Archive for October, 2010

The CAMPAIGN; calc ‘price points’; & $$$ talk!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The CAMPAIGN, Calculating Housing Price Points, & $$$ Talk!

HUD Housing CAMPAIGN Continues to Generate Lively Interest, Introducing the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Housing Price Points Worksheet’ &
How Manufactured Housing Shoots Itself in the Foot, Hand & Head!

I.

For a second consecutive week, The CAMPAIGN to promote HUD Code manufactured housing, proposed at a recent ULI Manufactured Housing Communities Council meeting by creativehavenmedia.com, stimulates record level response from readers of this blog at community-investor.com!

Four executives from the Cherry Hill, New Jersey firm described how the manufactured housing industry “…could (should) create new distribution channels by effectively partnering with big box retailers, and other similar venues, to bring new homes face – to – face with new and old target markets.” *1 This past week I asked Lauren Shippy, Strategic Planner for creativehavenmedia.com, to summarize The CAMPAIGN.

‘This isn’t just another marketing campaign. It’s about creating a new channel in which to integrate the value supply chain (of manufactured housing), so gaps are bridged between the home manufacturer and financier, landlease community or building site, and the consumer/homebuyer.

The CAMPAIGN begins with a strategically located showcase event (featuring one or more manufactured homes), framed and vigorously promoted with regional and continuous marketing and public relations measures, to capture the attention of targeted demographics, and initiate procedures to change consumer perception.

Once consumer’s attention is focused on the housing display, sponsors have opportunities to educate them about ordering, financing, and siting their new home! The process connects the dots for the consumer/homebuyer in a simple and straightforward manner.

The CAMPAIGN also allows sponsors to identify and overcome product marketing hurdles, one region at a time. Using the showcase event as a forum for educational and bridge – building seminars, sponsors can demonstrate the numerous benefits of affordable manufactured housing to local banks, municipalities, zoning boards, even local employers.

Housing design flexibility provides opportunity for various sectors, within the manufactured housing industry (e.g. landlease communities), to produce campaign – supporting promotions, directed at their particular demographic in a specific region. In summary, The CAMPAIGN is comprised of components working together to increase the demand for manufactured housing, making the design, buying, and installation process easy for the consumer, and resolve historic hurdles in local housing market. (Edited. GFA)

What’s next? SUCCESS or FAILURE to implement The CAMPAIGN is up to YOU! Last week, suggested you contact Thayer Long at the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’): (703) 558-0678; Danny Ghorbani at the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’): (202) 783-4087; & Amy Haven, at creativemedia.com: (609) 313-5885. Did you? If not; and another week goes by without your vocal support, this creative initiative will, sorry to say, surely die, like an earlier similar proposal unanimously lauded at the 2008 Networking Roundtable! How so? HUD Code housing manufacturers, later that Fall at MHI’s annual meeting, voted down a plan to launch a Nationwide Brand Awareness & Image Improvement Campaign, fearing non – participating HUD Code manufacturers would have a pricing advantage over those supporting that campaign with fee assessments on each new home shipped.

Understand this, if The CAMPAIGN fails to materialize this time around, just as in baseball and crime, manufactured housing will be one strike, or opportunity, away from (Or, closer to!) being terminal; you know, as in the ‘Three strikes & you’re out!’ call or death knell! Is that how HUD Code housing wants to exit the national housing market? With nary a whimper? I surely hope not; and trust you feel the same. Frankly, the manufactured housing industry’s future is in your hands today! What will YOU do?

Are YOU and I alone in promoting The CAMPAIGN? NO! Reread last week’s blog posting at this website! And here’re recent, additional (edited) thoughts on the timely and strategic subject:

• ‘With regard to The CAMPAIGN. I agree an image campaign is well over due. Remember when Champion Homes (nee Champion Enterprises) effected a national campaign a couple decades ago – on the Johnny Carson Show? I’m thinking any image campaign should be localized, funded by (home) manufacturers, landlease community owners/operators, and MHRetailers in that local housing market.” One caveat however: “Until we have a firmer handle on our (chattel) financing situation, now may not be the best time to kick off such a program; rather, ‘keep our powder dry’ for now.” DO

• “We have always wanted to change the image of our industry, to equal and better than ‘mainstream’ homes. However, our (business) success is and always will be, associated with the down payment and monthly payment (amounts) required for safe, comfortable, low maintenance homes quickly delivered for move – in.” NB

• The CAMPAIGN “Can’t hurt, until some manufacturer will not back his (housing) product, or a ‘trailer’ dealer messes over a customer – but still worth a try. Better we return to the lowest cost housing product we can build; that is and always will be our market.”

OK; ‘the ball is NOW in your court’. Again, what are YOU going to do? Pass or play???

II.

When the time comes to calculate appropriate home sale price(s) for a prospective homebuyer visiting your standalone or on – site salescenter, or estimate price points for new inventory to be ordered when opening a salescenter in a new local housing market, ‘How do you do it?’ Historically, in the rough and tumble world of HUD Code manufactured housing, we’ve oft relied on the self – serving advice of manufacturers’ regional sales representatives, concocted a formula of our own that sometimes seemed to work, adjusted the easily researched ‘book value’ of resale homes, or simply priced existing or newly ordered inventory by the seat of our pants. Now there’s a much better way! Use the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ for “…estimating maximum recommended ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ purchase (or sale) prices for new & resale, privately – owned homes of any type, sited on realty owned fee simple with home, or leased – as in a landlease community (‘LLCommunity’)”. *2

The ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ methodology begins with either a prospective homebuyer or household’s Annual Gross Income (‘AGI’), or the Area Median Income (‘AMI’) of any local housing market with a postal zip code. For the purpose of calculations to follow, AGI & AMI can, and will be in this example, the same dollar amount, e.g. $60,498. Specifically, this is the National Association of Realtors (‘NAR’) estimated national Median Family Income or MFI (akin to AGI), for between 2006 and the present.

Side Note. Why the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ Moniker? Originally, the formula was used to estimate home sales and price points per ‘affordable housing and housing affordability’ alone. Well, Creighton Weber, realty loan originator with Wells Fargo, noticed the first letters of the four words were AHHA, and he morphed them into the common exclamation: ‘Ah Ha!’; as in, “Ah Ha!, here’s how to effectively estimate affordable housing price points!” And when the scope of the formula was broadened, to include less stringent measures of housing affordability, accommodating homebuyers willing to take on more risk, when buying and financing a new or resale home, it made sense to round out the title with the exclamation, ‘Uh Oh!’ Watch and see how these two thesis materialize in the paragraphs to follow…

Here’re the ‘givens’ and related factors, in order of appearance, in the eight step calculation process. $60,498 MFI (Just as easily, AGI or AMI – the latter, easily available from zipskinny.com, per postal zip code, of subject local housing market); a 30% Household Expense Factor or HEF, per ‘loaded’ (Including PITI & household/utility expenses) and ‘barebones’ (Only PI, no TI, etc.) perspectives.*3 Then, either 75% or 100% of estimated ‘loaded’ & ‘barebones’ HEF amounts available for annual PI & site rent – if applicable; and in this case, $333/month, depending on whether it’s to be an ‘affordable’ (e.g. 75% of HEF amount) or ‘risky’ (e.g. 100% of HEF amount) loan commitment on part of borrower. Loan terms of 6.5% & 20 year terms for a real estate secured, and 9.5% & 20 year terms for a chattel (personal property) mortgage. Also assume a 10% of sales price down payment . Final step to the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ methodology, is to adjust the fee simple ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ home sale prices and price point calculations, according to the value of underlying real estate, a key factor whose value varies widely, e.g. between $5,000 and $50,000+/- per site or acre, depending on whether raw or developed land, rural or urban locale, and other conditions.

With all that said, and given the factors cited in the previous paragraph, here’re the four new or resale home sales prices, and or inventory price points, for homes (to be) sited as follows:

With an ‘affordable’ loan and within a landlease community: $95,000.00

With a ‘risky’ loan (Using 100% of HEF for P&I only): $141,000.00

With an ‘affordable’ loan and on realty owned fee simple: $169,000.00, minus value of underlying realty, e.g. @ -$50,000 = $119,000.00+/-

With a ‘risky’ loan (Using 100% of HEF for P&I only): $225,000.00, minus
value of underlying realty, e.g. @ -$50,000 = $175,000.00+/-

Bottom lines? With an annual income of $60,498.00, buy a new or resale manufactured (or modular) home sited in a LLCommunity for an ‘affordable’ $95,000.00; or, a effect a somewhat riskier transaction (by dint of paying taxes & insurance & utility payments in addition to the 30% HEF) for $141,000; and pay $333/month site rent for professional property management, generally lower taxes (personal property vs. realty), and property amenities, among other benefit.

Or, given same $60,498.00, buy a new or resale manufactured (or modular) home sited on realty owned fee simple for an ‘affordable’ $169,000.00, less the value of the underlying real estate; or, effect a somewhat riskier transaction (by dint of paying taxes & insurance & utility payments in addition to of the 30% HEF) for $225,000.00, less the value of the underlying real estate; and be responsible for all the routine maintenance of the home and privately – owned site, whether in a subdivision or elsewhere.

Now, with all that said, again understand there’re additional factors, e.g. annual real estate taxes; where improved ‘realty owned fee simple’ generally pays much higher taxes than usage taxes levied on homes sited in landlease communities, where property owner also pays real estate taxes on the overall multifamily rental property; and tax credits, rent control, etc..

III.

What do LLCommunity owners/operators talk about when they get together these days? Following is the slightly edited transcript of an actual conversation among small to mid – sized property portfolio folk, discussing the purchase, pricing, resale, repossession, and financing of used manufactured homes.

“Every time I run across one of these ______ repos, I wonder why the ‘suits’ on Wall Street, and the powers – that – be at that lender have so much difficulty understanding what we see day in and day out. This is a (manufactured) home in our LLCommunity in _______. The lender financed it for 30 years! The buyer paid site rent and house payments like clockwork for 12 years, then moved out, saying there’s no way she’s going to pay another 18 years on that home. Not sure what her ‘grunt line’ is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she would have stayed in the home, if she only had just three more years to pay on it – for a total of 15 years.”

“Well, our property manager and maintenance man went to look at another _____repo on private property in _______ – a ’97, 24X40 (20% smaller than a 16X76). Their buyer paid regularly for 14 years, then decided he wasn’t willing to pay another 16 years. Considering the $3,500 we’d have to spend for move/setup, $4K for back taxes and rehab, $2K for decks and skirting rehab, and what we figure we could sell it for, we offered $3-4K for the manufactured home.” Lender’s response? “No! We want $12,000. ‘Comps’ have come in at $11,000. So, lowest we could go is around $9,000, since the balance on the loan is $38,000.” LLCommunity owner: “Unbelievable. Homeowner pays for 14 years and only shaves $3,000 off the principal balance! Don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I haven’t been able to buy a repo at a price that makes sense in about six months.”

“Over the past few months, we’ve bought eight manufactured homes. Two were in our LLCommunity; the rest in other owners’ properties. Best deals I’m finding are coming from homeowners who need to sell quickly – of which there seem to be a lot these days. We’re turning them around and doing Lonnie Deals (‘contract sales’).”

“Just got back from Jack Miller’s tribute seminar in Tampa. Pretty much everyone there sees things continuing to slide for the next two or three years, and credit remaining tight. This means affordable housing – combined with some type of seller – financing, will be very much in demand. This is what I’m seeing around here. Rarely do we hold a home for more than 30 days before reselling.”

And this summary, by yet another LLCommunity owner/operator: “Conventional lending today is a real conundrum. To the frustration of taxpayers and potential borrowers, beneficiaries (lenders) of TARP, used the funds to acquire weaker banks instead of making new loans, as the government intended, but didn’t require. Those lenders who want to make loans, are being required to follow incredibly strict guidelines, particularly regarding income, credit, and appraised value. Since many potential borrowers have lost their jobs, have little to show for retirement and savings funds, run up credit card balances, etc., many can’t meet the income, down payment, and credit requirements. Those few who can satisfy those requirements then run into appraisers who tell them the property (house) they want to refinance (to take advantage of today’s low rates) is worth half what it was two to three years ago – so they can’t get the loan they need. So, the only loans being ‘closed’ today are to buyers of foreclosed property with 750+ credit scores, high stable income, and 20% down payment. Since few transactions meet all those criteria, bank revenue (from loans) drops and more bank failures are inevitable. To keep more banks from getting into financial trouble, the government’s solution is to tighten lending guidelines. Second verse, same as the first.”

IV.

What’s happening? During first and second weeks of November, take a gander at that month’s edition of the Allen Letter professional journal. Why? Feature story is a ‘Request for Proposal’ to acquire the dozen or so Work Product profit centers that comprise GFA Management, Inc. dba PMN Publishing. Think: annual ALLEN Report, Networking Roundtable, two subscriber – supported monthly business newsletters, the popular Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) training & certification program (with nearly 1,000 MHMs designated to date!), and much more. To obtain a copy, phone (317) 346-7156.

On 17 – 19 November, in Chicago, there’ll be a Captive Finance Workshop. For information, phone Ken Rishel @ (773) 647-3125.

Louisville MHShow is now a definite GO! So; plan to be in Louisville, KY., on 13 & 14 January 2011 to help rejuvenate this valued Midwest manufactured housing event. There’ll be three LLCommunity – oriented seminars on the 13th: the Community Series Home; how to use the above – referenced ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ to estimate home sale and inventory price points in any local housing market in the U.S. For registration information, contact Dennis Hill @ (770) 587-3350.

Plans are moving ahead for NSAC III. LLCommunity owners/operators should watch their mail for a letter to the 250 folk who’re on the Official Insiders List of the asset class. These are the owners/operators generally recognized as being the Movers & Shakers in the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class. IF you don’t get a letter by mid – November, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE (see End Note # 2 below) and request to be invited to this seminal event tentatively scheduled for Florida in early February 2011. Focus? ‘Examining Self – finance from the LLCommunity owners/operator’s Perspective!’ This is where we’ll be talking about the ‘present and future’ of self – finance within the LLCommunity realty asset class for years to come!

*****
End Notes.

1. See blog posting # 111, title: ‘Attention HUD Code Housing Manufacturers! Are You Listening?’ Visit: community-investor.com

2. ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Formulae’ available FREE by phoning the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

3. PITI = loan principal, interest, taxes, insurance

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

HUD Code Manufacturers! R U Listening?

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Attention HUD Code Housing Manufacturers! Are You Listening?

If NOT; no one to blame but yourselves, if shipments continue to languish!

I.

Last week, at a Finance Seminar in Springfield, IL., Greg O’Berry, President & COO of Hometown America, and chairman of MHI’s National Communities Council division, during his ‘State of the MHIndustry’ keynote address, opined IMAGE continues to be a perennial bugbear for HUD Code manufactured housing! *1 And until we ‘Take a Major Step to Image – Educate the Consumer – Public’, our systems – built housing product is ‘not their father’s mobile home’, but an attractive and high quality, affordable and non – subsidized, ‘green’ and energy efficient Shelter Alternative, our annual housing shipment total will continue to bump along at its’ 60 year nadir. *2

Well, the HUD Code manufactured housing industry, a.k.a. MHIndustry, is now poised to ‘Take (that) Major Step to Image – Educate the Consumer Public’!
Did YOU read last week’s blog posting titled ‘The CAMPAIGN’? If not, you might want to stop reading this blog posting, and scroll back a week to this web site’s archive, to do so. Seriously. Then the following paragraphs will enjoy maximum impact, relative to your thinking, and hopefully – personal and corporate action and support of The CAMPAIGN!

An early alternative title for this week’s blog was ‘The CAMPAIAGN Revisited – through the eyes of manufactured housing aficionados responding to this timely and strategic Challenge and Opportunity!’ But if you’re with me this far, title alternatives no longer matter. What you want to know NOW, is what our peers have been saying and writing in response to ‘The CAMPAIGN!’ And FYI, last week’s posting generated the strongest reader response of the 120 blogs penned to date. That’s very ‘telling’….

But first, a clarification to last week’s blog, wherein was stated, “…The CAMPAIGN debuted at a recent national gathering of manufactured housing executives and landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators, meeting in Washington, DC.” This was actually the Fall meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’), under the leadership of Kenneth Lipschutz, VP of finance & acquisition at Brookside Communities in Detroit, MI. Why is this important to know? ULI’s MHCC, as a discreet product council, functions as the de facto THINK TANK for the MHIndustry! And now, having provided the bully pulpit for ‘a concept whose time is now’, next key step is to identify national and or regional DO TANKS (e.g. advocacy and trade groups representing manufactured housing and LLCommunities, along with private and public firms), to articulate, fund and implement The CAMPAIGN! If you’d like information about becoming an ULI & MHCC participating member, contact Kenneth via (248) 645-1077.

Here’re some of the ‘lightly edited remarks’ our peers submitted regarding The CAMPAIGN:

“The CAMPAIGN is the first real, viable light at the end of this black hole (i.e. minimal home shipments) for the MHIndustry. This is so exciting. I hope ‘the big three’ will listen to reason, putting away self – serving mind sets for the first time in six decades!” *3 JK in IN.

“I am all for, and willing to help support, any type of national (brand) awareness program. I think the big box store parking lot is an interesting concept. Worth exploring!” JD in MI.

“Exactly George. The CAMPAIGN does not have to be ‘perfectly agreeable’ to everyone; but certainly implemented loudly and nationally! We will not legislated, regulate, or postulate ourselves out of this mess. We must SELL our way out!” NB in AZ

“Interesting post George. Some observations and comments relative to The CAMPAIGN:

Advantages of big – box exposure over MHRetail sales lots include, more traffic, indirect solicitation (e.g. ‘See a new home while shopping at Walmart!’), tacit endorsement by the big – box stores, not to mention even more traffic for the stores!

Disadvantages might include bog – box stores, or shopping center owners, charging for this prime exposure, big – box store reluctance to endorse what might be seen as a ‘problem product’, and big – box reluctance to overcrowd their parking lot.

Concerns/questions regarding which manufacturers homes would be displayed and how many homes displayed at one time – obviously dependent on size of parking lot.

Local landlease communities should be present, in some fashion, at big – box store displays, to give prospective homebuyers more options for siting their new home.

A Code of Ethics, signed onto by MHIndustry participants, along with minimum standards (e.g. for LLCommunity participation) would be welcome improvements in support of The CAMPAIGN.”

The preceding five observations and comments submitted by industry veteran & GMHA board member, Spencer Roane, of Atlanta, GA.

“It’s been tried in the past. Perhaps a conversation with former MHI economist Jim Clifton is in order, to benefit from his experience in working with bog box stores a few years ago.” Marty Lavin in VT.

“We used to do a number of ‘shows’ in big box (store) parking lots. It’s not as easy as you think, to draw people into the houses. Some people are afraid they are getting sucked into a 90 minute condo type sales presentation. The key might be signage: ‘A 10 minute tour that could change your life and budget!’ Once inside, they’ll see our homes are ‘nicer than their home’ and ‘not what they expected – it was better.’ Expect some initial push back from MHRetailers, e.g. ‘Who’s going to pay for these displays?’ & ‘Who’s going to man them?’ & ‘I’ve got a great street location already!’ With that said, however, ‘Access to new potential homebuyers is the key to the success of The CAMPAIGN.” RK in WI.

What follows here, is the most thoughtful and far reaching response to last week’s blog introducing The CAMPAIGN. While the big – box store concept isn’t even mentioned in this overview, there’s enough related verbiage and thinking to the concept, to use it as a conclusion to this week’s revisit to The CAMPAIGN concept:

“…a lot of what was talked about 20 years ago is still being discussed today: better recognition and acceptance of the manufactured housing brand and (landlease community) income – producing property type; also zoning, construction codes, proper and fair lending practices, etc.. Another constant, is the inability of the MHIndustry as a whole, and its’ leaders, to gain a secure market footing where ‘affordable housing’ and LLCommunities are concerned; to secure reliable, reputable financing for the housing product; and, creation of national branding and advertising campaigns!

“Furthermore, until there is a unified group to assaults the problems that erode the foundation of the MHIndustry, the collection of well – intended businessmen and women working therein, will continue to be forced to deal with many, if not all, these problems individually. And that unified group will need a lot of money to professionalize the industry. Therein lies the rub. Without a major, identifiable ‘State Farm’ in the mix, everyone appears to be, and is, on their own! As observed at the Networking Roundtable last month, ‘Where are the manufacturers and home sellers in the problem – solving part of this (industry survival) equation? Who will commit to funding the industry’s ‘bank’ to move it forward? All too often it appears our Great Whites don’t lead with their money, but rather with their advice and PowerPoint presentations.” PS in IL.

With all that said, where does it leave The CAMPAIGN today? This website and weekly blog is just one voice in the manufactured housing wilderness, and YOU’ve responded well to my request for input last week. BUT, have YOU contacted executives at Clayton Homes, Champion Homes, and CAVCO Industries – all of whom were represented at the aforementioned ULI/MHCC meeting in Washington, DC – encouraging them to ‘give legs’ to The CAMPAIGN? If not, YOU owe it to yourself, and the rest of us, to do so, the sooner the better! For contact information, see End Note # 4. And, if a direct dues – paying member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), it wouldn’t hurt to contact Thayer Long @ (703) 558-0678, to encourage that national advocacy body to grab this bull by the horns as well, and lead the MHIndustry back to increased volume of new home sales (nee shipments)! Not a member? Join when you phone! For that matter, it’s also a good idea to tell Danny Ghorbani about The CAMPAIGN! His national advocacy body, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) represents most of the smaller HUD Code housing manufacturers in the U.S. These stakeholders should especially want to become actively involved in The CAMPAIGN! Contact Danny via (202) 783-4087.

Finally; keep the blog responses coming! Not only do they stimulate my writing juices each week, in our behalf, but – as you can see in the previous paragraphs – your considered responses provide the very fodder that comprise the best blog postings of all! Reply directly to this blog, or via gfa7156@aol.com or via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Postscript. Just realized the email address included in last week’s introduction to The CAMPAIGN, contained a typo. Should have read: ahaven@creativehavenmedia.com
Strongly recommend you contact Amy Haven of creativehavenmedia.com to encourage her and her team of four marketing executives, in Cherry Hill, NJ, to do whatever they can, as you too are doing, to get the manufactured housing industry to fund and implement The CAMPAIGN! Their phone: (609) 313-5885.

II.

25 of you joined me for the Finance Seminar in Springfield, IL., this past week! Now, how many of you will be in Grove City, Ohio @ 28 & 29 October for OMHA’s ‘Self Finance Legal Compliance Seminar’? All presenters are from one law firm (Tomkies Scheiderer, LLP) and 21st Mortgage. To register, phone Tim Williams at (614) 799-2340. And, lest you forget; during the very same time frame, the Five State Mid – Atlantic Annual Conference convenes in Albany, NY. Phone Nancy Geer @ (518) 867-3242. And, on Friday 29 October, Jim Keller, MHM, will be conducting IMHA/RVIC’s ‘Installer Continuing Education – Transportation & Safety Seminar (four hours) in Indianapolis, IN., from 1 – 5PM. To register, phone Jim at (317) 370-5954.

On November 17 – 19, there’ll be a Captive Finance Workshop in Chicago, IL. For information, phone Ken Rishel @ (773) 647-3125.

III.

Will I see you at the Louisville MHShow on 13 & 14 January 2011? Sure hope so. As I told you last week, there’ll be a special day of seminars for those ‘selling and self – financing new and resale homes in LLCommunities’. For registration information, phone Dennis Hill @ (770) 587-3350.

IV.
OK, I let the cat out of the bag last week, by announcing preliminary plans for a National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus III, probably in Florida during early February 2011. Already, a dozen of you have committed to attend – that’s how timely and critical this contemporary topic is to LLCommunity owners/operators nationwide: ‘Examining Self – finance from the LLCommunity owner/operator Perspective!’ And yes, there’re plans to invite a few realty and chattel lenders to input as resource voices during discussions of the ‘present and future of self – finance within LLCommunities’, relative to ‘realty mortgages and refinance’, as well as ‘permanence or not, of the self – finance trend’.

What you may or may not know, there’s a special Insider’s Contact List of LLCommunity owners/operators who’ve patronized the previous two NSAC caucuses. We plan to distribute a letter this week, to update/purge said list, so an Advance Planning Document can be sent out during late November. So, if you own and or fee manage one or more LLCommunities, and would like to be included on the Invitation List for NSAC III, let me know by responding to this blog, or email via gfa7156@aol.com , or phone (317) 346-7156.

Attendance at NSAC III will be limited to 100 LLCommunity owner/operators, plus invited resource voices. Just as the previous two NSAC caucuses set the stage for our asset class survival this decade (i.e. Five Action Areas still very much in play) and HUD manufacturers now fabricating Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) for siting in our properties, with the help of Business Development Managers (‘BDM’); NSAC III will likely be the defining venue for chattel finance in the LLCommunity environment!

V.

Finally. The 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT compilation nears completion. But some LLCommunity owners/operators who read this blog posting each week, and who’ve been listed in previous editions, have NOT submitted their portfolio data yet. So, FAX questionnaire to (317) 346-7159 ASAP! Need a questionnaire? Phone (317) 346-7156.

VI.

If you’re an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, pay close attention to the November issue – arriving next week. Front page will feature a Request for Proposal to acquire and/or absorb the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class ‘work product(s)’ of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing. While there’s no immediate plan to retire or exit the MHBusiness anytime soon, planning should begin now, in 2010 and early 2011, to ensure the gradual, orderly and effective transition of newsletters, texts, forms, reports, MHM program, events, etc., from one permanent platform (i.e. 1980 to 2010, so far) to another, during the year(s) ahead. Platform preferences, in declining order of interest? 1) An existing or new national, not – for – profit MH, or realty – oriented association, to purchase and absorb GFA/PMN in toto; 2) An existing or new national, for – profit firm, to purchase and absorb GFA/PMN in toto; or, 3) Dismantling of GFA/PMN, selling off revenue – producers: two subscriber – supported newsletters, 21 year old Roundtable event, popular MHM certification program, textbook and forms inventory, ALLEN REPORT, and more. Interested in learning more? Read the November issue of the Allen Letter professional journal: Phone (317) 346-7156 to subscribe.

***
End Notes.

1. bugbear. Persistent problem or source of annoyance

2. systems – built housing. The trade term of preference, per Joe Stegmayer, chairman & CEO of CAVCO Industries, and new chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’). Alternatives: factory – built housing & industrialized housing, with HUD Code manufactured housing as a subset of all three terms.

3. Clayton Homes, Champion Homes, CAVCO Industries.

4. Clayton Homes: Kevin Clayton @ 865) 380-3000. Or ask for Lance Hull, BDM or Colt Davis, BDM. Champion Homes: Kevin Flaherty, BDM @ (919) 467-0099. CAVCO Industries: Joe Stegmayer @ (602) 256-6263 or Bill Danforth, BDM @ (602) 763-0521. And while you’re at it: Chris Miller, BDM, at Adventure Homes @ (877) 510-1955X109; Steve Quick, BDM, with Fleetwood Homes @ (512) 255-7743; Brian Cira, BDM, with Harmony Homes @ (800) 999-8787X3235; Ed Hussey, Jr., BDM, with Liberty Homes @ (574) 533-0431; and, Terry Decio, BDM, with Skyline Corporation @ (574) 294-6521.

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

The CAMPAIGN to Restore MH Market Share!

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

The CAMPAIGN

There’s a New Team in Town and It Might Have What It Takes to Help the Manufactured Housing Industry Regain Significant National Market Share!

I.

Labeled ‘New Marketing Tactics for Manufactured Housing: The Wave of the Future?’, a recent presentation by four executives from the Cherry Hill, New Jersey firm creativehaven media + marketing, described how our industry could (should!) create new distribution channels by effectively partnering with big box retailers, and other similar venues, to bring new homes face – to – face with new and old target markets.

The CAMPAIGN, strategically, is designed to be a regionally planned and executed means, to effect increased demand for our housing product in new and existing markets, via three distinct but related methodologies:

Re – branding and re – imaging our housing product, via careful online and print media planning and buying

Experiential marketing, via showcasing our housing product in big box retail store parking lots, supported by a series of message – supporting local seminars

Enhance awareness and availability of our housing product via public and community relations efforts and events

Is The CAMPAIGN a perfect and ready program? Not yet. The CAMPAIGN debuted at a recent national gathering of manufactured housing executives and landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators, meeting in Washington, DC. The dual purpose of the presentation was to 1) introduce The CAMPAIGN, and 2) solicit direct feedback (i.e. critique, ideas, alternatives) from this top level gathering of industry leaders. Suggestions included:

Agree to no longer use the descriptive adjective ‘manufactured’, and go simply with housing; and when/where necessary, follow MHI Chairman Joe Stegmayer’s lead and refer to the unique housing type as being ‘systems built housing’.

Articulate and agree on a housing design and construction standard supportive of this new marketing dynamic.

Articulate and agree on a landlease (nee manufactured home) community quality standard supportive of this new marketing dynamic.

Articulate, and ensure all participants agree, to abide by a Code of Business Ethics

Much more about The CHALLENGE was discussed during this high level meeting of business executives and LLCommunity owners/operators, but you get the idea of what could/should lead our industry forward to restored market share. The question now is; ‘Where do we (You) go from here?’

First; whether this important and timely matter ‘grows legs’ and moves forward, depends in large measure, whether firms like Clayton Homes, Champion Homes, and CAVCO Industries executives, as well as MHI’s new chairman, ‘take The CAMPAIGN ball and run with it’! Will they? And don’t forget, there’re additional HUD Code housing manufacturers who’d likely be interested in participating in The CAMPAIGN, if invited or challenged to do so. Continue to read this blog every week to hear firsthand what’s happening….

Second; much depends on whether YOU, reading about The CAMPAIGN, here in this Blog posting, and soon elsewhere, take the initiative to input The CAMPAIGN directly, to learn more about it, and offer your support, to creativehaven media + marketing, via (856) 702-6063 or ahaven@creataivemedia.com (Amy Haven or Kendra Brill). Marketing executives on this team, with manufactured housing experience, are Susan Gargano and Lauren Shippy.

Third; if you’re a direct, dues – paying member of the Manufactured Housing Institute – and if a bona fide business participant in this industry and asset class you surely should be, take the initiative to let Thayer Long, at MHI, know of your support for The CAMPAIGN! (703) 558-0678. For that matter, contact Danny Ghorbani of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’), suggesting he promote The CAMPAIGN concept to his housing manufacturer members as well. (202) 783-4087.

So, at this point what do YOU think of The CAMPAIGN? Does the concept resonate with YOU? I’d like to know! At present, I’m receiving more than a dozen direct responses, each week, to compelling topics covered in this blog. So, don’t be shy: respond directly to this posting, via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 or write to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 462347.

II.

Where will YOU be this Thursday, 21 October 2010? I’ll tell you where several dozen LLCommunity owners/operators, who’re presently ‘selling and self – financing new and resale homes on – site in their properties’ will be: at a FINANCE SEMINAR hosted in the Northfield Inn in Springfield, IL. That’s right, they’re driving and flying in from throughout the Midwest, to attend this one day potpourri of topics germane to that timely and strategic business model. For details and or to register, phone Bob Thieman @ (217) 528-3423.

III.

And where do you plan to be on 13 & 14 January 2011? At the resuscitated Louisville Manufactured Housing Show we surprised you with in last week’s blog posting! Don’t forget, 13 January will be an extra special day for those who, as described in the previous paragraph, ‘sell and self – finance new and resale homes in LLCommunities’. Three seminars that day will explore the concept (and reality) of Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) for LLCommunities; ‘How to Properly Calculate Affordable & Risky Price Points of New & Resale Homes Sited Within & Outside LLCommunities!’; and, ‘All you’ve wanted to know about self – finance,but didn’t know who to ask, e.g. difference between ‘captive finance’ and ‘buy here – pay here’ methodologies, and much much more’! For information, contact Dennis Hill @ (770) 587-3350.

IV.

Now, here’s a new thought for you; actually, it’s a third manifestation of the National State of the Asset Class caucus concept, that debuted on 27 February 2008. Remember that pivotal day? More than 100 LLCommunity owners/operators convened at FountainView LLCommunity in Tampa, FL., to ‘take control of their collective future’ in the face of plummeting manufactured home shipments. Well, Five Action Items came out of that meeting, and they continue to guide the asset class to this day! Then, a year later to the day, 27 February 2009, another 100 MHIndustry & LLCommunity folk NSAC -caucused in Elkhart, IN., at the beautiful RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Museum & Library facility. That time we walked away with mutually agreed upon new home design guidance, nearly three dozen Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) named by attending manufacturers, and eventually the aforementioned Community Series Home (‘CSH’) concept.

A third NSAC caucus in the works? Yes. The ‘need to caucus’ has been around now, for almost a year. This Fall, an increasing number of LLCommunity owners/operators have asked to caucus, on their own, to ‘Look at Self – finance From Their Perspective, as Investors and LLCommunity Owners’, and NOT just as a ‘stop gap measure’ to tide them over until chattel (personal property) finance returns to manufactured housing. The plan to caucus, for a third time in four years, got a boost at the recent National Communities Council (‘NCC’) meeting in Denver, CO., where it was opined LLCommunity owners/operators should meet again before the next scheduled MHI meeting in March of 2011. SO, if you’re a LLCommunity owner/operator, watch your mail during the weeks ahead, for an Invitation to Join Your Peers at the Third NSAC Caucus, sometime in late January or early February, likely in a Sunbelt state, hopefully on – site in a LLCommunity. To ensure you’re not overlooked, respond directly to this blog posting, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, or write GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247. Or call (317) 346-7156 or email: gfa7156@aol.com

V.

Finally. I’m in the midst of consolidating data from 100 ALLEN REPORT questionnaires, preparing the 22nd annual edition. If you’re a portfolio owner/operator of LLCommunities and NOT returned your completed questionnaire, please do so this week! FAX it to (317) 346-7158. Some very interesting stats so far; so don’t be left out…send in your information TODAY. Thanks. GFA

*****

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
(3170 346-7156

So Obvious An Answer is Rarely So Ignored & Misunderstood!

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

So Obvious An Answer is Rarely So Ignored & Misunderstood!

Manufactured Housing & Landlease Community Asset Class’ answer to:

Worst Case Housing Needs 2007: A Report to Congress – the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (‘HUD’) office of Policy Development & Research (‘PD&R’) most recent biennial report.

I.

But first, feedback from blog readers, responding to last week’s posting: ‘Time for a Change?’ Subtitled: ‘Days of the hammer & velvet glove may be over!’ It’s encouraging many in the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class, take time to read and respond to stimulating exposes and issue discussions. Here’s a typical response, received this week: “Great blog. Once again, the nail hits the head. This effort will need all the industry. The challenge is to convince the ‘egos’ they all need each other!” N

If you missed last week’s description of “…the independent initiative, outside MHI and MHARR political circles, to unify, influence, and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC.” scroll back into the blog archive at this website, to learn what’s really going on ‘within & without’ the manufactured housing industry these days. Frankly; if you’re a stakeholder (i.e. entrepreneur or corporate business owner) YOU owe it to yourself, your employees, your peers, and your customers, to KNOW what’s affecting your business model and plan! No one else is going to tell you so clearly, what’ going on….

II.

“Nearly 6 million households experienced worst case (housing) needs in 2007. This is an 18 percent increase from 2001, when only 5 million households faced this difficulty.” Now imagine how this 6 million households figure will swell, when year 2008’s housing trauma is written into HUD’s PD&R report Worst Case Housing Needs 2009, when it debuts during 2011! But back to the 2007 report. Here’re highlights quoted in RESEARCHWORKS, an online newsletter from HUD’s PD&R:

• 93 percent have severe rent burdens, the primary cause of worst case needs

• 73 percent have extremely low incomes

• 37 percent were families with children, 20 percent were elderly, 10 percent were non – elderly disabled, and 32 percent were ‘other’.

• Almost half of households with children had full – time employment

• 49 percent were non – Hispanic white; 21 percent were Hispanic; and 23 percent were non – Hispanic black

“The (PD&R report) study found the availability of housing stock across the nation is insufficient for the lowest income groups. For every 100 extremely low income households, there were only 76 affordable rental units available (those costing 30% or less of a household’s income). This lack of affordable and available rental units and severe rent burdens are the largest barriers to families experiencing worst case housing needs.”

OK, the ‘affordable housing’ problem (challenge or opportunity) has been clearly described in the previous paragraphs. Is there a practical, present day solution to ‘insufficient housing stock, across the nation, for low income groups’? Sure. There are several, if bureaucrats will take off their blinders (to practical, present day solutions) and look beyond their minions and lobbyists inside the Washington beltway. One of these has to do with HUD Code manufactured housing, in tandem with landlease (nee manufactured home) communities in suburban and rural areas of this country.

Clarification. Most discussions about use of new and resale manufactured homes, in tandem with landlease communities (‘LLCommunities’) in urban environments, will be moot. Low project density (e.g. five or so houses per acre) preclude use of this type subdivided or landlease property on high value realty, unless local housing market conditions prevail and homeowner subsidies are rampant. However, replacing derelict housing units, with compatibly – designed manufactured homes, can work economically; but usually on a case by case basis.

Setting land cost aside for the moment, know that HUD Code manufactured homes in year 2008 (latest year for this type statistic), on the average (among singlesection & multisection models) cost $41.34 per square foot, to fabricate in a factory, compared to stick – built homes, at the time, averaging $88.55 per square foot, erected on – site. It’s as simple and significant a $$$ difference as that, where housing construction cost is concerned! One wonders, why HUD doesn’t do more to promote this affordable housing alternative, especially since it’s been tasked with regulating the manufactured housing industry for more than 35 years(?)

Now, mate that ‘half price’, attractive, non – subsidized, quality, energy efficient, ‘green’, transportable home to a vacant rental homesite within a professionally – managed, well – located, LLCommunity, charging a fair, local housing market – sensitive site rent, and one has the potential of a WIN – WIN situation for the aforementioned low income group of U.S. homebuying/site lessee citizens! Here’s how…

The first WIN. Price of the home. Like most consumer product choices, there’s the opportunity to buy ‘top of the line’ (i.e. larger, fancier, most expensive home), mid price range, or economically (i.e. smaller, basic, least expensive home), depending on one’s annual personal or household income level, a.k.a. Annual Gross Income or AGI. The goal here is to keep monthly housing cost (i.e. PITI & utilities; or loan principal & interest, taxes & insurance premiums, as well as utility payments) in sync at 30+/- percent of one’s annual personal or household income level. Examples to follow.

The second WIN. Amount of site rent. Here too, consumers (homebuyers) will find ranges, oft but not always, based on landlease property location, features, amenities, and local housing market conditions (e.g. Area Median Income or AMI per local housing market postal zip code via zipskinny.com), as well as economic factors of supply and demand. The goal is to find a site and rent rate that melds with housing unit cost in an affordable fashion. Definition and examples to follow.

How can low income folk achieve this WIN – WIN proposition? The process involves knowledge (Think AGI and or AMI); a measure of affordability (i.e. In following examples, a 30% Household Expense Factor or HEF); a decision (i.e. Whether to use 75% or 100% of Household Expense Factor to pay P&I & site rent); amount of monthly site rent (When home is in a LLCommunity); and, home mortgage terms (e.g. payment, interest, term, loan amount) or monthly rental amount for the home per se (In addition to site rent).

Example. Given an AGI or AMI of $36,000; using a 30% HEF; with monthly site rent at $333.; and chattel mortgage terms @ 9.5% interest & 20 year term.

30% HEF of AGI/AMI’s $36,000 is $10,800; and, 75% of this amount, is dedicated to P&I + site rent @ $8,100/year (Balance of that amount to cover T&I, as well as household utility costs). $8,100 converted to monthly amount of $675; this covers $333 in site rent and $342 towards P&I of home mortgage. Applying 9.5% interest & 20 year loan terms, with $342 P&I payment, the maximum ‘affordable’ mortgage would be $35,690. Assuming a 10% down payment, this ups the maximum ‘affordable’ home purchase price to $40,767 or rounded, to $41,000. (See end note # 1 for worksheet)

OR

Use 100% (vs. 75%) of HEF for P&I + site rent. Then, ‘running the numbers’, jumps the maximum home purchase price to a riskier $68,000. Why risky? Utility bills, factored into the initial calculation (i.e. residual 25% of HEF), but separated out here, still must be be paid – but outside the inclusive monthly payment calculation.

Bottom line? Depending on the nature and peculiarities of suburban or rural local housing markets, and presence (or not) of landlease (nee manufactured home) communities, it’s entirely possible (Happens all the time!) for someone, or a household, earning just $36,000/year, to buy a new or resale manufactured home priced between $41,000 and $68,000, where the site rent is approximately $333/month. There’s not a subsidized rent dollar in that mix! This everyday reality check ‘flies in the face’ of HUD’s PD&R report that “…found the availability of housing stock across the nation is insufficient for the lowest income groups.” Obviously Not True, according to these metrics! Is it possible someone (Everyone at HUD) simply isn’t looking within their regulatory milieu for practical answers? YES! Let’s watch, to see if anyone there, takes notice of this expose’ and initiates affirmative action to address their posit: “…lack of affordable and available rental units (being) the largest barriers to families experiencing worst case housing needs.”

III.

Either the MHIndustry is stirring, preparing to rise Phoenix – like, during year 2011, or what? Given stirring, timely and motivating keynote presentations by industry leaders Randy Rowe and Dick Ernst, during the Networking Roundtable in September; and, with encouraging announcements, earlier this month at MHI’s annual meeting, about budgeting for outside lobbyists in 2011, plus hiring a new executive to head the National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division, it’s easy to wax positive for a change.

And when you add – in, this week’s meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’), our industry’s de facto Think Tank, in Washington, DC., well – Anything Can Be About to Happen! Then, the following week, there’ll be a class of 25 professional property managers trained and certified in Salt Lake City, Utah, by ROC-USA; followed by a day long (chattel) Finance Seminar in Springfield, IL., facilitated by IMHA.

Need more positive indicators? How ‘bout the reconstituted Louisville Manufactured Housing Show, 13 & 14 January 2011? Bet you didn’t know there will be dozens of new homes, including Community Series Homes, on display there. If you’d like to display, as a home manufacturer, or supplier (Like me; I’ll be there!), simply phone (770) 587-3350 and talk to Dennis Hill, show coordinator. And that’s not all! On the 13th, there’ll be three sequential 45 minute seminars on these three timely topics:

• Given an individual’s AGI, and or local housing market’s AMI (See preceding paragraphs for descriptions), How YOU calculate maximum ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ sale prices for new & resale, privately – owned homes of any type, sited on realty owned fee simple with home, or leased. What every manufacturer’s rep should know how to teach YOU, as a MHRetailer or selling homes on – site!

• Community Series Homes. Their genesis, definition and description, who manufactures them for in – LLCommunity siting, and how YOU can properly meld them into any local living environment.

• All YOU ever wanted to know about property owner or self – finance of new & resale home transactions on – site in LLCommunities; particularly, the differences between ‘captive finance’ and ‘buy here – pay here’ methodologies.

And, there’s more to come, after the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show! Read about those opportunities here, in future weekly blog postings. A hint. We’ve already told you about the possibility of Grand ‘Once & For All! Tours coming to your area in 2011.

But have you heard about the possibility of a third National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus, in Florida during late January or early February? Many LLCommunity owners/operators have requested a 1 ½ day program, to examine and discuss ‘property owner or self – finance, of new & resale home transactions on – site’ from their stakeholder perspective. Why? Three reasons. First, to learn more about the process alternatives, pro & con; second, to identify ticklish aspects of the process (e.g. regulatory issues, raising capital, selling – off paper, etc.); and third, the possibility this ‘new business model’ will alter the face of chattel finance for years to come, if not permanently.

Now, if all this, as they say, ‘floats your boat’, as a LLCommunity owner/operator, let me know during the next few weeks! No significant response = no 3rd NSAC caucus; however, much response = a 3rd NSAC caucus, ‘by invitation only’, this Winter, and somewhere in Florida, preferably on – site in a LLCommunity! Respond to this blog directly, via email, or phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 533- 4764 or (317) 346-7156. Use the same means to respond to matters covered in this blog posting as well!

End Note:

1. For a free copy of the widely – used ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ worksheet that “…estimates recommended ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ purchase prices for new & resale, privately – owned homes of any type, sited on realty owned fee simple with home, or leased!”, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877)MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, or respond directly to this blog posting via this community-investor.com website.

***

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

Time for a Change? MHIndustry Budgets for a Contract Lobbyist!

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Time for a Change? MHIndustry Budgets for a Contract Lobbyist!

Or, to put it another way: ‘Days of the hammer & velvet glove may be over.’

Disclaimer. In no way should you read what follows as a clarion or veiled call, to form a new, unified, national manufactured housing trade advocacy body. The intent is simply to describe an active, independent effort to unify, influence and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC. GFA

As a directly related aside, last week’s blog posting at this website, titled: ‘AFTERGLOW & ‘MH to Learn from RV Industry?’’ introduced Randy Rowe’s succinct ‘Five Part Market Share Recovery Plan for Manufactured Housing Industry & the Landlease community Real Estate Asset Class!’ Scroll back thru this website’s blog archive to reread it; or, request a free copy of the summary treatise, enclosed as a lagniappe with the October issue of the Allen Letter professional journal.*1 It relates to…

This week’s blog focus is the direct result of conversations heard, & plans shared last week, at Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) annual meeting in Denver, CO. But first some numbers; then a brief historical perspective; finally, the guts of the issue.

If you’re a longtime MHI member, and recall hundreds of manufactured housing aficionados in attendance at past annual meetings, you’ll be shocked to learn this year’s event saw just 91 names on the 26 – 28 September registration roster. Deduct 17 state MHAssociation execs, and four more to account for invited speakers and no – shows (Have no idea how many last minute sign-ups and ‘crashers’ were present, but I did see a couple of the latter), one is left with but 70 businessmen and women, from 21 states, in attendance at this year’s annual business meeting.

Unless you’ve been ostrich-like during the past four months, you’ve certainly heard or read of the independent initiative, outside MHI and MHARR (‘Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform’) political circles, to unify, influence and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC. The initiative was birthed during telephone conference calls among state MHAssociation execs, and made public during the Manufactured Housing Executive Council (‘MHEC’) meeting in June in Washington, DC. The matter was reported on, in this weekly blog posting, shortly thereafter. Who comprises the active, independent initiative today? An increasing number of HUD Code home manufacturers ‘from both camps’, some MHRetailers, several state MHAssociaiton execs, and more….
Their gripe? As it’s been explained to this industry and asset class observer, dissatisfaction with the (lack of) results per heavy – handed (Some say ‘hammering’), ultimately self – defeating dealings with federal regulators in one corner of the manufactured housing industry; and, dissatisfaction with the (lack of) results using velvet glove (Some say ‘consensus – building’) defeatist dealings with federal regulators, from another corner of our national advocacy presence. And those disparate tactics have oft led to industry disunity, a suicidal condition regularly exploited by the very federal regulators targeted, to influence and improve the regulatory climate suffered by HUD Code manufactured housing producers! Proof? The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000; not fully implemented to this day, more than a decade after its’ enthusiastic passage by Congress!

Will the active, independent initiative spread and grow? Too early to tell, but the bellwether indicator is and will continue to be, the amount(s) of money raised to support this regulatory focus; then identify and hire the right contract lobbyist to markedly unify, influence and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC. Already, MHI has budgeted more than $120,000.00 to this end, during 2011. (But has it really? At MHI’s board meeting last week, their $120,000.00 foci priority was entirely legislative, not regulatory! See *2 for details). On the other (i.e. regulatory issues initiative) hand, HUD Code manufacturers have stepped up to the funds plate; several states have pledged financial support; and two well – regarded Washington, DC consulting groups have responded, in writing, to a Request for Proposal distributed after MHI’s (MHEC) meeting during June 2010. Bottom line? Apparently, two different war chests in the making….

Again, MHI’s $120,000.00 apparently earmarked for legislative issues; and the necessity, for a like or greater amount to be raised, via independent initiative proponents, to address manufactured housing’s perennial regulatory issues….

Want to learn more about the independent initiative; maybe even donate to the cause? Telephone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and be put in touch with the appropriate ‘movers and shakers’ leading it. At the same time, if a direct dues – paying member of MHI and or MHARR, encourage elected and salaried leadership to unite their respective efforts, to markedly influence and improve their interaction with legislators and federal regulators (of the manufactured housing industry) in Washington, DC! In the meantime, continue to read this blog posting every week, to stay abreast of further developments as they occur….

Postscript.

See anything missing from this Time for a Change discussion? How ‘bout the landlease (nee manufactured home) community real estate asset class; you know, one of those dratted (in some folks’ mind) post production (nee aftermarket) segments of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry. It’s interesting to ponder why the most prosperous segment of the manufactured housing industry – at this time, is all but omitted from heady discussions when manufacturing/distribution segments of the industry (not realty asset class) are engaged. Suppose part of the reason is historical precedent. After all, how often is it that the perceived ‘tail of the dog’ is in a position to wag the dog? Furthermore; in year 2011, as MHI celebrates its’ 75th anniversary, the robust NCC division of MHI is only 15 years young – but growing.

But moving right along, and continuing with the dog metaphor; do we, as a realty asset class, even have ‘a dog in this hunt’? Of course we do, in a big picture way. Here’re two (regulatory) examples: implementation of the aforementioned MHI @ 2000 Act and home installation. In the first instance, once MHIA @ 2000 is fully implemented, segueing our affordable shelter product from ‘trailer stigma’ to full – fledged ‘housing status’, we’ll see our struggle for parity realized – opening marketing avenues along the way! And, we owe it to ourselves, as landlease community (‘LLCommunity’) owners/operators, to remain fully engaged in the regulatory processes, to ensure safe and secure, but not unduly expensive, installation regulations relative to manufactured homes sited in and outside our unique income – producing properties.

And yes, we certainly do also have a strong and abiding interest in legislative matters potentially affecting our realty asset class, like those listed in end note # 2 following.

End Notes.

1. Free copy: Allen Letter professional journal, and Mr. Rowe’s summary treatise available, by phoning MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

2. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Bill; S.A.F.E. Act – related legislation; housing finance programs; ‘duty to serve’ tax reform; and, energy matters.

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