Archive for June, 2011

Alphabet Soup for the MHIndustry & LLCommunity Good!

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Alphabet Soup for the MHIndustry & LLCommunity Good

‘MHI MHARRvelous Dream’ Revisited; October 2011 to be Meeting Hell!

Why RVs ‘eat our lunch’ marketing wise; In Support of the MHI’s NCC!

BDMs & CSHs = Success or Failure? New Issue for LLCommunity folk

I.

MHI MHARRvelous Dream! Turns out MHMSM; you know – the nearly two year old online ezine at MHMSM.com, has a timely take on last week’s post at this website: ‘MHI (‘My’) MHARRvelous Dream’! Like many who make their living in one or more segments of the manufactured housing industry, the publication believes the time has come, once again, for the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) and Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) national advocacy bodies to work together! Once again? That’s right. If a novice in the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class, know many of us have seen these bodies ‘bury their bloody hatchets’ in the past, to pass or fight legislation. Think the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, for starters. This time around, however, we need the ‘MHI MHARRvelous Dream’ to become Reality on several fronts: defeat of Dodd – Frank legislation, HUD’s full implementation of aforementioned MHIA @ 2000, even the veritable survival of the manufactured housing industry! For more information, visit MHMSM.com And remember; we can either ‘hang together’ during these trying times, or for certain, die separately. Me? I’m all for strength in numbers.

II.

Why October will be meeting hell! Do we already forget the mishmash of meetings this Spring, as MHI’s annual Manufactured Housing Congress competed for registrants, with at least two other states hosting regional manufactured housing shows? Oh yes, I know, it’s a free country, and everyone is fighting for every bit of business they can get – but scheduling meetings with overlapping dates, or in the cases following, ‘too many in one month’; well, everyone suffers!

October 2 – 4 will find MHI aficionados at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix, AZ., for the institute’s 75th anniversary annual meeting. Information, phone Greg Rinck @ (703) 558-0646.

October 11 – 13 will see WMA’s (Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association) members convening at the Southpoint Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV for their annual meeting. For info, call (916) 448-7002.

October 16 – 18 are the dates of LCS’ (London Computer Systems) annual Rent Manager soiree; this time at the Belaggio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Call Nichole Sandy @ (513) 583-1482X243

October 25 – 28 will find members of the Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) meeting in Los Angeles, CA. To join in the fun, contact David Lentz via (727) 826-8868.

So, let’s see. If I’m a landlease community owner/operator who lives in California, but owns one or more properties, I’ll begin my month at MHI’s annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ; return home for a few days before patronizing WMA’s meeting out in Las Vegas. And hey, might as well stay there, over the weekend, to participate in the Rent Manager program in the same city ‘next week’. And to cap off my month long goosing of the economy in the Western half the U.S., might as well stay home in CA., and ‘do’ the ULI MHCC meeting in Los Angeles. Hmm. What’s all this gonna cost me? Certainly a minimum of $1,500.00 per meeting, or a heady $6,000.00 if I attend all four; even more if domiciled on the East coast, owning properties ‘out West’. And keep in mind, this is also the time of year some states like to have their annual meeting as well. Whew! Sure hope business is very good, for me during October 2011.

III.

Why RVs ‘eat our lunch’ marketing wise. Recent headline from Woodall’s Campground Management newspaper (June 2011, page # 8): ‘Go RVing Coalition Introducing New ‘Away’ Theme for 2012’. Read the following direct quotation, that appeared at the beginning of this news story, and substitute manufactured housing’s theme words ‘Go Affordable Housing!’ when you read ‘Go RVing Coalition’, to get my point. Here it is: “The Go RVing Coalition has voted unanimously to move forward with production of an all – new, integrated television, print and digital campaign with the theme, ‘Away’, the coalition’s leadership reports.” The program was the product of “…a creative work group of 16 coalition representatives from all segments of the industry and Canada, represents a strategy shift back to the emotion – driven, family focus of past campaigns – with a continued underlying emphasis on the affordability and flexibility of RV travel and camping…according to the RVIA.”

Why can’t the HUD Code manufactured housing industry do something similar? Yes, I know, the home manufacturers are deathly afraid non – contributing manufacturers might indeed benefit from a national ‘integrated television, print and digital campaign’. Plus, this too harkens back to the ‘MHI MHARRvelous Dream that’s presently a nightmare, but begs to become a positive and game – changing Reality, where our two national advocacy bodies are concerned. Nuff said – for now.

IV.

In support of MHI’s NCC. Maybe you haven’t heard or read it, but there’s insurrectionist verbiage floating around the internet these days that “…the HUD Code industry’s independent retailers and communities should have their own independent association in the nation’s capital (sic) to represent their specific interests, and the sooner, the better.” Wanna guess who penned that line? Wasn’t me!

Frankly, landlease community owners/operators who’re direct dues – paying members of MHI in general, and the National Communities Council (‘NCC’) in particular, are probably the happiest we’ve been in years – where national advocacy association representation is concerned. How so? The lousy business climate for HUD Code home manufacturers has created a more favorable internal environment for the NCC within MHI. Specifically, the council is now a full – fledged division of the institute. And as manufacturer dues volume declines, landlease community membership revenues have generally, though not always, increased, ensuring MHI’s survival. And ‘yes’, while criticism that the NCC has become a ‘big boys club’ is somewhat valid, the fact that the majority of direct dues paying NCC members present at the last national meeting in Washington, DC., were sole proprietors and small portfolio owners/operators ‘sent a subtle message’ to everyone present. And the ‘icing on the cake’ these days has been the hiring of Lisa Brechtel, to keep landlease community owners/operators on the influence map.

Now, if you’re a little confused about some excited chatter going on, regarding quiet formation of a new national not for profit platform to ensure continuation of such non – MHI/NCC functions as print communication (i.e. the Allen Letter professional journal & the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! newsletters); professional property management (‘PM’) education and certification (i.e. Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM®) program; the ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Landlease Community Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’); annual Networking Roundtables; perpetuation of the 500+/- name data base of portfolio ‘players’; even weekly blogging, here’s the explanation. The aforementioned NCC is our asset class national advocacy body relative to thing politic and regulatory. What we also need – no, must have, is ongoing credible research and regular publication of key statistics, helpful information, PM education and certification, superb interpersonal networking, effective deal – making, and the like, open to ALL landlease community owners/operators nationwide – and perhaps in time, Canada as well. That’s why the eventual (think 2012) new national not for profit entity will have a name inclusive of research, resources, maybe even affordable housing.

V.

BDMs & CSHs = Success or Failure? The Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) at Fleetwood Homes and Adventure Homes are marketing and selling Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) on a regular (I hear feverish!) basis. If any of the other BDMs are doing so, they’re not telling me about it.

A month ago, letters were sent to every HUD Code home manufacturer in the U.S., along with a copy of the official ‘Landlease Community Business Development Managers (list) for Major HUD Code Home Manufacturers’, inviting them to supply names and contact information for ‘new’ BDMs to add to the present 28 name list. Any guess as to the number of responses we’ve received to date? NONE.

This causes me to ask; “Is it worth continuing to throw good money after bad (i.e. as in printing and mailing costs, reprints, directories, etc.), in attempts to cultivate this two year old landlease community (customer outreach) program? Evidently, HUD Code home manufacturers, 1) Don’t understand (How BDMs can sell more homes!) the program; 2) Don’t want to sell more homes into landlease communities; or, 3) Simply don’t need the extra sales cum production cum income right now. Which of these possibilities do you think it is? Me? NONE of the above. Rather, I’ve come to believe most HUD Code home manufacturers were seduced – away from our core affordable housing product at the turn of the century, when they bought into the ‘bigger box = bigger box’ mentality, and competed with site – builders at every turn. And to date, they’ve not returned to the reality that the only homes they can successfully sell in today’s overstocked (i.e. Foreclosed and under priced resale site – built homes) housing market, are our ‘stock in trade’ smaller, efficient, affordable manufactured homes! And you know the further ‘rub’ in all this? We’re pretty confident there’re more than 250,000 vacant rental homesites in landlease communities throughout the U.S. today! Granted, half or more of them are functionally obsolete (i.e. too small to site today’s behemoth homes), but the underutilized opportunity is there nonetheless, for new home sales! There, I’ve said it. Now, prove me wrong Mr. home manufacturer! GFA

VI.

New Issue for LLCommunity folk. Received the following insightful, even prophetic lines, from a fellow landlease community owner/operator recently, and thought I’d pass it onto you intact – and encourage YOU to comment as you wish, or not.

“Have you thought about this? If landlease communities are going to account for much of the industry’s future production/sales (Relate this to the previous paragraph, where it appears HUD Code home manufacturers are NOT interested in filling 250,000 vacant rental homesites in landlease communities throughout the U.S.!), isn’t it time someone gets concerned about the number of such properties that’ll be ‘going away’ during the next decade or so? Several of my landlease communities are now worth more for their commercial development land value (a.k.a. ‘highest and best use of realty) than their capitalized net operating income value. While those values have dropped some over the past three or so years, they will be back! Don’t know about other states, but in ours, you can’t get land zoning for landlease communities within 50 miles of any metro area.”

What say YOU? Other blog floggers (readers) would like to know your ‘take’ on this, and the preceding topics in this week’s blog posting.

VII.

If you haven’t already done so, print off the 20th annual International Networking Roundtable brochure available on this website, and register for this year’s stellar event. 14-16 September 2011 is still 2 ½ months away, but we’re already at 25% of our 200 attendee maximum count! There is no better, more comprehensive line – up of topics and presenters at any other manufactured housing or landlease community venue during the year, so don’t miss out on this one. And this year’s 20th annual event is even more special, as we celebrate MHI’s 75th anniversary, and the National Communities Council’s 15th anniversary! As has been the case the past two years, we’re working to have a couple sample Community Series Homes, possibly including a ‘park model’ RV, on hand for first hand looks by roundtable participants. Have questions about the event, or to register by phone, call the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

*****

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

Keeping Score & ‘MHI MHARRvelous’ Dream!

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Keeping Score, & ‘MHI MHARRvelous’ Dream!

*

Just How Many Landlease Communities & Rental Homesites?

&

‘MHI (‘My’) MHARRvelous’ Dream, is to See Chattel $s Return,
Advocacy Bodies Work Together, & We Sell Affordable Housing!

I.

The feature article, ‘How Many Landlease Communities Are There in the U.S.?’ attracted much reader attention when it appeared late last year in MHI’s National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division’s Community Connections newsletter. It’s since been republished as a reprint, and Appendix V in the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT. For a FREE copy of the reprint; and or acquire a copy of the report proper, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. The ALLEN REPORT & one year subscription to the Allen Letter professional journal ‘together’ cost $250. And when you ask for the FREE reprint, and or ‘special offer’, also request a FREE copy of the reprint ‘To Rent or Not to Rent’…manufactured homes on – site in your landlease (nee manufactured home) community! This latter reprint was also debuted in Community Connections. The point of this paragraph? Simply some Old but Helpful News leading to New News you’ll likely want to read, hear, know…

‘How Many Landlease Community Rental Homesites Are There in the U.S.?’ Several of you asked this question during the past few weeks. So we dusted off some reliable ‘stats’, e.g. 50,000+/- LLCommunities; 85% of which are 100 rental homesites and fewer in size; and 15% of which are larger than 100 rental homesites in size! Then we made two assumptions: the 85 percentile properties average 25 rental homesites apiece in size; while the 15 percentile properties average 150 rental homesites apiece in size. Then it was a simple matter of:

50,000 X .85 = 42,500 properties X 25 sites = 1,062,500 rental homesites

50,000 X .15 = 7,500 properties X 150 sites = 1,125,000 rental homesites

The two subtotals added together = 2,187,500+/- estimated number of rental homesites X 10% vacancy rate (reciprocal of 89.9 or 90% national physical occupancy rate reported in 22nd ALLEN REPORT) = 218,750+/- vacant rental homesites throughout the U.S., with probably 50% of this number classified as being ‘functionally obsolete’, i.e. generally in older landlease communities and too small to handle contemporary ‘big box = big bucks’ manufactured homes.

Wanting to ‘proof’ the preceding figures, we took recent information regarding MHI’s Community Attributes System (‘CAS’) program, to wit: “We have some data on approximately 19,000 (landlease) communities, containing 2.4 million homesites. Roughly 8,000 of these have 100 or more homesites, representing a total of 1.8 million homesites.” DR

Borrowing assumptions, from preceding paragraphs, our ‘proof’ penciled out this way:

8,000 properties X 150 sites = 1,200,000 rental homesites (vs. 1,800,000 @ CAS)

42,000 properties X 25 sites = 1,050,000 rental homesites

And the two subtotals added together = 2,250,000+/- estimated number of rental homesites X 10% vacancy rate = 225,000 vacant rental homesites throughout the U.S. Or, using the CAS figure of 1,800,000 rental homesites (among larger properties), plus 1,062,500 rental homesites among residual of smaller properties, grand total = 2,850,000.

Figurative ‘bottom line’? Total number of rental homesites, among approximately 50,000+/- landlease communities may range from 2,187,500 to 2,850,000, or average of 2,518,750 or roughly 2 ½ million rental homesites; and at 10% vacancy = 250,000+/- vacant rental homesites in landlease communities throughout the U.S.!

II.

‘MHI MHARRvelous Dream!’ begins with this unsolicited albeit critical commentary from a longtime community-investor.com blog ‘flogger’ (reader), setting the stage for what follows:

“MHI & MHARR have proved ineffective and uncaring in regards to financiers and street retailers. (Landlease) Communities have the only cohesion with which to survive and grow…. When communities go it alone, within a few years, they will drag first the retailers, then financiers, to their side. And unless something changes in manufacturers’ ‘love’ of Washington, DC., they will become the pawn of retailers, dealers, financiers, and communities – which ain’t such a bad idea, when you think of it, since they (the dealers, communities, and financiers) are the manufacturers’ customers.” N

Before we proceed with some specific examples, good and marginal, of advocacy body action and inaction in Washington, DC., let’s address a couple notions in the preceding paragraph:

First off, MHI & MHARR are not wholly ineffective and uncaring regarding the chattel finance and retail sales segments of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry. However, their continued disparate approaches (i.e. ‘go along to get along’ diplomacy/consensus building efforts versus ‘confrontation at every turn’ reform efforts) relative to industry issues advocacy, particularly those that are regulatory in nature and affecting the housing manufacturing segment, sure makes it appear, read, and be interpreted that way!

Communities going it alone? That’s doubtful now and going forward. Today, two of three real estate investment trusts (‘REITs’) and several of the ten largest portfolio owners/operators of landlease community property portfolios are direct and active members of MHI’s National Communities Council division. And now that the NCC, once again has a salaried executive, Lisa Brechtel, at the helm, membership numbers and national advocacy for the asset class, in Washington, DC., should only improve.

For those of you who read last week’s posting, ‘George’s Lamentyen Dimension’, you know there’re plans afoot to launch a new, national, not for profit platform to serve the data research & distribution, professional property management education, interpersonal & corporate networking, print & online communication, and deal – making needs of landlease community owners/operators nationwide, including Canada. Such a research and resource – oriented base will be a valuable supplement to advocacy bodies like MHI, the NCC, IREM, MAI, and other realty trade groups in the U.S., as well as CMHI, MHICanada, & CREA in Canada.

Now to those examples of good and not so good action and inaction, by manufactured housing advocacy bodies in Washington, DC.

First off, MHI’s undated White Paper, titled: DODD-FRANK IMPACT ON MANUFACTURED HOUSING, ‘Ensure Access to Affordable Credit in the Manufactured Housing Market’ should be ‘required reading’ for every businessman and woman active in the industry! To obtain a copy, phone Jason Boehlert @ (703) 558-0660.

Too many details to even start to parse here, but know that it’s only via efforts like this, political action by MHI & MHARR, and grassroots influence on federal legislators, will our industry be spared new regulations that’ll make it nigh impossible to fund future manufactured housing chattel loans of less than $78,000 – or even, some say, $50,000.

Then there’s MHARR NEWS, dated 10 June 2011., headlined: ‘INDUSTRY DECLINE WORSENS – DISINFORMATION PERSISTS. Well, I couldn’t find much evidence of specific disinformation, but I did learn 1) two things; 2) took strong issue with one posture; and 3) walked away with four unanswered questions:

Post – production defined. “…retailers, (landlease) communities, finance companies, insurers and other (nonspecified) service entities.” Whether you realize it or not, this is improved trade lingo; as heretofore, MHARR thought and wrote of ‘us’ as being the ‘aftermarket’, as in afterthought and afterbirth. You get the idea…

Then there was this stunning paragraph. “…over the past decade, manufactured housing production has declined by more than 86% (from 373,143 units in 1998 to 50,046 in 2010), while nearly 75% of manufactured housing production facilities (from 430 to fewer than 110 plants) and 7,500 retail (sales) centers have closed over the same period, resulting in the loss of more than 200,000 manufactured housing industry jobs throughout the United States.” Well, the 1998 home shipment total might be closer to 372,843; and, how ‘bout all those new sales jobs created on – site in new landlease community retail salescenters opened during the same time period? This question suggests MHARR spend more time ‘getting to know and understand’ post production folk, like you and me, before trotting out half – baked facts and uninformed opinions.

And this additional example. “…a renewed effort to alter and water down the statutory definition of a ‘manufactured home’ that would introduce ‘trailer’ elements and ‘trailer’ comparisons that the industry fought to end with the 2000 law (i.e. Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, or ‘MHIA@2000’ in short). And all of these have been packaged, portrayed and ‘spun’ to the industry grassroots as positives.” MHARR

Do YOU know what’s being talked about here? In a nutshell, ‘park model RVs’ (i.e. recreational vehicles that look like miniature houses, less than 400 square feet in size, a.k.a. ‘Granny flats’, and at present not subject to the HUD Code) are increasingly used as year round homes for snowbirds sojourning in Sunbelt regions, and folk struggling to survive our nation’s struggling economy. The issue is whether these homes should be brought under the HUD Code for regulatory purposes, or remain outside as RVs. Apparently MHARR believes ‘park models’ will pollute our HUD housing image.

MHARR appears to dismiss this idea ‘out of hand’, without soliciting any input from post production segments of the industry, with lively and timely interest in the matter. For example; ‘park models’, though more expensive per square foot in cost, are near ideal for siting on functionally obsolete rental homesites in landlease communities. Not saying this is right or wrong, simply that here’s a clear example of the left hand of the industry, figuratively speaking, not knowing what the right hand is doing, or perhaps prefers to do – in an effort to return HUD Code manufactured housing to it’s ‘affordable housing’ roots, i.e. smaller, less expensive homes, as in Community Series Homes or CSH, already discussed in previous blog postings at this web site. And, as was pointed out earlier in this very blog posting, there’re approximately 250,000 vacant rental homesites to fill across the U.S.! At the present level of annual shipments, that’s five years of work, right there!

Four unanswered questions. Then, under the guise of ‘Full & Proper Implementation of MHIA@2000’, MHARR offers four FACT SHEETs, describing perceived shortfalls:

‘HUD has not Appointed a Non – career Program Administrator.’ Agreed! What to do about it? No plan of action proposed in this document. Why?

‘Collective Industry Representation on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee or MHCC Must be Restored.’ Agreed! What to do about it? MHARR suggests: “HUD should immediately place non – lobbyist representatives of the industry’s national organizations (i.e. MHI & MHARR) on the MHCC as voting members.” Since they’ve not done it to date, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to read this and do it. So, what now?

‘HUD has undermined the role and authority of the MHCC.’ Agreed! What to do about it? No plan of action proposed in this document. Why?

‘HUD has undermined the independence of the MHCC.’ Agreed! What to do about it? No plan of action proposed in this document. Why?

To my mind, it doesn’t make much sense to identify perceived problems (i.e. Let’s consider them challenges and opportunities!) without making specific recommendations for action to effect substantial and timely change to the unwanted circumstance or circumstances. How’s the old bromide go, ‘If you’re not an integral part of the solution (even just suggesting one), you’re likely part of the overall problem!’ So, for a change, let’s move away from finger – pointing, and together seek answers to questions (as stated above) and solutions to the challenges and opportunities faced by our industry! GFA

***

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

George’s Lamentyen Dimension!

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

George’s Lamentyen Dimension!

I.

“Thank You Jenny Hodge!” When I sat down to bare my business soul with you today, I knew the core message would be about change; change for me, and change for everyone involved in landlease (nee manufactured home) community ownership and management. For me, the following paragraphs are at first, a lament; then change, to a yen (a yearning) for the future. For you? Well, read and decide, if and how you want to be involved in change being planned and effected – as to with and by whom, we’ll soon experience research and dissemination of our asset class statistics, helpful information, even the perennial resources used to successfully run your landlease community business.

“Why Jenny Hodge?” Because she introduced me, a decade ago, to John P. Kotter’s Business Week bestseller, Leading Change. In it are apropos quotes, and an Eight Stage Change Process applicable to what’s occurring in the way we serve the data, information, education, networking, and deal – making needs of landlease community owners/operators nationwide. Just what change are we talking about here? Specifically,

Since 1980, when GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing was founded, we’ve functioned by default, as ‘a small, for – profit, national trade association’ (i.e. ‘No one else would do it!’), providing valuable services: data & information collection & dissemination, professional property management education & certification, as well as superb networking & deal – making opportunities for landlease community owners/operators nationwide, including Canada. Other than helping found the short – lived Industry Steering Committee predecessor to the National Communities Council (now division) of the Manufactured Housing Institute, we’ve had little to do with political and regulatory advocacy relative to our unique, income – producing property type. Now, everything described in the first sentence of this paragraph is undergoing change – due in part, to the drying up of supplemental funding from landlease community portfolio owners, and my desire to eventually retire. But retirement won’t occur before ensuring the above – identified services are funded, reorganized, and progressing as a national, not for profit coalition of landlease community owners/operators of all sizes, as well as interested realty academics, and specialty consultants. Hence the gist of this week’s blog posting about change.

Early in Leading Change, the author describes “Employees in large, older firms (e.g. George Allen & 30 year old GFA Management, Inc.) often have difficulty getting a transformation process started because of the lack of leadership, coupled with arrogance, insularity, and bureaucracy.” P. 29 That’s certainly true of me! I’ve been comfortable as ‘leader of one’ and frankly, unwilling to face change I knew would come; arrogant in the knowledge we were the only firm possessing the bulk of landlease community data and knowledge; insular (remote) tucked away in offices in semi – rural Indiana; and in my experience, often at bureaucratic odds with one or another trade group who didn’t appreciate our firm serving the information, education, networking, and deal – making needs of 500+/- landlease community portfolio owners/operators nationwide, during the past three decades.

How is this anticipated change to occur, and possibly appear, along the way? Well, the author, John P. Kotter identifies eight “…steps to producing successful change, of any magnitude, in organizations.” P.21. They are, with brief personal commentary:

Establishing a sense of urgency. “I can not & will not fund these services alone for long!”

Creating the Guiding Coalition. “That’s where we are today! Want to come aboard?”

Developing a vision and strategy. “Remember how we did this with the ISC in 1993?”

Communicating the change vision. “You’re reading it NOW, with more details to come!”

Empowering broad – based action. “ Yes, we’ll overcome obstacles & take some risks!”

Generating short – term wins. “Ah, that’s the exciting part. So much we can accomplish!”

Consolidating gains & producing more change. “Once this change vehicle is moving….”

Anchoring new approaches in the culture. “Finally, opportunity to improve our image!”

Change doesn’t get any more exciting than what’s being planned for the landlease community real estate asset class! The Good News is, the change has started. To keep abreast of it, read the Allen Letter professional journal each month. To subscribe, reach me via gfa7156@aol.com or MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Also (417) 346-7156. The Bad News? Can’t think of any – unless change doesn’t take place! At that point, the worst case scenario – for all of us, would occur if I, figuratively speaking, ‘pulled the plug’ and retired. At that point, there simply wouldn’t be any further landlease community operating data & information collection & dissemination, professional property management education & certification, weekly and monthly print and online communication among peers, nor superb interpersonal networking & unique deal – making opportunities, throughout North America, until another entity comes along.

With a parting word of sincere appreciation to Jenny Hodge, for bringing Leading Change to my attention a decade ago, here’s the final paragraph from Kotter’s book:

“…people who are making an effort to embrace the future are a happier lot than those who are clinging to the past. That is not to say that learning how to become a part of the twenty – first – century enterprise is easy. But people who are attempting to grow, to become more comfortable with change, to develop leadership skills – these men and women are typically driven by a sense that they are doing what is right for themselves, their families, and their organizations. That sense of purpose spurs them on and inspires them during rough periods.” P.186. With that said, it is indeed the time for us, as landlease community owners/operators, to embrace the future, and do what is right for our business interests going forward!

By now you likely understand my taking poetic license with ‘George’s lament for the present, and yen for the future’; combining those words into a ‘lamentyen dimension’ for the months, even years ahead. So, will you and your landlease community(ies) be part of this unfolding change process?

“And finally, just who is Jenny Hodge?” Most manufactured housing industry folk fondly recall her from the years she spent on the corporate staff of American Modern Insurance. Well today, she’s vice president of marketing for American Integrity Insurance Group in Tampa, FL. Many of us got to visit with her this Spring at MHI’s annual Manufactured Housing Congress in Las Vegas, NV.

II.

As you know, we have a busy Summer ahead. I missed attending FEMA’s Small Footprint HUD Temporary Housing Unit (THU) Industry Day on June 7th, because, frankly, GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, couldn’t spare the $1,000.00 it would have taken for the flight, airport parking, hotel room, transportation, and meals in downtown Washington, DC. As a sad result, the 50,000 landlease community asset class was not represented by an owner/operator (That I’ve heard about to date), in a meeting where we could easily have made knowledge of vacant rental homesites known (per MHI’s CAS Program), for use in the time of need for emergency housing resources. A missed opportunity indeed; and, one more reason, why the change described in part I of this week’s blog is both necessary and progressing. Understand about 50 participants attended FEMA’s Small Footprint HUD Temporary Housing Unit (THU) Industry Day.

Try not to miss the Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) class scheduled for 20 July in Horseshead, New York, hosted by the NYHA. This one day ($250.00) professional property management training and certification class (program) has already designated nearly 1,000 MHMs, during the past ten years, who now own and operate landlease communities throughout North America. To register, phone Nancy Geer @ (518) 867-3242. What do you get, besides practical property management training by a CPM® member of the Institute of Real Estate Management® and landlease community owner? Copy of Landlease Community Management, monograph of contemporary manufactured housing industry readings, and a gold MHM pin and MHM certificate. If you own or manage one or more landlease communities, you owe it to yourself to attend and become certified!

Then there’s 1 August 2011. About 400 MHIndustry & RVIndustry aficionados will gather late afternoon that day, for a reception, followed by a Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, at the beautiful RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Museum & Library facility in Elkhart, IN. Several MHIndustry folk will be inducted this year, from manufacturing and landlease community segments of the MHBusiness. By the way, a golf tournament is also scheduled earlier the same afternoon. Want to attend? Phone (800) 378-8694 or (574) 293-2344 for information. And if you’re a landlease community owner/operator and want to participate in one or both private networking opportunities after the induction ceremony, phone Dennis Ohnstad @ (217) 493-0083 or via drohnstad@aol.com

And finally, there’s the Triple Anniversary Networking Roundtable, 14 – 16 September 2011, at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa on the western edge of San Antonio, TX. For a trifold brochure listing the nearly two dozen exciting topics and terrific presenters scheduled, phone the above – referenced MHIndustry HOTLINE or (317) 346-7156 and request it. This year, we’ll be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Manufactured Housing Institute, 20th anniversary of the International Networking Roundtable, and 15th anniversary of MHI’s National Communities Council division. Also contemplating one or more Community Series Homes to be on display during the networking roundtable venue. Plan to attend!

***

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

ELS & AMC to Acquire 74% of HA, & Letter ‘C’ HUD Code Mfrs.

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Alphabet Soup Firms Acquire 74% of Landlease Communities
In Hometown America’s Portfolio!

&

Letter ‘C’ HUD Code Home Manufacturers Encouraged to
Rejuvenate Their Languid Industry!

&

Thanks for Making June 1st a Special Day for Me!

I.

“I am writing to announce Hometown America has reached an agreement with Equity LifeStyle Properties (‘ELS’) to sell 76 communities…We are scheduled to close on the sale of the first 39 communities on July 1, with the balance of the communities expected to close before the end of November.

As you are aware, we are also scheduled to close on the sale of 16 communities to AMC over this same time period. After the sale of the ELS and AMC portfolios, Hometown will be a much smaller company with 32 remaining communities.” Rich Cline (lightly edited. GFA)

So the company announcement, dated May 31, 2011, reads. But what doesn’t the communiqué tell us?

• ELS, Inc., is acquiring a portfolio of 76 landlease communities containing 31,167 rental homesites on approximately 6,500 acres in 16 states (primarily in Florida and the northeastern region of the U.S., and “certain manufactured homes and loans secured by manufactured homes located at the Hometown Properties…for a stated purchase price of $1.43 billion.”…at an estimated 6.7% cap rate ‘assuming the acquisition was completed on 1 January 2010.’ (That’s the right date. Think about it…) Extracted from an ELS, Inc. press release cited in E – Trade news.

• Previous bullet point news prompted these observations and calculations from a fellow landlease community portfolio owner/operator who’s pretty good with numbers. “The $1.43 billion works out to about $45,000 per rental homesite. Wonder how many of those are vacant? Apparently there are manufactured homes included in the deal as well. Even if as many as 25% of those sites were occupied by homes bought for $20,000. apiece, the per site cost of this deal is still almost $41,000. In addition, the deal appears to be funded by nothing more than debt and the sale of stock, with most of the debt maturing in six years. Good luck ELS!”

• ELS, Inc. property portfolio grows in size, from approximately 307 landlease & RV communities, as cited in the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT @ 1 January 2011, to approximately 383 properties. ‘Approximately’, as a few properties are almost always ‘in play’, either being acquired or sold during the normal course of business. No change in ranking, however, as ELS, Inc., has long been identified as largest owner/operator of this income – producing property type in the world!

• Hometown America, once the two portfolio transactions are ‘closed’, will drop from 124 landlease communities (despite showing 127 on aforementioned 22nd ALLEN REPORT) to 32. Depending on the actual ‘rental homesite count’ of the 32 retained properties, this could conceivably drop the firm from its’ #7 ranking, down to somewhere in the mid – twenties. Word has it Rich Cline and two senior execs will continue to manage the landlease community portfolio for the Pacific Northwest pension fund owner.

• AMC is the abbreviated name of the new firm to manage 14 ‘other landlease communities’ being acquired from Hometown America. AMC? One wag suggested a rejuvenated American Motors Corporation (i.e. ‘Remember the Gremlin?’). But no, knowledgeable folk claim it’s American Manufactured Communities, established (or to be established) by CAP REIT, an apartment REIT, headquartered in Canada, who’d eventually like to launch an IPO (Initial Public Offering of stock), as a new REIT, here in the states.

• Why reference to an alphabet soup of firm names? Well, beyond ELS, Inc., and AMC, cited in the previous bullet points, the following letter abbreviations appear in the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT: RHP Properties; YES! Communities; MHPI; UNIPROP; KDM Development; CRF Communities; UMH Properties, the REIT; former CREICO, now Ascencia; SSK Communities; NTH Property Management; HCA Management; A.L.S. Properties; QCA Management; KAFCO, Inc; PLJ, Inc; M.N.A. Investments; MUREX Properties; and, MISA Corporation. And there are many more, beyond the 137 ranked in the report.

Rich Cline, writing in the final paragraph of the company announcement, cited earlier, concludes,

“…I want to thank everyone for their commitment and dedication to Hometown over the past 13 years and ask for your understanding and support as we move to this next phase in the life of Hometown.”

As a long time industry observer, who along with Bill Geary, CPM, from California, was ‘present at the birth of the Hometown America’, when founded by Randy Rowe, it’s been an interesting, and at times exciting scenario to watch unfold and document, as the firm grew in size through acquisition (Remember former REIT Chateau Communities, Inc. acquired in 2003, two years after it had acquired CWS Communities?), and ownership change. This acquisition announcement too suggests an answer to the mystery of CEO Greg O’Berry’s abrupt departure earlier this year. Next phase in the life of Hometown, as well as ELS, Inc., and AMC? ‘Stay tuned’, as it’ll surely make for an intriguing ‘read’ or two, over time.

Speaking of which, ‘News of the ELS, Inc., AMC, & Hometown Transactions’ has already been written into the manuscript of the new ‘historical retrospective’, scheduled for release at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, 1 August 2011, in Elkhart, IN. Book title? Landlease Communities, Manufactured Home Communities, Mobile Home Parks, Trailer Courts & Camps, and Affordable Housing. Formal invitations to this annual gala event are ‘in the mail’, but to ensure your opportunity to attend, phone (574) 293-2344. Hint. If you’re a personal friend, and or business colleague, of this blogger, contact landlease community owner/operator Dennis Ohnstad, to learn of additional ‘networking events’ planned later that evening and next morning, ‘for everyone in the LLCommunity business’: (217) 493-0083 or drohnstad@aol.com

II.

Letter ‘C’ HUD Code home manufacturers are hereby encouraged to rejuvenate the/their/our languid, listless manufactured housing industry! In the dog – eat – dog world of HR (Human Relations) employment headhunting, reference to ‘C level executives’ is trade lingo for job openings and applicants at the CEO, COO, CFO, & CTO level. In the HUD Code manufactured housing industry arena, letter ‘C’ firms are: Clayton Homes, Cavco Industries, and Champion.

By way of quick review; Clayton Homes, Inc., in terms of number of new homes shipped, boasts a heady 48 percent national market share. Cavco Industries, Inc, recent acquirer, through bankruptcy proceedings, of Fleetwood and Palm Harbor firms, enjoys a growing market share. And Champion Home Builders, Inc., recently emerged from bankruptcy, reportedly stronger than beforehand, commanded a 6.5 percent national market share at the end of 2010.

With that said; what are they to do? I don’t have a particular plan, but all three of these ‘C’ firms are headed and led by smarter men than me:

• Kevin Clayton at Clayton Homes, Inc., in TN, a Berkshire – Hathaway Company
• Joe Stegmayer at Cavco Industries, Inc., in AZ
• Jack Lawless, CEO, at Champion Home Builders, Inc., in MI.

But I do know this; as an industry, we can only bump along at a 60 year nadir (‘the lowest point’) of housing production for only so long (i.e. 50,000+/- new homes shipped nationally during each of these years: 2008, 2009, & 2010), before we are no longer viable! So, what are some of the tough love possibilities?

• Letter C firms finish buying up the smaller HUD Code home manufacturers, as they fear is going to happen anyway, and consolidate HUD Code manufactured housing into a half dozen (+/-) firms, per automobile industry history early in the 20th Century. Then move ahead as one focused, consolidated, powerful presence!

• Letter C firms sit down and ‘make truly friendly’ with the smaller, and in some cases financially secure, HUD Code home manufacturers in the South, Midwest, and West, to end differences relative to manufactured housing dealings with federal regulators. Then move ahead as one focused, consolidated industry voice!

• Discuss, speculate and decide whether the HUD Code manufactured housing industry is stronger and better served in our nation’s capitol, by dint of a singular manufacturing/distribution focus, supplemented by a strong working relationship with a sister advocacy body representing all other segments, realty and otherwise; OR, ascribe to either of the previous bullet points (Neither of which is in effect today!), & continue unchanged, appearing to be ‘one big happy family’ – but not!

There’s nothing new in those three bullet points! Each is a relatively frequent, ongoing topic of sometime heated conversation, even debate, wherever and whenever manufactured housing and landlease community aficionados, purists (Some would say Luddites) and self – described progressives alike, gather. All this industry observer suggests is, with as much consolidation taking place among manufacturing firms, during these past three years of ‘only 50,000 home shipments’, perhaps we’re at or near a ‘tipping point’ that could (maybe) reshape our industry and asset class for years to come.

All I ask, and hopefully you blog floggers (readers) agree, of these aforementioned leaders, and others who wield influence; ‘Don’t attempt such a paradigm change alone! Solicit input and buy – in from grassroots manufactured housing business peers ‘with skin in their games’; consider all the options (e.g. Return to truly affordable housing; ensure the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 is finally fully implemented; emphasize Community Series Homes design; make far better use of Business Development Managers to access landlease community owners/operator who need new homes; and the list goes on…), and communicate broadly and continually, in print and online, as the process proceeds!

Otherwise be guilty, as observed by a blog flogger commenting on last week’s posting, with its’ nod to the ‘Great & Greater Conspiracy’ topics, of a few weeks earlier:

“Perhaps, aside from NAHB and HUD, the most hurtful conspiracy of all is the ‘not conspiracy’, where (manufactured housing) executives, including our national and state associations, say ‘Not my job!’, when it comes to saving our industry! Keep hammering George.” And I plan to do so….GFA

III

THANK YOU!

For what? The many impromptu birthday greetings, by telephone, attractive cards, and email messages, on Tuesday 1 June. Can truly say, those were the most remembrances I’ve ever received on any birthday. Geesh. Maybe I should turn 66 more often. Not!

Anyway, that evening, Susan and Adam, our adult children, showed up at home with all but one grandchild in tow (Travis is away at USMC boot camp in San Diego, CA.), and of course our two great grandchildren, Hunter and Peyton. And not to forget Flossie, Carolyn’s 98 ½ year old Mother who lives with us. A very nice end to a near perfect day! Know what Carolyn gave me? An amazonkindle. So, I’m learning something new this weekend.

THANK YOU!

***

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

Postscript.

Just received an advance copy of June’s issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Can this possibly be the ‘best one ever’? Maybe. Not only a preview of this year’s Roundtable event (Including registration brochure), but SOLSTICE Communities’ Good Neighbor Pledge (A worthy template for every LLCommunity owner/operator!), Michael Power’s Mantra: ‘The Manager’s job is mostly outside the office, not inside!’ – and rationale following. Then there’s a color photo of a 13X40 British ‘manufactured home- called a caravan over there. Also photos of a Redman ‘Community Series Home’ or CSH, with recessed front and back steps! Lagniappes? Four: an Ascentia brochure (Remember CREICO?), CSH brochures from Fleetwood and Champion; and this month’s Signature Series Resource Document: the 2nd annual Official Manufactured Housing & Landlease Community Lexicon & Glossary of Trade Terminology. All this and more (i.e. 11 additional monthly issues of the newsletter) for only $134.95/year. How can you possibly manage your business, and properties, without it? Phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 or (317) 346-7156 – or via this website, to Subscribe!