Archive for January, 2012

Let’s Replace the GOLD RULE with the GOLDEN RULE

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Let’s Replace the GOLD RULE with the GOLDEN RULE in 2012

…a timely, reputation – enhancing, industry – saving CHALLENGE to HUD Code manufactured housing BUILDERS, chattel (personal property) mortgage LENDERS, & landlease (nee manufactured home) community OWNERS/OPERATORS throughout North America!

The GOLD RULE. ‘He who has the gold makes the rules!’

The GOLDEN RULE. ‘Treat others as you want to be treated!’

What manufactured housing veteran doesn’t recall HUD Code home manufacturers routinely ‘fluffing’ new home invoices to maximize profitability and cover MHRetailer rebates, as well as buying – down capital borrowing rates to sell more homes? AND subsequent to the brief REIT wave of the mid – 1990s; how, many landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners aggressively raised rental homesite rates, to the point of sucking value right out of the very properties in which our homeowners/site lessees lived.*1 Yes, those were indeed go – go days, and still are in a few local housing markets; when & where the GOLD RULE prevailed, AND continues!

Well, as an industry and realty asset class, we’ve known for awhile we should (i.e. ‘have to’) change the way we do business with our traditional ‘newly weds and nearly deads’ housing market, or we’ll lose them forever, if we haven’t already done so. Site – built housing finance abuses (e.g. no money down ARM deals put pregnant teenagers into $80,000.00 tract houses throughout the Midwest and elsewhere, until circa 2007) have already enticed, ‘sold’, and damaged the former; and, the continuing inability of Seniors to sell their ‘free and clear’ homes, then retire to Sunbelt regions in newly bought manufactured homes, has stymied and discouraged the latter.

So, what’s an industry and its’ sister realty asset class to do? Well, that’s how we began, but detoured, last week’s blog post, with this slightly recast FOREWORD, describing the first of several ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ measures to appear in coming weeks, to wit:

HOW do we move from entrenched GOLD RULE measures, described in previous paragraphs, to a bona fide Ethic of Reciprocity, a.k.a. the GOLDEN RULE? Well the process actually and quietly commenced 27 February 2008, at the first National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus, in Tampa, FL., when 100+/- landlease community owners/operators agreed on Five Action Areas to guide their future business dealings. One of those action areas encouraged landlease community owners/operators to effect…

“A Value Proposition (for homebuying/site lessee customers), ensuring fair interplay of housing product PRICING, loan financing TERMS and value, along with right site RENTAL RATE, and more….” (Lightly edited for emphasis. GFA)

Two years later, Randy Rowe, founder of Hometown America and Green Courte Partners, while a keynote speaker at the 19th annual International Networking Roundtable, in Phoenix, AZ., shared his ‘Five Part Market Share Recovery Plan for the Manufactured Housing Industry & the Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class’. A key part of his plan further encouraged landlease community owner/operators to…

‘Ensure on – site sale PRICE and loan financing (TERMS) of new and resale homes, within landlease communities, is in sync with site – built housing offerings, and apartment RENTAL RATES, in the same local housing market.’ (Again, lightly edited for emphasis. GFA)

Have these two similar overtures been implemented among the estimated 50,000 landlease communities in the U.S. today? Unfortunately, for the most part, these interrelated $$$ matters remain, in this industry observer’s opinion, pretty much unchanged and unheeded, particularly among some larger property portfolios – though recent foreclosure actions, in some regions, appear to be forcing a degree of change.

The only positive advances worthy of mention here, have to do with two relatively new, but already popular resources, both researched and published in 2008, to facilitate the ideal and needed replacement of the GOLD RULE with the GOLDEN RULE!

• The booklet, HOUSING AFFORDOGRAPHY debuted in 2008. It’s purpose? To identify three empirical and one subjective measure(s) of ‘affordable housing & housing affordability’ – later supplemented with a fourth empirical measure.

• The same year, using one of the aforementioned measures (i.e. The 30% Housing Expense Factor or HEF), a new ‘Ah Ha!& Uh Oh! Worksheet’ was created to “…estimate maximum recommended ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ purchase PRICES for new & resale, privately – owned homes of any type, sited on realty owned fee simple said home, or on a rental homesite within a landlease community.’

All that brings us to today, and the challenge contained in the title of this blog posting:

Let’s Replace the GOLD RULE with the GOLDEN RULE in 2012

Again, HOW? The most straight forward approach, to meet and implement this timely, reputation – enhancing, industry – saving challenge, is to couch the strategic procedure in terms of the well known 5 – Ps of MARAKETING, specifically:

Place. Ensure right location for a home sales center & that of the landlease community

Price. Calculate affordable ‘for sale’ amount, & right site rent per local housing market

Product. Know what size & type house will sell, & whether rental homesites are rentable

Promotion. Ascertain effective traditional & online housing & site marketing measures

People. Previous four marketing perspectives only as effective as sales and leasing staff!

So, how does one go about implementing the first three of these four Ps of Marketing?

PLACE. A subjective exercise at best. The key here, is to decide whether ‘home sales’ per se, are best achieved via an independent, standalone manufactured housing retail sales center located as near as possible, but separate from the host landlease community. Or, does said landlease community enjoy sufficiently good marketing and drive – by exposure, as well as easy highway access, to warrant simplifying staffing and inventory, by having MHRetail sales center on – site within property boundaries, with some ‘for sale’ homes installed, skirted, accessorized, and ‘ready for move – in’, or not. This particular P of Marketing does not lend itself directly to the proposed segue from the GOLD RULE to the GOLDEN RULE. That needed change begins with the next step…

PRICE & PRODUCT inclusive of housing ‘for sale’ and rental homesites ‘for rent’. Calculate affordable ‘for sale’ amount, & right site rent per local housing market via two steps:

Begin by ascertaining whether present or anticipated (i.e. in the event a new landlease community is being constructed, or an existing one is being acquired) landlease community operation is charging a rental homesite rate in sync with other forms of rental and fee simple housing in the same local housing market. How to do so? First, use the decades – old, but oft proven ‘3:1 Rule or Ratio’ for an initial ‘feel’ for the multifamily housing rental market. Perform the first of two Market Surveys; the first being of 3BR2B garden style, non – subsidized apartments or town houses. Calculate the average rent among these large units and divide by three. This pegs what the average landlease community site rent rate ‘might be’ in that local housing market. Then, effect a second Market Survey, this time of all comparable (by site count, amenities, etc.) landlease communities in the same local housing market – being sure to adjust for whether ‘water & sewer’ charges are included in or billed separately from said site rent. How does the average site rent compare to the result of the ‘3:1 Rule or Ratio’, and to the amount already being charged by the subject community? If this exercise is being effected pursuant to new construction, results suggest where initial site rent might be pegged.

Second step, relative to PRICE & PRODUCT, involves calculating the affordable ‘for sale’ amount of homes to be marketed in this particular local housing market. That’s where the aforementioned ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’ comes into play. In this instance, all calculations begin with either the verified Annual Gross Income (‘AGI’) of a prospective homebuyer or household; and or, with the Area Median Income (‘AMI’) of the subject local housing market defined by postal zip code. For the purposes of this example, AMI is assumed to be $51,229.00 – which is the approximate national AMI for years 2010 & 2011. While the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’ is designed to produce four different maximum housing prices per local housing market; here, only one is being demonstrated, that of an ‘affordable’ home sited in a landlease community. Taking the $51,229 AMI; multiply it by 30 percent (.30) HEF, to estimate $15,368 available for a ‘loaded’ HEF – which is to say PITI (principal, interest, taxes & insurance escrows) AND annual household/utility expenses, not including telephone expenses, PLUS site rent. With that said, approximately 75 percent of that $15,368 will go to pay PITI and site rent. Divide $15,368 by 12 months, to show $961/00 month available to pay PITI & site rent. Then, subtracting the known or estimated site rent (see previous paragraph), of (for example) $333.00/month, $628.00 remains for PITI alone. Using a financial calculator, this $628.00 PITI payment, along with chattel mortgage terms of 9.5% for 20 years, suggests a maximum ‘affordable’ mortgage of $67,372.00. When a 10% ‘down payment’ is calculated back onto that figure, the maximum ‘affordable’ house price is $74,858, rounded to $75,000. maximum ‘for sale’ home price (i.e. ‘all in’, to include skirting, etc., to be included in mortgage) in a landlease community where site rent is $333.00/month.

So, where does this exercise in calculating ‘affordable’ PRICE & PRODUCT factors take us on this timely, image – enhancing, industry – saving journey from the GOLD RULE to the GOLDEN RULE? Simply put: Most independent, third party chattel lenders originating mortgages on manufactured homes going into, or already in, landlease communities, as well as landlease community owners/operators self – financing their own on – site deals, do NOT deduct ‘household/utility expenses, not including telephone expenses’ from the monthly amount calculated to be available for PITI and site rent. With that said, the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’, in yet another column, calculates, what it labels as ‘risky’ (vs. ‘affordable) maximum mortgage and home price amounts. Using the same starting point of $51,229, and ‘working thru the numbers’, but backing out the ‘household/utility expenses, not including telephone expenses’ 25 percent factor, and deducting $333.00/month site rent, leaves $948.00 for a ‘barebones’ PITI. Using a financial calculator, and the same chattel mortgage terms of 9.5% for 20 years, this suggests a maximum ‘risky’ mortgage of $101,702. When a 10% ‘down payment’ is calculated back onto that figure, the maximum ‘risky’ house price is $113,002, rounded to $113,000. in a landlease community where the site rent is $333.00/month. But remember, these new home purchasers/owners of ‘more home’ (i.e. $113,000 ‘risky’ vs. $75,000 ‘affordable’ transaction) will still be paying household/utility expenses each month, over and above the original 30 percent HEF cited at the beginning of this exercise!

This latter ‘risky’ approach to estimating maximum home price, in any given local housing market, is the manner in which many, if not most present day GOLD RULE deals occur throughout the manufactured housing industry and within landlease communities. If, as an industry and asset class, we truly want to segue into a more Ethical Reciprocity means of doing business, the GOLDEN RULE way, we’ll have to start selling ‘less house’ (i.e. What prospective homebuyers can purchase ‘affordably,’ and NOT in our heretofore ‘risky’ fashion), AND ensure our rental homesite rates truly in sync with other forms of multifamily rental housing and fee simple housing in the same local housing market.

Well, that gives you something sobering to think about during this next week. If you agree, even disagree, that we, as an industry and asset class should embark on this individual and collective business journey from allegiance to the GOLD RULE, to the Ethics Reciprocity GOLDEN RULE, talk to me about it – the sooner the better.

In the meantime, ponder this:

“To keep the Golden Rule we must put ourselves in other people’s places, but to do that consists in and depends upon picturing ourselves in their places. If we had the imagination to do that, there would be fewer families estranged by misunderstanding between the older and the younger generations, fewer bitter judgments would pass our lips, fewer racial, national and class prejudices would stain our lives.’ Harry Emerson Fosdic, D.D.

And in our case, maybe more new homes sold and more rental homesites leased!

Remember, the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) will be having its’ annual Legislative Conference in Arlington, VA., 26 – 28 February 2012. This blog post is the sort of ‘timely, image – enhancing, industry – saving paradigm shift thought – and – actionable material’ our elected and salaried industry leaders should be discussing at these annual gatherings. If you’re an MHI member, like me, then let our leaders know what you think, about matters like this, and plan to attend. I plan to attend. Phone Lisa Brechtel @ (703) 558-0666 today to register!

*****

End Note:

1. REIT. Real Estate Investment Trust

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 Advocacy; Your Topics; & Access 500+ LLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

MHARR Sez; YOU Say; &, How to Access 500+ Landlease Community Portfolio Owners by U.S. Mail!

Dawning of a New (MHI post – production) Era? Might well be! Read on….

Your (Networking Roundtable) Topics of Choice? Make it Your Program!

How to Access 500 Landlease Community Portfolio Owners by Direct Mail

FOREWORD

This blog posting was supposed to be about treating prospective and actual (HUD Code) homebuyers fairly and with respect. Planned to begin it, by citing one of Five Action Areas agreed upon by 100 landlease community owners/operators during the 1st National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus, 27 February 2008, in Tampa, FL., to wit:

“A Value Proposition. Ensuring fair interplay of housing product pricing, financing (terms) and value, along with right site rental rate, and more….”

Then, segue to Randy Rowe’s ‘Five Part Market Share Recovery Plan for the Manufactured Housing Industry & the Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class’, delivered at 19th annual International Networking Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ., September 2010, where he challenged nearly 200 participants, in part, to:

‘Ensure on – site sale and financing of new and resale homes, within landlease communities, is in sync with site – built housing offerings, and apartment rental rates, in the same local housing market.’

Then spend the remainder of the blog, challenging businessmen and women in the MHBusiness to make these 2008 & 2010 challenges REALITY during 2012, by….

Well, that’s ‘the rest of the story’ that awaits a future blog posting; to describe, in what will likely be ‘troubling detail’ to some – if not many, reading it, ‘How to Effect a True Value Proposition for Our Prospective and Actual HUD Code homebuyers & owners!’

Instead, we divert our collective attention to a necessary & timely detour into MHPolitic.

I.

Dawning of a New (MHI post – production) Era?

“As the troubles of the HUD Code industry, in Washington, D.C., continue and deepen, it’s become increasingly apparent, the industry’s post – production sector (i.e. independent MHRetailers; LLCommunity owners; home installers, lenders & insurers) hold The Key to altering the status quo, and arming the industry with a strong, aggressive, focused, and effective (new or altered) national representation, based on a common front comprised of independent, POST – PRODUCTION and PRODUCTION national (advocacy) associations.” (Lightly edited for effect. GFA)

So begins Danny Ghorbani’s column ‘MHARR Viewpoint’, in the January 2012 issue of The Journal. Then follows, a detailed, though sometimes flawed recitation of semi – historic events, miscues, and industry issues the writer believes has brought his readers to this pivotal point in manufactured housing industry history. But, as one considered and insightful response, from a Post – Production businessman, counters…

“His (Danny’s) comments about preventing the ramifications of the S.A.F.E. Act and Dodd – Frank are absurd. Between thee and me, the MHIndustry ‘perfected’ mortgage fraud long before the ‘suits’ on Wall Street figured it out!* The retailer business model of ‘capturing customers’ and doing everything they could to discourage ‘shopping around, forced retailers to also act as loan originators.” (* By eight years, some say!)

On the other hand, one particular paragraph in Ghorbani’s lengthy diatribe cum
‘industry turnaround plan’, is in this veteran industry observer’s opinion, ‘right on the mark’, and might well in time, (Now?) be prophetic! Here it is…

“Given the manufactured housing industry lies between the site – built housing and recreational vehicle (‘RV’) industries, and manufactured housing (is) a federally – regulated industry (requiring) effective national representation for its’ two fundamental sectors, it’s a mystery why the HUD Code industry has not adopted the same type national representation structure as those two industries. That structure…is comprised of independent national production and post – production associations for both site – builders (i.e. National Association of Home Builders & National Association of Realtors) and the RV industry (i.e. Recreational Vehicle Industry Association & Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association). The same type functional structure, with two independent national (advocacy) associations, would work far better for the HUD Code industry than the current dysfunctional arrangement. (Furthermore) under such a structure, the two national (advocacy) associations could/would work cooperatively on ‘national issues of joint interest’ through a coordinating council comprised of three or four members selected by each body.” (Again, lightly edited for effect and clarity. GFA)

So, where do matters go from here? In large part, that depends on what some or many of the 500+ MHIndustry executives and LLCommunity owners/operators, who read this blog each week, decide is best for their individual and collective business futures, defined in terms of ‘survival’ or ‘success’. To that end, in last week’s blog posting, I encouraged the 150+ businessmen and women, who’d already committed to join me for the national MHInitiative® (nee NSAC caucus # 3) gathering on 2/27/2012; to instead, support MHI and its’ NCC division, with their participation in that advocacy body’s annual legislative conference in Washington, DC., @ 26 – 28 February 2012. Bottom line measure there and then? Will ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ be on MHI’s meeting agenda during that time frame, at said conference? You will only know if you attend. And if it’s not? Well, such an obvious omission, will send a clear message to all. For MHI conference information, phone (703) 558-0678 and ask for Lisa Brechtel.

As far as The Journal’s columnist is concerned, here’s how he concludes what will likely be viewed, in time, as one of the most pivotal pieces of trade journalism in the nigh 70 year (to date) history of HUD Code manufactured housing Production, and Post – Production segments:

“…a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The question is whether the post – production sector can overcome its’ attachment to a familiar but unacceptable status quo, and take that difficult but essential first step in a new, better and much – needed direction.” (No editing needed here. GFA)

What say you? I’ll look to seeing you at the MHI/NCC meeting in Washington, DC. (actually Arlington, VA), 26 – 28 February 2012, and you can tell me then – or beforehand, even afterwards.

***

Your (Networking Roundtable) Topics of Choice for this year’s event?

Now here’s a unique, first – time – in – this – blog opportunity for you. Every year, for the past 20 years, landlease community owners/operators, from sole proprietors to REIT executives have gathered for an annual International Networking Roundtable, usually at a resort in CA, AZ, FL, IL, TX, or CT. Well, this Fall, 12 – 14 September, we’ll be in San Diego, CA. And this is where you come in…

Every year at this time, I start putting together an agenda containing two dozen timely, often cutting edge topics, that relate to the LLCommunity real estate asset class, along with identifying the ‘best presenters’ for each of the selected agenda topics. While I already have nearly a dozen such subjects in mind this time around (e.g. Subcontracting Home Remodeling or Do It Yourself?), I’m OPEN to additional ideas for timely and interesting topics, along with speaker recommendations and their respective contact information.

So, have some topics in mind, and maybe some presenters? Reach me via mail: GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247 or via MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and via email: gfa7156@aol.com As they say, ‘the more the merrier!’ And hey, it’s OK to recommend yourself, if you’ve got something worthwhile to share with LLCommunity owners/operators from throughout North America. Want an ‘invite’ to attend the 21st annual Roundtable this Fall? Contact me with your request to attend as a landlease community owner/operator or event sponsor.

***

How to Access 500 Landlease Community Portfolio Owners by Direct Mail!

Let’s start with the basics. Given there’re approximately 50,000 LLCommunities throughout the U.S., and 85 percent are properties with 100 and fewer rental homesites apiece; leaving 15 percent, by and large, integral to 500+/- property portfolios; where according to the 23rd annual ALLEN REPORT, the average portfolio contains 27 LLCommunities, with an average property size is 219 rental homesites.

Now, with that said, if you’re a lender – either chattel or realty – secured, an insurance agency, someone wanting to build a LLCommunity portfolio, or even wanting to divest some properties, this is the ONLY comprehensive direct mail method to contact these folk. Seriously. There’s lots of ‘lists’ out and about, but many if not most, are comprised of contacts gleaned from Yellow Page telephone directories around the U.S. Not this one! For the past 30 years I’ve made it a point to identify all sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, and REITs who own and or fee manage a minimum of five LLCommunities and or 500+ rental homesites. Today there are 500+/- such ‘players’.

PMN Publishing exercises this exclusive and highly confidential list monthly, to research stats for the aforementioned annual ALLEN REPORT, introduce portfolio owners/operators to new products and services, as well as enhance the marketing of landlease communities ‘for sale’, etc. All addressees are decision – makers, relative to their properties; and the list is 99% accurate, as all outgoing direct mail pieces are sent first class.

Would YOU like to access this unique direct mail marketing opportunity? It’s simple, though a telephone call to the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 beforehand is advisable. In essence, prepare 600 pieces of direct mail, with the 600 envelopes ‘stuffed, sealed, and stamped – using first class stamps only, NO metering’. Then UPS the 600 piece ‘mailing’ to PMN Publishing c/o 170 E. Commerce Dr., Franklin, IN. 46131., with a corporate check, in the amount of $1,000.00 (access fee), made out to GFA Management, Inc.. Why 600 pieces? Because we automatically include another 100 ‘players’ who haven’t quite eclipsed the aforementioned ‘cutting score’ of five properties and or 500 rental sites.

Success rate? Depends on what you’re selling – or attempting to buy, and how well you communicate with the landlease community recipients of your direct mail piece. We’ve heard of responses as low as 5 percent, but many as high as 20 percent. In both instances, that’s higher than the national average for direct mail campaigns.

***

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

Gist of the 2012 Louisville MHShow, inside & out

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

So, What’s Happened this past Week?

Gist of the 2012 Louisville MHShow, inside & mostly outside it…

I.

Outside the MHShow…

Still NO reply to ‘the 12/29/2011 letter of inquiry’ to MHARR & MHI chairmen! See copy attached to BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) announcing this blog posting. Are you, like me, experiencing that ‘growing up in a mushroom farm feeling’ of being kept in the dark as we await a new load of compost – and worse, to be dumped on us?

National Summit (of independent ‘street’ MHRetailers & in – LLCommunity salescenter operators) planners and aficionados met for 2 ½ hours at the Crown Plaza Hotel outside the Louisville MHShow Exhibit Hall, discussing how to enhance working relationship(s) between these key segments of the MHIndustry. Result? In my view, the eventual solution will have to address two mutually exclusive perspectives: 1) landlease community owners/operators sorely need freelance new home marketing and sales consultants NOT heretofore tainted, and still enamored, with a flawed HUD Code manufactured housing fabrication & distribution business model, i.e. build and ship per home manufacturer’s choice, not per customer’s needs or wants, and counting of ‘shipments’ rather than ‘homes sold’. AND, 2) independent ‘street’ MHRetailers are encouraged, once again, to market, sell, finance, and site new and resale manufactured homes into small to mid – sized landlease communities throughout the U.S. – even learning, once again, to buy and operate some of these unique, income – producing properties themselves! Want to participate in this unfolding business model enlightenment and redirection? Contact Chad Carr @ (800) 336-0339.

Upcoming FOCUS Group, 1/26 & 27/2012, in Tampa, Florida, likely to draw largest group of landlease community owners in 20 years! Maximum attendance cap has been surpassed, as property owners from 15 states have committed to participate; and interestingly, all but three property owners are younger than 50 years of age, and slightly more than half are second generation ‘players’! And you should see their agenda….

23rd annual ALLEN REPORT is now in circulation, as it was mailed this past week as a lagniappe (‘freebie’), enclosed with the January 2012 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Chock full of interesting and useful asset class statistics, trends, and nearly 20 new portfolio owners/operators added to this year’s rankings. To subscribe to the newsletter, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. The ALLEN REPORT will eventually be available for purchase as a separate document, but not for awhile. Many Thanks to those of you who donated to underwrite most of the cost of this year’s seminal LLCommunity report.

MHInitiative®? ‘Everyone deserves another chance!’ That’s the rationale for postponing the popular national call to, once and for all, discuss and plan ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ on 2/27/2012. More than 125 of you (out of 500) reading this blog, had already committed, 1 ½ months early, to support the MHInitiative® (nee National State of the Asset Class or NSAC caucuses: 1/27/2008 & 1/27/2009) with your participation in said brainstorming and networking session, likely in Florida. For that commitment, I’m very grateful! And despite the aforementioned ‘stonewalling’, by MHARR & MHI elected leaders, we ALL should attend the Manufactured Housing Institute’s legislative meeting in Washington, DC., (also) scheduled for 26 – 28 February 2012. Furthermore, if you own/operate one or more landlease (nee manufactured home) communities, plan to attend the National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division meeting between 2:30 & 4PM, the afternoon of 27 February. I certainly plan to be there. Let’s listen to what our elected leaders have in mind relative to ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ Depending on what we hear, we’ll know what to do going forward. To register, phone Lisa Brechtel @ (703) 558-0666.

Manufactured Housing Manager® Class of January 2012 was a complete success! More than half the landlease community owners/operators present, were from Ohio. The rest from GA, MO, & KY, with two special guests from CA and OH; in one case, a possible ‘instructor in training’ for future MHM® classes. This graduating class of MHM®s brings us a step closer to having 1,000 certified property managers owning/operating LLCommunities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Interested in facilitating this professional property management training and certification program at your company or state association? Phone (317) 346-7156. Only costs $250.00 per MHM

January Contest. Many state MHAssociation execs received the following email message this past week: “We want to know YOUR top 3 ways to keep your park full of tenants. We know some people struggle with keeping their parks full, so we would like to hear your tips. If you have a full park, tell us how you keep it that way. If you win (the January Contest) you’ll receive a custom mobile home park T-shirt from Frank & Dave’s Trailer Wear department.” Is this for real? Assuming so, and taking aim at the use of defunct trade lingo, I responded with this short satire: ‘Top three ways to keep a ‘park full of tenants’? Let’s see. Using your lingo, that could mean anything from an RV park to a city park. If the latter, and located near a major city, invite members of the Occupy Protest Movement to move into the park, and require them to pay for the privilege; OR, if an RV park…depends on whether a transient or destination park; and, when you think a tenant become a resident. OH, I get it, you’re talking about where trailers park. Like along an interstate highway, where there’re rest areas for tractors and their trailers.’ GFA

II.

Inside the MHShow

Fleetwood Homes exhibit enjoyed a steady stream of homebuying landlease community customers interested in the firm’s line of Community Series Home or CSH models! During the book signing session Wednesday afternoon, I autographed and gave away nearly 100 copies of Landlease Communities, Manufactured Home Communities, Mobile Home Parks, trailer Courts & Camps, and Affordable Housing. Do YOU have a copy yet? Available for only $24.95 (including shipping and handling) by phoning the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE. And, if you’re unfamiliar with the CSH line of homes, or want to buy one or more to fill vacant rental homesites in your landlease community(ies), phone Fleetwood’s Business Development Manager (‘BDM’) Steve Quick at (615) 202-0245. You know, the ‘sad thing’ about this? Fleetwood Homes, to date, seems to be one of the few, if not only HUD Code home manufacturer taking the landlease community owner/operator ‘new home’ market seriously. There certainly were precious few of them on display at this MHShow. Talk about ‘missed opportunities’. No wonder, as an industry, we’re only shipping 50,000 new homes per year! It’s commonly believed filling 250,000 vacant rental homesites, nationwide, in 50,000+/- landlease communities, is the market of the immediate and foreseeable future. When will the rest of the HUD Code home manufacturers finally Get On Board!?

A cute but inspiring story. While at the Louisville MHShow, you likely saw Landon and his brother Hunter, two pre – teen boys, ‘walking the home exhibits with their parents’. I was told each owns a manufactured home – as an investment, in their individual self – directed IRA. Well, they do; and they’re downright serious about their housing investments; serious enough, that each young man carries his own business card. Hunter’s identifies him as an Investment Manager; Landon’s describes him as a Portfolio Manager. Their Mission Statement? ‘We Buy, Sell & Lease Properties!’ As my old college professor, Dr. Grigolia, used to say, ‘Now how bout them apples?’

A special meeting with one of the Big Four + 1 chattel lenders. Have you participated in a meeting where you truly felt history was being made? My first such epiphany occurred on 8/31/1993, when 19 of us convened in Indianapolis, IN., to form the Industry Steering Committee (ISC’) predecessor to MHI’s present day National Communities Council division. Well a similar feeling prevailed during a meeting inside the exhibit hall at this year’s MHShow in ‘Luavul’. Wednesday afternoon, Spencer Roane from Pentagon Properties, and Dr. David Funk from Capstone Investments, and yours truly, sat down executives from one of our industry’s august chattel lenders. Purpose of said meeting? To learn about and critique a new, common sense $$$ program, not yet named, designed to enable small to mid – sized landlease community owners to sell and self – finance more new manufactured homes on – site in their properties! Details aren’t available for this week’s blog posting, as changes pursuant to our meeting are now being made. So, keep reading here for more information as it’s released. Only hint being that it has the potential of being a WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN proposition for all four parties involved! Remind you of another chattel initiative you’ve read about of late, with four key participants: a HUD Code home manufacturer; an independent third party chattel lender; pre – qualified landlease community owners/operators; and prospective, qualified homebuyer/rental homesite lessees interested a new home – where price and down payment make sense; loan terms are fair and reasonable; and, rental homesite rent is in sync with other multifamily rental properties in the same local housing market, and ‘package price’ is less than what it takes to acquire a home owned fee simple there as well!

There’s more that could be covered here, but these have been some of the more important highlights. For example; do you really want to read of a new lender’s proposal to offer 30 year chattel mortgages, when only a decade ago, many a homeowner realized, after 20 years of making house payments, they owed more money on their home than it was worth – so often walked away from it. Surely we don’t want to repeat this sad history again, as we’re on the cusp of finally deciding ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’

***

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

Stimulus Spur Response? NO! But look what’s coming….

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Stimulus Spur Response to date? NO, but look what’s coming…

At this writing (8 January 2012), it’s been 2 ½ weeks since identical Letters of Inquiry were mailed to the elected respective chairmen of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) & Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), our two national MHAdvocacy bodies, domiciled in or near the nation’s capitol. So far, NO response of any kind from either executive! But that’s OK for now. Why? Look what’s scheduled to occur during the Louisville MHShow in Kentucky, 11 – 13 January 2012, that has little to do with the actions (Inactions?) of both bodies:

• Visit and buy a Community Series Home, a.k.a. CSH model, showcased by Fleetwood Homes! The firm is hosting a Special Guest appearance & book – signing @ 2 to 4PM, 11 January 2011 at their Louisville MHShow exhibit. Also meet your Business Development Manager (‘BDM’) Steve Quick! (615) 202-0245. Additional CSH homes on display at the Louisville MHShow? If not, ask exhibiting HUD Code manufacturer, ‘Why not showcase more CSH homes?’!

• Nearly sold – out Manufactured Housing Manager®, a.k.a. MHM®, property management training & certification class, all day 12 January at the Comfort Inn on Phillips Lane. Only $250.00 per person. Today, nearly 1,000 MHMs® own and manage landlease communities throughout the U.S. & Canada! To sign – up, phone (317) 346-7156. Landlease Community Management is classroom text.

• Joe Stegmayer, MHI’s elected chairman, to address show attendees at 11AM on Thursday, 12 January 2012. I can’t be present, as I’ll be teaching the MHM class; but would ask him publicly, 1) ‘Why no response to my letter of inquiry?’ AND, 2) ‘What plans, if any, will MHI present, at their 2/27/2012 annual legislative meeting in Washington, DC, regarding ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ As is often said, ‘Inquiring minds really want to know!’ Do YOU? If so, then ASK!

• A special meeting by ONE of the ‘Big Four + 1’ independent third party chattel lending sources, to plan am aggressive national marketing strategy for three existing, and an exciting new, capital lending programs – designed specifically for landlease community owners/operators! This new program likely one of the ‘proverbial lights at the end of our 12 year long shipment nadir tunnel’. It’s no accident, features of the program mirror a generic $$$ model to be discussed at…

• Yet another meeting, to refine and plan the debut of the new Four Participant $$$ Business Model, for manufactured housing chattel financing, involving: 1) HUD Code home manufacturers, 2) one or more independent third party chattel lenders, 3) single property and small portfolio owners of landlease communities, and – for the first time in manufactured housing history – 4) would be home (buyers) owners/site lessees, worthy of ‘affordable home value propositions’ (i.e. Right & fair mix of home price, loan terms and site rent rate!) from the first three participants in the new $$$ business model! This could be the ‘game changer’ we’ve been awaiting, to regain market share, measured by new home sales cum shipments. Interested in participating? More than two dozen blog floggers (readers) are already on board! For information, read January issue of the Allen Letter professional journal, where this new business model is profiled. This issue also contains the widely – referenced (23rd annual) ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘’Who’s Who Among Landlease community Owners/operators Throughout North America!’. Phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 to subscribe @ only $134.95/year (12 monthly issues). Credit card orders welcome. Did YOU know? The Allen Letter professional journal is the sole remaining print trade publication covering what’s ‘really happening’ throughout the manufactured housing industry & landlease community real estate asset class!

• Meet Dennis Duling, of Legiance Investments, at their exhibitor’s booth in ‘Luavul’. This is the ‘new firm on the MHScene’, that upon surrender of title to an abandoned home on – site in a landlease community, will rehab it to your satisfaction – at their expense (using monies obtained from their investors), then lease – option it to a qualified occupant, per your pre – approval. From that point forward, they retain the lease – option payments each month and pay you site rent; or, if you prefer, you collect the monies and send them their residual. All negotiable. Interested in learning more? (626) 653-2728. This is not an endorsement of Legiance’s business model; just letting YOU know of it! GFA

• A White Paper (Recall independent ‘street’ MHRetailers & in – landlease community sales center operators National Summit) planning session Friday morning, to take this new partnership to the next level of implementation. If YOU want to input, and maybe participate, contact Chad Carr @ (800) 336-0339 ASAP

• Private meeting of MHInitiative® supporters, relative to possible 2/27/2012 working session in Florida, to plan ‘How to Save Our Industry!?’; OR, an alternative plan of action for the time being. To input, phone aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE or email: gfa7156@aol.com Frankly, if MHInitiative® – or some other significant MHARR/MHI ‘leadership initiative’ doesn’t occur this year; in my opinion, there’s little chance the MHIndustry will survive, as we know it today, the previous ‘$$$ planning meeting’ announcements contained herein, notwithstanding.

• And finally, at this writing, there’re rumors of a veteran MHIndustry executive (Not me!) meeting privately, with like – minded individuals, to formulate plans for the creation of a viable secondary market for HUD Code manufactured homes. Interested in being part of this? Let me know via aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE. I’ll pass your contact information onto that individual. This is a gutsy and much needed move, that should have been effected ‘years ago’; and now, is an integral part of What Must Be Done for the MHIndustry to survive, let alone regain its’ rightful ‘affordable housing’ market share in the U.S.

WOW! How can you afford not to be present at this year’s Louisville MHShow? There’ll be more than 27 new HUD Code, modular, and ‘park model RV’ homes on display, along with more than 78 product and service exhibitors! Registered yet? No ‘prob’. You can do that, for FREE, right at the Kentucky Fair Grounds Exhibit Hall, during the show (Begins @ 9AM, 11 January); or phone (717) 587-3350, and tell Dennis Hill, ‘George Allen told me to call!’

And while you’re in ‘Luavul’ for the MHShow, look me up (except on January 12th, when I’ll be teaching the MHM® certification class) and say ‘Hi!’ And for those who pick up a ‘print copy’ of this blog posting, at the Lousiville MHShow, who’d like to have your name added to our BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) list, emailed each Sunday bearing future postings of this nature, let me know by phone or otherwise! Or go to the web site: community-investor.com, and left click on the BLOG prompt shown there.

This weekly blog posting, as you know, has become Much More than an information source and rallying point, for 500 + MHIndustry senior executives and LLCommunity owners/operators. It’s become the weekly business barometer of all things MH & LLCommunity! So, continue to send your input re matters presented here, along with ‘new news’ you believe I need to know and report. In the meantime, here’s wishing you and yours, a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2012! And don’t forget, the 23rd annual ALLEN REPORT is now available FREE to Allen Letter professional journal subscribers! 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

2012. A Year of New Beginnings? Let’s Plan It So…

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

2012. A Year of New Beginnings? Let’s Plan It So…

I.

Manufactured Housing Wisdom Honed by Experience

The following vignette (‘a short literary essay’) was penned at my request, by a 40 year successful business owner veteran of the manufactured housing industry and landlease community real estate asset class. I requested it for my education and your enlightenment. It deserves as broad circulation, among our peers, as we can give it. And while I have permission to disclose the author’s identity, have decided the message contained herein, is best delivered, and stands well, on its’ innate wisdom and timeliness, sans his personality and reputation. GFA

“There is no (chattel, personal property) financing today because the (independent third party) lenders can not make any money. I think the reason they can not make any money is generally misunderstood.

It is not, for the most part, bad underwriting, or less than honest ‘dealers’. It is because we have a bad business model. We say we are in the housing industry, but we have always treated it like a car sales lot. And the new car lot model worked fairly well, because the ‘dealer’ made a market in selling new homes. But the used car lot model did not work so well, because the ‘dealer’ did not make a market for used homes.

People were supposed to live in these homes forever; or if not, they were supposed to bring them back to the dealer and trade them in for a new model. Heaven forbid if they wanted to live in another area, or buy a stick – built house, because the dealer did not make a market for the sale of a ‘used home’. And, guess what? If a real estate agent wanted to sell the home, many landlease community owners would run them off. Who was left to make a market for the resale of our homes? No one. How could we be so stupid. And yet today, I still do not hear anyone talking about the importance of having a secondary market for our homes, or the bad effect it has had on the value of our home, or the effect it has on repossessions.

I once asked a Realtor® friend of mine. “Why do we have more repossessions than you have in your business?” He was shocked I did not know the answer. He told me a stick – built house, properly priced, in an average neighborhood, in normal economic conditions and listed with a Realtor®, was sold for cash within ninety days. A foreclosure takes 120 – 180 days. Thus, most troubled owners’ homes are sold before they become foreclosures. How much would our repossessions decrease if we had a similar marketplace? How much would the value of our homes increase with a similar marketplace? What would be the likelihood of attracting lenders?”

Preceding paragraphs lightly edited for effect and to improve readability. GFA

***

II.

Getting Ready for MHInitiative® in 2012

This blog column has purposely been quiet during the past several weeks, on the subject of whether there’ll be an MHInitiative® national gathering of manufactured housing and landlease community businessmen and women on 27 February 2012. And at this writing, a final decision has yet to be made. But it is appropriate, even necessary, to let the more than 500 MHIndustry & LLCommunity business owners and managers, who receive this weekly blog posting, know the status of this important matter.

To begin with, and as review for those unfamiliar with the MHInitiative®, here’s what it’s about….

The proword and concept replaces and succeeds the well known and popular National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucuses held 2/27/2008 in FL. and 2/27/2009 in IN.

In the first instance, 100+/- landlease community owners/operators, from throughout the U.S., gathered in the clubhouse at FountainView, in Tampa, FL. By the end of the first NSAC caucus, owners/operators present agreed on Five Action Areas to guide their business future during years ahead – and these principles continue in effect to this day, five years later! For a detailed description of the Five Action Areas, read Landlease Communities, Manufactured Home Communities, Mobile Home Parks, Trailer Courts & Camps, and Affordable Housing, available from PMN Publishing.*1

In the next instance, 100+/- HUD Code home manufacturers and landlease community owners/operators gathered at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame, Museum & Library facility in Elkhart, IN. At that venue, executives from those segments of the manufactured housing industry endeavored to answer this question: ‘How to Sell More Homes into Landlease Communities Nationwide?’ Answers? Agreement on the need for a new line of homes for community in – fill, i.e. the Community Series Home or CSH (replacing behemoth Developer Series Home of the late 1990s); and, to market them via a new job title/description, the Business Development Manager or BDM.*2

Why no NSAC caucus in 2010 and 2011? Several apt reasons.

• First, NSAC caucuses were not planned and facilitated to supplant any routinely scheduled MHIndustry or LLCommunity national event. In fact, the executive vice president of the Manufactured Housing Institute was present at each caucus, lending support to the different foci at each of the two national gatherings.

• Second; it was hoped, early on, elected and salaried leaders of the industry and asset class’ national advocacy organizations would ‘read the handwriting on the wall’, and assume leadership role in like manner during 2010 and 2011. As everyone ‘in the MHBusiness’ now knows, that certainly didn’t happen!

• Third; and please excuse the personal nature of this reason: I decided in 2010 to begin ‘retiring’ from active involvement in MHIndustry & LLCommunity matters, like the NSAC caucus described. But now, as you may or may not know, I’ve put those plans on hold for the next several years, to give the National Center for Manufactured Housing Studies, time to assume my research and work load.

TODAY? Annual shipment volume of new HUD Code manufactured homes continues, for a third year and now maybe a fourth, at a 60 year nadir of only 50,000+/- homes, compared to 372,843 new HUD Code homes shipped in 1998! And this sorry state of affairs, with little to no relief in sight; and no new national initiative(s) in place, to ‘talk through the matter, with a vision and plan to meet the perennial marketing – sales – production challenge’, is how we’re beginning year 2012.

And, frankly, a similar scenario exists for the chattel finance imbroglio (‘a complicated situation’), now faced on several (capital availability, mortgagor worthiness, & regulatory compliance) fronts.

So, what’s a grassroots, ‘skin in the game’ business owner, male or female, to do? Continue to, figuratively speaking, ‘sit on our hands’ and wait for the normal course (economic cycle) of events to finally (re)turn in favor of our type affordable housing and lifestyle? If that’s what YOU truly believe, then read no further into this blog posting! Because, if you’re not interested in being part of the solution to the aforesaid challenge and opportunity, you’re more than likely, part of the ongoing problem.

Where does this leave us today, 1 January 2012? All I can tell you, for now, is I’ve sent a letter to the board chairmen of both national manufactured housing advocacy organizations, asking what each body and elected leader plans to do during year 2012 to, frankly, ‘Save Our Industry!?’

In one instance in particular, I’m interested in learning of the institute’s topics agenda for their annual legislative conference scheduled for 2/27/2012 (Note the date), and whether ‘Save Our Industry!?’ is specifically included therein. And also, whether a new executive vice president will be named before or during that 2/27/2012 meeting in Washington, DC. I’ll let you know of any response(s) I receive, to said letters, in weekly blog postings and newsletters to come….

In the meantime, the MHInitiative® sits on the sideline, waiting to see what our elected and salaried leaders have in mind, if anything, to ‘Save Our Industry!?’ during year 2012.

III.

Dumming Down or Over Stimulation of Our Citizenry?

On line communication, digital journalism, information overload, planned obsolescence, abstractionitis and acronymitis. Symptoms of an emerging culture where everyone is overly interconnected, and one in which we no longer have or take time to think critically and to analyze?

“Scientists at the University of California in San Diego calculated that in 2008
(a year after the original iPhone was released) Americans consumed 34 gigabytes of information per day, the equivalent of 100,000 words – or 350 percent more than we consumed on a given day in 1980.”*3 Think about it. How many computers, laptops, netbooks, and various electronic communication devices do you have in your home, office & car? Together, Carolyn and I have no fewer than a dozen such interconnected gadgets.

“The old business model is broken, and digital journalism has to figure out how to keep up with itself without sacrificing ethical and professional standards.” Columbia Journalism Review, Nov/Dec 2011, p.22. Not to mention ‘lack of permanence’ (for future reference), as there’re fewer and fewer hard (print) copies of newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and books.

And the most recent ‘shocker’, that longhand writing or cursive, will no longer to be taught in public schools. After all, everyone now has a handheld electronic communication device of some sort, and we simply text and or email everything to be said, often preferring this means over verbalizing, even with friends and family.

Bottom line to these recent phenomenon’s? A significant lack of downtime (and offline) that’s “…lowering our ability to think critically and to analyze. Others claim such distraction causes loss of IQ points, and it can take up to 25 minutes to regain our focus after an e – mail or phone call.”*4 Yet another study estimates ‘distraction’ is costing the U.S. economy around $650 billion a year in lost productivity.

Another way of looking at what amounts to be a significant cultural shift, is the negative influence distraction has on creativity. Recalling that creativity consists of five stages: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration; social scientists now believe three, if not four of these key stages are simply incompatible with the constant influx of new and varied information routinely found online. “What creativity needs most of all, is time for the mind to percolate, to mix old ideas together in new ways, and to find connections no one else has found. For this, the mind must be left to itself.” *5

So, if you buy into these ‘over stimulation & dumming down’ consequences of modern day communication technology, what should you be doing to carve out some downtime, and ensure a creative milieu for yourself? Me? I’ve gone back to playing the piano early most mornings, to clear and prepare my mind for creative thinking; and, scheduling at least a half or full hour each day, away from telephones and computers, to simply read and reflect (i.e. percolate & incubate) relative to matters personal and business. Know what? It works. I find myself looking forward to those oasis moments, where and when I refresh, even nourish that part of me needing to think new thoughts and chart paths for my personal and business lives. Try it; I’ll bet you wind up liking it – the rest of your life!

***
End Notes

1. Order book, for $24.95 + shipping & handling, by phoning PMN Publishing via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

2. For a FREE copy of the one page list of Business Development Managers, with a comprehensive description of Community Series Homes specifications on the reverse side, phone the above – referenced MHIndustry HOTLINE

3. ‘Inner Space’ by Frank Bures writing in Poets & Writers magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

4. Ibid, p.48

5. Ibid, p.48

***

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