26th ALLEN REPORT & ‘New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender’

December 18th, 2014

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 328 Copyright @ 21 December 2014

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 primary national advocacy voice, official ombudsman, research reporter, & online communication media for all LLLCommunities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. COBA7®, use Official MHIndustry HOTINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-5764.

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website:

I.

Coming Soon: 26th annual ALLEN REPORT

‘Biggest & Best Ever, Thanks to You!’

How so? Five good reasons. 1) Benchmark statistics have been culled from the strongest questionnaire response in the 26 year history of the ALLEN REPORT; 2) included is a comprehensive chronicle of the 2014 ‘Dawn of NEW ERA for land-lease-lifestyle (a.k.a. manufactured home) communities!’; 3) an inaugural feature of rental unit and contract sale home inventories on-site; 4) exciting, new national LLLCommunity inventories by state; and, 5) first ever, Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (‘SMSA’) local housing market homesite rent summaries from Datacomp & MHVillage!

This year’s ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ is also lengthier than previous editions, so will be restricted to a limited print run of 250 copies. Already, 200 of which are committed to Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7® affiliates, a.k.a. ‘MHInsiders’, and individuals/firms who submitted ‘completely filled-in questionnaires’ pursuant to preparation of the ALLEN REPORT.

So, if you want a copy of this history-making 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, affiliate with COBA7® at the Option II level ($544.95), to receive 12 monthly issues of the Allen Letter professional journal and a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs – the first of which, distributed during January 2015, is the ALLEN REPORT. The remaining 11 SSRDs? Directories of lenders, HUD-Code home manufacturers, real estate brokers, freelance consultants, MHIndustry print & online media, and all national advocacy organizations; as well as the industry’s Official terminology Lexicon or Glossary.

To affiliate with COBA7®, simply telephone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. There is no better value from anyone else, for LLLCommunity owners/operators, anywhere in the manufactured housing industry!

II.

‘New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender’

The business model trend is indeed here, but no one is measuring or tracking its’ growth!

According to the 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, the majority of land-lease-lifestyle (a.k.a. manufactured home) community portfolio owners/operators now routinely purchase new Community Series Homes, or CSH Models – and other models of HUD-Code manufactured homes, from factories; for installation, sale, and (oft times) seller-financing within their properties. Doing so, ensures stable, growing physical and economic occupancy cum profitability. Hence the business model trend moniker of ‘New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender’.

This has been an evolving trend, not an overnight phenomena with a specific ‘start date’. The evolution began when easy access to chattel capital from independent third party lenders nearly ended, soon after the turn of the century, and as independent (street) MHRetailers disappeared from many local housing markets – due to economic pressures, or acquisition and conversion into ‘company stores’. Savvy LLLCommunity owners/operators of institutional investment grade properties (i.e. 200+ rental homesites in size*1) realized they had to become controllers of their business destinies, no longer reliant on local MHRetailers to fill vacant rental homesites in their properties – as had been the practice for 50 years.

The turning point, among LLLCommunity owners/operators, occurred on two specific occasions precisely one year apart.

On 27 February 2008, a hundred or so LLLCommunity owners/operators convened at the FountainView LLLCommunity in Tampa, FL., to chart their destiny, relative to the manufactured housing industry. Result? Five strategies and action areas, along with the mantra: ‘Affordable Housing & Lifestyle’ – engraved on challenge coins given every attendee as a motivating reminder. This event was the first National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus.

A year later, on 27 February 2009, another hundred – this time a mix of LLLCommunity owners/operators and HUD-Code home manufacturers, convened at the new RV/MH Hall of Fame facility in Elkhart, IN., to agree on what it’d take for the former to buy more homes directly from the latter! Answer? The Community Series Home, or CSH Model.*2 The new housing design was not identified by name, until six months later, at the annual Networking Roundtable, where several CSH Models were on display. And this NSAC caucus is generally acknowledged as being the ‘line in the sand’ moment for LLLCommunity owners/operators, to (eventually) displace independent (street) MHRetailers, in many parts of the U.S., as primary wholesale buyers of manufactured housing.

It’s now six years later, and among property portfolio ‘players’, on-site home sales and (oft times) seller-financing – under the watchful eye of state and federal financial regulators, has become commonplace. So commonplace, that in several instances, large portfolio owners/operators have more than 10,000 rental units in place throughout their properties. By and large, however, the average number of rental homes and contract sale units on-site, among portfolio folk, hovers in the neighborhood of 375 apiece, relative to overall portfolio presence.*3

But that’s not the whole story. It’s estimated maybe, at most, 15 percent of LLLCommunities are actively selling and self-financing new homes on-site; while the remaining 85 percent (i.e. mostly Mom & Pop-sized investment properties) are not so engaged, for a variety of reasons (e.g. passive investors, lack of knowledge, inexperience, and lack of capital). The question becomes: Should and can this ‘vast majority of property owners be educated and motivated to buy into this trend, stimulating much-needed increase in shipment volume throughout the MHIndustry?

Besides ‘that question’, much else is not well! Here’s a cacophony of disparate shortfalls within and throughout the manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunity realty asset class, going into year 2015:

• No one is ‘keeping score’, that we know of, relative to the actual shipment volume of new HUD-Code homes going directly into LLLCommunities throughout the U.S. Why is this important? If we, as an industry, knew the percentage of new home shipments (e.g. ‘What percent of 60,228 in 2013?’) going into LLLCommunities, it’d be instructive as to activating the ‘quiet 85 percent’ of LLLCommunity owners/operators. Anyone ‘out there’ have any practical solution(s) to this lack of knowledge? MHI. How ‘bout you?

• Home manufacturers, as busy as some of them are today –given the reduced number of factories working thru backlogs of home orders, appear to be cutting their nose off in spite of their face, where product pricing, including freight (gas) costs are concerned. One, at times, even senses being ‘taken advantage of’, as the ‘New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender’, still naïve as to’ industry past practices’ with erstwhile independent (street) MHRetailers. Here’s an area where the MHARR might be of assistance.

• Home finance principles and regulations, as well as the securing of fresh chattel capital remain new, often confusing educational challenges for LLLCommunity owners/operators of all sizes – except for perhaps the largest of the property portfolio firms. Fortunately, we have resources like Rishel Consulting, teaching ‘How to Raise Capital and be a Compliant Lender’, as well as Spencer Roane, MHM®, holding forth on the attributes of lease-option.

• And there’s this very real but rarely talked about caution, relative to veteran LLLCommunity owners/operators, who’ve structured all sorts of deals, over the years and decades, to facilitate home ownership/site leasing by individuals and families least likely to qualify for home financing in their local housing markets. These veterans continue to ‘go it on their own’, not so much out of greed – though that can be a problem, but the genuine concern, that if they don’t ‘fit deals to their customers’, they’ll wind up contributing to the homeless population of their local housing market. Think about it. Our $ regulators should, but evidently don’t.

• Of late, there’s also increasing concern expressed that, 1) given 80+/- percent national market share is enjoyed by the Big Three-C HUD-Code home manufacturers; 2) the recent surprise departure of U.S. Bank – and maybe more, from the chattel capital lending scene; and, 3) dominance of national advocacy affairs in one entity, by a few salaried executives from as few companies and property portfolios, that overall sensitivity to business and market needs of grassroots businessmen and women, from all segments of the MHIndustry, is going begging! Proof? Repeated calls for a National Strategic Planning meeting are ignored by two of three national manufactured housing trade bodies, the two dominated by HUD-Code home manufacturers.

The messages conveyed and suggested by these five bullet points? This/these questions:

Where do we go from here, relative to this business model trend change, from independent (street) MHRetailers being primary customers of HUD-Code home manufacturers, to the New Breed of MHRetailer and Lender emerging? The trend needs documentation; home manufacturers need to treat their new business partners with more respect; home finance and chattel capital sourcing remain more a mystery than applied methodology; and, national advocacy bodies need to realize ‘life is more than just lobbying in the nation’s capitol’ – they must also be about communication and service!

So, where do we go from here? Nathan Smith and Mark Weiss, esquire; are you listening, reading, and understanding what’s going on – and at times, not going on, throughout the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class?

(MHARR. You can no longer cop out by saying LLLCommunities are not your members. They’re not; they’re now – or should be, your home buying customers, worthy of your attention!)

The Louisville MHShow (KY) occurs a month from now? What’s stopping you two from laying the groundwork for a much-needed National Strategic Planning Meeting for manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle community-affiliated businessmen and women from throughout the U.S., willing to pay their own way to a two day venue where the preceding – and other issues, are brought into the open and discussed publicly for the first time – with an eye to resolution, planning, and recovery?

End Notes:

1. See page # 68 (Official MHIndustry Lexicon & Glossary) in Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years! Published by PMN Publishing, Indianapolis, IN., 2013.

2. Community Series Home, or CSH Model is characterized as having at least one WOW! design factor to get the homebuyer’s attention; and an array of durability enhancing features that facilitate changes in lessees and owners, with a minimum of home repair by the LLLCommunity owner/operator

3. 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’, available for $544.95 from PMN Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. (317) 346-7156

Use ‘FFF’ = Save $, & COBA7 Ombudsman (press)

December 13th, 2014

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 327 Copyright @ 14 December 2014

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 primary national advocacy voice, official ombudsman, research reporter, & online communication media for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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.

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website:

I.

Lightening is striking twice, where the manufactured housing industry is concerned; first, $ overregulation by the CFPB, now renewed focus on Frost Free Foundations by HUD! Brings new impetus to yon truism, ‘You can run but you cannot hide – for long!’

II.

Are high new home shipment freight costs discouraging you from ordering the new HUD-Code home, or homes, you planned to install on-site and sell on speculation? Well, let’s hope the MH manufacturers read this week’s blog and pass on gas savings to you!

I

A ‘Frost Free Foundation’ in Your Future?

What We’ve Learned Since Last Week’s Blog Posting # 326. Read it first!

Before we bring you up to date on this subject, here’s one of several responses, to blog posting # 326, received from blog floggers (readers) since last Sunday’s posting:

“Good post today George! Excellent recommendations on FFF. ‘Installation’ is one of those areas where ‘mayhem’ can unfortunately, bite us in the butt years after a MH is sold, reinforcing feelings about our industry being ‘cheap, disposable, or short-term’. We had a similar problem with excessive pier settling because of poor soil load bearing – until we tested the soil and increased the number of piers. Thanks for all you do!” SP

So, we are dealing with a real business world matter here. Hopefully you now realize why personal and corporate knowledge of the Frost Free Foundation® or FFF design is important to your livelihood. Now here’s what we’ve learned since last week’s posting….

Permission to reprint Frost Free Foundation® for manufactured homes was denied!

But FFF is already on the internet. Google Frost Free Foundation® and scroll thru FFF descriptions to two labeled as PDFs. There you’ll find the 11 page design document.

And here’s how the Systems Building Research Alliance (SBRA), in its’ literature, describes how to get permission to use FFF for new home installation, i.e. “Any company or individual wishing to use the FFF design should contact the manufacturer of the home for information obtaining the rights to use the design.” Which HUD-Code home firms are listed? Clayton Homes, Champion Home Builders, Inc., Hi-Tech Housing, Homebuilders Northwest, Liberty Homes, Inc., Palm Harbor Homes, and Pine grove Homes, Inc. If you need assistance getting in touch with any of these firms, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and ask for help. COBA7® affiliates; simply refer to the Signature Series Resource Document (SSRD) titled: ‘Major Factory-built Housing Manufacturers, to include HUD-Code Homes, Modulars, & ‘RV Park Models’.

How ‘bout ‘community owners/operators’? Contact the manufacturers listed above – or if buying from a manufacturer not listed, have them contact SBRA directly to get access to FFF. Even community owners/operators “…can license the FFF design for use with existing homes” by requesting the ‘Frost Free Foundation® Design: Application for Community Owners, Existing Homes’. Complete it and submit to SBRA. Individuals too can access FFF via SBRA. In all instances, simply phone (212) 496-0900X10

When the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (‘MHCC’) met last week they were briefed on HUD’s efforts to develop an installation regimen for approximately 16 states currently without programs. HUD expects to launch a pilot installation program in two states by March 2015, anticipating full implementation sometime in 2017. That schedule is what’s ‘turned the heat up’ on accessibility to the Frost Free Foundation® design protocol among land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators in the U.S..

COBA7® reminds everyone planning to use the Frost Free Foundation® design, within or outside land-lease-lifestyle communities, to seriously consider incorporating the six bullet points articulated by a Midwest state MHAssociation executive, into their FFF plan. Simply scroll back to blog posting # 326 at the community-investor.com website.

As there are further developments on this important and timely topic, we’ll let you know here, in the Allen Letter professional journal, and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter. All three MHIndustry & LLLCommunity communication and trade media resources are brought to you by the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® or COBA7®. If you’re not already an affiliate, a.k.a. ‘MHInsider’, simply phone the aforementioned Official MHIndustry HOTLINE to do so. 200 of your peers affiliated during 2014; expecting 400 ‘MHInsiders’ to be on board by end of year 2015.

II.

Ombudsman (press) Gets Mail from You

Recent correspondence from a land-lease-lifestyle community owner/operator observed:

“Hey George, what’s with the HUD-Code home manufacturers? Every time the price of crude oil goes UP, so do their freight charges! Yet now, as the price of crude oil plummets DOWN, where are the decreases in freight charges – and how soon will we see them? When asked, the home manufacturers from whom we buy new homes, avoid the issue at every turn. Maybe a little open publicity will prod them into cutting this onerous cost addition to their product.” FR

Recent cursory research online shows June 2014 gasoline prices, at the pump, to have been $3.68/gallon, when crude oil was at $106.53/bbl. And earlier this month (12/3), gas prices dropped to $2.73/gallon, as crude oil priced down to $67.25/bbl. And here we are at December mid-month, and gasoline prices at the pump continue to decline further.

Executives at the Big 3-C, HUD-Code home manufacturers (Controlling 80+/-% national MH market share) receive this weekly blog posting, via BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert), as do many smaller, regional home manufacturers. How ‘bout if we give them grace to the end of December to make freight price adjustments. After all, lowering this onerous expense only helps promote additional new home sales and shipments ‘in the dead of Winter’. Remind me to revisit the matter during early January 2015.

Ombudsman (press)? Some reading this likely wondered what that was all about, as you read the title to Part II of this week’s blog posting. Several months ago, a few COBA7® ‘MHInsiders’ suggested we activate the seventh part of the alliance’s business model – that being ‘national advocacy when need be’, by publicly offering to do what we’ve long done privately, i.e. receive your concerns and complaints regarding various aspects of manufactured housing and LLLCommunities, then ‘put the right parties together’ to resolve matters, seek solutions, and move us ahead together. Well, we’ve been doing that, and this matter of ‘too high new home shipment freight prices’ is simply the latest issue addressed, and the first in a public (press) fashion. So, do you have a matter appropriate to ombudsman attention? Simply phone the aforementioned Official MHIndustry HOTLINE. After all, ‘ombudsman (press)’ services underscore the COBA7® motto of ‘U Support Us & We Serve U!’

***

FFF: Embrace it or Dig Deep Into $ Pocket!

December 5th, 2014

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 326 Copyright @ 7 December 2014

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 primary national advocacy voice, official ombudsman, research reporter, & online communication media for all LLLCommunities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, a.k.a. COBA7®, use Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (8777) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website:

I.

‘Frost Free Foundation’, a.k.a. ‘FFF’; the ‘Silver Bullet’ for Home Installations in LLLCommunities?’ YES! This is the ‘sleeping giant’ of the past decade, now awakening!

II.

‘Good-bye Danny Ghorbani! Or, ‘See You Later as Arbitrator?’ Manufactured housing industry losing it’s ‘watchdog’ of the past three decades! Who steps into his shoes???

III.

If you’re not yet an ‘MHInsider’, takes steps now to become one during the Year 2015!

***

I.

‘Frost Free Foundation’, a.k.a. ‘FFF’ the ‘Silver Bullet’ for Home Installations in Communities?

YES…

If You Remember George Porter, SBRA, & Model MH Installation Standards: Final Rule 24 CFR 3285!

During the decade between dawning of the 21st Century and year 2010, as the manufactured housing industry was staggering from having lost easy access to chattel capital and plummeting home shipment volume, it faced the eventual reality of increased regulatory oversight from HUD, where the Model MH Installation Standard was concerned. Well, it appears that feared time has arrived (2015), and land-lease-lifestyle communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) nationwide are ill prepared for it.

The Challenge? When the Model Manufactured Home Installation Standards: Final Rule, 24 CFR 3285 was implemented by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, October 2007, it was pretty much assured that unless one’s existing concrete foundations (i.e. piers & concrete ribbons) extended below the frost line, they’d have to be replaced, upon home turnover, at a minimum cost of around $5,000.00 per foundation – even if the preexisting foundation system(s) had never failed!

The Opportunity? Paraphrasing a 1960s hit song about coal miner, ‘Big John’:

‘Along came George Porter & the Systems Building Research Alliance (or SBRA)!’

The adventure began with George experiencing an epiphany-like personal insight, where manufactured housing installations were concerned. While he’d been a practicing installation specialist ‘for decades’, it all came together for him one day, with this simple, eureka-like realization…

“…frost heave can only occur in the presence of three interrelated factors: 1) subfreezing temperatures, 2) frost susceptible soil and 3) sufficient moisture in the soil (about 80% saturation or greater). Elimination of any of these factors will prevent frost heave from occurring.”

The above quote is from the summary of ‘A Frost Free Foundation® (FFF); an Alternative Shallow Frost Protected Foundation Design for Manufactured Homes, by Paul W. Hayman, MS, PE or Hayman Engineering, Inc., prepared by Systems Building Research Alliance, July 2010

But how did the manufactured housing industry research and codify George’s epiphany into that summary statement? Via interrelated cooperation between Porter and SBRA’s Technical Advisory Committee, with Hayman Engineering; plus financial support from ten suppliers/businesses and the encouragement of 36 manufactured housing association executives!

The SBRA (formerly the Manufactured Housing Research Alliance), FYI “…is a non-profit organization with the mission of developing new technologies to enhance the value, quality, and performance of the nation’s factory-built structures.” As such, it served as the linchpin for this project. It provided the venue for establishment of scientific proof, and solicitation of engineering support, for the ‘frost free foundation’ or ‘FFF’ concept, and its’ applicability to HUD-Code manufactured homes!”

So, what’s ‘FFF’ all about? Instructing raw land developers and owners/operators of land-lease-lifestyle communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) how to properly implement and maintain frost free foundations in lieu of expensive monolithic concrete foundations. Read that sentence again. It’s the gist of what’s to follow here!

Permission has been sought to reproduce the 11 page ‘FFF’ report, cited in this blog posting, as a booklet to be made available to anyone in the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunity asset class who requests it. Cost? To be determined, but minimal, with any profits generated going to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame facility in Elkhart, IN, or possibly the SBRA. More information on that when available, along with ordering instructions.

In the meantime, for more information, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 to reach the Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance® or COBA7®.

But Whoa! There’s More to The FFF Story! Some of it Good, Some of it Hardly so….

First the Good.

Want to make the Frost Free Foundation, or ‘FFF’, appropriate to your particular LLLCommunity(ies) application? Heed this sage advice from one Midwest manufactured housing state association to their members:

• Obtain a copy of ‘A Frost Free Foundation® (FFF): An Alternative Shallow Frost Protected Foundation Design for Manufactured Homes, prepared by Paul W. Hayman, MS, PE, Hayman Engineering, Inc. (This should be part of every Installation Manual, but isn’t. And why we’re attempting to reprint the document)

• Require a soil test by a licensed soil tester

• Require the ‘FFF’ design be used only with certain soil types, unless native soil is replaced

• Require the frost line be above the water table

• Require drain tile and or roof gutter installation to facilitate movement of water away from the ‘FFF’

• Have an ‘FFF’ plan (See first bullet point) sealed by a registered engineer; and if applicable (given a statewide building code), pay the state – where ‘FFF’ is to be utilized, to have design ‘state approved’. Doing so, in the latter instance, forces local building inspectors to accept the design – since, at this point, ‘FFF’ is not mentioned in most Installation Manuals. Furthermore, and this is an important point, if a local inspector attempts to decline accepting an ‘FFF’ design because it’s not in new home Installation Manual, remember: the HUD-Code is what it says, and if home manufacturer overlooks a viable alternative (i.e. ‘FFF’ plan sealed by a registered engineer), that’s an issue under warranty law for the licensed installer and home manufacturer to work out. It isn’t a code issue.

.

Now, for the Not so Good

To date, as a land-lease-lifestyle community owner/operator, I’ve reviewed official Home Installation Manuals prepared and distributed by several HUD-Code home manufacturers, to see if the aforementioned Frost Free Foundation system is included therein (It isn’t), or even mentioned, e.g. Is ‘FFF’ in the index to the manual? (It isn’t). Thus, the emergence of this disturbing reality:

While it’s easy to be impressed with the detailed and complicated descriptions, in these Installation Manuals, as to effecting the proper installation of a HUD-Code home. From the home manufacturers’ perspective, this is their ‘bread & butter’, their means of ensuring – as far as it goes – the safe, secure, and stable installation of their product. But the question that comes to mind is, ‘Why the absence of (any) mention of ‘FFF’ in Installation Manuals?’

Frankly, most – to – all HUD-Code home manufacturers (i.e. certainly MHI direct, dues-paying members) are well aware of the ‘FFF’ researched and codified, engineering wise, by the Systems Building Research Alliance in 2010, given SBRA’s close working relationship with MHI.

Perhaps it is a matter of perspective, as suggested in a previous paragraph. The home manufacturer’s primary installation concern is to explain how to do it ‘right and well’, per the design and performance requirements of their HUD-Code housing product. And expensive installation costs be damned, as those high dollar costs are not the manufacturer’s responsibility. Remember however, these are the folk about whom the image-compromising apercu, ‘D&R Deliveries’ (i.e. ‘Drop & Run!) was coined in the early days of the industry. So maybe not much has changed, yet…..

However, the matter is much different from the LLLCommunity owner/operator perspective. Here, expensive installation costs do matter, they matter a lot! For example, given a properly drained rental homesite featuring concrete ribbon foundations in place, under the same fully and well-skirted home, for 30 years, with no failures whatsoever. When that home is removed from said foundation system, federal installation standards require those 30 year old ribbons be replaced with a monolithic slab (not concrete ribbons) or conventional below the frost line piers, to the tune of approximately $5,000.00. per rental homesite! On the other hand, given a properly drained rental homesite, with appropriately porous soil, and perimeter skirting around the home – all requirements of the engineered and registered Frost Free Foundation, then any home can be installed on the rental homesite using specially-designed pads or piers, even the original concrete ribbons, at little to no extra cost to the property and or home owner.

And there’s yet a further $ matter here. Who pays for the cost of the new foundation system? Well, in some locales it’s a matter of state law. How so? In states that have adopted AARP’s landlord tenant law model language, whereby the LLLCommunity owner/operator cannot make the tenant (homeowner/site lessee) pay for ‘permanent improvements’, two key questions come into play, being: 1) Is the new foundation a permanent improvement? 2) Does it serve the community or the home? Answer might be a matter of choice. If homeowner/site lessee has a choice between the two cost extremes described, he/she pays for said choice. If the property, however, ‘requires’ one or another of the options, it pays for the improvement. All the more reason to take the steps outlined earlier, to ensure one is enabled to use the ‘FFF’ alternative on-site in one’s LLLCommunity(ies).

Bottom line? Follow the money! Again, matters of perspective….

The home manufacturer fabricates and delivers a new home – with an official Installation Manual, to the rental homesite, often within a LLLCommunity, and ‘end of story’ unless there’re service issues later. On the other hand, pity the LLLCommunity owner/operator who has 100 well-functioning rental homesites, using concrete ribbons or shallow piers, for the past 30 years; and now faces the prospect of being forced, maybe beginning during year 2015, of having to retrofit every one of them, to the tune of $500,000.00. (That’s $5,000/site X 100 sites)!

For the HUD-Code home manufacturer, ‘FFF’ offers little to no value – added to their (housing) product, when the official Installation Manual is supplied with the home upon delivery. However, for the LLLCommunity owner/operator, ‘FFF’ is worth at least $5,000 per site savings, on rental homesites not presently in compliance with the nearly decade old federal home installation standards, soon to be enforced during 2015.

All this, in my opinion, is a major disconnect between two major segments of the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry. Anyone care to bet how the two national advocacy bodies, both of which are home manufacturer-dominated, will arbitrate this important and potentially costly issue – if they even allow it to see the light of day, except for social media communiqués like this blog posting? Specifically, this is a timely and serious challenge for MHI’s national communities council division to soon publicly discuss and resolve with the institute’s manufactured housing division.

In the meantime, what can you, as a LLLCommunity owner/operator do? Encourage your source of new HUD-Code homes to put ‘Frost Free Foundation’ into their Installation Manual as an approved alternative. And, if you’re a direct, dues-paying member of either or both national manufactured housing advocacy bodies, contact them ASAP, requesting they intercede, in your behalf, with their HUD-Cod manufacturer members to do the same, and put ‘FFF’ into their Installation Manual as an approved alternative.

And watch here for instructions on how to obtain your copy of ‘A Frost Free foundation® (FFF): an Alternative Shallow Frost Protected Foundation Design for Manufactured Homes’, by Paul W. Hayman, MS, PE., of Hayman Engineering, Inc. Prepared for the Systems Building Research Alliance, New York, NY., 1 July 2010.

***

Good-bye Danny Ghorbani!
Or
‘See You Later as Arbitrator’?

As One Era Ends, is Another About to Begin?

Frankly, I can’t imagine the manufactured housing industry without Danny Ghorbani ‘front and center’ every day in every way, as he has been for the past 28+ years – but now (soon) waiting ‘in the wings’ ready to advise and arbitrate when asked!

But first, a brief look back at his career, one spanning more than four decades; 46 years to be precise. Not many in the business today (are old enough) to say they ‘cut their manufactured housing teeth’ reading and hearing Danny Ghorbani ‘holding forth’, as an engineer on MHI’s staff, then as founder – and now long time executive VP, of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, or MHARR. I can, so take the liberty of sharing what follows here…

As an industry, we are about to lose our watchdog! Of all the labels that could be, and some have been, applied to Danny ‘over the years’, e.g. maven, guru, lobbyist par excellence – and more; ‘Watchdog’ covers the territory best! Why? Because Washington, DC., and its’ surrounds, oft referred to as ‘Inside the Beltway’ works and functions pretty much to and for itself – just think of the politicking we read, see, and hear about all the time. Well, Danny G., for nearly four decades has been our ‘first source of credible information’ about what was soon going to happen to us as an industry, where regulators, bureaucrats and politicians were concerned.

While many ‘inside the beltway’ prefer the attitude and MO of ‘Going along to get along’ (a.k.a. consensus building) when dealing with politicians and regulators, Danny G, frequently went ‘pretty much alone’ as he confronted Congressmen, Senators, and bureaucrats – of both the appointed and career types, ‘head on’ over issues, proposed legislation, laws, regulations, and more, that would impact or already impacted manufactured housing. Of late, he’s even found time to learn more about the ‘post production’ segments of the MHIndustry, particularly chattel finance and land-lease-lifestyle communities, in his search and effort to restore easily accessible chattel capital to our business environs, and garner cooperation from resident-focused national bodies.

I sincerely hope his peers at the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform host a retirement party in the near future, and invite the entire manufactured housing industry to fete this deserving leader and spokesperson one more time! If and when I hear about such a gathering, I’ll let you know about it here, and in the Allen Letter professional journal. Hmm. Wonder who’s going to fill Danny’s monthly ‘white paper space’ in The Journal? Bet you hadn’t thought about that…One more way he’s nigh irreplaceable in the manufactured housing industry. And make sure YOU say ‘Good – bye!’ to him in your own way!

What’s this about a NEW ERA beginning? Well, we already know a NEW ERA began for land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators began 1 January 2014, with the launch of the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® or COBA7®. Read more about that in Part III of this blog posting (to follow) and the 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’, soon to be distributed (January 2015) to COBA7 affiliates, a.k.a. ‘MHInsiders’ and owners/operators who completed AR questionnaires in their entirety. For more info on any of this, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

So, is there yet another NEW ERA on the heels of COBA7®? Some think so. The nature of this NEW ERA? Take your pick of worthy foci: major changes needed to MH business model, to attract financing and homebuyers; restructure national advocacy presence, to better fulfill needs of post-production segments of the industry/asset class; debate and decide whether we’re better off, going forward, as ‘consumer product’ or ‘affordable housing’, but not both; and more….

III

Not Yet a ‘MHInsider?’ Well, here’s how to make that happen before 2015!

If you’re reading this blog posting and haven’t yet formally affiliated with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, commit to do so as we segue into year 2015. Why? More good reasons that I have space to tell you here, but for starters:

• More than 200 of your MHIndustry & LLLCommunity peers, including HUD-Code home manufacturers, LLLCommunity owners/operators, lenders, and vendors have already done so. Goal is to have 400 affiliates by year end 2015!

• And you’re not just affiliating with the newest and most vibrant national business alliance, but once you start reading the monthly Allen Letter professional journal, and if so opted, the Allen CONFIDENTIAL!, you in effect become a special class of businessman and woman, a true ‘MHInsider’! How so? You’re now privy to information, news, and statistics not available from any other source anywhere!

• All of a sudden, regional and national MH venues become more valuable to you, as you meet privately, and learn with COBA7® ‘MHInsiders’. For example; on 20 January 2015, in Louisville, KY., I’ll be teaching the one day Manufactured Housing Manager®, or MHM® professional property manager training and certification class. If you’re not yet ‘certified’, this is your unique and timely opportunity. And other special opportunities are being planned for this year.

• Frankly, there is/are no other sources for the directories and hard copy tools provided monthly by COBA7. For example: the ALLEN REPORT, State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunities, National Registry of Lenders, ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2015 – directory of consultants, Official MH Lexicon, PM Training & Certification Directory, Industry Briefing Sheet (Best there is!), directory of national advocacy entities, only list of HUD-Code manufacturers in the U.S., annual Paradigm Shifts historical timeline, & directory of real estate brokerages.

• And the list goes on, to include: annual Networking Roundtable, periodic FOCUS Group gatherings, deal-making opportunities, even ombudsman (press) services!

Phone the aforementioned Official MHIndustry HOTLINE to affiliate, or request a COBA7® brochure listing all the above opportunities, services, products, and more.

Stop and think about it; this; there’s gotta be a very good reason why COBA7® happens to have the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE all to itself! It’s because, during the past 3 ½ decades, everyone in the MHBusiness has learned where to go for answers. Now it’s time for you to affiliate with COBA7® and become a key part of that special network of ‘MHInsiders’!

***

OLIGARCHY Revisited & Lease-Option…

November 27th, 2014

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 325 Copyright @ 30 November 2014

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 primary national advocacy voice, official ombudsman, research reporter, & online communication media for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

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

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website:

I.

‘OLIGARCHY Revisited…’ Are manufactured housing leaders ‘spoiling’ (i.e. ‘seriously impairing’) our industry by acquiescing to energy saving innovations cum sales price increases, on new HUD-Code homes, when home buyers can least afford to buy? Or as pundits suggest, is this ruse a precursor to amalgamation of many firms into a very few?

II.

‘Are YOU into Lease-Option, or Want to Be?’ This has to be the best and worst kept Secret to Success among land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators large and small. Read how this dearth (‘scarcity’, ‘lack’) of education and sharing may soon end!

III.

Stories from the Heartland, an anthology. After authoring and editing a dozen books during the past 26 years, this is the first time a few of my short stories have been published in an anthology, one published by the Christian writers’ group I attend….

I.

OLIGARCHY Revisited…

Did last week’s blog posting here, opining ‘national manufactured housing advocacy = OLIGARCHY?’ spook you? Did some. One faithful blog flogger (reader) reminded me of a quote he’d shared weeks ago, characterizing naïve, would be ‘land-lease-lifestyle community investors’ who flock to our realty asset class these days – oft times failing, because of mistaken notions and unrealistic expectations. His quote:

“To the uninformed, go the spoiled!”– i.e. income-producing properties that are ‘dead on arrival’, but expected to go ‘Poof!’, and magically transform into ‘cash cows’. Not!

Anyway, his suggestion was, this same quote applies to leadership issues described in last week’s blog posting. That is, if WE continue blindly along the road of little to no helpful, salient information and unanswered questions, from our national advocacy bodies, we should not be surprised if manufactured housing production performance, measured by new home shipment volume, continues along its’ now six year historic nadir: 2009 = 49,789; 2010 = 50,046; 2011 = 51,606; 2012 = 54,881; & 2013 = 60,228. 2014? Too early to tell for sure, but certainly not anywhere near the oft cited ‘comfort zone’ of 250,000 new HUD-Code homes shipped per year! If not yet spoiled, we’re on our way.

What helpful, salient information and unanswered questions? Here are some that come quickly to mind:

• Relative to aforementioned (Blog # 323) ‘Three Strikes & We’re Out!’ of the national affordable housing market. Why are WE still waiting to learn, from national advocacy bodies, the Reasons behind increasing the cost, and by extension – the sales price, of new singlesection manufactured homes by at least $2,000 apiece, even more for multisection HUD-Code homes?! See*1. And while they’re at it, offer a reasonable explanation for the 165% increase in HUD label fees? How much of that finagling had to do with coddling HUD, out of home manufacturers’ fear of facing the future sans HUD oversight? Let me suggest a ‘telling’ starting point; this sobering factoid from a West coast MHIndustry consultant: “In California all new residential housing must be ‘net zero (energy usage)’ by year 2020!” If true, at least ‘that’ sets the stage – something that’s yet to be done by anyone else in our business. By the way, ‘overpricing our housing product’ is the fateful Third Strike against us! Read *1 again.

• U.S. Bank’s recent departure from the independent, third party chattel capital resource market is certainly a Vote Against manufactured housing industry resurgence, and maybe something more. Here’s how another blog flogger views our current business climate: “A king (Warren Buffett) should not be the only source of funding for chattel (capital)*2, and the highest (market) percentage of manufactured housing production*3. I see that reality. So now we have a monopoly, don’t we?” And in their departure, U.S. Bank gave us ‘two guns’ with which to argue relaxed oversight at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, or CFPB: ‘Manufactured housing is too much a niche (constricted) market at this time’ to support their business model; and, ‘overregulated’ to boot! So, what have our national advocacy bodies done, since U.S. Bank’s announcement, to get that word, those arguments, in front of Congress? Nothing that this industry observer has seen or heard. However, it’s become common knowledge, a dozen or so state MHAssociations have stepped out on their own to do so!

And while we’re at it, let’s review the ‘Ten heady topics – in the form of questions – of nationwide concern to many of us passionate about the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and its’ realty component, the LLLCommunity real estate asset class:

• Why ongoing disunity & political ineffectiveness at the national advocacy level?

• Is our future better as purveyor of consumer products OR ‘affordable housing’?

• When will we finally define & describe what we mean by ‘affordable housing’?*4

• Does ‘affordable housing’ apply similarly to mfd. Housing & LLLCommunities?

• Revamp chattel capital model with longer terms and more stringent guarantees?

• Begin or end conversation about replacing vehicle titles with long term leases?

• Is business model better as federally-regulated housing/product or non-regulate?

• When will be right time, way & $, to effect national brand advertising & image?

• How to affect representation parity among all LLLCommunities, large & small?

• Time to measure manufactured housing performance via sales & not shipments?

• ‘Elephant in the room’; consistently safe & secure home installation nationwide?

Quoted from blog posting # 323 at community-investor.com. What would you ADD or DELETE from this list of heady questions on the minds of conscientious entrepreneur businessmen and women across the U.S. these days? Let me know via GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247. Or phone me via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Remember, the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7® is YOUR Official Ombudsman (press) to the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class. Make YOUR VIEWS known!

II.

Are YOU into Lease-Option, or Want to Be?

Here’s a ground floor opportunity for land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators desiring to learn more about the lease-option way of business, as it pertains to new and resale manufactured housing placement on vacant rental homesites in-community!

As I pen these lines, a lease-option curriculum is being prepared for beta testing this Winter, maybe as early as February 2015. If YOU are serious about wanting to participate in this educational process – either from the perspective of an experienced and successful practitioner willing to share, or as a novice, let me know firsthand ASAP, via: GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247. Or the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. A FOCUS Group type venue is already being planned. Don’t be left out; this could mean the success or failure of your future as a LLLCommunity owner/operator.

While this is not a COBA7® project per se, know that affiliates, a.k.a. ‘MHInsiders’ are involved from start to finish. The impetus? Knowledge that some mega property portfolio ‘players’ already, and have for some time, use this method to fill vacant rental homesites in their LLLCommunities! The ‘rub’ has been, their unwillingness to share said knowledge and expertise with smaller owners/operators and Mom/Pop investors. So, the goal here, is to make lease-option knowledge and procedures broadly available to LLLCommunity owners/operators otherwise locked out of the chattel capital markets due to ‘cherry picking’ by third party firms, and lack of sources within their local housing market.

Relative to ‘raising $ funds’ to support a lease-option program on-site in your LLLCommunity or communities, you’ll want to get your hands on the new Signature Series Resource Document PLUS, or SSRD-PLUS, to be enclosed with the December 2014 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. It’s a refinement (lengthened and more detailed) of the nine point list, compiled by Spencer Roane, MHM®, for inclusion in the Official WHITE PAPER (End note # 9 on page # 18), distributed at the 23rd annual Networking Roundtable in Peachtree City, GA., earlier this Fall. If you thought ‘that list’ was helpful, this SSRE-PLUS is much better! To subscribe, use the aforementioned (end note # 1) Official MHIndustry HOTLINE. Cost? Only $134.95 for the Allen Letter alone; $544.95 for the newsletter and a dozen SSRDs, an updated one distributed monthly.

III.

Stories From the Heartland, an anthology

This 215 page perfect bound book is available for purchase directly from amazon.com. The collection of short stories and poems is an appropriate Christmas gift for the casual reader on your gift list this year.

Among the 40+/- stories and poems are three I penned during the past two decades. There’s ‘Big George!’, a tribute to my late father. This serious, but sometimes humorous tale has been published in several books over the years – along with the recommendation ‘A tribute like this is something every son or daughter should prepare for either or both parents while they’re still alive’. My father was a colorful guy (semi-pro boxer, foundry man, paladin, and deacon – so easy to characterize. My mother, not so much. So, I dedicated the book, Figurative Language & Figures of Speech as a tribute to her. A second, enlarged edition is due out yet this year; a handy reference tool for writers..

Then there’s ‘Making Amends’ and ‘PUC Beer’. Longtime subscribers to the Allen Letter professional journal have likely read these, since 2006, as lagniappes in said newsletter. However, most readers don’t know the Christmas Eve 2005 experience, described in ‘Making Amends’ was an emotional catharsis to me, unleashing repressed memories of combat in the Republic of Vietnam, dating back to 1968 and 1969. And ‘PUC Beer’, as I often tell folk, when giving them a reprint of the story, describes a chance encounter that, frankly, is as difficult to believe, as it is true!

If you decide to buy the book, I wish there was a way I could autograph it for you. But tell you what. If you contact me, via email or mail (see previous Part I) or phone (317/346-7156), I’ll be pleased to mail you a ‘free’ plastic management wisdom wallet card titled: ‘The Writer’s WRITE card!’, to use as a bookmark.

***

End Notes

1. Might the explanation be as simple as this? Here’s a quote from someone who should know: “The DOE issue is a mixed bag. Congress took energy regulations away from HUD, leaving a clear signal to act! So, doing nothing is not an option for DOE.” The commentator goes on to say, “I have some problems with DOE’s life cycle costing model”; specifically, the “first owner (of the new home) will not recapture the upfront costs of the (required) upgrades.” If true, this is a cost and price increase with little to no hope of being returned to the homeowner paying for requisite upgrades cum program. Bottom line? Yet another forced tax, akin to the American Healthcare Act.

2. 21st Mortgage Corporation & Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. (latter, Clayton Homes in-house lender)

3. Clayton Homes, Inc. @ 48+/-% national MH market share, and 80%+/-% when combined with Champion Home Builders, Inc. & Cavco Industries, Inc.

4. “Housing is affordable when individuals or households ‘…earning less than half the Area Median Income or AMI’, can afford to rent a conventional apartment and or buy a home in their local housing market.” Quoted from pages # 105 & 106 in Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years!, PMN Publishing, Indianapolis, 2013.

OLIGARCHY = national MH advocacy?

November 22nd, 2014

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 324 Copyright @ 23 November 2014

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 national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

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

*ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin; fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.’

Introductions to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website

I.

This is a first, among 324+ blogs posted during the past six plus years! = Only one topic this time around. That’s how timely and important this matter is to many of us in the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community asset class!

I

‘National manufactured housing advocacy’ today?

Some say OLIGARCHY. But what is that?

‘Governing power in the hands of the few’

Two and three weeks ago this blog column opined, the manufactured housing industry might soon reach the critical ‘tipping point’, in baseball and criminal justice, of being ‘Three Strikes & Out!’- in our case – of the national affordable housing market!*1

STOP HERE! Strongly suggest YOU reread blog postings # 320 & 321 in this website’s blog archives (Just scroll backwards from this blog #324), before you proceed beyond this paragraph. If you don’t have the inclination to do so, that’s OK too. Just read End Note * 2 following, for a summary description of the ‘three historic strikes’ with the potential of knocking our industry out of the national affordable housing market!

BACK NOW? Last week the BEBA (‘Blast Email Blog Alert’) memo with blog posting # 323, again at this website, posed this bold Question and hopeful Answer:

‘Why doesn’t MHIndustry talk about its’ challenges and plan its’ future? Answer here next week!’

So, here we are, and I suppose one might say, ‘Away we go!’ This veteran industry observer’s ANSWER, in the form of a considered opinion, is simple and straightforward:

Lack of Leadership, in Breadth and Depth, among those enjoying elected national office! First in breadth, as MHI is the commonplace presence among the ‘Big Three C’ home manufacturers (Clayton, Champion, Cavco), controlling an estimated 80+/- percent of national manufactured housing market share, but not including many of the regional producers. And then MHARR, comprised primarily of smaller, regional HUD-Code home manufacturers – with all meetings conducted behind closed doors. To make matters worse, the two national advocacy entities, except upon rare occasion, do NOT routinely speak and work together in a united, let alone public fashion, i.e. ‘To talk about manufactured housing’s challenges and plan its’ future!’ So much for depth of effort!

Here’s yet another leading indicator of lack of breadth and depth within this major segment of the manufactured housing industry. Ever wonder WHY there hasn’t been a national brand and or advertising (include here, ‘image improvement’) campaign to date? Simply a selfish fear, among home manufacturers, that non-participants in the funding of such a program(s), might benefit (Gasp!) from the largesse of those financing same, and actually sell new HUD-Code homes to our nation’s home buying public! Believe it!

And the independent, third party chattel capital segment of the manufactured housing industry isn’t much better, maybe worse! With the recent departure of U.S. Bank from the (manufactured) home (indirect) lending scene; of the remaining (now) ‘Big Three plus One’ Lenders, two of them: 21st Mortgage Corporation and Vanderbilt Mortgage & Finance, Inc. (i.e. Clayton Homes’ inside lender) are owned by the same parent company, Berkshire Hathaway. And the remaining two firms, CU Factory Built Lending, and Triad Financial Services, to the best of my knowledge, remain independent, but are regional ‘players’ at best. So, very limited breadth and no depth there anymore…

As a related aside, regarding less access to chattel capital, let’s not forget the two Key Reasons cited by U.S. Bank for departing our industry: we’re too small a niche market, encumbered with too much financial regulation! The question that begs answering here is, ‘What are the two national advocacy bodies doing with this damning info from U.S. Bank, to bring pressure on Congress to mitigate the sorry effects (i.e. less access to chattel capital by folk least able to acquire housing elsewhere) of the S.A.F.E. Act, Dodd-Frank legislation, and the CFPB?’ Know that a half dozen states, at this writing – maybe more, by the time you read these lines, have taken the initiative to reach out, via formal correspondence, to their federal legislators, to this very end! All we can hope for is a ‘prairie fire’ of passion and action ‘By US On Our Own Behalf NOW!’

The content of the foregoing paragraphs should not surprise readers, as the state of OLIGARCHY will continue to exist, during year 2015, among elected officers of MHI, where senior salaried executives from the two cited Berkshire Hathaway companies, and a senior salaried executive from the world’s largest owner/operator of land-lease-lifestyle communities, fill three of four elected offices on the institute’s executive committee. There’s nary a small HUD-Code home manufacturer, chattel capital lender, or land-lease-lifestyle community owner/operator amongst the merry mix.

Know what? All the foregoing could be bearable, maybe even desirable, if there was effectual outreach from national advocacy bodies’ leadership, demonstrating sincere desire for input from grassroots businessmen and women, like YOU & ME, who are, in many cases, their very dues-paying members; and a willingness to convene and facilitate the manufactured housing industry’s ‘first ever’ National Strategic Planning Meeting for the Good of Us All, rather than continue ‘business as usual’ among the OLIGARCHY!

A few more OLIGARCHY indicators? How ‘bout the LLLCommunity income-producing property type itself. What’s going on there? Not much from some quarters, much from others (See second following paragraph for positive strokes). When was the last time you heard or read anything about the Urban Land Institute’s Manufactured Housing Communities (product) Council? Me neither. And how ‘bout MHI’s National Communities Council division, or the NCC? Annual MHI meetings attract maybe a dozen participants, and present elected officers number one bona fide property portfolio owner, and a couple senior salaried executives from other mega portfolios, but nary an owner or property manager of a single or couple LLLCommunities.

And then there’s this imbroglio. Wouldn’t YOU like to know about Rishel Consulting’s periodic HOW TO training sessions re: ‘Effectively raise chattel capital for in-community lending’, e.g. 13 & 14 January 2015 in Chicago? And how ‘bout the popular Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® professional property management training/certification session on 20 January in Luavul, KY? And the Louisville MHShow, 21-23 January? Well, you won’t find them on any national advocacy body’s website or industry calendar – only the events they plan and host, along with those of their state MHAssociation members… So much for MHIndustry leadership Breadth and Depth!

Now for some Good News. The Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance® or COBA7® has been active for nearly a year. Its’ primary focus is NOT national advocacy (except when ‘need be’, e.g. as the MHIndustry’s official ombudsman (press). It’s other six functions are fully engaged, including

1) ongoing statistical research, e.g. 26th annual ALLEN REPORT due out 1/1/2015
2) updating & distribution of a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents *3
3) weekly & monthly communication online and in print via blog & newsletters
4) superb networking opportunities via networking roundtable & FOCUS groups
5) deal-making opportunities for real estate brokerages and owners/operators
6) professional property management training & certification via the Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® program

And the sooner we move COBA7® away from being ‘the one man show it has to be today’, the better I – and all its’ affiliates, a.k.a. ‘MHInsiders’ will like it! To affiliate with the Breadth & Depth of COBA7®, exercise method described in End Note # 1.

The Much Bigger Questions Remain: How do we effectively avoid the imminent tipping point of ‘Three Strikes & We’re Out!’ of the national affordable housing market – due to exorbitant product price increases described in End Note # 2. And how do we move national advocacy bodies away from being oligarchic in nature, effecting more Breadth and Depth of membership, participation, and leadership, than is evident today?

For that matter, ‘Where do we ALL go from here?’ Suggest you ask your national advocacy entity of choice!

***

End Notes.

1. affordable housing = “Housing is affordable when individuals or households ‘…earning less than half the Area Median Income or AMI’, can afford to rent a conventional apartment and or buy a home in their local housing market.” Quoted from Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years! This seminal book, describing the launch and early growth of MHI’s National Communities Council is available for purchase from COBA7® via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

2. The ‘Three Strikes’ against the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry, and by association, it’s real estate component, the land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class, are: 1) Loss of easily accessible chattel capital for ‘MH loans within LLLCommunities’ at turn of this century, nary to return; 2) surprise advent, and now onerous presence, of over (finance) regulation, as an unintended broader consequence of the national recession between roughly 2008 & to date; and, 3) recent near cavalier acquiescence to ‘add to the sale price of new manufactured homes’ via 165% increase in HUD license/label fee, and now, proposed addition of $2-3,000.00+/- per home, to comply with new DOE energy efficiency innovation recommendations.

3. Signature Series Resource Documents, or SSRDs, have become so popular with COBA7® ‘MHInsiders’, we’ve begun researching producing and distributing what is being referred to as SSRD-PLUS. These are reprints, not tied to a month of the year (e.g. annual ALLEN REPORT is distributed every January), covering specific topics of lively interest to LLLCommunity owners/operators. For example, Jay Zandman’s recent Allen Letter feature titled: ‘Loss Control Measures’ for the LLLCommunity. And soon there’ll be Spencer Roane’s elaboration on the ten means of raising capital in support of the on-site financing of new home transactions – which first appeared among End Notes to the Official WHITE PAPER distributed to registrants at the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable earlier this Fall. If you haven’t seen said list, ‘You don’t know what you’re missing!’ Two more good reasons to affiliate with COBA7®!

Exciting & Worrisome News @ MHIndustry!

November 14th, 2014

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 323 Copyright @ 16 November 2015

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 national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

*ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin; fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.’

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website

I.

‘Slow Week for News? No! ‘Carefree Communities, Inc., 26th ALLEN REPORT, NCC’s Leadership Forum, & U.S. Bank announcement, make for exciting & worrisome reading!

II.

‘There’re serious issues brewing across this land’ Here’re ten matters we see week after week after week. The ‘Mr. Obvious question’ being: ‘When will they be addressed?’

***

I.

Slow Week for News? No!

Well, it started off a slow news week for the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class – except for exciting announcement how Carefree Communities, Inc., officed in Scottsdale, AZ., acquired 18 land-lease-lifestyle communities (containing 4,530 rental homesites) from Vedder Communities in California. The entire property portfolio will be professionally managed by Bessire & Casenhiser, also of California. And that mega-acquisition increases Carefree Communities, Inc. property portfolio to 101 such properties & RV parks, with 27,000 sites! Depending on how the rest of the 26th annual ALLEN REPORT ‘pencils out’ during the next 30 days or so, this could boost Carefree Communities (Think David Nap & Coleen Edwards) to #5 (in size) among their 500+/- portfolio peers in North America.

Then came this stunner. U.S. Bank – Manufactured Home Finance has exited ‘…the Indirect Lending Manufactured Housing business… but will continue to offer manufactured housing loans directly to consumers through U.S. Bank Home Mortgage….’ WOW! Guess that makes the1 ½ decades long collective chattel capital lender sobriquet of the ‘Big Four + One!’, now just the ‘Big Three + One!’(*1). Hmm. This ‘one more firm biting the dust’, so to speak, leaves 50 percent of the independent third party chattel lenders in business today, owned by one firm, Berkshire Hathaway.

And all the while, some folk – leaders of one of three manufactured housing &/or land-lease-lifestyle community national advocacy entities, now talk of, even encourage, the adding of a minimum $2,000.00 to the price of new HUD-Code singlesection manufactured homes, and even higher markup for multisection models! Another WOW! Why? Well, think about it! Higher (home) product prices, plus ‘even less access’ to chattel capital, will likely NOT make for increased shipment volume during year 2015!

Back to the 26th annual ALLEN REPORT. We’ve hinted at this before, but now that we’re ‘crunching the numbers’ we’re more than cautiously optimistic this will be the most statistics-laden ALLEN REPORT published in 26 years! How so? Well, this year, for the first time, we’ve offered a FREE copy of said report to every LLLCommunity portfolio owner/operator who completes the entire questionnaire, not just the ‘portfolio size’ portion, as has been the custom of many submissions over the decades. As a result, when the 30 September deadline arrived, we had more than 50 (closer to 70) fully-completed questionnaires on hand (A record and a ‘first’!) from which to cull benchmark statistics (e.g. occupancy, OERs, etc.) sought by owners/operators from coast to coast.

So, if you’re reading this blog, and own or fee manage more than five LLLCommunities OR 500+ rental homesites, and haven’t submitted a questionnaire, to ensure your firm’s inclusion in the 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and request a blank form. Complete it ASAP & fax it to (317) 346-7158. You just might still get in under the wire and have your portfolio included in this seminal annual digest of LLLCommunity stats!

The 26th annual ALLEN REPORT will be distributed as a lagniappe (‘freebie’) in the January 2015 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal going out to Option II & III affiliates (a.ka. ‘MHInsiders’) of the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® or COBA7®. If you’re not yet an affiliate, sign-up when you phone; you’ll be Glad You Did, as you join with more than 200 ‘MHInsiders’ from throughout the U.S. & Canada.

Speaking of COBA7®, here’re some interesting factoids for you. Remember the NCC’s Leadership Forum, last month, in downtown Chicago? Turns out, more than 45 affiliates of COBA7® participated in the event; that’s more than 20 percent of the 201 names on the distributed registration list. Furthermore, 80+/- were LLLCommunity owners/operators, evenly divided between bona fide owners and their property managers or acquisitions staffers. 30+ attendees were from the immediate Chicago area. There were 18+/- HUD-Code home manufacturer reps present from seven or eight different firms, mostly Champion Homes; 13+/- real estate brokers who specializing in ‘for sale’ LLLCommunities – though from only four realty firms. Among the audience were 13+/- chattel capital sources and servicers and 11+/- real estate mortgage originators, from seven+/- lender/brokerage firms. And there were nine+/- freelance consultants, and ‘eight’ unknowns, plus some attorneys, insurance salesmen, and various product/service vendors. Most notable among the absentees was incoming NCC chairman Steve Adler.

II,

Serious issues brewing across this land

Take your pick of the following heady topics of nationwide concern to many of us, passionate about the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and its’ realty component, the land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class:

• Why ongoing disunity & political ineffectiveness at the national advocacy level?

• Is our future better as purveyor of consumer products OR ‘affordable housing’?

• When will we finally define & describe what we mean by ‘affordable housing’?

• Does ‘affordable housing’ apply similarly to mfd. housing & LLLCommunities?

• Revamp chattel capital model with longer terms and more stringent guarantees?

• Begin or end conversation about replacing vehicle titles with long term leases & ?

• Is business model better as federally-regulated housing/product or non-regulated?

• When will be right time, way & $ to effect national brand advertising & image+?

• How to effect representation parity among all LLLCommunities, large & small?

• Time to measure manufactured housing performance via sales & not shipments?

• ‘Elephant in the room’; consistently safe & secure home installation nationwide?

OK, there are just ten of many serious national issues, begging attention and discussion among businessmen and women who make their corporate or entrepreneurial living within the MHIndustry and or LLLCommunity asst class. If YOU are one of them and believe there’re even more such serious concerns, this inquiring mind would like to know – and the sooner the better. Simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

A SUGGESTION. Copy down these ten topics, maybe add a few of your own, and post the list next to your wall calendar or on your PC or SmartPhone. Then, ‘wait & see’ if one or another of our national advocacy bodies (i.e. MHI, MHARR, COBA7®*2), take any definitive steps toward addressing these matters as we segue from 2014 into 2015. If NOT, that malaise alone should tell you something significant, and it might just be this:

They’re unwilling to bring members, affiliates, etc., together for serious and sincere conversation, in attempts to better our industry/asset class – even the business environs in which we operate – by strategically planning our collective future!

End Notes:

1. the ‘Big Three Plus One’ = 21st Mortgage Corporation, CU Factory Built Lending, Triad Financial Services, and Vanderbilt Mortgage & Finance, Inc. (latter being Clayton Homes’ inside lender)

2. MHARR = Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (202) 783-4087; MHI = Manufactured Housing Institute ((703) 558-0400; & COBA7® = Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

***

‘Here We Go Again!’ & ‘Did YOU Know?’

November 8th, 2014

COBA7® community-investor.com Blog # 322 Copyright @ 9 November 2015

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 a national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

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

• Ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin, fielding inquiries, complaints

Introductions to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website

I.

‘Here We Go Again?!’ It’s almost scary how, ‘What goes around, comes around (again)’ in manufactured housing. Here we are, facing ‘Three Strikes & We’ll be Out!’- as an industry, of the national affordable housing market – and now we’re told, by MHI leaders, the DOE’s proposed energy efficiency standards are a ‘win-win’, for homebuyers & the environment. Yet, in my opinion and that of others, it must be a ‘win-win-win’ proposition for everyone involved – for our industry to survive! But to date, there’s been no ‘cost benefit analysis studies’ published for proposed energy efficiency innovations!

II.

‘Did YOU Know?’ By default, the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®, recently assumed the mantle of Official Historian to the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class. This is evidenced by the Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity Asset Class SSRD (Signature Series Resource Document) published and distributed every February, and the Paradigm Shifts of Mobile & Manufactured Housing, since 1970, circulated every November.

I.

Here We Go Again?

MHI & DOE’s much ballyhooed ‘win-win’ energy efficiency standards MUST BE ‘win-win-win’;
OR,
Risk the Manufactured Housing Being ‘Three Strikes & Out!’ of the Affordable Housing Market Mix!

What follows here, is a sequel to last week’s blog posting: ‘Three Strikes & Manufactured Housing is Likely Outa the Affordable Housing Game!’

There you read

STRIKE # 1) = “Easy access to chattel capital went away (circa 1998-2001), nary to return!”

STRIKE # 2) = “We’re now (post 2010) so overregulated financially, homebuyers who need our brand of affordable housing, can no longer qualify for it!” And now maybe,

STRIKE # 3) = Would be do-gooders, under the PC (politically correct) auspices of ‘energy conservation standards’, favor jacking the purchase price of manufactured housing out of the reach of individuals and families needing – but are least capable of buying – new, heretofore affordable (*), homes!”

With that said, let’s begin this week’s blog posting with a direct quote from the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (recent) HOUSING ALERT, titled:

‘MHI Leadership Yields Positive Results for Industry in Energy Efficiency Standards’, where the following statement, with parenthetical editorial remarks inserted therein, reads thusly:

“…the new proposed energy efficiency standards will increase first costs (i.e. New home prices!), consumers will realize significant cost savings. The impact will be lower monthly net costs and improve affordability (*), a win-win for our homebuyers and the environment.” (But NOT the manufactured housing industry, struggling to ship more than 60,000 new HUD-Code homes per year for the past six dismal years, 2009 thru 2014!)

Did you catch that? These measures are being promoted as a ‘win-win’ for ‘homebuyers & environment’! As nicely PC as ‘energy efficiency standards’ implementation might be, without that third ‘win’ in the sequence, we have no national advocate championing HUD-Code manufactured housing – the very industry fabricating, marketing, and selling affordable(*) homes to the American home buying public! Again and again, there must be a third ‘win’, inclusive of the ‘MHIndustry’, OR, ‘We’ve swung and missed, for the third time since year 2000’ – and are likely priced out of the affordable housing market!

Why the ‘Here We Go Again?!’ title at the beginning of this blog posting? Because we’ve ‘been here’ time and again, as this ‘win-win’ scenario reminds one of the first two Strikes against the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry; which were:

Strike # 1 = circa 1998-2001. I easily recall the gala days at national advocacy group annual meetings, and the like, in Palm Springs, CA. and elsewhere – when horsdeoeuvres and wine flowed copiously. Where every attendee received really nice gifts from numerous independent chattel capital lenders courting manufacturers and (then) manufactured home community owners/operators. Yes, those were the ‘go-go’ days for the MHIndustry – even though some waxed uncomfortable with the knowledge that many, if not most, of our home buying customers were being ‘turned upside down’ (financially), in their newly purchased HUD-Code homes nationwide. We deserved that strike called against our industry.

Strike # 2 = pre and post 2010, as conventional housing’s financial bubble burst – like manufactured housing’s had ‘years earlier’. At the time, we suffered a spate of naïve national leaders – who, in retrospect, should have seen the regulatory storm brewing; initially via the S.A.F.E. Act; later, in the form of Dodd-Frank legislation. And all the while, one Midwest freelance consultant (not me) sounded warning after warning, to both national advocacy bodies, but all fell on deaf ears. Why? Perhaps because one lobbyist believed it ‘knew all the answers’ – but in retrospect didn’t; and the other, had little to no firsthand knowledge at the time, of the financial needs and workings of post-production segments of the manufactured housing industry – and is still learning. Bottom line? As an industry, we’re now way overregulated, and don’t really deserve this strike against us.

Strike # 3 = is on the horizon, as we end year 2014, and enter 2015. Today we’re being asked to support a ‘win-win’ proposition for ‘homebuyers & environment’ that should be a ‘win-win-win’ proposition for homebuyers, the environment, and the manufactured housing industry! Without that third, important ‘win’, methinks we’ll see Strike # 3 come our way – in the form of 1)‘higher new home prices’ (In excess of $2,000 per new singlesection manufactured home) & 2) ‘fewer sales & shipments’ (i.e. likely back down to 50,000 or fewer homes per year)! I hope not – but until the DOE and both national advocacy bodies ante up publicly, with comprehensive cost-benefit analysis studies for every energy efficiency standards to be implemented, we won’t know the whole story, and will not be able to accurately predict the probable $ consequences. There’s more…

Consider this sobering business truism, so characteristic of the MHIndustry:

The Big Three ‘C’ HUD-Code home manufacturers, due to their large size and estimated collective national factory-built housing market share of 80+/-%, are far more capable – due to economy of scale – of absorbing federally-mandated & self-imposed unit price increases, like those related to implementing these energy efficiency standards and innovations, than smaller, regional factory-built housing manufacturers! Can you see the likely inevitable (predatory) handwriting on that wall? You’d have to be blind not to…

And next week here, maybe read how this example of ‘cram down environmentalism’ is now likened by some, to Obama Care, as a forced tax on homebuyers – since shelter is one of those basic human needs.

POSTSCRIPT

Now, what follows here, will be a curious ‘read’ for some, but not for others. Depends on one’s perspective, i.e. whether an entrepreneur businessperson, salaried corporate executive, managerial employee, association bureaucrat, or otherwise. In any event, I circulated a DRAFT copy of this blog posting to seven carefully selected, thoughtful individuals, some being COBA7® ‘MHInsiders’, others not. Besides the expected and received content and edit recommendations, there was this telling gem from one of the brightest minds active in manufactured housing finance today:

“I truly dislike government intervention into business.” All HUD-Code homes can be energy efficient, when manufacturers (perform) on a level playing field. But that is only part of the challenge. Another “…part of the problem arises from (our industry’s) failing to correct a specific problem regarding structuring retail finance, to safely utilize longer (loan) terms.” In the meantime, we continue to push for cheaper construction, instead of coming together to address this perennial, systemic but solvable, maybe even industry saving, issue!

I’ve already gone on record, calling for MHI & MHARR to co-host the MHIndustry’s first National Strategic Planning Meeting, this Winter, in an easily accessible, affordable location, with the venue open to anyone ‘in the MHBusiness’ willing to pay their own way! MHARR has already dismissed the idea; MHI has been mute on the matter. So, either COBA7® will proceed alone to this end, OR you, the aforementioned entrepreneurs, executives, managers, and bureaucrats, must ‘catch the vision of restructuring and righting our industry’, OR together face it’s likely demise, as we suffer ‘Three Strides & We’re Out!’ of the national, affordable (*) housing marketplace.To express your interest and or support of this (meeting) goal, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, or email: gfa7156@aol.com And it certainly wouldn’t hurt for you to contact the national advocacy entity of your choice, and let them know your ‘take’ on this timely and strategic topic and meeting.

The writer quoted in the earlier paragraph has committed himself to support a National Strategic Planning Meeting for YOU and our peers – and I’ll be there as well! GFA

***

End Note. (*) Working definition of affordable or affordability: “Housing is affordable when individuals or households ’…earning less than half the Area Median Income or AMI’, can afford to rent a conventional apartment and or buy a home in their local housing market.” – defined by postal zip code and or county. This quoted from Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years!, PMN Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. 2014, pp. 105 & 106

II.

Did YOU Know?

Historians are few and far in between throughout the manufactured housing and recreational vehicle industries. Just this month Al Hesselbart, longtime recreational vehicle industry writer/author, and Foundation Historian at the RV/MH Hall of Fame Library & Museum in Elkhart, IN., retired.

This leaves the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®, by default, as the sole historian in behalf of manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle communities nationwide, and in Canada.

How does Official Historian responsibilities manifest itself where COBA7® is concerned? For starters, the alliance researches, publishes and distributes the industry/asset class’ annual Official State of the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity Asset Class outline (one of a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs updated monthly) every February, as a lagniappe in the Allen Letter professional journal. This comprehensive outline is made available to every state and province manufactured housing association throughout North America, & COBA7® often addresses the topic..

And in November of each year,’ The Paradigm Shifts of Mobile & Manufactured Housing…since 1970’ is published and distributed as a lagniappe in the Allen Letter professional journal. This SSRD makes for an educational, and at times humorous ‘read’, for MHIndustry executives & LLLCommunity owners/operators, e.g. Did YOU know…

• When & where the phrase ‘D&R Deliveries’, of mobile homes originated? What do the letters D&R mean? Hint. They mark the sorry beginning of our perennial ‘image challenge’ among would be home buyers and consumers nationwide..

• In what year was the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, or MHARR, founded? Hint. Some say it was a philosophical spinoff from MHI.

• When was this MHIndustry mantra popular? ‘We have no $ down, no job, no problem deals for you!’ Let’s hope we never return to those enronesque days….

• And when was this rallying cry popular in MHCircles? ‘Be a stud, sell a HUD!’

• When was the ‘Year of the hudular’? (A combination of HUD-Code & modular home design and construction popular for a time)

• And when did we hear this self-serving cry? ‘When does hurricane season begin?’

• During what year was this LLLCommunity neo-reality labeled: ‘New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender!’ For that matter, who coined this latter day term for ‘dealer’: independent (street) MHRetailer(s). No, it wasn’t me. Think ‘rainmaker’

And there’s much more to this ongoing historical record of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class. If you’d like to be privy to all this, and much much more, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and affiliate with COBA7® at the Option II level for $544.95. You’ll receive an annual subscription to the Allen Letter professional journal and a dozen SSRDs, beginning with the popular ALLEN REPORT, in January 2015. Become a true ‘MHInsider’ and affiliate with COBA7® today! More than 200 of your peers have done so since January 2014!

‘Three Strikes & You’re Out! & COBA7 rules!

October 30th, 2014

COBA7® @ community-investor.com Blog # 321 Copyright @ 2 November 2014

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 a national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

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

* Ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin, fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.’

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website

I.

‘Three strikes’ is the bad news count for batters in baseball; repeat offenders in crime; and now maybe, HUD-Code manufactured homes in the U.S. housing industry! Why?

II.

Now that COBA7® is a ‘bona fide player’ in the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class, would-be leaders clamor to get involved!

*********************************************************************

I.

‘Three Strikes’ & Manufactured Housing is Likely Outa the Affordable Housing Game!

Yes, you read that right. It’s the sole conclusion one reasonably reaches upon reading MHARR’s (*) 10/27/2014 Press Release. Peruse this redacted, but still lengthy sentence, and decide for yourself:

“ ‘Working Group’ (@) U.S. Department of Energy (re) manufactured housing energy conservation standards…has recommended…costly new standards (to) increase consumer purchase price of a single-section manufactured home by an average of (‘Gasp!’) $2,170.00.”

This heady dollar amount would be in addition to the 165 percent increase in HUD label fees effected recently; and ‘passed onto unsuspecting prospective homebuyers’!

Apparently, their new home purchase price increase could be even higher, according to MHARR, who further writes in the same Press Release:

“…based on relevant costs for smaller (home) manufacturers, indicate the retail price increases would actually range from $4,745.00 for a single-section home, to $6,234.00 for a double-section (sic) home in large (unspecified) areas of the country.”

Now, let’s return to the worrisome prognostication that, “‘Three Strikes’ and manufactured housing will likely out of the affordable housing game” once and for all! How so? Well, recall these historic strikes against the manufactured housing industry:

STRIKE # 1. Circa 1998 – 2002. Flagrant abuses of chattel capital to fund new home purchases within (then) manufactured home communities resulted in, according to the CFPBs (*) 9/28/14 White Paper, at least $1.3 billion dollars in MH repossessions! And more than a decade later, easily accessible chattel capital has not returned to manufactured housing one whit.

STRIKE # 2. Can you say, ‘Safe And Fair Enforcement, of mortgage licensure laws, or S.A.F.E. Act; Dodd-Frank federal legislation; &, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’ – all in one breath? Neither can I. Likewise, neither can the manufactured housing industry long endure unnecessary, restrictive financial regulation and survive, let alone prosper!

And STRIKE # 3? You just might be reading about it, for the first time, right here! In summary and conclusion: 1) Easy access to chattel capital goes away nary to return; 2) We’re overregulated to the point where homebuyers, who need our brand of affordable housing (*), can no longer qualify for it; and now, 3) Would be do-gooder outsiders, under PC (*) auspices of ‘energy conservation standards’, appear to favor jacking the purchase price of manufactured homes out of the reach of individuals and families needing, but who’re least capable of buying, new homes!

So, if one truly cares about the present and future of HUD-Code manufactured housing, what is one to do? Simple! For starters, reach out to your respective national advocacy body – there’re two of them in and around Washington, DC – and ask specifically whether MHARR ‘has it right or wrong’! If wrong, request a detailed explanation why the numbers are incorrect. And, whether ‘the numbers’ are right or wrong, pass a copy of that information onto me. Why?

What is needed now, is honest-to-goodness ‘cost benefit analysis’ of said ‘energy conservation standards’ increasing prices for new HUD-Code homes. Better this done in the light of day, than behind the scenes, as with other recent regulatory cost shenanigans.

II.

COBA7® What a Difference a Year Makes!

There’s renewed interest, on the part of LLLCommunity owners, as to who will succeed me as national asset class researcher, resource source, print & online communicator, networking & deal-making event planner, historian, professional property management trainer, and official ombudsman (press).

Me? No real change here. Carolyn and I are onboard for the long haul – till health fails, she says ‘retire!’, or a new leadership team is in place and well handling all seven functions of the exciting, growing Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®.

Are new leadership team prospects in view? Yes! And not just one possibility, but five! Three are in the Midwest, one on the East coast, one on the West coast. In one instance, a state MHAssociation, with excess office space and able staff is toying with the idea. In another, a well known product/service supplier is considering adding COBA7®, in part, as a market ‘draw’; and three – that I know of – LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators believe the momentum and work of the alliance of ‘MHInsiders’ must continue! And no, nary a word of interest from either national advocacy body. No surprise there.

So, if you’re reading this, and haven’t yet affiliated with COBA7®, to become a bona fide ‘MHInsider’, do so soon, and join the more than 200 businesses who’re already affiliates! Simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. All segments of the MHIndustry are welcome! And know there’re more LLLCommunity owners/operators affiliated with COBA7® today, than the total number of realty asset class members among all other national trade advocacy bodies combined!

***

End Notes.

(*) MHARR = Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform

(*) Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

(*) affordable housing = “Housing is affordable when individuals or households ‘…earning less than half the Area Median Income or AMI’, can afford to rent a conventional apartment and or buy a home in their local housing market.”. Quoted from Bruce Savage’s book, The First 20 Years!, PMN Publishing, Indpls, IN., 2013, pp.105 & 106

(8) PC = politically correct

MHOmbudsman (press) & YOU; & much more…

October 25th, 2014

COBA7® @ community-investor.com Blog # 320 Copyright @ 26 October 2014

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 a national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

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.

* Ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin, fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.’

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website

I.

‘Official Ombudsman to the MHIndustry.’ Two-story HUD Code homes, Lease-Option, and more, on the agenda of COBA7® in behalf of affiliates (‘MHInsiders’) nationwide!

II.

‘First National Advocacy Body Bows Out of National Strategic Planning Meeting Plans’
No surprise here, just disappointment. Perhaps Land-lease-lifestyle community owners should teach manufactured housing industry folk something about CONSOLIDATION.

III.

‘Entrepreneurism Stymied by Stockholm Syndrome’. You think? Bold commentary by faithful blog flogger makes one stop and think about current and future business models.

I.

Official Ombudsman to the MHIndustry

Stream of inquiries & complaints continue, as COBA7® fulfills its’ important & timely role as Official Ombudsman (press) to the manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class!

Two story HUD-Code homes, a popular concept but rare in application, have been around more than a decade, with prototype multifamily projects in southern California and in Maryland. Renewed interest is evident today, as at least one private parties struggle to bring ‘new floor plans, with a WOW! Factors’ to fruition; and at least one HUD-Code home manufacturer plans to run a new (two story) floor plan through its production line in November. Your official MHIndustry ombudsman (press), COBA7®, is ‘right in there’ helping make this happen! And if YOU want ‘in’ on this project, let me know directly, and COBA7® will add you to the MHInsider information distribution list.

Lease-option. Seems everyone’s heard about it, but few understand the concept, practice and appropriate application. That might be about to change! How so? The MHIndustry’s leading advocate for lease-option practice on-site in LLLCommunities, is working with at least one independent finance company and industry consultants, conducting state-by-state research. Near term goal is to take a generic lease-option program public! If you have helpful and definitive information, regarding this timely, and possibly industry-saving deal-making technique, and are willing to share it, let me know via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSG or 633-4764.

Those are but two of several ombudsman (press) projects ‘in the works’ at COBA7®. And no, we’re not looking for more to do at this time – unless there’s legitimate immediacy involved. Just want YOU, as COBA7® MHinsiders, to know how your affiliation fees are used for the good of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunities.

II.

First National Advocacy Body Bows Out of National Strategic Planning Meeting Plans.

OK, this will be a ‘short take’ on the subject. As faithful readers of this blog posting know, two National Public Forums occurred 9/11/2014, at the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable, in Peachtree City, GA. They were designed to lay the groundwork, via an Official WHITE PAPER, for a National Strategic Planning Meeting planned and hosted this Winter. The hope has been to have said gathering facilitated by the two national advocacy bodies claiming to represent the manufactured housing industry, along with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance; and, to have it OPEN to anyone in the industry and realty asset class, small business and large, willing to pay their own way to participate.

Well, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, a.k.a. MHARR, has made it clear they are not interested in participating in this potentially industry-rejuvenating effort. That leaves just one national advocacy body in play, along with COBA7®.

What does this mean? Well, as they say, ‘It’s in the eye of the beholder.’ Frankly, we’ve found no one who feels the National Strategic Planning Meeting is anything but a timely and potentially industry-saving initiative that should have occurred a year or more ago! But to date, there’s been no communication, of any sort, from the remaining national advocacy body, regarding this matter.

What happens if both manufactured housing national advocacy bodies decide to ‘sit this out’ and not participate in a National Strategic Planning Meeting initiative to return our industry to its’ prosperity of the mid-1970s, and prior to the turn of this century? What do you think? There certainly will be a clear defeatist message there worth pondering – and remembering, during the months and year (2015) ahead.

III.

Entrepreneurism Stymied by Stockholm Syndrome?!

To understand the following commentary from a faithful blog flogger (reader), scroll back thru blog archives at communnity-investor.com (website) and reread blog posting # 312, and Part III of posting # 313; reading in part:

“’Manufactured Housing Industry Likely Suffers from Stockholm Syndrome’ or
captive-bonding, ‘..a psychological phenomenon in which a hostage (i.e. manufactured housing) expresses empathy and sympathy, and has positive feelings toward their captor (i.e. their HUD regulator), to the point of defending and identifying with or perpetuating them (i.e. Accepting a ‘165% inspection/labeling fee increase’ without complaint).” Recall this passage shortly.

Just last week, in blog posting # 319, Part III title posed this question on another subject altogether: ‘Next Big Story’ OR ‘Much Noise About Nothing’? – describing the…

“Ongoing fracas (‘noisy fight’) among manufactured housing and recreational vehicle national advocacy bodies, plus HUD” – about alleged HUD change in definition, regarding ‘overhangs’ and park model RVs.

Now you’re ready for the aforementioned commentary from a faithful blog flogger:

“HUD is lost and has no clue – good grief! Relative to RV/MH, I’ll be your curmudgeon George. I say leave it alone (i.e. the ‘overhang’ issue) and join in creating (housing) products customers want, that are not regulated, and throw HUD out the window. What the RV guys are doing is creating new profitable business (products), and we should see it that way, not as a threat (to manufactured housing). Any reason we can’t join in? This is FREE ENTERPRISE at work. It’s time to understand all HUD has done, and can do, is hold us back. Fire them.” NB

Pretty strong words, I agree. But it’s important they see the light of day, as they articulate one point of view, in my opinion, not heard frequently enough in national manufactured housing leadership circles.

Sure I understand, as should you. In the first instance (re Stockholm Syndrome), how the MHIndustry since 1976, has turned the HUD ‘regulatory lemon into lemonade’, thanks in large part, to the federal preemptive nature of this sole national building code. Today, housing manufacturers don’t want to lose this distinct marketing advantage, even at the expense of no longer being true FREE ENTERPRISE practitioners.

And in the second instance (i.e. Whether porch overhang square footage is included in, or kept separate from, the 400’ limit for manufactured home applicability); ‘the jury is still out’, and will be, until RV & MH industries come together in agreement; lobby for legislation to protect their respective but related industries(*); or, put themselves entirely at the ‘mercy’ of HUD.

What difference does it make? Simply this; whether FREE ENTERPRISE or Stockholm Syndrome prevails; or the latter, once again, stymies the former.

End Note. (*) Recreational Vehicle Alliance for Camping & Travel is already rallying support for H.R. 5658, The Recreational Vehicle Certainty Act of 2014. ‘This bill makes clear, recreational vehicles are not houses, and HUD has no regulatory jurisdiction.’

***

White Paper Redux, new book, & destination trailers?

October 18th, 2014

COBA&® @ community-investor.com Blog # 319 Copyright @ 19 October 2014
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 a national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’
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
• Ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin, fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.
Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting topics at community-investor.com website:

I.
What no one else will tell you about Insights & Errors gleaned from the CFPB’s ‘Manufactured-housing (s) Consumer Finance in the U.S.’ White Paper. Installment # 2. ‘The errors & confusion’

II.
‘Calling All (would be) Authors!’ Time (year 2015) is ripe for fourth MHIndustry guide in 30 years

III.
‘Next Big Story’ OR ‘Much Noise About Nothing’? The ongoing fracas (‘noisy fight’) among manufactured housing and recreational vehicle national advocacy bodies, plus HUD

I.

What No One Else Will Tell You About Insights & Errors Gleaned from the CFPB’s ‘Manufactured-housing (sic) Consumer Finance in the U.S.’ White Paper!
Installment # 1 = last week’s blog posting at community-investor.com website

Installment # 2 = this blog posting at community-investor.com website

Last week we identified interesting and helpful ‘stats’ gleaned from the subject White Paper. This week we focus on errors, terminology missteps, and confusing statements contained in said document.

Let’s begin with terminology. Throughout the 54 page narrative, CFPB White Paper writer(s) arbitrarily mix manufactured-housing (sic) & manufactured housing; manufactured housing communities, manufactured home communities & land-lease communities; along with lots, plots & sites – when they mean ‘rental homesites’ or simply ‘sites’.

There’s this questionable statement: “Historically, around 25-30 percent of manufactured homes have been placed within manufactured housing communities, though the share of new homes placed in communities has grown in recent years.” P.9 Really? During what time frame? Many, if not most, manufactured housing veterans will likely tell a different story, and it goes something like this:

During the 1970s, as much as 80 percent of ‘mobile home’ shipments wound up sited in (then) ‘mobile home parks’. That percentage shifted 180 degrees by the mid to late 1990s, when 80 percent of ‘manufactured home’ shipments were sited on parcels of improved realty conveyed fee simple, and were commonly referred to as being land-home-packages, whether installed within subdivisions or on scattered building sites. This occurred as the manufactured housing industry, for a relatively short time, competed head-to-head with stick or site-builders for market share.

Since the turn of the century, an increasing number of manufactured homes (After 2009, oft referred to as Community Series Homes or CSH Models, vs. Developer Series Homes, a.k.a. ‘Big Box = Big Bucks!’ models of the earlier era), now ship directly into land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities. Why? LLLCommunity owners/operators can no longer rely on independent (street) MHRetailers, or even company stores, to ‘fill their vacant rental homesites’ with new homes, given lack of easy access to chattel capital. Today’s LLLCommunity owners/operators often must sell, even seller finance on-site transactions to remain viable. An apt, but disturbing contra sidebar to this trend, is most small LLLCommunities (i.e. 85% of 50,000+/- such properties in the U.S., characterized by fewer than 100 rental homesites apiece), have NOT shifted to the ‘buy here, pay here’ business model of the 500+/- portfolio owners/operators just described!

“…the decision whether to title a manufactured home as real or personal property affects property taxation, applicability of consumer protection laws, and financing options.” P.10 And more! This statement is a precursor to the (maybe) next paradigm shift to confront manufactured housing’s business model of the past 70 years. Think about it. And if you’re unclear about what’s being alluded to here, read this blog posting weekly (to learn) – or contact me directly!

“Restrictive zoning and prohibitive land development costs are among the reasons there has not been significant development of new manufactured home communities in the past decade, though recent trends indicate that investment in existing communities is increasing.” P.11 While the last statement is certainly true, the first one is incomplete. Add these to the list of reasons for choked development: difficulty securing raw land development financing, and perhaps ‘most important of all’, lack of easy to access chattel capital, to finance the sale of new manufactured homes on-site in newly developed land-lease-lifestyle communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities). This stagnant state of affairs will not change until easy access to chattel capital returns!

‘Manufactured Housing Share of Occupied Housing Units, by State’ graphic, on page # 12, as interesting as it is, e.g. 17% of homes in South Carolina = manufactured homes, while only 1% in NJ, MA, & MD contains a fallacy. Of concern is the paltry 2% shown for IL, surrounded by 5% in IN, 6% in MO, 4% in IA, & 3% in WI. Frankly, Illinois has approximately the same number of LLLCommunities as Indiana, but due to unique ‘home rule’ provisions in Illinois, (i.e. giving ‘home rule’ cities control over LLLCommunities within their boundaries, rather than the state board of health), many such properties are absent from the state inventory. Reality? Illinois has closer to 5% share of manufactured homes in the state, not the 2% shown in the White Paper graphic.

“Nationwide, ground rents in non-age-restricted manufactured home communities averaged $393 per month as of late 2013.” P.21 (citing information from a press release). Not! The LLLCommunities picked for inclusion in these various regional studies are, by and large, ‘institutional investment grade’ in nature, i.e. 200+/- rental homesites in size, and for the most part, in one or another of the 500+/- known property portfolios existent throughout the U.S. and Canada today. Truth be told – and we will never really know, given the difficulty of polling Mom & Pop owners/operators of LLLCommunities containing 100 and fewer sites in size (Again, comprising approximately 85% of the 50,000+/- such properties in the U.S. today), the national average rent – among ALL SIZES of LLLCommunities , is likely closer to $220-250/month, than $393.00! After all, there’re still smaller, rural LLLCommunities, where monthly site rent barely exceeds $100.00 per month. This misleading $393.00 stat, unfortunately, might encourage rent increases among properties charging much less per month.

And if anyone can make sense of the following statement, please let me know:
“The monthly cost differences between manufactured and site-built housing were narrower among renters in general, and in particular in non-metropolitan areas, where monthly rents for manufactured homes were about $100 less than rents for site-built properties ($654 compared with $551).” P.21 Maybe makes sense IF comparing one rental manufactured home on a parcel of land, with a stick-built home also rented and on a like-sized parcel of land. True or false?

“…a comparison of the prevalence of occupied manufactured homes in U.S. counties and various available measures of local affordable housing availability shows no clear correlation between housing availability and the proportion of households that live in manufactured homes.” P.22 Aside from a couple missing commas, to ease understanding, this is one of those instances where a writer inserts the word or concept of ‘housing affordability’ or ‘affordable housing’, without specifically defining how it’s being used. Would have been illustrative here. For example, here’s the definition of ‘affordable housing’ cited in Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years! (released by PMN Publishing during year 2013), “Housing is affordable when individuals or households ‘…earning less than half the Area Median Income or AMI’, can afford to rent a conventional apartment and or buy a home in their local housing market.” Pp. 105 & 106

“Since 2004, about one-quarter of new manufactured homes were titled as real estate, though in recent years this proportion has decreased; in 2013 only 14% of new manufactured homes were titled as real property.” P.23 Hmm. It’d be nice (and convenient) If we could use this as the bellwether statistic demonstrating increased number of new HUD-Code manufactured homes (i.e. Community Series Homes) being shipped directly into land-lease-lifestyle communities. But I dare say that’s not possible. We still need HUD-Code manufacturers to step up to the plate and provide those ‘stats’ so we can track the trend – and stimulate more home sales into LLLCommunities, and by the property owners/operators. HUD-Code home manufacturers; are you listening? We need your assistance, we need your statistical input, and the sooner the better!

“Production remains 15 percent lower than the overall peak in 1998 when production exceeded 373,000 units before it declined through the 2000s. Since 2009, however, shipments have showed slight but steady gains.” P.39 (Where have all the commas gone?) I don’t read the historic shipment numbers the same way. For example: 1998 = 372,843 (i.e. less than 373,000 units, not more); followed by 49,789 home shipments in 2009; 50,046 during 2010; 51,606 in 2011; 54,881 during 2012; and, 60,228 by year end 2013. Point? 60,228 home shipments is not ’15 percent lower than the overall peak in 1998’, but simply and tragically, ONLY 15 percent of the 372,943 homes shipped during that acme year! 15% off the 372,843 peak would be 316,917 units. We can only wish that’d been the case….

“The manufactured housing retail industry consists of dealerships which sell new and used manufactured homes to consumers through retail storefronts.” P.40 & “…the largest few manufacturers maintain company-owned networks of stores….” P.41. All that was true at the turn of this century, it’s far less true today. MHI staff, a couple years ago in Congressional testimony, cited 1100 independent (street) MHRetailers having been reduced in number to 400, perhaps even fewer today. But, something else has changed, to pick up part of that home sales slack. Are you reading these paragraphs carefully? If so, you likely know who.

“There are about 60,000 land-lease manufactured home communities in the U.S.” p.42 per Housing Assistance Council case study in 2011. I beg to differ. The figure is closer to 50,000+/-. Read ‘Just How Many Are There’, Manufactured Housing Merchandiser. Free reprint available upon request. See end of next paragraph for ordering instructions.

“The largest publicly-held portfolio of manufactured-home communities is owned by Equity LifeStyle Properties, a Chicago-based REIT, and consists of 201 community properties with over 70,000 manufactured-home and park model homesites.” P.42 2014Q2 Investor Presentation cited. However, the 25th annual ALLEN REPORT lists ELS, Inc., as owning/operating, during year 2013, 376 LLLCommunities containing 138,869 rental (mix of MH & RV) homesites. Interesting differences in reporting. Copies of the 25th annual ALLEN REPORT are available ‘free on request’ till end of this year; then available only via affiliation with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7® @ $544.95/year. Phone the Official MHIndustry HOTINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and leave a message.

“The industry has been marked in recent years by consolidation….” True, but it’s the unique, income-producing properties being talked about here, not the home manufacturers. Bottom line? In 1987 there were but 25 known property portfolio owners/operators; during year 2014 we polled 500+/- portfolio owners/operators! Who qualifies to be polled? A sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or real estate investment trust (‘REIT’) that owns and or fee manages a minimum property portfolio of five LLLCommunities or 500+ rental homesites.

“Some communities support community occupancy by offering in-house lending to prospective manufactured-home buyers, either through the community’s line of credit or a partner lending institution.” P.43. That dual source statement barely scratches the surface, relative to all ten unique ways LLLCommunity owners/operators secure funds to support seller-financing of new and resale home transactions on-site. For the complete list, read End Notes contained in the Official WHITE PAPER, distributed during September 2014 at two National Public Forums held on 9/11 at the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable in Peachtree City, GA. For a copy, again, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE

Well, that about does it for the second installment parsing of the CFPB’s White Paper titled: ‘Manufactured-housing consumer finance in the United States’.

Hope YOU decide to affiliate with COBA7®. A couple hundred (+) of your peers have already done so, and are now ‘MHInsiders’, relative to key statistics and pithy information available nowhere else in the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and the land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class!

As in the past, we’d like to hear and or read your comments on the preceding material. Send them to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247, or fax to (317) 346-7158 or email: gfa7156@aol.com

II.

Calling All (would be) Authors!
Time is ripe for a fourth MHIndustry HOW TO Guide in 30 years

The following offer is open to anyone in the manufactured housing industry and or land-lease-lifestyle community (a.k.a. manufactured home community) real estate asset class! But first some background…

In 1988, I self-published Mobile Home Park Management, a 175 page paperback book. The first printing sold out within six months of its’ release. The book is in its’ sixth edition, retitled Landlease Community Management. Today, it is sold exclusively by the Institute of Real Estate Management (a.k.a. IREM), as its’ only approved text on this unique realty asset class, and via PMN Publishing. It is also the sole text used by the popular Manufactured Housing Manager®, or MHM® professional property management training and certification program, offered exclusively by the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® or COBA7®.

In 1992, Ed Hicks, David Alley and I co-authored the first MHIndustry tome in two decades, titled Development, Marketing & Operation of Manufactured Home Communities. The 427 page case bound text was published by the law division of New York publisher, J. Wiley & Sons. Paired with a series of land development seminars during the 1990s, it spawned hundreds of new (then) manufactured home communities, and expansion of others. New copies today, are sold exclusively by PMN Publishing; used copies reportedly sell for $100.00+/- apiece via ebay.com. This text went through several printings until the housing market cooled soon after the turn of the century.

In 1996, with the assistance of eight primary contributors, and as many secondary contributors, I edited the 508 page text J. Wiley & Sons published with the title How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community. This book is oft referred to as the ‘bible of MHCommunity investment’. A second edition debuted in 1998, and the book continues to sell well to this day, 18 years later! It too is exclusively sold via PMN Publishing and on ebay.com

In 2015, with co-authors and or contributors yet to be selected and identified, plans are afoot to pen (working title) Marketing, Sale & Financing of Homes in Land-lease-lifestyle Communities. Are YOU interested in being considered part of the writing team for this heady project? If so, read on….

If you believe you have the ABILITY to communicate in writing – even if not already published; have a decade or more manufactured housing marketing and sales (e.g. factory rep, MHRetailer, in-community home sales) – and/or – hands on LLLCommunity management EXPERIENCE, I want to hear from YOU – in writing! That’s where MOTIVATION comes in play. Almost everyone emails, talks on the telephone, and engages in interpersonal networking; but not many are able to communicate well on hard copy (paper). So, IF seriously interested in being considered and selected to be part of this writing team, engaged in this once-in-a-career-making opportunity, compose a one page letter to me. Following the opening paragraph greeting; in the second paragraph, succinctly describe your industry and or asset class experience to date, including names and dates. In the third short paragraph, tell me why YOU should be selected for this unique opportunity. Mail your correspondence to George Allen, c/o PMN Publishing, Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247. Please, no phone calls or emails about this opportunity at this time.

Compensation as a co-author or contributor? That depends, and varies, relative to the number of individuals engaged in writing and preparing the text. The dollar amount, &/or number of free copies of the book proper, will be modest. One’s greatest reward should come from having your name cited as one of the few individuals in all of manufactured housing, capable, experienced, and motivated to team pen one of the industry’s four cornerstone texts! All three earlier HOW TO classics have found a permanent home in the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s prestigious Hall of Fame Library in Elkhart, IN. There’s no reason to believe this one won’t wind up there as well!

Why this text now? Beginning in 1988, we needed professional PM guidance to better operate (then) ‘mobile home parks’ cum manufactured home communities nationwide. During the early 1990s, some foresaw the coming MH renascence, as occupancy rates climbed – knowing new income-producing properties would need to be built. And shortly thereafter, in support of the property consolidation trend (i.e. think REIT wave @ 1994 & thereafter), the first and only realty investment text debuted. Today? Many large property portfolio firms have figured out how to buy new HUD-Code homes (i.e. Community Series Homes, or CSH Models featuring a WOW! factor and durability-enhancing features) directly from the factory; set-up on-site sales centers to market said homes at varying profit margins; often engaging in seller-financing to consummate transactions. (Hopefully one or more savvy individuals from such firms will express interest in sharing expertise and knowledge). Unfortunately, this learning curve has not been embraced by the majority of smaller LLLCommunity owners/operators, for various reasons – one being ‘lack of HOW TO knowledge’. That’s where and when this book can and will play a key role during the years ahead – assuming easy to access chattel capital does not return to the industry, and owners/operators must continue selling and financing new and resale homes to survive, i.e. keep rental homesites occupied and paying rent!

If seriously interested in being considered for selection to this writing team, we’ll be accepting letters until 1 December 2014. Not much will happen until the first of the year. If selected, and accepting the challenge, the first step will be to critique a preliminary book content outline that’s being crafted for the project. And once the 26th annual ALLEN REPORT has been distributed, during January 2015, focus will shift to getting this historic project underway!

In conclusion; what you just read is one of several key reasons the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®, was launched early in 2014. A couple dozen LLLCommunity owners/operators saw significant challenges, like this one and others, on the business horizon. However, no one within the industry (home manufacturers, national advocacy bodies, etc.), appeared willing to address continuing needs for ongoing statistical research, resource update & distribution, print & online communication, networking & deal-making opportunities, PM education & certification, and when need be, even national advocacy, e.g. ombudsman (press) responsibilities. Perhaps now is time for YOU to affiliate with COBA7®, become a bona fide ‘MHInsider’, and be considered for selection to this historic writing team.

III.

‘Next Big Story’ OR ‘Much Noise About Nothing’?

One has to be out of touch with the MH & RV industries to not know, read, see, even hear, the ongoing fracas (‘noisy fight’) being waged among national advocacy bodies representing all these folk, plus HUD…

With that said, for the time being we’re backing away from this unfolding story – to gather more information about the confab over whether roof overhang dimensions should, or should not be, included in the 400+/- square foot demarcation between HUD-Code manufactured housing and park model RVs.

However, to titillate you in the meantime, there’s also an additional issue, regarding the end use of park model RVs. The question is whether they’re year round or part time (i.e. seasonal) dwellings, within and outside land-lease-lifestyle communities, RV parks, and campgrounds. Know what complicates the matter still further? HUD’s published use of the term Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, to describe park model RVs, and other similar structures. Some, if not many of us are happy to simply refer to these ‘small building’s, or one bedroom efficiency units, as ‘granny flats’!

Oh yes, and there’s one more factor – or perhaps a ‘red herring’. That being this: ‘Do you know the difference between a park model RV and a destination trailer?’ Didn’t think so! Well, we’re still learning tool. A hint. Investigate Breckenridge, part of Hartland RV, a subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc. And the plot thickens….

Hey, if YOU can shed some definitive light on this convoluted, complicated, multifaceted matter for me, please do so, and the sooner the better!

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