Archive for April 4th, 2010

SAVE YOURSELF; NO ONE ELSE WILL!

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

SAVE YOURSELF; NO ONE ELSE WILL!

– a simple but serious Four Step Plan for owners/operators of landlease (nee manufactured home) communities during these economically trying times –

It occurred to me, while Mystery Shopping landlease communities (‘LLCommunities’), engaging in some expert witness introspection, and attending a Super Symposium & Showcase of Homes, we – as owners/operators, continue to be our own worst enemies, when it comes to managing, selling, installing & financing new and resale homes within our valuable income – producing properties!

That’s right; no, I mean, that’s ‘wrong’ – that in property after property, homebuyers/site lessees see evidence of unprofessional property management (‘PM’); experience lackadaisical selling & leasing by phone and during interviews; suffer homes poorly sited and installed; and, probably worst of all, endure sub prime chattel (personal property) financing procedures, or lack thereof, that’ll might (Think impending S.A.F.E. Act implementation) get note holders in trouble!

So, what’s one to do about ‘poor rules enforcement, lax curb appeal, & lousy resident relations’ indicators; consultants who increasingly default to their firm’s website rather than sell; homes twisting and turning on insecure foundations; and, ‘buy here – pay here’ loans that’re unintentionally non – compliant with state and federal regulations?

Here’re four places to start the corrective process through education:

I.

Ensure every on – site property manager (a.k.a. administrator, caretaker, resident manager) is provided an opportunity to receive professional property management training & certification, preferably outside the company. Why? First; training is an educational and sharing experience; second, certification is the reward for, and indicator of superior PM performance! Furthermore, it’s unlikely a firm’s homegrown program was prepared and articulated by a Certified Property Manager ® member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (‘IREM’). Why is this important? During 30 years of experience and observation in this business, the best LLCommunity PMs almost always are professional CPMs®. So, why settle for less, when training your best?

What’re the professional property management training and certification alternatives available to LLCommunity owners/operators today?

At the entry level, whether a new or experienced on – site manager, or new owner of a LLCommunity, is the Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) one day PM program, available in classroom format (hosted by state MHAssociations & LLCommunity portfolio firms) or correspondence course. Contact PMN Publishing for details, via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. There’re 1,000+/- MHMs to date, all trained by a veteran LLCommunity owner and CPM®

At the intermediate level, is the Manufactured Housing Education Institute’s (‘MHEI’) nearly 20 year old Accredited Community Manager ® (‘ACM’®) program. This is a three course program (two days each session), culminating in preparation of a property management Plan. Classes are usually held annually in Michigan and Florida. For more information, contact Manufactured Housing Institute via (703) 558-0678. There are approximately 200 ACM®s in place today.

And then there’s the Certified Property Manager® member of IREM program, that serves as a quasi – ‘graduate degree’ in professional property management. CPMs® are trained in all types of income – producing property, and to date, 250+/- CPMs®, nationwide, claim affinity with the LLCommunity real estate asset class. For information, contact IREM® via (312) 329-6000.

II.

Real estate licensure. Few three word combinations stimulate more fear, prejudice, and distinction, in the minds of HUD Code manufactured housing aficionados and LLCommunity ‘players’. Why? Some ‘fear’ the day when, as marketers, sellers and installers of (factory – built) housing, on building sites conveyed fee simple and or into LLCommunities, they’ll have to become educated and licensed as real estate salespersons and brokers, to perform their presently uneducated and unlicensed realty – related jobs.

Then there’s the prejudice. Rarely, if ever, have real estate licensees given more than minimum lip service to the HUD Code manufactured housing type of factory – built housing. And only since the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, allowing MHIndustry access to local realty board multilisting services, has the industry begun to enjoy a viable means of establishing a working, ongoing secondary market for its’ unique type housing.

But there are enlightened MHIndustry and LLCommunity professionals – I can think of at least a dozen; who know firsthand, the value, benefits and distinction of achieving real estate licensure – from training, networking, and access perspectives – to maintain active real estate brokerage licenses, and in some cases become Realtor® members of the National Association of Realtors (‘NAR’)..

So, what to do? Contact your state’s real estate licensing board and request guidance relative to licensure in your state. Then take the appropriate classes (They’re not easy!), pass the necessary tests, and become licensed. Frankly, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn about the profession (i.e. real estate) with whom you’ve rubbed shoulders over the years, but never really understood before. And, be assured, you’ll walk away from the experience with concepts and ideas, you wouldn’t have otherwise learned, to apply to your own organization.

III.

Installation of HUD Code manufactured homes. Why take your state’s official or sanctioned manufactured housing installer class? Ask yourself: ‘Who does the homeowner and lawyer call first, and whose money is most at risk, when something appears to go wrong with the installation of a new or resale manufactured home?’ YOU, as LLCommunity owner/operator! So, why not mitigate potential financial loss by being better prepared. There’s that old Seven ‘P’ Rule again: ‘Proper Prior Planning (i.e. Preparedness!) Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance! For information, call (302)645-5552 or MHRConsuolting@juno.com, or your state manufactured housing association executive. You’ll be very glad you did!

IV.

Captive finance and ‘buy here – sell here’. Which of these is your preferred process for providing self – finance (a.k.a. owner – assisted financing) on – site in your LLCommunity, when marketing and selling new and resale homes? By way of refresher, here’re the definitions of both concepts:

‘Buy here – pay here’, has been around MHIndustry circles since the 1970s; and occurs, when the same business entity that sells a new or resale manufactured home also effects and services the chattel loan on said home. While a simple approach, it also carries the potential of opening home seller/financier to otherwise avoidable finance – related liabilities, and complicates licensing under the S.A.F.E. Act.

Captive finance, also a lending process, occurs when home selling business entity forms a separate, but related, finance entity; removing finance – related liabilities from the selling party, and makes S.A.F.E. Act licensure less complicated. Captive finance also eliminates public disclosures of information by the selling entity, facilitates raising funds, and enhances liquidity.

Related to both previous descriptions, is the concept of ‘third party servicing’. Some LLCommunity owners/operators chose to use an independent third party to perform all or some of the duties associated with a captive finance operation; and or, for that matter, the ‘buy here – pay here’ scenario as well.

So, which is your preferred and or actual business model? Do you know where to go for training and assistance with each? First, obtain a copy of the Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer, published by PMN Publishing. Use contact information provided with the aforementioned MHM professional property management and certification description, or among the salmagundi ‘news items’ at the end of this blog posting. Another good reason to obtain this new, valuable resource, is it’ll help you decide how to best ‘value’ homes in your LLCommunity, when readying for sale and or finance. There’re chapters on that subject, as well as ‘captive finance’ and ‘buy here – sell here’ business models.

If interested in ‘captive finance’ training, consider attending a two day seminar facilitated by Precision Capital Finance. For information, phone (217) 971-3968 or Jim Keller, MHM: jkeller@captivefinance.net Next scheduled program will be in Dallas, TX on 18 & 19 May 2010.

If ‘buy here – pay here’ is preferred business model, contact ManageAmerica for information on their broad array of services on this timely and critical subject, as well as revenue management, integrated utility billing, and property management tools. Phone (760) 770-6500 or via sales@manageamerica.com

That pretty well covers the Four Step Plan promised in this weekly blog. Don’t hesitate to contact me, via this website, or phone: (317) 346-7156, if you have questions and comments to share.

FINI

Now for some SALMAGUNDI new: ’a little of this and a little of that’ These are some of the exciting and interesting initiatives afoot in the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class these days:

ANNOUNCEMENT! Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer will be available for purchase! The 100+ page, spiral bound book is the first ever written about chattel (personal property) finance as it pertains to the HUD Code manufactured housing industry. Contains the writings of no fewer than two dozen industry and asset class executives and consultants. Available from PMN Publishing via phone, at: (317) 346-7156. Price is only $19.95 plus shipping & handling, for a total of $24.95. Every HUD Code home manufacturer and retailer, along with LLCommunity owners/operators will want this handy ‘reader friendly’ resource close at hand during these trying economic times!

HAVE YOU HEARD THE WHISPERINGS? I’ve received confidential requests, from HUD Code home manufacturers on both sides the infamous MHARR/MHI fence, to plan and host a third NSAC caucus – like meeting later this year. *1 What’s on their minds? A desire (need?) to convene, then examine our industry’s present business model(s); also discuss and decide what needs to be made anew, renewed, or tweaked, to better face an uncertain future! One recurring theme goes like this: ‘Let’s seize what’s become the ‘low income (subsidized) housing = affordable housing’ societal nor; and through united effort, a clear redefinition of ‘affordable housing’, followed by a national media branding campaign, return homebuyers’ perception to where it was during 1970s & 1980s: ‘affordable housing = manufactured housing‘!’ If the idea of a third NSAC caucus excites you, let me know via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877)MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Personally, I think MHFinanciers and LLCommunity owners/operators should be involved in this historic, high level strategic planning session….

TONI GUMP, publisher of the California – based Upwardly Mobile magazine, told this industry observer there’d be no more print copies of her popular publication; all is going online. So, strongly recommend you visit umhmag.com

INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING ROUNDTABLE. Am in the midst of compiling the annual ’24 speakers and topics’ list for this Fall’s stellar event (15 – 17 September). Do you personally have, or want to hear, compelling subject? Let me know ASAP @ (317) 346-7156. Remember, this is the sole annual, international event designed primarily for LLCommunity owners/operators, and HUD Code home manufacturers of late, so don’t be left out. As this is a ‘by invitation only event’ ensure your name is on the mailing list!

End Notes.

1. NSCA caucus. ‘National State of the Asst Class’ caucus. Two to date; first in Tampa, FL @ 2/27/08 for LLCommunity owners/operators; second in Elkhart, IN. @ 2/27/09 for HUD Code manufacturers & LLCommunity folk.

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®, MHM
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156