Answers to Five Tough Questions, Community Buying Group & More…

May 23rd, 2015

COBA7® presents Blog # 350 via, copyright 24 May 2015

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

This blog posting is the national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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

Introduction to this week’s blog posting. Whew! What an exciting two weeks it’s been, processing your answers to the Five Tough Questions! And, if not already an affiliate of COBA7®, here’s one more (new) good reason to do so ASAP! And finally; a successful LLLCommunity owner/operator ‘goes on record’ as to why he/she actively sells & self-finances new HUD-Code homes on-site in LLLCommunities. Three hot topics to read here!


Blog Readers’ Reply to Five Tough Questions

Few of our weekly blog postings during the past seven years have generated as much thoughtful, helpful, passionate response at this multifaceted topic two weeks ago:

‘Five Tough Manufactured Housing Questions Never Before Addressed in Any Public Forum’

Two weeks later, we continue to receive worthy input from businessmen and women actively engaged in manufactured housing & or land-lease-lifestyle communities.

Following are abbreviated versions of the Five Tough Questions, followed by a summary composite of responses received from at least a dozen conscientious individuals.

1. Remain under HUD’s regulatory oversight (per 1976 – 2015 experience), OR seek eventual deregulation?

One response: “If not too late, exit HUD regulation (and join NAHB); but if too late to exit, then simply find ways to WIN with them hanging on our backs. HUD is not fixable, nor will they ever be. They are ‘gubment’ and like Reagan said so well, ‘Beware the person knocking on your door, saying: ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” NB

Probable Bottom Line? Our ‘Big 3-C’ HUD-Code home manufacturers have far too much invested in the past-to-present day business model to change anytime soon; and frankly, they appreciate, even enjoy the protection federal preemption provides, relative to the HUD’s performance-based building code. And given the recent increase in HUD label fees, and moving to the front burner, long dormant programs with potential fines attached, smacks of assurance dollars will be forthcoming to keep the manufactured housing program afloat. Forget deregulation for the foreseeable future!

2. Continue using chattel (personal property) capital to finance in-LLLCommunity home sales transactions; OR, convert to lower interest rate, realty-secured home mortgages likely featuring written rental homesite leases with longer terms than purchase agreement on the home itself?

The latter possibility raises more questions than answers at present, e.g. “How’s this handled in Hawaii? How’s it handled in New Hampshire, where ‘the change’ is already long in place among all LLLCommunities there?” BB. Hmm. Lessons to be learned, pondered and maybe someday effected!”

Probable Bottom Line? Change is likely a-coming; the real question is when? Year 2016 or 2020, or later? With all that said however, don’t ‘count out’ the independent chattel finance firms – yet. Reportedly, Berkshire-Hathaway firms, 21st Mortgage Corporation & Vanderbilt Mortgage& Finance, Inc., presently originate chattel capital loans for 39 percent of the national market, while Wells Fargo garners 6 percent; and the remaining 55 percent is shared by 7,000+/- lenders nationwide.

3. Future of manufactured housing sales, within and outside land-lease-lifestyle communities?

Manufactured housing marketing and sales = manufactured housing distribution. And at present we have four distinct, though at times overlapping business models afoot:

• Independent (street) MHRetailers (formerly known as ‘dealers’). Traditionally filled vacant rental homesites in manufactured home communities cum land-lease-lifestyle communities. Today? Depends on the local housing market, but there’s still ‘some of the same’, as well as strong interest in selling/contracting land & home packages using manufactured and modular homes. But far fewer in business today than 15 years ago.

• Company stores. Manufacturer-owned (street) MHRetailers primarily marketing their corporate brand(s) of manufactured and modular homes in the manner just described..

• Quasi direct sales to consumer outlets, e.g. Factory Expo Homes and others. Where new manufactured homes are marketed online, and or at sales centers often sited near home manufacturing plants. ‘Quasi’ (‘almost’), because consumers remain unable to buy new manufactured homes directly from manufacturers.

• Land-lease-lifestyle Communities. Today, this is a mixed-bag situation. Many, if not most LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators are engaged in on-site marketing, sales, even seller-financing of new manufactured homes to fill vacant rental homesites. However, this paradigm shift in that business model has yet to impact the majority of LLLCommunities throughout the U.S., i.e. those properties containing fewer than 100 rental homesites apiece, or 85 percent of the estimated 50,000 property inventory nationwide..

Probable Bottom Line? While all are valid means for distributing HUD-code manufactured homes nationwide, a major evolution in home sales could occur among the aforesaid 85 percent of the estimated 50,000+/- national inventory of smaller LLLCommunities; as owners/operators 1) learn how to market, sell and seller-finance new homes on-site; and, 2) HUD-Code home manufacturers recognize this mostly untapped national market, and make it easier for owners/operators to buy, even finance, their product upon sale to homebuyers/site lessees. Both must happen, or this fledgling ‘buy here/pay here’ MH distribution model will not blossom!

4. Future of manufactured housing installation within and outside land-lease-lifestyle communities?

• Federal Installation Standard of 2007 versus Frost Free Foundation®

• Home warranties to cover home installations

Probable Bottom Line. This is a scary question, one awash with unanswered questions. If HUD enforces the Federal Installation Standard in 2016, land-lease-lifestyle communities will likely bear the brunt of the estimated $5,000.00/rental homesite ‘new foundation’ or ‘retrofitting’ cost! The unanswered questions: Will existing concrete foundations, in presently compliant states, be grandfathered – as rumored? Will HUD ‘encourage or discourage’ widespread use and approval of the Frost Free Foundation®, among LLLCommunity owners/operators and state inspection agencies, in lieu of wholesale reconfiguration of rental homesites? To learn more about Frost Free Foundation®, phone the official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG & request the COBA7® FFF Signature Series Resource Document, or SSRD. It’s FREE to everyone! A simplest answer to all this, for the time being, is to buy one’s new HUD-Code homes only from manufacturers describing and encouraging use of FFF in their official Installation Manuals; learn all you can about the FFF system; and, implement it properly!

5. Future of rental homesite rent rates in land-lease-lifestyle communities?

“Let the market rule! Avoid formulae and laws.” SG

Probable Bottom Line. The blog flogger (reader) is right. In the words of the French: ‘laissez-faire’ or noninterference! After all, look what happened to the original ARC, more than one LLLCommunity REIT; Capital First Realty and others. Just be aware, the 3:1 Rule of Thumb (i.e. average area site rent = 1/3rd unit rent for a 3BR2B conventional apartment in same local housing market) has worked well for more than 40 years; while the 2:1 Rule of Thumb aberration not nearly so well, except in a few specialty (e.g. Sunbelt, all adult communities) local housing markets!


COBA7® Partners with Community Buying Group
to Save Affiliates $$$!

Did you know? COBA7®, as a valuable new service for its’ hundreds of its’ affiliates, has partnered with Community Buying Group, to save money on materials, products and services from a wide variety of national sources and vendors. And there’s NO cost to COBA7® affiliates for this unique service.

Begin buying and saving at Lowe’s, Sherwin-Williams, Sunbelt Rentals, and at least 20 additional CBG Preferred Partners. And the most exciting part we can’t tell you yet, beyond this hint: ‘Who’d YOU like to buy WHAT from, in this MHBusiness, and save mega-dollars along the way?’ Think about it….

Community Buying Group has a list of all COBA7® affiliates. So, as an affiliate, all you have to do is visit to sign up NOW! Couldn’t be easier!

To affiliate with COBA7®, simply telephone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Frankly, It’s, by far, the wisest way to invest $134.95, or $544.95, even $944.95/year to receive, in the first instance, 12 issues of the Allen Letter professional journal; or, same subscription, plus a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents, e.g. annual ALLEN REPORT, Lenders’ Registry, and much much more! And the $944.95 gets you the Allen Letter, 12 SSRDs, and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter…containing MHIndustry intelligence before it becomes MHIndustry News!


The Compelling Case for Selling New HUD
Homes on-site in LLLCommunities!

Received the following, as an email, from a fellow LLLCommunity owner and COBA7® affiliate.

“New manufactured homes work best for me right now, because ‘repos’ are older, harder to find, and more expensive. Our experience is, buyers prefer new manufactured homes for the same reasons they prefer new cars: no previous owner, no dents or scratches, no smoke or pet odors, and the one year bumper-to-bumper warranty. The key to successful manufactured housing sales is to qualify the buyer and get a substantial down payment on the new home. Specifically, sell to those who CAN & WILL make the mortgage payments. New manufactured homes generally improve the appearance of the LLLCommunity and attract a higher demographic resident, as well as prospective homebuyers.”

As a related aside, this LLLCommunity owner/operator provides seller-originated financing for virtually all his/her homebuyer/site lessees. This chattel capital comes from local banks, private sources, etc.

Pretty much says it all, dontcha think? Come to the 24th annual International Networking Roundtable, 9-11 September 2015, at the Hilton Resort Hotel on Mission Bay in San Diego, CA., and learn more about this process – particularly those of you reading this blog posting not yet engaged in the on-site sale and seller-financing of new HUD-Code manufactured homes. For a descriptive brochure/registration form, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.


6 MHIndustry Trends, & Time for New Type MHShow?

May 16th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 349 Copyright @ 17 May 2015

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

This blog posting is the national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press) , research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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


Introduction to Parts I & II of this week’s blog posting.

In Part I, a half dozen contemporary MHIndustry & LLLCommunity trends are identified, along with positive & negative consequences; and, ending with ‘Five Tips to ID Trends!’

Part II, asks, ‘Time and Trends Ripe for a New Type Regional Manufactured Housing Show?’ Hint. The answer is ‘yes’, but how will it look when ready to debut will be the subject of a future blog posting here and elsewhere.


Identifying, Using & ‘Dissing’ Business Trends

“You don’t need the Psychic Hotline to find out what the future holds for your business, but you do need to pay attention to trends. Unlike fads, trends are long-term tendencies that shape our culture and companies. They reflect what is happening in the world around us and help predict what is to come. “

So reads wise guidance relied on during 26 years publishing the Allen Letter professional journal, and nearly seven years penning the Allen CONFIDENTIAL!, a highly respected, limited circulation business newsletter. I no longer recall who provided the sage advice, but it’s been appreciated time and again. At the end of this posting, I’ll list the ‘Five Tips for Tapping into Trends’ that complement the opening quote

In the meantime, I’ll tell you this, the quote’s been a valuable maxim, reminding me to stay alert to and describe emerging trends. In today’s blog, I’ll identify several, but not all the national trends shaping ‘mobile home parks’ into manufactured home communities during the 1970s thru 1990s; then land-lease-lifestyle communities, circa 2005. Will also describe positive and negative characteristics of each trend; and how recently, an accidental ‘dissing’ (‘disrespecting’) of an established LLLCommunity trend, could foist unintended consequences on the manufactured housing industry.

First the trends.

Land-lease-lifestyle community consolidation has been an ongoing, albeit intermittent, trend since the mid-to late 1970s. Then, ‘syndicators’ roamed the land, searching for failed ‘mobile home parks’ to acquire as tax write-offs and turnaround opportunities for their doctor and lawyer limited partners. That drill ended in 1986 with a tax law change. Consolidation then became a series of ‘waves’, first documented in the Roulac RE Consulting Group of Deloitte Haskins + Sells ‘Largest Mobile Home Park Owners list’ in 1987 – precursor to the annual (26th) ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s
Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’).

Since then, we’ve seen the real estate investment trust (‘REIT’) wave build from four LLLCommunity property portfolios in 1994 & 1995, to crest at six a decade later; then decline in number to three, five years later (2009); remaining at that small number today (2015) – though new IPOs (Initial Public Offerings of stock, as REITs, is reportedly in the offing.

Next came a few equity ‘players’, one of whom, Hometown America, operates to this day.

And the most recent consolidation wave is evidenced by aggregators buying and flipping property portfolios often comprised of marginally-performing LLLCommunities, to capital sources outside the manufactured housing industry.

Positive aspects of all these consolidation waves? Certainly have popularized LLLCommunities as a realty investment vehicle; and to a lesser degree, highlighted and promoted the lifestyle, especially all adult communities in Sunbelt regions.

Negative aspects of all these consolidation waves? Gone, pretty much, are the days of strong and vibrant state manufactured housing associations, as Mom & Pop-developed LLLCommunities have been absorbed into (now) 500+/- property portfolios nationwide. Large portfolio owners, or their representatives, have supplanted heretofore wealthy sole proprietors active in local and national advocacy matters, seriously reducing attendance at statewide meetings and local chapters. And some would say, certain large property portfolio ‘players’ have, at times, played havoc with local housing market rental homesite rent rates, raising them too much and too frequently, negatively affecting occupancy rates and the value of homes titled by homeowner/site lessees.

Majority of earliest ‘mobile home parks’ were designed to site small (then) singlewide mobile homes. In time however, as the housing type became more popular, and manufacturers understood the $$$ potential of the ‘big box = big bucks’ mantra, multisection homes became vogue – requiring manufactured home community design and development to accommodate the evolving trend. Positives? Today’s larger manufactured homes are certainly more ‘homelike’ than ever before. And today’s newer LLLCommunities ‘look & feel’ more like communities than their high density ‘mobile home park’ predecessors; both measures popularizing, once again, the lifestyle. Negatives? Less unit density = (likely) less ROI. And, unfortunately, that’s also one of the factors working against the ‘affordable housing’ reputation of manufactured housing in years past. While today’s large manufactured homes cost less per square foot, than site-built competition; the tendency, on the part of some large property portfolio owners/operators to ‘push the envelope’ where rental homesite rent rates are concerned, increasing the difficulty of making a case for housing affordability.

National advocacy for manufactured housing has been around for more than seven and three decades respectively, where MHI & MHARR are concerned. However, national advocacy for (then) manufactured home communities did not become a necessity – or the beginning of an eventual wave, until the early 1990s, when several large property portfolios launched IPOs, eventually becoming REITs in 1994 & 1995. Two years earlier, in 1993, the Industry Steering Committee (‘ISC’) was formed by 19 LLLCommunity owners/operators. And in early 1996, the National Communities Council was launched by MHI, absorbing the ISC, eventually making the NCC a full-fledged division.

In early 2014, the national advocacy wave crested with the formation of the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Affiliates®, or COBA7® – where national advocacy is the last of seven function areas.

Positives? If nothing else, national representation and advocacy on the national political and regulatory level. But now, with the debut of COBA7®, there’s 1) ongoing statistical research, 2) monthly distribution of key resource material, 3) weekly and monthly print and online communication via blog and newsletters, 4) & 5) superb networking and deal-making opportunities, and 6) professional property management training and certification via the Manufactured Housing Manager® program.

Negatives? At least two. ‘Too much power by too few at the top’, as in manufacturer members (i.e. the Big Three ‘C’ firms: Clayton, Champion, Cavco), and too few housing finance and (now) land-lease-lifestyle Community portfolio owners/operators! Then there’s ‘affluence gerrymandering’, the purposeful scheduling of national meetings at high-priced resort venues where only the wealthiest businessmen and women can afford to attend – hence, enjoying limited opposition when it comes to deciding matters of national policy and procedure. To this abuse is the added ‘insult to injury’, whereby proxy voting is banned, by at least one national advocacy entity, at national meetings,

Hard to say here, which trend came first, widespread interest in submetering utilities to increase profitability and conserve energy and natural resources; or, resident relations as a professional property management focus that along with profitability and curb appeal, distinguished the better run properties, from those left to languish. Positives? Again, increased profitability and conservation of energy and resources in the first instance; better reputation, more resident referrals, and longer resident retention, in the latter instance. Negatives? Beats me.

Marketing, selling, and often seller-financing new Community Series Homes, or CSH Model manufactured homes on-site in (now) land-lease-lifestyle communities is one of the newest, ongoing trends, to characterize contemporary operations. Forced on owners/operators, with the departure of ‘easy to access chattel capital’ at the turn of the century, and resulting disappearance of thousands of independent (street) MHRetailers, the New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender is likely here to stay! Positives? More AITR (Alternative Income to Rent) measures than ever before; likely resulting in greater ROI potential. Negatives? Difficulty complying with cumbersome, complicated, state and federal financial regulations. And, to date, this trend has not swept up the smaller (i.e. less than 100 rental homesites per property) LLLCommunities who comprise an estimated 85 percent of the national inventory (i.e. 50,000+/- such properties). This trend has been primarily a property portfolio driven phenomenon.

And now this imbroglio (‘an intricate, confused or perplexing state of affairs.’): Mixed-use land-lease-lifestyle communities, once a rarity, have become all but commonplace, as a bona fide trend, among some-if-not-many portfolio owners/operators of this unique, income-producing property type. Mixed-use here, describes income-producing properties characterized by homeowner/site lessees on rental sites within LLLCommunities, whether they reside in ‘mobile homes’, manufactured homes, modular homes, ‘park model RVs’, ‘RVs for a season’, even stick-built homes constructed on-site to look like HUD-Code homes. And yes, even rental units, as in apartments.

• Positives? A clear demonstration of property owners/operators ‘doing what it takes’ to keep vacant rental homesites occupied and paying rent’! Some of these shelter types, especially those RV-related, have helped reclaim lost ground when it comes to providing ‘affordable housing’ in LLLCommunities, as well as filling functionally obsolete rental sites.

• Negatives? Manufactured housing industry purists sometimes have difficulty accepting ‘anything but manufactured homes’ being sited within this unique, income-producing property type. This might be one of the reasons the NCC’s recent ’50 Largest MHCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators’ list debuted with all RV site counts stripped from the rental site totals of portfolio ‘players’. Consequences of this unilateral action? Beyond the initial toppling of ELS, Inc., by sister REIT, Sun Communities, Inc., as ‘World’s Largest Owner/operator of LLLCommunities!’, that remains to be seen. Hopefully the NCC will realize the error of ‘dissing’ valuable RV rental sites in LLLCommunity portfolios. If not, the council runs the real risk the number of RV sites will continue to increase among some-if-not-many property portfolios, to the point where they’ll become the majority shelter choice. One MHI direct, dues-paying member, ELS, Inc., is already at that tipping point. Which suggests this question: ‘If RV sites no longer ‘count’ in a property portfolio total, will annual ‘per site dues calculations’ be based on resulting smaller number of manufactured housing rental homesites? If so, ‘Why do this to one’s budget planning?’, as it likely means, for example, a 50% reduction in annual dues revenues received from ELS, Inc., alone.

And these aren’t all the trends, past and present, affecting manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle communities nationwide, but they give you a feel for ‘what’s happening’ and why it’s wise and helpful to be a trend identifier and user.

Here’re Five Tips for Tapping into Trends, cited earlier in this blog posting:

1. Pay attention. Listen to what people are talking about when networking. What choices are being made in stores and elsewhere? Watch for these predictors of consumer demand.

2. Read. Trend watchers read dozens of industry magazines, newspapers and newsletters – on and off the web. Changes in any industry will have a ripple effect in yours.

3. Network differently. Talk to clients and competition. Learn about changes anticipated and experienced by others.

4. Keep track. Not observations. Watch for common threads of information, for a clearer picture of what’s happening.

5. Slow down. Reserve time to think about what’s been learned, and what it likely means to your business.

So, ready to become a trend watcher? Let me know when you spot new trends worthy of research and sharing among friends, peers, and business associates. (317) 346-7156. GFA


Time for a New Type Regional MHShow?

Depends on whether YOU agree with the description of the newest, ongoing trend cited in Part I of this week’s blog posting; again:

“Marketing, selling, and often seller-financing new Community Series Homes, or CHS model manufactured homes on-site in (now) land-lease-lifestyle communities….’

First a little back ground. For many decades, vacant rental homesites in ‘mobile home parks’ cum ‘manufactured home communities’ cum LLLCommunities, were oft filled by independent (street) MHRetailers and ‘company stores’ throughout the U.S. With the all but disappearance of ‘easily accessible chattel capital’ from independent chattel finance firms, at the turn of this Century, it became necessary for community owners/operators to ‘step up to the plate’, so to speak, and buy, market, sell, and often seller-finance, or rent, new manufactured homes (since 2009, called Community Series Homes, or CHS models) themselves, on-site. Well, this has worked reasonably well among some, if not many, property portfolio firms and some sole proprietor-owned LLLCommunities. Well enough, that today, more than 30 percent of all annual HUD-Code home shipments go directly from factories into LLLCommunities; that’s up from 25 percent in 2009. But that’s not the whole picture.

Today, 500+/- LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators, controlling an average of about 20 such properties apiece, account for the ownership of the 15 percent of 50,000+/- properties that have more than 100 rental homesites apiece. What about the 85 percent of the 50,000+/- national inventory, numbering fewer than 100 rental homesites apiece in their properties? There’s ‘the rub’! How do we, as an industry and realty asset class, reach out and bring these mostly (presumably) passive investors to the point of buying new HUD-Code homes to fill vacant rental homesites in their properties, from coast to coast?

Well, one step will occur this Fall, when the top executives from the Big Three C HUD-Code home manufacturers keynote the 24th annual International Networking Roundtable (9-11 September 2015) in San Diego, CA. Their message: ‘How to Buy New Community Series Homes for Siting in LLLCommunities Nationwide!’ Not only will that message resonate with the estimated 250 LLLCommunity owners/operators expected to be present at the event, but ‘that message’ will be circulated as widely as possible during months to follow.

So, what’s all this have to do with the title of Part II of this week’s blog posting? ‘Time for a New Type Regional MHShow?’

It’s likely everyone reading this blog posting has been to one or more or many regional manufactured housing shows in KY, MS, PA, FL & elsewhere – with ‘shows’ being the operative word, indicating ‘homes on display’. Well, ask yourself this, if a LLLCommunity owner/operator: ‘Have you been satisfied with the number and variety of Community Series Homes*1, or CSH Models, on display at these events?’ Methinks most of you would say ‘No’. As a rule, HUD-Code home manufacturers love to show off their latest designs of ‘Big Box + Big Bucks’ multisection, and humongous singlesection homes at these shows. Rare is the CSH singlesection or small-sized multisection home suitable for siting within a LLLCommunity. And that’s one of the two motivations suggesting the need for a new type regional MHShow. The other reason? The vast majority of LLLCommunity owner/operators who aren’t yet buying new HUD-Code homes, for a variety of reasons. In many cases, they simply don’t know how to go about the buying and selling processes, including seller-finance.

So, watch this website next week, or the week after, for a description of what might be in store as a prototype regional MHShow is planned for the Spring of 2016. A hint: it’ll likely be a healthy combination of several two hour plant tours and at least a half dozen pithy HOW TO seminars, during a two weekday time frame. But that’s all for now…

End Note.

1. Community Series Homes, or CSH Models. Generally described as being a singlesection or small-sized multisection HUD-Code home with at least one exterior WOW factor (e.g. front loaded porch) and interior WOW factor, plus an array of durability-enhancing features to help lessen the ‘make ready time’ between home owners and or renters. For a free list of these Community Series Homes and where to buy them, simply phone COBA7®’s Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Five Tough Questions begging answers!

May 8th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 348 Copyright @ 10 May 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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

You get one five part topic this week. The matters in question here should be of utmost importance to MHBusinessmen & women reading this challenging blog posting…

But before we begin, let’s agree on this: Business is not a democracy and business decision-making is generally not a result of the democratic process.

Rather, business decision-making involves assessment of opportunities, in terms of risk & reward, related to ability to supply solutions (i.e. products & services) to prospective customers’ needs & wants. Result? As is oft said: “Profit is the reward for taking risk!”

Corporations & their leaders are expected to make profit motive-based decisions; however at times – like now – when faced with entrenched muddle (e.g. absence of easily accessible chattel capital for 15 years), they should step back, reflect and consider viable, mutually beneficial alternatives to ‘business as usual’.

Hence, relative to these Five Tough Questions, alternative solutions will not be found via the democratic process during Think Tank deliberations, but only thru serious discussion cum decision-making among savvy participants during Think Tank deliberations. GFA

Five Tough Manufactured Housing Questions Never Before Addressed in Any Public Forum

COBA7®’s Goal, as stated in the mast head of this week’s blog posting (See above) is to: ‘Not only Inform & Opine, but Transform & Improve our Manufactured Housing Business Model!’ That’s a four step process; and in the following paragraphs, this blog posting will take the first two steps: to Inform & Opine. Whether the next two steps, Transformation & Improvement take place, will depend on elected and salaried leaders of three national entities representing, advocating for, and affiliated with HUD-Code manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle communities nationwide:

• MHARR. The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform headquartered in Washington, DC; represents smaller, regional HUD-Code home manufacturers. (202) 783-4-87.

• MHI. The Manufactured Housing Institute, in Arlington, VA. Self-described national advocate for all segments of HUD-Code manufactured housing. (703) 558-0400…

• COBA7®. The Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® in Indianapolis, IN., serves land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators nationwide and in Canada. Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Whether all three ronin (‘non government agent’) entities ‘come together’, in Think Tank fashion, as has been suggested before (i.e. Publication of MHIndustry’s Official WHITE PAPER in mid-2014, & proceedings at 23rd annual Networking Roundtable) – but ignored, remains to be seen. Only grassroots entrepreneur businessmen and women, who’re direct, dues-paying members and affiliates of all three entities, can exert sufficient pressure to make this happen. However, entrenched, large scale and specific business self-interests likely will not opt for open discussion, let alone change, relative to one or more of the following Five Tough Questions.

Here’re ‘Five Tough Manufactured Housing Questions Never Before Addressed in Any Public Forum’, let alone in the trade press.*1

FIRST Question. What’s BEST for the Present & Future of HUD-Code Manufactured Housing: Continued Federal Oversight & Regulation, via National Preemptive Performance-based Building (HUD) Code; OR, Deregulation & Cease Funding the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (‘HUD’) Manufactured Housing Program? And the Best Answer to this Tough Question is?

First, as a related and telling sidebar, know HUD does ‘next to nothing’ to promote manufactured housing, widely recognized as the last true form of nonsubsidized ‘affordable housing’ in the US today! In other words – and in my opinion, ‘HUD is manufactured housing’s federal regulator, Yes; but a fan of its’ affordable housing, No’

Onto to the answer to this Tough Question. Methinks this important decision was made, mid-year 2014 – almost a year ago, by our industry’s elite, sans input from thee and me! (Remember, this is not a democratic process.) The key indicators? Start with the 165 percent increase in label fees last Fall, then the recent ‘recitement’ of two HUD regulatory initiatives that have lain dormant since year 2007. Specifically, nationwide implementation and enforcement of Federal Installation Standards, & Dispute Resolution. Indirect proof? Ask yourself: ‘Why are these regs and measures being rolled out now, AND who will be paying whom for them?’ Answers: Again, in my opinion, ‘To finance the HUD manufactured housing program’, AND ‘$$$ fines from LLLCommunities for the same purpose’!

Our default alternative to deregulation? (It’s all we have left, if I’m right about ‘the decision’ having already been made, in our behalf, to finance HUD). Work on improving perception of manufactured housing via a national advertising campaign – where our factory-built housing type is depicted as (Gasp!) the ‘regulated hybrid housing’ alternative we are! OR, if/when we do deregulate, maybe someday in the (distant) future, demand and be recognized as nothing short of bona fide housing!

SECOND Question. What’s BEST for the Present & Future of HUD-Code Manufactured Housing AND Its’ Homebuyer/Site Lessee Customers living in Land-lease-lifestyle Communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities): ’Traditional Chattel (personal property) Capital Loans on New & Resale Homes Installed on Rental Homesites, OR, Conversion to Lower Interest Rate, Real-estate Secured Conventional Home Mortgages, Somewhat Guaranteed by Written Leases with Time Terms Longer Than Housing Purchase Agreements?’

The tradeoff? In the first instance, potentially greater risk to, but enhanced protection of, lenders – as well as higher ROI; versus new opportunities to ‘Sell More (affordable) Homes!’ in the second instance. Is it as simple as that? No. Some folk are concerned about (maybe) change in valuation/taxation of homes proper. Others about warranty deeds replacing titles; and still others, how to handle abandoned homes – though usually a local taxing authority matter.

Bottom line? When the FHFA decides, in the near future, what GSEs must do, regarding Duty to Serve, relative to manufactured housing, perhaps they’d be do everyone a favor, and consider both sides of this Tough Question.*2 Word has it, ‘they already are doing so.’

If/when someone tells you this possible change, from chattel capital to real estate-secured mortgaging is the ‘beginning of the end’, know that’s not the case. Rather, it’s likely a better way to take affordable manufactured housing ‘into the future’; and, be assured, chattel capital, especially for lower price/value homes will always be with us.

The effect of all this on land-lease-lifestyle communities, as we know them today? Well, that’s yet another Tough Question. But if it means ‘filling more vacant rental homesites with new and resale homes’, well…

THIRD Question. What’s BEST for the Present & Future of HUD-Code Manufactured Housing AND Its’ Homebuying Customers in LLLCommunities and on Scattered Building Sites Conveyed Fee Simple: ‘Buying from Independent (street) MHRetailers; OR, via in-Community Home Sales Operations; OR, via Factory-direct Where/when Available?’

In many instances, local housing market-related conditions (e.g. housing availability & local economy) and issues (e.g. zoning) influences, but buying decisions are also affected by ease of access to chattel lending and/or conventional mortgage capital, home installation expertise, customer and warranty service, and more.

How does the manufactured housing industry prefer to market its’ product today and in the future? Via 1) Independent (street) MHRetailers and ‘company stores’ (as in the Past), 2) via in-LLLCommunity housing retail salescenters (Present day), and/or 3) factory direct to prospective homebuyers, whether siting their purchase on scattered building sites conveyed fee simple, or in-community (the Future?). Which will it be? Or perhaps an interesting combination of all three?

Here’s why this is a pivotal (tough) question in manufactured housing today. As long as easy access to chattel capital remains absent from the business scene, as has been the case now for 15 years, there’ll be relatively few independent (street) MHRetailers in business; with maybe lesser effect on ‘company stores’, unless they have access to factory lending programs. On the other hand, many if not most of the known 500+/- LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators today routinely purchase new Community Series Homes from manufacturers, often engaging in seller-finance programs of their own choosing and servicing.

But that latter business model accounts for only 15 percent of the estimated 50,000+/- such properties nationwide. The other 85 percent? They’re Mom & Pop-sized investment properties (i.e. characterized by fewer than 100 rental homesites apiece) and, for the most part, are not presently engaged in filling their increasing number of vacant rental homesites with new manufactured homes. Why? The whole process, including seller-finance, is foreign to them, especially if second and third generation property ownership.

Factory-direct home sales might be the only answer to their economic survival over the long haul, unless they entice nearby homes sales operations to fill their vacant sites. But it’s too early to tell, as ‘factory-direct home sales’ is only now entering business conversations across the country.

FOURTH Question. What’s BEST for the Present & Future of HUD-Code Manufactured Housing, Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators, AND Its’ Homebuyer/Site Lessee Customers: ‘Widespread Enforcement of (2007) Federal Installation Standards for Manufactured Homes; OR, Approved by Manufacturer and Strictly Implemented Frost Free Foundations®, a.k.a. FFF Installation, for New and Resale Homes being sited in LLLCommunities?’

What’s pivotal here, is the issue of compliance with federal standards and/or FFF, and who’s paying for the installation (i.e. forced re-installation via retrofitting of developed, even well-performing rental homesites) thereof, the homebuyer/site lessee or LLLCommunity owner/operator?

Likely not the home manufacturer! Hence the lukewarm endorsement of FFF since ‘recitement’ of Federal Installation Standards was announced. Why? Apparently, lack of confidence that licensed installers and/or LLLCommunity owners/operators will implement FFF properly – and wind up being fined accordingly. And they just might be right…

No, this one’s ‘on the LLLCommunity owner/operator’ cum homebuyer/site lessee, from start to finish – and for the most part, neither sees it coming! So reminds me of the time, at the turn of the Century, when the chattel capital bubble burst – how Randy Rowe, of Green Courte Partners, warned a group of us of the coming (2007) self-immolation by the conventional housing finance market. He/we clearly saw it coming, but no one did anything to prevent it! (What could we have done anyway? Nothing!) Now we’re faced with a similar situation, where the Federal Installation standards in general, and Frost Free Foundations®, in particular, are concerned – along with dollar consequences almost certainly to be borne by LLLCommunity owners/operators nationwide!

FIFTH Question. What’s BEST for Rental Homesite Lessees AND LLLCommunity Owners/operators: ‘Application of the Traditional 3:1 Ratio, to Estimate Stabilized Rental Homesite Rent Rate in Most Local Housing Markets ( with possible Sunbelt exceptions); OR, Application of the ‘in-Vogue Among Some Property Portfolio Players’, 2:1 Ratio, to Set and Justify Rental Homesite Rent Rates in Many, Local Housing Markets?’

Example applications of both rules of thumb: 3BR2B conventional apartment rent is $900/month. Divide that figure by ‘3’ to estimate $300/month site rent in the same local housing market. OR, divide by ‘2’ to estimate $450/month site rent in some (portfolio) LLLCommunities. Who cares? Reasonable LLLCommunity owners/operators, and homeowner/site lessees concerned about maintaining the value of their residences.

This MHIndustry observer has been criticized in the past, for pointing up this difference; but it’s difficult to ignore, in light of the large number of mismanaged LLLCommunities on the ‘for sale’ market since the turn of the Century – oft characterized by too high site rent rates and declining physical and economic occupancy. If overly aggressive rent increases drive investors out of business, so be it! But what about the lenders, homeowners/site lessees, and former employees compromised and or injured in the process? So, how will you estimate LLLCommunity site rents when going into new local housing markets in the future?

KNOW WHAT? These five tough questions deserve open (industry) discussion, and hopefully resolution, in a Think Tank setting – the sooner the better! And the time is ‘right’ for this to happen. How so? When the Urban Land Institute (‘ULI’) dissolved the Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) this Spring – following its’ decade run (formed in 2004), a ‘public forum vacuum’ materialized, relative to identifying and parsing industry issues and related matters.

All that needs to happen, is for salaried and elected leaders of MHARR, MHI, & COBA7®, to agree to convene in the Chicago area, OR at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation in Elkhart, IN., this Summer – maybe even on Monday, 3 August, the day of the annual Hall of Fame (evening) Induction Banquet?

And make this national forum available to anyone in the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity asset class who’s willing to pay their own way! Will this happen? I sincerely doubt it – for a couple sorry reasons.

FOLLOW THE MONEY! Well, here’s the gist (‘essence or substance of a matter’) of all Five Tough Questions! No matter how each is answered and resolved, as they say: ‘Someone’s ox is going to be gored!’ It’s just a darn shame personal and corporate self-interests are so strong and pervasive, in some if not most quarters, the overall general health of the manufactured housing industry (i.e. Nadir average of only 55,146 new HUD Code homes shipped/year between 2009 & 2014, with no end in sight!), and to a lesser extent, the land-lease-lifestyle community asset class (i.e. Estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites to be filled nationwide) continue to be back burnered, suffering in the prevailing, stagnant, self-serving ‘business as usual’ process!

It’s like ‘we’ve retrenched so far to survive’, since year 2000, ‘we’ve lost the will to thrive’, except via old and proven ways just described. In my opinion, we’re, as an industry and realty asset class, simply afraid to answer these Five Tough Questions, out of fear of the answers and needed changes. Prove me wrong!

Who and where’re the capable, experienced, motivated, savvy, and charismatic national leaders to bring all of us (i.e. MHARR, MHI, COBA7, & independents) together to SAVE OUR INDUSTRY; to, as was pointed out at the beginning of this posting, ‘transform and improve’ our 70 year business model, returning us to prosperity?! Until that happens, the following quote from a nationally known and respected businessman (not me) sadly applies: “George, I wish we had a __________(national advocacy body) that was leading instead of managing!” Amen to that!


End Note.

1. Trade press. A decade ago, we were generally well-informed by the Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine, The Journal, and the Allen Letter – all print publications. There were no online ezines. Today? Only The Journal and (renamed) Allen Letter professional journal remain, along with two online ezines and a weekly blog posting at (bearing this particular posting).

2. FHFA = Federal Housing Finance Agency; GSEs = Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae. All three federal government entities are expected to be present and participating in the 24th annual International Networking Roundtable, 9-11 September, in San Diego, CA. For an informative brochure and or to register, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

George Allen, CPM®, MHM®
COBA7®, a division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing
Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

SUN Communities # 1 per NCC; Networking Roundtable on horizon…

May 2nd, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 347 Copyright @ 3 May 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

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

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


MHI’s NCC busts its’ likely largest dues-paying member, from ‘Biggest Owner of LLLCommunities in the World!’ to #2 position; simultaneously elevating second largest owner/operator on 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, to vaunted #1 position, amidst outcry over outright imitation of COBA7®s Signature Series Resource Document! The 24th International Networking Roundtable, with distribution of its’ event brochure last week, is signing up registrants daily. Illinois’ IMHA sets political activism and effective lobbying example for other state MHAssociations! And, COBA7®s final Goal on its’ five part WISH LIST is described in detail.



Fallout Continues Over MHI’s NCC’s Imitation of annual ALLEN REPORT!

We had no idea there were so many pithy quotes afoot, relative to the crass imitation of this longstanding and respected work product. Here’s a sampling of quips and words of encouragement received, from blog floggers (readers) to date, by Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®:

‘He who is short on originality is usually long on imitation.’

‘Imitation is the antithesis of originality.’

‘He who lacks originality is usually proficient at imitation.’

‘The absence of originality is the precursor to imitation.’

‘Imitation is the by-product of absence of originality’

And finally, one we’ve all heard before: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’

For those just joining this conversation, know it has to do with MHI’s NCC Division’s recent creation of an ‘April 2015, Largest 50 Community Owners & Operators’ List, ranking property portfolios based solely on rental homesites for HUD-code homes – omitting all recreational vehicles (‘RV’) sites from a reporting firm’s site count. The format adopted by MHI’s NCC division imitates the popular 26 year old ALLEN REPORT, but NCC’s change in ranking methodology, as just described, changes some firms’ sequential position relative to their competitors.

Most notable example of said ‘change’ occurred just before the ‘April 2015, Largest 50 Community Owners & Operators’ List debuted at the recent MHCongress in Las Vegas. The following ‘cumbersome but tell-all headline not used for Part I of blog # 346’ – breaking this story last Sunday, tells of one unintended, albeit embarrassing consequence of this unique story of imitation.

The headline: “MHI’s NCC-proposed ‘RV site less ranking’ of LLLCommunity portfolios reduced its’ biggest dues-paying member, ELS, Inc., to # 2 position, behind (now) # 1 Sun Communities, Inc., when latter recently acquired an additional 3,100 MH rental homesites in Florida!”

According to an as yet unpublished article in Allen Letter professional journal,, the mixed-use property portfolios of real estate investment trusts (‘REIT’), ELS, Inc., & Sun Communities, Inc., now compare in needlessly ‘cornfusing’ ways:

• ELS, Inc., @ 140,000+/- total rental homesites per 26th ALLEN REPORT, vs. NCC’s ‘April 2015 Largest 50…List’ @ only 71,500 sites, not including RV sites! A 51 percent reduction in ELS portfolio size!

• Sun Communities, Inc., @ 92,234+/- total rental homesites per 26th ALLEN REPORT (inclusion of 3,100 recently acquired sites in FL.), vs. NCC’s ‘April 2015 Largest 50…List’ @ 74,259, not the 71,129 posted during said MHCongress!

Bottom line? ELS, Inc., continues to be ranked, by the 26 year old ALLEN REPORT, as ‘Biggest Owner/operator of LLLCommunities in the World!’, but is only # 2 on NCC’s ‘April 2015 Largest 50…List’! And Sun Communities, Inc., according to NCC’s ‘RV site less ranking’ methodology, is now positioned, given recent acquisition of 3,100 MH rental homesites in FL, as ‘Biggest Owner/operator of LLLCommunities in the World!’

Furthermore; in the minds of 500+/- LLLCommunity portfolio ‘players’, dozens of Wall Street analysts following the three REITs, and other mixed-use property portfolio owners/operators, which methodology is preferable going forward? Comparing ‘apples-to-apples’ (i.e. total rental homesites to total rental homesites) as has been the practice for the past 26 years; or ‘apples-to-oranges’, separating out ‘RV sites’ from ‘rental homesites’? I’m certain MHI’s NCC would like to know, so call (703) 558-0666; and COBA7® would as well: Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Let’s hope common sense prevails, and MHI’s NCC scraps promotion of an unneeded, confusing inventory research document, imitating an industry standard in place and functioning well for 26 years!.


24th International Networking Roundtable
‘Off & Running’!

Brochures for this year’s Networking Roundtable are now being distributed. First exposure was as an attachment to last week’s blog posting to 1,000+/- recipients. Before the end of the day (Sunday), completed registration forms were arriving via email – and they continue to arrive daily. Strongly recommend you not wait this year, until August or September to sign-up. Given the strength of the program agenda, nature of its’ theme (i.e. ‘Selling More New Homes Into LLLCommunities!’), and location on Mission Bay in San Diego; well, you don’t want to miss out when the event ‘sells out’ – like it almost did last time we were there, in 2012.

What’s so very special this year? Hard to know where to start, but here’re a few extraordinary, titillating tidbits:

• No fewer than five top executives from largest HUD-Code home plants, keynoting the roundtable, telling why you should be buying Community Series Homes from them, what marketing & sales support they provide, their position of Frost Free Foundations®, & How to calculate affordable housing price points!’

• Representatives from both GSE’s, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, have asked to be invited back, to continue the lively and revealing discussions first experienced last Fall in Peachtree City, GA. Expecting to add the Federal Housing Finance Authority to this already heady mix. How can you not want to be present?

• Dr. David Funk. That’s really about all I have to pen – for MHIndustry veterans! Anyone who’s listened to this Cornell University researcher and department head hold forth on ‘Housing Economics & Manufactured Housing’s Strategic Niche!’ always comes back for more!

• Frankly, I could go on and on and on. There’s simply nothing else like this available to LLLCommunity owners/operators nationwide. Nearly two dozen seminars and panels, special appearances by the RV/MH Hall of Fame, MHI & MHARR staffers, as well as COBA7®, the event planner and host

For more information, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 & use attached brochures to register for the Networking Roundtable, and to affiliated, at one of three levels, with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®.


Illinois IMHA Makes 30 Year History!

New Blood + New Talent = New Successes for a state MHAssociation! Yes, a scant three years ago, the newly elected board of directors took over direction and scope of the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association. Their first order of business was to hire a new executive director, then aggressively address a broad array of fiscal issues and regulatory challenges, which if left unaddressed at the time, threatened to overwhelm the many decades old advocate for manufactured housing in the state of Illinois. What happened?

Increased membership, a rejuvenated budget and vastly improved income and cash flow, record attendance at annual meetings, even a new print directory of members – for the first time in years! But most significant have been the association’s stunning successes on the political scene – in large part facilitated by a board member who’s a passionate political wonk (‘obsessive student’). Well, this combination of new members, new $$$ blood, new talent, new successes, and new leadership, gelled recently as IMHA initiatives ‘more than made their way’ through the Illinois legislature. Here’s how Frank Bowman, IMHA’s executive director, describes circumstances today:

During drafting of SB 1702, IMHA was able to convince the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, that while manufactured homes and ‘park model RVs’ are indeed vehicles, they’re non-motorized vehicles, and antiquated licensing rules in effect for 70+ years, are ill-suited for MHRetailers selling today, especially owners/operators of land-lease-lifestyle communities selling new and resale homes on-site! Result? A change in rules that include a major reduction in ‘dealer licensing fees’ for community-based MHRetailers. Those savings, per business entity, more than offset the cost of IMHA membership! Anyway, SB 1702 passed the state Senate without opposition on 23 April, and was introduced in the House on 24 April. There’s no anticipated opposition in the House, or by the Governor; so hopes are high this bill will become law during July 2015..

Riding, in part, on that success, IMHA was also successful in having another bill introduced, HB 2627, addressing ‘interest caps’ put in place by Illinois that are far below the ‘rebuttable presumption caps’ established nationally. The initiative passed the House 80-34 on 23 April and was read in the Senate, later the same day. This bill too is expected to pass muster in the Senate and be signed by the Governor.

What’s to be learned from all this? Several things. First , it demonstrates the business climate in the state of Illinois is improving! Second, it clearly shows the effectiveness of a rejuvenated state MHAssociation, a body capable of introducing and having favorable legislation passed, rather than always having to fight a rear action against negative legislation. Third; there’s finally strong momentum in the state of Illinois, where manufactured housing is concerned, and hopes are high about regaining ground lost during the past decade.

Kudos to Frank Bowman; Doug Daniels, chairman of IMHA’s board; Ken Rishel, IMHA’s legislative committee chairman; as well as board members and association members who worked together to advance manufactured housing in the state of Illinois!

And know what? On 5 May 2015, IMHA board and general members will gather in Springfield, IL., to visit legislators and tell manufactured housing’s exciting story as affordable housing, and of land-lease-lifestyle communities as being the desirable lifestyle of choice for thousands of Illinois residents!



Personal & Corporate WISH LIST for COBA7® & LLLCommunity Activities @ 2015 & Beyond….

As you’ll recall from the previous blog postings, we’ve reviewed four of the five items on COBA7®’s WISH LIST for 2015. However, did not do so last week.

Anyway, we’re back on track, and the following WISH is the fifth and final one listed. Here it is:

“Continue to represent, in so far as possible, post production segments of the MHIndustry with ombudsman (press) services, and function as official historian for everyone in the manufactured housing industry.”

Yes, this WISH is a catch-all of sorts. First off, it describes a quiet movement occurring throughout the manufactured housing industry, among segments other than home manufacturers, chattel capital sources and servicers, and LLLCommunity owners/operators, seeking increased and improved national and regional representation.

Furthermore, this WISH is being fulfilled via COBA7®’s willingness to serve as official ronin (‘non government’) ombudsman (press) to the manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunity asset class. What’s an ombudsman (press)? Someone who investigates complaints and concerns from the public. Ombudsman (press) can be government, corporate, or association-focused. And the (press) part? Acknowledgement of the ‘bully pulpit’ when need be, to publish-with-an-eye-to-resolving complaints and concerns. To access the ombudsman (press), phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

And official historian? While the RV/MH Heritage Foundation in Elkhart, IN., maintains copies of The Journal in its’ library stacks, several decades old collections of past issues of the Allen Letter professional journal, the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter, and hard copies of nearly 400 weekly blog postings at, have been committed to a major national building-related institute’s library for posterity. This bequest includes the largest known private, corporate library of manufactured housing and LLLCommunity books. Furthermore, a concerted effort has been underway since MHI’s NCC was founded in 1966, to document trends, regulatory issues, and more, relative to the LLLCommunity asset class, e.g. Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years! published during 2014. Plus, COBA7® continues to be the only national MHIndustry presence, to offer seminars on memoir writing, and preparation of one’s autobiography. To purchase a copy of Savage’s book, or express interest in participating in a writing class this Summer, phone (317) 346-7156.


MHCongress Shakes Things Up! Sun Communities = #1 in size

April 24th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 346 Copyright @ 26 April 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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


Attendance and enthusiasm may well have been up, during the recent MHCongress in Las Vegas; but – in my opinion – the event was awash with unneeded controversy (Read I.), suffered a ‘telling’ oversight (Read II.), but did experience bona fide off-agenda progress between GSE Fannie Mae and LLLCommunity owners/operators (Read III.). Oh yes, and there was some on-camera drama better left undescribed for the time being….




Manufactured Housing Institute’s National Communities Council divisions

‘April 2015, Largest 50 Community Owners & Operators’ List, Ranking Property Portfolios Based on Rental Homesites for HUD-Code Homes (After Omitting All RV Sites!), Positions REIT Sun Communities, Inc., to Supplant ELS, Inc., as Largest Owner/operator of Land-lease-lifestyle Communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) in the World! How so? Read on…

The above paragraph, and what follows, are stunning headline statements spawned by unnecessary unilateral changes to property portfolio inventory methodology utilized by the ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’) for the past 26 years! Brings to mind the truism: ‘If it isn’t broken, why fix it?’

• NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’ positions Sun Communities, Inc., a real estate investment trust (‘REIT’), to soon be publicly identified as Largest Owner/operator of Land-lease-lifestyle Communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) in North America, for the first time since its’ IPO (Initial Public Offering…of stock) in 1994; repositioning competitor ELS, Inc., into second place – for the first time ever! How so? While presently listed as number two on the NCCs ‘April 2015 list’ (Remember; sans RV sites in property portfolio counts!), Sun’s recent acquisition of 3,130 rental homesites in FL, increases its’ total rental homesite count to 74,259, significantly greater than the RV site-stripped portfolio of ELS, Inc., now at only 71,129 rental homesites!

• Furthermore, the NCC’s purposeful omission of ‘recreational vehicle sites’ from their official rental homesite count, on the ‘April 2015 list’, ignores the growing presence and role of mixed use properties as an integral part of the paradigm shift (i.e. LLLCommunities, not MHRetailers, filling vacant rental homesites with a variety of housing options), underway since the start of the new millennium! For example; of the six types of shelter now commonly found sited within LLLCommunities, two of them are recreational vehicle (‘RV’) related!*1 Why the omission of RV sites from the portfolio counts? Ask them, not me. In my opinion, it likely has to do with MHI being a HUD-Code housing related national advocate, not wanting to mix RVs into their housing coverage and representation – even though their manufacturer members fabricate and ship recreational vehicles when need be. COBA7®, on the other hand, source of the annual ALLEN REPORT will continue to inventory MH & RV sites together, before ranking property portfolio firms in order of declining total site count.

• Good News. While the NCC does not identify any new property portfolio ‘players’ on the ‘April 2015 list’ of 50 community owners & operators, they do provide ‘rental homesite count’ information from 18+/- firms not reporting same in recent years. This new information will likely be included next year, in the 27th annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. Official ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Located Throughout North America!’ For a copy of the 12 page, 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, listing 110, of the known 500+/- firms, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®.

• Comparing the NCC’s inaugural ‘April 2015 list’ with the 26th ALLEN REPORT, down to 1,000 rental homesites property portfolio size, the latter identifies 40+/- firms NOT included on the former’s list! What makes the matter even more interesting, is there’re dozens of additional LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators who do not appear on either proprietary list. Here’re just a few, in alphabetical order: Brandenburg, Staedler & Moore (CA), Churchill Group (CO), Lakeshore Communities (IL), Moore Enterprises (TX), Phoenix Manufactured Homes (PA), Tower Management (CA), and many more….again, 500+/- in all, owning/operating more than five communities &/or 500 rental homesites apiece.

• Of the 50 firms named on the NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’ only 20 are highlighted in bold print, or 40 percent thereof, identifying them as direct, dues-paying NCC members. However, among the first 79 firms reviewed on the 26th ALLEN REPORT (down to the same 1,000 rental homesite count limit), 50 firms, or 63 percent, are affiliated with COBA7®! And, among all 50 firms listed on the NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’, more than half are presently affiliated with COBA7®!

• Be wary of unsubstantiated claims. These two quotes are from the NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’: “MHI’s National Communities Council is the leading national organization representing the interests of manufactured home community owners, operators, managers, developers, lenders, and suppliers.” Really? How is this measured? Perhaps by number of direct, dues-paying members? If so, reread previous paragraph and reconsider. Then this, “The NCC is also the industry’s most reliable source of data used to create more opportunities for the successful development, operation, and marketing of land-lease communities.” Really? First, what are we talking about here? ‘Manufactured home communities’ OR ‘land-lease communities’? And, just what ‘reliable sources of data’ are available, related to physical & economic occupancy, operating expense ratios, rental rates, income capitalization rates, PM salaries, and more? An inquiring public would like to know…

Bottom lines? The NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’ contains the names of only 50 firms owning/operating LLLCommunity portfolios comprised of 1,000 or more rental (HUD-Code only) homesites. The 26th ALLEN REPORT lists 79 like-sized firms (i.e. with 1,000 or more rental homesites), 110 overall! Truth be told, the actual total number of such firms, with 1,000+ rental homesites apiece, is closer to 100, perhaps even 150 firms. The majority of these shadow owners/operators eschew any form of publicity, for a variety of good and personal reasons. However, they almost all routinely cooperate with, and financially support, the ongoing realty asset class research of COBA7®.

Finally; all 500+/- known LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators, especially the firm’s decision-makers, can be accessed by anyone, for a price, by direct mail, via COBA7®. Lenders, insurers, and property portfolio builders do so all the time. Simply phone the above-referenced Official MHIndustry HOTLINE….

End Note.

1. Six types of shelter found in many contemporary land-lease-lifestyle communities (hence use of the new specialty term for the realty asset class): pre-HUD code ‘mobile homes’, post-HUD code manufactured homes, modular homes, ‘park model RVs’ – especially suitable for functionally obsolete rental homesites in generally older properties, ‘RVs for a season’, and in FL., stick-built homes constructed on-site, usually following severe hurricanes, to imitate HUD-Code manufactured homes. A.k.a. ‘LLLCommunities’. GFA


2015 Awards Luncheon at the MHCongress

One Pithy Question: Where is/are the annual MHIndustry awards for design(s) of Community Series Homes, or CSH Models?

You know, the specially-designed homes, agreed upon during the National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus, convened at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame facility on 27 February 2009 – six years ago! There, 100+/- HUD-Code home manufacturers and (then) manufactured home community owners/operators agreed to ‘What it would take to sell more new manufactured homes into this unique, income-producing property type nationwide?’ Their answer? Singlesection and modest-sized multisection (NOT the ‘big box = big bucks’ behemoths taking our industry, at the time, down the road toward oblivion, via head-to-head competition with site-builders), but HUD-Code homes with one or more WOW! factors inside and out, plus a plethora of durability-enhancing features, enabling inexpensive ‘make-ready’ between contract buyers and renters.

Yes, these are the same specially-designed homes that, for the most part, have stimulated at least a five, maybe ten percent increase in the number of HUD-Code homes being delivered directly into (now) land-lease-lifestyle communities, from 25% in 2009 to 30% by end of 2013, and likely even higher now!

Furthermore, these Community Series Homes, or CSH Models, have had a lot to do with the manufactured housing industry’s successfully executing a paradigm shift, since the beginning of the New Millennium. A paradigm shift forced by the lack of easy access to chattel capital, hence fewer homes now sold by independent (street) MHRetailers into LLLCommunities; with many CSH Models now sold, and often seller-financed, by the owners/operators of these multifamily rental properties!

So, why aren’t we recognizing this ‘change in design’ to meet market demand? Hopefully the folk who dream up these awards will effect this needed and worthy addition, in time for the 2016 MHCongress.

In the meantime, if you’d like a list of product specification characteristic of Community Series Homes, along with a list of HUD-Code home manufacturers who routinely fabricate and ship them to LLLCommunities, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. You do not have to be a COBA7® affiliate to request and receive this very helpful Signature Series Resource Document, or SSRD – one of more than a dozen produced by COBA7®..


Fannie Mae, the GSE, Makes MHIndustry History!

Yes, they sure did! For 2 ½ hours during the afternoon on Wednesday 15 April, 30 individuals (20 @ Fannie Mae reps, lenders, & financial consultants, plus nine land-lease-lifestyle community portfolio owners/operators, and one Mom & Pop ‘player’ – me) identified and discussed a variety of issues of mutual interest and concern. The LLLCommunity owners/operators hailed from New Hampshire to California, New Jersey to Colorado, and from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

What’d we talk about and resolve? Much and little. Huh? Yes, we ‘much’ discussed rental units on-site in LLLCommunities, flood plain issues, pre-HUD Code homes, park model RVs, the defunct STAR quality rating system re LLLCommunities, and near the end of the meeting, HUD’s Federal Installation Standard implementation and enforcement plans, and possible role for Frost Free Foundations® along the way. But ‘little’ was resolved. Nor did any of us expect change or closure.

This Las Vegas venue was a continuation of spirited dialogue begun during the 23rd annual Networking Roundtable, in Peachtree City, GA., last Fall – when Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, for the first time, met and talked with 200 LLLCommunity owners/operators from throughout the U.S. The Las Vegas venue, ‘off MHI’s MHCongress agenda’, was/is also a springboard onto the 24th annual Networking Roundtable, scheduled for 9-11 September 2015, in San Diego, CA.. Once again, the two GSEs, along with invited representation of the Federal Housing Finance Authority, will continue the Open Discussion of what the GSE’s ‘can do for us’ and what we could ‘do for them’.

To ensure an invitation to participate in the 24th International Networking Roundtable, 9-11 September 2015, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and ask for an event brochure, containing the exciting agenda and names of 20 presenters. Also know, this year’s theme, keynoted by a half dozen HUD-Code home manufacturers, is ‘How to Sell More New Community Series Homes into LLLCommunities Nationwide!’ If you own/operate LLLCommunities, how can you not want to be present to prosper from this unique combination of ability, experience, and motivation?


New Paradigm Education & Micro Units/Tiny Houses

April 18th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 345 Copyright @ 19 April 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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


Introduction to this & next week’s blog postings at this website:

This week. 1) What is seriously missing in manufactured housing’s New Paradigm? The paradigm first described here, for you, last week. 2) The Park Model RV ‘discussion has only just begun. Think too of Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs & Micro Units – plus what we’re not discussing them yet, Tiny Houses! & 3) This week’s posting concludes with a review of COBA7®s third WISH for 2015: professional property management & certification among all land-lease-lifestyle communities! Are YOU MHM® certified yet?

Next week. Reportedly ‘record attendance’ at MHCongress, but 1) program tainted by crass imitation; 2) a notable and telling oversight during annual awards presentation; and, 3) an off-agenda meeting that made manufactured housing industry history! And maybe ending with 4) the major announcement from COBA7® deferred in Las Vegas. Hint. ‘Official reporting of annual HUD-Code home shipments will never be the same again!’

You do not want to miss reading This & Next week’s blog postings at If you didn’t realize before, LLLCommunities, and by extension, the manufactured housing industry, are in the midst of a NEW ERA, you soon will! GFA


So, We’re In a New Paradigm. What’s Next?

Last week, here at, we described the new manufactured housing paradigm unfolding since the turn of the 21st Century. One in which land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators no longer rely on independent (street) MHRetailers to fill vacant rental homesites with new and resale homes. Rather, LLLCommunity owners/operators, now buy new Community Series Homes directly from HUD-Code home manufacturers, to be installed on-site, then sold to prospective homebuyer/site lessees at whatever profit margin works in the local housing market. And when need be, LLLCommunity owners/operators also engage in renting homes, and seller-financing, to effect transactions.

With that said, what’s holding the manufactured housing industry back from going ‘gang busters’ filling vacant rental homesites, even boosting annual home shipments up from the 55,145 six year (i.e. 2009-2014) ‘woeful running average’ towards the alleged ‘sweet spot’ of 250,000 new HUD-Code homes per year? In a word, EDUCATION.

This has to be one of the worst industries, and by extension, real estate asset classes, when it comes to educating itself on how to best do something, the right way, at the right time. And this matter is sorely complicated in at least two ways: internecine (‘mutually destructive’) behavior between national advocacy bodies representing the industry, and among business enterprises themselves!

I well remember the late 1980s, when some of us sensed a New Renascence in manufactured housing ‘was upon us’, culminating as it did, in 1998, with 372,843 new homes shipped! There wasn’t a single educational text around, to ‘splain’ how to develop new (then) mobile home parks cum manufactured home communities (by 1994), or even how to search an existing one out, value it to buy, and then turn around (investment wise) as a profitable business. Well, within a few years, J. Wiley & Sons, provided us with Development, Marketing & Operation of Manufactured Home Communities, and How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community. With those in hand, as an industry/asset class, we were ‘off and running’ for awhile – until our chattel capital finance bubble burst soon after the turn of the century. And know, the preparation and distribution of these seminal texts received little to no interest or help from either of the national advocacy bodies at the time. Nada.

Well, we’re in the same unfortunate state of affairs today. There are at least two tomes begging to be authored and published – to EDUCATE, the sooner the better. And a third title that’d sure be nice to have around. In this order, they’re:

• How to Market & Sell New & Resale Manufactured Homes in-Community! I’d love to write this one myself, but I’m not a practitioner, so won’t be doing so, except as an editor. In my opinion, it needs to begin with ‘how to assess a local housing market’s acceptance of manufactured housing sales’, and what the affordable housing price points will be. Then, how to set up an on-site sales center, spec homes, order same, and begin the marketing, and the sales drill. There’s a key difference between ‘these sales’ and those by independent (street) MHRetailers: on-site we’re selling lifestyle and covet retention, so prequalification plays a major role in the selling process. This must not be a deal-to-deal, or ‘churning’ sales exercise, as was too oft the case within the previous paradigm! So, who’s going to author this text? It will not be an easy task, but certainly a rewarding one. This I know.

• How to Engage in Seller-finance of New & Resale Home Transactions in-Community! Early in 2010, I penned the industry’s first Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer. It sold out at that year’s MHCongress in Las Vegas – that’s how hungry folk were – and continues to be, for that sort of detailed, albeit changing housing finance information. But there hasn’t been anything akin published since, despite my encouragement to qualified practitioners and trainers. We sorely need an updatable reference describing the various ways to finance new and resale homes on-site in LLLCommunities, and how to be in compliance with various state and federal regulations. Also, how to raise capital for said transactions, and the basics of lease-option methodology. So, who’s going to author this text? Hint. Probably best if this is a team effort.

• Land-lease-lifestyle Community Valuation, with & without Property Owner-owned Homes. Believe it or not, the valuation chapter penned by Laurence Allen, MAI®, for inclusion in the aforementioned How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell…book continues to this day, 20years later, to be the seminal work on this timely topic. But today, considering the new paradigm’s influence regarding ‘six types of shelter on-site, not just two’, and presence of property owner-owned homes as rentals, contract sales, and lease options, we’re in dire need of a contemporary reference of this sort. So, again, who’s going to author this text? I can think of at least three MAI®s who’re qualified to do so….

I’ve encouraged qualified and experienced individuals, with expertise and successful experience in all three areas, to step forward and ‘make their mark’, as David Alley, Edward Hicks, & I did with our raw land development classic 21 years ago. But so far, no takers. How ‘bout you? Seriously interested? If so, I’d like to hear from you. With everything else that’s going on with COBA7® these days, I’d still help get one or more of these needed books written, edited, published and distributed to the industry/asset class. And don’t forget, COBA7®, unlike any other national trade group, is closely affiliated with a commercial printer (i.e. Spotlight Strategies) and MHIndustry publisher (i.e. PMN Publishing). To talk about one or another of these heady projects, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.


Room in the Park Model RV Discussion for Micro Units?

As you may recall, the park model RV confab (‘conversation’) of nearly a year ago, promises to heat up again in the not too distant future. First off, everyone – rightly or wrongly, agrees park model RVs are not designed or intended for permanent residency – even though hundreds, if not thousands, of them are already used as such in RV parks in Sunbelt regions. The present pressing issue is, however, whether or not to include the front porch overhang in the 400+/- square feet limit that differentiates between HUD-Code manufactured homes (i.e. more than 400 square feet in size) and recreational vehicles (i.e. less than 400 square feet in size). To do so cuts back on the living space ‘inside the walls’; to not do so, makes for a larger than usual park model RV.

Well, there’s yet another contemporary aspect of this discussion. It involves ‘dainty urban dwellings’, a.k.a. micro units, as apartments and condominiums. The Urban Land Institute recently published a 46-page report titled, ‘The Macro View on Micro Units’. The report draws on three information sources.

According to the report, a micro-unit is roughly 350 sq. ft. in size, “slightly larger than a one-car garage but considerably smaller than a two-car garage.” Some micro-units are as small as 220 sq. ft. (in San Francisco, CA. & Washington, DC), others as large as 400 sq. ft., (in New York City & Philadelphia, PA). In Seattle, WA. & Portland, OR., there are no square footage minimums. Apartments without bathrooms and kitchens are classified, in this report, as single-room occupancy (‘SRO’) units and not qualify as micro-units.

There’s a significant user difference preference relative to micro-units and park model RVs. According to the ULI report, micro-units target “predominantly young, professional singles, typically under 30 years of age, trending slightly more male than female.” Whereas, park model RVs, have become the abode of choice among retirees and senior citizens, often living alone (i.e. ‘granny flats’) in Sunbelt regions of the U.S. Interestingly, HUD itself has a trade term of long standing that includes both these very small shelter types: Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU. And if that didn’t cloud the issue enough, here’re rebranding terms being bandied about relative to micro-units: launch pads, nano units, urban flats, innovation units, and even fun units.

And lest we forget to mention it, there’s another whole sidebar topic to this discussion, called Tiny Houses. More about these in a later blog posting, as HUD is also deciding whether this shelter type should also be brought in under, or excepted from the HUD-Code that regulates manufactured housing..

In any event, we’re likely in for some rough sledding during the months ahead, as HUD, the RV industry, even manufacturers in the HUD-Code housing business, and now NAHB homebuilders (re: Tiny Houses) strive to protect what they view as their proprietary and regulatory territories in whatever manner appears best to them. Let’s hope though, the housing wants and needs of consumers are included in these discussions.

The material describing ULI’s report was taken from ‘Small Small World’ in the March/April 2015 issue of Multihousing Professional magazine, pp. 36 & 37.


Reviewing COBA7®s WISH LIST for Year 2015

Here we review the fourth of five WISHES identified early this year, as being goals for the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® during 2015. The WISH?

“Do whatever necessary and possible, to promote professional property management of on-site, regional, and executive managers, via training and certification of LLLCommunity owners/operators, as CPM®s, MHM®s, & ACM®s.”

Well, from my perspective, there’ve been three, and will soon be a fourth initiative in this direction. Three months ago, I taught the Manufactured Housing Manager® program at the Louisville MHShow. A few weeks ago, I taught the same one day MHM® course to a dozen on-site and regional property managers from two Midwest firms, along with two property owners.

And just this past week, handled a telephone inquiry from an ‘asset aggregator’ seeking professional third party property management services for the land-lease-lifestyle communities his firm recently acquired. That was easy. As you likely know, one can count on one hand the number of reputable, capable, experienced, motivated ‘fee management firms’ serving the realty asset class – and not one of them, that I know of, is an AMO® or Approved Management Organization® per the Institute of Real Estate Management. Sad but true. Of course, there’s also that understandable economic reason why there’s so few such firms throughout our realty asset class: most LLLCommunities are too small (i.e. too few rental homesites) to support third party fee management. And most large size communities (e.g. 200+/- rental homesites apiece) are in property portfolios managed centrally.

On 20 May 2015, I’ll again be teaching the one day MHM® class. This time we’ll convene at the Par-a-Dice Hotel Casino, in East Peoria, IL., the day before the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association has its’ annual business meeting. It’s still more than a month away, and already the class is half full (max of 20-25). If you’re interested in attending, register – for only $250.00/person – via (217) 528-3423. What a deal! For that low tuition fee, MHM® candidates receive a copy of Landlease Community Management, a monograph of contemporary manufactured housing readings, and gold MHM® lapel pin and sequentially numbered MHM® certificate.

To date, there’re barely more than 100 Certified Property Managers® active as LLLCommunity owners/operators; 200+/- Accredited Community Managers via the Manufactured Housing Educational Institutes; but nearly 1,000 Manufactured Housing Managers, under the auspices of the COBA7® division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing.

So, if not presently trained and certified as a professional property manager, give this upcoming opportunity serious consideration. It’s the only such MHEducation opportunity taught by a veteran LLLCommunity owner/operator, CPM®Emeritus, & MHM®Master. Register today!


Manufactured Housing’s 21st Century Paradigm Shift

April 11th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 344 Copyright @ 12 April 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press) , research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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


Manufactured Housing’s 21st Century Paradigm Shift

Industry’s Zeitgeist (‘spirit of the time’) Present in New Paradigm!

‘In other words; if you’re buying new HUD-Code homes, especially Community Series Homes, selling them on-site in one or more land-lease-lifestyle communities, and at times seller-financing them, YOU are making manufactured housing history, as a key part of this major paradigm shift in our traditional business model.’ George Allen

We’ve been writing about various aspects of this phenomenon, usually referred to as ‘paradigm change’, in this weekly blog posting for some time – just didn’t put the pieces together to paint the bigger picture – until now. So, hang on as we take a quick ‘word walk’ back to the turn of the 21st Century, when the chattel capital wheels came off (Some would say ‘taken off’) the traditional manufactured housing business model.

Without rehearsing the sorry history of what was described at the time as ‘turning our homebuyer/site lessee customers upside down’; suffice it to say, the immediate and lasting consequence have been less-to-little easy access to chattel capital (Still the case more than a decade later). And over time there’re now far fewer independent (street) MHRetailers, even company stores – because of said ‘loss of access’. Immediate to ultimate cost of those financial shenanigans? According to the CFPB* in a report published during 2014, between years 1999 & 2002, at least 300,000 repossessed manufactured homes valued at $1.3 billion! Those ‘repos’, in turn, competed with new home sales for several years thereafter – forcing a paradigm change in the way we did, and now, ‘do business’. And yes, along also came the S.A.F.E. Act, Dodd-Frank legislation, and the CPFB.

The first significant indicators of change(s) in the way we’d be ‘doing business’ going forward, occurred at two National State of the Asset Class causes held on the same date in successive years: 2/27/2008 among (then) 100 manufactured home community owners/operators convening in Tampa, FL; and then, 2/27/2009 among a like number of LLLCommunity folk and HUD-Code home manufacturers convening in Elkhart, IN. While not fully appreciated at the time, the first caucus gave MHCommunity investors/property managers needed focus, challenging them to take control of their future, e.g. ‘Sell, and if need be, seller-finance more REPO & RESALE home transactions on-site to fill vacant rental homesites!’ The second caucus answered, ‘What’s it going to take to sell more NEW homes into MHCommunities?’ Solution? Community Series Homes, or CSH Models, named as such by Don Westphal later in that year. Today, CSH Models are widely recognized as being singlesection or modest-size multisection homes with one or two WOW! Factors, and a plethora of durability-enhancing features, to speed turnover ‘make ready’, when need be, at minimal cost. That was the second stage of the paradigm shift.

There’re at least three consequences of this shift in emphasis from MHRetailers selling new homes into MHCommunities, and owners/operators buying/selling ‘repos’ & ‘resale’ units on-site, TO this whole new paradigm (After ‘repos’ & ‘resales’ dried up), where/when owners/operators routinely sell NEW Community Series Homes on-site, arranging financing as needed. First; the percentage of new HUD-Code homes being shipped into (now) land-lease-lifestyle communities (Will explain change in terminology shortly) increased from 25 percent, year end 2009, to 30 percent by the end of 2013 – and likely higher by end of 2014. Second; several of the largest home manufacturers have rolled out creative financing programs to help LLLCommunities ‘sell more new HUD-Code homes on-site’. This has been a decidedly mixed bag of results. Just recently, a community investor described one manufacturer’s heavy emphasis on their in-house finance program, more so than the quality of their homes, to position the firm’s finance package as a ‘loss-leader’, to ‘sell more homes’! The third consequence? To date, in this industry observer’s opinion, home manufacturers have NOT addressed the real need to teach LLLCommunity staff how to effectively market and sell new HUD-Code homes on-site!* This is a whole different perspective than teaching independent (street) MHRetailers how to simply sell ‘deals’. Here the emphasis is dual: AFTO (‘Asking for the Order!’) & ABC (‘Always be Closing!) for sure, but balanced with homebuyer/site lessee personal qualification and desire for the lifestyle, as well as needs and wants relative to the home purchase.

The ‘proof’ in how much community owners/operators have bought into this new paradigm (Actually, they ‘have to do so’ to survive as viable business entities…filling vacant rental homesites…estimated to be 250,000+/- nationwide) is the change in trade moniker from ‘manufactured home community’ to ‘land-lease-lifestyle community’. The latter? Underscores the fact, as many as six different types of shelter are now commonly sited in this unique, income-producing property type: pre-1976 ‘mobile homes’, post-1976 manufactured homes, modular units, park model RVs, RVs for a season, even stick-built homes constructed on-site to look like HUD-Code homes (only in FL.).

Another ‘proof’ of the new paradigm has to do with how LLLCommunity owners/operators are pricing their now homes ‘for sale’ on-site. Yes, many still try to achieve as much profit margin as possible on the sales transaction; however, an increasing number of these entrepreneurs sell their homes at little more than cost (i.e. home, freight, installation, etc.), to get said home ‘sold’ and rent meter running on the underlying realty. An interesting sidebar is how some of these ‘players’ go so far as to share the manufacturer’s invoice with their prospective customer, proving ‘what a great deal they’re getting in this home’! And since doing so, is soon to be one of three approved methods of effecting home valuation this Summer, why not? OR, stick with the traditional cost or replacement method (NADA), or arrange for valuation via market comps. Furthermore, an increasing number of owners/operators have become downright creative in the variety of ways and means they raise capital to fund individual home sales transactions on-site, utilizing a bevy of private investors, local lenders, lease-option methodology, ‘captive finance’ and much much more.

At this point we’ve come almost full cycle, describing the paradigm shift that began at the dawn of the 21st Century – and has now matured. One that’s been precipitated and influenced by an industry/realty asset class Zeitgeist wrought by circumstances of tumultuous and difficult economic times.

There remains a final sign of this significant shift, even sea change, in the way the MHIndustry, and LLLCommunities ‘do business’. The former has relied on the Manufactured Housing Institute and Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, for decades, to handle national advocacy matters, particularly since the imposition of federal building code regulation during the mid-1970s.

On the other hand, LLLCommunities, while enjoying a national advocacy presence since 1996, via MHI’s National Communities Council division, have been long forced (30+ years) to rely on private business interests, to provide the variety of products and services needed by professional property managers. To this end, the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® was launched early January 2014. Now more than a year old, 200 businessmen and women, from all segments of the MHIndustry, have affiliated with COBA7®, to ensure 1) ongoing statistical research, 2) updating & distribution of resources (a dozen + Signature Series Resource Documents), 3) print & online communication via monthly business newsletters and a weekly blog posting, 4) peer networking events, 5) deal-making opportunities, 6) professional property management training/certification (via Manufactured Housing Manager® program), and 7) national advocacy when need be, e.g. offer of ombudsman (press) services and official industry historian. The icing on that array of products and services and more, will be when COBA7® becomes an independent organization in its’ own right, no longer a division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing.*

End Notes.

• CFPB = Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

• And the on-site, or in-LLLCommunity home sales drill doesn’t stop there. Manufacturers should be teaching how to realistically and fairly qualify homebuyers/households as to ‘how much home they can afford’; and, teach how to evaluate a potential local housing market in terms of what the citizenry can afford to buy. For starters, Annual Gross Income or AGI (in the first instance) and Annual Median Income or AMI (in the second instance) is a realistic place to start. Bud do manufacturers understand how to use those tools to help homebuyers/site lessees and not just themselves?

• To affiliate with COBA7®, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.


Reviewing COBA7®s WISH LIST for 2015

Here we revisit the third of five WISHES on COBA7®s 2015 WISH LIST!

“Stay abreast of the Frost Free Foundation® or FFF® situation, in behalf of COBA7® affiliates in general, LLLCommunity owners/operators in particular. Encourage the dual goal of saving LLLCommunity owners/operators from forced concrete retrofitting expense @ estimated $5,000.00 per rental homesite, and ensuring manufacturers get the save and secure installation their HUD-Code housing product needs and deserves.”

Little to nothing has happened since we last covered this important and increasingly timely topic, in this weekly blog posting at Have you noticed, as I have? No one else is talking about the matter either. We should be asking ourselves: ‘Why not?’ It is no longer a secret, with Pam Danner, Esq., heading the manufactured housing program at HUD, the long dormant (since its’ passage in 2007) Federal Installation Standards are on track for implementation and enforcement in default states (i.e. where said standard has not been fully implemented, and in even more cases, enforced). So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how all this pencils out during the months and year ahead.

In the meantime, know with the May issue of the Allen Letter professional journal, there’ll be a lagniappe ‘one pager’ describing the Frost Free Foundation®, where to get your copy of the multi-page document, and some helpful hints on implementing same. I ran it past a half dozen ‘experts’ on the FFF topic. George Porter replied, the information was adequate overall, maybe more than necessary in some locales, but likely ‘not enough’ in local housing markets intent on challenging the effectiveness of Frost Free Foundations®. What does this tell you? Better get educated soon, or face the very real prospect of having to replace existing, otherwise well-performing concrete foundations, when the Feds come your way. When I asked Pam, while talking in Albany, NY, recently, whether present day concrete foundations in compliant states are ‘grandfathered’ under the federal installation standards, she did not provide a clear answer, but the matter would be handled on a case by case basis. So, to get your FREE copy of the FFF® information ‘one pager’ mentioned above, see third * end note at the end of this blog posting.


What MHIndustry Does NOT Want YOU to Know & Do!

April 4th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 343 copyright @ 5 April 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

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

Introductions to Parts I, II, III, & IV of this blog posting at


Land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators know I’ve lobbied for change to how the ‘30% Housing Expense Factor’ is applied to realty mortgages and personal property (chattel) loans, since the ‘Ah Ha & Uh Oh!’ Worksheet debuted in 2011. Well, here’s where we go ‘very public’ with a practical concept that ensures ‘less house’ but ‘more financial capability & stability’ for borrowers, and less profit for lenders.


The Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance’s WISH LIST for 2015, it seems, has become the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class’ default goals for the year! How do we know this? Because inquiries now come into our offices, from every segment of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity business environs, telling us so – they’re using these ‘wishes’ as corporate touchstones in 2015!


If YOU have friends and colleagues in the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class who, as pioneers and leaders, deserve induction into the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s prestigious Hall of Fame, and you don’t take appropriate steps to have them so – considered, you are doing them a severe disservice! To date, I’ve recommended a half dozen of my peers, and four have been inducted, and two are still under consideration.


Las Vegas. Not my favorite business meeting venue. As I’ve said ‘for years’, it’s the last place an industry, trying to shed its’ vehicular heritage should patronize. We are no longer ‘mobile home dealers’ so shouldn’t be gambling with blackjack dealers. I’ll be present, on 15 April, at the behest of clients and peers meeting privately to parse serious industry matters. No, I’m not a public presenter this year. But it wouldn’t hurt to inquire of the show organizers, as to when and where they’ll be asking for my help in the future.


Here’s How to Improve Homebuyer Financial Capability Once & For All!

Impetus for this weeks blog feature:

The Corporation for Enterprise Development, or CFED, via their ‘#FinCapWorks’ Program, during April 2015, challenges housing providers (That’s you & me!) to describe how to improve individual & household financial capability & stability, as an essential strategy for building financial well-being! For information, phone (202) 408-9788.

There is indeed a practical means of doing this, if and when personal property loan (chattel) and realty-secured mortgage originators/lenders have the intestinal fortitude (i.e. guts) to make one significant change in the manner they presently qualify individuals and households for home financing! After reading, copy and pass this message onto them…

Conceptually, this means ‘no longer applying all an individual or household’s 30 percent Housing Expense Factor, or HEF*1, of their Annual Gross Income or AGI, to Principal, Interest, Taxes & Insurance, or PITI’.

And for that matter, all of a local housing market’s Area Median Income, or AMI, to just PITI, for future such loans and mortgages, when previewing and ascertaining apropos price points for rental and mortgaged housing to be sold there in the future.

The following four paragraphs demonstrate this recommended ‘sea change’ in as many scenarios or perspectives, using the following ‘givens:

$51,229 AGI (i.e. the national AMI for years 2010/2011); 30% Housing Expense Factor or HEF; real estate mortgage terms at 6.5% @ 20 years; and in the case of manufactured housing sited in land-lease-lifestyle communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities), chattel capital terms at 9.5% @ 20 years; and, a rental home site rate @ $333/month.

• In the first instance, contemporary practice regarding conventional housing sited on realty owned fee simple: 100 percent of an individual’s 30 percent HEF of AGI is applied as PITI, to gauge individual or household’s ability to qualify for a mortgage. For example, $51,229 X .30% = $15,368 PITI divided by 12 months = $1,281/month PITI, to service one’s mortgage @ 6.5% & 20 years, resulting in a maximum mortgage of $171,814. When divided by .9 (to account for 10% down payment), maximum home buying ‘financial capability’ will be $191,000; less the value of underlying realty. Keep in mind, all household utility bills related to this transaction will also have to be paid monthly, but using dollars outside of and in addition to aforementioned 30% HEF, likely increasing the (now) homeowner’s risk of defaulting.

• In the second instance, the recommended future scenario, 25%*3 of the $15,368 PITI calculated in the first paragraph, would be set aside to pay household utility bills related to this transaction. For example, $15, 368 X.75% (the reciprocal of 25%) = $11,527 PITI divided by 12months = $961/month PITI to service one’s mortgage @ 6.5% & 20 years, resulting in a maximum mortgage of $127,151. When divided by .9 (see above), maximum home buying ‘financial capability’ will be $141,000. Again, less the value of underlying realty. But this time around, household utility bills related to this transaction will be paid monthly with dollars included within the aforementioned 30% HEF; meaning yes, ‘less house’, but ‘more financial capability and stability’, putting the (now) homeowner on a path to enhanced financial security in the near, and likely long term!

Restating the obvious. We’ve all heard it said, “When buying a home, limit household expenses to 30 percent!” Some, if not most lenders, believe 30 percent HEF should be for PITI alone; others today, usually a minority, believe 30 percent HEF should include PITI and household utility bills, not including CATV expenses. The present practice results in ‘more house’ and yes, ‘more risk’ for the borrower, and certainly more profit for the lender. The latter, however, depending on size of down payment, can mean ‘less house’ and yes, ‘less risk’ for the borrower, and certainly less profit for the lender. In light of what’s happened throughout the U.S. housing market since 2007, the latter practice is a far better means of improving household financial capability and stability, as an essential strategy on the path to building financial well-being! Time for a change? Let’s hope so!

• Then there’s the matter of manufactured housing sited on rental homesites within LLLCommunities. The numbers ‘work similarly’ but for the added presence of monthly site rent (not a factor with conventional housing sited on realty owned fee simple), and higher interest chattel capital. Today, 100 percent of an individual’s 30 percent HEF of AGI is applied to PITI and site rent, to gauge an individual or household’s ability to qualify for a chattel mortgage. For example, $51,229 X .30% = $15,368 PITI divided by 12 months = $1,281/month to service PITI, but first deducting site rent of $333/month, leaving $948/month to pay one’s mortgage @ 9.5% & 20 years, resulting in a maximum mortgage of $101,702. When divided by .9 (to account for 10% down payment), maximum home buying ‘financial capability’ will be $113.000. Keep in mind, all household utility bills related to this transaction will be paid monthly with dollars, outside or and in addition to, the 30% HEF, likely increasing (now) homeowner’s risk of defaulting. But in this instance, there is no deduction for the value of the underlying leased realty or rental homesite…

• In this second instance, or recommended future chattel capital scenario, 25% of the $15,368 PITI and site rent amount, calculated in the previous paragraph, is set aside to pay household utility bills related to this transaction. For example, $15,368 X .75% (the reciprocal of 25%) = $11,527 PITI and site rent, divided by 12 months = $961/month to service PITI, but first deducting site rent of $333/month, leaving $628/month to pay one’s mortgage @ 9.5% & 20 years, resulting in a maximum mortgage of $67,372. When divided by .9 (see above), their maximum home buying ‘financial capability’ will be $75,000. But this time around, all household utility bills related to the transaction will be paid monthly, with dollars included within aforementioned 30% HEF; meaning yes, ‘less house’, but ‘more financial capability and stability’ overall, setting (now) homeowner on a path to enhanced financial security in the near, and likely long term! Note. Again, in this instance, there is no deduction for the value of the underlying leased realty or rental homesite…

Bottom line? First and third bullet point examples demonstrate conventional lending practice, relative to qualifying today’s borrowers for buying site-built homes on realty conveyed fee simple; and, manufactured homes on rental homesites in LLLCommunities. The second and fourth bullet points demonstrate how the same starting point AGI, of $51,229, can be used to buy ‘less house’ while at the same time, ‘enhancing financial capability and stability’ on the path to financial security. Will today’s lenders soon affect such a sea change en masse? I doubt it.

What’s aggravating about this matter, is how prospective homebuyers accept they must pay in excess of $200,000. to buy a contemporary site-built home, often ‘risking everything’ to do so (See first bullet point above); while, HUD-Code manufactured housing, costing half as much, on a square foot comparison basis, is eminently affordable, even when paying fair site rent in one’s local housing market (i.e. Usually 1/3rd the rent charged for a 3BR2B conventional apartment unit). There is a definite disconnect here, relative to what is and what is not affordable housing.

Implementing the not so new but rarely used guideline, described in bullet points two and four, increases home buyer’s financial capability and stability, without taking on unnecessary and additional risk, on the way to eventual financial security! *3

Anyone out there listening – and now motivated to begin a sea change for the better?

End Notes:

1. HEF. ‘30% Housing Expense Factor’ or Housing Measure, is one of several measures of affordable housing in vogue today; the others being The Housing Opportunity Index or HOI Measure, The Housing Wage or HW Measure, The Workforce Housing or WFH Measure, The Income to Home Value Ratio or IHVR, a.k.a. ‘Realtor’s Rule of Thumb’, and ‘The One Who Believes…’ These from the Book of Formulae, Rules of Thumb & Helpful Measures…Available for $19.95 from PMN Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. (317) 346-7156

2. 25% = estimate of percentage of AGI needed for household utility expenses, not to include CATV

3. For a more detailed study of this concept, including a discussion of front and back end ‘debt-to-income’ ratios, read ‘Contemporary Archetype of Truly Affordable Housing in the U.S.’ Available for the asking, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.


Reviewing COBA7®s WISH LIST for 2015

Here we revisit the second of five WISHES on COBA7®s 2015 WISH LIST!

WISH # 2. “Continue to promote Community Series Homes and CSH Model production among HUD-Code housing manufacturing plants nationwide; and publicizing and growing the percentage of shipments going directly into land-lease-lifestyle communities for resale or rental use. 24th annual International Networking Roundtable theme to be:

‘Encourage manufacturers & communities to work together to build, sell & finance, & rent more new HUD-Code homes!’

Well, if you read this weekly blog posting faithfully, you know this WISH is ‘well underway’! Already a half dozen of the largest HUD-Code home manufacturers have accepted invitations to be keynote presenters at the aforementioned event, 9-11 September 2015, at the Hilton Resort Hotel on Mission Bay in San Diego, CA. Be present the morning of 10 September to hear and learn from Joe Stegmayer of Cavco Industries, Keith Holdbrooks of Clayton Manufacturing, the new CEO of Champion Homes – when named, Terry Decio of Skyline Homes, and Wally Comer of Adventure Homes. Additional MHARR manufacturers have been invited but not yet replied. Also invited CEO from Factory Expo Homes, a franchise chain of 20+ MHRetail salescenters co-located with factories throughout the U.S.

Furthermore, you’re likely aware during year 2009, when the second National State of the Asset Class caucus was held 27 February 2009, at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN., bringing 100 HUD-Code home manufacturers and LLLCommunity owners/operators together, the percentage of new homes going directly into this unique, income-producing property type was 25 percent. And how, once the Community Series Homes were in production that year, that percentage has increased to 30 percent by year end 2013. Hopefully we’re looking at 35 percent by year end 2014, and even higher by the end of this (2015) year. Frankly, that’s why LLLCommunity owners/operators are now oft referred to as being the New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender!

The manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle community business models are a – changing, right before our eyes! Look at all that’s happened between years 2000 and 2009, and up until now. Be an integral part of this dynamic unfolding of our exciting history; affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®.


RV/MH Hall of Fame Requesting Nominations for RV/MH Hall of Fame
Class of 2016.

“To be eligible, the Hall of Fame nominee must be, or have been, an active participant in any segment of the recreational vehicle, campground, or manufactured housing industries for a minimum of 25years.” This also includes businessmen and women actively engaged as land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators.

A completed application is required, as well as three supporting letters – no more, no less!

For more information, phone (800) 378-8694 and request a nomination packet of information.


See YOU in Las Vegas? Look me up!

Yes, I’ll be at the MHCongress in Las Vegas the afternoon of 14 April, all day the 15th, and morning of the 16th. But I may be difficult to find. Why? I’ve been asked to make several guest appearances with various groups meeting privately at this year’s event. In one instance, I’ll brief folk about the fourth and present day consolidation WAVE of LLLCommunities, labeled the Asset Aggregator Wave. Who the ‘players’ are, etc..

Then I’ll meet privately with representatives from one or more of the GSEs, relative to unique financing needs of land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators throughout the U.S. Later the same day, will be caucusing with realty-secured lenders and brokers featured in the recently released Signature Series Resource Document: ‘17th National Registry of All Lenders Serving the MHIndustry & LLLCommunities’. If you don’t yet have a copy of this seminal report listing 25 lenders/brokers, affiliate with COBA7® ASAP, at the Option II level ($544.95) by phoning the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. It is chock full of $$$ information!

If and when you see me in Las Vegas, ask for a FREE 3X5 plastic COBA7® ‘Did You Know?’ statistics card, bearing the alliance’s motto: ‘U Support Us & We Serve U!’


What the MHIndustry Does NOT Want YOU to Know & Do!

April 4th, 2015

COBA7 WISH LIST Review & NYHA Super Symposium

March 28th, 2015

COBA7® via Blog # 342 Copyright @ 29 March 2015

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

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

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

COBA7® Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’, and Goal of its’ three print & online publications is, ‘Not only to share information & opinions, but o transform & improve!’


Reviewing COBA7® WISH LIST for 2015

Here we’ll revisit one COBA7® Wish at a time, during next five weeks!

WISH # 1. “COBA7® to refine its’ organizational structure, recruit additional affiliates (a.k.a. ‘MHInsiders’) & meet with transition planning group; ID real & potential income streams; affiliate with a national buyers’ group; possibly succeed ULI’s MHCC as MHIndustry’s ‘Think Tank’; and maybe imitate a major RVIndustry ‘motivational event’ – for the MHIndustry, at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN.

Here we go:

COBA7® organizational structure remains unchanged. COBA7® is a division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, in IN., and remains as such until transition planning group decides otherwise, likely upon successful recruitment of a leader/staff. Interested?

Recruiting additional affiliates remains a high priority, with goal of 400 ‘MHInsiders’ by year end 2015. Emphasis here is on the ‘7 Part’ tangible benefits characteristic of COBA7® for $544.95/year, compared to what a similar amount buys elsewhere!

Transition planning group numbers 30+ manufactured housing & LLLCommunity businessmen & women from 15 states! They’ll meet @ 1-4PM on 9 September, in San Diego, before the 24th annual Networking Roundtable begins, if not before….

There’re now five COBA7® ‘income streams’; plus a new partnership with Community Buying Group, giving MHInsiders discount access to Lowe’s ProSerives, Office Max & Depot, Sherwin Williams, SEARS’ Commercial, and more. See ad in April Allen Letter.

ULI’s Manufactured Housing Communities Council has disbanded. Here’s an opportunity for MHARR, MHI, & COBA7® to launch a joint THINK TANK, to address MHIndustry issues, challenges, and future prospects in a united and thoughtful fashion! All three entities will be at the MHCongress. Might that venue be ‘the time’ to meet and talk about this possibility? I’ll write & ask. If no interest, COBA7® will do so on its own.

COBA7® leadership has been invited to participate in an upcoming RVIndustry national ‘motivational event’ at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation facility in Elkhart, IN. The thought is to possibly replicate such a ‘motivational event’ for the MHIndustry in 2016.

Next week, we’ll focus on item # two on the COBA7® WISH LIST: ‘Community Series Homes’ & CSH Model production & shipment among HUD-Code manufacturers. There are some very exciting things taking place – and about to happen, relative to ‘Selling More New HUD-Code Homes into Land-lease-lifestyle Communities’ nationwide!’



Not to Miss New York Housing Association’s Super Symposium

I’ve just returned from that stellar two day event. With no exaggeration, I tell you this was the most informative, challenging, and helpful state MHAssociation – hosted seminar program I’ve attended in more than three decades in this business! Nancy Geer is commended for her insight as to what NYHA members, and colleagues from 11 NE USA states, needed to hear and learn firsthand from individuals ‘making much of this happen’ to and within our industry and realty asset class. Proof of such high praise? Every session was attended by nearly all the 130+ businessmen and women registrants – right up thru the final session Thursday morning. Few meeting planners can pull off that finale’!

Jenny Hodge, vice president of MHI”s National Communities Council, delivered the ‘MHIndustry’s point of view’ per the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act, S.A.F.E. Act, CFPB matters, and much more. Good example of a passionate lobbyist in action.

Pamela Beck Danner, esquire, and administrator of the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs at HUD, brought everyone up to date relative to soon implementation and enforcement of installation standards, and dispute resolution program – both pretty much dormant for the past five plus years. Summary? ‘No longer her predecessor’s HUD!’

Marc Lifset & Jeffrey Barringer, esquires, with McGlinchey Stafford did pretty much the impossible: described current status of state laws under all new federal regulations. They then went onto answer: ‘Is Lease with Option to Purchase Viable in Your State?’ And let me tell you, the Power Point copies supplied by Danner, Lifset & Barringer were alone, ‘worth the price of admission’ to this Super Symposium.

As requested, I updated the ‘State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity Asset Class’ statistics – many of which have changed just since the first of the year! Went on to describe the Asset Aggregator Wave of LLLCommunity Consolidation – the fourth such ‘wave’ – including syndicators of the late 1970s, REITs in the early 1990s, and ‘equity plays’ since then. Read feature article in the March issue of the Allen Letter for details.

Concluded my talk with the first public presentation of ‘Frost Free Foundation’® from the LLLCommunity Owners Perspective’; simply put: ‘Learn beforehand (Before buying a new HUD-Code home for resale on-site) whether one’s preferred home manufacturer clearly approves FFF for the installation of their homes, and says so in their Installation Manual – or consider buying elsewhere.’ Why? Because the alternative, retrofitting perfectly good rental homesites, to be in compliance with aforementioned (in this blog posting) federal installation standards, compliant new concrete slabs, ribbons, piers, cost on the average, $5,000.00+/- per site! And that’s not all…For a one page summary description of ‘How to learn more about FFF’, and other ‘necessary use precedents’, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and request it. This offer open to everyone, not just COBA7® affiliates. MHInsiders will receive the final printed version of this FFF® aid, as a lagniappe in a future issue of the Allen Letter professional journal.