Archive for April, 2012

‘Short Takes’, Newsy Notes & MHIndustry Peccadiloes

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

‘Short Takes’, Newsy Notes, MHIndustry Peccadilloes

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’18 New Pioneers Pondering the Future of RESEARCH & RESOURCES for all Landlease Communities Nationwide…

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‘Short Takes’, Newsy Notes, & a few MHIndustry Peccadilloes

Blog floggers (readers) by the dozen, continue to respond to this Official MHIndustry & LLCommunity Blog Posting each week We don’t begin to include all of them here, but certainly ones that address, and hopefully bring reason to various observations, issues, and happenstances germane to our double dual industry (i.e. HUD Code home manufacturing & distribution; landlease community investment & management). Have YOU taken the time, or made an effort, to respond of late? Maybe now is the time for YOU to do so….

MHRetailers disappearing? Not by a long shot! This firsthand experience from a retired, but still actively engaged MHIndustry aficionado. During a recent road trip, “…found the South still to have a plethora of independent ‘street’ MHRetailers (f.k.a. ‘street dealerships’), some of the company store variety, others individually – owned salescenters. Most had three or four cars parked outside their sales offices, and almost all were clean, with plenty of flags, lots of attractive colors, and all were attractive and well – appointed from the street view. Nearly all advertised a ‘singlesection special’ and a ‘multisection special’ (Actually, they ballyhooed ‘singlewide’ & ‘doublewide’ models). The SURPRISE was that virtually every marquee proclaimed ‘MOBILE HOMES FOR SALE!’. Which begs the question, ‘Is it maybe time to go back to the future? You know, smaller, low cost, simply appointed, fast to move into, and easy to finance homes!?’ Who’d a thunk we are proving ourselves (this way) every day, and there are indeed folk selling many new homes, even profiting from our ‘past business practices’. WOW.” NB

More on the professional property management issue. From a 20 year manager of conventional apartment communities, now with a year as an on – site landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) community manager: “Wanted to express to you how appreciative I am, as a property management professional, of your response. I manage a park (i.e. LLCommunity) of 486 homes, and know that it takes more than a warm body to be an active part of the asset’s success! Thank you for recognizing the need for a professional to fill the position of manager, and not just a warm body who happens to live on – site, so (ownership) can save money by not having to close the leasing office. We both know that results in early burn – out because, in essence, the manager never ‘goes home from work.’ “ KC

Property portfolio owners/operators not all paying their fair share of state MHAssociation dues! “I’ve been an executive in partnerships, over the years, in OH, IN, NC, & VA; and always fought with partners over paying MHAssociation dues, because they kept asking, ‘Show us in real terms what we are getting for our money?’ This, unless there’s a ‘hot legislative battle or issue afoot’ is often difficult to do; and add to this, their propensity to act like outsiders, doing their own thing (e.g. ‘I’ve got it handled myself!, instead of ‘Let’s band together!’), as well as being difficult to identify in the first place.” Don’t look for this to change much in the future. In any given state, where there were used to be two dozen sole proprietor – owned LLCommunities, each paying $500.00/year in dues (Total income = $12,000.00); but since have been acquired and are now part of, say, two portfolios, whose owners/operators purposely pay dues for only one such property in each portfolio; well, that’s an immediate, direct, annual loss of $11,000.00 in dues revenue for that state’s MHAssociation. And multiply that ‘hit’ ten times over, and there’s the ‘game changer’ many associations have suffered during the past two decades of landlease community consolidation. What to do about it? Well, here’s the ‘game plan’ I’ve suggested in states where I pay MHAssociation membership dues. FIRST, identify present members not paying their fair (full) share of dues; SECOND, identify out of state property portfolio ‘players’ who aren’t yet dues – paying members; and THIRD, form a volunteer group of LLCommunity owners who’re dues – paying members, and approach recalcitrant firms directly, first by letter, then – if necessary – in person. BUT along the way, these same state MHAssociations must be offering timely services; be engaged in effective lobbying; and, regularly hosting value – laden programs, like Super Symposiums, State of the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class presentations ‘that mean something’, and opportunities for professional property management training and certification. If NOT, then why make the effort to attract new, dues – paying members?

Plight of the small businessman and woman competing for national recognition at the annual MHCongress Awards Luncheon. “LOL. Pretty hard to compete with REITs. MHI should segregate the ‘big boys’ who have all their managers vote for themselves.” Probably a good idea. In all fairness though, two ‘little guys’, both from central Illinois, did garner national recognition, one as a MHRetailer and other as a LLCommunity owner, at this year’s MHCongress in Las Vegas. Still though, there’s room for improvement.

More on the controversial ‘unrestricted’ vs. ‘restricted’ distribution of handout materials at MHI events policy. “I want to weigh in on the issue of literature at the MHCongress. As one who’s ponied up for a booth since day one, I believe that if one wants to advertise at the MHCongress, they should pay for a booth as well. If I could hawk my wares for free, why would I spend the time and effort on a booth? I’m certain that booth rentals pay a big part in the financial success of the MHCongress, and I want it to continue as a great industry event. Having said that, it might be appropriate for speakers to have their materials in the room at the time of their presentation, as a way of thanking them for their participation.” DW Well put. But I think ‘the handout distribution issue’ has more to do with said practice at MHI meetings, rather than at this annual big $$$ ticket event in Las Vegas. But hey, we’ll wait to see if/how their new restrictive ‘handouts’ policy discourages or encourages MHI membership by small businesses.

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’18 New Pioneers’ Pondering the Future of RESEARCH & RESOURCES for All Landlease Community Owners/operators Nationwide….

Well the personal epiphany of late February 2012 is being realized, as you read these very lines – assuming you’re doing so between 29 April and 5 May. That’s the week between posting this particular blog, at the community-investor.com website, and the next Sunday posting.

A letter and survey were distributed 24 April, to ’18 New Pioneers’ plus a half dozen ‘advisors’- landlease community owners all, who’ve stepped forward to brainstorm and ponder, then plan, the future of RESEARCH & RESOURCES for all landlease community owners/operators in the U.S., and eventually Canada! Their individual input will be collected and summarized during the first two weeks of May, when an initial White Paper will be prepared, then sent to them for further consideration. During mid – June, as many of these businessmen and women as possible, from more than a dozen states – ranging from New England and Florida to California and the Pacific Northwest, will convene at SaddleBrook Farms in Grayslake, IL., for a day long strategic planning meeting. Those proceedings will likely be akin to the popular FOCUS meeting format of the past 20 years.

Why ’18 New Pioneers’? Mainly as a respectful nod to the 18 ‘then’ manufactured home community owners/operators, who convened 31 August 1993, to begin the process to ensure adequate and appropriate national ADVOCACY for our unique, income – producing property type, before several of their number launched IPOs (Initial Public Offerings of their stock) to become real estate investment trusts (REITs) during the mid 1990s. Today, that ADVOCACY effort is well handled by MHI’s National Communities Council (‘NCC”) division. Are YOU a direct, dues – paying member yet? If not, phone Bruce Savage @ (703) 558-0666 and do so today! Tell him ‘George sent me!’ Seriously.

Back to the ’18 New Pioneers’. Besides being ‘LLCommunity owners all’; with one or two exceptions, they’re also representatives of the new generation of owners/operators. In fact, only one of these ‘owners’ has been a member of both ‘18’ groups. And none of them are listed among the 15 largest portfolio ‘players’ profiled in the 23rd annual ALLEN REPORT.

And frankly, it’s not too late for you to make your interest known, to participate as a supporter of this latter day RESEARCH & RESOURCES project. Simply contact me via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. This is certainly NOT a closed clique of LLCommunity owners!

With our asset class’ ADVOCACY effort now in place for 16 years (NCC didn’t officially supplant the original Industry Steering Committee until 1 January 1996), it’s time to turn our thoughts and efforts to ensuring adequate and appropriate national RESEARCH & RESOURCES for the unique, income – producing property type! Last time around, need for ADVOCACY was driven by an imminent REIT wave. This time around, RESEARCH & RESOURCES is being driven by the perennial need of landlease community owners/operators for print and online communication; benchmark statistical information; periodic networking and deal – making opportunities; as well as professional property management training and certification; and more….

If you’re thinking, ‘What about the new, national not for profit, Center for Manufactured Housing Studies (CMHS), I’ve been reading about of late; isn’t that supposed to be the standard bearer for landlease community RESEARCH going forward?’ In a word, YES. But it’s hoped RESEARCH & RESOURCES will continue to move forward together, as they have in the ‘for profit’ realm for the past 30 years. And at present, since they are intertwined from start to finish, it’s one more consideration the ’18 New Pioneers’ and their advisors, will be pondering and planning for, during the months ahead.

Is there an ‘end game’ to this epiphany cum strategic planning session? Again, YES. Ideally, as was the case during the Networking Roundtable in San Antonio, TX., last Fall (2011), this year, 12 – 14 September, in San Diego, we’ll be in a position to announce how RESEARCH & RESOURCES will likely move ahead together, in accords with NCC’s ADVOCACY efforts, from that point forward. But, only time – and effort, will surely tell, and spawn the needed results. SO, continue to follow this saga here, and in the Allen Letter professional journal. ($134.95/year = 12 issues, via the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE).

Finally, I’ll share this broad hint with you. Since the MHCongress in Las Vegas, no fewer than three new alternatives have been proffered, but are not yet vetted. One has considerable depth of manufactured housing experience, and more; another comes from the national and professional real estate management ‘side of the house’; and a third, from generic real estate investment quarters. It’s likely the ’18 New Pioneers’ will evaluate one or more of these alternatives, given their (and yours, by extension) interest in ensuring landlease community RESEARCH & RESOURCES, continue on into the future. Exception(s) will occur only when confidence has been requested and assured.

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George Allen, CPM®Emeritus & MHM®Master
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 462467
(317) 346-7156

George Allen’s Blog Floggers Reply!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

George Allen’s Blog Floggers Reply; & ‘How to Make $1 Million’

Responses to Last Sunday’s Blog Posting re NCC Forum & MHCongress

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‘How I Made Almost $1 Million Profit On My First Mobile Home Park’
(No, not a GFA tale, but someone else ‘with their story to tell’, kinda…)

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Responses to Last Sunday’s Blog Posting re NCC Forum & MHCongress

“On one hand, ‘Congrats to MHI for putting on one of the best meetings I’ve attended in a long time!. The excellent program topics and keynote speakers attracted many interesting, experienced, and generally optimistic attendees.”

“On the other hand…how about some tables near the registration desk, or at the back of the main meeting room, where anyone can place handouts or copies of documents that attendees can peruse before the meeting and during breaks? “ SR Regarding this latter point, another blog flogger (reader) commented: “Great post!!! I will discuss your PAY THRICE comment, for sure, with MHI!” KL This has to do with MHI’s ‘newly enforced old policy’ outlawing handouts at its’ events – from anyone but event sponsors. As another blog flogger succinctly but sadly put it: “I found…MHI’s discrimination perfectly predictable.” NB

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Then this; “Despite the continuing ‘feel’ of the ‘good ol boys club’ that prevails at MHI events like this (i.e. major HUD Code manufacturer reps & largest property portfolio execs are speakers, lead panels, and garner most of the ‘manufacturer’ & ‘community’ of the year awards), I thought the one over – riding positive of this MHCongress was OPTIMISM. And I recognized at least five signs of positive things ahead: favorable demographics, continuing landlease community consolidation, financing for inventory, new chattel finance programs (Think 21st Mortgage Company’s new C.A.S.H. Program & give Lance Hull a call) for retail sales, and realty – secured mortgages for LLCommunities engaged in home sales and self – finance.” JR

Bottom line? ‘Some very GOOD with some NOT so very GOOD. Are you paying attention MHI? And onto this….

“Good to see you mention the fracking phenomenon. The (resulting) new home shipments are NOT insignificant, and certainly underscore this industries ability to quickly, and appropriately, address such housing boom needs!” DF However, as I attempted – albeit unsuccessfully – to warn, at the conclusion of the ‘manufacturers’ panel presentation’, let’s not get carried away by unbridled optimism about what might be, or could turn out to be, a relatively short – to – moderate length phantom housing market, before and if chattel finance finally returns to our industry and really rejuvenates it!

Finally. “NOT need a professional property manager on – site in landlease communities?!! Are you kidding? Without years of property management training, I would be such a failure to ownership and my residents. So glad now to be an MHM®!” VG This from an on – site property manager overseeing a 1,000 + rental homesite LLCommunity! Really. It was such a disappointment, to hear property management (‘PM’) executives from two of the ten largest portfolio owners/operators of landlease communities, publicly belittle any need for ‘professional property management training and certification’, that so many have espoused these past 20 years. In my opinion, there should be at least one Certified Property Manager® or CPM® member of the Institute of Real Estate Management ® in the COO or CEO position at each of our 20 largest firms! And every on – site and regional PM should be either a CPM® Candidate, a bona fide Accredited Community Manager® or ACM® (Meaning they’ve completed all three levels of the ACM® program, not just one or two) and or a Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® designee. Is your firm thus staffed? For the good of the industry and asset class, let’s hope so…

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‘How I Made Almost $1Million Profit On My First Mobile Home Park’

No, not me! GFA. Rather, this is the Attention – Getter, the ‘hook’ used by a couple well – known landlease community owners (They consistently use ‘mobile home park’ lingo) who routinely host Mobile Home Park Investors Boot Camps, for would – be investors in our unique income – producing property type. You likely read a monthly column, by one of them, in our industry’s last surviving, advertising – supported, trade publication. So, thought you’d like to see how our realty asset class – or what they call ‘mobile home park’ investment is ‘pitched’ these days….

“I bought my first mobile home park at the end of 1996. It was a total dump. And it was in the wrong part of town. Nobody would have ever imagined that it had any future. I only bought it – at that time – for three reasons: 1) It was cheap 2) the seller was carrying the paper and 3) there weren’t a lot of mobile home parks in Dallas so I figured there had to be some type of supply/demand shortage (if I could just figure out what the demand for this product type was).”

“I bought 83 spaces for $400,000 with $10,000 down and the seller carrying $390,000 for 15 years. Had I known how to do due diligence (I’d never heard of the term back then) then I’d known that this park had all kinds of serious flaws, such as a failing natural gas system and a troubled electrical system. But in the end I fought through all these problems with about #100,000 of additional capital spend and lot of terrifying moments.”

“Meanwhile, I unlocked one of the most powerful drivers in the mobile home park game: the enormous demand for affordable housing. The prior owner had a manager who was a crack addict, and did absolutely no advertising, so there were a pile of vacant, park – owned homes sitting there when I arrived. So job # 1 was to get those sold and income producing. When I got the first one cleaned and ready to sell, I ran a small newspaper advertisement in the Dallas Morning News. I didn’t expect much, maybe a few calls a week. So you can imagine my shock when I got around 20 calls in the first day, and sold the home by the second. I certainly had no idea that the demand to live in a junky trailer in the wrong part of town could be that strong.”

“But I learned over time that a family living on minimum wage only has two options: 1) a mobile home park or 2) a terrible apartment complex. Between the two options, the mobile home park is executive housing. Using just that one item – giant insatiable demand – I filled up all the vacant homes and started to bring in more to sell. Day after day, the phone would ring off the hook, and I could sell anything that humans could live in. I even brought in a few old RVs on the tiniest lots and those sold, as well.”

“Fast forward about 8 years, the park had every usable lot occupied. And my income had shot up due to twice the number of tenants, and twice the original monthly rent (I had been raising it up every year). So I sold the park to somebody else of $1,525,000 – about $1 million more than I had in it. And even then, it was a good deal, as the park was still under market on its rent, and the phone was still ringing off the hook. I heard through the grapevine that the person I sold it to was offered a good profit years later, but refused to sell because they like the monthly income and the park was easy to run. And, of course, the failure of the U.S. economy has only made the phone ring more.”

“If you are interested in these type of real estate deals, then you should consider attending the Mobile Home Park Investors Boot Camp. It’s a three day immersion event in which you learn how to locate, evaluate, negotiate, perform due diligence on, turn – around, and operate mobile home parks, both in a classroom setting and in the field in real mobile home parks.”

So, there you have it; an unvarnished, unedited (Who needs commas anyway?), firsthand description of how one self – proclaimed, successful landlease community owner’s views our real estate asset class. Yes, it’s penned to appeal to the natural greed characteristic of many, if not most, folk; particularly ‘wealth wannabees’. And along the way, it does misrepresent and ‘dis’ (as in disrespect) the vast majority of landlease communities across our country today, and certainly denigrates the owners/operators thereof. I’ll also wager these guys, like the execs described earlier in this particular blog posting, don’t advocate ‘professional property management training and certification’ either. So Sad. BUT, if you’ve read the previous six paragraphs, and find yourself drawn to a ‘need to attend’ a Mobile Home Park Investors Boot Camp, let me know, and I’ll provide the dates, location, and contact details – reluctantly.

There’s a postscript, of sorts, to this scheme. I understand many ‘would be investors’ have participated in past Mobile Home Park Investors Boot Camp events. And an indeterminate number have indeed acquired – or attempted to acquire, their first income – producing property in the recommended manner. But the end game for some, if not many – in my experience – has not been akin to that of the event promoter. Rather, they wind up finding their way to this industry observer, in my role as a property management consultant, seeking advice on how to save what remains of their inheritance, their spouse’s fortune, someone else’s investment capital, their pride and reputation, and the like. Unfortunately, by the time they contact me, there’s not much left that can be done, they don’t have the dollars to pay me, so they walk away Wiser but Poorer, and thoroughly Disillusioned with ‘mobile home parks’.

More on this sordid subject next week….

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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

Serious Business ‘Skinny’ from George Allen

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Serious Business ‘Skinny’ (gossip/information) from George Allen

‘Some of What I Learned at the NCC Forum & MHCongress in Las Vegas!’

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‘Pay to Play’ – NOW – ‘Pay Thrice +, to Play’, at all future MHI Events….

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‘Some of What I Learned at the NCC Forum & MHCongress in Las Vegas!’

National Communities Council (‘NCC’) Forum sponsor, ROC – USA, represented by Mary O’Hara, MHM, cited 35 landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) community ‘conversions to resident ownership’, in12 states, totaling $63,000,000+ since year 2008!

Keynote presenter, Dr. David Crowe of the National Association of Homebuilders (‘NAHB’), reminded listeners of the Rule of Thumb for estimating ‘how much house one can afford’ (including underlying realty) as being, ‘3X one’s Annual Gross Income or AGI’; e.g. $36,000 X 3 = $108,000.00. Confirmation of this truism plays out on the latest edition of the popular ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’, where an AGI of $36,000 suggests a max ‘affordable’ housing purchase of $101,000.00; and, a ‘risky’ housing purchase @ $134,000.00. More on this very point, later in this blog posting….

NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index or ‘HOI’, uses a local housing market’s Area Median Income (‘AMI’) and Median Home Price, to calculate what percentage of these AMI folk can afford the Median Home Price, BUT is the only affordable housing indicator, of five, to use proprietary (i.e. ‘Gotta pay for it!’) statistical information, generally unavailable to the home buying consumer! FYI; the five affordable housing indicators are: the 30% Housing Expense Factor (‘HEF’); aforementioned HOI; Housing Wage (‘HE’); ‘One Who Believes…a deal is affordable at the time it was/is struck’; and, the Income to Home Value Ratio or IHVR. Sources of this information: HOUSING AFFORDOGRAPHY, PMN Publishing, 2008, 35 pages; and, ‘Affordable Housing; America’s Bugbear of Shelter Definition & Measures’ by George Allen. Latter reference available ‘for the asking’ by phoning the MHIndustry HOTLINE.

Housing Information Resources include: www.housingeconomics.com & www.eyeonhousing.wordpress.com

Is today’s oil shale ‘fracking’ factor (Shipments of crew units or man cabins @ 12BR4B models, HUD Code homes, even ‘mods’) akin to yesterday’s short – lived ‘Katrina effect’ on manufactured housing’s annual shipment total? Consider this: At least five HUD Code home manufacturers are shipping said units into as many ‘fracking’ states. That’s 25 factors; and if each is multiplied by just 500 housing units, that’s a potential uptick of at least 12,500 such units during year 2012. Add this to the 2011 year end shipment total of 51,168 HUD Code homes, and the resulting 63,668 home shipment estimate for 2012, isn’t far from what’s already being ballyhooed as this year’s recovery estimate. All I’m saying is, ‘Be careful’ not to be misled long term, by unbridled enthusiasm and optimism being touted today and the intermediate future….

Dr. John K McIlwain, Senior Research Fellow for Housing, at the Urban Land Institute (‘ULI’) provided this longtime MHIndustry observer, a personal ‘high point’ for the entire NCC Forum & MHCongress experience! Turns out, he too believes ‘affordability’ needs to be put back into the oft abused affordable housing and housing affordability definition discussion. Specifically, where the aforementioned 30% HEF is concerned, that factor should include not only PITI (mortgage principal & interest amounts, taxes & insurance), but also ‘annual household/utility expenses, not including telephone expenses’ for the said housing unit! Unfortunately, mortgage lenders germane to the manufactured and traditional site – built housing industries, for the most part, continue to use ‘the PITI only’ approach; again highlighting the aforementioned differences in ‘How much house a buyer can buy’, as demonstrated in ‘affordable’ vs. ‘risky’ Price Point calculations on the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’. Want a free copy of the worksheet? Simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 & request it!

This year’s NCC Forum experienced, in my opinion, an unfortunate contretemps (i.e. ‘embarrassing occurrence’). It happened when a panel, featuring major property portfolio operations execs, described their firms’ efforts to attract and keep top notch landlease community management personnel. When queried about providing professional property management (‘PM’) training for on – site managers, the panelists appeared to convey this message: ‘We don’t need professional PM training or certification programs for our managers!’ Later however, another panel featured four veteran LLCommunity owners/operators, ALL of whom are professional, certified Manufactured Housing Managers® or (‘MHM®s’), and one Certified Property Manager® or CPM®. There was at least a half dozen CPM®s present at the NCC Forum & MHCongress (Mike Sullivan, CPM®, Alan Alt, CPM®, John Rogosich, CPM® & MHM®; and, Bill Cramer, CPM®, CCIM® & MHM® – all presidents of LLCommunity firms; along with dozens of on – site and regional MHM®s. And, Realtor® Joanne Stevens, an Accredited Community Manger®, or ACM®, also holds the coveted CCIM® and Professional Housing Consultant® or PHC® designations – lectured MHCongress attendees on LLCommunity brokerage matters. Icing on the professional property management training and certification program cake? MHI’s perennial ‘PAC man’, Rick Rand, is a proud holder of the ACM® designation. Maybe next year’s MHCongress will feature a one day MHM® professional property management training and certification opportunity for attendees! What do you think? Let MHI know via (703) 558-0400.

Concerned about anti – money laundering rules for residential mortgage lenders and originators? Visit www.fincen.gov

Did YOU know? CMH Manufacturing produced more than 21,000 coded and 1,400 MOD coded homes during 2011; from Clatyon, Buccaneer, Cavalier, Crest, Giles, Karsten, Schult, SEhomes, Norris, and Golden West ‘brand’ factories? That 21,000 figure represents 41 percent national manufactured housing market share for the firm in 2011.

Something else you missed by not being at this year’s MHCongress. An opportunity to connect with Lance Hull of 21st Mortgage Corporation, about that firm’s exciting new C.A.S.H. home sales/finance program designed to fill vacant rental homesites in ‘one off’ and smaller property portfolios throughout the U.S. Reach Lance via (800) 955-0021.

Last but not least; more than 100 copies of the first – time – distributed ‘LLCTT 3 Step Plan’ for use before, during & after, the Takeover or Turnaround of a LLCommunity, was distributed during a panel presentation at the MHCongress. If you’d like a copy, subscribe to the Allen Letter professional journal @ $134.95/YEAR (12 monthly issues) via aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE, as this exciting Lessons Learned tool will be included as a lagniappe (‘freeebie’) in the May issue. Verso (reverse side) of this new one page resource contains latest version of the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’.

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‘Pay to Play’ – NOW – ‘Pay Thrice +, to Play’ at all future MHI Events….

A few years ago, attendance at national meetings hosted by the Manufactured Housing Institute, numbered in the hundreds; and, ‘in the thousands’, at the institute’s annual MHCongress in Las Vegas. During the past two years, I’ve been keeping close track, tallying names on the institute’s regular meeting registration lists, and it’s been rare to see even 100 businessmen and women present. Just two months ago, at MHI’s annual Legislative Conference in Arlington, VA., there were fewer than 75 attendees.

Point? As difficult as it’s become to attract MHIndustry folk to national MHI meetings, the last thing the institute’s elected and salaried leaders should do, in this MHI direct dues – paying member’s opinion, is Discourage Participation even further! But that’s what they’ve likely done, by rolling out, dusting off, and now enforcing, the following policy regarding…

DISTRIBUTION OF MATERIALS. “MHI’s policy prohibits promotional/sales materials from being placed or handed out at its events unless you are an exhibitor or sponsor and your sponsorship specifically includes the benefit of displaying your materials. Sponsors at all levels of sponsorship are eligible to provide materials for distribution in the attendee registration bags. If you would like to have this privilege, please contact…to become a sponsor.”

What’s going on here? Anyone who’s been to MHI – hosted meetings and events, during the past two decades, knows this supposed ‘old policy’ has Not Been Enforced. Accordingly, ‘never more than a few’ – generally entrepreneurs heading Smaller Business Ventures, would put out free handout material, newsletters, brochures, and literature, near MHI’s event registration area. This practice has now been outlawed, ‘at least for the time being’.

How so, ‘at least for the time being’? Simple. To participate in MHI events heretofore, one had to be a direct, dues – paying member of MHI or one of its’ divisions, e.g. the National Communities Council division; or, attend as the Certified or Alternate Representative, from a state MHAssociation member of MHI. So, that’s ‘PAY # 1’. Then, there’s been the ‘several hundred dollar registration fee’ to attend said event, hence ‘PAY # 2’. But NOW, at the behest of MHI’s old policy cum new, would be attendees must ante up with even more money, As A Sponsor – when one desires to engage in DISTRIBUTION OF MATERIALS; now we’re up to ‘PAY # 3. And Oops! Need I remind everyone of the approximately $1,000 in transportation, lodging, and related travel expenses it requires to attend these two and three day events? Call that ‘PAY # 4’! So, why ‘at least for the time being’ again? Besides discouraging new members from joining this national advocacy body, one with such a prohibitive member self – marketing policy; this Whole Affair ‘has the feel’, of being yet another example of bigger firms (Think some MHI board executive officers) squelching the influence of, and discouraging participation by, smaller ones! We’ll have to wait and see ‘at least for the time being’, if this recent decision and action affects participation in MHI’s annual meeting in October.

Now, how did all this ‘Pay Thrice + to Play’ change in policy, come about in the first place? Well, that in itself is a sorry tale, maybe for another time and place….

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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

DID or DO YOU KNOW?

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

DID or DO YOU KNOW?

What the Second Greatest Unmet Need in Manufactured Housing is Today?

In 2003, a Landlease Community Portfolio Owner Accurately Predicted Site – Built Housing’s Collapse in 2008, five years before it actually happened!

The Allen Letter professional journal is now, upon popular request by product & service advertisers, publishing display ads in every issue!

Get your copy of the now combined ‘LLCTT 3 Step Plan’, for takeover & turnaround of landlease communities, & ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! $ Worksheet’

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Before turning to the subject matter highlighted above, here’re two selections from the many email messages we receive weekly, in response to this Official MHIndustry & LLCommunity Blog. The first is in response to last week’s BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) memo that announces each weekly blog posting, asking ‘How’s business?’ The second passage addresses the perennial question as to ‘WHY the Department of Housing & Urban Development, or HUD, our industry’s federal regulator, does NOT actively MARKET our unique, and often AFFORDABLE HOUSING product?’ So, here goes:

“We are now seeing some action, for the first time in over two years. We have had five (home) sales during the last two weeks. Let’s hope this is the ‘break’ we have been hoping for.” Jack in PA.

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“…those of us in the landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) community business know manufactured homes are ‘affordable’, because that’s what we eat, sleep, and drink every day! However, it seems we often can’t see the forest for the trees. How so? While we ‘know manufactured housing is & can be affordable’, our (home) manufacturers and MHRetailers continue to promote the ‘big box = big bucks’ designs. So, when the home buying public – and HUD, sees advertising and promotion of our industry’s high – priced, feature – laden alternatives to site – built homes, the concepts of ‘affordability’ and ‘manufactured housing’ simply don’t equate in their minds.” (lightly edited) SR

Bottom line, where this latter quote is concerned? While HUD has long regulated manufactured housing – since the mid 1970s, it has, to the best of my knowledge, never overtly promoted our unique factory – built housing product as being eminently affordable! But at the time, manufactured housing producers continue to Design, Build & Ship (Note I didn’t pen ‘Design, Sell & Ship’ here, for we, as an industry, continue to ‘keep score’ by counting home shipments rather than home sales) ‘Big Box = Big Bucks’ singlesection and multisection units, instead of more economical models in both configurations, e.g. Community Series Homes for siting within landlease communities, on some of the estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites in the U.S. today!

NOTE. This is one of the reasons we recently revamped the popular Community Series Home and Business Development Manager list. While keeping the CSH description intact, we reduced the number of BDMs, listed thereon, from 30 down to eight, working for six HUD Code manufactured housing firms. If you’d like a copy of this new document, simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

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The Second Greatest Unmet Need in Manufactured Housing Today?

Simple. The ability to identify capable, experienced, motivated freelance – as in consulting – home sales trainers, available to landlease community owners/operators nationwide! These to teach on – site staff how to effectively market new and resale manufactured and modular homes, then sell them to individuals and families committed to, and or interested in, the LLCommunity lifestyle! It’s as simple, but frustrating, as that.

Aren’t there itinerate home sales trainers ‘out and about’ the manufactured housing industry today? Yes, but not of the stripe needed by landlease community owners/operators. How so? I’ve come to realize, during the past five or so years, retread HUD Code manufactured housing sales trainers (i.e. those who’ve spent their careers training independent and ‘company store’ MHRetailers – a different slant in ‘home sales’ than needed in LLCommunities today) simply don’t ‘get the job done’. The main reason? Retread sales trainers generally lack understanding of, and sensitivity to, the basics and nuances of landlease community operations and lifestyle!

For example. Landlease community owners/operators, these days, generally get into the ‘home sales business’ (and ‘self – financing’, by default) because they have to! Almost gone are the days when MHRetailers, in the same local housing market as these unique, income – producing properties, would routinely ‘sell homes into them’. Why? At the turn of the century, most MHRetailers were distracted by the siren song of land/home competition with site – builders, and or were bought out by HUD Code home manufacturers needing to (be able to) force new home inventory down the throats of ‘now company stores’ – until all that came to its’ sorry end. Anyway, ‘to get the (site) rent meter running’, contemporary LLCommunity owners/operators now buy ‘repo’, resale, and NEW manufactured homes to market, and then sell on – site; often doing so, if need be, with little to no profit margin between wholesale and retail prices. Independent MHRetailers – unless they happen to own one or more LLCommunities – and retread sales trainers, simply don’t (seem to) understand that truism. Why? They characteristically live ‘from deal (profit) to deal’, and are generally unfamiliar and or uncomfortable with the desirability of annuity – type income, e.g. rental homesite revenue. Furthermore, ask retread sales trainers for ten, or even just five, ‘really good reasons’ for buying a new manufactured home, and moving it on – site into a landlease community. Most of them simply can’t do it!

The solution? While not possible overnight, one mechanism is (kinda) in place. The Manufactured Housing Educational Institute arm of the Manufactured Housing Institute continues to promote its’ Professional Housing Consultant® or PHC® program. Designed more than a decade ago, for training independent and company store ‘would be’ manufactured housing sales pros, the PHC® program might well soon be reviewed; and, either reconstituted, or a new and parallel track prepared with an in – landlease community home sales focus! This timely matter came up at the last MHEI board meeting in Alexandria, VA, in late February 2012; then was put before MHI’s National Communities Council division for consideration. The question now, is to see whether the NCC responds to this real (training) need of its’ members, or lets it too drag on, as it has the opportunity to remove electrical pedestals from LLCommunities….

Since the preceding paragraphs describe ‘the second greatest unmet need in manufactured housing today’, what’s the first? Availability of chattel financing from independent, third party lenders, in a fashion attractive to credit – challenged would be homebuyers and lenders alike! But you already knew that….

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A landlease community portfolio owner predicted site – built housing’s collapse in 2003, a full five years before it actually happened in 2008!

That’s right, and the prediction was made during a flight aboard a private, corporate jet, as it winged its’ way from the East coast to a meeting in Las Vegas. Four MHIndustry execs (from OR, IL, IN, & MI) were on that flight. The story is told in more detail, in the April issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. To subscribe, use the MHIndustry HOTLINE cited in the lead story of this week’s blog posting. Who’s the LLCommunity owner? While not identified in the story per se, here’s a heady hint: At one time he/she managed the largest portfolio of landlease communities; has founded and grown two large property portfolios during the past two decades; and is a founding member of two national trade bodies – one serving the advocacy, and the other, the land development networking needs, of this unique realty asset class.

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The Allen Letter professional journal is now, upon popular request by product & service advertisers, publishing display ads in every issue!

Why? Guess you’d have to ask the advertisers for their specific reasons. But everyone knows four print trade publications have ceased circulation during the past five or so years. And the publisher of the sole advertising – supported pub left, has made it clear, on more than one occasion, a primary purpose of columnists, is to ‘fill white space among ads’. So, when an industry or asset businessman or woman, desires substance in what they read, there’re really only two print publications left to consider: the 21 year old Allen Letter professional journal, and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! monthly newsletter. And I don’t see the latter ever accepting paid advertising, as its’ inherent value lies in its’ ability to, and practice of, printing sensitive information, insider stories, and op/ed pieces – not only unavailable anywhere else in the industry or asset class, but also untainted by any outside influence. Again; to subscribe to either or both trade publications, use the MHIndustry HOTLINE cited earlier, or sign – up via the website hosting this blog posting.

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How to get your copy of the combined ‘LLCTT 3 Step Plan’, for the takeover & turnaround of landlease communities, & the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! $ Worksheet’!

DRAFT copies of this new Lessons Learned tool were scoffed up by the 125 landlease community owners/operators attending the New York Housing Associations’ Super Symposium III in Albany, New York, two weeks ago. And the folk there were most helpful with their suggestions for edits thereto.

The newly edited ‘LLCTT 3 Step Plan’, for use before, during, & after the takeover and or turnaround of a landlease community, now also features an updated version of the highly popular and frequently referenced ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! $ Worksheet’, used to estimate maximum recommended affordable and risky purchase prices for new and resale, privately – owned homes of any type, whether sited on realty owned fee simple with home, or within landlease communities’! Yep; both helpful tools are now on one sheet of paper, printed front and verso sides.

This exciting new resource will be available this coming week during the Manufactured Housing Congress in Las Vegas, NV., on Wednesday, 11 April, at the ‘Acquisition & Rehabilitation of Landlease Communities’ panel presentation beginning at 2:30PM that day. Plan to be in attendance, as the three ‘turnaround experts’ share their expertise in this timely and potentially profitable business model – and get your copy of the ‘LLCTT 3 Step Plan’ to boot! What do the ‘LLCTT’ letters represent? Landlease Community Takeover & Turnaround.

And, if you can’t be with us in Las Vegas this week, but need or want a copy of the revised and combined ‘LLCTT 3 Step Plan’, don’t fret. It’ll likely be enclosed as a lagniappe (‘freeebie’) in the May issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Just one more good reason to subscribe!

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Final update, for awhile, on the formation and composition of the ‘New 18 Pioneers’ volunteering to brainstorm, plan, and effect the continuation of information, communication, training & certification, and networking resources for landlease community owners/operators nationwide.

To date, there’re a dozen landlease community owners, from 11 states, who’ve committed to become intimately involved in the matter described in the above headline. These businessmen and women are the vanguard of a generation of small to mid – sized property and portfolio owners/operators willing to step out, where many of their large portfolio colleagues have not (i.e. Some large property portfolio ‘players’ are indeed among this ‘New 18 Pioneer’ group), this time around, to ensure their ongoing needs for statistical research reporting (In this specific instance, via the newly formed Center for Manufactured Housing Studies), trade information & directories, print & online communication, property management training & certification, and national networking and deal – making will continue to be there for their use for decades to come.

As we say in the U.S. Marines. We continue to ‘Look for a Few Good Men & Women!’ Are YOU one of those landlease community owners? (317) 346-7156.

This will likely be the last you hear of the ‘New 18 Pioneers’ for awhile; as we decide how to best proceed with this historic project during the months ahead.

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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

Musings from a Reluctant Road Warrior

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Musings from a Reluctant Road Warrior

Community Series Homes’ (a.k.a. CSH model Manufactured Homes) list of Business Development Managers, (a.k.a. BDMs), Completely Revamped!

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What YOU Missed by NOT Participating in NYHA’s Super Symposium III!

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‘They’re Everywhere, they’re everywhere!’ What? MHM® Pins!

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It’s Saturday, and I’ve just returned from a five day and 1,600 mile road trip between Indianapolis, IN., and Albany, NY., with stops in Pittsburgh, PA., Utica, NY., and Olmsted Falls, OH., to visit with landlease community owner/operator friends and clients. So very much has happened this past week, and most of it has been very good.
As you’ll soon see, this week’s blog has a slightly different format: somewhat shorter in length, but offering you an opportunity for ‘more information’ and a ‘rare look’ at one of the quietest, but most widely – read, paid subscriber – supported business newsletters in our industry. Enjoy. GFA

Community Series Homes & Business Development Managers

Yep. Got tired of making excuses, time and again, for Business Development Mangers (‘BDM’) who didn’t respond, in any fashion, to good faith inquiries from landlease community owners/operators, interested in buying Community Series Homes (‘CSH’). SO, a few weeks ago, we canvassed all 30+/- BDMs, asking them to complete a brief update of their contact information, and requested they send us CSH floor plans and elevation drawings. Only eight BDMs from six HUD Code home manufacturers responded! On one hand I was sorely disappointed; but on the other hand, it suggested: 1) CSH is being seriously pursued by only a few of the remaining HUD Code firms; and, 2) Those not responding, likely continue to be enamored by those ‘big box = big bucks’ business models of the late 1990s, when land and home packages were all the rage. So be it! But if you’d like a copy of the new CSH description & BDM list, simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 & request it. Copies will likely be enclosed in the May issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Also use that number to subscribe to the newsletter, @ $134.95/year (12 issues)

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What YOU Missed by NOT Participating in Super Symposium III this past week…

OK, gonna ‘bait’ you here. You missed superb presentations by Jason Boehlert (MHI); Mark Lifset, esquire; Dr. David Funk – ‘All the national housing market stats you’ve ever wanted to hear/see, but didn’t know who to ask!’; the Rishel Show in two complementary parts; Spencer Roane’s talk to a full house, ALL interested in what he had to teach about the lease – option methodology (MHI are you listening?); and ‘yours truly’ sharing the Official State of the MHIndustry & LLCommunity Asset Class’. Want more information on one or more of these exciting topics? Well, I’m doing something ‘here’, I’ve not done before! If you phone (see preceding paragraph) or email and request it, I’ll send you a gratis (free) copy of this month’s issue of the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter. Contains contact info for all just mentioned, and much much more.

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‘They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!’ What? MHM® Pins! MHM® Pins!

First noticed the phenomenon at MHI’s Legislative Conference in Arlington, VA., last month; then again, at NYHA’s Super Symposium III in Albany, NY., this past week. MHM® professional property management designation pins. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, with the Manufactured Housing Manager® certification class in Louisville, KY, in January, the total of designated MHM®s is very close to the 1,000 mark. Now I’m looking forward to seeing how many MHM® pins will be in evidence at the NCC Forum and MHCongress in Las Vegas @ 10-12 March, 2012. If you haven’t registered yet, for the MHCongress, phone (703) 558-0400.

Back to the MHM® phenomenon. Are YOU and or your on – site and regional property managers graduates and designees, of the only active professional property management training and certification program in our industry and asset class these days? If not, suggest you request a program brochure via the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE.

As a reminder, classes are most often co – hosted by state MHAssociations (Which receive $50.00 for every paid registration); then, as in – house national or regional training programs, by LLCommunity portfolio owners/operators, depending on how many properties they have; as stand alone venues, when we have enough ‘interest’ in any given geographical region, to hold the one day class; and finally, for those in remote areas or who can’t afford the travel expenses, there’s a correspondence version that always has one or more LLCommunity manager on the way to earning their coveted MHM® designation.. Interested? Give us a call today! (317) 346-7156.

What do you get for the reasonable $250.00 per person fee? A copy of Landlease Community Management (Retails @ $75.00), a monograph of contemporary MHIndustry ‘readings’, the gold MHM® pin, and an MHM® certificate, with new MHM®s name printed on it. Plus, ‘free telephone consulting’ for as long as I’m in the MHBusiness.

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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