Posts Tagged ‘center for public integrity’

Center for Public Integrity – Stunning Clayton Homes-Warren Buffett-Berkshire Hathaway Manufactured Home Lending Truth Outs

November 24th, 2018 Comments off

Our thanks to a key source at 21st that helped make this report possible.

The truth can be stranger than fiction. Prepare to scratch your head in wonder, to be stunned, or both. But the evidence will be provided, and you can decide for yourself whatever you think it means to you, your business, the manufactured home industry, and our nation that is seeking quality, safe, and affordable housing.



Doug Ryan has advocated for manufactured homes in a variety of ways for CFED cum Prosperity Now since February 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

But Ryan has also been a harsh critic of Berkshire Hathaway brands engaged in manufactured home lending, as well as Clayton Homes’ sales practices.



Writing in Shelter Force, Ryan pointed to the Center for Public Integrity’s journalism, which had combined with a writer at the Seattle Times.

Note Ryan’s headline?


That headline and the opening paragraph should seem odd-at-best on the surface.


Because CFED turned Prosperity Now, has received funding from Warren Buffett, via so-called “dark money” channels. One example is funding that flowed from Buffett via the Tides Foundation to Prosperity Now/CFED



MHLivingNews, in a previous exclusive, reported that CFED also had another conflict-of-interest that had gone undisclosed, because they reportedly received money from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during the Obama Administration era.

There’s been no clearly visible disclosure by Ryan or CFED/Prosperity Now in their published commentaries about Clayton Homes and Berkshire Hathaway manufactured home lending regarding dark money funding from Buffett. Just look at Ryan’s writing in Shelter Force, American Banker, or other similar Op-Eds. Do you see a disclosure there about where some of that money for Prosperity Now comes from? Why isn’t that disclosure made transparently?

But perhaps the most stunning revelation is that some of those ‘charitable’ millions from Warren Buffett’s billions have gone to – wait for it – the Center for Public Integrity.



Rephrased, Buffett’s millions were used in part to fund the print and digital media attacks on Chairman Buffett led Berkshire’s Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF).  Others in media then picked those stories up, and ran with it.  Among them, Doug Ryan at Prosperity Now. 

To a normal person, that may boggle the mind. Why would Buffett effectively pay news media and non-profits to attack his own businesses?

But the facts are that: 

   The Center for Public Integrity (teamed with the Seattle Times),

   CFED/Prosperity Now, and


are all among the operations that have attacked manufactured housing professionals in a variety of ways. There are more, but let’s just look at those 3 operations for the purpose of this post.  Each of the above were paid via the Tides Foundation.  Not that it’s necessary for the point of this article, but how many other dark money paths might be involved, linking Buffett, his friends, and brands to attacks or stalls on our HUD Code manufactured home industry?



Just as a big company can demonstrably better withstand regulations than a smaller firm, arguably, a larger company can better handle negative media than smaller companies.

Similarly, the biggest company in an industry can reflect well-meh-or poorly on the balance of an industry.  That’s what Ryan purportedly does, throw the others in by implication with Buffett and his brands, at least in this Shelter Force article.


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Buffett has said he has confidence in manufactured housing and that’s why he gets into an industry. But he also plainly says that he wants to grow what he calls his Moat.



Oh, What a Tangled Web…

Manufactured housing has struggled under a multiple-layered headwinds that includes, but are not necessarily limited to:




   Image/stigma/media, and

   Zoning/placement, among others. Much of this can be boiled down to misinformation. So why has Buffett’s millions often clouded, or failed to clearly clarify, that misinformation?

You can ascribe whatever motives you like to the above facts. But logically, when Buffett’s money keeps going to the Tides Foundation for years, which Tides in turn gives money to:


   The Center for Public Integrity (which teamed up with the Seattle Times),

  Prosperity Now/formerly CFED, and

   MHAction, among others.

There is arguably only one logical conclusion. Mr. Buffett must like what Tides and these other groups named above do with his money, because he’s given them millions.  That money-flow spans the years.

As the Daily Business News on MHProNews has previously documented, Berkshire Hathaway has dozens of local and regional newspapers, the BH Media Group. Why does BH Media brands seldom cover manufactured housing in a way that clarifies the many misconceptions about our industry?


Most manufactured home industry professionals don’t realize the scope of the BH Media Group’s direct assets. Beyond these, there are other media ties and interests that they arguably can leverage. Why haven’t they done so to advance the industry? How does this reality compare with the claims of Kevin Clayton, MH Insider, or MHI?



Instead of clearly stating, over and over, the facts about manufactured housing, and how it can advance affordable housing, Buffett’s/Berkshire’s/Clayton’s money has flowed to those who, like Doug Ryan or Esther Sullivan, who send a problematic mix message about our HUD Code manufactured home industry.


Against that backdrop, see the new and prior reports that are linked immediately and further below.  


Failure, Success and Profitable Truth Detection for Manufactured Housing

That’s plenty to digest this Saturday edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

Machiavellian “Godfather” – Sam Zell, Warren Buffett, Capital, Lending and Crossed Lines in Manufactured Housing


Manufactured Housing – MHVille, It’s Not a Matter Open to Interpretation

Urban Institute Ask for Correction in Analysis of their Manufactured Housing Research, “Follow the Facts,” “Follow the Money”



The Report, Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton and Clayton Homes

February 28th, 2017 Comments off

Buffett and Kevin Clayton. Credit: Reuters.

When the “Oracle of Omaha” speaks, people listen.

Actually, millions of people listen.

On February 25th, Warren Buffett delivered his annual letter to shareholders. In his letter, the manufactured housing industry was front and center, as Buffett discussed Clayton Homes.

Clayton and Berkshire have been a wonderful partnership,” wrote Buffett.

Kevin Clayton came to us with a best-in-class management group and culture. Berkshire, in turn, provided unmatched staying power when the manufactured home industry fell apart during the Great Recession.

According to the Knoxville Sun-Sentinel, for the second year, Buffett also defended Clayton’s financing practices. In 2015 a joint Seattle Times, Center for Public Integrity and BuzzFeed investigation accused Clayton Homes of pushing minorities into high-interest predatory loans, which Clayton has strongly denied. The Daily Business News covered this story extensively, separating fact from fiction.

That story is linked here.

Last year Clayton had to foreclose on 8,304 manufactured-housing mortgages, about 2.5 percent of its total portfolio, wrote Buffett.

He also spoke to Clayton’s efforts to assist those who were having trouble with payments, writing about Clayton’s loan-extension and payment forgiveness programs.


Buffett with Clayton team members. Credit: CNBC.

Last year about 11,000 borrowers received extensions, and 3,800 had $3.4 million of scheduled payments permanently canceled by Clayton. The company does not earn interest or fees when these loss-mitigation moves are made,” wrote Buffett.

Since we lose significant sums on foreclosures – losses last year totaled $150 million – our assistance programs end up helping Clayton as well as its borrowers.”

For all of 2016, 94 percent of Clayton’s loan balances were current on payments.

Clayton’s pretax profit rose 5 percent to $744 million, primarily from its $13.3 billion mortgage portfolio.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $4.23 billion, and with the sale of 42,075 homes, accounted for five percent of all new home sales nationwide.


Clayton Homes figures from Warren Buffett’s annual letter, listed as Manufactured housing and finance.

The company accounts for about 2 percent of Berkshire’s overall profit, and employs 14,677 people throughout the U.S.

Clayton Homes is the largest producer of manufactured homes (MH) in North America. Vertically integrated, the company has several hundred retail centers nationwide. Through its affiliates and family of brands, Clayton builds, sells, finances, leases and insures Clayton-built manufactured and modular homes.  The operation also buys products and uses services from other producers.

For the most recent closing numbers on all Berkshire Hathaway – and all MH industry-connected tracked stocks – please click here. 

Buffett’s annual letter is linked here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronewsSubmitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Will Matt Drudge, Fox or CNN Spotlight Unfair Challenges Harming Millions of Manufactured Home Owners?

May 20th, 2015 2 comments



Correction on this photo, an earlier version did not have the proper image of Mike Baker, left.

The Seattle Times/Center for Public Integrity has allegedly targeted Clayton Homes and Berkshire-Hathaway affiliated finance companies in an attempt to derail much needed reforms to Dodd-Frank which harm millions of manufactured home (MH) owners and thousands of MH businesses.

Mike Baker and Daniel Wagner – writers of the Seattle Times articles, done in conjunction with the Center for Public Integrity – used shock tactics prior to the House of Representatives vote to attempt to derail the now-passed HR 650, which enjoyed bi-partisan support.

More recently, that writing duo turn on Warren Buffett’s firms again, in advance of a Thursday May 21st vote in the Senate Banking Committee that will include industry sought relief (S 682) from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations. Industry professionals say that The Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, would mitigate the harm done to the value of millions of low-cost manufactured home owners by the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank.

It might take a link by billion-plus monthly page views Drudge Report, or media mavens like Fox or CNN, to right the imbalanced coverage spawned by Baker’s and Wagner’s questionable journalism.

Writing in the Seattle Times, Baker says that the default rate on manufactured homes is higher than conventional housing, and uses pejorative terms about the loans such as “predatory” and “risky.” But should 97 home buyers be barred home ownership via financing others won’t offer, so that the 3 who fail in a year be spared their loss?

As a comparison, should millions be stopped from working because a small minority might quit or lose their jobs? Should subscribers to the Seattle Times digital or print publications be barred from buying their brand of news, because some every year will stop paying them? Should their publication be barred from selling ads because some advertisers will stop using them every year?

Yet that is kind of reasoning being used by Baker and Wagner. Their self-evident goal is an attempt to stir up enough shock value that blurs their use of faulty or circle reasoning, aimed at undermining support for much needed Dodd-Frank reforms.

Real Harm to Millions of Real Home Owners and Thousands of Businesses

The Seattle Times and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) fail to balance their report by pointing out that the loss of lending that has taken place is harming the value of the lowest cost manufactured homes.

Some 20% of the homes that 20 million manufactured home owners live in would sell for under $20,000, the mark that 21st Mortgage Corporation set below which they could not safely make a loan and still hope to profit. With 8.8 million manufactured homes and pre-HUD Code mobile homes in the U.S., that 20% would represent about 1,760,000 manufactured/mobile homes (MH).

Since most MH owners live in their homes an average of about 10 years, millions may not yet realize they are harmed.

Comrades in Arms Against Reform?

Organizations like the Center for Enterprise Development (CFED) are ducking tough questions from MHProNews. Meanwhile, CFED’s Doug Ryan willingly comments to the Seattle Times or OZY Media, why? Are his comments made to other media a desperate effort to shock enough people with headlines and stories that don’t stand up well to close scrutiny? Aren’t CFED and Ishbel Dickens led National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) harming the very home owners they claim to be advocating for? Is their ideological stance more important to them than the realities on the ground caused by the polices they advocate?

Dickens sent MHProNews an emailed reply, saying she was on vacation, and thus could not answer questions. Her “vacation” ends after the Senate vote. She can email that she is on vacation, but can’t email a simple reply on the impact of current CFPB regulations on the values of millions of manufactured homes? Or how publishers such as OZY Media are arguably harming the value of MH owners, by using improper and derogatory terminology?

CFPB Regulations harms all current Manufactured Home Lenders

By spotlighting Berkshire-Hathaway affiliated companies, Baker and Wagner are allegedly attempting to derail needed reforms of Dodd-Frank, that impact manufactured home owners and every lender in the manufactured housing space.

don_glisson_2Triad Financial Corporation is a competing company to 21st Mortgage. Triad’s President and CEO, Don Glisson Jr., has told MHProNews that his firm’s costs have skyrocketed since CFPB regulations have gone into effect.

Glisson said, “Triad has been the leading lender in the “A” credit market for over 50 years and I have personally been with the company for over 30 years. Regulations have always been a fact of life for us, but our compliance costs have quadrupled in the past 3 years alone.”

Another industry lender, formerly with US Bank, told MHProNews off-the-record that their bank’s manufactured housing loan program was profitable. But the high costs of regulatory compliance, coupled with low loan volume, caused U.S. Bank to end their manufactured housing lending program. That mirrors the official statement made by the bank when they pulled out of manufactured home lending in November, 2014.

A third manufactured home lender said off-the-record that they are glad 21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) make the loans they do. Why? Because in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, loans on manufactured homes originated by 21st and VMF were crucial to the survival of thousands of MH Industry companies, which included hundreds of independent operations not owned by Berkshire-Hathaway.

Doesn’t the dismal failure to report in a balanced fashion – as Jan Hollingsworth did in writing on the impact of Dodd-Frank on manufactured home buyers and professionals – undermine the credibility of a journalist?

Senior management with every major industry lender MHProNews spoke in favor of reforms on Dodd-Frank, even if they don’t make the same kinds of loans 21st and VMF do.

Triad’s CEO elaborated on the challenges faced by their firm and other manufactured housing professionals. “Since we specialize in A credits, we have never had an issue with higher cost loans and the rules that surround higher priced loans have zero impact on us.”

However,” Glisson stated, “the rule that prohibits a manufactured home retailer from advising the customer on finance options is one that we would like to see changed. Currently a buyer of a site built home can receive advice from their realtor or builder on financing options, while manufactured home buyers have no similar ability to seek a seller’s help. This would be like going to a car dealer to buy a new SUV and when you ask for help securing a loan they hand you the phone book and say they can’t help you so just pick one out yourself.”

Glisson explained what impact this CFPB regulation has made on their operation. “This has doubled the amount of applications we are now processing to do the same amount of lending. In the past, before the CFPB regulations, a retailer could pre-qualify a buyer by accessing their credit reports and analyzing their income, just like every Realtor ® in America can do. With that information, they could at least determine what lender NOT to send the application to. We have had to add several full time equivalent team members to handle the crush of applications, as we are now bombarded with applicants who have no chance of qualifying with us.”

This is a pattern of “shot-gunning” applications by retailers to all MH lenders, to avoid the appearance of steering, that other lenders have confirmed for MHProNews.

Glisson went on to say that, “Beginning in 2014, when the rules went into effect, our origination cost per loan has skyrocketed. Pre-2014 we would approve about 50% of the applications we received as they were pre-screened. Currently we approve about 30% of the applications we receive, so our efficiency went down the tubes and we are working harder and spending more to make the same amount of loans.”

These are the kinds of real world problems caused by federal regulations that cause a lender such as U.S. Bank to pull out.


As Sam Landy, President and CEO of UMH Properties pointed out in a video interview linked here, it has caused them and others in the community business to stop lending to potential manufactured home owners. They now rent homes to those who before would be qualified by their finance arm to make renters into home owners. How does that regulatory caused impact help those thousands seeking ownership and equity instead of rent receipts to advance in life?

Doing the Math

Finance experts tell us that a community operator like UMH, using a related or ‘captive finance’ company, can afford to make loans at a lower interest rate than a traditional lender because they are only loaning on manufactured homes in their community. In the event of a default, their costs and thus their loses are lower. Additionally, a manufactured home community operator can benefit even if their loan program is only marginally profitable, because they are getting additional revenue from a sold home and filled homesite.

There is no similar benefit to the third party loans made by 21st, VMF, Triad Financial, CU Factory Built Lending or Mountainside Financial. The same holds true for regional or local lenders who must profit on the loan itself, or they won’t make the loan in the first place.

Does Buffett win more than Millions of home owners would from the proposed reforms to Dodd-Frank?

While the Seattle Times’ Baker and his tag team writer Wagner make it sound that Warren Buffett and Berkshire-Hathaway related companies are the big winner from financial reform, they clearly overlook the real world impact on an estimated 20% of those home owners who live in a home that is worth under $20,000.

If those homes averaged $15,000 each, 1.76 million MHs represent an aggregated value of $26,400,000,000. That sum dwarfs the benefits to Berkshire-Hathaway, or indeed, to the entire manufactured housing industry.

Since financing is the key to most big ticket sales, a loss of financing causes the same drop in value that was seen in conventional housing in the wake of the 2008 mortgage collapse.  Just as conventional housing lost value absent lending, the same holds true for manufactured homes.

As the now-retired president of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), Danny Ghorbani, has said, the factory built home industry was not the cause of the 2008 housing/mortgage bubble. So why were manufactured home owners, housing businesses and professionals penalized? Why is manufactured housing owners and buisnesses taking such a direct hit from the impact of CFPB regulations?


 As Eric Powell told Jan Hollingsworth about the impact of Dodd-Frank and the CFPB regulations on their manufactured home purchase, What were they thinking when they did that?”  Or as Sam Landy told MHLivingNews, the consequences to millions of manufactured home owners and thousands of business may well have been untended, but someone has got to fix this. ##

(Image credits 3 and 4, MHLivingNews; Don Glisson Jr photo and composite photo and graphic of Baker and Wagner made by MHProNews).

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.