Archive for September 15th, 2013

Status Quo Slow or Game Changer Quick, & Mission Statement…

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Blog # 263 Copyright 2013 15 September 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 of this blog. ‘To be a national Advocacy voice, statistical Resource reporter, & communications Resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!

Opportunities to respond. ‘Critiques, reactions, & suggestions for future blog coverage: gfa7156@aol.com or Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.’

I.

‘Status Quo Slow’ or ‘Game Changer Quick’?

II.

NEW ERA Mission Statement for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities!

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I.

‘Status Quo Slow’ or ‘Game Changer Quick’?

Had a Pithy Topic in Mind & This Title; Then Along Came These Emails…

To this day, I regard Charles (‘Chuck’) Fanaro, developer/operator of beautiful Saddlebrook Farms land lease lifestyle community (A.k.a. manufactured home community) in Grayslake, IL. (West of Chicago), and owner of Hi – Tec Housing, Inc., in Elkhart, IN., (a HUD – Code home manufacturer) to be one of the most visionary entrepreneur businessmen during the 70 year history of HUD- Code manufactured housing!

And lately, I’ve come to regard Steven Lefler, vice president of Modular Lifestyles, Inc., domiciled in southern California, in similar fashion. Steven’s vision and expertise is in the realm of innovative HUD – Code home design, characterized by solar – power off – grid capability and near independence from water resources. Additionally, the firm he works for routinely retrofits functionally obsolete rental homesites, in decades old ‘mobile home parks’ in California, with Solar Green Porch Homes. Reach him via steve@modularlifestyles.com

As the result of a recent exchange of emails between us, I reached out to a couple dozen individuals I consider to be national leaders throughout the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry and the LLLCommunity realty asset class. What follows from here, is a lightly edited version of those email conversations between us, beginning shortly after his reading of last week’s (8 September) blog posting at this website.

STEVEN to GEORGE. There’s an attractive chattel finance alternative available in California, when siting solar power energy – equipped, highly energy efficient homes! LLLCommunity owners are offered a 50% financing purchase option, at low interest rates, by lenders who believe these specially – equipped, nearly ‘off power grid’ homes are a major WIN – WIN for the property owner, as well as the renter or buyer of said home; in large part due to the major utility cost savings.

Furthermore, in California we’re being mandated to have Modular Lifestyle type homes in place by year 2020! We just happened to have designed and developed working HUD – Code homes that fully comply, well before others will be ‘forced to do so’. We are image busters as well, having been recognized as ‘Best in Class’ among retrofitted LLLCommunities, given installations of our innovative, energy efficient housing model.”

Then we banter back and forth about Steven’s plans to incorporate wheel chair lifts into Solar Green Porch Homes; and my ‘decades past’ experience with LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators in search of ways to keep older, increasingly feeble residents on – site in their properties. And how – due to younger, healthier retired residents’ angst about such ‘new features’, these plans were scrapped. What features? Ramping existing driveways up to door threshold level to ease ingress and egress from vehicles into homes; installation of grab bars, emergency call devices, and wheelchair accessible vanities throughout the home. Why the angst? These features were viewed as unwanted daily reminders of what ‘they’ could expect in years to come – when they became frail and feeble.

Steve then talked and defined Universal Design (i.e. ‘Broad spectrum of ideas meant to produce buildings, products, and environments inherently accessible to older people, those with and without disabilities’) as it related to HUD – Code manufactured homes, citing failures on their part, as he saw it, to be sensitive to changing homebuyer demographics, not having a national brand marketing program, image issues, and the like. It was at this point; I decided to share his forward – looking message with peers in the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity asset class, via blast email, and now this blog posting.

GEORGE to STEVEN. “In a few short paragraphs, you clearly – in my opinion – identify the sorry lack of national and regional market sensitivity (e.g. regarding changing demographics, etc), trend foresight per ‘housing needs’, MHIndustry strategic planning, and more (e.g. national brand promotion, image improvement, etc.), all perennially characteristic of our factory – built housing business model, and in large part, it’s unique, income – producing property type or component as well.

My hope is, one or more of the mostly entrepreneur businessmen and women (receiving this email message & reading this blog posting), will agree with the content of the previous paragraph – and use the type forward – thinking you espouse, maybe even some of the critique I oft voice in our blog and op/ed pieces, to get motivated to finally say collectively:

It’s time NOW, to figure out HOW to bring MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class ‘thinkers’ & ‘do’ers’ together in an inexpensive national, retreat style forum – along the lines of two National State of the Asset Class caucuses we facilitated in 2008 & 2009, to finally and effectively address various market, brand, and image matters – in an open, creative, strategic, industry wide fashion! Such a gathering must be Open to all businessmen and women willing to pay a reasonable price to participate, whether a national advocacy body member or not.

I know I’ve often talked about ‘doing this’ in the past, and frankly, if the lions’ share of participants were to be LLLCommunity owners/operators, I’d do so in a heartbeat! But this matter, the way you articulate it – and in truth, the way it must happen, has to involve every major segment of the entire MHIndustry, especially LLLCommunity owners/operators! That’s why such an inexpensive national, retreat style two day venue, maybe even this Winter, must be organized and promoted by One – or the Other, of the two present day advocacy bodies; better yet, both of them working together!

All I can do here is; once again, make the continuing and pressing need for grand thinking, strategic planning, and needed action known; along with the sincere hope this timely Change Challenge Opportunity finally falls on receptive leadership ears. Otherwise, our unique business culture continues adrift – one more reason to believe the MHIndustry will continue on at a snail’s pace of only 50,000+/- new HUD – Code homes shipped per year ad infinitum!

Yet another reason for this ‘stuck in neutral @ 50,000+/- homes shipped’ belief? GSE reform! If pending GSE reform legislation does not contain definitive and mandatory language, to the effect HUD – Code manufactured housing’s chattel mortgage securitization SHALL be included as an integral part of said reform, rather than just saying, ‘may’ be included, we’ll – as an industry, be ‘dead in the water’ going forward – much to the pleasure of our housing competitors, maybe even some folk within the MHIndustry.

Well, I’ve thrown out the Change Challenge Opportunity. Now let’s see if one or more of our MHIndustry Leaders picks it up and, figuratively speaking, Runs with it ‘Game Changer Quick’; or once again, let’s everyone remain stuck in ‘Status Quo Slow’?

II.

NEW ERA Mission Statement for Land Lease Lifestyle Communities!

A NEWER ERA for land lease lifestyle communities (A.k.a. manufactured home communities) will be characterized by 1) effective national political and regulatory matters – related advocacy, 2) ongoing operational statistical research reporting, 3) routine and timely print and online communication, 4) widespread resources distribution, 5) superb peer networking, 6) realty deal – making opportunities, and 7) professional property management training and certification; for properties of all sizes, from coast to coast!

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

(317) 346-7156