Archive for September, 2010

AFTERGLOW, & MH/RV Industries Imbroglio

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

AFTERGLOW, & ‘MH to Learn From RV Industry?’

Networking Roundtable’s Keynote Challenge to the Manufactured Housing Industry, is echoed the same week, to the RV Industry, in Woodall’s Campground Management newspaper!

I.

‘Ah, one has to enjoy the afterglow following a successful annual national venue like the recently concluded 19th annual International Networking Roundtable (‘INR’)!’ But where to start? With the two beautiful singlesection Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) displayed by CAVCO Industries and Champion Homes? How ‘bout the two dozen landlease (nee manufactured home) communities offered For Sale by Marcus & Millichap? Or the nearly two dozen top notch presenters holding forth on as many cutting edge and timely topics? For many of us, it was Randy Rowe’s stirring keynote challenge to the manufactured housing industry, identifying Five Foci, required of us, to regain national housing market share – especially the ‘ins & outs’ of chattel (personal property) financing described by Dick Ernst, ManageAmerica/Origen executives, and Ken Rishel of PCA. To learn the entire story, about this year’s stellar Roundtable event, complete with housing supplier, realty, and speaker contact information, read the two lagniappes accompanying the October issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. To subscribe, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 ($134.95/year)

How do others feel about this year’s Roundtable event? This letter from one of the attendees: “By now, you must be inundated with kudos re: the INR, but I need to add mine. What a pleasure it was to hear serious folk addressing serious concerns with what I thought may actually include a glint of resolve to follow –up their words with action. Frankly, I was surprised. (And) the absence of so many of the ‘old guard’ would, I assumed, cause a bit of a drop – off in the level of excitement, but the opposite happened! The ‘new guard’ showed enthusiasm and a healthy dose of humility by having the courage to ask great questions, and keep the dialogue moving.” PF (emphasis added)

A word about the last two sentences in the previous paragraph. We noticed this change in patronage as we processed registrations prior to the INR. While a dozen or more ‘roundtable regulars’ were absent this year, there was double that number of ‘first time attendees’. And while Thayer Long, of MHI, was the sole executive in attendance, from any of the national advocacy and trade bodies (Think MHARR, the NCC, and ULI’s MHCC & IREM), besides having participants from 26 states, we also documented no fewer than 20 second generation LLCommunity owners/operators! Another interesting demographic was the presence of so many MH and real estate specialists, e.g. 12 Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) from HUD Code home manufacturers; 10 Manufactured Housing Managers (‘MHM’), four Certified Property Managers (‘CPM’), and two Members, Appraisal Institute (‘MAI’) realty appraisers.

II.

And then there was this pithy and timely feature article headline in the September 2010 issue of Woodall’s Campground Management newspaper, page # 6:

2010 RVDA Convention/Expo Comes at a Delicate Point in Time for North America’s RV Industry. The subtitle proclaimed: “There is a consensus we have to recalibrate our definition of what is a good business environment,” said Mike Molino, president of the Fairfax, VA. – based Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), lead sponsor of October’s annual Con/Expo, “We’re not going to get back to the 400,000 – unit years any time soon.” (emphasis added) GFA

It was that last sentence that got me thinking; probably because I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed throughout the MHIndustry during the past couple years. Indeed, a rewrite of said headline and subtitle, per HUD Code manufactured housing, might read thusly:

2010 Manufactured Housing Institute’s Annual Meeting (9/27 & 28) Comes at a Delicate Point in Time for North America’s MH Industry. “We’re not going to get back to the 500,000 shipment years any time soon – if ever.” (emphasis added) GFA

Here’re excerpts from the above – referenced RV article; all of which appear to apply equally well to MHIndustry aficionados – YOU and me:

“…the aftershocks of the Great Recession are obviously still apparent in terms of unemployment, stock market fluctuations, and a general discomfort among many Americans, with regard to the general state of the economy.”

“…many of the nation’s durable good (sic) manufacturers – including RV builders – are still looking to bridge their way to the next year and the next level of recovery, and to find a comfort zone in this new post – recessionary age.”

“We’re not going to get back to the 400,000 – unit years any time soon. We’ll probably never return to that. The next couple of years will be tough, but doable. If dealers stay within the cash structure they have, they will survive. The consumer will come back – slowly. We won’t see a significant increase (in sales) until there is more certainty (about the state of the economy). I’m not so sure the election of 2010 will bring more certainty. That might just bring more confusion.”

Bottom line for us in the MHIndustry? The previous paragraph could well have been penned for the HUD Code manufactured housing industry as well! So, it’s high time we take insightful and proven leaders, like Randy Rowe, seriously. If YOU haven’t heard (at last week’s Roundtable) or read his Five Foci, in detail, YOU need to do so! Copies of his pithy and timely presentation will be distributed at MHI’s annual meeting in Denver, CO., and further be available as a lagniappe, in the October issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. If YOU care enough about the MHIndustry and its’ LLCommunity asset class counter part, you’ll make the extra effort to obtain said document, read it carefully, take it to heart, and act on it – the sooner the better!

III.

There are at least three October MHIndustry venues where YOU can make your views, on this Survival of the Fittest Topic (Reread part II of this blog posting!) known, and encourage appropriate (e.g. National Image Improvement & Branding Campaign) ACTION:

First, the Urban Land Institute’s Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) convenes 13 October 2010, in downtown Washington, DC. This is our industry and asset class de facto Think Tank. A few dozen of the industry and asset class’ top leaders and thinkers will be present. To participate, phone Kenneth Lipschutz via (248) 645-1077 or KenL@BrooksideCommunities.com And if you missed Dr. David Funk’s (Real Estate Program head at Cornell University) ‘MH Demographics’ address at last week’s Roundtable, he’ll be repeating it for this audience!

Second; the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association (‘IMHA’) is hosting a one day Finance Seminar Program on 21 October in Springfield, IL. For details, phone Bob Thieman @ (217) 528-3423 or bthieman@imha.org If, as a LLCommunity owner/operator, YOU sell and self – finance new and resale home transactions on – site in your properties, YOU need to be present to learn the basics and fine points of this heady, and increasingly harrowing process! Heard of the exciting ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ worksheet for calculating ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ home prices, and monthly payment schedules, for new and resale homes sold in and outside LLCommunities? If not, you can’t afford ‘not to be present’ when this material is distributed and taught by the author.

Third; the Mid – Atlantic States Convention occurs 26 & 27 October 2010 in Albany, NY. While anyone ‘in the MHBusiness’ can attend, it’s primarily intended for MHIndsutry & LLCommunity folk from NY, NJ, PA, DE & MD. For information, phone (800) 721-HOME or info@nyhousing.org Word has it, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has been invited as a keynote presenter. Now there’s a potential opportunity to solicit HUD’s support for manufactured housing as this nation’s premier form of truly affordable, non – subsidized, quality, energy – efficient, attractive, transportable housing!
Will YOU be present?

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM & Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry & The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class. (317) 346-7156

SHOTGUNS & PICKUP TRUCKS

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

‘SHOTGUNS & PICKUP TRUCKS’

19th Networking Roundtable Dishes Out Tough Love, $20 bills for $10 bills, and Much Much More! Also; researching the ALLEN REPORT, & another National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) Caucus Is Coming Your Way….

I.

Facing a record number of landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators from 26 states, and following the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, then individual introductions of nearly 200 attendees, Green Courte Partners founder and chairman Randy Rowe took the floor to dish out five specific courses of tough love to the HUD Code manufactured housing industry!

The theme of his presentation? ‘What the Manufactured Housing Industry Must Do to Regain National Housing Market Share’. This is Randy’s five point foci:

Better Warranties and Customer Service

Chattel Financing Issues

Economic Security for Our Customers

Multiple Listing Service(s)

National Marketing (Image) Effort

For a detailed presentation of Randy Rowe’s timely and sobering talk; along with a topic by topic, and speaker by speaker review of all two dozen subjects at this year’s Networking Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ., read the October issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Therein you’ll also learn, how one firm freely exchanged $20 bills for $10 bills as part of their water sub metering presentation; and, why demographers characterize a portion of our market as being ‘shotgun and pickup truck’ customers.

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of email remarks (slightly edited for this blog) that awaited me when I returned home from Phoenix on Saturday:

“While many attendees of (past) Roundtables have been the ‘big boys’ in our asset class, a shift occurred this year, wherein the event attracted far more ‘Mom & Pop’ operators (owning 10 LLCommunities or less) than ever before.” SR (And) “The addition of Dr. David Funk, from Cornell University, was excellent and classy. Too bad more of the big operators were not there to listen!” KR. ‘That’s OK’; David will be repeating this attention – grabbing Manufactured Housing Demographics presentation to attendees at the ULI’s Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) meeting in Washington, DC., on 13 October. To participate, phone Ken Lipschutz @ (248) 645-1077.

FYI. Dates of the 20th anniversary International Networking Roundtable are 14 – 16 September. Where? Well, that’s still TBA (to be announced). But, if you missed last week’s stellar event, own one or more LLCommunities, and want to be invited to next year’s Roundtable, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633- 4764.

II.

‘Under Construction’ aptly describes the present status of the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Landlease Community Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’). AR questionnaires were mailed to 650 known portfolio ‘players’ last week. If you own/operate five or more LLCommunities and or 500 rental homesites, YOU should received one of the questionnaires. If NOT, phone (317) 346-7156 immediately, and request same. If leaving a voicemail message, be sure to provide your name, address, and telephone number, for follow – up purposes. The 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT will initially be distributed with the January 2011 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. FYI. The ALLEN REPORT retails for $250.00 per copy, but is FREE to subscribers to the above – referenced business newsletter. So, subscribe today for $134.95.

III.

Are YOU struggling to decide how to maneuver through the chattel (personal property) housing finance compliance and regulatory morass, especially where (property) owner – assisted (a.k.a. ‘captive finance’) lending is concerned? Well, there’s immediate assistance on the horizon, to that end; and maybe a national venue in January 2011.

In the first instance, if this is a timely and strategic personal or corporate concern, plan to be in Springfield, IL., on 21 October when the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association (‘IMHA’) holds a daylong Finance Seminar. Greg O’Berry, CEO of Hometown America, and in – coming chairman of the above MHI’s National Communities Council (‘NCC’), is keynote speaker and will address: ‘State of the Manufactured Housing Industry’. In addition, there’ll be presentations by the Small Business Administration; Reasons (& How) to launch a ‘captive finance’ home loan program at your property(ies); information on Title II finance; and, How to Use the popular ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ worksheet, for ‘Estimating maximum recommended ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ purchase prices for new & resale, privately – owned homes of any type, sited on realty owned fee simple with home, or leased!’ – as in a LLCommunity. To register, phone IMHA via (217) 528-3423.

Preliminary plans are being made to facilitate a National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus type Chattel Finance Summit, in Florida during January 2011. No details yet available, but format will likely build upon the program described in the previous paragraph, with the addition of ‘Gauging the Effects of Owner – assisted Chattel Financing of Homes On – site, relative to the Value and Real Estate Lending Worthiness of Landlease Communities’. Veteran MHIndustry & LLCommunity businessmen and women will recall two previous NSAC caucuses; one on – site in a LLCommunity in Tampa during February 2008; and, the following February (2009) at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame, Library & Museum facility in Elkhart, IN. The first event attracted 100+/- LLCommunity owners/operators intent on taking control of their collective destiny in the face of plummeting manufactured housing shipments. The second event attracted 100+/- LLCommunity folk and HUD Code home manufacturers who spent a day discussing design requirements for what is now commonly known as Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) – two of these were on display at last week’s Networking Roundtable in Phoenix! – and three dozen Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) were named to increase HUD Code home sales throughout the asset class nationally. This time around? Simple! Make sense of the chattel finance scene as it ‘plays out’ in early 2011; and teach those present how to go about properly originating home loans on – site; keeping them in compliance; how to package loans For Sale when new capital is needed; etc. If YOU want to be kept abreast of this developing opportunity, respond directly to this blog posting, or phone the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE.

IV

Another important FYI. If an NCC member (i.e. of MHI’s National Communities Council division), plan to be present at the institute’s annual meeting in Denver, CO. @ 26 – 28 September! Among other reasons, you’ll learn of plans, once MHI’s budget is approved for 2011, to recruit and hire a new executive to administer the LLCommunities’ council! The NCC was launched in January 1996, has been served by at least four dedicated executives in the interim, but with none for the past year and a half. Be present for this historic step, in the soon to be 11 year history, of your advocacy body in Washington, DC. Haven’t become a direct member of the NCC yet? Phone Thayer Long @ (703) 558-0678.

***
George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

MHIndustry Response, Observations & Reintroduction!

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Responses, Observations, & a Reintroduction…

‘Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret’ evokes your response; ‘Networking Roundtable’ awash in idiosyncrasies, & the Grand ‘Once & For All’ Tour!

I
“Great; you nailed it, George. If the good guys/gals want to win, they must solve the (manufactured housing) perception and financing (issues). Let’s watch to see if they have the belief and commitment ‘to go for it all’, putting their money where their mouth is!” NB (lightly edited. GFA) And this: “Loved the KIA point in your blog, wouldn’t have thought of it that way…Lots of important points, thanks for putting them out there. (Here’s my) multi – pronged suggestion: 1) support Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), 2) Strengthen that advocacy body, enabling it to move the MHIndustry ahead, (if necessary) under new robust leadership and supported by advisors and members; and, 3) Address the conspiracy theory(ies) once and for all – which I too hear about in discussions.” TK

If you didn’t read last week’s blog posting, titled: ‘Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret in the U.S.!’, you owe it to yourself to go back and do so! Why? Because frankly, ‘That’s where we are today’, and we’re not gonna go anywhere forward anytime soon, towards increased new manufactured home ‘shipments’ (Pains me to pen that, when I/we should be talking in terms of home ‘sales’), until we collectively address the reasons and issues identified in that blog posting!

Know what? I laid some bait out there, in that blog posting, to see if anyone would take and run with it. No one did. The bait? A ‘silver bullet’ I opined would heal manufactured housing’s decade long illness: “Debut an effective, charismatic, focused national leader (I can think of one!) and leadership cadre….” No readers asked who I had/have in mind. Either, as an industry, we don’t really care to be healed, or don’t believe anyone is up to the admittedly Herculean task; so we don’t care to know who this savior might or have been. Don’t bother to ask now; I’m not talking. But will tell you this; that person knows….

II

As a related aside; in an effort to trim down several hundred specific BEBAs (‘Blast Email Blog Alert) we’ve been sending each week, as this blog is posted, I asked addressees to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ of receiving future notices. Here’re initial results during first five days:

67 individuals ‘opted in’ to receive future BEBAs of postings to this website. And responses continue to arrive daily. Have YOU ‘opted in’? To do so, simply respond to this blog posting, that you ‘opt in’. To ‘opt out’, do nothing….

Of the 67 ‘opt ins’ received to date, 33 have been from LLCommunity owners/operators, 14 from suppliers of products and services, four MHRetailers, four association executives, and three each from HUD Code manufacturers, lenders, real estate brokers, and trade publishers. Goal? 100 – 200 seriously interested individuals; folk, from all segments of the industry who truly care about the present and future health of HUD Code manufactured housing and the landlease community real estate asset class!

III.

As you likely know, the 19th International Networking Roundtable occurs this week (15 – 17 September) in Phoenix, AZ. Truly hope to see YOU there! Expecting 200+/- manufactured housing aficionados and landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators from throughout North America! It’s almost too late for you to participate, but you can ‘try’ by phoning (317) 346-7156 and leaving a message, telling me you’ll see me at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort Hotel, or read on….

OK, so what are some of the idiosyncratic characteristic individuals and firms registered to attend this year’s Roundtable?

Topping the speaker list this year is Randy Rowe, founder and chairman of Green Courte Partners in Illinois; and with David Lentz, owner/operator of American Land Lease (a former REIT) in Florida. Randy was the executive who took Sam Zell’s then MHC, Inc. (now ELS, Inc.) public, as a REIT, during the early 1990s; and subsequent to that, founded Hometown America! Who better to ‘splain’ to 200+/- Roundtable attendees, ‘What it is we must do, as an industry and asset class, to reclaim our national housing market share?’ You can be sure this will be a max attendance presentation.

No fewer than eight Business Development Managers (‘BDM’), representing four HUD Code manufactured housing producers: CAVCO Industries & Fleetwood Homes, Champion Homes, and Adventure Homes! Where’re the others? You’ll have to ask them, but one would think they’d jump at marketing their Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) to LLCommunity owners/operators needing houses. Call it a missed opportunity…

Of course, something similar might be said of the Big Four + One, third party lenders still originating chattel (personal property) loans on manufactured homes. 21st Mortgage Corporation and CU Factory Built Lending are to be present; but not the other three. Is it any wonder so much (property) owner financing occurs these days?

And indirectly related to the previous observation, there’ll be at least two, maybe three, seasoned financial services and consulting firms who’re now carrying, what appears to be, the lion’s share of chattel home loan origination, servicing, and sale of ‘paper’, throughout the LLCommunity real estate asset class. May even learn, for the first time, of a quiet plan and practice, to restore positive traction to chattel lending on Wall Street!

While majority of attendees are bona fide LLCommunity owners/operators, they’re an eclectic mix of veteran portfolio firms, a few would be ‘players’, several newbie companies, even a ‘shared equity’ conversion specialist.

For the first time in a long time, every publishing segment of the manufactured housing and landlease community print and online trade press will be represented at a major MHIndustry event! Even the publisher of Rental Property Reporter plans to be present. All must be expecting timely and pithy trade news to report!

An especially exciting addition to this year’s program is Dr. David Funk, chairman of Cornell University’s Graduate Real Estate Program. This is the first authentic academic presentation, on demographics and manufactured housing, in a long long time. Hope MHI and other trade groups take notice….

Once again, interested LLCommunity owners/operators will convene, off – agenda, and during one seminar offering, to learn and discuss merits and challenges of forming their own ‘captive insurance’ firm during year 2011. More than a dozen owners/operators are committed to meet and plan the debut of this new business entity.

Did previous eight paragraphs stimulate a passionate desire to attend this seminal annual event, even at the last minute? That’s OK. Show up at the Pointe Hilton, Tapatio Cliffs, Phoenix, AZ. (11111 North 7th Street), the morning of Thursday, 16 September, with $450.00 registration fee, for LLCommunity folk; and $1,000.00 for Service Providers (e.g. lenders, manufacturers, product and service vendors). Check – in with Roundtable coordinator, Susan McCarty, of CommunityInvestor!

If unable to attend the Roundtable, but would like a detailed description of what happened, who presented, and what they said; read the October 2010 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal! (317) 346-7156 to subscribe @ $134.95/yr.

IV

A few months ago I introduced you to the concept of a Grand ‘Once & For All!’ Tour of seven regions across the U.S.. Well, I’ve been too busy, readying for the Roundtable, and getting Official Questionnaires into the mail for this year’s ALLEN REPORT, to spend time developing this concept. So let’s look at the basics again….

These seven regional 1 ½ day gatherings will be open to anyone in the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class interested in industry advocacy unity, personal and corporate positive motivation, practical education relative to timely and strategic topics, and improved print and online communication among all segments.

At this point in time, we’re looking at Grand ‘Once & For All! Tour stops in New England, the Mid – Atlantic, South, West, Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest, and Lower Midwest (not necessarily in that order), during January, February, May, June, July, August, and October or early November 2011.

There’s much more to be said about the wisdom and practicality of planning, hosting, and effecting a series of geographic industry and asset class gatherings during 2011. The point in bringing the matter up in this particular blog posting, is to identify volunteers throughout the U.S., within the MHIndustry & LLCommunity ‘family’, who’d be willing to work with me to bring this unifying, motivating, educational, communication – enabling series of events to your/their area! To do so, respond directly to this blog, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764,or call (317) 346-7156 or email: gfa7156@aol.com Need to hear from you on or before 1 October 2010, when planning begins in earnest for this Grand ‘Once & For All!’ Tour.

V.

FLASH! The official questionnaires used to research and prepare the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Landlease Community Portfolio Owners/operators in North America!’) are being mailed to 500+/- portfolio owners/operators this week, the second full week of September. Responses are due back to GFA Management, Inc., on or before 30 September, to be included in the final report, which will be enclosed as a lagniappe in the January 2011 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. If you own/operate five or more LLCommunities and or 500 or more rental homesites, but have not received this questionnaire, call (317) 346-7156 to obtain same.

VI

Since many of you apparently didn’t realize (per your correspondence) the acronym KIA, now an automobile brand name, has – for decades, also meant ‘Killed In Action’ (as in military combat), how many of you know the alternative meanings of these popular abbreviations: NFL & USMC? In the first instance, locker room slang among professional football players, renders it ‘Not For Long’; a rueful commentary on careers oft cut short by injury. And among U.S. Marines, there at least three alternative renderings: ‘Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children’ (Carolyn’s favorite), ‘U Saw Me Coming!’, and one other….

*****

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247

Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret in the U.S.!

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret in the US!

Why HUD Code Manufactured Housing & Landlease (nee manufactured home) Communities Continue to be ‘Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret’

I

One person’s passion is often another’s piranha, poser, puzzle or problem! Think of KIA brand automobiles. Today, a popular consumer choice; but for combat veterans, the chilling acronym for ‘Killed In Action’! Same to be said about succulent Kobe beef. A delicacy for many diners; but a ‘not on your life’ food choice among vegetarians. Some opine a similar dichotomy for this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret….

Think HUD Code manufactured housing and landlease communities (‘LLCommunities’)! For aficionados of quality, inexpensive (1/2 the cost, per square foot, of site – built housing!), energy efficient, non – subsidized, transportable, single family housing, certainly a valuable bargain when well bought and well – sited, on realty owned fee simple or leased. But how many American homebuyers clearly know this, and select unique factory – built housing products when in the market for a new home? Not many. Why? A half dozen reasons.

Presently, there’s a major DISTRACTION. With 4,000,000+/- foreclosed and or repossessed stick – built homes in play these days (A number that varies from week to week, and from news source to resource person), would be homebuyers will shop in that affordable pool first, before seriously considering new manufactured homes. And since there’s NO SECONDARY MARKET to effectively market and resell manufactured homes, beyond MHVillage online listings, that avenue too is a nigh non – starter! So, there’re the first two reasons why manufactured housing continues to be this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret!

Complete lack of national product and brand PROMOTION. Automobile manufacturers regularly do this – on national TV; so do pharmaceutical firms hyping virility and PDA pills; and, a plethora of companies peddling cable and dish TV, cel phones, and other cutting edge technology. So, why doesn’t HUD Code manufactured housing follow suit – at all? In my opinion: “Because we don’t play well together” has too long been our self – defeating siren song, playing out in more ways than one. A possible tri – part solution? Debut an effective, charismatic, focused national leader (I can think of one!) and leadership cadre; collectively backed and financed by a no – longer – divided national voice; if necessary, wrought from a drastically reorganized advocacy presence. Bottom line? As long as we don’t effectively nationally promote our unique housing product and lifestyle alternative, we’ll remain this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret!

BAD IMAGE, bad image, BAD IMAGE, bad image, BAD IMAGE, bad image! Who’s to blame for the sorry state of affairs? BAD PRESS & BAD ACTORS! In the first instance, most of the secular and business press continue to practice the bromide: ‘BAD NEWS SELLS!’ In our case, this is regularly exhibited via the press’ persistent use of archaic, negative terminology, to subliminally negate positive views one might have for manufactured housing and landlease communities. Some in our businesses fight skirmishes of this nature in various ways, e.g. One with stock postcards responding, in part: ‘Oops…you slipped! Trailers haul livestock and beer. People live in manufactured homes. No one lives in a trailer!’* What do you do? It’s going to take many more manufactured housing loyalists, doing things like this and more, to turn the press in a positive direction. Here’s a novel suggestion. Research and prepare a comprehensive MHStyle Manual to distribute to every print and online news purveyor in the U.S.! Style manuals are everyday references, generally containing a dictionary or lexicon of trade terms, as well as contact sources for industry information and statistics. And the BAD ACTORS? They take many forms. Shoddy workmanship within housing factories, shifty ‘street dealers’, unsatisfactory customer service, predatory lenders, lousy landlords, and more; all working (often unintentionally) to keep BAD IMAGE in place year after year. How to interrupt this perennial cycle? Begins with each of us in the MHBusiness; the ‘five percenters’ who genuinely care! Make a sincere commitment to personal and corporate excellence! Seriously. Get active on the state level, via your trade association, as an industry image activist and board member. And when given an opportunity, make yourself and image improvement views known on regional and national levels. Frankly, until we, as an industry and asset class, effectively address BAD PRESS & BAD ACTOR impediments, we’ll continue to languish as this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret! Are YOU a direct member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’)? If not, phone (703) 558-0678 today and join!

FINANCING. This is a bona fide hiatus* at this time! Available only to the most credit worthy of would be homebuyers, and then generally on the realty – owned fee simple side of the lending house. BUT, frequently available within many, if not most, larger LLCommunities (i.e. containing more than 100 rental homesites) throughout the U.S. How so? Well, that’s another major part of this story; one that’s been thoroughly covered in previous blog postings at this website (Scroll back through archived blogs!), and will be readdressed as circumstances change and or continue to unfold. There is one perspective on this subject, however, that warrants further attention: NOT ALWAYS AFFORDABLE. And there’re two interrelated aspects of this impediment to manufactured housing and landlease communities breaking free of their ‘rep’ as this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret! One aspect has to do with calculating the price (value) of new or resale (manufactured) homes marketed in specific local housing markets (Identified by postal zip code and referenced, as Annual Median Income or AMI at zipskinny.com) and or sold to an individual or household with a provable level of annual income (a.k.a. Annual Gross Income or AGI). But first, ask any HUD Code home manufacturer’s regional sales representative, or MHRetailer, how to take either or both those ‘$$$ starting points’ (AMI &/or AGI) to calculate ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ price points of homes to be sold in the given local housing market, or to the individual or household buying a home. You may be surprised at the answer(s); or, more likely, non – answers. And don’t forget to ask ‘How they got to their numbers?’. Today there is a practical way to effect these key computations, using the obliquely – named ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’.* The other aspect? Has to do with relationship of on – site homesite rent and PITI factor calculated using the ‘Ah Ha & Uh Oh!’ methodology. Here’s the rub; sometimes referred to as the KY-MN Rule of Thumb (Named for two MHIndustry leaders routinely using this rule in KY & MN); to wit: For a manufactured home sited in a landlease community to ‘sell well’ against similarly – sized and appointed stick – built homes in the same local housing market, the total monthly PITI & site rent payment on the former, must be at least $50.00/month less than the PITI payment for the latter! When that relationship is out of sync, it’s usually due to too high site rent, too much home for the prospective homebuyer (often the case), and or combination of both factors. Now you know.

CONSPIRACY. Do you really want to go there? Some do; some don’t. However, want to acknowledge this theory frequently surfaces in casual conversation among MHIndustry purists and veterans. Such talk usually centers around personal convictions that advocacy bodies have been infiltrated by stick – built housing loyalists intent on gradually dismantling the industry; and, HUD, as federal regulator of the our industry, has been its’ most reluctant bridesmaid for 35 years, rarely doing anything proactive, even reactive, to pointedly promote manufactured housing beyond being this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret. Nuff said, for now…

Can YOU identify additional reasons why HUD Code manufactured housing and LLCommunities continue to be this nation’s Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret? Let me know by phone: MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, or respond directly to this blog posting via this website!

II.

Remember last week’s blast email teaser quote: “LLCommunities to be the Salvation of the MHIndustry? Looks like it!” Well, we received several supportive messages regarding points made therein. Here’s one: “Well done, sir. Perhaps we should Thank the conspirators for starting our demise, so our national associations and ‘we’ could finish (the job). As an industry, we are definitely suicidal. We should be thinking aggressively and believing in our future! (What’s the chance our few remaining) financially strong manufacturers, LLCommunity owners, OEM suppliers, MHRetailers, and (third party) financial firms contribute monies to a pool to provide financing for creditworthy buyers of our housing product?” MM. And this; responding to (property) owner – financing of new and resale homes sold on – site via ‘captive finance’ and ‘buy here – pay here’ methodology: “Good for the LLCommunity owners; they KNOW how great our customers really are, and how they deserve our confidence.”

III.

For more information about the Best Kept Affordable Housing Secret in the US!,
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• Attend 19th annual International Networking Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ @ 15-17 September. Not too late to register! (317) 346-7156 for special rates for LLCommunity owners, HUD Code home manufacturers, and service Providers. FLASH. Here’s a piece of inside information! Thanks to this blog, and other online postings, this year’s Roundtable is attracting as many ‘new faces’ as it does folk who’ve patronized it for the past 19 years! So, if you’re looking for prime prospecting, best educational offerings available anywhere in the MHIndustry, unparalleled interpersonal networking, and dozens of deal – making opportunities, register today! Our max capacity is 200, and we’re almost there!
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• Only a few copies of the best-selling Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer remain. Sells for $29.95 per copy (includes postage & handling). Phone (317) 346-7156.
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• If the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ methodology intrigues you, plan to be in Springfield, IL., on 21 October 2010. Why? The Illinois Manufactured Housing Association (‘IMHA’) is hosting a day long chattel finance educational program, for anyone in the manufactured housing business and landlease community asset class, who wants to attend. I’ll be describing the above methodology in detail, using said form. Call (217) 528-3423 for further information and to register for this seminal event. Given the ‘other topics’, anyone in self – finance will be there!
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Remember; this Blog is only as useful as your input, suggestions, and ideas! GFA

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End Notes.

• For a free copy of the ‘Oops…You slipped’ postcard, call (317) 346-7156
• Hiatus? A space where something is missing; a gap; a break.” Webster
• For Free copy of the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ form, call (317) 346-7156.

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156