Archive for June, 2013

National Advocacy Bodies Adrift – Apart – Again….

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Blog # 251 Copyright 2013 30 June 2013

Perspective. ‘Land lease lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities, & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
&
Purpose. ‘This blog; the national Advocacy voice, statistical Research reporter, & op/ed communications Resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!

I.

WRITER’S BLOCK

Years ago, the late Herb Tieder, then editor & publisher of the now defunct Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine, and I, came across two, three inch square blocks of wood, with five pencil – sized holes drilled in the top of each One was labeled ‘Writer’s Block’; the other, ‘Editor’s Block’. I kept – and still have the former; he, the latter. We joked about them from time to time, as we kept said blocks on our respective desks, each holding an assortment of ball point pens and pencils.

Well, today I’m dealing with another type ‘writer’s block’, one generally associated, from a writer’s perspective, with either 1) not having much helpful to share in this week’s blog posting; or frankly, 2) too much material not fully understand – or about which there seems to be general confusion. Ever been torn betwixt and between like that? For me, it’s an unsettling feeling.

So, let’s take a brief look at both perspectives: having much information not fully understood; and then, one topic of the warm fuzzy category of helpful information.

II.

Washington, DC Contretemps cum Conundrums

Contretemps: ‘an embarrassing occurrence’

Conundrum: ‘a riddle; a hard question’

Having ‘careered through’ no fewer than five presidents/CEOs’ at the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), and one Danny Ghorbani = the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’), during the past three plus decades, one would think this veteran MHIndustry observer would be more than used to the on – again, off – again relationship machinations between these two national advocacy bodies. Not!

This unity/disunity conflicted state of mind has again been stimulated of late, by a flurry of email messages (apparently) seeking to inform focused and casual readers alike, regarding manufactured housing industry issues, timely circumstances, pending legislation, and more. A few examples:

• HUD program administrator hiring announcement. Consider this a political football once in play, now fumbled! MHI & MHARR agreed to lobby in behalf of one HUD program administrator candidate of their liking. But now, the HUD program administrator hiring announcement has been distributed far and wide, via at least one state MHAssociation and a special blog posting. Consequently, the playing field has lengthened and options (opportunities) increased. Good or bad?.

• GAO & future of HUD as manufactured housing’s regulatory agency. Here, MHIndustry leaders learn of itinerant interviewers asking: ‘What consequence(s) if HUD is replaced as federal regulator of manufactured housing?’ Industry responses to date? MHPoliticos have denigrated or ignored the notion altogether; and some openly discuss the menacing matter, so as to be prepared if/when an industry ‘competitor’, or special interest group, steps into the fray. Good or bad?

• RV interests seek amended definition of manufactured home, in 1974 Act, to exempt larger RVs & some ‘park model RVs from said standards – in effect, creating a new type or classification of factory – built housing (i.e. Units built on steel chassis), that may or may not be appropriate for siting in land lease lifestyle (a.k.a. manufactured home communities), per state regulation. Good or bad?

Some obvious questions here being: 1) Why are such sensitive, potentially paradigm – changing communiqués emanating from more than one national advocacy source? 2) Is there a strategy, of some sort, in play here? Thinking, a Trojan Horse scheme, ‘divide & conquer’ maneuver, or just plain naïveté’ afoot in our nation’s capitol. And, 3) What will it take, to get elected and salaried HUD – Code manufactured housing leaders to finally ‘speak with one unified and effective voice’ in matters politic and having to do with the federal regulation of our industry??????????

II.

Meet the ‘5 – RPs of Marketing’ Applied to Manufactured Housing & LLLCommunities!

Actually, the concept is quite simple, and has an historic twist to it.

Pick up just about any college – level ‘Introduction to Marketing’ textbook, and you’ll find somewhere therein, reference to the ‘Four Traditional Letter Ps of Marketing’. These being:

• Product
• Place
• Price
• Promotion

At that point, the text will often describe, in detail, just how these ‘four Ps’ fit together, not necessarily in the order shown, to effectively Promote one’s appropriate Product or needed service, at the best time and Place, with the right Price. It’s as simple as that, but – believe it or not – it’s an incomplete (marketing) picture at best.

How so? To effectively Promote, the appropriate Product (or service), at the best time and Place, and for the right Price, one had better have yet another ‘letter P’ in play, that being the best People – properly recruited, selected, trained, incentivized, and supervised! And speaking of the Right People, might as well add the word Right to all five ‘letter Ps’ as well, e.g. Right Product, Right Place, Right Price, Right Promotion & Right People! All that brings us now, to the

Five – RPs of Marketing & Selling Manufactured Homes INTO and WITHIN Land Lease Lifestyle Communities, as well as Leasing Rental Homesites WITHIN said Properties….

Yes, there’re three distinct environments in which these ‘Five RPs of Marketing’ are designed to work:

• ‘5-RPs of Marketing & Selling New Homes INTO a LLLCommunity’; this application being from the home manufacturing or plant perspective.

• ‘5-RPs of Marketing & Selling New Homes WITHIN a LLLCommunity’; this application is from the property owner/operator perspective, possibly including one or another type of self – finance or ‘captive finance’, where and when said home sales transactions are concerned.

• ‘5-RPs of Marketing & Leasing Rental Homesites WITHIN a LLLCommunity’; again, this application is from the property owner/operator perspective, harkening back to the traditional manner(s) by which rental homesites are filled.

And the details of marketing & selling (leasing) in these three environments and in accords with these different perspectives? Well, for that you’ll need a set of two 3”X5” plastic wallet cards, recently designed and manufactured for the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry and land lease lifestyle community asset class! Initial distribution of these durable, portable training and memory aids will occur during the 22nd annual International Networking Roundtable in Bloomingdale, IL. @ 18 – 20 September 2013. To register, visit this website or phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 to request an information/registration brochure.

In the meantime, engage in the following do – it – yourself exercise. Pick one, and eventually all three, perspectives, and mentally walk yourself through the ‘Five RPs of Marketing’ and ask yourself, along the way: ‘As a (home manufacturer or LLLCommunity owner/operator) do I/we have the Right Product (or homesite) for this local housing market? How do I know so? Then, how ‘bout the Right Place? Need to improve on it somehow? Then, the Right Price (point) for homes (homesite) being sold/leased? How to know? Use the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’ to decide.*1 Then, the Right Promotion(s) in place re: off & on – site signage, print & online advertising, etc.. And how ‘bout Right People? When was last time they were Mystery Shopped to measure job performance?*2

Get the idea? Well, that’s what these two plastic 3”X5” wallet cards are all about! In each instance, there’s a plethora of suggestions for the ‘user’ to consider when establishing one’s marketing plan, for any local housing market, and or reviewing one already in existence. So, don’t miss your opportunity to pick up a FREE set of these cards at the Networking Roundtable in September.

End Notes:

1. For FREE copy of the popular ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’, simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633.4764. While you’re at it, also ask for a FREE copy of the ’10 Symptoms of a Troubled LLLCommunity!’

2. Professional complete Mystery Shopping (i.e. telephone & on – site evaluations of sales/leasing team’s on the job performance, in writing, and documented with photographs) of land lease lifestyle communities, available for only $500.00 per property, plus travel – related expenses. Anywhere in the U.S. Simply phone (317) 346-7156. Slightly lesser rate for multiple properties in the same local housing market.
***

George Allen, CPM & MHM
Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247

Expanded Purpose & 250+ Blog Postings to date

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Blog # 250 Copyright 2013 16 June 2013

Perspective. ‘Land lease lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities, & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
&
Purpose. To be the national Advocacy voice, statistical Research reporting, & op/ed communications Resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!

I.

Blog ‘Purpose’ Blossoms!

II.

250 Weekly Postings & Growing!

III.

Support the RV/MH Heritage Foundation!

IV.

Celebrating 20 Years of LLLCommunity Camaraderie

***

I.

Blog ‘Purpose’ Blossoms!

Unsolicited, overwhelmingly positive response(s) to last week’s blog (Titled: ‘Some things in Life & Business Are Simply Not Meant to Be! – OR – Are They; but over Objections?’) motivated a rewording and expansion of the PURPOSE statement heading this and future blog postings at the community-investor.com website. While the focus of last week’s blog (dated 9 June 2013) addressed and countered Five Reasons (unofficially) cited for NOT expanding product and service offerings by MHI’s National Communities Council division, readers felt ‘this weekly blog posting’ should ‘lead the way’, one more time, ‘working within the MHIndustry’s political system’, to create the proverbial Three Legged Stool of NCC service, relative to 1) national Advocacy, 2) statistical Research, & 3) ongoing Resource servicing, of land lease lifestyle communities, Of All Sizes, nationwide! Hence this reworded and expanded PURPOSE statement:

‘To be the National Advocacy voice, statistical Research reporting, & op/ed communications Resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!

II.

250 Weekly Postings & Growing!

Has it been five years already? Guess so. And ‘truth be told’, the total number of blog postings, originating from this pen (computer), is closer to 300, when one counts the year of postings at the no longer published Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine’s website.

And the reader total continues to grow month after month after month. Today, more than 600 MHIndustry & LLLCommunity aficionados receive a BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) most Sunday mornings, announcing the posting of that week’s blog at community-investor.com. And know what? Every one of these BEBA email addresses connects with a businessman or woman earning their livelihood in one or another of HUD – Code manufactured housing’s half dozen or more Business Model segments.

So, If you’ve happened onto this blog posting, and would like to have your name and email address added to one of more than 30 BEBA lists, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and express that desire….

III.

Support the RV/MH Heritage Foundation!

Whenever I escort a first time visitor to the RV/MH Museum, Hall of Fame, and Library facility, at 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, IN., the reaction is the same: “I had no idea this would be so big, and so very nice!”

Yes, the sister industries of ‘recreational vehicles’ & ‘manufactured housing’ have a next to new, multipurpose, two story facility, right alongside the South edge of Interstate 80, connecting eastern and western Indiana. In fact, there’s an interstate exit, right there in view of the RV/MH Hall of Fame – and visitors and tourists come to visit the exhibit halls, library, and impressive Hall of Fame display, every day the facility is open. Why don’t YOU plan to visit sometime soon? Just phone (574) 293-2344 to let’em know you’re coming….

Won’t go into the several decades long history of the RV/MH Hall of Fame here, but know it does exist, and will continue to do so – and GROW, only if YOU take an active interest in supporting our legacy preservation facility with your Visits, Membership, and Charitable Contributions. Already told you how to plan a visit. And while you’re making said phone call, inquire as to the cost of a lifetime membership in support of the RV/MH Hall of Fame – it’s a very reasonable amount (I’m a Life Members, as is Ken Rishel, and many other ‘friends in the MHBusiness’). In addition, include the RV/MH Hall of Fame in your corporate budget every year. GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, has done so for more than two decades, and Carolyn and I consider the money well invested, helping commemorate and preserve our industry and asset class’ past, present, and future.

Want to participate in a special legacy opportunity this Summer? When phoning to arrange for the aforesaid visit, about becoming a Lifetime Member, or arranging a Charitable Contribution, make a reservation to attend the annual RV/MH Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, the evening of 5 August 2013. There’ll be ten RV/MH true pioneers inducted that evening, including Craig Bollman, LLLCommunity developer, Theresa Desfosses, HUD – Code home manufacturer and LLLCommunity owner/operator, and Tom Walworth of Statistical Surveys, Inc. I’ve already sent in my reservation. How can you not want to be among several hundred RV/MH industries’ notables present that evening? For yet another ‘good reason’, to attend, read the first bullet point in part IV following…

IV.

Celebrating 20 Years of LLLCommunity Camaraderie!

I’ve mentioned ‘Celebrating 20 Years of LLLCommunity Camaraderie’, in earlier blog postings, and within the pages of the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! and ALLEN Letter professional journal, but since then, there’s a new twist to the celebration, so thought I’d mention it at least one more time.

Heretofore, you’ve read the historic Strategic Planning meeting, held in Indianapolis, IN., on 31 August 2013, will be commemorated in two distinct ways. Well, a third has been added to the mix, and here they all are:

• 13 of 19 (then) manufactured home community owners, who met that day, to shape the future of national Advocacy, for their realty asset class, are still active in the MHBusiness, or have retired. Any of them who attend this year’s RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s annual RV/MH Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, on 5 August, will be formally recognized, individually or as a group, at the beginning of the evening’s festivities. Again, phone (574) 293-2344 for further details and make a reservation to attend the festivities. See you there!

• 22nd International Networking Roundtable theme this year, commemorates the same historic event, i.e. ‘Celebrating 20 Years of Land Lease lifestyle Community Camaraderie!’ Gary McDaniel, chairman of YES! Communities, one of the aforementioned ’13 of 19’ Pioneers, will lead off as keynote speaker at this 18 – 20 September 2013 event. Again, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE for details and to register, Expecting more than 250 this year! And here’s a late breaking, related NEWS FLASH! The Illinois Manufactured Housing Association, at its’ annual meeting in Urbana, IL., this past week, with more than 60 members present, voted to reconstitute its’ board of directors, with an eye to reestablishing itself as the primary statewide Advocacy body for manufactured housing and land lease lifestyle communities! What does this have to do with the Networking Roundtable? After the election, an invitation was extended to hold IMHA’s 18 September morning board meeting at the Roundtable’s host hotel, Indian Lakes in Bloomingdale, IL. This would facilitate participation, in said board meeting, by more than 30 LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators domiciled throughout the Chicago SMSA. (The invitation will be considered at the board’s meeting in July)

• And here’s the New and Exciting manner in which these ’20 Years of Camaraderie’ will be commemorated: With a New, as yet untitled, book, profiling the LLLCommunity owners who participated in the 8/31/1993 meeting, along with lists of past NCC chairmen, and MHI executives, who’ve served during the past 17 years of the council’s history, and more! The book will be distributed FREE to all attendees at this year’s 22nd annual Networking Roundtable in Bloomingdale. How can you not want to be present to receive your copy – along with those mysterious ‘5 – RPs of Marketing & Sales (plastic) wallet cards hinted at previously, in blog postings at this web site? Book’s author? Bruce Savage, former MHI staff member, present day Communications Consultant to the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity asset class. Reach him via (202) 664-4512 and request a brochure describing his services.

Should be obvious to you by now, that this year’s 22nd annual Networking Roundtable is quickly shaping up to be one extraordinary event for not only owners/operators of land lease lifestyle communities, but manufactured housing industry businessmen and women as well. For an informative registration brochure, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

***

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

Some Things in Life & Business….

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Blog # 249 Copyright 2013 7 June 2013

Perspective. ‘Land lease lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
&
Purpose. ‘A primary research, resources, & op/ed communication means for owners & operators of LLLCommunities of all sizes nationwide, + national advocacy awareness.’

I.

Some Things in Life & Business
Are Simply Not Meant to Be!
– Or –
Are They; but over Objections?

One man’s opinion why ‘A Comprehensive National Trade Representation Model for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities, of all sizes’, won’t likely evolve within either present day MHAdvocacy organization; OR, maybe so!

It’s a simple & complicated matter at the same time!

In the first instance, one national manufactured housing trade advocacy body, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, or MHARR, simply does NOT have a membership category for any other segment of the industry other than HUD – Code home manufacturers, and NO plans to create new categories in the near, interim, or even distant future. That’s been their position since 1993, when offered an opportunity to bring (then) manufactured home communities, into their fold. So, NO ‘Comprehensive National Trade Representation Model for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities, of all sizes’, there. However, the MHARR does openly support the creation of a new national, independent, not for profit, post – production trade Advocacy entity, to include and serve every industry segment except home manufacturers!

On the other hand, the national manufactured housing trade advocacy body claiming to represent ALL segments of the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry, the Manufactured Housing Institute or MHI, and its’ National Communities Council division (‘NCC’), have, in the opinion of this industry observer/direct, dues – paying member of the institute, unofficially communicated at least five intrinsic reasons for not increasing services and products available to land lease lifestyle community members:

• The tendency, where the NCC division is concerned, after 17 years of existence, to be “…kinda stuck in first gear, as national Advocate for the real estate asset class.”*1 This singular focus is underscored by the council’s periodic, as opposed to weekly or monthly, online newsletter (There is no print publication) to members; little to no professional property management education; only one mega – networking event each year; and of late (circa 2013), just one general membership meeting per year – when there should be two. Such single – mindedness and lethargy severely limit the efficacy of the division, and its’ ability to attract new, direct, dues – paying members.

• Commonplace for MHI to concentrate on the needs and wants of HUD – Code housing manufacturers. And sure; why not? The lion’s share of dues income (i.e. floor fees), supporting this national advocacy body, comes from this segment of the HUD- Code manufactured housing industry. Note the institute’s foci: national Advocacy, especially where HUD – Code standards and recent financial regulatory compliance are concerned; but also statistics gathering (i.e. tracking home shipment volume each month in various regions of the U.S.); trends in home size and configuration (e.g. Dominance of ‘single wides’ during 1970s, followed by prevalence of ‘double wides’ during 1990s; and now, a near statistical match in home shipment volume between singlesection and multisection homes shipped during 2011 & 2012); and, ‘who our homebuyers are’ in local housing markets. The manufacturing segment of the industry even has its’ own Think Tank of sorts, the Systems Building Research Alliance or SBRA. No other institute division is so well and regularly served! And this manufacturer focus, is in reality, an array of services at the behest of the ‘Big Three C’ firms (Clayton, Cavco & Champion), who together, garner more than 80% of the national market share of HUD – Code home shipments.

• An expanded agenda for the NCC division would be too much work (for the present staff of one)! Agreed! So, to finally move beyond (just) national Advocacy, to include statistical Research, and ongoing Resource servicing (e.g. more print communication, forms & books; professional PM education & certification; quality interpersonal networking – especially for LLLCommunity ‘owners’; even realty deal – making), a healthy mix of subcontracted tasks (Think the Center for Manufactured Housing Studies or CMHS for research) and an increase in the number of staff members – to a total of three, will be necessary. Now, too much operating expense and capital outlay? That’s the next ‘reason’ oft cited.

• Costs too much to fully service LLLCommunity owners/operators, of all size properties, nationwide! So far I’ve not heard or seen anyone at the institute ‘run the $ numbers’, and they certainly haven’t asked for operational expense data from the present ‘for profit’ source of ‘statistical Research & ongoing Resource servicing’, GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing. The money is there! All but one of the nearly dozen present day (GFA/PMN) profit centers is just that, a profit center: two subscriber – supported business newsletters each month, the annual Networking Roundtable, tuition from the popular MHM® program, sale of the ALLEN REPORT (Actually a loss leader, used to generate paid newsletter subscriptions) and other Signature Series Resource Document or SSRDs, and regular paid access @ $1,000.00 per usage, to the 500+/- name Property Portfolio exclusive and confidential Data Base, for direct mail campaigns. A final point here. Present (6/4/2013) NCC membership numbers only 84+/- direct, dues – paying individuals/firms. Start supplying the above – referenced ‘products & services’, so LLLCommunity owners/operators no longer rely on a ‘for profit’ firm outside the institute, and they (new direct, dues – paying member) will come! Frankly, 500+ new NCC members is achievable, given the 500+/- present day property portfolio owners/operators, and 50,000+/- LLLCommunities nationwide. And, at a minimum membership fee of $500.00 per firm, that’s a jump in $250,000 dues income for MHI/NCC! And that’s not chump change!

• NCC expansion potentially reduces influence of, and control by, the home manufacturing segment of the industry. Now that’s almost laughable. But know what? The answer to this objection is simple: ‘So what?’ If filling an estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites, in 50,000+/- LLLCommunities nationwide is ‘Where the action is today’, then by all means put the unique, income – producing property type center stage! After all, the more new HUD – Code homes LLLCommunity owners/operators sell, and often self – finance on – site, during the months and years ahead, the more new HUD – Code homes get built and shipped – especially when they’re Community Series Homes or CSH Models. What better way to break our five year bondage to ‘ a nadir of only 50,000+/- new homes shipped per year’?

BOTTOM LINE? There needs to be a Major Attitude Adjustment, on the part of elected and salaried leaders at the highest level of the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry, and the sooner the better – lest we hasten its’ demise (Due to too few new home shipments for far too long)!), and eventual diminution of the LLLCommunity real estate asset class as well! Manifestation of said ‘Attitude Adjustment’ must be in terms of the following five (summary) reasons or parameters:

NCC division could and should become ‘all things to all owners/operators of LLCommunities, of all sizes, nationwide’, and no longer function just as an Advocate for the realty asset class; but, in reality, become its’ Three Legged Stool of 1) national Advocacy, 2) statistical Research, & 3) ongoing Resource servicing, via an array of proprietary products and services! After two decades, it’s high time for a major change.

There must be an evening – out of attention paid to other segments of the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry, and less focus on just the ‘Big Three C’ firms; unless of course, we/they agree on this collective focus: ‘What will it take to sell many more new homes?’! This timely focus suggests more than a nod to National Image Improvement via Effective Brand Marketing. Are we there yet? Not by a long shot. And we won’t be until manufacturers stop being more concerned about ‘tag along benefits garnered by non – participating firms’, than tangible results realized from a National Image Improvement (campaign) via Effective Brand Marketing!

NCC will assuredly need more staff and subcontractor support to well serve the Advocacy, Research, & Resources needs of LLLCommunity owners/operators, of all sizes, nationwide. And know what? In addition to the existing NCC staff member, there’s a MHIndustry – experienced, skilled wordsmith; a savvy state MHAssociation executive; and, a LLLCommunity knowledgeable Certified Property Manager® – (No, not me) – waiting to be recruited, to grow this team! What’re we waiting for?

If handled properly, money will not be an issue, where the NCC division is concerned. This change is not like creating new business models to serve new needs and wants; rather, it’s simply the conversion of already successful ‘for profit’ centers into a ‘not for profit’ Advocacy, Research & Resource presence! And know what? If handled properly, there’s likely seed money, akin to venture capital, that might be had to get this whole project up and running.

The two most difficult (attitude) adjustments anticipated, in this scenario and by this industry pundit, will be for 1) the manufactured housing industry segment being willing to work closely with, but not taking a backseat to, promoting new home sales in LLLCommunities nationwide! And 2) the LLLCommunity segment being willing to transform itself, via professional property management training and certification, as well, during 2014. And, while not an Attitude Adjustment per se, the creation of a viable secondary market for HUD – Code manufactured homes is indeed another shortcoming that, somewhere along the line, will have to be addressed and established.

Hmm. These five parameters read something like an election platform don’t they?
Well maybe they should be…

In any event, given the ability to decide, effect major Attitude Adjustment, and exercise fortitude in addressing the Five Reasons just cited and summarized, there’s Strong Possibility for Success, launching ‘A Comprehensive National Trade Representation Model for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities of All Sizes’ within the Manufactured Housing Institute’s NCC division – rather than force the eventual spawning of one outside and beyond the institute’s purview.

So, where do matters go from here? Responsibility rests with elected and salaried leaders presently in control of such matters on the national Advocacy level. But are they listening? Do they believe? And, what, if anything, will they do between now and their meetings this Fall (2013), to bring all this about – or NOT?

As usual, if you’d like to weigh in on this timely and critical topic, please do so via email or call the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

***
End Notes.

1. Quoted from blog # 248, posted at community-investor.com

***

George Allen, CPM & MHM
(317) 346-7156

National Model for LLLCommunities & Triple Threat

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Blog # 248 Copyright 2013 2 June 2013

Perspective. ‘Land lease lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
&
Purpose. ‘A primary research, resources, & op/ed communication means for land lease lifestyle community owners/operators nationwide, plus, national advocacy awareness.’

I.

A Comprehensive National Trade Representation Model for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities of All Sizes!

II.

Triple Threat to the Manufactured Housing Industry

***

I.

A Comprehensive National Trade Representation Model for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities of All Sizes!

Melding National ADVOCACY, Statistical RESEARCH, & Ongoing RESOURCE Servicing for LLLCommunity Owners/Operators Nationwide

You should be reading about this Grand Plan in Community Connections Newsletter. After all, the periodic communiqué ‘is the voice’ of the Manufactured Housing Institute’s, National Communities Council division. However, like MHI – which promotes only its’ events (e.g. Annual meeting @ 29 September – 1 October & NCC’s Fall Leadership Forum @ 16 – 18 October, leaving one to wonder, ‘why’ six other MHIndustry & LLLCommunity national and mega – regional events, occurring during the same time frame, are ignored) – the bimonthly newsletter rarely plows new ground, apparently preferring to preserve only its’ national Advocacy focus.

So, let’s describe the Grand Plan in the following paragraphs. For some, if not many, this is trade talk couched in terms of land lease lifestyle communities entering a whole New Era. Maybe so, maybe not. Depends on the aspirations and actions of property owners/operators, of all sizes, from all geographic regions of the U.S., and whether they’re MHI/NCC direct, dues – paying members, or not, or in search of something new, more and different. What follows here, in other words, is What Could Well Become How 50,000+/- LLLCommunties Come to be Represented and Served During the Years and Decades Ahead!

First a little history. It took more than 40 years of ‘little to no national advocacy representation’ and emerging ‘investment interest – per coming REIT wave – on the part of Wall Street’, to bring 19 (then) manufactured home community owners/operators together, in Indianapolis, IN., on 31 August 1993, for a Strategic Planning Meeting. There, and during subsequent meetings around the U.S., they ‘took collective (national advocacy) control of their future’! And 2 ½ years later, their ad hoc Industry Steering Committee was absorbed by MHI, to launch the National Communities Council (later, a full – fledge division) on 1 January 1996. Now, after 20 years, a half dozen staff executives, and one leaderless year, we’re today – still kinda stuck in first gear, as national Advocate for the real estate asset class. And as a related aside, 13 of the original 19 owners/operators are still active in the MHBusiness or have retired, one is deceased, and five have, evidently, moved onto other business interests.

Now for that Grand Plan to usher in a New Era for land lease lifestyle communities of all sizes – and their owners/operators nationwide! With strong and progressive leadership, we should be able to meld, within or without the present NCC structure, 1) present day national Advocacy, with 2) existing statistical Research and reporting, as well as 3) a plethora of print and online communication media, professional property management education and certification, regular interpersonal networking, and realty deal – making services, all existent on the ‘for profit’ side of the business.

Specifically, the Grand Plan is comprised of the following key parts:

• National ADVOCACY. Personnel and organization already in place ‘across the Potomac River’, from our nation’s capitol. No changes anticipated there.

• Statistical RESEARCH and reporting. Again, already existent (for the past 24 years), and easily transitioned to the Center for Manufactured Housing Studies or CMHS, if and when principals sit down and work out the details. This goes far beyond the ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators from Throughout North America!’), and includes annual updates to the National Registry of Realty Lenders (now includes chattel finance sources), as well as directories of freelance consultants, trade media, industry associations; for a total of 12 Signature Series Resource Documents.

• Print & online COMMUNICATION media. This is almost a ‘no brainer’. In the three Words of the oft referenced Success Formula, there’s a very Capable, industry Experienced, highly Motivated wordsmith ‘waiting in the wings for a curtain call’, so to speak, to continue and improve on the print (two subscriber – supported monthly business newsletters) and online communication media already in place! (And we’re not talking about me)

• Professional Property Management EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION. Once again, the Manufactured Housing Manager® program, is already ‘up and running’, with nearly 1,000 MHM®s owning and operating LLLCommunities throughout the U.S. and Canada. And frankly, there are ‘more than enough’ Certified Property Manager® members of the prestigious Institute of Property Management® (nearly 200), active in the realty asset class today, to easily staff and teach this one day program in – house for property portfolio firms, when hosted by state MHAssociations, even via the correspondence course alternative.

• Regular interpersonal NETWORKING opportunities too, already exist. There’s a one day Forum in the Spring of every year, followed by a 2 ½ day Roundtable in the Fall, plus periodic FOCUS Groups comprised of LLLCommunity ‘owners only’, who meet on – site in property clubhouses, to openly – but – confidentially discuss topics of their choosing. And again, there’s staff already in place to consolidate and plan these ongoing events.

• Realty DEAL – MAKING OPPORTUNITIES. While a function of interpersonal networking, the annual Investor Symposium planned and hosted by one of the nation’s top real estate brokerages, sets the stage and launches the momentum that, reportedly, accounts for ¼ to 1/3 of the LLLCommunity ‘deals’ that take place during the following 12 months. Again, a function already in place and easily continued, under the right leadership. And don’t forget, there’s an exclusive, confidential data base, comprised of 500+/- portfolio owners/operators that’s exercised almost every month, at $1,000.00/access, for direct mail campaigns starting and growing, or marketing LLLCommunity portfolios – already in place!

So, there you have the key parts of this Grand Plan to usher in a New Era for land lease lifestyle community owners/operators, of all sizes, nationwide. Now, how do we get this melding ‘off the ground’, ‘up and running’, ‘benefitting all of us’?

I see it happening in three steps over a six to 12 month period. First, there has to be a change in attitude or faces, among elected and salaried MHIndustry leaders on the national scene. At present, there does not appear to be any interest in bringing together ADCOCACY, RESEARCH, & RESOURCES (to include communication, education/certification, networking, and deal – making) from outside their immediate sphere of influence – which at present appears to be dominated by a few large property portfolio ‘players’. How so? During the past two years, the three informal reasons I’ve been given are: 1) ‘Coming together’ (i.e. Grand Plan) will be too much work; 2) puts too much emphasis on one segment of the MHIndustry; and, well, 3) ‘We just can’t afford to do it right now.” My rejoinders? 1) You’re right, it will be too much work for one staff person, so subcontract out the Research and MHM® training, and hire that savvy staff writer. 2) So what? If LLLCommunities are ‘where the action is right now’, with their estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites to fill – then showcase them! And 3) The ‘more you offer, the more members – and their membership dollars, you’ll attract’! Plus, and this is important, the newsletters, formal networking events, MHM® program, and aforementioned exclusive/confidential 500+/- name data base, are not just self – sustaining, they’re all significant ‘money makers’! And so would be the ALLEN REPORT if not used as a ‘loss leader’ when selling subscriptions to the Allen Letter professional journal. Now what’re the excuses for moving ahead with a Grand Plan? This is why there has to be a major change in attitude or change in leadership ‘at the top’.

The second step – not necessarily sequentially, will be to sit the new leaders, or old leaders with enlightened attitudes, down with two dozen land lease lifestyle community owners/operators (a.k.a. LLLCommunity Pioneers) who’ve been meeting, off and on, during the past two years, to help craft a Grand Plan to usher in an exciting New Era in Advocacy, Research, Resources for their unique, income – producing property type! That’s where the ‘devil in the details’ part of this melding will likely come about – when such a meeting occurs, hopefully yet this year! Are our elected and salaried leaders listening?

The third step – and likely sequential, following the above – referenced meeting, will likely involve me spending part time (over three to six months) at whatever central location is identified where the Grand Plan will commence and take shape. Frankly, and maybe this is because we’ve carried this Research & Resources load for 33 years, I envision the New Era being ushered in at the behest, and with the efforts of, three key individuals, all knowledgeable and passionate about the LLLCommunity asset class: an administrator/coordinator, an excellent and very busy wordsmith, and someone handling the details of maintaining the data base, updating the half dozen directories, effecting meeting planning details, and staying in touch with subcontracted researchers and MHM® trainers.

Well, there it is, a Comprehensive National Trade Representation Model for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities of all sizes. Is that, as a LLLCommunity owner/operators, what you’d like to see on the national scene, ‘for thee and me’, going forward? Then YOU need to let your state MHAssociation, even national advocacy representatives know, and ask them to proceed with steps number one and two!

If you’d like to input me, regarding your thoughts, reactions, ideas, critique, etc., regarding this Grand Plan to bring about a New Era for our property type, of all sizes, nationwide, reach me via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877)MFD-HSNG or 633.4764. Looking forward to hearing from you. Even more so, I await a call from the national advocacy people who can make this happen – if they truly want to do so. GFA

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II.

Triple Threat to the Manufactured Housing Industry

REMINDER. This timely threefold topic, of national importance, has been hinted at for weeks, and was described – but – not – fully parsed in last week’s blog posting at this website (Go ahead, scroll back thru the blog archive and bring yourself up to speed). The Triple Threat will covered in detail on 13 June 2013, at a luncheon meeting of the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association, in Urbana, IL., And it’ll be summarized in the July issue of the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter, as well as August issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. If need be, it’ll be one of the prime topics of conversation at the Friday afternoon Open Discussion concluding the 22nd International Networking Roundtable in Bloomingdale, IL.

As you’ll likely recall, This Triple Threat to the MHIndustry, has to do with

• the faux shortage of chattel (personal property) capital, via independent third party lenders, to finance home transactions within land lease lifestyle communities….

• Uniform Law Commission’s (July 2012) Uniform Manufactured Housing Act, denigrating ‘vehicle titles’ for (eventually all) manufactured homes, as a means to secure new sources of less risky home finance capital. Tax consequences?

• Covert efforts to supplant HUD as federal regulator of what we know today as HUD – Code manufactured housing, in lieu of ‘another regulator’, one likely with its’ own (assuredly NOT ‘affordable housing’) lobbying agenda in hand.

With that said, one of the faithful readers and responders to this five year private blogging undertaking, offered this meaty commentary to last week’s posting:

“I THINK IT IS WONDERFUL… (for the manufactured housing industry)… “to acknowledge our paradigm has already shifted, and it is time to plan for tomorrow instead of letting government decide for us. Keep it up sir, we need to let go of yesterday!” (emphasis added. GFA)

Assuming for the moment our writer is correct, about the ‘cattle having already left the barn’, presumably for greener pastures (i.e. ‘no more chattel $ for the MHIndustry’, ‘no more vehicle titles for manufactured homes’, & ‘no more HUD overseeing the MHIndustry’), IS and WILL this threefold paradigm change be GOOD or BAD for the Business Model by which many of us live and work today? ME? I’m not sure I agree, in the first instance, with the writer’s posit. I darn sure hope there’s more Title I capital out there that’s more readily accessible to our prospective homebuyers/site lessees. Furthermore; where does housing ‘affordability’ go, when LLLCommunity site lessees (homeowners) pay taxes on their homes as realty? And ol HUD? I’m not a fan of their ‘benign neglect’ (i.e. ‘not promoting’) of manufactured housing as this nation’s premier source of nonsubsidized, affordable housing – all the while they’re enforcing the HUD building code where the housing product is concerned.

YES, all this warrants and deserves further thought….By the way, if you want to ‘get into’ this Triple Threat to the MHIndustry firsthand, phone (217) 528-3423 to register! I’ll be pleased to see you there, and engaged in this timely and critical discussion of our industry’s very future!

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