Revisiting Alexa.com; Stories Not Posted; & MHOmbudsman

April 19th, 2014

Blog Column # 293 Copyright 2014 20 April 2014

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

Reason for this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communications resource for all LLLCommunities located throughout North America!’

To Input this blog & 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 blog posting at community-investor.com BREAKING NEWS! After penning Part I of this posting we learned MHVillage Welcomed More Than 1,000,000 Unique Visitors to their website during March of this year! Why is that important to know? Because this isn’t a FIRST for just MHVillage, but the entire manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class. Read on! And Part II? These are hints of stories we planned to post, but for various cited reasons decided not to do so. Read between the lines. Part III? More often than not, ‘blog floggers’ (i.e. ‘readers’) observe better than me. This is one of those times. Part IV. Well, we’ll let that one unfold during the coming week….GFA

I.

Alexa.com Revisited!

II.

Four Blog Stories Written but Not Posted

III.

I Couldn’t Have Said This Better Myself

IV.

Next Blog = may be an OPEN LETTER to…, & an MHOmbudsman @ COBA7

I.

Alexa.com Revisited!

Within minutes after posting last week’s blog (#292), I learned of my faux pas, accidental oversight, blunder and gaffe, all rolled into one! And I’ve heard more about the matter, from additional loyal blog ‘floggers’ (readers). Reason for all this excitement?

Last week’s ‘Manufactured Housing Industry, meet Alexa.com’ blog posting identified ten realty and manufactured housing-related websites, from hundreds of thousands of commercial websites ranked by Alexa.com, but we accidentally omitted the largest MHIndustry website of all: MHVillage.com!

That’s right, MHVillage.com should have been ranked #2 on this global list of eleven organizations and firms, behind ONLY the NAR.org (‘National Association of Realtors’) website! Here’s how the global list should have been displayed and posted:

NAR,org 12,534 = first in this RE & MH ranking
MHVillage.com 41,557 = 1.000,000 visitors in March 2014
NAHB.org 94,014
Claytonhomes.com 128,537
IREM.org 240,601
21st Mortgage.com 266,645
Championhomes.net 362,790
Equitylifestyle.com 703,931
Americanlandlease.com 1,190,961
Cavco.com 1,201,958
Manufacturedhousing.org 2,252,064

And one could say, we ‘added insult to injury’ when we didn’t rank MHVillage’s ‘Daily Time On Site’ amongst the same firms; for here they were #3, with an impressive 6:15 minutes on site, just behind Americanlandlease at 13:40 and 21st Mortgage at 6:28 minutes. Number four? MHI at 4:02 minutes.

Well, the oversight certainly wasn’t intentional. And no excuses are offered. But if you’re not familiar with MHVillage, and own/operate land-lease-lifestyle communities, YOU SHOULD BECOME FAMILIAR WITH WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR YOU. Not only is it the manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunity asset class’ primary means of marketing homes ‘for sale’, but is soon to become the primary source of yet another major aspect, maybe even two, of LLLCommunity benchmark statistics! They are? Ah, for that you’ll have to attend, see and hear at the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable, 10-12 September 2014, in Peachtree, GA*. There, Dan Rinzema will announce exciting growth plans for this longtime MHIndustry firm.

End Note. * To ensure you receive an invitation to participate in this ‘sole standalone annual event planned for land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators, and their preferred lenders and product/service vendors’, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. You’ll be glad you did!

II.

Four Blog Stories Penned but Not Posted

Title: Recovering from Manufactured Housing’s ‘Perfect Storm’

Why not posted?

The necessary adjustments and corrective measures were more than the industry, its’ leaders, and the land-lease-lifestyle community real estate component were willing, or likely able, to bear at the time….

Today? Little has changed. The manufactured housing industry, for the most part is mired in its’ vestigial trailer past, except where and when circumstances dictate otherwise, e.g. demise of most independent (street) MHRetailers when easy access to chattel capital ended; and, for the first time in ‘industry history’, LLLCommunity owners/operators began to routinely buy new manufactured homes to resell on-site and oft times self-finance.

It’s why the First National Public Forum, on this topic – to debut this Fall* – is so important and timely, from historical and strategic planning perspectives.

End Note. * 23rd International Networking Roundtable, 10-12 September 2014, in Peachtree City, GA. See Part I of this blog for contact information.

Title: The New Wave of ‘Flashes in the Pan’ LLLCommunity Investors?

Why not posted?

Two reasons. To frame the argument, we’d have had to identify two dozen erstwhile ‘Hare today, goon tomorrow’ land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators who’ve ‘loudly come & quietly gone’, since circa 1980. Not a good idea. And, LLLCommunity specialist real estate brokers tell me such an expose’ would likely scare away equity and hedge fund dollars now coming outa the woodwork since recent published stories profiled our unique business model as being slam dunk profitable (At times!) and predatory (Not for many of us!) in nature.

Title: ‘How Latter Day Mobe Dogs Eat Helpless & Hapless Gophers’

Why not posted?

Similar in theme to previous ‘not posted’ blog title. This time however, descriptions would have been of business practices that led to ‘operational aberrations – at best’ & ‘major business failures – at worst’.

Today? Sad to say, but aberrations remain in effect, despite mega business failures along the way. A hint? In a recently published 14 year (specific state) Market Summary Report*, on a particular land-lease-lifestyle community market, two timeline graphs are shown side by side. One describes ‘occupancy dropping’ for 12+ years. The second cites ‘site rent rising’ during same 12+ year time frame, among the same properties. Perhaps it’s not the market researcher’s responsibility to draw conclusions or predict future performance trends from such illustrations; but paraphrasing the baby’s line in a popular TV commercial, “Doesn’t’ anyone see the mime talking?” – applied here, “Doesn’t anyone see the nay saying these charts suggest for our present business model cum tomorrow?” Specifically; the charts show site rents were raised annually to offset revenue lost as site occupancy declined. Now today: ‘Why would new homebuyer/site lessees move into these properties to pay inflated rent rates, unless new home prices and PITI payments are pegged artificially low as an incentive – in effect devaluing said home(s) more and faster than usual depreciation?’ None of this is new. Firms have long priced themselves, rent wise, out of local housing markets, often paying the ultimate business failure penalty….

End Note: * For a copy of the Market Summary Report, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Title: ‘Shifty Shifting Support’

Why not posted?

Simply ‘too ripe and timely’ a matter for the parties involved. One of them is not given to equal opportunity dialogue, so suffers declining influence. And the other, frankly, lacks passion for and understanding of, post production segments of the manufactured housing industry. More to come, in good time…….

III.

I Couldn’t Have Said This Better Myself

The following paragraph was sent to me by a blog flogger this past week. The identity of the writer is unimportant; the gist of what he/she pens is insightful and telling.

“It appears to me there are three tribes of folk in the (manufactured housing) industry, with overlap in some areas among them. The highest exposure to new investors comes from Frank and Dave, which (sic) gets the least qualified investors, but at the end of the day, more investors and people on the outside seem to know of them than anyone else. Then comes the Manufactured Housing Institute, because they have the reach of all the state associations, and they get people who are a little more serious than Frank and Dave. Lastly are the Allenites, which is a group of solid, very ethical ‘insiders’ who are easier to do business with and much more proven.”

Just as happened with last week’s blog (Reread Part I of this posting for description of an inadvertent omission), ‘WHO is obvious here, by their absence from this tribal census’? Presuming we identify the same national player, said absence begs the question: WHY? In my opinion, it’s likely due to an unwillingness, on their part, to learn and embrace the manufactured housing industry as a whole, including its’ realty and finance components – though there have been forays of late, into the latter post production segment. Of course, neither was the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. COBA7*, mentioned; but seeing as how the alliance of 200+ affiliates is only four months old, that’s not surprising.

End Note: * Any individual or business involved in any segment of the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry may affiliate with COBA7 by phoning the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 & selecting Options I, II or III!

IV.

Next Blog = may be an OPEN LETTER to…, & an MHOmbudsman @ COBA7

***

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

Meet Alexa.com & ‘Just Goes to Show You!’

April 13th, 2014

Blog Column # 292 Copyright 2014 13 April 2014

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

Reason for this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communications resource for all LLLCommunities located throughout North America!’

How to Input this blog & affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-5764

Introduction to this week’s blog posting at community-investor.com I begin every week wondering, “Hmm. What’s going to occur this week that’s newsworthy, interesting, and timely for the 500+ MHIndustry & LLLCommunity readers of this blog post?”

Well, I’m never without inspiration for long. First off; how many of us are frustrated by unsubstantiated commercial website ‘hit’ claims? Part I describes an imperfect commercial website metrics ranking tool. And it concludes with a unique entrepreneurial challenge for ‘someone’ in our industry. You?

Part II? Given the success enjoyed by Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance, signing 200+ affiliates during first three months of 2014, and as unofficial MHIndustry historian, it’s time to document the inspiration and genesis of COBA7.

And Part III. Three new MHIndustry texts in one year is simply ‘too much’. But you might as well read of plans afoot now, and decide if there’s ‘a place for you’ in the mix.

I.

Manufactured Housing Industry, meet Alexa.com

II.

JUST GOES TO SHOW YOU!

III.

Books, Books, Books, & More Books!

I.

Manufactured Housing Industry, meet Alexa.com

Google Alexa.com and take a few minutes to install the ‘free’ Alexa.com toolbar. Then take a fascinating journey among real estate, homebuilders, and manufactured housing industries’ largest and most popular commercial websites, to view specific web traffic data at this subsidiary of Amazon.com Here you’ll learn the approximate global rankings of these various sites, and more. WARNING. Only the most frequently visited commercial websites will be found at Alexa.com. For example, you will not find community-investor.com (Site of this blog posting), and other small manufactured housing-related venues who routinely ballyhoo their supposed popularity.

Ready to review ten of hundreds of thousands of commercial websites ranked by Alexa.com? Our first run through answers Alexa.com’s question: ‘How is this site ranked relative to other sites (globally)?” Well, the National Association of Realtors® placed #1 in this global ranking, the Manufactured Housing Institute, #10.

NAR.org (National Association of Realtors) 12,534
NAHB.org (National Association of Homebuilders) 94,014
Claytonhomes.com 128,537
IREM.org (Institute of Real Estate Management) 240,601
21stMortgage.com 266,645
Championhomes.net 362,790
Equitylifestyle.com 703,931
Americanlandlease.com 1,190,961
Cavco.com 1,201,958
Manufacturedhousing.org (MHI) 2,252,064

Alexa.com also ranks websites within the U.S., but not all ten firms and entities are listed, only 21stMortgage, Equitylifestyle, Americanlandlease, Clayton, Champion, NAR, NAHB & IREM; not MHI and Cavco.

Alexa.com also tracks three additional metrics: 1) Bounce Rate; 2) Daily Page Views per Visitor; and, 3) Daily Time On Site. Here we’ll just list the Daily Time On Site metrics, beginning with the longest to shortest estimated times spent viewing on site….

Americanlandlease = 13:40 minutes
21stMortgage 6:28
MHI 4:02
IREM 3:3
Champion 3:25
Clayton 3:19
NAR 2:47
Equitylifestyle 2:31
Cavco 2:19
NAHB 2:19

Don’t know ‘bout you, but I find the numbers fascinating; especially Americanlandlease’s Daily Time On Site. Perhaps one should visit, assuming the metric’s accuracy, to learn what’s keeping their visitor’s rapt attention for so long; double the time spent anywhere else among this group. Well, I did, and now understand why: First you have to decide whether you’re interested in an all age land-lease-lifestyle community (i.e. the Clearview Community brand) or one for folk 55 years of age and older (i.e. the Solstice Community brand); then select the region of the U.S. where one plans to settle; and finally, ‘go for a virtual visit or tour’. All that’s going to ‘take some time’, to narrow one’s choices.

Now, you go ahead, give Alexa.com a try; you’ll be glad you did.

Obviously, Alexa.com has its’ limitations, but website ranking and analysis alternatives are few and not that accessible and or helpful. Two examples. Think Google Analytics. Probably the best route. BUT there, data is generally restricted to those with password login info, usually the owner or webmaster of said site(s); hence ‘lack of ready access’. Then there’s compete.com (for $199.00/month, after a free 24 hour trial).

As an entrepreneur I see ‘a need & an opportunity’ here: Someone in the manufactured housing industry, for a price, to routinely perform independent third party research, ranking, analysis, and reporting of aforementioned manufactured housing websites, as well as commercial sites too small to be profiled by Alexa.com. What a help this would be to prospective internet advertisers, needing to know conclusively, whether a commercial website really delivers the volume and quality of ‘hits’ claimed. Someone out there ready to take on this opportunity?

II.

JUST GOES TO SHOW YOU!

“If you build it, they will come!” A promise popularized in the movie, ‘Field of Dreams’, fulfilled in a different manner, since the launch, three months ago, of Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance or COBA7.

First; the way things are today, mid-April 2014. Since mid-December 2013, more than 200 businessmen and women have affiliated with the Community Owners (7 Part) business alliance! They hail from every segment of the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry, including home manufacturers, realty & chattel lenders, MHRetailers, product & service vendors and of course – most of all, sole proprietor and portfolio land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators, from throughout the U.S. and Canada!

Indeed, ‘We have built a new international business alliance, meeting real needs, & they (many of you reading this blog posting) have affiliated!’ But it took a full year, to arrive at that mid-December starting point, for good reasons….

During the January 2013 Louisville MHShow, at KMHI’s PAC reception, MHI chairman Nathan Smith, PHC®, and I had an intense conversation about the present and future of the institute’s National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division. He was OK with the status quo; I and others were not! When I suggested, if the cliquish leadership of the council continued, there wouldn’t be incentive for small to mid-sized owners and operators of LLLCommunities to continue in the NCC fold, and maybe look elsewhere. His response? Words to the effect, “George, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.” End of conversation. And sad to say, we haven’t spoken since; though I’d like to do so. But now, I suppose, it no longer matters….

Then there’s this dual rub. I’m one of the original 19 LLLCommunity owners who took the initial steps, on 31 August 1993 that led to the 1/1/1996 birth of the present day NCC, a story chronicled in Bruce Savage’s 2013 book, The First 20 Years! And there’s this; I continue to be an elected board member of the NCC council. So, my affection for, and loyalty to, this body has been long and deep! BUT, how often does one continue to ‘step on Superman’s cape’ before being upended (As a couple of us were, via a very public, mean-spirited verbal ambush, during the NCC’s Fall 2012 meeting)? And we’ve come to clearly understand, ‘Cliquishness or abject cronyism isn’t going to change anytime soon!’ Effect a change by vote? Nope. NCC meetings are poorly attended by members (a dozen+/- at most), though popular with dozens of observers usually in the room. And the council disallows absentee votes at all elections, as we learned during the Fall 2013 NCC meeting, when two dozen absentee ballots were summarily rejected. In spite of all that, it’s still difficult to walk away to a new business alliance, even one with more and varied functions. And frankly, I plan to continue to pay $500.00 per year in direct, dues-payments to the MHI/NCC for their national advocacy efforts, and not much more! So should you.

What most folk reading this blog posting probably don’t know, is prior to the conversation described in the first paragraph, I’d been meeting, corresponding and conversing with, originally a dozen, then two dozen, businessmen and women, from all corners of the U.S., who shared the common bond of LLLCommunity ownership and management. What brought us together, was the common goal of ensuring continuation of unique products and services, provided by GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, specifically for owners/operators of LLLCommunities nationwide and in Canada. And there never was any serious talk about alternative representation or advocacy of the asset class on the national level. That’s why COBA7 is a business alliance, and NOT a new, national not for profit entity. In any event, today the number of ‘skin in the game’ intimates has grown from two dozen to more than 200 affiliates!

My original personal goal had been to semi-retire at the end of year 2012. Pensions were in place, and investments in the capable hands of a CFP – my son. But retirement did not happen. Oh, it could have. Nothing, except loyalty to hundreds of businessmen and women friends ‘in the MHBusiness’, stood in the way of me simply ‘pulling the plug’ and walking away. But I’m not wired that way. At stake was 35 years worth of creativity and nurturing of unique products and services, that most if not all, LLLCommunity owners/operators, large and small, continue to benefit from, day in and day out, throughout the year. No, we simply had to identify a practical yet effective means to ensure continuation of these valuable features into the future.

That’s when it was brought to our attention a certain national news magazine, WORLD, had recently converted its’ paid subscribers into affiliates of a larger business alliance, the publisher itself. After looking into the matter, it became obvious a similar conversion, a repackaging of the dozen separate profit centers – beginning with paid subscribers to two monthly newsletters, into a single business entity, would secure the future of these features, today referred to as the ‘7 Parts’ or functions of COBA7, facilitating greater intimacy between affiliates and their alliance! By way of review, here’re the ‘parts cum functions’ that comprise COBA7 today, and going forward:

• Ongoing research, typified by the 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ Did you know? In 1987 there were but 25 known ‘mobile home park’ portfolio owners/operators nationwide. That number has swelled to 500+/-, throughout North America, during recent years, as land-lease-lifestyle communities were consolidated; first by limited partnership syndicators (1980s); then a few REITs (1990s); and most recently, into entities funded by equity partners (early 2000s). 167 of these are identified in the 25th annual ALLEN REPORT; available to COBA7 affiliates, at Option II & III levels.

• Distribution of resource documents & directories known as Signature Series Resource Documents, or SSRDs, e.g. 16th annual National Registry of Lenders.

• Online & print communication via weekly blog posting at community-investor.com, and two subscriber-supported newsletters for LLLCommunities

• Superb peer networking via FOCUS Groups, & an annual International Networking Roundtable that attracts hundreds of LLLCommunity owners/operators, e.g. 10-12 September 2014 at DOLCE Conference Center in Peachtree City, GA. This year? First ever National Public Forum exploring the past, present & future of manufactured housing as ‘housing’, not ‘trailers’; and land-lease-lifestyle communities as ‘lifestyle’ & ongoing ‘realty investments’. Be there! Call Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877)MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

• Deal-making opportunities via coalition of national real estate brokerages

• Professional property management training & certification via Manufactured Housing Manager®, or MHM® program, by classroom or correspondence

• National advocacy, only when need be….

Today, the past is indeed HISTORY; and the future, OPPORTUNITY! With all seven coba7 ‘parts cum functions’ in place and performing well, the predicted NEW ERA FOR 50,000+/- LLLCommunities has indeed dawned! So, if interested in affiliating with COBA7, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. When we process your payment, we’ll immediately mail the four SSRDs (thru April), you’ve missed to date in 2014, and you’ll begin to receive your monthly issue of the Allen Letter professional journal – and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter, if they are your choice(s).

III.
Books, Books, Books, & More Books!

Are YOU interested in learning ‘How to Prepare & Publish Corporate Histories & Personal Memoirs’? Seminars are being planned for (maybe) 8 or 9 May in East Peoria, IL., at IMHA’s annual meeting. Phone Frank Bowman at (217) 528-3423, to express your interest, and while on the phone, register for that educational, networking event where new HUD-Code homes will be exhibited! Seminar cost? None planned. I’ll be teaching the class, and plan to have a half dozen manufactured housing industry corporate histories and memoirs with me, to motivate you to begin planning your own manuscript!

Next session, likely late morning or early afternoon on 4 August in Elkhart, IN., at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame, Museum, Library facility. Phone Al Hesselbart at (574) 293-2344 to express your interest. And since you’ll be there anyway, why not register for this year’s RV/MH banquet, when the Class of 2014 (including Gary McDaniel of YES! Communities, Barry Cole of MHIS, Tom Kern of Style Crest Enterprises, Ed Evans of EPM, & Dick King of King Insurance, on the MH ‘side of the house’) will be inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame! Seminar cost? We haven’t talked about it yet, but not much. Frankly, Al and I are hoping it’ll be well-received enough, to become an integral part of this popular annual legacy event.

Third session likely to occur on 12 September, as part of the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable, at the DOLCE Conference Center in Peachtree City, GA. By then, I hope to be well into my autobiography project, tentatively titled: Twice a Warrior!

The there’s How to Market, Sell & Self-finance New & Resale Homes On-site in LLLCommunities. This is a two year project, hopefully to begin sometime during 2014., if we can identify capable, experienced, motivated would-be co-authors. This would be the first perfect-bound book to be published in the manufactured housing industry since 1996, when J. Wiley & Sons’ released How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community – to have the first printing sell out within six months! Why a two year window? It takes that long to put enough good material together, format and edit it, then print and bind the manuscript. For example; Dave Alley, Ed Hicks, and I started our ‘book ball’ rolling in 1992, two full years before Development, Marketing & Operation of Manufactured Home Communities hit the market in 1994. Is it worth all that effort? We think so. It established our ‘bonafides’ in the industry and asset class for at least the next two decades….Is there a book in you? Call and let’s talk about it.

‘Lessons Learned in LLLCommunity Operations’ maybe not the stand alone new book we envisioned after all; but rather, a new edition of the LLLCommunity Management text used during the popular Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® professional property management training and certification program.

***

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

COBA7 Launches LLLCommunity Mgr. Compensation Study

April 6th, 2014

Blog Column # 291 Copyright 2014 6 April 2014

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

Reason for this blog. It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communications resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

How to Input this blog & affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (8777) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

Introduction to this week’s blog posting at community-investor.com. Three of many responses to last week’s ‘MH Public Discourse Impasse Ends 9/11/2014 @ Networking Roundtable in Peachtree City, GA.’: “Excellent George.” MD, & “Good blog, George. Glad someone is still willing to give our industry a bit of hell when they need it.” JU, & “I will not forget how we worked as an industry, via low cost, convenient and quality housing. Those basics were and continue to be the best!” NB Now, this week’s lineup?

I.

COBA7 Launches Land-lease-lifestyle Community
On-site Property Manager Compensation Study

II.

‘In the Know’ MHIndustry Aficionados to Flock to East Peoria, IL @ 8 & 9 May 2014

III.

Finally Going on the Offense over Offensive Writ in The New York Times re: MHIndustry

IV,

Coming Over to the Other (Our) Side of Life

I.

COBA7 Launches Land-lease-lifestyle Community
On-site Property Manager Compensation Study

Long and often considered in MHI’s National Communities Council (‘NCC’) circles, this timely subject was given ‘just lip service’, as everyone wanted the information, but no one was willing to share proprietary salary and benefit information. Well, Thanks to several land-lease-lifestyle community owner/operator affiliates of the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, that’s changed! And just recently, a national executive search and recruiting firm, that specializes in placing regional and on-site LLLCommunity managers, has joined the study. The goal of this first COBA7 project? To provide a practical tool by which LLLCommunity owners/operators throughout North America, can better determine what a particular on-site property management job is worth, salary and benefit wise!

To date, they’ve crafted a formula using six variables in this sequence:

1. Total number of rentable homesites in a given land-lease-lifestyle community (a.k.a. manufactured home community, or ‘mobile home park’) if preferred.

2. Number of ‘occupied & paying rent’ homesites at said property, when the formula is applied.

3. Set or average rental homesite monthly rent rate; assuming said rent, if including water & sewer, offsets those expenses; or if billed separately, is factored back onto the rent rate, to fine tune the gross potential rent amount offsetting said expense category.

4. Application of appropriate Operating Expense Ratio or OER percentages. For example: 4.5% @ admin labor, not including PM fee; &, 3.0% @ maintenance labor = 7.5% or .075 OER, when using asset class’ Industry Standard Chart of (Operating Expense) Accounts, given a national average 40% OER overall. Corollaries: Realization a property’s OER% is generally greater (than 40%) among smaller properties and large properties with low occupancy; due to less economy of scale in the former instance; more common area and utility risers to maintain, as well as marketing-related expenses in the latter instance. Conversely, a property’s OER% is generally less (than 40%) among larger properties enjoying high physical & economic occupancy. This example assumes the same Industry Standard Chart of Accounts is applied and all OER categories are used as described.*1

5. Final adjustment of preliminary salary amount per concessioned site rent, unit rent, and appropriate utilities – if any concessions; and, when/if appropriate, compensation for extra duties, e.g. wastewater treatment plant operation, testing & reporting; and/or seasonal duties such as grass mowing, snow plowing, etc.
.
6. For a statistical benchmark comparison, relate final adjusted salary amount to Area Median Income for the local housing market in which the subject property is located. AMI is available via zipskinny.com

Now the fun begins. If you’re a COBA7 affiliate*2, and would like to participate in the ‘proof & refinement’ of the above proposed formula, mail the following information, in hard copy, to either COBA7 c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247, or FAX to (317) 346-7158.

Please use a separate page for each property reported:

1. Total number of rentable homesites at this land-lease-lifestyle community (a.k.a. manufactured home community): __________

2. Actual or average number of ‘occupied & paying rent’ rental homesites at this LLLCommunity: __________

3. Set or average rental homesite rent rate at this location: $__________ Does this amount include water & sewer? Circle YES or NO. If NOT, what’s the average monthly amount of water & sewer charges billed per rental homesite each month? $__________

4. At this property, relative to the management staff, do you concession rent &/or utilities? Circle YES or NO. If YES, total monthly amount for this property into: Total site rent $__________, Unit rent $_________, Utilities $ __________

5. Total number of on-site managers at this location: __________. Number of additional salaried employees: __________ and hourly employees: __________

6. What is the postal zip code for this property? ________ OR, if you know it, the Annual Median Income or AMI of the local housing market $_______________

7. This final step is not required, but if you’d like to be kept abreast of project progress, be sure to supply your name and preferred contact information here:____________________________________________________________

Our hope is to eventually publish, either in chart format or easy-to-use formula, a means by which LLLCommunity owners/operators can estimate a fair and appropriate (Based on a property’s characteristics, scope of job description, and nature of the local housing market in which the LLLCommunity is located) Property Management Compensation, sans performance bonuses, for smaller LLLCommunities requiring part-time salaried management, as well as larger properties, able to justify a staff – but not including ‘home sales’ or ‘rental unit’ operations if budgeted and accounted for separately from usual land-lease operations.

End Note.

*1 For a FREE copy of the Industry Standard Chart of Accounts, along with the national average Allen Model OER percentages, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and request it.

*2 COBA7 affiliates, in this instance, include everyone registered under Options I, II & III – the difference being I = Allen Letter subscription alone; II = newsletter & 12 Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs, & III = newsletter, SSRDs, & the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter. If reading this, and not yet affiliated with the hundreds of LLLCommunity owners/operators who’ve already done so, simply (again) phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE, shown in End Note # 1 above, for information.

II.

‘In The Know’ MHIndustry Aficionados to Flock to East Peoria, IL.@8 & 9 May 2014

WHY?

50 copies of Bruce Savage’s popular 2013 book: The First 20 Years! – of national advocacy, in behalf of land-lease-lifestyle communities, have been donated to the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association (‘IMHA’), host of this year’s stellar event in East Peoria, IL. The books will be given to the first 50 individuals (one book per company) to register! Phone (217) 528-3423 today and RESERVE YOUR COPY today!

Ken Rishel, ‘Manufactured Housing Industry’s Person of the Year 2013 & 2014’, will ‘splain’ compliance issues relating to federal finance & S.A.F.E. Act regs; and Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (‘CPFB’) matters! Phone (217) 528-3423 to register!.

John Underwood, manufactured housing sales trainer par excellence! John, to date and in my opinion, the ONLY trainer of independent (street) MHRetail salescenter teams to successfully transition his expertise re: on-site marketing and sale of new homes within land-lease-lifestyle communities. Come & learn from John! (217) 528-3423 to sign-up!

When and where was the last time someone taught you HOW TO Best Show your Display Homes relative to Home Décor, for MHRetail salescenters and on-site in LLLCommunities? Learn from Clayton Homes consulting expert, Sue Yoder! (217) 528-3423

WAKE UP! That’s what Tammy Fonk, from CBRE; & Creighton Weber, from Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital, will admonish YOU to do when planning, FIRST, to market your LLLCommunity ‘for sale’; &/or SECOND, to ready it for acquisition financing or refinancing! Two top experts in the U.S. today! Call (217) 528-3423 to get on board!

Saving the Best for Last? Maybe. Here’s a TRIPLE PUNCH to be delivered at this year’s event: 1) Opportunity for LLLCommunity owners/operators to benefit from prospective Resident Screening Services via AmRent; 2) Accounting & Accountability software from Rent Manager; and, 3) Home Sales Marketing Services from MHVillage (plus) their recent foray into local housing market Rent Surveys a la JLT & Associates methodology! Frankly, YOU cannot afford to miss this threefold opportunity! (217) 528-3423. I’ll be there

‘Official State of the Manufactured Housing Industry & Land-lease-lifestyle Community Asset Class’ – a cumbersome title sure, but the ONLY such briefing available in the U.S. today, covering both major segments of the manufactured housing industry! And know what? It’s an exciting lesson in ‘stats’ & trends! Call (217) 528-3423 to hear this, & ‘All you wanted to know about COBA7, but didn’t know who to ask!’ George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master

Bottom Line? There will be dozens of state MHAssociation meetings and seminars during 2014, but all will pale in comparison to what’s planned to occur at the Par-A-Dice Casino & Resort Hotel, in East Peoria, IL., on 8 & 9 May 2014. How can YOU not want to participate? Luxurious hotel, gaming, superb timely topics & presenters, good food, top notch networking, even some deal-making. See YOU there! (217) 528-3423

III.

Finally Going on the Offense over Offensive Writ in The New York Times re: MHIndustry

KUDOS to MHARR! Finally, a national manufactured housing advocacy group stands up to The New York Times publishing of ‘The Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U’. Here’s the complete text of what MHARR put on the editor’s desk this past week:

“Mr. Gary Rivlin’s March 13, 2014 story, ‘The Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U’, does a great disservice, not only to the nation’s manufactured housing builders – many of them small businesses struggling to survive in a difficult economy – but also the millions of Americans who choose today’s manufactured homes for their unique combination of quality and affordability, guaranteed by federal law. Presenting manufactured homes, communities, and residents as cartoonish caricatures, the article ignores the reality that today’s manufactured homes offer Americans the most affordable route to homeownership – beating even rentals. And unlike the ‘exotic’ mortgage schemes for overpriced homes that triggered the 2008 credit crisis, manufactured homes pair moderate and lower-income homebuyers with homes they truly can afford, without accounting gimmicks, subsidies or taxpayer funded bailouts. Instead of a superficial catalogue of outdated stereotypes, the Times should offer its readers a deeper look into the genuine advantages of today’s affordable manufactured homes.” Danny Ghorbani writing for the MHARR

Enough time has passed (three weeks) for this sensationalist piece to fade from the scene. Just know however, yours truly – via formal correspondence; the American Housing Advocates– via electronic correspondence; and now MHARR, have all lodged formal complaints, in your behalf, with the editor of The New York Times, regarding what some have called Yellow Journalism (i.e. ‘offensively sensational’). The only ones who’ll keep it alive now, are individuals with an ongoing, self-serving need to draw attention to themselves, perhaps via further interviews; and others, maybe using the article as a marketing ploy to promote future events.

IV.

Coming Over to the Other (Our) Side of Life

DID YOU KNOW? The consulting services of BILL MATCHNEER, recently retired from the Manufactured Housing Division of the Department of Housing & Urban Development (‘HUD’) are now available via Rishel Consulting, relative to issues pertaining to the CFPB and HUD? To effect contact with Bill Matchneer, do so via the firm’s Chicago office: (312) 878-2802. His billable services are available hourly, daily, and per project – on a retainer and non-retainer basis.

***

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

MH Public Discourse Impasse Ends 9/11/2014 & more….

March 30th, 2014

Blog Column # 290 Copyright 2014 30 March 2014

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

Reason for this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communications resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog & affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry Hotline: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

Why I’m Not Attending the
Manufactured Housing Congress This Year

II.

‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’

III.

MH Public Discourse Impasse, to End
in Six Months at Networking Roundtable
_________________________________

I.

Why I’m Not Attending the
Manufactured Housing Congress This Year

As penned in the April issue of the Allen CONFIDENTAIL! business newsletter,
“Unless something unexpected happens (e.g. “Hey George, come to the MHCongress and remind us how, as an industry and realty asset class, we should ALWAYS TAKE THE HIGH ROAD when interviewed by the press, especially The New York Times; and NEVER EVER ENGAGE IN PUBLIC BACKSTABBING of MHBusiness associates online or anywhere else!”), I won’t be participating in the Manufactured Housing Congress later this month! WHY?

• Burned-out on Vegas, at least for this year. Maybe back next year…

• Have much better ways to invest $3,000.00, than in multiple event registrations (e.g. NCC Forum @ $219.00, plus MHCongress @ $599 = a Whopping $818.00!), plus travel expenses, hotel accommodations, lavish meals and more.

• And frankly, with the hub of land-lease-lifestyle community 1) research, 2) resources, 3) communication, 4) networking, 5) deal-making, 6) PM training & certification, and when need be, 7) national advocacy, now in the Midwest, there’s plenty to do here in Indianapolis these days. FYI. Have already begun a search for someone to help GROW the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, and eventually oversee the seven aforementioned function areas. INTERESTED? Contact me via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Must be Management Capable, MH &/or LLLCommunity – Experienced, and Highly Self-motivated – even Passionate about our industry and realty asset class!

And hey, I’m not going to be missed in Las Vegas anyway. Word on the street is registrations are up 30 percent over last year! That’s Good; and, either a favorable business barometer for the combined industry/asset class, OR indicative of how many people have little else to do these days, than to party in Las Vegas, enduring yet another lecture on ‘mystery shopping’ – recalling the first NCC leadership Forum program this past Fall in downtown Chicago.

Know what? Go back to the first paragraph here, and reread the ‘make believe petition’ from MHCongress organizers. Now, would you agree: It’s high time one of our elected national leaders delivers this twofold message, embodied in said quote, to the assembled masses in Las Vegas later this month? They’re certainly timely and worthwhile public concerns. And if no attention is drawn to either matter, we can expect such ‘image-damaging’ & ‘unethical behavior’ to occur again and again. So, let’s ‘see & listen’ as to whether said admonitions are delivered, or slip on by as a ‘missed opportunity’.

II.

‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’

COBA7 Signature Series Resource Document, or SSRD, for April 2014

Can you name the 40+ freelance consultants who serve a wide variety of specialty needs throughout the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class? Not many of us are able to do so; that’s what makes the annual update of this fourth, one of a dozen, Signature Series Resource Documents so valuable, month in, month out.

The 15th annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ SSRD will be enclosed with the April 2014 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal going to those businessmen and women who’ve affiliated with COBA7 since the first of this year – a group whose number now eclipses 200! If interested in affiliating, at the Option II level – providing you an issue of the Allen Letter each month and all 12 SSRDs, for $544.95, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

The 15th annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ SSRD includes wealth preservationists, real estate brokers and appraisers specializing in land-lease-lifestyle communities, resident screening services, sub metering & RBS firms, LLLCommunity conversion specialists, insurers, infrastructure specialists, self-finance training and compliance guidance, MHLifestylists, land planners and engineers, RV-related consultants, underground utility locaters, printing and promotional products sources, turnaround experts, home sales trainers, installation specialists, home valuation and rent survey resources, public relations and industry image communicators, landscaping specialists, and more.

III.

MHPublic Discourse Impasse, to End
In Six Months at Networking Roundtable

‘Where Present Day Business Practices will be Challenged to Leave Trailer Vestiges Behind, and Embrace the Future of Manufactured Housing ‘as housing’; and, Land-lease-lifestyle Communities, challenged likewise, to embrace their future as ‘lifestyle communities’!’ GFA

A SUGGESTION. Print off or copy this Blog Posting and cut Part III from it. Then, keep this Challenge Reminder handy, reflecting on it frequently during the next six months, and making notes of your thoughts. Finally, bring the Challenge Reminder & Your Reflections to Peachtree City, GA., 10-12 September 2014, when the ‘Manufactured Housing Public Discourse Impasse Ends’ during two sequential Keynote Presentations the morning of 11 September 2014, opening day of the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable. That way, YOU will be prepared to participate in the First National Public Forum to parse and discuss the Future of Manufactured Housing & Land-lease-lifestyle Communities nationwide!

HOW will this First National Public Forum occur at the Networking Roundtable?

We’ve invited four veteran MHIndustry & LLLCommunity businessmen and women to serve as spokespersons, espousing opposing views relative to present day and anticipated future practices pertaining to manufactured housing on one hand, and land-lease-lifestyle communities on the other. It is unlikely there’ll be any ‘pat answers’ coming from these four keynote presentations cum public discussions. But one thing will be for certain; the issues identified and considered, will no longer be kept hidden from view, intentionally or otherwise, where MH and LLLCommunity aficionados are concerned! We’ll finally be able to – (But will we?) – move forward as an industry and realty asset class, far more in knowledge and control of our individual and collective futures than ever before.

How can YOU not want to be present when our ‘double dual industry*’ positions itself for a fresh start on’ 911 of year 2014’, when we turn our industry’s ‘five year shipment malaise’ into a Fresh Start as bona fide ‘housing’ and eminently desirable ‘lifestyle’!

Our friends and colleagues at MHARR & MHI are hereby invited to participate in this Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, hosted National Public Forum! To ensure your name is on the invitation list, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and request a registration brochure for the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable: 10-12 September 2014, at the DOLCE Conference Center, Peachtree City, GA.

End Note:

* ‘double dual industry’ = ‘manufactured housing fabrication & delivery; land-lease-lifestyle community development & investment’

***

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

Blog Column # 290 Copyright 2014 30 March 2014

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

Reason for this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communications resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog & affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry Hotline: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

Why I’m Not Attending the
Manufactured Housing Congress This Year

II.

‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’

III.

MH Public Discourse Impasse, to End
in Six Months at Networking Roundtable
_________________________________

I.

Why I’m Not Attending the
Manufactured Housing Congress This Year

As penned in the April issue of the Allen CONFIDENTAIL! business newsletter,
“Unless something unexpected happens (e.g. “Hey George, come to the MHCongress and remind us how, as an industry and realty asset class, we should ALWAYS TAKE THE HIGH ROAD when interviewed by the press, especially The New York Times; and NEVER EVER ENGAGE IN PUBLIC BACKSTABBING of MHBusiness associates online or anywhere else!”), I won’t be participating in the Manufactured Housing Congress later this month! WHY?

• Burned-out on Vegas, at least for this year. Maybe back next year…

• Have much better ways to invest $3,000.00, than in multiple event registrations (e.g. NCC Forum @ $219.00, plus MHCongress @ $599 = a Whopping $818.00!), plus travel expenses, hotel accommodations, lavish meals and more.

• And frankly, with the hub of land-lease-lifestyle community 1) research, 2) resources, 3) communication, 4) networking, 5) deal-making, 6) PM training & certification, and when need be, 7) national advocacy, now in the Midwest, there’s plenty to do here in Indianapolis these days. FYI. Have already begun a search for someone to help GROW the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, and eventually oversee the seven aforementioned function areas. INTERESTED? Contact me via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Must be Management Capable, MH &/or LLLCommunity – Experienced, and Highly Self-motivated – even Passionate about our industry and realty asset class!

And hey, I’m not going to be missed in Las Vegas anyway. Word on the street is registrations are up 30 percent over last year! That’s Good; and, either a favorable business barometer for the combined industry/asset class, OR indicative of how many people have little else to do these days, than to party in Las Vegas, enduring yet another lecture on ‘mystery shopping’ – recalling the first NCC leadership Forum program this past Fall in downtown Chicago.

Know what? Go back to the first paragraph here, and reread the ‘make believe petition’ from MHCongress organizers. Now, would you agree: It’s high time one of our elected national leaders delivers this twofold message, embodied in said quote, to the assembled masses in Las Vegas later this month? They’re certainly timely and worthwhile public concerns. And if no attention is drawn to either matter, we can expect such ‘image-damaging’ & ‘unethical behavior’ to occur again and again. So, let’s ‘see & listen’ as to whether said admonitions are delivered, or slip on by as a ‘missed opportunity’.

II.

‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’

COBA7 Signature Series Resource Document, or SSRD, for April 2014

Can you name the 40+ freelance consultants who serve a wide variety of specialty needs throughout the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class? Not many of us are able to do so; that’s what makes the annual update of this fourth, one of a dozen, Signature Series Resource Documents so valuable, month in, month out.

The 15th annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ SSRD will be enclosed with the April 2014 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal going to those businessmen and women who’ve affiliated with COBA7 since the first of this year – a group whose number now eclipses 200! If interested in affiliating, at the Option II level – providing you an issue of the Allen Letter each month and all 12 SSRDs, for $544.95, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

The 15th annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ SSRD includes wealth preservationists, real estate brokers and appraisers specializing in land-lease-lifestyle communities, resident screening services, sub metering & RBS firms, LLLCommunity conversion specialists, insurers, infrastructure specialists, self-finance training and compliance guidance, MHLifestylists, land planners and engineers, RV-related consultants, underground utility locaters, printing and promotional products sources, turnaround experts, home sales trainers, installation specialists, home valuation and rent survey resources, public relations and industry image communicators, landscaping specialists, and more.

III.

MHPublic Discourse Impasse, to End
In Six Months at Networking Roundtable

‘Where Present Day Business Practices will be Challenged to Leave Trailer Vestiges Behind, and Embrace the Future of Manufactured Housing ‘as housing’; and, Land-lease-lifestyle Communities, challenged likewise, to embrace their future as ‘lifestyle communities’!’ GFA

A SUGGESTION. Print off or copy this Blog Posting and cut Part III from it. Then, keep this Challenge Reminder handy, reflecting on it frequently during the next six months, and making notes of your thoughts. Finally, bring the Challenge Reminder & Your Reflections to Peachtree City, GA., 10-12 September 2014, when the ‘Manufactured Housing Public Discourse Impasse Ends’ during two sequential Keynote Presentations the morning of 11 September 2014, opening day of the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable. That way, YOU will be prepared to participate in the First National Public Forum to parse and discuss the Future of Manufactured Housing & Land-lease-lifestyle Communities nationwide!

HOW will this First National Public Forum occur at the Networking Roundtable?

We’ve invited four veteran MHIndustry & LLLCommunity businessmen and women to serve as spokespersons, espousing opposing views relative to present day and anticipated future practices pertaining to manufactured housing on one hand, and land-lease-lifestyle communities on the other. It is unlikely there’ll be any ‘pat answers’ coming from these four keynote presentations cum public discussions. But one thing will be for certain; the issues identified and considered, will no longer be kept hidden from view, intentionally or otherwise, where MH and LLLCommunity aficionados are concerned! We’ll finally be able to – (But will we?) – move forward as an industry and realty asset class, far more in knowledge and control of our individual and collective futures than ever before.

How can YOU not want to be present when our ‘double dual industry*’ positions itself for a fresh start on’ 911 of year 2014’, when we turn our industry’s ‘five year shipment malaise’ into a Fresh Start as bona fide ‘housing’ and eminently desirable ‘lifestyle’!

Our friends and colleagues at MHARR & MHI are hereby invited to participate in this Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, hosted National Public Forum! To ensure your name is on the invitation list, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and request a registration brochure for the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable: 10-12 September 2014, at the DOLCE Conference Center, Peachtree City, GA.

End Note:

* ‘double dual industry’ = ‘manufactured housing fabrication & delivery; land-lease-lifestyle community development & investment’

***

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

Towards a New MH Zeitgeist! & COBA7’s Public Forum

March 23rd, 2014

Blog Column # 289 Copyright 2014 23 March 2014

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

Reason for this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communications resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog & affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance,
a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

What Keeps Me Going as Your Ronin*

II.

Towards a New Manufactured Housing Zeitgeist

III.

23rd International Networking Roundtable to Host
First National Public Forum on Manufactured Housing & Land-lease-lifestyle Communities

¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬-¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬———————————————————

I.

What Keeps Me Going as Your Ronin*

“George…Please continue to write…You give excellent advice and are the most informed professional in our field!” a state legislator who owns a LLLCommunity

* ‘a covert operations specialist with no governmental ties’ In this case, focused on manufactured housing, land-lease-lifestyle communities, and affordable housing.

II.

Towards a New Manufactured Housing Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist = ‘the spirit of the time; the moral and intellectual thought of feeling characteristic of an age or period.’ The New American Dictionary

The old Zeitgeist hasn’t worked well since the dawn of the 21st century. And to this day, 13+ years later; some, if not many HUD-Code home manufacturers continue to fabricate to the ‘Big Box = Big Bucks’ mantra, shipping multisection or ‘developer series’ land & home package units designed to compete head-to-head with site builders. And we know how that’s turned out, during years 2009 thru 2013*. The new Zeitgeist? HUD-Code home manufacturers who ship as much as 50 percent of their production into land-lease-lifestyle communities (A.k.a. manufactured home communities) nationwide, helping fill an estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites among the 50,000+/- properties nationwide.

*2009 = 49,789; 2010 = 50,046; 2011 = 51,606; 2012 = 54,881; and, 2013 = 60,288

The old Zeitgeist, where independent (street) MHRetailers (formerly ‘dealers’) and still, ‘company stores’ are concerned, has been and continues to be greatly influenced by the nature of oft changing characteristics of local housing markets. An estimated two thirds of the MHRetailers in business at the dawn of the 21st century are gone; in large part, due to the disappearance of easily accessible chattel capital to finance new home transactions going into LLLCommunities. The new Zeitgeist? 1) MHRetailers with access to real estate-secured capital, selling and contracting ‘land & home’ deals; 2) surviving MHRetailers who own/operate one or more LLLCommunities; and maybe, given the contemporary, oppressive finance regulatory environment, 3) some independent (street) MHRetailers now rely on LLLCommunity owners/operators – who sell new homes on-site, to screen prospective homebuyers (borrowers) for them, given the property staff’s less fettered ability to do so. (How many of you reading this knew that?)

The old Zeitgeist, where land-lease-lifestyle communities are concerned, is in near equal measure, ‘the way it was decades ago’, and ‘as different as night and day’ today, from what the business model used to be. Huh? That’s right. In the first instance, 85% of the approximately 50,000 LLLCommunities number 100 and fewer rental homesites apiece – and are frequently operated by absentee owners, second and third generation family members, and part-time managers. Result? For the most part, site occupancy rates continue to drop, some faster than others – and again, for the most part, these owners/managers have little-to-no-idea How To ‘Stop the $ Bleeding’ (i.e. By acquiring repo or used homes – which no longer exist; or, buy new ones – absorbing unfortunately intrinsic value depreciation, just to ‘get the homesite rent meter running’!) these days. The new Zeitgeist? Well, the remaining 15% of 50,000 LLLCommunities, for the most part, have been consolidated into one or another of the 500+/- known property portfolios. And here, ownership/management is generally not averse to buying new HUD-Code homes, even in bulk, especially the modest-sized Community Series Homes or CSH Models with durability-enhancing features; moving them on-site, setting them up – with porches, carports, skirting, etc., then selling them with profit margins ranging from ‘next to zero’ to ‘whatever the market will bear’! Financing? Usually an eclectic mix of self-finance models, using retained property earnings, local lenders, or private investor funds; one form or another of ‘captive finance’; and of late, one or another HUD-Code home manufacturers co-op finance program. And, frankly, there’ll be even more new, some troubling, Zeitgeist changes afoot in the not too distant future….

The old Zeitgeist, where national advocacy and trade representation is concerned? Just about anyone you talk to these days opines how both national advocacy bodies are now simply ‘lobbying presences’, and not ‘trade associations’, in the nation’s capitol. As such, they are providing little in the way of tangible data (beyond new home shipment volume and unit pricing comparisons) for any segment of the manufactured housing industry, other than home manufacturers. The new Zeitgeist? Outsourcing of needed tangible products and services. How so? Read on….

III.

23rd International Networking Roundtable Hosts

First National Public Forum on Manufactured Housing & Land-lease-lifestyle Communities!

You read that right! FINALLY, national housing and investment real estate authorities have proposed a national public forum, to discuss the present circumstances & future prospects of the manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunities nationwide.

Two keynote program topics have been suggested to Networking Roundtable planners:

• Future of HUD-Code manufactured housing to be ‘as housing’, OR status quo, with ‘trailer trappings’ or vehicular titling, chattel capital financing, use tax?

• Future of land-lease-lifestyle communities to be ‘as new hybrid of housing types, financing, and taxes-, OR status quo, as unchanged real estate investment?

So, do YOU want to be part of this inaugural national public discussion regarding the present day circumstances and future prospects of manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle communities? If so, ensure your name and contact information is on the invitation list maintained by the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, hosts of this year’s 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable. To do so, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

If YOU, or someone you know, is qualified, experienced, and motivated to prepare material, and talk on either or both these pithy topics, and would like to be considered as a presenter, please let me know ASAP. (317) 346-7156.

***

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

MHLeader Praise/Castigated & Politics as Usual…

March 16th, 2014

Blog Column # 288 Copyright 2014 16 March 2014

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

Reason for this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog & affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

INDUSTRY LEADER PRAISED & CASTIGATED

II.

‘DC & MHPolitics as Usual’ + Some Taint this Time

III.

Unfortunate Quote of the Week!

IV.

An Important Reminder for All!

I.

INDUSTRY LEADER PRAISED & CASTIGATED
¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬
Surely you recall the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) ad featured in The Journal, the Allen Letter, and in last week’s blog posting at this website. Well, it’s Five Bullet Points of content spawned a plethora of positive responses and only one negative online response.

By way of review, here’re the Five Bullet Points of content in the MHARR ad:

• Full and appropriate HUD implementation of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. After 13+ years, the MHIA@2000 continues to be ‘a work in progress’, though some more accurately opine, ‘a work in regress’!

• Full implementation of the Duty to Serve (underserved markets), including the securitization of chattel loans.

• Full inclusion by Congress, of all manufactured housing loans in any housing finance reform legislation, e.g. GSE reform; through clear, definitive and mandatory language

• Full and unrestricted homebuyer access, nationwide, to the financing sources and providers of their choice

• Full acceptance of manufactured housing by states, cities, and localities

Once again – there you have it! If YOU agree with this proposed manufactured housing industry agenda, featuring Five Key Priorities, for year 2014, then get in touch with Danny Ghorbani via (202) 783-4087, and volunteer to help achieve these worthy goals!

So, what have blog floggers (readers) been saying about this heady matter during the past seven days? Here’s a lightly edited sampling of email messages received via this website, in response to the Five Bullet Points:

From a portfolio owner/operator of land-lease-lifestyle communities: “Danny’s understanding of the problems in the manufactured housing industry is as focused as a Marine Corps sniper! His extensive experience in the industry makes him the best qualified association executive to monitor issues and propose solutions that only Washington can effect. Right now he gets my support and my Vote of Thanks for all he does. If/when MHARR opens its’ membership to other segments of the MHIndustry, he’ll also get my check!”

From a recently retired HUD-Code manufactured housing executive. “I like Ghorbani’s (Five Point) challenge, since it leaves that which is pertinent to Free Enterprise, to Free Enterprise; and that which is better handled by trade associations, to association executives. Well conceived for sure George. I will enjoy watching folk jump onto Danny’s bandwagon!”

And from a veteran real estate investor with ties to the manufactured housing industry: “I’m an active reader of your blog. You have my respect for staying on course and continuing to state your case as an advocate for LLLCommunities! This particular blog is very encouraging, bringing two things to mind. First, are Danny Ghorbani’s thoughts, intentions, and agenda truly supportive of the broader manufactured housing industry? Secondly, has anyone identified an industry leader/practitioner to be a unifying volunteer point person to lead this initiative forward? Hope this is really the beginning of a move forward.”

The last several sentences in the previous paragraph prompt this commentary:

Yes, Danny is supportive of the MHIndustry, and he’s the sole contemporary salaried MHLeader in Washington, DC. with ‘more than a couple years experience in the industry & its land-lease-lifestyle community asset class’, like 35+ years! So, it’s understandable he’s viewed by many businessmen and women throughout the industry and its’ segments, to be the consensus leader ‘rallying the industry’ via aforementioned ad – and evidently, more to follow!

However, a brewing controversy, underlying the recent appointment of a ‘career’ Administrator for the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs within HUD, is being exaggerated to distraction level, by one element of the online press. Part II of this week’s blog posting summarizes the known circumstances surrounding the subject appointment. It’s too early to tell what effect this appointment may or may not have on the industry.

II.

‘DC & MH Politics as Usual’ + some Taint this Time

During years 2012 and 2013, HUD was pressured to name and seat a ‘non-career’ Administrator for the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs.

At the time, the Manufactured Housing Institute’s apparent applicant of choice was ‘direct, dues-paying member’, Pamela Beck Danner, esquire. Ms. Danner, during 2012 & 2013, was the principal of her law firm, Danner & Associates, domiciled in McLean, VA. And during early December 2012, she garnered the express support of Virginia Senator Mark R. Warner, for the ‘non-career’ admin position at HUD.

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform had, as its’ applicant of choice, Victor DeRose, esquire – not a member of either MHARR or MHI! Victor, an Indianapolis, IN., resident, is the son of the late manufactured housing industry pioneer, and Class of 1988 RV/MH Hall of Fame member, Robert DeRose. During early July 2013, Vic received the written recommendation of Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, for the ‘non-career’ admin position at HUD.

In the meantime, during late 2012 and early 2013, the notoriously ‘on again – off again’ coalition between MHI and MHARR reportedly agreed on Victor DeRose, esquire, as consensus applicant for the (still) ‘non-career’ position of administrator for the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs at HUD.

Then something troublesome happened! Midway thru 2013, the job title ‘non-career’ administrator for the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs was abruptly changed 180 degrees, (‘Due to the influence of & or by whom?’ This is ‘the core question’ awaiting an answer!) to that of ‘career’ administrator! Hmm. Reflect on the implication(s) of making such a major shift from ‘non-career’ to ‘career’ orientation…

Why is this ‘much-more-than-semantics-change-of-title’ important? Here’re three important reasons couched as questions:

1) Was said change effected in accords with, or in conflict with, provisions of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000?

2) Doesn’t said change negate the presumed autonomy of a ‘non-career’ person functioning in this sensitive and important position, versus a ‘career’ administrator, necessarily responsive to superiors within the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

3) Of the two perspectives, autonomous ‘non-career’ administrator, or governed ‘career’ administrator, which is Best for the manufactured housing industry?

That second question/point, relative to an administrator ‘being subject to influences’ or not, is underscored, some say ‘tainted’, as the president & CEO of MHI publicly boasts:

“…The selection of an excellent candidate to fill this important role is a major accomplishment for MHI and our members.” 3/6/2014. Emphasis added. GFA. In my opinion, this was and is an unwise, unnecessary, biased signal, to the new ‘career’ administrator’s handlers at HUD. Hence the apt title to Part II of this blog posting: ‘DC & MHPolitics as usual + some Taint This Time.’

In closing Part II of today’s blog posting, here’s another email quote submitted by a land-lease-lifestyle community owner, penned after reading the WELCOME letter Danny Ghorbani sent to Pam Danner, esquire, congratulating her on her appointment as ‘career’ administrator at HUD.

“I see nothing wrong with Danny’s Welcome. My one sentence summary? ‘Looking forward to working with you on issues your predecessors wouldn’t/didn’t tackle.’ Danny does a great job following and reporting on issues in DC, that many of us ‘in the field’ don’t and can’t follow. He’s a GREAT asset to the industry!”

This blog posting is a helpful summary of the ‘non-career’ cum ‘career’ applicant cum administrator imbroglio of the past 12 to 24 months. And sad to say, the matter will not be fully settled until these two core questions are answered: 1) ‘Due to the influence of and or by whom’ was this autonomy-stifling change in job title and independent performance made? And, 2) Is the damage irreparable, or can/should it be corrected (i.e. ‘Non-career administrator autonomy restored’) for the good of the manufactured housing industry in general, and full implementation of MHIA@2000 in particular?

III

Unfortunate Quote of the Week!

“We’re the Dollar General Store of Housing.” Rolfe said, adding, with an amiable grin, “If you can’t afford anything else, then you’ll live with us.”

The above ‘unfortunate quote of the week’ is taken from the very end of a lengthy ‘trailer-park business’ expose, titled ‘The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U.’, by Gary Rivlin, writing for The New York Times, March 13, 2014. The 12 page article describes, in detail, the land-lease-lifestyle community business model boasted by property portfolio owners/operators Frank Rolfe and Dave Reynolds.

If you think you recognize one of the names, you probably do. Frank Rolfe is a longtime columnist for the manufactured housing industry’s last surviving print tabloid, The Journal. And during late 2013, Frank Rolfe was a featured presenter at the Manufactured Housing Institute’s inaugural National Communities Council Fall Leadership Forum, held in downtown Chicago. Nuff said. To read the entire article ‘google’ Investigative Fund Nation Institute.

IV.

An Important Reminder for All!

An Important Reminder for all land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators. For a list, by name and home office state or province, of 167 of the known 500+/- LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators in North America, along with the realty asset class’ benchmark operating statistics – including those of the three REITs (real estate investment trusts), purchase the 25th anniversary edition of the ALLEN REPORT. It’s available for $544.95 from PMN Publishing, via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. And when you order the ALLEN REPORT, you’ll also receive an annual subscription to the popular Allen Letter professional journal, be affiliated with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, and recipient of the 16th National Registry of Lenders (real estate-secured & chattel capital), ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ directory of 40+ freelance MHIndustry consultants, and 10 more Signature Series Resource Documents, or SSRDs, ‘not available from any other source in North America!’

.

***

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

Finally a Leader! But Who Will Follow?

March 9th, 2014

Blog Column # 287 Copyright 2014 9 March 2014

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

Reason for this blog. “It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog & affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

Finally, a National Advocacy Body Steps Forward to Lead!
But Will Anyone Follow?

II.

Ever Desire To Help Write a Book or Two?

III.

Community Series Homes & Plant Shows in 2014

I.

Finally, a National Advocacy Body Steps Forward to Lead!
But Will Anyone Follow?

A national manufactured housing advocacy body, domiciled inside the Washington, DC. beltway, “…invites all affected stakeholders (i.e. That’s thee & me, as entrepreneurs & corporate businessmen & women!) to join its’ efforts, including key (chattel) financial institutions vital to homebuyers, (in) an industry return to production levels measured in the hundreds-of-thousands of homes annually!” Edited from full and half page MHARR paid ads running in the March 2014 issue of The Journal and the Allen Letter professional journal.

Not only do these bold ads reach out to motivate manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle community (A.k.a. manufactured home community) stakeholders, they identify KEY PRIORITIES for the days and months ahead:

• Full and appropriate HUD implementation of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, a.k.a. MHA@2000. After 13+ years, it’s still a work in progress, or some would say ‘regress’!

• Full implementation of the Duty to Serve (underserved markets), including the securitization of chattel loans

• Full inclusion by Congress, of all manufactured housing loans in any housing finance reform legislation, e.g. GSE reform; through clear, definitive and mandatory language

• Full and unrestricted homebuyer access, nationwide, to the financing sources and providers of their choice.

• Full acceptance of manufactured housing by states, cities, and localities

Whew! Now that’s what I’d call ‘one full and aggressive manufactured housing agenda’. How ‘bout you? Agreed? If so, suggest you contact Danny Ghorbani via (202) 783-4087 and ask him: HOW can YOU help ADDRESS these FIVE KEY PRIORITIES, in your areas of influence, during the days, weeks, and months ahead?! I’m on board!

And lest you think the preceding is happening in a vacuum; it isn’t! Last week, Part I of the blog posted at this website, ended with this Challenge Question directed at manufactured housing’s national advocacy bodies inside-&-outside the Washington, DC beltway:

“Is the present day national advocacy representation format (i.e. two national trade bodies) and singular focus (‘Change Dodd-Frank legislation & CFPB regs!’), for HUD-Code manufactured housing, the Most Effective Use of Lobbying Efforts & Dollars in (‘futile to date’) attempts to influence legislators and regulators in our nation’s capitol? OR, is it now time – finally, for a Serious National Conversation regarding where (1) manufactured housing production and distribution, (2) all post-production segments of our industry, and (3) the land-lease-lifestyle community realty asset class, are today; where we should and would like to be going; and, how to best arrive at desired destination(s) and or goal(s)?! Until we do so as an industry, ‘we’re hopelessly adrift in an ocean of business opportunity’ and will not return to prosperity anytime soon! Hope our elected and salaried national leaders are (finally) paying attention to US!

Are They? I have no idea. But some of YOU are! Here’re two responses from readers commenting on last weekends blog posting at this website.

“Hope all is well with you. My admiration continues to be with you for your tenacity in doing battle with those who misguide our industry. Many of those folk simply don’t have the scars of battle that people like you and me wear, to evidence our experience in the trenches.” MG

&

“I loved your blog yesterday on ‘upside down’ (in a mobile home park). That’s really it in a nutshell isn’t it? I think there’re a lot of advocates and others who’d get on board with a moderate position, like the one you put out here (in the blog).It’s where I’ve always been: ‘Offer a good, affordable and secure homeownership asset and one’s business will be solid.’ We bank on that in our own business interests!. Know what George? We (this industry & asset class) just might be suffering from too many MBAs and too much Wall Street influence! Hmm. Just a hunch.”

So, where do we go from here, national manufactured housing industry leaders? Know what? These folk get angry when I ‘call them out by name’, but do nothing when I don’t.
Hmm. Maybe next week….

II.

Ever Desire to Help Write a Book or Two?

Well, here’s your big chance. Actually maybe two opportunities; one for folk in the land-lease-lifestyle community business model, the other for HUD-Code home manufacturers – and their Business Development Managers, interested in selling more new homes into LLLCommunities! So, read the two descriptions here, then ‘take your pick’ or two; and if so inclined, express your interest to me – and the sooner the better….

In the first instance, we’re talking about a collection or compendium of first hand experiences, penned by land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators, willing to share Lessons Learned during their operation of this unique, income-producing property type. So, whether you’ve been – or continue to be, an owner and or property manager (on-site & regional alike) of one or more LLLCommunities, pick out a particular PM function area and describe ‘your Lesson Learned’. Function areas? Oh, property marketing; rental homesite leasing; cultivating good resident relations; maintenance-related adventures with a ‘lesson’; even the employee recruiting, screening, hiring, training, supervising cycle; etc.. Any helpful Rules of Thumb to share?

Here’s the best way to respond. Write, pen, or type a paragraph or two describing the territory you’d like to cover in a passage prepared for submission and consideration as a Lesson Learned During LLLCommunity Operations. Be sure to include your name, mailing address, and other contact information when you send it to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247.

Will need your initial input (i.e. paragraph or paragraphs) by the end of March 2014.

This means I can have you rewrite, refine and submit your selection by the end of April; to be evaluated, edited and possibly selected for inclusion in the book during May; for printing during June; binding during July; for distribution in early September. And OK to include a form or other aid (training & otherwise) that was integral to, or came out of this property management Lesson Learned being described. Questions? Simply phone me via (317) 346-7156.

In the second instance, we’re talking about a much-needed HOW TO guide for owners/operators of land-lease-lifestyle communities, who’re getting into the marketing, sale and financing of new HUD-Code homes on-site, for the first time; or have tried to do so – unsuccessfully, to date. In this instance, we’re looking for input from related but disparate sources: 1) LLLCommunity owners/operators with successful home sale experience on-site to date – and willing to share their ‘lessons learned’; and, 2) HUD-Code home manufacturers with a passion for filling vacant rental homesites in LLLCommunities – and willing to ‘teach how it’s done’, knowing there’ll need to be adjustments for the nuances of on-site home sales procedures. Assignment preference will be given to Business Development Managers, or BDMs, already identified as specialists in the Community Series Home designed product.

At this point, it’s envisioned this’ll be a two part book. Part I = “How to Spec & Buy New HUD-Code Homes from the Factory’; and, Part II = ‘How to Market, Sell, & when need be, Finance the Home Transaction on-site. Do YOU feel you have expertise you’d be willing to share in either or both these foci? While we have a lead author in mind, to shepherd this project from start to finish; if you feel you have special ability, even experience in handing this sort of writing project, by all means let us know ASAP. In the meantime; to participate as a writer, prepare a paragraph or two describing where you believe your strengths lie, and send this typed information to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247.

Here too, need your initial input no later than the end of this month, March 2014.

And again; if you have questions, phone me via (317) 346-7156.

III.

Community Series Homes & Plant Shows in 2014

Wow! Who ‘lit a fire’ under HUD-Code home manufacturers? During the past 60 days, here at GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, and where the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, was launched this past December, we’ve experienced the following, all in short order:

• More Community Series Homes, or CSH Model HUD-Code manufactured homes on display (e.g. Luavul MHShow in mid-January) than in any previous year, going back to 2/27/2009 when the concept was birthed! And now HUD-Code manufacturers, via their BDMs, are asking to have a say in refining the list of features used to describe CSH Models during the past five years. That’s exciting! Do YOU have recommended features, changes, etc? Let us know ASAP, as we’ll be reconstituting said list later this month (March) and distributing it in the Allen Letter professional journal.

• New BDMs! Where are they coming from? It’s like HUD-Code home manufacturers have suddenly decided they do want to have an active role filling the estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites in LLLCommunities across the U.S.. Great! Keep submitting those names of new Business Development Managers to us via (317) 346-7156. New BDM list in a few weeks.

• Plant Shows Everywhere! Nothing new about having plant shows – except this: Year 2014 appears to becoming the ‘Year of the Land-lease-lifestyle Community!’ as HUD-Code home manufacturers reach out not only to present home-buying owners/operators, but prospective ones as well. To date, it appears the Plant Shows, to this end, will feature an 1) Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity Asset Class, followed by 2) a plant tour, then 3) Open Discussions among participants re: ‘Why are you buying Community Series Homes?’ & ‘What will it take to get you to buy CSH Models?’ Need us for your plant show? Phone (317) 346-7156.

• COBA7. Already several major and regional HUD-Code home manufacturers have affiliated with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance! Why? For direct mail and networking access to the vast majority of LLLCommunity owners/operators not aligned with any national, and oft times not even state, manufactured housing associations, but who are known to be among the 500+/- property portfolio ‘players’ in the U.S. and Canada. If you’d like to learn more about this unique ‘new home sales’ marketing opportunity, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

See what I mean? The Growing Excitement is palpable and certainly palatable! And all this but scratches the surface of what’s going on these days outside historic, politically-charged trade circles. The most vibrant get-togethers are those organized by groups of businessmen and women insisting they’re NOT ‘down and out’, BUT ‘up and coming’, as they spec, buy, sell, and when need be, self-finance new and resale manufactured homes into and within their income-producing properties!

Here’re several examples. Plan NOW to participate in the 23rd annual Networking Roundtable in Peachtree City, GA., 10-12 September. And less than a month later, return to Atlanta, GA, on 1 & 2 October for the SECO Symposium! The latter two day event is replete with a half dozen homes on display, and is planned and hosted entirely by LLLCommunity owners/operators domiciled in the Southeast. For information, contact Chris Nicely via chrisnicely1@gmail.com

And for an ‘invite’ to the 23rd Networking Roundtable, use the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE cited earlier in this blog. 250 expected at this annual event. Oh, by the way, there’ll be a one day professional property management training and certification class on 30 September in Atlanta, GA. Have you earned your Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® certification yet?

Catch the Excitement of the 23rd Networking Roundtable, SECO Symposium, and get certified as a Manufactured Housing Manager®!

***

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

Why I Continue to Write for You….

March 2nd, 2014

Blog Column # 286 Copyright 2014 2 March 2014

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

Reason for this Bg. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog & Affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. ‘COBA7’, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877)MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

WHY I CONTINUE…

to write about manufactured housing & land-lease-lifestyle communities.

The following unsolicited reader response to last week’s blog posting, ‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park’, struck a thoughtful chord with me, as I pondered where to take us on our manufactured housing adventure this week.

“We, as in ‘the totality of the manufactured housing industry’, have left the Free Enterprise ‘tempered-by-social-consciousness’ building, all but forgetting our trademark roots: fast, low cost, decent quality housing! Most rental homesite rents are too high in many local housing markets; home payments (i.e. ‘PITI’, as in principal, interest, taxes & insurance alone, not including utility costs) often exceed the 30% federal Housing Expense Factor guideline by at least an additional 10-20%; we continue to not protect our residents with long term leases; and finally, continue to market new homes, as described in ‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park’, the way we’ve always done: ‘Ain’t she purty, dontcha want one?’, instead of diligently matching housing needs and wants with prospective homebuyer’s ability to pay.” (Edited, GFA) And I add: Until we develop a viable secondary market for HUD-Code manufactured home valuation, marketing, and resale – we’ll NOT return to the prosperous days of 250,000 new homes shipped per year!

So, in light of such dismal status quo and future for HUD-Code housing, ‘Why Do I continue to write about contemporary manufactured housing and LLLCommunities’? And as need be, (1) alternately support, expose, even agitate decision-makers and trade politicos responsible for the industry’s 15 year malaise, (2) continuing slide into obscurity, and (3) pricing oneself out of many local housing markets throughout the U.S.

BECAUSE No One Else, it Appears, Will Do So! They certainly haven’t done so to date!

But know what? There’re business and personal cost and consequences to exposing and agitating decision-makers and trade politicos – even (especially) when one is ‘right’ about what is said or penned, as is with the case of the aforementioned ‘blog flogger’ (reader), citing: ‘too high new housing product costs and too high site rents compared to other forms of multifamily housing in the same local housing market.’ And of course, this reality is aggravated by the inability of prospective homebuyers to qualify for chattel capital, unless they enjoy the highest of credit scores. What’s the business and personal cost of being right and forthright? Oft times, rejection by some – but of late, acceptance by a few and support by many more!

Let’s begin with my Chapbook of Business & Management Wisdom. Near the end, there’s a chapter titled, ‘Scintillatingly Salient but Salacious Secrets to Business Management Consulting Success…’ which contains this pithy, time-honed Rule of Thumb:

“To clearly identify one’s supporters, detractors, and in-betweens; observe who contracts for one’s consulting services, buys one’s books, and pays to subscribe to one’s periodicals – and who does not do so!” The ‘rule’ goes on to point out: “Some smart ones buy and subscribe – to learn or imitate what you’re doing well; the lazy ones simply don’t care or know any better; and the rest? Their ‘not-buying’ mirrors their protest.”

This is so very true. I’ve been watching it play out on the national scene this past year, in three clear but different ways.

• We’ve long made it a point to observe who subscribes, and who does not, where the Allen Letter professional journal & The Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter is concerned. Both are subscriber-supported, with some advertising revenue in play. Here, the frequently cited Bell-Shaped Curve is instructive. At one end of the curve are a relatively few mega-sized property portfolio owners/operators who do NOT subscribe to anything (Though their peers do so), likely because they believe ‘They’re big enough to be know it alls’, eschewing information, good advice, and services from outside their corporate boardrooms. At the other end of the bell-shaped curve are small Mom & Pop firms who generally can’t afford annual subscription fees – or don’t think they can. But then, there’s the huge center-of-the-curve mass section of the curve, where we find the remaining single property owners and super-abundance of small to mid-sized, even large-sized LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

• Then there’s the relatively recent hijacking of land-lease-lifestyle community national advocacy effort by a couple of the largest property portfolio firms and a couple politically-active individuals. The game plan here plays out in dual-focus fashion: On one hand, ‘affluence gerrymandering’ (i.e. ‘The artful limiting of meeting attendance by keeping the cost of member participation higher than necessary.’) enables ‘these few’ to plan and effect decision-making ‘in behalf of everyone’ (members). And, on the other hand, ‘once a year’ – as was the case this past Fall, invite the most affluent ‘players’ in the realty asset class, to the most expensive of downtown venues, for a day long ‘see and be seen’ ego-enhancing session, where little of substance was accomplished.

• Since the first of the year, there’s been a needed and noticeable ‘Breath of fresh air’ flowing through the ranks of land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators nationwide and Canada. Interested parties have hailed from manufacturing and post production segments of the manufactured housing industry. affiliating with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, to collectively advance their mutual business interests, NOT via periodic meetings in high cost urban and resort settings, but via reasonable peer networking and deal making environments! There’s also been a keen and growing desire for improved print and online communication of key industry and asset class statistics, identification of trends, and How To information. And last but not least, interest – finally, in availing themselves of affordable professional property management training and certification among LLLCommunity owners and managers alike.

No, this is not the whole, and certainly not the end of the story, where manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle communities are concerned. It is, however, a tender stage. While the seven functions of COBA7 have been identified and publicized, time and again these past 60 days, it’s vital the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class have united and ‘more than adequate’ national advocacy representation in our Nation’s Capitol. Therefore, the following, perennial, tough question continues to be asked, and remains – to this day – unanswered by our elected and salaried leaders:

Is the present day dual national advocacy representation format (two national trade bodies) and foci (‘Change Dodd-Frank legislation & CFPB regs), for HUD-Code manufactured housing, the Most Effective Approach to lobbying legislators and regulators in our nation’s capitol; OR is it time, for a Serious National Conversation regarding where (1) manufactured housing production and distribution, (2)all post-production segments of the industry, and (3) the land-lease-lifestyle communities realty asset class are today; where we should or would like to be going; and how to best arrive at said destination(s) or goal(s)? Until we do so, frankly, as an industry ‘we’re dead in the water’ of business opportunity and return to prosperity! Hope our national leaders are paying attention….

The sole whiff of intent, to this end (Reread previous paragraph) can be seen and read in full page ads run by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory’ Reform (‘MHARR’), in current issues of The Journal and the Allen Letter professional journal – the only two remaining trade print publications continuing to serve the manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community realty asset class! Read & Respond!

Your considered response to all this? Let me know via this website, or the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

II.

‘What Does It Take to be an Exceptional Company?’

Quoted from an ad for Deloitte Consulting in the ATLANTIC magazine.

Reportedly, after analyzing 45 years of data, among 25,000 companies, Deloitte Consulting identified 174 exceptional companies, whose successes appeared to depend on a commitment to Three Rules apparently governing how exceptional companies think – under any and all circumstances, these being:

• Better Before Cheaper. Be known for higher quality, not lower prices

• Revenue Before Cost. Higher revenue is worth more than lower cost

• There Are No Other Rules. Make every choice based on the first two rules.

After reading, rereading, and pondering these Three Rules, I found myself attempting to apply them to companies I’ve known, over three decades, in manufactured housing and throughout the land-lease-lifestyle community realty asset class. Know what? I can easily think of firms who, for awhile anyway, excelled as their quality housing product, and exceptional lifestyle opportunities buoyed them above their competition at the time. And even at the other end of the spectrum, where producing/shipping inexpensive housing, and operating bare bones rental properties, were concerned, one still had to perform ‘better than cheaper’, where the competition was concerned.

And Revenue Before Cost. Not as ‘cut & dry’. Any businessman or woman, with a modicum of business sense, understands this ‘rule of thumb’. BUT, for awhile, just prior to the turn of the century, when HUD-Code home manufacturers, in concert with independent ‘street’ MHRetailers competed head-to-head with site builders; and LLLCommunity REITs, et. al., increased rental homesite rents to please Wall Street analysts, our ‘double dual industry’ (home manufacturing/distribution & realty development/investment) went on such a ‘revenue binge’, selling homes and leasing sites, to people who couldn’t afford them, that today – 15 years later, we’re still reeling from the negative consequences of playing that rule too far too long.

Learn more about these three rules at: TheThreeRules.com

III

Illinois Legislators Consider Needless
LLLCommunityLegislation

Letters, Phone Calls & Petitions Needed ASAP = Yes, This Coming Week!

A bill considered and defeated last year in the Illinois House, has been quietly and quickly resurrected – to the clear detriment of owners and residents of land-lease-lifestyle communities (A.k.a. manufactured home communities) throughout the state.

This bill, if passed, would force LLLCommunity owners to collect $1.00 – $3.00 per resident each month, to be paid into a Relocation Fund. This fund, in turn, would be used if/when a multifamily rental property of this type is closed at some point in the future.

Why is this proposed legislation needless? Because only two Illinois LLLCommunities have been ‘closed’ during the past decade, and relocation costs in both instances, were generous and paid by companies buying the properties to convert them into higher, better uses.

So, if you’re reading this blog posting and have business interests in the state of Illinois, contact the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association to learn how YOU can help defeat this onerous legislation this week!. Suggest phoning (217) 528-3423, and talk to Frank Bowman.

IV.

Do These COBA7 Opportunities Interest YOU?

Here’re Several Unique Opportunities for YOU to Consider This Week….

This past week, letters of inquiry went out to 60 individuals known as independent, freelance consultants serving the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class nationwide. If you receive one of these letters, please respond right away, to ensure your talents and expertise are properly described in the 15th annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ Signature Series Resource Document, or SSRD, scheduled for distribution to COBA7 affiliates, in the March issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. And if you don’t receive one of these inquiry letters, but believe you should be included in the SSRD as ‘an independent, freelance consultant serving the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class’, FAX your business description and or personal vitae, to (317) 346-7158 for consideration. Submission of information does not guarantee inclusion in the ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ SSRD. Questions? Call COBA7 via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG o r 633-4764.

This past week, announcements were sent to 60 individuals who’ve participated in past FOCUS Group meetings, as well as LLLCommunity owners/operators who’ve expressed interest in participating in a future such gathering. If you receive one of these announcements, indicate your date & location preference, as well as list three topics you’d like to see discussed during the 1 ½ day session, and return the questionnaire via FAX, on or before Friday, 7 march 2014, using FAX # (317) 346-7158. If you’re a LLLCommunity owner/operator reading this, and would like to volunteer use of your clubhouse (Must seat 30+/- comfortably, from 8AM – 4PM), and the property is within a half hour of a major airport, contact me ASAP: (317) 346-7156. And if you’re a LLLCommunity owner/operator and would like to be put on the list of FOCUS Group invitees (for this or subsequent sessions), contact me via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE cited in the previous paragraph. COBA7 affiliates will be given priority as invitees. To become a COBA7 affiliate, also use the aforementioned Official MHIndustry HOTLINE.

This past week, tentative contract arrangements were made to host the 23rd International Networking Roundtable at a conference center in Peachtree City, GA., from 10 – 12 September 2014. Not ready to announce details; they’ll be coming soon.

Those of you who’ve expressed interest in writing a selection or two for inclusion in the Lessons Learned from LLLCommunity Operations book, being researched and prepared this year, should contact me by email (gfa7156@aol.com) ASAP, so I have your name and tentative subject at hand. Also phone (317) 346-7156.

And probably the most exciting announcement of this past week, was that of the dates & location for annual SECO gathering of LLLCommunity owners/operators in Atlanta, GA., on 1 & 2 October 2014. Besides the half dozen or more new HUD-Code homes on display, and a series of exciting HOW TO seminars being planned, I’ll be conducting the popular one day professional property management, Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® one day class on September 30, at the same Wyndham Hotel, the day before the SECO event begins. What a Great Opportunity for YOU and or your on-site managers to participate in two seminal events in as many days! For information on both venues, contact Chris Nicely via (865) 385-9675 or chrisnicely1@gmail.com. And now there’s a website to visit: www.seco14.org

****

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

Responses to ‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park! & more….

February 23rd, 2014

Blog Column # 285 Copyright 2014 16 February 2014

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, is the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

Purpose of this blog. ‘It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog, & Affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. COBA7, via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park’

Stimulates Record Response from Blog Floggers (Readers)!

If YOU missed last week’s posting, at this website, scroll back to blog # 284.
Suggest you peruse it (again?) before reading further here…

Space here for only two responses; first from a land-lease-lifestyle community turnaround specialist in California; the second, from a Midwest independent (street) MHRetailer.

“Outstanding commentary! (Summarizing) “…manufactured housing industry devotes an extraordinary amount of its’ resources to sell homes to people who really aren’t qualified home buyers. Why? Because they allow us to sell the old mobile home way…it’s easier than selling to qualified buyers who require a lot more effort. Manufactured housing may be the only industry in America who ignores the customer’s desires in their marketing practices. Unfortunately for us, potential buyers are much more savvy these days and appear to be abandoning us n droves.” Gub Mix, circa 2000

That was penned 14 years ago! And not only did homebuyers abandon us, so did chattel capital. Recall these ‘telling numbers’? 1999 = 348,843 new HUD-Code homes shipped; 2000 = 250,550; 2009 = only 49,789; & by 2013 = 60,228.*1 Year 2014?

In my opinion, the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry’s return to 1990s era performance and profitability depends on three factors, aptly expressed using the acronym ACE. That’s short for AFFORDABILITY (Many, if not most, new homes continue to be overpriced! When will our home manufacturers learn?), CAPITAL. We’re going ‘nowhere’ without ready and accessible sources of chattel and real estate-secured capital. So, land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators Must Learn HOW to engage in effective, regulatory compliant self-finance of on-site home sale transactions via one or another form of ‘captive finance’, the lease-option, even the ‘renting of homes as apartments’ when need be; and, EQUILIBRIUM – meaning, HUD-Code home manufacturers must believe and perform in a manner acknowledging LLLCommunities are ‘Where the Action is!’, relative to filling an estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites throughout the U.S. Do they believe? Not yet! But it is ‘telling’, in some local housing markets, as many singlesection manufactured homes are being built and shipped these days, as multisection homes. So, remember and practice ACE!

And here’s another reaction to the midweek posting of ‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park’. This from a commissioned salesperson, and lightly edited:

‘Would it be anyone’s (including lender, salesperson, or park’s fault) that she (the wife/mother in the story) lost her job?

They were ‘big spenders’ and bought the large SUV. In my book, that’s just flat-out irresponsible, not creating a ‘buffer’ for unforeseen expenses. That’s part of being an adult, homeowner, and having a family.

The unexpected child? Blessing for sure, but kids are expensive and there are methods to prevent this if so desired.

They didn’t PLAN for the lot rent to kick in? WHY? They KNEW it would! Refer to previous ‘buffer’ statement…and their VARIABLE (Yes, it means just that…variable) rate to go up as it sure could have gone down (as the trend was in roughly 1996 – 2005).

And, how would this (tale) reflect poorly on our industry when nothing illegal or even ‘shady’ had been done? All promises seem to have been fulfilled by all parties involved, and terms seem to have been presented in an honest, forthright manner at point of sale.’ HM

How would you answer this latter commentary regarding ‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Community’?

End Note: *1. Remember the ‘2013 annual new HUD-Code home shipment total’ controversy raised in Part IV. of blog # 283 a few weeks ago? Whether, as an industry, we’d shipped 60,228 or 60,210 new HUD-Code homes during year 2013? Well, after studying official shipment tallies provided by HUD; as unofficial MHIndustry historian, we’re opting to go with the former, or 60,228 number in COBA7 Signature Series Resource Documents we research, print, and distribute throughout the year. These SSRDs include:1) the Industry Briefing Sheet (most popular four page reference requested in the U.S. & Canada); 2) Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity Realty Asset Class briefing outline; and, 3) whatever book(s) we publish during the year. To affiliate with COBA7, to receive the monthly Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, and a dozen other SSRDs, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

II.

Signature Series Resource Documents, or SSRDs, Published to Date by COBA7

Reading & Using This Seminal Information in Your Business?

Did YOU Know? According to 25th Anniversary ALLEN REPORT (A.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America’), the total number of rental homesites (in land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities) owned by real estate investment trusts (‘REITs’) has increased from just 88,450 in 1994, to 217,769 in 2013; a 246 percent increase in sites!

Did YOU Know? According to the Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity Realty Asset Class presentation outline, distributed February 2014, by year 2012, the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry was shipping almost same number of singlesection homes as multisection homes to customers throughout the U.S.?

Did YOU Know? According to the 16th National Registry of Lenders, listing 21 real estate-secured mortgage originators and all chattel capital sources, the real estate – secured lenders & brokers originated a grand total of $4,195,000,000.00 in finance and refinance loans during year 2013! This ‘second most popular SSRD, behind the aforementioned ALLEN REPORT, will be distributed to COBA7 affiliates with the March edition of the Allen Letter professional journal. So, if not already having done so, phone and affiliate with COBA7 today, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Did YOU Know? In April, COBA7 will be distributing the 15th edition of the annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ list of freelance consultants working manufactured housing and LLLCommunities coast to coast and in Canada. If you’re a freelance consultant and want to be considered for inclusion in this widely referenced directory, simply phone (317) 346-7156 and present your bona fides. GFA

III.

A Special Offer

to State & Province Manufactured Housing Associations in U.S. & Canada!

As you likely know by now, the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance has been ‘up & running’ since mid-December 2013. To date, COBA7 has signed-up more businessmen and women affiliates, than the total number of members claimed by national advocacy entities representing land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities, in North America!

Here’s how one New England-based LLLCommunity owner/operator views this debut: “I continue to enjoy reading your perspective, on industry happenings, in your blog – and look forward to see how COBA7 develops. Personally, I think an alliance is a much better approach, as opposed to (creating) another lobbying effort. Thank you for your continued dedication to the (manufactured housing) industry.” JC

These businessmen and women include mostly LLLCommunity operators, large and small; product/service vendors serving the realty asset class (e.g. real estate-secured lenders and brokers); as well as HUD-Code home manufacturers desiring to market their new homes to these property owners.

COBA7 is NOT a new, national, not for profit trade body; but rather, an alliance of independent businessmen and women who’ve decided to affiliate with the sole international resource actively engaged in effecting the following seven functions:

• Ongoing statistical research and data distribution, e.g. 25th annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. the ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ There is no other source of LLLCommunity related benchmark and performance statistics.

• Continual updating and distribution of more than a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents. These SSRDs include the 16th annual National Registry of Lenders – both real estate-secured and chattel capital sources & servicer; Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity Asset Class presentation outline, and at least ten more such reports & directories

• Online & print communication via 1) this weekly blog posting,2) the Allen Letter professional journal, and 3) the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter – patronized by corporate officers needing timely intelligence.

• Superb peer networking opportunities via periodic FOCUS Groups, and 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable. Latter is tentatively scheduled for 10-12 September 2014.

• Deal-making opportunities via newsletters, peer networking, and more….
• Professional property management training and certification via popular Manufactured Housing Manager® – with nearly 1,000 MHMs® already trained, certified, and now working throughout the U.S. & Canada!

• And, when necessary, engage in national advocacy, relative to matters ignored or overlooked by other LLLCommunity bodies. Two initiatives are being pursued at present.

So, effective with the posting of this weekly blog, state and province MHAssociations, with LLLCommunity owners/operators members, are too welcome to affiliate with COBA7. Cost? Same as with business affiliates, only $544.95/year. For that amount, receive a 12 month subscription to the Allen Letter professional journal, all the SSRDs, and invitation to participate in the annual Networking Roundtable. Also consider the opportunity to host the one day MHM® training session, with tuition at $250.00/MHM candidate – and your association receives a $50.00 rebate for each person attending. Two states already considering scheduling MHM® classes this year.

This $544.95 annual COBA7 affiliation fee is less than what state & province MHAssociations presently pay to belong to most national advocacy bodies. And look what you receive – relative to LLLCommunities, in return?

Again, if interested in additional information, or want to affiliate with COBA7, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 today!

*****

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master
GFA Management, Inc.,
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

Lest We Forget: ‘Upside Down in a Mobilehome Park’

February 13th, 2014

Lest We Forget!

14 years ago, I penned ‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park’ for the now defunct Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine. The feature bluntly described sorry homeownership situations the manufactured housing industry, and its’ home buying/site lessee customers, frequently got themselves into, circa year 2000.

Few at the time appreciated my ‘airing our industry’s dirty laundry in public’; but as annual new home shipment volume continued the precipitous slide begun in 1999, ending in 2009, the expose’ proved warranted and instructional! It returns here today, as a timely and authoritative ‘WARNING to the MHIndustry’, to eschew any revival of interest in, or efforts to obtain, ‘too easy to access chattel capital’ for manufactured homes.

The ‘numbers’?: 1999 = 348,843; 2000 = 250,550; 2009 = 49,789; & 2013 = 60,228

‘UPSIDE DOWN in a Mobilehome Park’
(lightly edited)

By George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master

The title ‘Upside Down…’ caught my eye as I browsed among art film titles in a local video store. Rented the film, took it home, and here’s what was viewed..

The movie’s setting is unclear. Could easily have been in New England, the Southeast, or the Pacific Northwest, though I’ve seen similar manufactured home communities in the rural Midwest. No question however, this was an upscale land lease MHCommunity installing new multisection manufactured homes on-site.

Central characters were a young couple, George & Carolyn, buying their first home. Both employed, no children or pets, and two older cars. And there was H. ‘Itch’ Balle, the retail sales center salesman/manager. Film begins with George reading this classified ad: ‘L(.)(.)K, New Homes for sale at Sherwood Forest Estates’. What catches his eye, besides the nearby location, is the $4,000.00 move-in incentive offer! George phones, he and Carolyn visit, really like what they see, and buy. Their new home, already sited, but not yet landscaped, is an $80,000.00 multisection HUD-Code manufactured home.

Everything seemed to be going their way! Originally expecting to have to come up with $4,500.00 down payment, they only paid $500.00! How so? The $4,000.00 ‘move-in incentive’ was graciously applied, by the retailer/developer, to improve their homesite with shrubs, porch and carport. Then that amount was added to the balance they’d be financing.

Even financing arrangements were a steal! Mr. Balle arranged for them to avoid paying ‘10% over 30 years’ terms (that’d have meant $733.13/month payments *1), and got them a variable rate loan of only ‘9% over 30 years’ with maximum possible increase of 2% (or two points) after one year. Their first year rate was only $672.18/month *2 on their new home mortgage!

And the Good News didn’t stop there! At the point in the movie when George & Carolyn suggest they might ‘shop around’ before committing to buy at Sherwood Forest, ‘Itch’ announced the entire first year’s rent of $285.00/month would be waived if they signed the sales contract that very day!

Now, that was a ‘no brainer’ decision if ever there was one. They’d already ‘saved’ $4,000.00 on the housing down payment (Somehow they thought they’d be paying off less than $83,500 though….); were saving $60.95/month on the loan payment, or $731.40 per year; and now, a ‘signing bonus’ (Just like a pro athlete!), they were saving yet another $3,420.00 in rent during the first year of being a resident at Sherwood Forest Estates. This was all too good to be true! No question; they signed.

Then the video fast-forwarded a year and a month into the future. The euphoric sales center scene of 13 months ago is now a distant bittersweet memory. During the past year, Carolyn had become pregnant and was no longer working. And with the extra money from the ‘house deal’ – more than $4,000.00 in down payment and mortgage savings, waived rent, and no security deposit (Forgot to mention that little gem earlier), they’d bought an expensive new SUV on payments.

It was bill-paying day and George & Carolyn were out of money. Their variable rate mortgage payment had just jumped from $672.18/month to almost $800.00/month *3 – not including property tax and homeowner insurance commitments. And a previously unknown notice had just arrived, a monthly site rent bill of not $285.00/month, but $300.00/month, incorporating an annual rent increase. Where in the world were they going to come up with at least an extra $400.00 every month, on just one salary, to pay rent, mortgage, payments on the new car, and with a baby on the way?

As the movie ended, this couple was, in effect, completely upside down in their financial commitments and responsibilities – with no easy way out, but to walk away from their new dream home. The epilogue, through a voice-over by a moderator, listed the winners and losers in this housing transaction….

Winners. Commissioned salespersons selling new homes. Lenders providing high interest chattel mortgages. Developers intent on filling new MHCommunities within a year, and then flipping/selling to the highest bidder. Homeowner/site lessees during only the first year of their tenancy.

Losers. The HUD-Code manufactured housing industry’s image and reputation! Lenders risking repossession and losing money, but able to resell and originate new loans. Salespersons setting homebuyers up for a ‘fall’ will likely suffer consequences somewhere, somehow, along the line. And developers earn a reputation for profiteering.

As I contemplated an appropriate moral, lesson learned, or summary for ‘Upside Down in a Mobilehome Park’, several came to mind: a little Latin, a slang expression, a Biblical admonition, and a quote from Gub Mix’s popular column, ‘From My Soapbox’:

• Caveat emptor…’Let the buyer beware!’

• ‘A sucker is born every minute.’

• The Golden Rule…’Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You!’ Matthew 7:12, and NOT the God Rule: ‘He who Has the Gold Rules!’

• “…manufactured housing industry devotes an extraordinary amount of its’ resources to sell homes to people who really aren’t qualified home buyers. Why? Because they allow us to sell the old mobile home way…it’s easier than attempting to sell to qualified buyers who require a lot more effort. Manufactured housing may be the only industry in America who ignores the customer’s desires in their marketing practices. Unfortunately for us, potential buyers are much more savvy these days and appear to be abandoning us in droves.” June 2000. Gub Mix has since retired.

End Notes.

1. $80,000 (-) $500 DP (+) $4,000 add back = $83,500.00 (or 83.5) X 8.78 loan factor = $733.13/month

2. $83,500 ( or 83.5) X 8.05 loan factor = $672.18/month

3. $83,500 ( or 83.5) X 9.52 loan factor = $794.92/month.

If interested in learning more about the Community Owners Business Alliance, or COBA7, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Affiliates include land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators, HUD-Code home manufacturers, product/service providers, and state MHAssociations in the U.S. & CN.

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