7 1/2 Years of Blog Posts & Continuing….

Blog # 400 Copyright 2016 COBA7® @ 12 June 2016; community-investor.com 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.!’

I.

7 ½ Years of Blog Posts & Continuing!

Has it really been 7 ½ years since Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine ceased publication in 2009? How many of you remember the late Herb Tieder? Or his 1990s publishing partner, the late James Mack? This blog debuted in the Merchandiser during that final year of publication.

Today, this weekly blog is distributed via the internet, to 1,000 readers, as one of ‘seven parts’ comprising the Community Owners Business Alliance®, or COBA7®, a division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing – the sole international consultancy & advocate, ombudsman & historian, for manufactured housing & land-lease-lifestyle communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) throughout the U.S. & Canada!

Year 2009 was also the year HUD-Code manufactured housing suffered it’s new home shipment nadir (‘lowest point’), going nearly 70 years to 1947, when 60,000 new ‘mobile homes’ were shipped. Just how bad is that? Here’s a telling footnote to an historic MH Shipment Chart: “Before 1947, production varied from 1,300 in 1930 upward to 60,000 in 1947. Source: Manufactured Housing Institute, Merrill Lynch” Page # 5..That, apparently, is the ‘end of the story’, since there are no further statistics to cite. And FYI, the manufactured housing industry did finally eclipse that 1947 era 60,000 figure during 2013, with 60,228 new HUD-Code homes shipped!

Back to the blog! What’s kept me writing over the years, now decades? Besides sharing MHIndustry & LLLCommunity NEWS ‘as it happens’, or as soon as I can get it into print, there’re perennial Opportunities, Frustrations, & Threats – relative to these two business models, I get to explore (research), ponder (organize), express (write), and distribute (publish) here, and in one or both print newsletters, the Allen Letter professional journal, and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL!

For that matter, the ‘working title’ of this 400th blog posting was originally cast as ‘Opportunities & Irksome Matters’. Here’s a Summary of some of them…

OPPORTUNITIES

• To promote professional property management throughout the land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class, via IREM’s Certified Property Manager® & AMO® programs; PMN Publishing’s Manufactured Housing Manager® one day class; and MHEI’s Accredited Community Manager®. To be candid, professional property management has yet to be widely embraced by LLLCommunities.

• To promote affordable housing. It seems everyone knows – and writes, of today’s ‘affordable housing crisis’ in the U.S., but few take time to 1) define affordable housing when they talk and write about it (i.e. There are six means of measuring affordable housing. Do you know what they are? Didn’t think so!); and or, 2) articulate one or more ways to specifically address the affordable housing crisis! (I do so, later in this blog, under one of the four Threat categories)

• To improve the less than flattering image of manufactured housing, a.k.a. ‘mobile home living’, by replacing archaic trade terminology with image-enhancing descriptions (e.g. housing vs. ‘mobile home’; LLLCommunity vs. ‘mobile home park’, etc.); 2) encouraging peers to ‘take the high road’, ‘rather than a low road’ when engaged in manufactured housing and or ‘community’ business endeavors; even, 3) move away from long obsolete concepts such as the 1970s era Woodall Star rating system for ‘mobile home parks’.

• To unite LLLCommunity owners/operators throughout the U.S. & Canada, into state, province, and national political advocacy trade groups, some featuring education, interpersonal networking, deal-making, and lobbying activities as mini-independent post-production associations..

FRUSTRATIONS

• With national trade politics, where self-proclaimed national advocacy and regulatory ‘watchdog’ organizations are concerned. They’ve rarely worked well together; and as a result, legislators and regulators use their rivalry to compromise political and anti-regulatory efforts.

• With the near constant power plays and maneuverings, between and among large business entities, as well as between large and smaller firms. This matter is aggravated when large firms send salaried employees to fill leadership roles, oft positioning them at odds with entrepreneur businessmen and women shepherding small to mid-sized firms with differing needs in their respective marketplace.

• With misleading claims of manufacturers, ballyhooing their production of quality, low cost manufactured housing; when in reality, unit prices continue to rise while quality remains constant, or slips when controls lapse.

• With lack of public, regional and national industry & realty asset class forums and caucuses, where issues and significant matters can be addressed, and dealt with openly, among business and trade organization stakeholders. When was the last time you were asked to participate in an industry Think Tank, of sorts? Recall the caucuses of 2/27/2008 (FL) & 2/27/2009 (IN), as well as some meetings of the now defunct Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) of the Urban Land Institute (‘ULI’). Nothing since then! Hmm. Maybe we need the morning and afternoon Think Tank on 1 August, after all….

THHREATS

• Is it competition from ‘other type builders’ outside the factory-built housing industry we should fear, politically and otherwise; or simply, our own lack of vision and ability to perform ‘together’, at fault where MHIndustry malaise is concerned?

• Perennial mishandling of chattel capital, during at least two historic time frames, since the mid-1970s, has resulted in the present prolonged absence of easy access to it! Might simple commitment to two significant changes ‘to the way we do things’ restore access? 1) 100% commitment to strict pre-qualification of prospective homebuyers, by those marketing and selling new HUD-Code homes; and; 2) Henceforward, use 30% Housing Expense Factor as affordability guide, requiring mortgagees to insist said 30% includes not only principal, interest, taxes & insurance (‘PITI’) – as it stands today, but include anticipated housing utility costs as well (e.g. electric, gas, water, sewer) – no longer requiring homeowner to pay such expenses ‘outside’, or in addition to, the 30% Housing Expense Factor! Note. When 30% HEF = PITI alone; utilities = at an additional 10+% on top of the 30% HEF, making it 40%. And then, when homeowner’s additional financial commitments (e.g. vehicles, alimony, etc.) are established, the back end debt percentage will grow, from 40% to 50, even 60%! No wonder homeowners oft ‘walk away’ from such overwhelming financial commitment.

• Overregulation of chattel lending, and uneven enforcement of the installation of manufactured homes, state by state, is arbitrary and unfair to everyone involved. Also, when certain LLLCommunity portfolio firms ‘thumb their noses’ at traditional methods of comparing site rents with other forms of multifamily rental housing in the same local housing market, skewing homeowner/site lessee’s housing propositions (i.e. fair and balanced relationships between home & site rent payments), one learns to expect dire consequences over time.

• Loss of a primary forum and audience, for manufactured housing, via the Urban Land Institute (‘ULI’), and related land planning bodies, has in part, stymied land development of new land-lease-lifestyle communities! Today there is no formal, or informal, Think Tank presence anywhere in the manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunity asset class. We are ‘dead in the water’ until there’s easier access to chattel capital, and we – once again, routinely dialogue with land planners and local zoning boards. There hasn’t been a LLLCommunity land development text published since 1994, that’s how out of touch we are with this aspect of real estate development and investment.

Of course there’s more, much more, that deserves to be researched and publicized here.

For example; have long believed, if one is going to put forth statistical data to the trade public, one has responsibility to explain said statistics and facts, ensuring from the beginning, the numbers are indeed accurate. So why isn’t this happening across the board? More about this in a later blog posting.

In the meantime, if not affiliated with COBA7®, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and ask for brochures describing:

• COBA7® affiliation at one of three Option levels
• 25th anniversary Networking Roundtable (7-9 September in Nashville, TN.)
• Al Schrader’s just released autobiography (a ‘should read’ by every LLLCommunity owner/operators in North America!)
• The popular Manufactured Housing Manager® professional property management training & certification program.

In the meantime, let us know what you think regarding Opportunities, Frustrations, & Threats described and parsed in this week’s blog posting via gfa7156@aol.com

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

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