Archive for May 13th, 2016

How to Find MHSales Staff, & Lease-Option Methodology

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Blog # 396 Copyright 2016 COBA7® @ 15 May 2016; website

Perspective: ‘Land-lease-lifestyle Communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities and ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

This blog posting is the sole national advocacy voice, official ombudsman & historian, research reporter & online communication media for North American LLLCommunities!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, a.k.a. COBA7®, use Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

COBA7® Motto = ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’ Goal of its’ print/online media = ‘Not only inform & opine, but transform& improve MHBusiness Model Performance!’

INTRODUCTION. We are indeed living in exciting times! Part I describes a new initiative, among land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators, to popularize what is already de rigueur (‘current fashion’) among many property portfolio firms: lease-option ‘financing’. And Part II. What more can I say? TODAY, everyone who wants to maintain and improve the value of their LLLCommunity must sell new HUD-Code homes on-site! Well, here’s the only opportunity any of us will have, during the rest of 2016, to learn How To Do that. Will YOU be in Elkhart, IN., at the RV/MH Hall of Fame on 5/25 & 26? Hope so! Part III. Wish I didn’t have to address ‘this issue’ month after month. Don’t you think it time the national advocates for the manufactured housing industry ‘got their act together’, in the truest sense of that phrase, to report monthly new HUD-Code home shipments in the same fashion? So far, HUD, MHARR, & COBA7 have moved in that direction.


Task Group Forms to Popularize Lease-Option Nationwide

An informal task group has formed to popularize lease-option (‘L-O’) as a means for some land-lease-lifestyle community (a.k.a. manufactured home community) owners/operators to transfer ownership of manufactured homes.

In an L-O transaction, also referred to as a lease with option to purchase (‘LTP’), a community owner/operator enters into lease agreements 1) for the rental homesite, 2) a separate lease for the manufactured home, and 3) a purchase option agreement. The lessee pays rent for the homesite and rent for the home; then, during or near the end of the lease term(s) will become – or has the option of becoming, the owner of the home, by paying a predetermined amount based on estimated fair market value of the home; or, purchasing the home for its’ fair market value as determined at the end of said lease term.

The informal task group is comprised of attorneys; George Allen, CPM®, community owner & consultant to the MHIndustry; Larry Matthews, president of American Commerce Bank; a credit bureau offering reporting services for smaller community operators; and, Spencer Roane, MHM®, president of Pentagon Properties, Inc., community owner and longtime L-O practitioner.

Benefits of the L-O program are many:

• Helps community owners sell homes, which increases internal cash flow, as well as the value of said communities, and upgrades their visual quality

• Encourages the sale of new manufactured home to and among community owners/operators

• Offers tremendous flexibility for structuring financial terms to suit tenants

• In permissible states, and when properly structured, no lending licenses are required.

• Sales staff can negotiate lease terms with prospective customers/tenants.

• Prospect of home ownership incentivizes tenants to care for their home.

• Gives tenants an opportunity to establish a credit history sufficient to qualify for a home loan when exercising the purchase option.

• Rental payment incentives discourage delinquent rent payments, and help build equity

The group has identified a dozen or more states where L-O programs are viable, and expects to add more to the list through to the end of year 2016. Within the next few months, they’ll announce several venues where it will conduct L-O workshops. These workshops, aimed at smaller and mid-size community operators, will include forms and documents, structure of L-O transactions, sources of available financing, credit reporting services, and practical experience covering hundreds of transactions.

While L-O is not the only topic covered in the FINANCING HOMES! seminar Spencer Roane, MHM®, will be teaching on 5/25 & 26, at the ‘Two Days of Plant Tours & Home Sales Seminars’, at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN., his presence during those two days, provides ample opportunities for attendees at this inaugural event, to seek his advice relative to L-O. For more information on above-described L-O emphasis, and or register for the Elkhart event, phone (317) 346-7156 or via

POSTSCRIPT. If your memory is sharp, you’re likely thinking, “Hmm. Wasn’t there another informal group formation announced in last week’s blog posting on this website?” Answer? Yes. That informal group, comprised of LLLCommunity owners and others, however, is focused on finding an answer to the manufactured housing industry’s lack of easy access to chattel capital for in-community new home loans! At present they’re focused on articulating and recommending a Duty to Serve (‘DTS’) pilot program for the GSEs (i.e. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac), during the present rulemaking window of opportunity. After the announcement in last week’s blog, several interested parties asked to be included in the informal group. So, what’s happening here? With the launch of the Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, in early 2014, land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators finally have a national advocate dedicated first, to their needs, then everyone else’s – not the ‘other way around’! Watch for updates here, and in the Allen Letter professional journal.


Two Days of Plant Tours & Home Sales Seminars =

‘Home Sales Training, Motivating In-plant Tours, Superb Interpersonal Networking, & Making MHIndustry History – All Wrapped into One Grand Experience!’

The RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN., has been ‘making MHIndustry history’ since shortly after its’ opening. An early event occurred 27 February 2009, when 100 MHIndustry home manufacturers and (then) MHCommunity owners/operators caucused there to ‘agree on what it’d take for manufacturers to build more new homes and communities to buy them’. That year (2009), only 49,789 new HUD-Code homes were shipped, with only 25% of them going directly into communities. Well, that was a pivotal event, the year when the Community Series Home (design) was birthed. Result? By year end 2015, 70,544 new HUD-Code homes would be shipped (that year), and of that total, an estimated 40% went into (now) land-lease-lifestyle communities!

Now we’re on the very threshold of an equally historic event at the RV/MH Hall of Fame – the debut of ‘Two Days of Plant Tours & Home Sales Seminars!’ As you’ve likely heard or read, no fewer than six HUD-Code home factories (Cavco, Champion, Clayton, Commodore, & Adventure Homes) are opening their doors to visitors on 25 & 26 May. And while the plant tours are occurring, just as many LLLCommunity owners/operators will be listening to other LLLCommunity owners, teaching them how to engage in new home sales on-site. Specifically, here’s what’ll be covered and by whom:

GETTING READY! Adriane DeRose, MHM® & Pamela Ziemer, MHM® of Carefree Homes, Inc., Indianapolis, IN., will be describing what it means to get one’s property ready (i.e. curb appeal, licensing, etc.), one’s staff ready (selected & trained) – even one’s sales staff, if property size and or number of vacant rental homesites warrants separate personnel. Also, is everyone really LISTENING to what prospective homebuyer/site lessees are saying on the telephone and during interviews on-site? And once READY, what happens next? And did you know, there’s a practical way to measure on-site sales staff performance? Come and learn all these important preparatory measures….

BUYING HOMES! James (‘Jamie’) Dougherty, MHM® of Community Management Group, out of Farmington Hills, MI., Here, some very important decision-making has to occur. For example, selling or leasing homes on-site, or a combination of both? Quality of new homes to be purchased? Marginal or solid – as in short term solution or long term presence and value? Must know one’s market and mix, e.g. Area Median Income (‘AMI’) & new home price point calculations; also, focus on newly weds or empty nesters? Then there’s the home manufacturer – a whole raft of key questions must be answered, re: product and features, advertising support, financial assistance, rebates, warranty, and more. Be present in this session to learn how to be successful when buying new homes!

SELLING HOMES! Kenny Lipschutz & Danya Mallad of HomeFirst, Birmingham, MI., emphasize ‘great customer experiences don’t happen by chance, but are results of much bigger principles and practices happening behind the scenes every day’! Such experiences stem from strong cultural foundations, deliberate planning, best practices, and integrity in execution. Extraordinary customer experiences lead to significant growth and greater market share. Frankly, this will likely be the only and best session ever, on ‘selling new HUD-Code homes on-site in LLLCommunities’, that you’ll experience all year!

FINANCING HOMES! This session will review all financing alternatives available for in-community sales, particularly L-O seller ‘financing’, to fill vacant rental homesites and upgrade the curb appeal of the property. Spencer Roane, MHM®, of Pentagon Properties in Atlanta, GA., is a ‘boots on the ground’ operator, who openly and thoroughly talks about what works and what does not, in the several communities he owns. His 20+ years of in-community seller-financing of new and resale homes underscores his belief that the final story of any finance program can’t be fully told until the last payment is received! And his approach is the polar opposite of our industry’s sorry reputation for ‘churn & burn’ deals. Spencer expects EVERY sales transaction to succeed, and will discuss every aspect of the sales transaction he considers important, from selection of the house, to acquisition financing, structure of a lease-option transaction, careful qualification of buyers, and his ‘build and they will come’ successful experience!

And that’s not all. A brief introductory session will begin each morning and afternoon pairing of home sales seminars. Two foci. First, set the stage for what follows – a summary of key statistics and emerging trends characteristic of the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunities today. This followed by a brief but succinct description of the ‘Six Right Ps of Marketing New Homes in LLLCommunities’. A special plastic 3X5 wallet card, containing this seminal ‘6Ps’ information, has been prepared as a handout for everyone attending the Two Days of Plant Tours & Home Sales Seminars!

NOTE. All four sessions will be repeated twice during the Two Days of Plant Tours & Home Sales Seminars, at the RV/MH Hall of Fame, on 5/25 & 26, in Elkhart, IN. This is pretty much your last chance to sign-up, especially at the reduced rate of only $195/person. After 5/18, the registration increases to $295.00/person. Simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 or (317) 346-7156. Also email: This is the only time this year, new home sales training, and seller-financing of on-site transactions, will be offered to manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators.


Why Does This Confusion Continue?

Institute for Building Technology & Safety (‘IBTS’) tallied 7,110 new HUD-Code homes shipped in March 2016; boosting year to date total to 19,101 homes! HUD, MHARR, & COBA7® agree, & in turn, publish the same shipment totals!

Another national MHAdvocate foists (‘palms off as genuine’) monthly new HUD-Code home shipment totals that likely confuse many folk! For example; their respective totals @ March 2016 = 7,056 new homes, & only 18,976 shipped YTD

Go figure…

And the confusion continues…

Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®’s Signature Series Resource Document, the 27th annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ identifies 120 of the known 500 property portfolio ‘players’ in the realty asset class, ranking them according to the total number of reported rental homesites. Two examples: Largest REIT, Chicago’s ELS, Inc., is reported to have 139,000 rental homesites as of January 2016; Bessire & Casenhiser, CA = 16,502 sites.

However, another national LLLCommunity advocate, in its’ May 2016 ‘Largest 50 Community Owners & Operators’ (list), describes giant ELS, Inc., as having only 71,700 rental homesites in its’ property portfolio; and, the Bessire & Casenhiser firm as having but 2,899 sites. Such drastic differences in corporate site totals persist, among most firms listed. Why? No hint in the introductory paragraph, the list itself, or even the End Notes. But rumor has it, totals do not include RV sites! Yet the introductory paragraph goes boasts, it “…is the industry’s most reliable source of data used to create more opportunities for the successful development, operation, and marketing of land-lease communities.” Really? In this industry observer’s opinion, a ‘reliable source of confusion’, yes! Especially as one community member firm, with 10,186 sites, was not even listed this time around. Nor was one of the largest fee management firm in the country – a target of the advocacy body’s recruiter!.

Again, as the title to this blog topic asked: Why Does This Confusion Continue?

Maybe because the manufactured housing industry has long had an unfortunate, counter-productive reputation for being fragmented, even self-destructive at times (e.g. lack of cohesive action relative to pending legislation and regulatory affairs). And these two examples of unnecessarily ‘playing with numbers’ raise questions as to the industry – and realty asset class’ ability to ‘keep (accurate) score’ of new home shipment volume, as well as comparable sizes of income-producing properties.


George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master