Archive for November, 2019

‘This is a very Critical Issue!’

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

November 2019; Copyright 2019; www.educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

This blog is the online national advocate, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with EducateMHC, telephone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Also email: gfa7156@aol.com & visit www.educatemhc.com

Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’ Goal: promote HUD-Code manufactured housing & and lease communities as U.S. source of affordable attainable housing! Call for next MHM class info

INTRODUCTION: Wow! FHFA & GSE Listening Sessions are off to a ‘flying start’ – with much good and timely input from the manufactured housing market! And, in this blog posting, we introduce a NEW FOCUS for the weekly communique! Hope you take good advantage of what’s being offered to you. Finally; if we don’t talk again beforehand, here’s wishing YOU a Happy Thanksgiving holiday. GFA

I

“This is a very critical issue!”
Clinton Jones, FHFA

(During beginning of St. Louis, MO. Listening Session)

40 men and women sitting in the amphitheater of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, at first 2019 Listening Session hosted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Me & Freddie Mac (Enterprises). Audience was divided among the hosting organizations, and representatives from the Affordable Housing Preservation, Manufactured Housing, & Rural Housing Markets.

Once Jim Gray, from FHFA, explained Guidelines for this Listening Session, and how questions would be processed – from GSEs to scheduled presenters, the listening sessions got underway.

For the purposes of this blog posting, I’m limiting my observations to those pertaining to the manufactured housing market.

The national manufactured housing industry and land lease community real estate asset class were represented by four individuals, in the following order:

George Allen, CPM, MHM of EducateMHC. This presentation, titled: ‘Two+ Decades of Manufactured Housing Shipment & Finance Turmoil (1998 – 2020) Can End with Help from FHFA & GSEs!’ debuted nationwide, last week, as blog posting # 560. So, when done reading this blog posting (#561), scroll back into the blog archives to reread # 560. This presentation will also be featured in the December issue of the Allen Letter, via www.educatemhc.com.

Edward Hussey, Jr., VP of Liberty Homes, Inc., and chairman of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’), did an excellent job describing regulatory-related matters, progress and failures, where Duty to Serve (‘DTS’) programs have been concerned at Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac of late. While Mr. Hussey’s remarks are available directly from the MHARR, it’s anticipated they’ll also be featured in an upcoming issue of the Allen Letter.

Spencer Roane, MHM, president of Pentagon Properties, Inc., a portfolio land lease community owner/operator, delivered an impassioned presentation from his unique community ownership perspective, honed over 30+ years. Mr. Roane is one of many community owners/operators who’ve turned the ‘lemon into lemonade’, two decades long paradigm shift – from distribution of new HUD-Code homes via independent (street) MHRetailers, to new home sales & seller-financing on-site, from a forced burden into a near art form of profitability. Mr. Roane’s presentation too will likely appear as a feature article in the Allen Letter.

Kara Beigay, of the Manufactured Housing Institute did a superb job representing MHI, articulating concerns about GSE’s checkered progress, relative to existing DTS programs and plans for the next several years. She also used her talk to introduce the audience to CROSS-MOD, the name MHI has finally given their ‘new type’ manufactured home designed to qualify for Fannie Mae’s CHOICEhomes & Freddie Mac’s MHAdvantage programs. What was unique here, but not surprising, was how examples, shortfalls, etc., cited by all three presenters paralleled one another. For a copy of Ms. Beigay’s presentation, contact MHI directly.

Here’re several out of context remarks made during Tuesday, 19 November Listening Session:

FHFA would like to see ‘a new research center’ birthed by MHI – or, barring that, any other entity closely aligned with the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and land lease community real estate asset class. Anyone ‘out there’ listening and inspired? Hmm. Am thinking

FHFA and the GSEs challenged Listening Session participants to suggest ways to make the CHOICEhomes & MHAdvantage programs more marketable in general, more attractive to prospective homebuyers in particular. Consider identical ‘specs’ for both programs!

A surprising sidebar realization occurred when it became apparent land lease communities might well be eligible for GSE consideration under Affordable Housing Market parameters – somewhere we haven’t been before. I’ll be looking into this in our behalf.

Finally. The GSEs were warned to ensure mortgages they’re writing on land lease communities are not being ‘set up for failure’, due to extravagant rental homesite rate increases. How to tell? Research HUD’s new Fair Market Rent (‘FMR’) stats per specific geographic region, and compare with said site rents (e.g. Divide FMR$ by ‘3’ for estimated and historic equivalent)

II.

ANSWERS! A New Emphasis for This Blog

Every land lease community owner/operator faces unique and changing challenges within a particular property or throughout one’s portfolio of communities. The goal is to identify these internal challenges and solve them in the most efficient manner possible.

In this instance, let’s begin with the safety and security of one’s on-site staff when ‘showing product’, whether selecting a vacant rental homsite for one’s new or resale home; or, walking through one or more model or ‘spec’ homes available for purchase. Have you considered or taught measures to reduce personal risk during these routine leasing and sales tasks?

Well, a few years ago, during a Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) professional property management certification class, this question was raised by a veteran on-site manager. We discussed the matter as a class, and came up with a few practical measures. I recorded them, and during several more MHM classes, elicited response on this subject, from candidates.

Today, and for some time now, a list of ’10 Helpful Steps to Manager & Leasing Consultant Safety’ has been part of the MHM curriculum. Now it’s Appendix # 45 in the 8th edition of the Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry textbook!

Sample ‘helpful steps’? “Never walk into a house or room first; be the one to follow!” & “Carry a small but very loud whistle with which to summon help!” And there’re eight more great tips!

To order a copy of this valuable property management text, simply visit www.educatemhc.com

And since a copy of this 250 pages property management text is given to every MHM candidate during all Manufactured Housing Manager classes, consider attending one! Next MHM class is scheduled for 14 January 2020 in Louisville, KY – the day before the Louisville MHShow begins. Visit website or phone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 to register.

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

Here’s My FHFA & GSEs-hosted Listening Session Presentation

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

2019; copyright 2019; www.educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

This blog is the online national advocate, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with EducateMHC, telephone Official MHindustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Also email: gfa7156@aol.com & visit www.educatemhc.com

Motto: ‘U Support US & WE serve U!’ Goal: promote HUD-Code manufactured housing & land lease communities as U.S. source of affordable attainable housing! Call for next MHM class info.

INTRODUCTION. Have you wondered what a formal presentation, at an FHFA & GSE-hosted Listening Session, reads like? Well here’s what I’ll be presenting, in your behalf, at the St. Louis, MO. Listening Session on Tuesday, 19 November.

And, for those of you reading this, and attending MHI’s NCC Leadership Forum in downtown Chicago this week – with this blog in hand, ask staff what they will be saying, in your behalf, at the upcoming Listening Sessions in St. Louis and or Washington, DC. As a member, you have a right to know.

Here goes:

Two+ Decades of Manufactured Housing Shipment & Finance Turmoil
(1998 – 2020)
Can End with Help from FHFA & GSEs!

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master
‘Input for FHFA & GSEs-hosted 2019 Listening Sessions’

See Enclosure: ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh’ Formulae worksheet; EducateMHC., Franklin, IN., 2008

Setting the stage. During year 1998, 372,943+/- new HUD-Code homes were shipped nationwide; but from there onward, it was downhill till nadir year 2009, when only 48,789+/- new homes were shipped.*1 At the dawn of the 21st century, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), more than 10,000 ‘ independent (street) MHRetailers’ closed their doors; and new HUD-Code homes, particularly Community Series Homes, began to be shipped directly into land lease communities, ‘for sale’ & seller-financing, as well as rental units.*2 And that’s where we are today. How do Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac fit into this two decades long paradigm shift scenario? As an industry, manufactured housing is surviving, albeit recovering slowly, from 48,789+/- new HUD-Code homes shipped during 2009, up to 96,555 new homes shipped throughout year 2018, but still sorely in need of reasonable access to chattel capital for home-only loans in land lease communities, large and small, coast to coast!

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I was present at the historic meeting, during early 2010 in Elkhart, IN, when the FHFA & GSEs informed HUD-Code housing manufacturers, that going forward, the industry would be on its own, where housing finance support was concerned, i.e. end of easy access to chattel capital to finance new home-only loan transactions within land lease communities nationwide! Why?

While naive at the time, about housing finance and the GSEs, I understood Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac’s angst with the manufactured housing industry. A decade earlier, I had penned an expose’ titled, ‘Upside Down in a Mobile Home Park’, first published in Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine. It detailed widespread financial shenanigans and predatory lending practices – and consequences, that’d hurt and haunt the industry during the decade ahead – as described in the previous paragraph.

Fast forward a few years, to the International Networking Roundtable held in Peachtree City, GA. That event marked the return of the FHFA, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, to meet and talk firsthand with manufactured housing industry businessmen and women most affected by the their departure a few years earlier; specifically, the owners/operators of land lease communities, now routinely selling and seller-financing new HUD-Code homes on-site. We learned a lot from each other during the two day event; but most important of all, was the obvious pent-up optimism, and belief we could forge a new housing finance way forward together!

How so? Well this was nigh the time of Duty to Serve (‘DTS’) planning at Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Manufactured housing aficionados, and land lease community owners/operators, were invited to participate in open discussion sessions at GSE headquarters, as well as during formal Listening Sessions around the U.S.

Results? That’s been a decidedly mixed bag; complicated by whatever perspective is being espoused by whoever is speaking, about what, at the time. In summary; here’s how I see it:

Relative to DTS focus on manufactured housing, there’s been limited progress in the real estate-secured lending arena, speaking specifically of Fannie Mae’s MH Advantage and Freddie Mac’s CHOICEHomes programs. In my opinion, the programs are welcome and needed, but are too confusingly similar in terms of seller concessions, down payment minimums, transaction type, terms, and more. Of particular ‘rub’ are distinct differences in housing valuation methodology. And a further tripping point is MHI’s ‘new type’ of HUD-Code manufactured home, designed for underserved markets. To date, even after several years, there’s no consensus name for this ‘more expensive’ manufactured home design that qualifies for both GSE home loan programs. Bottom line? How’s a prospective homebuyer to know what (no name) manufactured home design to consider buying, and which of the two near-twin GSE loan programs to use?

Even more ‘telling’ – some would say ‘appalling’, relative to DTS focus on manufactured housing, there’s been NO progress towards a new or renewed chattel lending product program! And while volume estimates vary, the vast majority of manufactured housing finance, these days, is needed for chattel, or home-only, transactions occurring on-site in 50,000+/- land lease communities located throughout the U.S.! To date, land lease community owners/operators have exhibited an admirable degree of creativity, initiative, and chutzpah – even in the face of increased state and federal financial oversight, to consummate new home-only sales transactions on-site. We still sorely need reasonable access to chattel capital, other than via one independent third party firm that, reportedly, corners 70+ percent of the national market share of this type lending. Furthermore, we continue to need a viable secondary market for selling seasoned manufactured housing financing products!

Now, it would be easy to stop here and feel ‘I’ve done my part’ at this Listening Session – but I can’t do that. A sentence in this recent Press Release (10/28/19): ‘FHFA Releases New Strategic Plan & Scorecard for Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac’ hooked me with the following statement:

“…solving our nation’s critical housing affordability challenges will require looking beyond the secondary mortgage market and addressing the true cause of this crisis: namely, the significant shortage of housing supply.”

Here I am, a businessman with 40 years experience in a housing arena capable of shipping 579,940 new ‘mobile homes’ during year 1973, and 372,943+/- ‘manufactured homes’ in 1998; but today, year to date through September 2019, we’ve shipped only 70,497 new homes! Why? Simply because we don’t have the chattel capital financing needed for home-only loans effected within land lease communities! And we don’t have ‘that’ because no one (Think FHFA, GSEs, et. al.) trusts our integrity to lend these monies wisely and securely! But the truth of the matter is, we can do both – and more! Here’s how to increase the supply of HUD-Code manufactured home to address this nation’s affordable housing crisis…

The manufactured housing industry routinely makes home loans, in land lease communities, giving the 30 percent Housing Expense Factor (‘HEF’) lip service, by including only PITI (loan principal, interest, taxes, insurance) and rental homesite fee in monthly mortgage payments!*3 What’s missing is household expenses (e.g. electricity, heat, water, sewer) – all which must be paid each month, but separate from the ‘mortgage payment’. Consequences? 1) A riskier loan, where homeowners/site lessee can ‘buy more home’ yes, but 2) generally pay considerably more than the prudent 30% HEF. Here are results of both calculations*4:

Given: $51,229 Area Median Income (‘AMI’) per local housing market’s postal zip code via zipwho.com, &/or Annual Gross Income (‘AGI’) per homebuying prospect or household. Also 30% HEF; $333 monthly site rent; and loan terms of 9.5% & 20 years.

Risky home-only loan. $51,229 AGI X .3HEF X 100% applied to monthly PITI & rent, divided by 12 months, less $333 site rent = $948/month PITI & rent payment. When loan terms applied = $101,702 max loan amount. Risky, because household expenses, when paid in addition to mortgage & rent, force homeowner/site lessee beyond the 30% HEF goal. So, consider changing this routine practice to what follows:

Affordable home-only loan. $51,229 AGI X .3HEF X 75% applied to monthly PITI & rent (with 25% kept out of 30% HEF for household expenses), divided by 12 months, less $333 site rent = $628/month PITI & rent. Loan terms applied = $67,372 max loan amount. Far less risky an investment, but also less home purchased.

Point? If home-only loans were effected in accords with the ‘affordable’ perspective, it’s logical there’d be fewer defaults as homeowners/site lessees lived within their means. Perhaps this is one of the long sought keys to improving the security of chattel capital loans on homes sited in land lease communities.

And there are additional measures to consider. One would be to enforce strict screening of loan applicants. Also consider a measure of property owner recourse on home-only loans effected within their owned properties.

Finally; consider applying HUD’s recently published Fair Market Rents (‘FMR’) for year 2020, as a guide to ‘check & ensure’ land lease community site rents are in accords with the traditional 3:1 ratio, e.g. $999/month @ 3BR2B conventional apartment (per FMR) = $333/month site rent in a land lease community in the same local housing market. *5

This concludes my remarks and recommendations relative to this Listening Session.

EducateMHC
Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

End Notes.

1. (+/-) qualifier following manufactured housing industry annual shipment totals, until 2012, accounts for different totals published by MHARR & MHI. Since 2013 an official total, based on unadulterated data from the Institute of Building Technology & Safety (‘IBTS’), HUD’s contractor, is published by MHARR, NAMHCO, HUD, & EducateMHC

2. Year 2009 = 24% of new HUD Code homes (i.e. 12,000+/-) were shipped into land lease communities; by year end 2015, that percentage increased to 40%, or 28,000 new homes – and that percentage will continue to rise with access to chattel capital.

3. Housing Expense Factor or HEF @ 30 percent. One of at least six measures of housing affordability; other measures being: Housing Opportunity Index or HOI; Housing Wage or HW; Workforce Housing or WFH; Income to Home Value Ratio or IHVR; and, ‘one who believes’ he/she has consummated an affordable home transaction.

4. Reference: ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ estimate maximum recommended ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ purchase prices for new & resale, privately-owned homes of any type, sited on realty owned fee simple with home, or ‘home-only’ on leased land – as in a land lease community. Form available via www.educatemhc.com

5. For FMR, google ‘Fair Market Rents 2020’ to research state and city fair market rates.

Visit www.educatemhc.com for comprehensive array of products (newsletters & books) and services (PM training/certification & Performance Evaluations) tailored for land lease communities large & small, nationwide. The ‘Upside Down in a Mobile Home Park’ expose’, described in this narrative, is featured in SWAN SONG, a history of land lease communities and official record of mobile home/manufactured housing annual shipment volumes from 1955 to present day. This text is available for purchase from EducateMHC.

GFA/cc

MHIndustry New Years Resolution for 2020!

Friday, November 8th, 2019

8 November 2019; www.educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing!’

This blog is the online national advocated, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with EducateMHC, telephone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764/ Also email: gfa7156@aol.comk & visit www.educatemhc.com

Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U! Goal: promote HUD-Code manufactured housing & land lease communities as U.S. source of affordable attainable housing! Call for next MHM class info

INTRODUCTION: Yes, it’s early to announce the traditional New Year Resolution Challenge, but that’s what you’re about to read here. First, how it took 32 long and rocky years to get where we are today. Then a heartfelt challenge to three national MH-related entities to better represent, lobby in behalf of, and serve the product & service needs of land lease community owners/operators, large & small, nationwide! Here goes….

I.

Long & Rocky Road to Land Lease Community Advocacy & Respect!

It’s taken more than a quarter century for owners/operators of land lease communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities, & before that ‘mobile home parks’) to arrive at the point in time (year 2020) when they have and benefit from…

• National advocacy via Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division

• National lobbying via National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (‘NAMHCO’)

• National product & service resourcing (books, newsletters, professional property management training/certification, & consulting) via EducateMHC

But getting to this point in time, of representation, lobbying, and resourcing, has been a long and rocky road, commencing as far back as year 1988. Here’s a summary of key stages along the 32 year journey to land lease community advocacy and respect.

1988. The year Mobile Home Park Management text was published and distributed nationwide. It was the first professional property management text on the property type in two decades.

1989. Marked the debut of the ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Land Lease Community Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’), the longest-running (31 years to date) compendium of investment realty statistics and emerging trend documentation, in the history of the manufactured housing industry.

1993. 19 (then) mobile home community owners met in Indianapolis, IN., to form an Industry Steering Group (‘ISG’), taking first steps to improve national advocacy for the property type – before the mini-REIT wave of 1994. Before then, mobile home park matters were handled by a committee of volunteers during MHI national meetings.

1994. J. Wiley & Sons published Development, Marketing & Operation of Manufactured Home Communities. Another ‘first text on the subject in 20 years’, that sparked raw land development seminars during the next decade.

1996. MHI embraces the aforementioned ISC and launches the NCC, which remains in place to this day, as a full-fledged division of MHI, but is generally led by senior salaried executives of large property portfolios. Also during 1996, J. Wiley & Sons published How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community. This case bound text, as its 1994 predecessor, has long been recognized as a realty asset class primary source of information.

2004. One of the rocks along the road to community advocacy and respect occurred when the Urban Land Institute (‘ULI’) launched the Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’). For slightly more than a decade, this was a quasi Think Tank for the realty asset class, hosting opportunities for open discussion among participants from all segments of the manufactured housing industry.

2008 & 2009. Two years and two National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucuses, in Tampa, FL. & Elkhart, IN. In the first instance, community owners/operators agreed on a Five Step Action Plan, to reinvigorate the industry and asset class. In the second meeting, HUD-Code housing manufacturers & community owners/operators agreed to begin fabricating and buying a new design of manufactured home, the Community Series Home. All this occurring during the industry’s nadir year (lowest shipment volume ever), 2009. These were also the two years during which the term ‘land lease community’ got widespread traction. Why? Because today’s properties site as many as seven types of shelter, no longer just ‘mobile homes’ and manufactured homes of yore.

2011. Unfortunately, but providentially, the year during which the issue of control and scope of MHI’s NCC came to a public and argued climax, i.e. Whether it’d be dominated by, and identified as, a portfolio owners/operators club, or serving communities of all sizes? This identity issue has played out during years 2014, 2018, and 2019.

2014. Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance or COBA7 was launched early in the year, providing tailored products and services to land lease communities, large and small.

2018. NAMHCO stepped forward to lobby, in our nation’s capitol, in behalf of all land lease communities, large and small, throughout the U.S.

2019. EducateMHC absorbed the COBA7 division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, to continue that body’s goal to serve the product and service needs of land lease communities, large and small, from coast to coast.

2020. The land lease community real estate asset class has traveled the long and rocky road to advocacy and respect! Let’s identify these benchmark achievements:

• We’re now well-represented in Washington, DC. Add MHARR to the MHI & NAMHCO list

• The Institute of Real Estate Management (‘IREM’) now sells Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry to its’ Certified Property Manager (‘CPM’) members. This is 8th edition of the 1988 Mobile Home Park Management, & basic MHM textbook.

• We read a quality print trade publication (MHInsider), as well as three digital MH business newsletters, and a weekly blog posting.

• Via annual ALLEN REPORT, we know identities of all 500+ portfolio owners/operators of land lease communities throughout the U.S. & Canada.

• All our real estate asset class advocacy, lobbying, and resource needs are now handled by the NCC, NAMHCO & EducateMHC.

Know what? There’s still much more that could, and probably should, be said about land lease communities long and rocky road history. For example, the three – or is it four, consolidation stages we’ve passed through together; the slow growth – but at least there’s growth, of professional property management throughout the realty asset class via MHM and ACM certification programs. And then there’re the paradigm shifts the manufactured housing industry has experienced since 1972, especially the 20 year one we’re in now, i.e. distribution of new HUD-Code homes away from independent (street) MHRetailers, to direct sale of new homes into land lease communities nationwide.

And then there’s still that perennial ‘elephant in the MH room’. Specifically, whether the three identified entities – MHI/NCC, NAMHCO, & EducateMHC, or make it four with addition of MHARR, will work together – or apart, during the months in year 2020, especially considering the new and restructured leadership at the Manufactured Housing Institute. Let’s all watch and see what happens going forward….

If you’d like to read more about land lease community history, purchase a copy of SWAN SONG, via www.educatemhc.com And when you purchase the book, ask for a FREE copy of the booklet titled: ‘Who Will Preserve Your Legacy? Answer: You!’ The beauty of this offering is it summarizes ten autobiographies authored by industry pioneers to date; and in the end, describes how to pen your memoir and corporate history. Enjoy!

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC
170 Commerce Dr.
Franklin, IN. 46131
(317) 346-7156

Your First VALEDICTION

Friday, November 1st, 2019

1 November 2019; www.educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

This blog is the online national advocate, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with EducateMHC, telephone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877)MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Also email gfa7156@aol.com & visit www.educatemhc.com

Mot: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’ Goal: promote HUD-Code manufactured housing & land lease communities as U.S. source of affordable attainable housing! Call for next MHM class info

INTRODUCTION: Now here’s something, about me, about which you knew or know nothing!
My practice of penning ‘valedictions’, or ‘fond farewells’, to friends and relatives when they die. Started doing this in 1996, upon the passing of my father. At the time, I rewrote a birthday gift story about him, into a tribute that was printed, read, and shared during his memorial service. Since then, I’ve continued the practice with individuals I’ve known well enough to have had personal experiences worthy of sharing in this fashion. The valediction included here is for one of the many owners/operators of land lease communities I’ve known well during the past four decades.

I.

A Valediction, a ‘bidding farewell’ to Darrel G. Cohron

I met Darrel Cohron, and his twin Harrel, during the early 1970s, when relocating to Indianapolis from Philadelphia, PA., as part of a plant management team tasked to build a new pre-fab housing plant in Franklin, IN. I’d been told, by local apartment and nursing home developers Frank, Ethan & Rollin Jackson, the Cohron brothers, and a Greenwood businessman – the late Bud Meyer, would be knowledgeable resources about factory-built housing in general; manufactured housing, mobile homes and parks in particular. Well we met, and ‘got a leg up’ on our assignment, learning how doing business in the Midwest would not be wholly akin to what we experienced back East – mainly how union labor was the exception rather than the rule, at the time.

Ten years later, long after the pre-fab plant closed, and shortly after I’d started my own firm;, I sought Darrel’s advice again. This time it had to do with me wanting him to critique my estimated value of the large manufactured home community I was fee-managing in Mooresville, IN> It was in foreclosure and no investor would pay anywhere near the amount of development money the bank had loaned and lost in the project. They asked me if I’d buy it. Well, I had but $10,000 in savings, a wife and two small children, and not desire to lose this fee-management client, so I estimated the 500 rental homesite property, with but 100 homes paying rent, to be worth only $400,000. Asked Darrel to ‘check my numbers’ and advise. Here’s how this part of the story is told in my 2017 book, SWAN SONG, a ‘Semi-autobiography, and history of land lease communities I since 1970’:

‘Darrel agreed with my estimate, and his parting word of wisdom was this: ‘There comes a point in everyone’s life when you decide to stay on the safety of the porch, or go out and run with the big dogs! George, I think this is your safe porch or big dog decision moment in life!’

Took Darrel’s advice, found a partner, along with $400,000 and bought the property. Now that’s the Darrel we remember and appreciate. Certainly for me!

Then there’s the 2010 book, The Trailer Twins, a.k.a. ‘The Harrel & Darrel Cohron Story’. Here are some of my favorite passages from this biography.

Mayor Paul Ricketts recalling “…( a) fond memory of Harrel & Darrel wrasslin’ in the gravel of their sales lot, both dressed in suits. They called such altercations their board meetings’. When they were through , they brushed themselves off, and we all went to dinner.”

And this from Darrel, talking about the manufactured housing business: “We loved it. We still do. You have to. If you’re not in love with what you do, you’re just not ever gonna make it.”

Darrel & Harrel’s business success formula? “First, you never lie to a customer and second, after a sale, you give good customer service and follow up to make sure the customer is satisfied.” Plus this, about working together for life: “We both know we’re dedicated to the business and to each other and our families. If something needs to be done, we will do it. Our motto is ‘get up early, stay late, and tell the truth’.”

Don’t know ‘bout you, but as a local manufactured housing businessman, I’ll miss the friendly camaraderie of those Christmas parties out in the barn in back of the Cohron’s home sales center along Pendleton Pike.

Well Darrel, you’ve lived a long and prosperous life – just look at the legacy you and Harrel leave behind, in family, friends, and fortune. When I get to heaven, I’ll ask St. Peter where to find you, and he’ll likely say the same thing as the folk at the assisted living facility where you lived this past year. “Just walk down that street of gold until you hear country music played loud and bold. That’s where you’ll find Darrel Cohron!” Hope to see you then and there old friend!

George Allen, colleague & fellow RV/MH Hall of Fame member, October 2019.

Want to buy either or both books mentioned in this valediction? SWAN SONG is available via www.educatemhcv.com And The Trailer Twins is available from the RV/MH Hall of Fame store: (574) 293-2344

Hope you liked the valediction to Darrel Cohron. Who knows? Perhaps someday I’ll pen a like tribute to you and your life adventure. GFA

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