Archive for May, 2012

The Power of NO is a Stronger YES!

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

“The Power of NO is a Stronger YES!”

&

Reconnecting a Disconnect

I.

“The Power of NO is a Stronger YES!”

This sage advice is simpler than it reads. Learned it at a recent seminar, where the presenter was making the case for experiencing enhanced personal and corporate Success.

How so? Begin by defining what constitutes Success for you. Then, what is a primary indicator, or measures for that matter, of Success – relative to the personal, familial, business, political, or social situation of choice, assignment, or otherwise?

Next, identify the distractions which are, or might be, hindering one’s Success in said environment. Then, insofar as possible, say NO to tolerating and continuing these distractions at present and into the future.

For example. Like some – to – many of you reading this blog posting, I’m dealing with declining occupancy in a landlease community I own, located a four hour drive from my office. Success there, is improving – to – max physical and economic occupancy. My present distraction? When arriving in town for a property visit, I too often find myself dealing with peripheral matters (e.g. minor repairs, interpersonal networking), rather than concentrating on what it’ll take to reverse course, and get the property back on course to improved occupancy. I’ve got to start saying and practicing NO to these distractions when in town on business!

But that’s only half the story, this Power to say NO to distraction(s) hindering business success. The other half the tale, has to do with exercising a Stronger YES – to measures new and renewed, that enhance one’s potential to achieve much needed personal and corporate Success!

In this business example; I already know – but have not fully implemented the following measures:

• Starting with the property. Is curb appeal, on and off – site signage, and rules enforcement where they need to be, to ‘show’ this landlease community in the best possible light, especially with NO deferred maintenance (e.g. potholes, burned out street lights, etc.)? For more information, read Landlease Community Management text. See end note # 1

• Is staff (in this case, an on – site, MHM® certified manager) phone interview ‘sharp’ and on – site visit ‘savvy’, when it comes to rental homesite leasing and home sales? Has to be! No excuses!

• Time to change whatever newspaper classified and telephone directory ads are in place? Use AIDA acronym for design guidance: get reader’s Attention, arouse their Interest, stimulate their Desire, & motivate them to Action, i.e. phone the property or visit it in person!. Is system in place to record ad response volume to said ads, to clearly know when to replace with ‘fresh copy’? This latter point implies one must have at least three dynamite ads in hand, to rotate, at all times.

• Satisfactory – meaning effective – online presence, via corporate or property’s web site; visit MHVillage.com to place ‘home sale listings’; and, just as important, ‘How is your property described’ on MHI’s Community Attributes System (‘CAS’)? If you don’t know, visit mhicas.org & find out TODAY.

• Attractive, up to date, trifold two or three color brochures available in sufficient quantity, to distribute in local Chamber of Commerce office (Be a member!), and wherever visitors to your local housing market eat and spend the night?

• System in place to accurately and faithfully record, measure and track all telephone and internet inquiries relative to the property, as well as on – site visits? System should, no – make that ‘must’, include a requirement to routinely calculate two Conversions Percentages: # phone inquiries ‘converted’ into on – site visits; and # of on – site visits ‘converted’ into approved move – in and or home buyer applications. Set property performance goals and check on performance!

• Visit (last) local independent ‘street’ MHRetailer (1 ½ hours away in this instance), to see ‘how we might help each other’ be more productive and profitable. Do they know or remember how to ‘sell into’ a landlease community? If not, ‘splain’ the process. Does local practice include payment of finders’ fees? Note. More to follow on this key topic in part II of this blog posting, so read on…

• Talk to the ‘Big Four + 1’ independent, third party chattel lenders to see what home loan programs apply to your typical homebuyer; and what it will take, credit score wise, for them to qualify. For example; inquire about 21st Mortgage Company’s exciting new C.A.S.H. Program. For information, contact Lance Hull @ (800) 955-0021 X 1218. OR, buy a copy of the MH $$$ Primer for $24.95 for contact information relative to the ‘Big Four + 1’, and more. See end note # 1.

• Ponder whether it’s time to get into the ‘rental unit’ business, and or engage in one or another self – finance methodology (e.g. ‘captive finance’, lease option, etc.) pursuant to selling new and resale homes on – site?. And in the case of self – finance, know that ‘being in compliance’ with federal and state finance regulations is a new and serious paradigm for landlease community owners/operators nationwide. At present, there’s but one company active in this troubled arena: Rishel Consulting @ (217) 971-3968

• Relative to one’s local housing market, defined by telephone area code(s), know how to ascertain Area Median Income or AMI (via zipskinny.com website) and or Annual Gross Income of a prospective homebuyer or family unit, to estimate truly ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ Price Points for new and resale homes? If not, obtain copy of FREE ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’ to learn how to use these important steps to better serve your home – buying customers! See end note # 1.

So, the next obvious step here, for me, is to purpose to plan and speak a Stronger YES per ‘all the above’ business improvement measures at this landlease community. How ‘bout YOU? Is it time, for YOU, to realize the Power of NO, is a Stronger YES?!

End Note # 1. To obtain these items, simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

II.

Reconnecting a Disconnect

According to MHI, there’re 8,000 fewer MHRetailers (both independent ‘street’ & ‘company store’ types) than there were in 1998, when the MHIndustry shipped 372,843 new HUD Code manufactured homes. Since then, the estimated number of vacant rental homesites, in landlease communities throughout the U.S. has risen to 250,000; while annual home shipments have dropped, and remained at a 60 year nadir of 50,000+/-, for the past four years!

Today’s tough and stark reality? Far fewer MHRetailers are selling far fewer land – and – home packages (i.e. homes sited on realty owned fee simple); and, far fewer new HUD Code homes into landlease communities! Simultaneously, LLCommunity owners/operators ‘all but forced’ to market, sell, and self – finance new and resale homes on – site, are now caught in a No Win financial regulatory squeeze, by dint of the S.A.F.E. Act and provisions of Dodd – Frank federal legislation. Now they’re now looking elsewhere for infill assistance. (Maybe) re – enter the independent ‘street’ and ‘company store’ MHRetailers!

It is high time to reconnect! During the early to mid – 1990s, before HUD Code manufacturers became enamored with the ‘big box = big bucks’ maximize profitability business model, and independent ‘street’ MHRetailers decided to compete head to head with traditional site (stick) homebuilders, I routinely taught a seminar – with the tongue in cheek title: ‘The Care & Feeding of MHRetailers’. Here are some of the measures LLCommunity owners/operators used to routinely effect, to grab and keep the attention of local MHRetailers, whether they be of the ‘independent’ or ‘company store’ variety:

• Have a supply of business cards (Preferably with something interesting, helpful, even valuable, on the verso or reverse side of the card, e.g. map or directions to the property, a $ savings move – in coupon with expiration date, list of five or 10 good reasons to reside there, maybe a mission statement). The Goal is to make this (your)business card a ‘keeper’! Is yours a ‘keeper’? If not, make it so!

• Have attractive trifold property brochures on hand, describing the property, its’ features and amenities, also containing basic contact information (& website, if property has one), even a sketch map showing how to travel to the landlease community. And a brief testimonial or two really helps set the tone of the brochure.

• Schedule and effect personal, and or manager, visits to all local MHRetailers’ salescenter, at least once each month; every other month once a productive relationship is in place and working well. Also be active in your state’s MHAssociation, especially if there’s a local chapter in or near your local housing market; so as to network with one’s peers, especially MHRetailers! Be known!

• During the periodic (monthly) visit to MHRetail salescenters, restock one’s business cards where appropriate, same with brochures. Also a ‘winning strategy’ is to arrive with a large plastic plate of fresh, aromatic, home baked cookies for the MHRetailer staff. And while there, get to know ‘everyone’, especially the new sales persons.

• Secure permission, then prepare a photo collage describing one’s landlease community. Some collages measure 2’X2’, others 3’X3’ in size, and feature a few mounted 5X7 color photographs showing ‘best views’ on – site. Also list the name, address and contact information for the property on the collage. Even have a plastic holder mounted thereon, to hold a supply of aforesaid property brochures. Sometimes the collage is mounted on a wall inside the salescenter, or on an easel, just inside the entrance. If you’ve not done this before, be prepared for a pleasant surprise, because ‘it works’!

• A couple times each year, buy a supply of good quality ‘premium gifts’, to distribute to all the MHRetailers in town. Examples: trigger coffee mugs with subject property’s logo and phone number on it; leatherette or vinyl 8X10 tablet folios, with property logo and phone number on an inside panel – easily visible to ‘seller’ as he or she is writing deals. Even a smoky plastic pencil holder, and tablet holder, to put on their desks, each featuring the property’s logo and phone number. Goal here? Your property(ies) # 1 on salesperson’s mind when selling homes, and recommending where they move it to enjoy the landlease community lifestyle!

• If property is having Home of the Month competition, the best outside judges to use are the local mayor, editor of the local newspaper (He/she’ll likely send a reporter and or photographer – but that’s OK, it’s ‘free publicity’), Chamber of Commerce executive, and – local MHRetailers! And while they’re on – site, take them to lunch to build that relationship.

So, what do you think? Is it time for YOU to reconnect with the local MHRetailer(s) in or near your local housing market? Probably. But also know, there’re probably going to be a couple significant details that are going to have to be considered and resolved. First; if you’ve been selling new homes on – site, for any stretch of time, you’re going to have to decide to STOP doing so, if you’re serious about encouraging MHRetailers to, once again, ‘sell into your property’. Otherwise, if you’re marketing and selling homes on – site, you already know MHRetailer’s reluctance to send otherwise interested and qualified prospective homebuyer’s to your property, out of fear – imagined or otherwise, that they’ll be distracted by what ‘deals’ you’re offering, or intentionally/unintentionally enticed by your on – site sales staff. Really can’t have it both ways, except for in extraordinary situations.

And what are the present ‘local practices’ – if any, and or appropriate, regarding payment of ‘finders fees’ (a.k.a. birddog fees) to salescenters or salespersons (Establish ‘up front’ with MHRetailer, which it is to be!). And, the pre – leasing of vacant rental homesites in landlease communities? Both practices are local economy and housing market driven, relative to ‘supply and demand’; with the first practice, characteristic of ‘soft markets’, where there’re plenty of ‘vacancies’; the latter practice, characteristic of ‘tight markets’, where there’re few ‘vacancies’ to be filled in landlease communities.

Time to Reconnect!

***

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

Where & How Do YOU Fit into this MHousing Conversation?

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Where & How do YOU Fit into this MHousing Conversation?

&

Feed back on last week’s blog posting….

I.

Where & How do YOU Fit into this Manufactured Housing Sales Conversation?

Over the years – no, make that decades; some reading this blog posting have collaborated with me, to address various HOW TO needs within the landlease community asset class. Some examples: the ABClassification System® replacing the defunct Woodall Star System, was an early National Communities Council (‘NCC’) project.. The do – it – yourself Valuation Calculation Worksheet or VCW, was the first non – traditional LLCommunity valuation methodology, enabling owners/operators to accurately estimate the value of their income – producing property, without paying thousands of dollars to realty appraisers oft erroneously (then) using apartment operating expense ratio data; and most recently, the popular ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’, for estimating new and resale ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ housing price points in any local housing market, using Area Median Income (‘AMI’) per postal zip code, or a prospective homebuyer’s Annual Gross Income (‘AGI’). See end note # 1.

Now, beside the ongoing chattel mortgage finance regulatory imbroglio (Go head, look it up) affecting – no, traumatizing, landlease community owners/operators from coast – to – coast, there’s yet another (not so new) HOW TO need on the operations horizon; namely, manufactured housing marketing and on – site sales at these properties. I recently participated in the following (edited) exchange of emails, both on LinkedIn and personally, with John Ace Underwood and Ken Rishel. Remember; these three freelance MHIndustry consultants are ‘talking shop’ about YOU…

George. “I understand better now, how your unique sales training methodology works.” A little later, “One thing gong in our favor these days, is virtually all the freelance LLCommunity consultants of the past decade are gone, with the exception of about five of us.”

John: “And that’s why we’re interested in identifying LLCommunity clients who expect us to stick around, and document results we believe we can achieve! Then, if clients are not getting the results they anticipate, we want empirical data that clearly identifies ‘why not’, so it can be effectively addressed! That’s also why I don’t believe ‘sales training events’ in general, or any dog and pony show, without follow – up, have much of a lasting impact, short or long term.”

George: “OK. With that said, how do we move forward to improve on – site home sales?

John: “It is my belief, community owners of ANY size must take home sales activity much more seriously. In the distant past, LLCommunities viewed home sales as something done by ‘someone, somewhere else’, e.g. the independent ‘street’ MHRetailers (f.k.a. ‘dealers’).” Commentary: This is where that proverbial question arises: ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ MHIndustry – specific, Was it independent ‘street’ MHRetailers shifting focus to compete, as contractors, with site – builders in the ‘big box = big bucks’ homebuilding arena; OR, LLCommunity owners starting to sell homes on – site, that motivated MHRetailers to look elsewhere (i.e. land – and – home packages) for new homes sales business? Answer? Doesn’t matter! Today, according to MHI, there’re 8,000 fewer MHRetailers than in 1998; and, now virtually every LLCommunity owner/operator MUST sell new and resale homes on – site, to fill vacant rental homesites, or those sites remain non – productive, where rent collection is concerned.

John: “From my perspective, it appears most community owners have their on – site managers and maintenance staff also handle home sales activities and service. While these people may be phenomenal professional property managers, and or service help, new and resale home ‘selling’ demands an entirely different skill set! When having to fill vacant rental homesites with new and resale homes, community owners must identify the most capable, (maybe) experienced, and certainly motivated person for the sales task at hand, using fairly strict selection criteria, aptitude testing and personal interviews; then, once they’re hired, provide home sales training, appropriate process(es), and leadership!”

John: “Regarding the 15% larger property owners/operators (i.e. Property portfolios with 20+ LLCommunities, averaging more than 200 sites apiece), they must build a sales organization focused on nothing but home sales! These operators have to understand, NO ONE will sell their communities (lifestyle) better than them. They can no longer depend on independent ‘street’ MHRetailers, or ‘gravity’, for that matter, to do this.”

George: “But here’s ‘the rub’; portfolio ‘players’ who’ve been the most successful at home sales, and some indeed have been; to date, appear to be the least willing to share Lessons Learned with their peers – probably out of fear of competition in some local housing markets. The answer? Frankly, there isn’t any. When less than 10% of the known portfolio owners/operators are direct, dues – paying members of their only national advocacy body; well, the peer pressure opportunity simply isn’t there.

John: “And in some (other) cases, LLCommunity sales managers still need to reach out to established MHRetailers, when they can be found in one’s local housing market, to at least attempt to form a mutually beneficial relationship” This might mean those properties pull back from selling (maybe) new homes on – site. “In any event, the deals are out there; they just need to be found and sold – and financed (Hence a good idea to also bring a local lending source into this home sales relationship). And even local real estate licensees can have a place in this mix IF, and I stress IF, a process is put into place to handle their unique marketing effort.”

Speaking of ‘process’. John has some pithy commentary relative to a common shortfall in this area, observed at MHRetail sales centers and on – site in LLCommunities. “We have come to realize, most MHRetailers critically lack the data with which to make meaningful changes (improvements)! Most have no idea of the amount of traffic (e.g. volume of daily phone inquiries & sales center visits), the quality of that traffic (e.g. whether ‘qualified’ or not), even the number of opportunities created from that traffic (e.g. conversion of phone calls to visits & visits to approved applications). Many times, management blames sales people for what is actually a ‘marketing issue’, and at other times, ‘the web & marketing people, for what is actually a ‘selling issue’ (e.g. inability to ‘close’). Bottom line? You can’t manage what you don’t measure – and that which you begin to measure, often begins to improve!”

And at this point Ken jumps into this heady conversation. “LLCommunities have a sales advantage over independent ‘street’ MHRetailers, that garners them greater profit on home sales transactions! Unfortunately, it’s rarely discussed anywhere, and almost never taught. The last time I heard it parsed publicly, was at a meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s Manufactured Housing Communities Council; when a ‘former LLCommunity owner’ explained why ‘such & such firm’ paid a premium to buy his former trophy properties. He said they did it to discover and learn his methods of marketing, advertising, and selling homes on – site! However, once they bought the properties, they soon decided it was ‘too much work and too complicated for their system (process)’, and abandoned his methods.”

Ken: “So, what’s this great ‘secret’? Simply, to focus on selling lifestyle and neighborhood, rather than hawking just boxes and price! That, of course, means marketing and advertising must address ‘why’ people would and should want to live in a particular landlease community; and it helps the sales effort, to incorporate current residents into the process as well. It also means sales personnel must be well selected and trained, and very good at their jobs. It’s more complicated, to be sure, than just ‘selling the box’, and certainly more expensive to market and advertise. Frankly, it requires more of everyone involved, but it works well and is certainly more profitable.”

Ken: “Del Webb used this strategy when they developed and filled landlease communities. The Villages, in Florida, still do it, as do a number of others. Think Timbercreek in Springfield, IL., and SaddleBrook in Grayslake, IL.; where the former was recently honored as MHI’s Community of the Year, at the annual MHCongress in Las Vegas, NV. And, before anyone starts opining, “That only works in ‘such & such market’”, NO, it works everywhere, and with all age communities as well as with Senior communities. And frankly, ‘the secret’ works in average properties as well as with ‘A’ grade LLCommunities, if YOU plan for, and work it! It won’t apply, of course, in a slum property, or in those where ‘raising the rent first, fast and foremost’ is the property owner/operator’s primary objective.”

So. there you have it. What three well known, veteran, freelance MHIndustry consultants are saying about YOU, on the social site internet these days. Are they right or wrong? Well, given our industry’s annual home shipment production continues to languish at a 60 year nadir – allowing for some uptick, thanks to ‘fracking’ in a few regions around the U.S., they almost ‘can’t be wrong’. But are they ‘all that right’? We’d like to know: See end note # 1 at end of this blog for contact information. In the meantime, know that Joe Ace Underwood, and his partner, Joe Wooldridge, are working on a New Home Sales Program tailored specifically for use within landlease communities, whether selling Community Series Homes (‘CSH’), or otherwise. Contact John via (239) 389-2046 or Junderw794@aol.com

End Note. 1. These three HOW TO resources FREE ‘for the asking’ by phoning the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

Next week? Maybe, ‘The Care & Feeding of MHRetailers’, a popular seminar topic of the early 1990’s, needs to be dusted off and reintroduced to this audience. Especially to those LLCommunity owners/operators too small to launch their own dedicated home sales operation on – site, AND independent ‘street’ and ‘company store’ MHRetailers interested in filling vacant rental homesites in these properties, but haven’t made a real effort to do so since the 1990s. Hmm. Now, where did I file that lesson outline….

*****

II.

Feedback on Last Week’s Blog Posting

Relative to ‘Your Views’ in general, and my suggestion we vote political incumbents out of office en masse this coming November….

“Very well done, George. Let the Free Market and Free Enterprise System find the solutions to help consumers, while making a profit and creating jobs! Yes siree!” NB

There’s more, but lengthy in nature, so will ‘hold’ for now, and likely incorporate into a future blog posting.

*****

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

Great News, Sad News, & Your Views!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Great News, Sad News, & Your Views!

I.

Preview of Most Exciting Topics Agenda & Lineup of Presenters ever, for 21st annual Networking Roundtable, in San Diego, CA., @ 12 – 14 September 2012; and more…

This is the sole annual manufactured housing industry event planned for owners and operators of landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) communities throughout the U.S. and Canada!

Networking Roundtable’s four goals this year are: 1) to showcase 24 superb education sessions – available nowhere else; 2) to host nearly a dozen superb interpersonal peer networking social events during 2 ½ days; 3) to provide an environment conducive to realty deal – making; &, 4) to give attendees opportunities to tour & examine the Modular Lifestyles ® home!

I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it’s been, preparing this year’s 21st annual Networking Roundtable agenda and lineup of featured presenters! How can you not want to be present 12 – 14 September, at the Hilton Resort & Spa on Mission Bay in San Diego?

• Begins with Landlease Community Buyers Symposium by Marcus & Millichap
• First morning, EVERYONE stands & introduces themselves to 200+ attendees
• ‘Landlease Communities: Reframing the American Dream!’ by keynote speaker
• Rejuvenated & Re – staffed: MHI & NCC to the Rescue! Mssrs. Jennison/Savage
• New & Old Chattel Capital Sources; introducing 21st Mortgages’ CASH Program!
• ‘Good & Bad Landlease Community Deals’, a presentation, then open sharing…
• Special Guest: Richard Lederer, author/humorist. Google ‘gettheetoapunnmery’
• Reconditioning Manufactured Homes in 2012! More than one way to skin a cat…
• Good Resident Relations = More Resident Referrals = Max Resident Retention!
• ‘Shining Stars’: Buying & Rehabbing Abused Landlease Communities!!!
• Leading the Way – What’s New & Exciting at Rent Manager!?
• Resident Screening & Dodd – Frank, USA Patriot Act & Red Flag
• Collecting 100% of Collectible Rent! Are YOU? If not, come & learn how!
• Special session on right way to engage in Lease – option methodology on – site
• The best poker night of your life….if you’re into poker. Dr. Lederer presides…
• Informal, early morning prayer meeting for our country and leaders! Started 9/11
• Landlease Community Realty Mortgage Originators Panel & Open Discussion
• ‘What does it cost to build a new HUD Code Community Series Home?’
• $$$ Valuing Landlease Communities with Park – owned Homes On – site!
• Ready for your first Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exam? Here’s how…
• Does Your Present Insurance Policy Cover Your Current Exposure(s)???
• Calculating Affordable & Risky Price Points for New & Resale Homes On – site
• Meet the LLCommunity Triad of the Future: Advocacy, Research, & Resources
• When & Where is Secondary Market for Manufactured Home Marketing/Sales?
• When & Where to Hold 22nd Networking Roundtable during September 2013?

Did you count em? Yep, there’s 25 educational & informative sessions planned for YOU!

Since this is a ‘by invitation’ event, primarily for landlease community owners/operators, and their product/service vendors, obtain information from the community-investor.com website, by the end of May 2012; or, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and have a 21st Networking Roundtable brochure sent to YOU!

II.

Our industry & asset class lost a longtime ‘player’ & friend on 7 May 2012.

George Goldman, former owner of landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) communities in IN, IL & TX, was my first paying ‘consulting’ client in 1980; his wife Judy was with Carolyn and me when I was designated a Certified Property Manger® in 1982; George & Judy attended the first International Networking Roundtable, in Clearwater, FL. in 1991, and we’ve remained friends ever since.

George was an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and philanthropist – founding both the Goldman Philanthropic Partnerships’ and ‘Partnership for Cures’. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to the Goldman Philanthropic Partnerships, c/o Dr. Soriano, 972 Featherstone Rd., Ste # 360, Rockford, IL. 61107.

In the words of another Midwest LLCommunity owner/operator, “Was saddened to learn of George’s passing. He was a wonderful man, mentor, and good friend. I know you knew him well, and that we will all miss his kind manner and keen business acumen.” RR

III.

Your Views…

“George. Very good warning of the onerous regulations that are about to sweep our industry as Dodd – Frank is implemented. When I recently met with our state’s congressional and senate representatives, I tried to make these points:

• Manufactured housing is not only the most efficient, affordable housing in the world, we function without government subsidies. Even the cost for HUD to regulate the industry is funded to a surplus with HUD label fees!

• Dodd-Frank will eliminate chattel financing for probably half of the current market. Not because of lack of willing, qualified buyers, or willing lenders, but simply regulated out of existence!

• Not only are the lowest income housing aspirants affected, as congress tells them they can no longer purchase a home. BUT a large share of the almost 9,000,000 people currently living in manufactured housing will not have access to capital to finance the sale of their home, even when willing, qualified purchasers stand ready to buy.” (lightly edited. GFA)

Well put; but is anyone in Washington, DC., listening? I double doubt it. Legislators, in general, are not yet reading, let alone paying attention, to the proverbial ‘writing on the wall of public opinion and action’. They need to be shown, not told. How?

If ever there was a year during which political incumbents in general, deserve to be voted out of office en masse, 2012 is the year! It happened this past week, during the primary election in Indiana, when three decade incumbent, Senator Richard Lugar, lost decisively to a no – name opponent. Responsible citizens as a whole, are fed up with thinly veiled maneuvers to alter the very nature of this great country – from one populated by independent thinkers and hard – working wealth builders, into a nanny state characterized by the redistribution of said wealth to non – workers and entitlement devotees, who in turn appear to be embracing the siren call to neo – socialism. The time to STOP such mal ‘hope & change’ is now, replacing it with ‘shock & awe’, as we return en masse, to The American Way of Life! My guess is your local, let alone national, minions of the secular print and broadcast press, have not communicated this matter to you in such clear terms. I know mine haven’t.

How does the previous paragraph relate to HUD Code manufactured housing, what’s happening and ‘about to happen’, throughout the landlease community real estate asset class, certainly where new and resale manufactured homes are marketed, sold, and often self – financed on – site? Simple. At the end of last week’s blog posting, I equated anticipated abject results of financial regulatory provisions of the S.A.F.E. Act, Dodd – Frank bill, and other related measures, as being akin to ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’. By this, I opined, and here repeat: Government financial regulators are poised to soon ‘throw those who Need – and not just Want, the affordable housing and companion lifestyle our industry and asset class best provide – with NO assistance from government – insured entities and most social agencies, straight into abject homelessness!’ There are NO other eminently affordable housing options remaining for this class of unfortunate citizenry in this country today! And frankly, it can’t be described any clearer, or more to the point, than that!

*****

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

Today it’s about REALITY CHECK!

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

It’s REALITY CHECK, when ‘an Experience’ Trumps One’s Training, Everyday Practice & Common Knowledge

I.

For more than a decade, I’ve taught Manufactured Housing Manager® candidates, how HUD’s preemptive, performance – based, federal building code has supplanted the inferior quality, sloppy workmanship, and other shortfalls characteristic
of pre – 1976 ‘mobile homes’.

Recently watched a 1962 era Homette 10X60 ‘mobile home’ dismantled in a landlease community I own. Was I ever surprised, when the outer aluminum skin was removed, there was little – to – no insulation; but most shocking of all, the exterior wall structure or skeleton, was fabricated entirely – not using 2 X 2 studs, as I’d always ‘thought & taught’, but rather with 1 ½” X 1 ½” vertical studs mortised to like – sized horizontal structural members every foot or so. Not that’s a REALITY CHECK!

II.

Nearly five decades ago, I experienced a far different reality check. As a young Marine lieutenant, trained as a combat engineer officer, I’d learned the basics of explosives and demolitions, e.g. differences between cutting& cratering charges, booby trapping & disarming same, and safe handling of conventional and plastic explosives.

At the time, I was an engineer platoon commander at Landing Zone (‘LZ’) Studd, later renamed Vandegrift Combat Base, a few miles from the infamous Khe Sanh airstrip. We spent our days building roads, then clearing them of antitank and antipersonnel mines, constructing fighting bunkers, clearing fields of fire, and stringing razor wire.

On this particular day, I’d been teaching an enlisted Marine how to position, arm, and detonate M3 shaped charges, to blast large boulders partly blocking the road into and out of the LZ. He positioned the 12” diameter X 12” tall can – like container atop one boulder; crimped the open end of a blasting cap onto the freshly cut end of a foot long piece of time fuse, now firmly seated inside; inserted this detonator into the fuse well of the shaped charge; lit it; then walked briskly away, knowing we had less than a minute to await the explosion and pulverizing of the rock.

We were at least 100’ from the now armed, and soon to detonate, shaped charge. A minute went by, but no explosion! Another minute, then another went by, and still no explosion. Our radio crackled alive, telling us helicopters were inbound to the LZ, and would be over our worksite in less than five minutes; then asked if we were done blasting. When I radioed back we had a misfire, and were waiting out the requisite 30 safety period before disarming, I was ordered to disarm the charge immediately, as one was chopper carrying casualties. No time or point in arguing. So I started the ‘long walk’ to the unstable shaped charge, knowing it could explode any second, killing or wounding me. When I was a foot from the M3, I could see the fuse had burned and bubbled down into the blasting cap end protruding from the fuse well. I quickly grabbed the near end of the fuse, yanked it out, and tossed it aside. Nothing happened! What a relief! So, an early career REALITY CHECK, that surely trumped training, everyday practice, and common knowledge.

III.

Know what? Today, businessmen and women in manufactured housing, and those of us owning/operating landlease communities, are faced with a new, serious, pervasive, federally – induced Reality Check, nearly unprecedented in our 70+/- year business history! The notable exception being, the period between years 1972 and 1975, when our industry’s new home annual shipment totals plummeted from 575,940 to 212,690 amidst the (then) implementation of another new, serious, pervasive, federally – induced Reality Check, the implementation of the HUD Code. This time around, however, we’re experiencing unprecedented financial regulation of our businesses. But first a little background.

Manufactured housing and landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) community owners/operators have been purveyors of truly ‘affordable housing’ for decades. New HUD Code manufactured homes – for the most part, and throughout most regions of the U.S. – have been built and sold at but half the ‘per square foot price’ characteristic of traditional, site – built homes erected in the same local housing markets! When you get right down to it, manufactured housing is this nation’s most consistent supplier of quality, non – subsidized, ‘affordable housing’; but are we recognized and appreciated as such? NO, not even by the federal regulator (‘HUD’) tasked with overseeing the industry! They hardly ever mention us, let alone ballyhoo manufactured housing, as a perennial source of ‘affordable housing’, even in their annual planning document.

And that’s not the only ‘affordability’ factor characteristic of the manufactured housing industry. Over the decades, even when enjoying (too) easy access to chattel (i.e. personal property) financing, from independent, third party firms, in support of new – and at times resale home sales, landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home – and before that ‘mobile home park’) community owners/operators routinely…
1. Sold – in years past anyway – resale homes ‘on contract’ at whatever terms worked for both parties, the buyer and the seller
2. And when necessary, to preserve occupancy, rented homes on – site, often inexpensively, like apartment units – by the month or week

But today, with the widespread disappearance of independent ‘street’ MHRetailers, and as more and more prospective homebuyers, oft times with blemished credit, are unable to qualify for financing from independent, third party firms, landlease community owners/operators routinely…
3. Market and sell new homes on – site. These are often specially – designed Community Series Homes or CSH models, sold at or slightly above their wholesale, delivered price, and often far below what the same homes would cost if sited on realty owned fee simple outside the LLCommunity.
4. Engage in one or another of several self – finance methodologies (e.g. ‘captive finance’, ‘contract sale’, lease – option, etc.) to facilitate new and resale home transactions.

Today’s Reality Check is a new manifestation of federal regulation, this time in the area of housing – and related, finance. Think the S.A.F.E. Act (interpreted and enforced at the state level); onerous Dodd – Frank Bill provisions, including the already infamous Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (‘CFPB’); and other similar finance regulatory measures, ostensibly targeting predatory lending practices, money laundering, even identity theft. Well, this mishmash of (as yet) unclear regulatory measures is already acting as a choke on manufactured housing and landlease communities ability to provide ‘affordable housing at affordable prices with affordable terms’ to the very people who need it worst, those that federally – regulated lending institutions won’t serve! Bottom line? This contemporary finance regulations REALITY CHECK is ‘an unintended consequence’, marginalizing our industry and asset class’ ability and willingness to keep low to medium income individuals and families in shelter! This contemporary REALITY CHECK, in this veteran industry observer’s view, is now akin to ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.

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HELP!?

At GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, we’ve started research and work on compiling a Very Special Handout for all attendees at the 21st annual International Networking Roundtable, 12 – 14 September 2012, at the Hilton Resort & Spa on Mission Bay, in San Diego, CA.

The guide is tentatively titled George Allen’s Guide to Manufactured Housing, Landlease Community, Affordable Housing, Realty & Lending – related Formulae, Rules of Thumb, Measures, Charts, and more… If you have helpful formulae, rules of thumb, and measures you’d like to see considered for inclusion in this booklet, designed to be user – friendly in size and ease of use, mail your suggestions to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247. Questions? Phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. For that matter, if a LLCommunity owner/operator, and interested in receiving an invitation to attend this major national educational, networking, and deal – making event, let us know when you phone!

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.