 Don Westphal, MH development consultant

In the past seven years, the manufactured housing industry's new home shipments have averaged some 8 percent annual growth. Ernst said there is so much potential from the industry's production centers and on-site finish work, that manufactured housing could dominate the affordable housing business.


Sante Fe style home, solar roof panels, Cavco Industries, photo credit

In his tee-up for the opening question to Joe Stegmayer, Ernst noted:

 The U.S. needs 1.3 million to 1.4 million new housing starts a year to keep up with a rising population.

 MH builders sold some 70,000 new HUD Code homes in 2015, with another 700,000 single family houses constructed by site builders.

Was there room, Ernst wondered, for manufactured housing to rise from its recent market share of some 7, 8 or 9 percent of new housing starts a year?

The pithy and witty Stegmayer began with a one word reply.




Once smiles and laughs subsided, Joe explained why there is an opportunity for manufactured housing to grow its market share.


 First-time home buyers generate 55 percent of new mortgages.

 Conventional on-site stick builders are reluctant to build entry level housing units.

 With new starts growing, there is also growth in the affordability gap.


"We don't think we will take over" site-building, Stegmayer said, but we can join that market.


"We've been as high as 15-to-20 percent of all single family homes sold," and Cavco's CEO sees

a significant upside for MH in the total single-family housing market.


Clayton Homes iHouse - photo credit, Inhabitat.

Ernst – Other Factors That Bode Well for MH

Dick Ernst then noted that with:

 Seniors downsizing,

 Single parent households rising, and

 Millennials becoming the largest consumer group, the demographics are ripe for MH.


He asked Kevin Clayton to take attendees behind the scenes of some of Clayton Homes' efforts to attract these potential buyers.


Clayton's CEO said the new generation loved the iHouse, but asked – where do I put it?


A common comment was that buyers want better places to place manufactured homes.


When people traditionally hit their 40s, they were buying houses like crazy. But Clayton believes Millennials won't automatically have that same impulse.


Focus groups that Clayton Homes has done revealed interest in:

 Improved exteriors

 50 percent have concern over quality and safety


The question then becomes: How does one go about changing those perceptions?


Kevin Clayton emphasized the need to change perceptions, and noted that other industries have done it, citing online dating as but one example of how that was successfully done.


Champion's CEO's Take


Champion Home Builders' Keith Anderson jumped in next. Anderson said it was important to get plugged into and reaching out to Millennials.


He stressed they could do it through their own employee base that fits that demographic group, as well as on the consumer side.


"We have to learn how to reach out and communicate with them," Anderson said.


For 18 months, Champion has been using new websites, efforts on social media, MHVillage and other outreaches. They are seeing website hits and leads that rose 500 percent in the last six months


That clearly validates their efforts.


Gary McDaniel of Yes! Communities talked about the desire for more amenities from community residents, how they are working with demographic groups and seeking to accommodate their respective needs and desires.

Social media is just one of the many outreaches that McDaniel identified. Engaging in their communities, McDaniel said, they learned that residents wanted more "than a clubhouse with a library."

As a result of their engagement, they are exploring water parks, walking trails, learning centers,

partnerships with local colleges, tutoring and helping residents with resumes, among other services.


With the Hispanic community, they are working to help children and adults assimilate and adapt, to become more successful in the U.S.


"If they are happy and successful," in their MHCs, then they will clearly make good long-term residents, McDaniel observed.

Don Westphal – Land Development

Don Westphal noted that in working with both conventional and manufactured home projects, the customers inside those homes are "the same inside."

Those customers want an attractive housing product, landscaped homes, and make their neighborhood look like a place they'd want to live.

He also noted that people are into instant gratification mode, which ought to be an advantage to manufactured housing, with its faster time from start to completion.


"They don't want to wait for months," Westphal said.


ELS Promotion on MHVillage.

ELS' Todd Baker


Baker was working in the conventional housing development business before his current work for ELS in manufactured home communities (MHCs).


As head of consumer research, he said that before to entering manufactured housing, they did 10- to 15-page surveys with every single home buyer.


Stressing that a normal response rate to an in-depth survey might be 1 percent, he noted that they enjoyed a 10 percent response rate.


"Buyers wanted to tell us about their biggest purchase," Baker said.


He noted that they buy from each of the builders he was on stage with.

They do a mix of single sectional and multi-sectional homes.


They tend to go with open floorplans, with large kitchens.


"Whatever your price point," Baker said, people routinely want big kitchens.

In surveying buyers, they wanted to know what trade-offs customers where ready to make.


For example, would buyers prefer a larger master bedroom, or a smaller bedroom with a bigger walk-in closet?


Champion Home Builders interior, lower left,
Cavco Chairman and CEO, Joe Stegmayer standing in a Cavco
model home's kitchen, on the right.  Collage photos from


$150K-$175K "All-In" Costs for the Package


With site builders targeting $300,000 for many conventional houses, manufactured housing needs to focus on homes that are $150,000 to $175,000 total for the "all in" cost.


Energy savings and architectural appeal have to be part of that effort.

Kevin Clayton said that he was happy to see Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac officials at the Congress and Expo forum this year.


Clayton's CEO said they have to "chip away" at the financing difference, because there is "erosion" in the value proposition due to the differences in lending.

But what Clayton will prioritize this year are exteriors, he said. Clayton spoke about shipping dormers or other items on a separate carrier, and he said that it will be a game changer for the industry.


He felt that interiors of manufactured homes were a full 10 years ahead of exteriors, which clearly have to catch up to grow market share.


"Don't leave those who brought you to the dance..."


Clayton stressed that there is no desire to leave the entry level side of the business, nor should there be any wish to leave those "who brought us to the dance."


He explained that the U.S. Department of Transportation and HUD need to embrace "how wonderful our processes are," and they needed to be part of the solution that manufactured housing can uniquely bring to the housing market.

Destroying the Trailer Image


Westphal said, "Now that the interior is nailed, we need to destroy that trailer image," created by outdated exteriors.


The look of the homes in communities must be pleasing to the eye, the veteran MH development designer stressed.

Value Engineering

Champion's Anderson said that "value engineering" allowed for steeper roof lines, more porches and other items that could bring additional curb appeal without a lot more cost.


Ernst turned to Cavco's CEO, and pointed out their use of Santa Fe-style homes as but one example of manufactured housing that could have fresh looks.


Stegmayer said that HUD's new onsite completion rule was "too onerous," "too expensive," and "too laborious" to be useful.


He said that housing is very much a regional business, and explained that they have architects and designers on staff for interiors and exteriors, including those with a Southwestern or Santa Fe regional flare.

Stegmayer went on to explain that multifamily and multi-story projects being done by their firm were being completed on site. He said there was a need to challenge the perceptions of developers who still think they can do it cheaper on site, than by using the efficiency found in factory building.

"Even though we can save time and money, there is a thing called ego," he said. An example of a SoCal project with higher roof pitches and bolder exterior elevations was discussed.


No Question of Capabilities


Gary McDaniel said there is no question about the capabilities. He also felt the industry must not abandon those who need affordable housing that brought us to the dance.


He concurred with Kevin Clayton, that parity in the capital markets would open more doors for manufactured housing's competitiveness.

McDaniel also noted that the rental option was important to the industry too, because not everyone wants to buy -- at least not right away.

More Interest from Developers


Don Westphal noted that 8 years ago, when housing crashed, there was no interest in learning how to develop with manufactured housing. Last year, 30 attended a seminar on that topic.


This year, that number had doubled.

By identifying what the roadblocks are, and navigating those, new levels of sales could be achieved by the industry.

Exteriors aren't Everything


McDaniel said that many of their buyers were not that concerned with the exteriors. Having a clean, affordable place to live that was comfortable -- that was the key to their success. With their focus on families, as opposed to the senior market, Yes! Communities was creating a place where residents were happy to raise their families.


Be it renting or buying, "Once they experience our home, the misconceptions go away," McDaniel said.


Renting homes did create new wrinkles, such as how to service that "fleet of homes" in the corporate rental pool.


But he said their customers have "really not changed that much from the 80s, 90s, to 2000s, to now," adding that the demand for affordable housing was incredible. They were expanding and building to meet that demand.


Clayton's Move into the Site Building Market

Kevin Clayton explained that they bought builder/developers near Nashville and Atlanta more to learn how to do successful developments, rather than to integrate manufactured housing into

those businesses.

Noting that housing from $150,000 to $225,000 "sells fast," he felt that if the old MH terminology was bypassed, our industry's product was poised for growth.

Clayton floated the idea of working with HUD to develop a new class of manufactured housing that would be built to the HUD Code, but would have 5/12 roof pitches, integrated porches and

not use vinyl skirting, with tweaks in foundation and set-up – all of which would then be given a new name for that style of home.


That new class of homes could then have an ad campaign to promote it for zoning and financing acceptance. He said it would be important to show it off as superior, and a way to separate

it from the old mobile home terminology and image.


The session was brought to a conclusion by stating the value proposition for association membership, but also by stressing why the GSEs needed to be on board with chattel lending for manufactured housing.

When 21st, Vanderbilt and other industry lenders could make manufactured home lending work, that clearly implied that the GSEs could do so, too. ##


By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

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Regulatory Impact - CFPB rules - Manufactured Home Buyers, Sellers & Lenders – Richard Cordray, Sen Joe Donnelly, et al - Video Report

  • Written by Soheyla Kovach


Still from video below.

I actually don't think there was ever much high cost lending in the manufactured housing market.”

-- Richard Cordray, director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Mark Carter is a pastor of an independent church in the Ohio River Valley of Western Kentucky and a part-time school bus driver.

Susan Gaines is a second generation manufactured home retailer who has sold Carter two homes over the years, helping him secure financing for each of them.

But during an interview, Mark was stunned to learn that he'll be on his own the next time around, thanks to new federal regulations that prevent Susan or other retail sales professionals from offering the guidance she once gave all of her clients -- many of them, first-time home buyers.

It is the same kind of assistance in finding suitable financing that real estate agents can still routinely provide to buyers of conventional site-built homes.

"I feel like part of my job is to educate the public. And they've kind of eliminated the area where I could sit down with the customer and explain debt-to-income ratio … where they have to be in order to buy a home," says Gaines, speaking about the impact of CFPB regulations on the professional services she's long provided her customers.

The Dodd-Frank rules, implemented in 2014 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), have already impacted thousands of consumers who want nothing more than to finance the purchase of a quality, affordable home.

Yet few buyers realize these CFPB rules exist, much less that they represent good intentions that have gone terribly awry in the name of consumer protection.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) is aware not only of the harm Dodd-Frank has inflicted on individual buyers and sellers of manufactured homes, but the collateral damage inflicted on MH production, employment, community banks, national lenders and retailers. Federal rules also harm millions who have the lowest cost manufactured homes, because CFPB regulations have driven lenders out of the low-balance loan market.

Donnelly recently confronted Richard Cordray, head of the CFPB, about the impact of the Dodd-Frank rules, which Cordray's agency put into place.

"It's not fair … to think that the rest of the country is all Washington, D.C. townhouses that may sell for a million dollars," Donnelly said. Ordinary families also have a right to have a place to call home, he added.

Cordray bristled at that statement. "And, by the way, want to have a place to call home and not be gouged," he replied, despite having acknowledged just moments before that there "was not ever much high-cost lending in the manufactured housing market."

Donnelly held his ground. "In almost every case, I don't think my local community banker is out to gouge anybody," he said.

And so begins our snapshot of the wide-ranging impact of regulations that Barney Frank once stated in writing were never meant to apply to manufactured housing.

In this video, you'll hear from:

* Mark Carter, Pastor and manufactured home owner

"Who would have more expertise than someone who sells these homes every day?"

* Susan Gaines, a second-generation retailer

"I can't even figure out a payment for them to know where they're going to be in 20 years, 15 years, 30 years. They're doing a disservice to my customer."

* Don Glisson, Jr., an independent MH lender whose firm originates some $400 million a year in MH loans, that provide some 10,000 buyers a year with quality, affordable homes.

"If (a retailer's) not being compensated for the finance side, which he's not, why would he not help the customer find the best deal?"

* Doug Bell, senior VP of a local bank whose costs have increased and services have been slowed by the CFPB's rules.

"We've had to add additional compliance, additional training, additional staffing."

The solution a number of Republicans are calling for is to end the CFPB altogether.

A growing coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers wants to modify Dodd-Frank in ways that will end the harm caused by the current state of the CFPB's regulations.

Indeed, the House acted in the spring of 2015 by passing HR 650, and the bi-partisan Senate support for S 682 continues. But why should the people harmed by CFPB regulations have to wait?

Perhaps the most troubling part of this issue is that Cordray, himself, has the power to offer relief to the consumers who are paying the price of this misguided application of the legislation, which blocks their path to home ownership, or harms the resale and values of the lowest cost manufactured homes.

The CFPB's director has the legal authority under Dodd-Frank to make the needed changes. There is no need to wait for federal law to be changed by Congress. 

Millions are being harmed, as Senator Donnelly points out.

With a growing affordable housing crisis in the U.S., and thousands of good, American jobs being thwarted by these regulations, what possible reason can Richard Cordray give to defend the harm he and his bureau's regulations are causing Americans?

That is a question Cordray never attempts to answer in his most recent appearance before a Senate committee. Nor did he or the CFPB respond to our requests for comments on the issue. Its one that consumers and advocates for quality affordable housing should be asking their elected and appointed officials themselves.

In a previous video report with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Cordray clearly indicated he understands the business math that causes low-balance home loans to have a somewhat higher interest rate, and he clearly stated that the Dodd-Frank law allowed for that practice as justified. See that video, linked here.

While Washington DC politics takes its slow course on enacting the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, HR 650/S 682, millions of manufactured home owners – and thousands of more would-be buyers monthly – are impacted by rules that Cordray himself said can be modified. How long must those who are being impacted wait? ##

By L. A. "Tony" Kovach, 863-213-4090.  

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