Archive for November, 2011

News You Can Use & Some That’ll Concern You

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Bound & Determined to Begin This Blog with Fun Information!

This may not be the newsiest summary you read this week, but there’s ‘takeaway’ value here to apply to your unique business interests; before we return to ‘What’s happening & Not been happening’ in the MHIndustry.

I.

Earlier this year I was hired by Marcus & Millichap (Our asset class’ largest national realty brokerage of landlease communities) to address their brokers about, you guessed it, landlease communities. I began my remarks with a recitation of some of the most unusual and interesting properties I’ve visited during the past three decades, along with some of my most unusual freelance consulting assignments.

First there was the landlease community – based nudist colony in central Canada; then two gypsy family – owned conclaves in South Carolina and Arizona; even a ‘biker hangout’ in central, Florida. Ever visit a several hundred site ghost LLCommunity, where every fully – developed rental homesite, complete with utility risers and paved off street parking, is vacant and overgrown with high grass and the like? Gives one an eerie feeling. And some say there are no $1,000.00 per site ‘deals’ to be had these days, like the LLCommunities I acquired in the early 1980s. Well, within the past six months, one 50 site, management – challenged property, 100% occupied with (mostly) rent paying homeowners, went for $40,000.00 cash. I’m confident there’re additional investment opportunities like that ‘out there’.

My most unusual management consulting assignments? An in – person damage assessment of several large landlease communities in Homestead, Florida, the day after Hurricane Andrew, 20 years ago. We have stunning photos to prove it; showing single section manufactured homes stacked atop one another like cord wood, and tall pine trees with 24” diameter trunks stripped of all their limbs and needles! Then there was the time I quietly terminated a volatile, but otherwise competent community manager, after he threatened to kill the tight – fisted, out of state property owner. How’d I do it? Got the manager a similar job, the next day, in another state, managing a 100% ‘rental home’ LLCommunity. And he remains on the job to this day.

Most unusual International Networking Roundtables during the past 20 years? There was a string of ‘em, beginning in 1999, in Colorado Springs. During the final night of the event at the Marriott Hotel, five feet of snow fell (Turned out to be the heaviest pre – season snowfall on record for the area!) paralyzing the city and transportation for three days. We all helped shovel snow, took our meals in the lobby of the hotel, and lived to tell about it! The very next year, 75 of us faced – down Hurricane Georges, at another Marriott Hotel, this time on Florida’s East coast, at Delray Beach. As the hurricane roared outdoors, we hardly noticed it inside, except for when swinging one’s feet out of bed in the morning, onto a water soaked carpet. The very next year, the Tragedy of 9/11 forced postponement of the Roundtable until November, with an even larger number of registrants showed up at the event in Chicago. Then, the following year in 2002, we had a commitment from President George W. Bush’s liaison staff, for him to maybe briefly visit the 11th annual Roundtable – acknowledging previous year’s Roundtable attendees convening despite the threat of international terrorism; this year’s event held on the Gulf coast in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. At the time, President Bush was planning to be in town to play golf with his brother Jebb, then governor of Florida. Extra security was already in place at the host hotel, to accommodate a convention of Florida Judges. And we tentatively reserved the presidential suite at nearby Hotel Don Cesar. But, at the last minute, the first Afghanistan conflict heated up, and his trip to Florida was canceled; so, no very special appearance. Now there were four successive years to remember!

How ‘bout some Lessons Learned during the last the last four plus decades, as a young Marine officer, lumberyard supervisor, property manager, business entrepreneur, management consultant, newsletter writer, book author and MHIndustry publisher.

• KISS principle = Keep It Simple Stupid – or Sweetheart, depending on audience.
• 6 – P Rule of Planning: ‘Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!’
• SMEAC. Military abbreviation for the management process: Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration & Logistics, Command & Communication.
• ‘Don’t expect anything of your men (Marines) you wouldn’t do yourself!’
• Use of homemade, laminated ‘wallet cards’ containing vital info & procedures
• ‘Praise in pubic, criticize in private; &, Ask, don’t tell, & keep ask out of trouble!’
• ‘Be firm but fair!’ in work environments, add ‘diplomatically’ in property mgmt’
• ‘No one really cares whether you succeed or fail in business, except you and your spouse or significant other!’
• Need to ‘hustle’ (new business) is challenging, fun, frustrating & rewarding; as ‘coasting’ allows time to reenergize & enjoy the fruit of one’s labors – for awhile.
• Definition of profit? The reward for taking risks!
• Maximum income & minimum expenses = best return of & on one’s investment!

For many more personal and business truisms, along with reproductions of several copyrighted Management Wisdom wallet cards, read Chapbook of Business & Management Wisdom, PMN Publishing, 2008. Don’t miss the chapter titled: ‘Scintillatingly Salient – but – Salacious Secrets to Business Management Consulting Success….’ Available via MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633.4764.

II.

Now, that update re status of critical MHIndustry matters parsed in recent blog postings:

• ‘Time for a Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’ debuted 13 November 2011. Everyone in the MHBusiness knows national manufactured housing advocacy is anemic at best, given the perennial ‘He said’ – ‘She said’ Abbott & Costello politico – comedy routine, betwixt MHI & MHARR. Said Radical Change Proposal put ‘all things manufactured housing production & distribution’ under Danny Ghorbani, and ‘all things landlease community’ under George Allen, ‘all in one national advocacy body’! Response to date? Substantial email and telephonic support of the proposal (See end note # 1), but abject silence from all but one industry leader! However, this was expected! How so? Just this past week, a staffer at one of the national advocacy bodies commented, ‘Oh we don’t pay any attention to the manufactured housing industry press’, or words to that effect. Surprised? I’m not. The offhand comment simply underscores an ongoing shortcoming.

Anyway, the aforementioned Radical Change Proposal, given continued disregard, simply clears the way for an even more far – reaching alternative, that will qualify, if and when made public, as the largest of all paradigm shifts in the history of the manufactured housing industry and landlease community real estate asset class! One might even be wont to say, ‘This is really the only option remaining for this industry, so set in its’ ways, it refuses to consider modifying its’ business model to remain viable and survive!’ Keep reading here….

• The MHInitiative® successor to the National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) series of caucuses originating in 2008 and 2009. Not much to be said here now, about the tentative national meeting for manufactured housing industry businessmen and women owners, scheduled on or about 27 February 2012, ‘somewhere in the South.’ The original list of 100 MHInitiative® supporters continues to grow in number each week. It’s so obvious grassroots stakeholders, from all segments of the manufactured housing industry and landlease community real estate asset class are ‘more than anxious’ to caucus at a national brainstorming session among peers with ‘the most to lose, to identify one or more solutions to our industry and asset class’ present state of malaise. Are YOU one of these? If so, let me know via gfa7156@aol.com

• MHI’s ‘water sprinkler’ proposal to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee or MHCC. Despite exposes in this online media outreach, and reader communiqués to MHIndustry leaders; to the best of my knowledge, there’re
no regrets, no recall, no nothing, afoot to modify the proposal, that in the minds of many LLCommunity owners, potentially puts our properties and livelihoods at risk of increased liability and decreased marketability, when water sprinkler – equipped homes seek installation on vacant rental homesites in our LLCommunities oft served by water lines not designed, and perhaps incapable of servicing greater water pressure and volume requirements pursuant to fire suppression. This is likely the last word you’ll read here about the matter. It’s
now in your hands, if you own and or manage landlease communities.

• Demise of manufactured housing (vehicle) titles & possible supplanting with recorded (realty – type) deeds, may well result in higher homeowner taxes for landlease community residents, beginning in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, and Maryland – the initial seven states targeted by the Uniform Law Commission. More information as details become available.

End Note. *1. These unsolicited quotes from blog floggers (readers) at this website:

“WOW! Good Stuff. I agree. This is a marvelous idea. Danny Ghorbani is the right man! You would be great as director of all (landlease) community owner affairs (except for your slanted view of MHRetailers). I would vote for and support this Radical Change (at the Manufactured Housing Institute).”

“As an active participant in our (manufactured housing) industry for almost 30 years, including membership and board and officer positions in the __________Manufactured Housing Association, and membership in MHI and its’ NCC, I feel the proposal by George Allen to merge MHI and MHARR should be given serious consideration. Mr. Allen’s experience with landlease communities would very nicely complement Mr. Ghorbani’s experience with manufacturers and national regulatory issues. I would be glad to elaborate on this endorsement if you like.”

***

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

Radical Change @ MHI, it’s ‘water sprinkler’ Redoubt & End of MHTitles?

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Top Ten Tongue – in – Cheek Reasons NOT to Effect Radical
Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute!

&

Who Might Lead the New MHI Partnership Team?

&

Commentator Paul Harvey & MHI’s ‘water sprinkler’ Proposal

&

Beware the Uniform Law Commission’s Ousting of MHTitles!

The lead story in this week’s blog won’t make sense to you, until you read last week’s posting, titled: ‘Time For a Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’. Here’s the statement that got tongues – a – wagging during the past seven days…

“Finally merge the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform with the Manufactured Housing Institute; yes indeed, and make Danny Ghorbani executive – in – charge of all home manufacturing/distribution matters; and yours truly, George Allen, executive – in – charge of all landlease (nee manufactured home) community affairs! And atop the new HUD Code manufactured housing and landlease community pyramid, position the present day board chairman (Joe Stegmayer of Cavco Industries, Inc.) – or his handpicked designee, to lead both major segments of the new and equal partnership between ‘production & post production’ divisions of the manufactured housing industry.

Present state of the search? Following is from the written and distributed record of MHI’s conference call, 15 November, with state MHAssociation execs. At one point, Joe Stegmayer explains: ‘We have talked with some folks and are getting resumes in for a new president…We want to find a very dynamic and aggressive leader for MHI… (&) We don’t feel we have to have a person in (sic) tomorrow.’

Last week’s blog posting. ‘Thanks’ to those who’ve taken time to email your thoughts, on this matter, to one or more of the five MHIndustry leaders listed at the conclusion of said blog posting. Now, onto the…

I.

Top Ten Tongue – in – Cheek Reasons NOT to Effect Radical Change at MHI!

1. Oil (MHI) and water (MHARR) simply don’t and won’t mix, ever, ever, ever!

2. Radical Change, frankly, is something ‘We don’t do at MHI’; it hurts too much.

3. At heart we’re trailer folk, so don’t deserve prosperity and all its’ trappings.

4. Danny Ghorbani’s 43 years of manufactured housing experience is not enough!

5. George Allen has but 33 years of landlease community experience & needs more!

6. LOL: “OMG, I’ll die B4 using Allenisms like MHIndustry & LLCommunity.”

7. In partnerships, someone always gets screwed; the one with the idea, one with the money; or other way around? Will it be production, post production, or neither?

8. Consensus building & issue confrontation are mutually exclusive advocacy tactics, and ‘never the twin should meet’ in one manufactured housing trade body!

9. “Oh no! We’ll have to combine the ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ MHInitiative ® & MHI’s legislative meeting, both are scheduled for 27 February 2012.” Horrors.

10. Our friends, ‘the politicians, and regulators at HUD’, won’t know how, or who to ignore, when we cease advocating via ‘MHI said’ versus ‘MHARR said’ opining!

Know what? While couched as tongue – in – cheek, there’s real truth within each and every one of those Ten Reasons NOT to Effect Radical Change at MHI! Some examples:

No one has seen MHI & MHARR ‘work well together over time’; that’s why we need one overarching national trade body, well representing all segments of the MHIndustry!
Or, once again, failing this radical change….

Yes, change often does hurt, and radical change more so. But so does childbirth and….

We’re way past time to segue from ‘trailers’, to being conventional affordable housing!

76 years is more than double the total length of employment of MHI’s last four presidents

Can I help it if some ‘talk funny’ is an effort to scribe more substance with fewer words?

Partnership caution is accurate, but they also work well; as with my 30 year business one!

Consensus building & issue confrontation, as in good cop – bad cop, can work together

It shouldn’t take something like the MHInitiative® to get radical change moving, but…

It will be a welcome change, to see politicians & HUD regulators, twist in their own wind

See what I mean? How can YOU; how can our salaried and elected leaders at the national trade body level, not want to effect ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’, when there’re so many very good reasons for doing so NOW?!

II.

Who Might Lead This New Partnership Team?

This is a tricky journalistic juxtaposition to articulate effectively. Huh? Well, you see, I haven’t reached out to any of these individuals – and they do all happen to be male, I’ll give you that much – to learn if they’d even be interested in being, in effect, the ‘business savior of the manufactured housing industry’. So, with that caveat in mind – and the knowledge that ‘to a man’ they’re successful, MHExperienced, even a role model association exec; all who’re, in my opinion, well – qualified to be MHI’s board chairman’s ‘man in Washington, DC’. Here’re your hints:

• Acclaimed by many, as the most visionary factory – built housing producer ever; equally comfortable fabricating modular, HUD Code, and other types of housing.

• Most veteran of all landlease community owners in private and public sectors.

• Widespread, earned reputation as ‘association executive’s association executive’.

• ‘Dark horse’ of manufactured housing, with 40+ years of national assn. expertise.

But know what? Given our industry and asset class’ long and earned reputation for in – fighting amongst ourselves, and perennial resistance to change from ‘both within & without’ the production and post production segments of manufactured housing, it’ll take someone – possibly not anyone on the above list, willing to risk their good reputation to take on ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute.’ No question about it; this will not be an easy job, and getting the strong personalities recommended to run the ‘two sides of the house’, to work effectively together and with MHI membership, will be daunting at best, maybe impossible, at worst. But is there another practical answer to ‘Save Our Industry?!’ I think NOT, but if you think SO, now is the time to step forward to be heard, and make your suggestion(s) known! Otherwise, we’ll talk about it at the MHInitiative® in 2012.

How to be heard? Respond to either this blog posting, via gfa7156@aol.com or the only MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, or correspond to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247. Or frankly, scroll back to last week’s posting in this website’s blog archive, to ‘Time for Radical Change….’ and send your email comments to one or more of the five MHIndustry leaders listed at the very end of said posting. Also, contact executives at MHI (703) 558-0600 or MHARR (202) 783-4087 directly.

III.

Late Commentator Paul Harvey, & MHI’s ‘Water Sprinkler’ Proposal to the MHCC

Like me, you probably miss hearing the late Paul Harvey say, at the end of his radio stories, “And that, my friends, is the Rest of the Story!” Well, it appears we have a Paul Harvey – like story developing within the manufactured housing industry and landlease community realty asset class. If you’ve been reading this blog during the past several weeks, you already know of the Manufactured Housing Institute’s proposal, relative to ‘water sprinkler’ installation in new manufactured homes, offered to HUD’s Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (‘MHCC’).

MHI’s commentary to date has related solely to the effect said proposal might have, and might not have, relative to manufactured housing’s present federal preemption and local building codes. See MHI’s VP Lois Starkey’s article, on the subject, in the current issue of the NCC’s Community Connections Fall newsletter. And this from the aforementioned written record of MHI’s 15 November conference call with state MHAssociation execs: “Fire (sic) sprinklers. The MHCC voted on this and a proposal was put forward to HUD that they much change their pre – emption policy on fire (sic) sprinklers. Fire (sic) sprinklers should not be required. Some local governments have acted in the absence of HUD not acting.”

But there may be more to the situation than what’s being publicly addressed by MHI and it’s National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division. What is a landlease community owner to do, in the foreseeable future, if and when a ‘water sprinkler’ equipped manufactured home arrives on – site to be installed, and it turns out the underground water supply system, by dint of design and or age, is undersized and unable to support the emergency need for greater water volume and pressure, in the event of a fire in this fire suppression – equipped home? Think about it. Apparently no one else is….

Why? There’re several possible reasons little – to – nothing is being said or done, within the MHI/NCC ‘family’, to retract this short – sighted ‘water sprinkler’ installation proposal to HUD’s MHCC:

• One maybe has to do with quiet proprietary desire, or even need, on the part of one or more home manufacturer(s), to ship new manufactured homes into local housing markets, mainly out West at present, where in – home water sprinklers are already mandated by local building codes.

• Another maybe has to do with executive property managers in leadership positions, not rocking MHI’s PC (‘political correctness’) boat; in effect, disregarding landlease community owners’ concern about future liability if their property(ies) infrastructure is unable to support homes equipped with fire suppression systems requiring greater water pressure and volume than normal.

• Another maybe has to do with property owners and investors who plan to divest themselves of their landlease community(ies) assets in the near or not too distant future, hence avoiding this potential liability issue altogether.

At this point, I’ve done all I can do to bring this matter to your attention. Anything further will have to, evidently, come from the grassroots of the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class, most likely via state MHAssociations affiliated with MHI and it’s NCC division. I’ve already corresponded, as a direct, dues – paying member of the NCC, and as an NCC board member, but have been stonewalled in this manner:

“Thayer responded to you at the end of October with MHI (sic) position and an update.”

True. But neither Thayer’s response or subsequent update, acknowledged the ‘water sprinkler’ proposal’s potential to increase LLCommunity owner liability in the future.

IV.

Beware the Uniform Law Commission’s Effort to Eliminate MHTitles!

To begin with, go to MHI’s website: manufacturedhousing.org and access the National Communities Council division’s Fall newsletter, Community Connections. There read the article titled: ‘Proposed ULC Manufactured Home Titling Act’, by Marc Lifset, esquire, of McGlinchey Stafford law firm. Here’re a few salient passages from that article. Not a member of MHI or its’ NCC division? Phone (703) 558-0666.

What’s the hullabaloo about? ‘The Act as currently drafted would establish a new method of titling, conveying and encumbering manufactured homes, including pre – HUD Code Homes…all first retail sales of Homes must be documented by a statutory form of manufactured home deed recorded in the property records…the Home becomes real property when it is ‘installed’ on land (“The Act defines ‘installed’ as when ‘the wheels & axles…have been removed and the home has electricity supplied by a utility or by any other means…’.”). At that time the Home would convert from personal property to real property ‘for all purposes.’” – Whether the manufactured Home is located outside and or within a landlease community? Ah, one of the unresolved major issues of this proposed legislation.

Proposed legislation? You bet. Politically savvy manufactured housing industry aficionados have sufficient reason to believe seven states have been targeted to effect this new uniform law; one Midwest state in particular. Legislation’s stated purpose? In part, to “…increase the availability of reasonably priced financing for Homes now conveyed and encumbered as personal property…” and much more. Not surprisingly, one of the largest lending institutions (banks) in the U.S. is quietly promoting this legislation, that has as many profoundly counter – productive consequences (i.e. homes sited in landlease communities likely to be taxed as their realty – secured counterparts outside the leasehold property, even though the leasehold property owner already pays high local real estate taxes for the improved real estate) as its’ stated purposes!

In this veteran industry observer’s opinion, this is an insidious assault on our unique type factory – built affordable housing (i.e. HUD Code manufactured housing) shelter alternative; and its’ related, generally inexpensive family and adult lifestyle (i.e. landlease communities) opportunities, that we provide for hundreds of thousands of homeowners and homesite lessees throughout the U.S. It’s also apparent, naïve and ill – informed academics, some local government agencies and regulators, short – sighted consumer advocates, and wishy-washy politicians, find this sort of idealism cum contretemps irresistible, and worth the wasting of time and other resources.

So, ensure your state MHAssociation is well aware – and educated, concerning this soon to be national uniform law initiative, changing the titling, conveying and encumbering of all manufactured homes, including pre – HUD Code Homes! And remember, you first read about it here.

***

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

Time for Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Time for Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute

This won’t take long or much space to describe here, so let’s get started…

First. With annual new home shipment volume at a 60 year nadir for three consecutive years thru 2011; and, only cherry picking independent third party chattel financing available for new HUD Code homes, many would agree it’s time for some sort of radical change in and or about the HUD Code manufactured housing industry! We’re no longer a healthy business model, but rather a made – for – TV ‘SURVIVAL’ episode. And there’s certainly little help or change on the horizon, if the USA Today newspaper front page story, on 9 November 2011 has it right:

“Foreclosure sales are moving so slowly in half of the states that, at the current pace, it will take more than eight years on average, to clear the 2.1 million homes in foreclosure, or with seriously delinquent mortgages, new research shows.” (&) “The backlog suggests the fallout from the nation’s worst housing market collapse is likely to weigh on real estate prices in many markets for years to come.”

Second. The Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) just lost the best president and CEO it’s ever had. Wanna guess the reason? A hint. Starts with the letter ‘$’. And now, MHI’s board is supposedly seeking his successor. I say ‘supposedly’ because, as a direct dues – paying member of the institute, I’ve not heard or read anything announcing the appointment of an ‘executive search committee’. Have you? Didn’t think so. And it’s because of this observation, and content of the two preceding paragraphs, I’m bold to propose the following ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’:

Finally merge the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (a.k.a. MHARR) with MHI; yes indeed, and make Danny Ghorbani executive – in – charge of all home manufacturing/distribution matters; and yours truly, George Allen, executive – in – charge of all landlease community owner/operator affairs! And atop that new HUD Code manufactured housing and landlease community pyramid, position the present day board chairman – or his handpicked designee, to lead both major segments of the now equal and new relationship between, what some have described our historically disparate state of affairs as being, the ‘production & post production’ divisions cum partnership!

Know what else I’d do? Challenge those two new ‘executives – in – charge’ of this new, as yet unnamed national manufactured housing and landlease community advocacy partnership (I suggest Affordable Manufactured Housing Alliance or AMHA), to offset their six figure salaries with new membership dues from newly recruited members directly joining their respective ‘production & post production’ halves of the organization! Can’t meet that heady goal in 12 months time? Replace em!

There’s much more to this ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’ proposal, but nearly enough penned in this blog posting. Next week? How ‘bout The Top 10 Tongue – in – Cheek Reasons NOT to effect this ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’ (with apologies to David Letterman). For example: ‘Danny Ghorbani has only 43 years of manufactured housing experience.’ And the chairman’s hand – picked designee? I can think of at least four strong candidates. Will hint at their identity as well.

A further thought. What effect would my ‘joining MHI’s new partnership’ have on David Funk and our plans to launch the new, national not for profit Center for Manufactured & Affordable Housing Research & Resources? Think about it. There’s no reason the 50,000 landlease communities asset class can’t “Have its’ cake (i.e. Effective national political & regulatory advocacy) and eat it too (i.e. Enjoy the same statistics gathering, print & online communication, interpersonal networking, and property management training & certification resources it has today and will likely have tomorrow)!’ With that said, it’s fair and accurate to posit: ‘Never again will this unique and timely radical change opportunity, to unite and prosper together, present itself to the manufactured housing industry & landlease community realty asset class!’ What do you say we ‘Carpe diem!’ ?, as in ‘Seize the Day!’

Where does all this leave us? That’s up to you! This blog posting reaches 500 manufactured housing and landlease community aficionados every weekend. At this point, I’ve done my part: Presented a plan for ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’. And not as an outsider, but as a longtime direct, dues – paying member of the institute, and founding – as well as present – elected board member of its’ 15 year old National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division. If you too are a direct, or even a Certified Member, of MHI, and this plan for ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’ goes no further, you’ll have only yourself to blame. Because, after the dust settles, during and after discussions, and either implementation or rejection of said plan and change, business life will certainly ‘go on’ for all of us, until….

Again, plans for my future business emphasis and succession are in place, and will likely continue. All I’m saying is, I’m willing and ready – if sincerely asked, to be an integral part of ‘Radical Change at the Manufactured Housing Institute’, IF it means SURVIVAL for the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class! And contrary to ‘rumors on the street’, there are no plans whatsoever, at this time and where I’m concerned, to spawn a new post production national advocacy body, the recently announced MHInitiative (nee National State of the Asset Class or NSAC caucus series) notwithstanding! Can’t say or pen it any plainer than that.

Finally, look at it this way; actually, two ways. Almost any radical change and new partnership (i.e. between the manufacturing/distribution & landlease community segments) at MHI, works better than the unbalanced industry segment representation and dysfunctional advocacy contretemps in effect today! And now YOU can’t say, ever again, you have not been challenged to be a radical change catalyst. What will YOU do with the opportunity?

Your input, as always, is welcome here, via gfa7156@aol.com or the only MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, or write to me via GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247.

Who else might you contact about Radical Change at MHI? Here’re some alternatives:

Manufactured Housing Institute: info@mfghome.org
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform: dannyghorbani@aol.com
MHI Chairman Joe Stegmayer: joes@cavco.com
NCC Chairman Steve Schaub: sschaub@yescommunities.com
MHARR Chairman John Bostick: jbostick@sunshinehomes-inc.com

***

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

MHIndustry Need a Good Muckraking Journalist!

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

MHIndustry needs a good muckraking* journalist…. Why?

(And it’s not going to be me!) Why?

Well there are indeed answers, of sorts, to both questions.

* What’s muckraking? According to our handy Webster’s Dictionary, “…to search for and expose real or alleged corruption, scandal, or the like….”

Now for a response to the first ‘Why?’ question. For starters, too many ‘things’ occur, and yet ‘some’ don’t happen, legislatively and leadership wise, in the manufactured housing industry at large, and landlease community asset class in particular, that go unresearched and parsed in detail, let alone reported to the general factory – built housing and realty business public, by independent third party news and investigative sources. In effect, our culprits are enabled to hide till their next faux pas.

Some examples. Recall how the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (This was passed to give our unique housing type parity with site – built housing!), after 11 long years, is still NOT fully implemented; then, how the S.A.F.E. Act (i.e. Safe And Fair Enforcement Mortgage Licensing) was foisted on us with little to no advance warning or even fight; and finally, how we’ve been unnecessarily swept up into the onerous provisions of the Dodd – Frank Bill (According to a letter I have in my possession, penned by Congressman Barney Frank on his letterhead – one of the bill’s coauthors, stating as much!). And frankly, I could easily add other contemporary examples to this nefarious list of non – starters, non – finishers, and entrapments in between them.

Relative to landlease communities. Much of the ripe muckraking fodder here, has to do with individual companies and property portfolios. While business successes and failures, like death and taxes, are always present, you’d think folk would learn from their, and their peer’s past missteps and mistakes. But too many times they don’t; in part, because they simply ‘don’t know’ the nature and scope of said missteps and mistakes. Here’s but one example. How many of you were around, during the mid to latter 1990s, when Wall Street analysts treated our new landlease community (nee manufactured home) community real estate investment trusts (‘REIT’) as ‘growth stocks’? In essence, promoting unrealistic expectations that REIT FFOs (funds from operations) would always GROW, quarter after quarter after quarter. Did any realty trade journalists step to the fore and tell them it simply ain’t so? No! So REITs cut operating expenses where they could, then jacked homesite rents to levels they probably shouldn’t have, to satisfy those misguided, unreasonable expectations. Result? Three of six REITs have disappeared since 2003. And there’re more related tales (e.g. regulatory overkill relative to in – community installation of homes) to be told, that likely won’t be, until a skilled, well – funded trade journalist comes along, to pen our industry and asset class’ version of Gerald C. Meyers’ compendium of business failures in, When It Hits the Fan (1986).

And from time to time, there’re poorly – reported measures that cut across industry and asset class lines. Reread what was penned ‘within and between the lines’,
of blog postings at this website during the past two weeks, describing MHI’s recent, ill – advised ‘sprinkler proposal’ (a.k.a. ‘Dire effects of the Law of Unintended Consequences’) to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (‘MHCC’). Not only will this proposal allow ‘HUD’s preemption – ending foot’, to get well inside manufactured housing (Think ‘conditional cum mandatory standard implementation’), but landlease community owners, likely in the future, will have to account for their property’s infrastructure inadequacy to support fire suppressing water sprinklers in manufactured homes! There’s more to this nefarious, ready – for – muckraking story. Ponder; what sole segment of the MHIndustry benefits most, in the long run, from forced building standard implementation; and, what’re the chances such ‘future benefit thinking’ precipitated this proposal to the MHCC? Also ask yourself: ‘Is anyone else, in the trade press, warning us of such potential, self – initiated disasters on our business horizon?’ The answer? “No!” An apt answer that circles back to the original question of ‘Why?’

My response to the second ‘Why?’ question; specifically, ‘Why not me?’ I’m a freelance writer and consultant whose ‘beat’ is indeed, the manufactured housing industry in general, the landlease community asset class in particular. Frankly, I rely on funding from two subscriber – supported newsletters and book sales, consulting assignments (e.g. Mystery Shopping, property ‘turnaround’ planning, and occasional covert undertakings), along with profits from hosted meetings during the course of a year, e.g. Networking Roundtable, Manufactured Housing Manager (‘MHM’) professional property management training and certification classes, and FOCUS Groups, to keep our firm solvent. Unfortunately, I no longer rely on patronage or other independent financial support from business associates, to provide the cushion needed, to research and pen stories that keep this industry and asset class fully informed; and, keep those who’d ‘take selfish advantage of both’, on their toes. As a result, much of what you used to read, learn, and apply in the past, and still need to know and consider in the present, now goes unresearched and under reported. And I see no great change to that sorry state of affairs. That’s why this industry and asset class needs a muckraker of sorts, rather than me.

An answer, of sorts, to this journalistic shortfall? Given the ever shrinking nature of the manufactured housing trade press, during the past several years, and the woeful lack of cutting edge reporting today, online and in print, YOU owe it to yourself and your business future, to be all the more diligent about what’s going on, not only in your local housing market(s), but on the broader scale as well! I believe that’s why so many of you (500 at last count) have signed – on to receive a BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) every Sunday, reminding you to read this blog posting. But that’s not enough! You’ve gotta reach out, and ensure you’re ‘in the know’ wherever and whenever possible.

With that said, here’s an alternative, replete with a few practical and timely examples, of how to accomplish that end. So, aside from what you just read in this blog today, and during the past few weeks, did YOU know?

• A copy of the very first White Paper researched and penned, describing and comparing similar and dissimilar home marketing and sales perspectives, of independent ‘street’ MHRetailers and in – landlease community home sales center operators, is now, this week, available to YOU, from one trade source!

• A year ago this month, a national Request for Proposal was published, to identify a successor who’d continue to effect research & statistical reports, property management training, and interpersonal networking for all landlease community owners/operators. Result of the search is now available to YOU, from one source!

• Do you realize the HUD Code manufactured housing industry has undergone several major paradigm shifts in its’ business model since the early 1970s, what they are, and how they likely affect your business today? Well, that one page retrospective document is, this week, available to YOU, from only one source!

These three timely resources and more (e.g. A new list of latest Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) marketing Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) to LLCommunities) is available in the November 2011 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal! If not already a paid subscriber, the annual rate is $134.95, and is available, by simply phoning the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. And remember, the January issue of this same newsletter will contain the 23rd annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Landlease Community Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’

Now, has all this just been a glorified promotion for the Allen Letter professional journal? Certainly ‘reads like it’, but it’s not. Rather, it’s simply letting manufactured housing and landlease community businessmen and women know where they can obtain accurate industry and asset class news, penned by a 30+ year veteran of the very same Free Enterprise endeavors in which they are presently engaged! It’s simply ‘your call’ as to how valuable or invaluable such news and information is to YOU and your business, present and future.

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MHInitiative®. We’re taking a week or two off from talking about this tentatively planned brainstorming event, for business owners, to meet, decide, and plan ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ in 2012, maybe 2/27/2012. If you can’t bear to wait to learn more, or want to offer helpful input, simply access the MHIndustry HOTLINE cited earlier, or email me via gfa7156@aol.com GFA

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SHARK ATTACK!

In this day of hyper ‘industry image sensitivity’, a.k.a. political correctness or PC, it’s, in my opinion, grizzly poor taste, to describe the annual gathering of MHIndustry & LLCommunity peers, in Louisville, KY during January 2012, as being where to…

“…gather together with all the other hungry sharks and grab new business in 2012.”
Quoted from the event brochure, featuring a huge shark swallowing its’ victim whole!

While I’m all for ‘grabbing new business in 2012’, I’m NOT for being thought of as
‘an MHIndustry or LLCommunity shark out to devour future customer(s)’, as graphically depicted in the color photo on the aforementioned brochure. While I’ll certainly be present for the ‘Louisville 2012 Manufactured Housing Show’, it’ll be as ‘a businessman intent on learning how to better and best earn my customer’s business and loyalty in the year ahead.’ How ‘bout you? Hungry shark or savvy businessman or woman?

To this latter end, about earning one’s customers business and loyalty. If you own and or operate one or more landlease communities, and haven’t yet been trained and certified as a Manufactured Housing Manager®, consider participating in this excellent one day program during the Louisville MHShow! On Thursday, January 12, between 8AM and 4PM, I’ll be teaching the MHM® professional property management (‘PM’) training and certification program, in the immediate vicinity of the Kentucky State Fairgrounds (location of aforesaid Louisville MHShow). Only costs $250.00 per MHM® candidate; and remember, there’re nearly 1,000 MHM®s who now own or manage LLCommunities throughout the U.S. and Canada. And this is the only LLCommunity PM certification program taught by a Certified Property Manager® member of the prestigious Institute of Real Estate Management®, and veteran LLCommunity owner/operator. For a brochure describing the day long course content, and to register, phone (317) 346-7156.

Back to the SHARK ATTACK! op/ed stuff. Who knows, perhaps the old bromide is right after all: ‘Bad publicity is better than no publicity!’ In any event, hope to see you at the Louisville Show @ 1/11 – 13/2012; better yet, at the MHM certification class on the 12th!
For more information on the Louisville Show, phone (770) 587-3350.

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