Archive for December, 2013

Meet Mharrio & Mhiki; 25 L-Os & No Defaults!

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Blog Column # 277 Copyright 2013 29 December 2013

George Allen writes about Key MHBusiness Issues, Matters, & Serious Concerns

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, is the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

Purpose of this blog. ‘To be the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

How to input. Critical responses & helpful ideas Welcome for future blog coverage here: gfa7156@aol.com & Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

An Important Year End Announcement!

When the January 2014 issue of the Allen Letter Professional Journal is mailed later this week and next, it will NOT contain the 25th Anniversary ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Land-lease-lifestyle Community Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’, UNLESS recipients have recently (within the past 30 days) affiliated with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, by adjusting their paid subscription to said newsletter, to include said ALLEN REPORT, plus a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs (e.g. National Lenders Registry, ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ directory of freelance consultants, & ten additional directories), to be distributed to newsletter subscribers during the next twelve months!

It is not too late for YOU to ensure soon receipt of the Biggest & Best ALLEN REPORT compiled during the past 25 years! Simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and, using a credit card – or corporate check if preferred, indicate your choice of

Option II @ $544.95. If you’re already an Allen Letter subscriber, we’ll adjust the subscription amount to reflect unused credit or lengthen your present subscription accordingly.

Option I? That’s simply a one year subscription to the Allen Letter professional journal, nothing less, nothing more. If already an Allen Letter subscriber, and you’re content with NOT receiving the ALLEN REPORT & 12 SSRDs, there’s nothing more for you to do! If NOT a newsletter subscriber, but would like to become one, then exercise this Option I.

Option III? $944.95. That’s the same as Option II, plus an annual subscription to the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter (12 monthly issues) – the only intimate, confidential, ‘insider’ communiqué existent in the manufactured housing industry today! Read by CEOs & presidents!

Bottom line? This year’s 25th ALLEN REPORT is extra special! If YOU own and or operate one or more land-lease-lifestyle communities, you owe it to yourself to affiliate with COBA7, and receive this seminal document, along with the industry’s longest-running monthly newsletter, and 12 SSRDs designed to make your free enterprise adventure easier and more profitable!

I.

Meet Mharrio & Mhiki

II.

25 Lease-Options in Four Years & No Defaults!
Here’s How to ‘Do-It-Yourself’!

III.

Why YOU Should Affiliate with COBA7

(Two Breaking News Stories to Read Now, Only if COBA7 Affiliates!)

***

I.

Meet Mharrio & Mhiki

Major Characters in Future Parodies and Political Contretemps, Relating to Manufactured Housing & its Land-lease-lifestyle Community Realty Asset Class…

Never mistaken for twins, they hail from the same family – but rarely invite one another to participate in the other’s politico-social-association gatherings. That’s truly unfortunate, as their respective family loyalists would likely learn valuable business and political lessons from their not-so-distant relatives, given networking opportunities to mix and mingle on a regular basis. Makes one wonder, ‘Why?’ Mhiki & Mharrio don’t arrange for their respective ‘faithful’ to benefit from such social/business opportunities

In any event, Mhiki is the older and bigger of the two siblings. But Mharrio is longer-in-the-tooth politically, and widely viewed as being the more territorial and contentious of the pair. Those characterizations likely have to do with Mhiki’s loyalists being eclectic and heterogeneous, while Mharrio’s faithful are as homogeneous as can be, given their singular manufacturing focus. Those unique intra-family characterizations, as one might expect, lead to Mhiki being the political consensus-builder of the two, while Mharrio’s supporters are loyal to a fault, oft championing the minority view.

So, where do we find Mharrio and Mhiki as we prepare to begin a new (2014) year in manufactured housing, including post-production segments in general, and LLLCommunity contingent in particular?

Well, there’s no denying manufactured housing has come out of the recent political maneuvering in Washington, DC., with ‘less than the short end of the stick’ in hand, where much-needed alterations to Dodd-Frank legislation and CFPB regulations are concerned. For some strange reason, Mhiki appears to have adopted the stance, ‘less communication is more’, so even direct, dues-paying members, like the veteran industry observer penning these lines, have little direct knowledge of ‘What really went wrong?’ for most of us in the MHIndustry – OR, as some now opine, ‘What went right?’ for a politically blessed few? Note. If you read the previous lines in this paragraph, and don’t understand the thinly veiled message, you’ve not been paying attention when, where, and how you should!

Then there’s Mharrio. You’ve gotta feel sorry for the guy. I mean, how many times must one step forward with worthy and timely warnings of impending threats and danger to our industry – even from agents within (Now, that’s another story for another day!), only to have it ignored, even tromped upon by well-meaning but oft naïve sycophants? Thinking here about the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, which after 13 years, is not yet fully implemented; about the recent botched attempt to seat a non-career leader on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee; even ‘right’ the non-independent operation of said MHCC. And then there’s the ol political football known as Duty to Serve; one day it’s OK, next day it’s off the table! Yet we continue to wonder why we make so little advocacy headway in our nation’s capitol…

So, what does 2014 look like for us? There’re two answers to that question. First; did you notice the previous paragraphs had ‘everything to do’ with manufactured housing and nothing – directly, to do with land-lease-lifestyle communities; or, for that matter, any other segment of the MHIndustry, except perhaps chattel finance? If you did notice, then that’s also ‘the answer’ to the question: Mharrio and Mhiki, each in their own right and unique manner, will, during 2014, continue to look after respective manufactured housing’s interests ‘inside the capitol beltway’, being Washington, DC, and Arlington, VA, and probably not much more.

But there’s a second question here; that having to do with ‘every other segment of the manufactured housing industry’, and the land-lease-lifestyle community asset class in particular! I’d be lying to you if I told you there wasn’t increasing discontent being expressed by ‘family members’, in casual conversation and via emails, regarding the markedly diminished communication (‘Ah, to have Bruce Savage back in place, keeping us informed!’) and political efficaciousness on one side of the house, not to mention failure after failure to head – off harmful legislation and effectively deal with it once arrived. Just look at the stalled house and senate bills, affecting manufactured housing finance regulations, this November and December! They were DOA…Dead on Arrival, despite protestations otherwise. But then, there’s another side to that story….

About the only bright spot on the 2014 horizon is the Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, emerging this month, and expected to hit its’ stride during January. NOT a formal non-profit or not-for-profit membership entity, but rather a business alliance of land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators who insist on, and are now willing to pay for, proven products and services in seven key function areas:

• National Advocacy in a fashion that serves LLLCommunities large and small
• Ongoing statistical Research per operations benchmarks for LLLCommunities
• Distribution of Resources & directories critical to effective property management
• Ongoing (weekly & monthly) print & online Communication to owners/operators
• Superb peer networking via FOCUS Groups and Networking Roundtables
• Deal-making Opportunities for real estate brokerages and property owners
• Professional Property Management training & certification via MHM® program

If reading this, and interested in aligning your firm with CABO7, go back and reread the Announcement beginning this week’s blog posting. Know that CABO7 affiliation is available to any businessman or woman, or firm, in every segment of the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry! If the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE is ‘busy’ when you call, try (317) 346-7156. And frankly, CABO7 doesn’t care if your past loyalty has been with Mharrio or Mhiki; we simply want to serve LLLCommunity owners/operators in the seven function areas just identified!

II.

25 Lease-Options in Four Years & No Defaults!
Here’s How to ‘Do-It-Yourself’!

Once again I’ve reached out to Spencer Roane, MHM®Master, of Pentagon Properties, the manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community asset class’ ‘duty expert’ on the effective use of lease-option to put would be homebuyers/site lessees into new manufactured homes in LLLCommunities.

Editor’s Note. In a day when manufactured housing national advocacy bodies have been unable to ameliorate constricting negative effects of onerous financial regulation of chattel capital, where manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle communities are concerned (In case you haven’t heard, neither house or senate bill went anywhere in Washington this month!), the lease-option becomes one more practical homeownership-facilitating tool in the property owner’s quiver of self-finance arrows. I know of no one better than Spencer Roane, MHM®Master, to ‘splain’ not only his time-proven technique in this avenue, but ‘How he’s been doing it, where new HUD-Code homes are concerned, the past four years with NO defaults!’

23 years ago, we began selling manufactured home (‘MHs’) via Lease-Option (‘L-O’) in the land-lease-lifestyle communities (‘LLLCs’) we own and manage. Our previous experience with rental MHs told us to avoid the oft self-defeating ‘churn & burn’ routine. It took almost 20 years, however, for us to learn how to effect L-Os while minimizing defaults. In no special order, here’re critical guidelines we use to achieve this end:

• Right home to sell. Today’s resale homes and repos are scarce, older, often in poor condition, and surprisingly expensive. So, new homes make better sales for us! In addition, these homes must be functional, lower cost, have ‘eye candy’, even a Wow! factor, be well-constructed, and with a good warranty. Community Series Homes, with their durability-enhancing features make near ideal L-O homes.

• Right price. Why try to make a killing on the sales price of a new home, when selling said home just $1-2K over cost, creates a ‘home run’ in terms of increasing property cash flow, adding value to the LLLC, cutting common area costs, improving overall curb appeal, and adding to a positive ‘community spirit’? All the while, we try to keep the L-O term to 12-13 years.

• Right community. This includes appearance, resident mix, staff personnel, desired amenities, even appropriate site rent. In the latter instance, it’s important to ensure rental homesite rates are in sync with rents at other multifamily rental properties in the same local housing market.

• Right marketing. Here we’re talking about attractive off and on-site signage, print and online advertising, an inviting sales or information center (not ‘office’), attractive property logo and color scheme, as well as appropriate point-of-purchase sales material, even effective prospect follow-up procedures. For assistance in these areas contact Chris Nicely (print & online advertising) via cnicely929@aol.com or (865) 385-9675, and Don Westphal (signage & curb appeal) via don@dcwestphal.com or (248) 651-5518.

• Right processing/underwriting of applications. (Read on…)

• Right follow-up after the ‘sale’ via Welcome Packages, warranty help, etc.

Now, not suggesting the initial four considerations listed above, are any less important, but experience proves the ‘processing/underwriting’ (step) is VERY important – particularly verification of application information and establishing and applying acceptable limits for front-end and back-end Debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. *1 And the follow-up (step) is vital as a sort of ‘icing on the transaction cake’, helping the new homeowner/site lessee make the adjustment to land-lease-lifestyle community living.

Since we lease homesites when we rent or lease MHs, we thoroughly review all the following when considering an L-O application:

• Verification of rental history (no domestic or police problems, past rental amounts and payment history)

• Verification of employment (sources of income, type work, time on the job, monthly income, likelihood of continued employment)

• Credit report (payment history with creditors, monthly obligations, previous addresses)

• Income tax returns (historical income, dependents)

• Checking and savings account statements (income, expenses, and savings over a three month period, funds available for option payment, insurance, moving costs)

• Budget – income and expenses, before and after entering into L-o contract.

• Criminal report (applicant can get copy from local police or sheriff’s office)

• Debt-to-Income Ratios capitalize income in these deals: Front-end ratio = Housing costs (monthly site rent + monthly L-O payment) divide by total gross monthly income. Target: below 30%
Back-end ratio = Total monthly debt (housing costs, car payments, furniture payment, loan payments, child support, etc.) divided by total gross monthly income. Target: below 40%.

A tool we’ve found particularly helpful is one which we refer to as our Pre-Qualification Worksheet (‘PQW’). Before asking the home sales prospect to complete an application, pay an application fee, or even look at homes, we ask them to provide the following information, which we enter into the PQW spreadsheet:

• How much are you paying in rent now?
• What will your previous landlords say when we contact them about your rental history?
• What will your criminal history show when we contact law enforcement authorities?
• What will your credit report show?
• How much do you have available for a down payment (option payment)
• What monthly debt obligations are you currently responsible for?
• What is your gross monthly income from various sources?

Knowing the monthly site rent at the LLLC, the home buying prospect is interested in, as well as their monthly gross income and current monthly debt obligations, the PQW computes the maximum monthly L-O payment the prospect could make and still satisfy the DTI ratios (our PQW uses a sliding scale, based on an applicant’s gross monthly income, for acceptable DTI ratios)

Alternatively, if we also know the monthly L-O payment on the home a prospect is interested in, the PQW computes the DTI ratios and ‘flags’ acceptable or unacceptable values. If the prospect’s DTI ratios are unacceptably high, our sales personnel can suggest the prospect consider a less expensive home or possibly pay off some recurring debt (e.g. credit cards) before buying their new home. If the prospect’s DTI ratios are exceptionally low, our sales personnel can also tell them they might qualify for a more spacious home.

If our PQW indicates a prospect would be approved, based on the information the prospect provides, we encourage him/her to complete our full application, and pay the application fee. As long as the information provided by the prospect is accurate, he/she will be approved. We ensure the prospect knows the application fee is non-refundable if our processing/underwriting reveals information provided for the PQW was inaccurate.

A copy of our PQW is posted on the Lease Option Documents page of our website: www.leaseoptionmhsales.com

End Note.

1. The initial five guidelines closely parallel the ‘5-RPs of Marketing’ popularized by George Allen, CPM®Emeritus & MHM®Master. For a FREE plastic wallet card containing these 5-RPs (Right Product, Right Place, Right Price, Right Promotion, Right People) – and details pertinent thereto, simply phone the Official MHindustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

III.

Why YOU Should Affiliate with COBA7

Two Breaking News Stories to Read Now, Only if a COBA7 Affiliate!

RHP Properties, Inc., further expands its’ property portfolio with acquisition of 15 land-lease-lifestyle communities, containing 5,900 rental homesites, located in Colorado and Texas. For the rest of the story, read January 2014 edition of the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter or February 2014 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal.

The 50th anniversary issue of Automated Builder magazine debuts online during January 2014. To contact Don Carlson, phone (805) 351-5931. To read his column ‘It’s Virtually Here!’, and review the ezine’s advertising rate card, read the January 2014 edition of the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter or February 2014 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal.

These are two examples of why you, as a land-lease-lifestyle community owner/operator, or anyone serving the product/service needs of this realty asset class, need to affiliate with COBA7 now! This new and unique business relationship begins 1 January 2014, ushering in the NEW ERA for LLLCommunities, large and small, nationwide & in CN. Will YOU be aboard & participating? I surely hope so! George Allen, CPM® & MHM®

***

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

Advocacy Misfires; Marketing Paradigm Shifts & More…

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Blog Column # 276 Copyright 2013 22 December 2013

George Allen writes about Key MHBusiness Issues, Matters, & Serious Concerns

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, is the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

Purpose of this blog. ‘To be the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

How to respond? Critical responses & helpful ideas Welcome for future blog coverage: gfa7156@aol.com & Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

Again; a little help from my friends in the MHBusiness! We continue to reconstitute our email contact list, following hacking of our computers two weeks ago. SO, continue to send us names and email addresses of other ‘friends in the MHBusiness’ who’d likely want to be included in this special brand of communication available nowhere else in the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community asset class!

I.

ADVOCACY MISFIRES BADLY!or ?

II.

MARKETING

III.

HOW ONE FIRM COMPUTES SITE RENT FOR ABANDONED HOMES OWNED BY AN INDEPENDENT CHATTEL LENDER

IV.

Be Aware & Beware!

I.

ADVOCACY MISFIRES BADLY!or ?

“Bi-Partisan Effort Unveils Manufactured Housing Relief Legislation…
to Preserve Access to Affordable Manufactured Housing”

So reads the ‘Housing Alert’ headline on 12/17/13. And, an elected manufactured housing association leader identified in the story, called “…the introduction of S. 1828 a major step forward for the manufactured housing industry.” REALLY? ‘A Major Step Forward’? Perhaps, more accurately put, ‘a Too Late Step Nowhere!’? You decide….

The introduction of this U.S. Senate bill was duly ‘expected & predicted’ in a Blast Email Blog Alert (‘BEBA’) posted here Four Weeks Ago! And Now, with ‘no days left’ in the current session of Congress, does anyone expect action, let alone passage, of this companion bill to H.R. 1779? In a word, ‘NO’!. In another word, ‘WHY – the delay?’ Methinks the answer is twofold, in terms of immediacy and ‘further down the road’: 1) Simply CYA! or ‘political cover’ today; and, 2) ‘Something near nefarious (?) is afoot’, that to understand, you’ll have to read deeper into this blog posting, and more yet to come…

For now though, all that PAC (political action committee) money has been spent (wasted?), once again, on ‘fruitless & failed’ lobbying! When will the manufactured housing industry finally get out in front of business – killing legislation, and STOP playing catch – up, after regulatory bugaboos (e.g. S.A.F.E. Act, Dodd – Frank) have been turned loose on it?

January 2014 is nigh upon us! Are we now doomed as an industry? Maybe, and here’s why….

For more than two years, the manufactured industry has been told repeatedly, by it’s self – appointed champions of strategy, to focus ALL our attention & resources on amending onerous Dodd-Frank legislation – to the exclusion of virtually everything else (e.g. ’Duty to Serve’, etc.) – before this January 2014 deadline arrived! Well they & we failed to amend Dodd-Frank, and now we’re ‘left holding a bag full of other consumer financing matters’ that could & should have been tackled months, if not two years ago! Result? We (will) continue to ship new HUD-Code houses at the dismal rate of but 50,000 – 60,000 per year, with no regulatory relief, and no easily accessible chattel capital, in sight!

Face it friends. If we’re going to (maybe) survive, and even eventually thrive again – assuming we get an even playing field somewhere along the way for our homes and homebuyers – it’s going to be on our own merits! And one of those merits, like it or not, involves a paradigm shift – or two, in way(s) we do business with one another. And there’s one example of a needed shift (e.g. ‘MARKETING’), featured and parsed as next topic in this blog posting….

But before we turn there, here’s a hint about the aforementioned ‘Something near nefarious (?) is afoot’ comment, regarding the broader, interim future manufactured housing industry scene. Simply; it has to do with someone or some thing achieving controlling national market share(s) in areas of 1) home manufacturing; 2) home finance; and, 3) full service real estate brokerage franchising.

II.

MARKETING

Manufactured Housing’s Industry Person of the Year, Ken Rishel of Rishel Consulting, in the December 2013 issue of his online newsletter, Chattel Finance Newsletter opined, ‘…the manufactured housing industry, and especially (land-lease-lifestyle) communities, need access to marketing expertise.” Amen to that! GFA

To buttress his point, Rishel described “A Michigan land-lease-lifestyle community owner (who) bitterly complained about…a self-proclaimed ‘marketing expert’ (to whom) he shelled over considerable money…for help in turning around his infill problems. Six months later the community owner had zero results for the money he’d invested.” Well, ‘shame on him’ if he didn’t ask for and check the quality of past work referrals related to this individual. Did this ‘expert’ possess peer – reviewed professional credentials, like being a Certified Property Manager®, or possess a bona fide real estate salesperson or broker licensee? In related fashion, it’s one of the reasons the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance (‘COBA7) annually updates the ‘WhoYa Gonna Call in 2014?’ list of 40+/- freelance manufactured housing and LLLCommunity consultants. While listing thereon does not constitute endorsement, the list is vetted before publication each year! To obtain a copy, or – as a consultant, request consideration to be added to said list, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. No other organization or individual, to date, researches and publishes such a useful roster for the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity asset class.

More on MARKETING…

“Marketing means human activity that takes place in relation to markets. Marketing means working with markets, which means attempting to actualize potential exchanges for the purpose of satisfying human needs and wants.” And, “Marketing management is the analysis, planning, implementation, and control of programs designed to create, build, and maintain mutually beneficial exchanges and relationships with target markets for the purpose of achieving organizational objectives.” *1 Well, there you have it, ‘marketing defined’. So, where do we go with that knowledge?

I can think of a few areas, where ‘marketing is spoken but not well practiced’. It’s one of those needed paradigm shifts presaged in the previous segment of this blog posting

HUD-Code home manufacturers. We wrote it here a few weeks ago, ‘Land-lease-lifestyle Communities = The Very Future of the Manufactured Housing Industry!’ And know what? Every verbal and written response from blog floggers (readers) agreed, home manufacturers and LLLCommunity owners/operators alike! WHY? For the most part, given their attrition from 1100+, down to fewer than 400, independent ‘street’ MHRetailers – unless actually owning one or more LLLCommunities, are Done & Gone! I get no joy out of penning that line, none whatsoever. But fact is fact. Yet HUD-Code home manufacturers continue to suffer, and wonder why, annual shipments of new HUD-Code homes have languished between 50,000 & 60,000 for the past five years. Yes, not having easy access to chattel capital continues to be ‘the killer’; BUT, with all the self – financing (i.e. ‘captive finance’ variants) going on these days among property portfolio owners/operators of LLLCommunities, and given an estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites to fill, there’s No Excuse for not tapping into that market with specially-designed Community Series Homes or CSH Models (Featuring durability-enhancing features)! And know what? One firm effected a mailing, two weeks ago, to every HUD-Code home manufacturer in the U.S., suggesting what you just read! And to date, they’ve had but ONE response – from an East coast home manufacturer, asking how to identify this unique target market. The answer? A Direct Mail campaign to all 500+/- LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators in North America (i.e. Six Canadian firms own hundreds of LLLCommunities in the U.S.) is easily possible. How so? Again, just contact COBA7 and ask….*2 It is not as easy, however, to contact the majority of LLLCommunities, whose rental homesite count is below 100; but it can be done!

So, paradigm shift # 1 = HUD-Code home manufacturers to aggressively market new, fairly-priced Community Series Homes, or CSH Models, to land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators, large and small, nationwide, to fill 250,000 vacant rental homesites!

Land-lease-lifestyle communities. I’ve been fighting this battle for 35 years; first as a regional salaried property manager, then as an owner/operator, and for the past two decades, as a freelance property management consultant. And the same challenges persist, year after year after year. Being? Reluctance (or inability?) to identify one’s target market, especially when going into a new local housing market, upon acquisition – or better selling within an existing one. Answers? Demographically, go to zipskinny.com to learn the Area Median Income (‘AMI’), then calculate ‘How much home will sell there?’ using Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet methodology; or, in one’s present market, use prospective customer’s (or household’s) Annual Gross Income (‘AGI’) in the exact same manner! Generally, do NOT rely on inventory selection advice from manufacturers’ regional rep – unless they happen to be a Business Development Manger (‘BDM’) named on the Official List of Community Series Homes Manufacturers. And site rent? This is more controversial than need be. How so? The Rule of Thumb Formula is simple: Stabilized rental homesite monthly rate should be roughly 1/3rd what it costs to rent a 3BR2B conventional (nonsubsidized) apartment or townhouse, in the same local housing market as the subject LLLCommunity! Unfortunately, this longtime 1:3 relationship is out of kilter (Yep, that’s an apt word; look it up.), thanks to overly zealous (And some say WS analyst – pressured) site rent increases among some real estate investment trusts, then aped by some privately-owned property portfolio players. Again, COBA7, via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE, is your solely source for the above – referenced ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet (FREE), and the Official List of Community Series Homes Manufacturers and BDMs. *2

So, paradigm shift # 2 = Land-lease-lifestyle communities, with no independent ‘street’ MHRetailers in sight, must learn to use numbers (via zipskinny.com & ‘Ah Ha!& Uh Oh! Worksheet’) to understand what will sell in their present and future local housing markets; then effectively sell new and resale homes on-site and leave vacant rental homesites!

A Relatively New Marketing Critique & Planning Tool for HUD-Code Home Manufacturers and Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators. Here we’re talking about the ‘5-RPs of Marketing’. In its’ basic form, the 5-RPs include: Right Product, Right Place, Right Price, Right Promotion, & Right People. And there are three interrelated applications of these 5-RPs: 1) ‘Marketing & selling new homes INTO a LLLCommunity’; 2) ‘Marketing & selling new & resale homes WITHIN a LLLCommunity’; & 3) ‘Marketing & leasing rental homesites WITHIN a LLLCommunity’. To date, one or another of the two plastic wallet cards featuring said formulae, have been distributed to more than 200 LLLCommunity owners/operators – at the 22nd annual International Networking Roundtable; and, recently, to every HUD-Code home manufacturing facility still in operation in the U.S.. If YOU do not have a plastic wallet card (one is for home manufacturers & other is for LLLCommunity folk), but would like one, for FREE; again, simply phone COBA7via the aforementioned Official MHIndustry HOTLINE and ask for the appropriate card! *2 And if in need of Mystery Shopping service, anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, ask about that too, when you phone.

So, paradigm shift # 3 = Learn what marketing and sales system(s) work BEST for YOU and on-site staffs; then use them faithfully; and, routinely monitor on-the-job performance of employees via Mystery Shopping!

Sure, there’s much more to be said about marketing in the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry and land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class; but surely, by now, you ‘get the idea’ there’s lots yet to be done, to bring us out of the dark ages and into contemporary business marketing reality. In the meantime however, just be careful who you align yourself with: ask for credentials; see a sample of their work (e.g. reports); follow up on referrals; and if they’ve written a book on their specialty subject, read it!

End Notes.

*1. Principles of Marketing, Philip Kotler, Prentice-Hall, Inc., NY. 700 pages
*2 Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance resources available via Official
MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

III.

HOW ONE FIRM COMPUTES SITE RENT FOR ABANDONED HOMES OWNED BY AN INDEPENDENT CHATTEL LENDER

Given a rental homesite rate of $400.00/month, multiply that amount by the composite percentage of 11.5 percent (Comprised of 5% to account for property owner’s recurring PM fee, & 6.5% for real estate taxes *1) to arrive at $46.00/month expected from each home, with that property at that $400/month rent rate, owned by the independent chattel lender holding title to said abandoned manufactured home. The real estate tax percentage, of course, will vary from local housing market to local housing market. Do you clearly know what the appropriate percentage is for each and all of your land-lease-lifestyle communities?

Do YOU have an alternative method of calculating how much rent to charge for abandoned homes owned by independent chattel lenders until they sell their home on – site? If so, ‘inquiring minds would like to know’. Please write and share your methodology with us. See beginning of this blog posting for how to contact us.

End Note.

*1 These are Allen Model ‘Operating Expense Ratio’ (‘OER’) percentages published
as part of the Official Industry Standard Chart of (Operating) Accounts. This
seminal document also available from COBA7 via the Official MHIndustry
HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. And ‘PM’ = Property Management

IV.

Be Aware & Beware!

How a Useful $ Incentive Can Become an Unintentional Red Herring $

The ‘Be Aware’ portion works this way. Want to collect 90 percent of your site rent before it’s even due, before the first of every month? Then offer a $10.00, or larger, cash discount to land-lease-lifestyle community residents (lessees) who pay their site rent before the first of the month when it’s due! Nothing particularly ‘new’ there, except for those who ‘collect by mail’, then we use the postal cancellation stamp as discount control date.

The ‘Beware’ portion comes into play, if and when the LLLCommunity is marketed ‘for sale’. It’s simply ‘too easy’ to cite one’s rental homesite rate as being $400.00 per month, but neglect to tell the prospective buyer about the 90+/-% pre-due date rent collection effect of the 10 percent discount. For example, in a 500 site property enjoying 100% physical and economic occupancy, that 10% discount can mean a potential maximum difference of slightly less than a quarter million dollars over the course of a year:

100% occupancy & collection: 500 sites X $400/month X 12 months = $2,400,000

100% occupancy & 10% discount for prepaying site rent before the first of the month:
450 sites (90% pre-paying rent) X $360/month (effect of 10% pre-pay discount) X 12 months = $1,944,000 collected before the first of the month when due’ AND, plus.
50 sites (not pre-paying rent) X $400/month (no discount earned) X 12 months = $240,000. Then, $1,944,000 & $240,000 together = $2,184,000, or $216,000 less ‘gross potential income’ over the course of a year.

Differences in ‘income value’, using New Rule of 72. *1

500sites X $400 = $200,000 X 72 = $14,400,000 or $28,800/occupied site

450sites X $360, & 50 sites X 400 together = $182,000/month X 72 = $13,104,000 value; or $1,296,000 less value, but certainly a more efficient rent collection procedure.

Whew! A very good reason to verify a ‘for sale’ property’s bank (rent) deposit amounts over the course of a year, during the due diligence period.

Think I jest that this sort of thing happens from time to time? Well, I don’t jest. Reminds me of another anomaly Susan and I encountered when marketing a 700 site LLLCommunity several years ago. The developer/owner had been managing the property for decades, without keeping formal ledgers and operating statements. To recreate his books, Susan worked with his bank deposit records and checkbook stubs. But she wound up in a quandary, as the property’s ‘gross actual rental income dollar amount’ exceeded what we’d calculated to be his ‘gross potential rental income dollar amount’. How was that possible? Finally figured out, he counseled his immigrant homebuyers – to whom he was selling homes, at the time, on ‘contract’, to pay one month’s rent in advance, from the day of ‘closing’, so they’d never be late with their monthly payments! SO, the number of new home sales each year, times the monthly site rental amount, equaled the dollar amount overage relative to the ‘gross potential rental income dollar amount’. And yes, Susan and I continue to quietly 1) market LLLCommunities for owners/operators planning to retire; and, 2) work as ‘buyers’ consultants’, for a fee, for would-be first time investors and present day portfolio owners/operators in search of LLLCommunities to acquire. Reach Susan via (317) 889-6465 for more information.

End Note.

1. Rule of 72 is used only for ‘average’ (e.g. 10% income capitalization rate) land-lease-lifestyle communities! Run the numbers twice for every LLLCommunity, to estimate ‘gross potential income value’, and ‘present income value’. For example: 500 sites X $400/month rent X 72 = $14,400,000. Or same property, with 90% physical & economic occupancy: 450 sites X $400/month rent X 72 = $12,960,000. Note. This simple formula produces the same $ value as when using the well known IRV formula; in which case Value or ‘V’ = Net Operating Income, NOI, or ‘I’, divided by the income capitalization rate or ‘R’ for example, in the first instance: 500sites X $400/month rent X 12 months, multiplied by .6 (reciprocal of the 40% or .4 national Allen Model average OER, or operating expense rate, for LLLCommunities), divided by .1 (or 10% ‘cap rate’ for an ‘average’ LLLCommunity) = $14,400,000. Same procedure when using 450 sites X $400/month rent…= $12,960,000 (Not considering ‘rent discount’ in this example), or $1,440,000 difference in what the property is worth today, with 10% of sites vacant and not paying rent, versus what property is worth at 100% physical & economic occupancy!

***

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

Order ALLEN REPORT, Use Lease-Option!?

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Blog Column # 275 Copyright 2013 15 December 2013

George Allen Writes about Key MHBusiness Issues, Matters, & Serious Concerns

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, is the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

Purpose of this blog. ‘To be the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Ways to respond: Critical responses & helpful Ideas Welcome for future blog coverage:
Gfa7156@aol.com; Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

Here’s something Special YOU can do for me after reading this week’s Blog Posting.

Reach out to friends in the MHBusiness & suggest they too start reading this weekly op/ed! All they have to do is contact me via one of two ‘Ways to respond’ above, & ask to receive our BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) most Sunday mornings. Thanks!

I.

15+ Important Things You’ll Learn When Reading
the
25th Anniversary Edition of the ALLEN REPORT!

II.

What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander!

III.

DID YOU KNOW?
(Don’t want to miss this enlightenment)

I.

15+ Important Things You’ll Learn When Reading
the
25th Anniversary Edition of the ALLEN REPORT!

A.k.a.

‘Who’s Who Among Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators From Throughout North America!’

Not just TWO lists this year (i.e. 100 of 500+/- largest portfolio ‘players’, & 1994-2013 REIT portfolio size chart); now FIVE lists, including addition of 65+ mix of, ‘previously listed’ & ‘no shows’, plus 17 new listees & MORE!

1. Who is Green Hill Financial? You need to know, as the debut of this $ firm – in this industry observer’s opinion, ‘might’ mark the emergence of new trend!

2. How to facilitate your Direct Mail Campaign access to the exclusive, data base comprised of 500+/- LLLCommunity US & CN portfolio owners?

3. What is the average property portfolio size, by number of LLLCommunities, during 2013? And average size LLLCommunity within these portfolios?

4. What percentage of all 780,705 rental homesites catalogued in this year’s 25th Anniversary ALLEN REPORT are owned/operated by the Ten Largest LLLCommunity Portfolio Firms? Hint. Surprise = More than 50 percent!

5. Collectively, by what percentage, did the three LLLCommunity REITs (ELS, Inc., SUN Communities, Inc., & UMH Properties, Inc., Grow or Reduce their rental homesite inventory during 2013? And which, if any, ‘grew’ the most?

6. Examining a sampling of small to mid – sized property portfolios, what was the average’ ratio of all-age to age-restricted LLLCommunities’ during 2013?

7. What high percentage of this year’s ALLEN REPORT respondents from 32 states and once Canadian province, hail from just nine states & one province?

8. What is the ‘average national physical occupancy’ among ALLEN REPORT LLLCommunity owners/operators respondents during 2013?

9. What is the ‘average value of a contract sale home’ among this year’s 7,820 homes reported by 29 LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators?

10. What is the ‘average national Operating Expense Ratio’, or OER percentage among ALLEN REPORT’s LLLCommunity owners/operators for year 2013?

11. How many LLLCommunity owners/operators acquired 1,000+ rental homesites apiece, in 2013, and named as part of the ‘Pride of Young Lions’?

12. Of the ‘Daring Dozen LLLCommunity ‘portfolio-building entrepreneurs’ who ventured forth in 2005, ‘How many & Who’ remain active in the asset class?

13. And WHO is Manufactured Housing Industry Person of the Year for 2014?

14. And WHO is the worthy professional property manager of LLLCommunities, now honored with the designation: Manufactured Housing Manager–Master!?

As announced in last week’s blog, as well as in the December issue of the Allen Letter professional journal, the 25th Anniversary ALLEN REPORT, and future editions, as well as a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents, or SSRDs, will be available only as an integral part of two packages (a.k.a. Options II & III), available from PMN Publishing. In summary, the contents of each Options are:

OPTION I. Allen Letter professional journal alone – No ALLEN REPORT, No Signature Series Resource Documents (& directories) described earlier. Cost. $134.95

OPTION II. Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, & 12 monthly Signature Series Resource Documents (& directories). Cost $554.95 This monthly newsletter, 25th AR, & 12 SSRDs = ‘Our LLLCommunity knowledge base!’

OPTION III. Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, & 12 monthly Signature Series Resource Documents (& directories), as well as the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! ‘insider’ business newsletter for Sr. Execs. Cost $994.95 These 4 Resources have served MHIndustry professionals for more than 2 decades!

If you’re already an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, & are satisfied with that monthly source of key & timely LLLCommunity/MHIndustry information, there’s nothing to do, but ‘use that information’, & wait for your renewal notice. But there’ll be no ALLEN REPORT enclosed in the January 2014 Allen Letter. However, if NOT presently a subscriber, but would like to become one, simply phone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and sign-up for OPTION I…

AND, whether you’re a present Allen Letter professional journal subscriber or not, but would like to receive a copy of the Biggest & Best 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, along with the dozen Signature Series Resource Documents (& directories) during the next 12 months, decide between OPTION II & III, then phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 to subscribe!

And remember, the sole difference between OPTIONs II & III, is the latter option includes the coveted and rare opportunity, as a Senior Executive in either the MHIndustry or LLLCommunity asset class, to be privy to timely, inside information generally not printed elsewhere by anyone else; and if so, generally ‘months after you’ve read it’ in the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter. The TAC! ‘newsletter’ is comprised of three to five, single-spaced, typed pages, and is accompanied by one to two or more dozen ‘enclosures’ documenting everything disclosed within that issue. For example. Who’s new CEO @ Green Hill Financial?

Questions, & to order your OPTION choice, phone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE!
To ensure receipt of your copy of the 25th Anniversary ALLEN REPORT – Bigger & Better than any of the previous 24 annual editions, effect your OPTION choice before the end of December 2013!

II.

‘What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander!’

An old saying or idiom, with several shades of meaning – believe it or not, that apply to the lease-option home finance alternative, regarding manufactured home transactions in land-lease-lifestyle communities!

Gander = ‘a male goose’
&
Gander = ‘a careful look’

The shades of meaning: 1) ‘What’s good for one sex is good for the other’; 2) ‘Hey, maybe this lease-option alternative deserves a second careful look’; and, 3) ‘If lease-option is good for a few large portfolio owners/operators, why wouldn’t it be good for most remaining properties in the realty asset class’?

So, it was with those thoughts in mind, I reached out to Spencer Roane, MHM®Master, and owner/operator of Pentagon Properties, to share his latest and best ‘take’ on…

‘Lease-Option as an Alternative for In-LLLCommunity Seller-Financing’

With all the talk these days, about new financing regulations taking effect next month (January 2014) – and the tangible havoc they’re expected to wreak on the manufactured housing scene, perhaps it’s high time for us to re-consider Lease-Option (‘L-O’), as a practical means of supporting home sales within your land-lease-lifestyle community or communities. If you agree, here’re a few things to think about now and during the few weeks ahead to the end of the year….

The Bad News is the S.A.F.E. Act, which requires licensing for mortgage origination and servicing, is a Federal law interpreted and enforced differently among states. So, what’s acceptable in one state may not be acceptable in another. Furthermore, some regulators have taken positions against L-O, without taking time to learn and recognize how it differs from ‘lease-purchase’, ‘rent-to-own’, etc., which many agree, are indeed credit transactions that could result in the origination of mortgages requiring S.A.F.E. act licenses.

The Good News is what deserves our attention here.

• Almost five years have passed since the S.A.F.E. Act was enacted. Chicken Little arguments against L-O (e.g. Misleadingly called ‘disguised credit transactions’, or walks-like-a-duck, & quacks-like-a-duck, etc.) have been appropriately dismissed from most serious finance conversations. Anyone who thinks law is that simple should wonder why it takes more than 70,000 pages to document the U.S. tax code.

• Some very bright attorneys agree mortgages are not created or originated by L-O transactions, and therefore, S.A.F.E. Act licenses are not required with them. If you missed the SECO Symposium in Georgia, earlier this Fall, you missed a great presentation on this very subject. It’s posted for your edification at the website www.SECO13.org

• Many large land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators have used L-O contracts to sell homes for years. Unfortunately, they dominate national advocacy organizations, and seemingly discourage the host body from disseminating information about L-O to other, albeit smaller, LLLCommunity owners/operators around the U.S.

If you’re seriously interested in L-O transactions (e.g. Arguments as to why S.A.F.E. Act licenses are not required, how to structure transactions, and even a copy of one LLLCommunity owner/s L-O contract, etc.) review this free information at www.LeaseOptionMHSales.com, particularly the following links: Also check out these resources:

‘Lease Option Sales Transactions Gaining in Popularity’, published in the April 2011 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Revised & reprinted @ 8/2012

‘Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about lease purchases, and then some’, and ‘Consumer Leasing Act: Regulation M’; both by D.J. Pendleton, executive director, Texas Manufactured Housing Association, describing S.A.F.E. Act and Dodd-Frank Acts, MH seller financing, and Regulation M – all in ‘TMHA Today’, Winter of 2012.

‘Characteristics of a L-O Transaction that Differentiates it from an Installment Sale’, July 2013.

All the preceding information was provided, at this blogger’s request by:

Spencer Roane, MHM-Master, president of Pentagon Properties, Inc., Atlanta, GA. Mr. Roane owns and manages four land-lease-lifestyle communities in Georgia and Texas. His firm has sold more than 250 new and resale manufactured homes in his communities during the past 20 years, via Lease-Option contracts. During the past three plus years, his firm has had NO defaults on new home Lease-Option contracts. He is a member of the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association, where he served as an officer and member of the board of directors. He is a former member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) where he served on the National Communities Council (‘NCC’) board of directors, and the Disaster Housing Task Force. He is one of the organizers of the highly successful SECO Symposium series for LLLCommunity owners/operators throughout the Southeast U.S. He holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering, an M.S. degree in Industrial Management, and both the Mortgage Loan Originator and Mortgage Broker S.A.F.E. licenses. Contact him at spencer@roane.com or (678) 428-0212. Pentagon Properties, Inc. website. LinkedIn profile.

III.

DID YOU KNOW?
(Prepare to be twice enlightened here!)

Being identified as a key leader, MHIndustry Person of the Year, or a Manufactured Housing Manager® – Master, in any book printed and distributed by PMN Publishing (There’ve been 11 to date), pretty much ensures your name and unique business achievement(s), an enduring place in manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle community history! For that matter, being identified as a major loan originator or freelance consultant, in one or another of PMN Publishing’s dozen Signature Series Resource Documents (& directories), even as a ‘presenter’ at the annual Networking Roundtable, also ensures your personal & corporate legacy! How so?

To date, there’ve been more than 11 MHIndustry Persons of the Year and 16 Manufactured Housing Manager®-Masters designees honored, along with the 19 land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators who met on 31 August 1993, the latter taking the first pre-REIT steps leading to formation of a national advocacy body. And there’ve been other ‘special mentions’ over the years, as well, e.g. Sam Zell of ELS, Inc., naming of the annual Pride of Young Lions (Year’s most successful portfolio consolidators) and the Daring Dozen (2005 era portfolio – building entrepreneurs), within the annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ Many of these ALLEN REPORTs have been routinely republished as appendices in most of PMN Publishing’s textbooks.

Again, the same can be said of one’s appearance and reputation in the annual National Registry of Realty & Chattel Loan Originators, and ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2014?’ list of freelance consultants – just two of PMN’s dozen SSRDs! These unique resource documents and directories, designed and updated annually for the use of land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators nationwide, and in Canada, are also oft included as appendices. For example, the firm’s most recent release, Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years! (Chronicling the first two decades of LLLCommunity national advocacy) contained not only the names and biographies of the aforementioned 19 ‘pioneers’, but all the SSRDs updated during 2013! To order a copy of the book, for $19,95 postpaid, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

Now enter national libraries of business – related books. At least three have expressed interest in acquiring the extensive manufactured housing and land-lease-lifestyle community corporate library of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing. The RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s library in Elkhart, IN., Library of Congress, and the National Building Institute library in Washington, DC. Why would these national libraries want to acquire this firm’s ‘stacks’? Because this particular corporate collection contains virtually every published and bound (case, perfect & spiral) title published from the early 1970s to the present day, numbering more than 100 volumes – including collections of short stories, stand alone mysteries, biographies and autobiographies, HOW TO works, & much much more.

So, if your name and achievements are mentioned and or highlighted in any of PMN Publishing’s past and ‘in print’ texts, SSRDs & directories – even those yet to come, e.g. a new ‘Lessons Learned in LLLCommunity Management’ tome planned for 2014. (Interested? Let us know of your interest via the above – referenced Official MHIndustry HOTLINE!), know Your Legacy will ‘live on’ in one or more of the national library repositories of business history! The question that begs answering though, is this: ‘What other business or organization in the entire manufactured housing industry looks out for your present, future, and personal/corporate legacy in such tangible fashion?’ None.

With that said, and if an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, you likely have just learned who’s being honored as the 2013/2014 MHIndustry Person of the Year, and who’s just been designated a Manufactured Housing Manager®-Master. If not, you’ll soon read their names and stellar achievements in the 25th Anniversary ALLEN REPORT, scheduled for distribution during early January 2014. And trust me, this is one ALLEN REPORT you do not want to miss! As stated earlier, this is the Biggest & Best ALLEN REPORT published in 25 years! Even contains a copy of the 1987 pre-ALLEN REPORT list of ‘25 largest mobile home park owners’ known at the time. Today there’re 500+/-!

Frankly, I am ‘pumped’ for the year 2014! Why? The Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, and ‘Opportunity for you to align your business interests with COBA7’, was introduced but a couple weeks ago, and already verbal, written, and financial support has waxed heavy and sustained! As expected, the aforementioned OPTION II is drawing the most response from land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators nationwide, but there’s also been a surprisingly good number of OPTION IIIs too. SO, if you want to be among the first to receive the 25th Anniversary Edition of the ALLEN REPORT, soon after 1 January 2014, effect your subscription soon, via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE!.

One final hint. I’m contemplating hosting a COBA7 breakfast one morning during the Louisville MHShow, probably 22 January 2014. If you are interested in attending, and want to be sure of an ‘invite’, let me know via one of the means mentioned at the beginning of this blog posting. Threefold purpose of the breakfast meeting? 1) Explain what the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance is all about and encourage Your Participation; 2) solicit Your Input as we plan a national FOCUS Group meeting in early April 2014; and finally, 3) Your Opportunity to express interest in penning fresh material for possible inclusion in the ‘Lessons Learned in LLLCommunity Management’ book planned for distribution later during 2014, likely at the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable. I’ve already polled the four dozen LLLCommunity owners/operators who’ve helped launch COBA7, and the majority of them plan to be present at the breakfast meeting, probably from 8 – 10AM. How ‘bout you?

COBA7. National business alliance of LLLCommunity owners/operators, large & small, featuring seven functions: National Advocacy, Statistical Research, SSRD (& directories) Distribution, Peer Networking, Deal – making Opportunities, & Profession Property Management Training & Certification.

***

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

NEW ERA = finally COBA7 & now, ‘Lifestyle’

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Blog # 274 Copyright 2013 8 December 2013

George Allen Writes About Key MHBusiness Matters, Concerns,& Much More…

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, is the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

Purpose of this blog. ‘To be the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Ways to respond: Critical responses & helpful ideas Welcome for future blog coverage; gfa7156@aol.com; Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

‘COBA7’

II.

Giving ‘Lifestyle’ Legs…

III.

The Elephant in the Room

_____________________________________________________________

I.

‘COBA7’

‘Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance’, already the buzz among land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators throughout the US & CN’

Here’s the first of several responses to last week’s blog introduction to the ‘Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance’, and how ‘COBA7’will usher in a NEW ERA for ‘all of us’ during 2014:

“Well thought out, George, but there is an 8th part or purpose of the Allen activities. The opportunities you provide for all (manufactured housing) industry folk, to opine about their business concerns, beliefs and practices, is also Invaluable; and I feel should be highlighted! Large or small, you hear them all….” JR That’s certainly the case; you folk do write and communicate a lot with me, as you’ll soon read in Parts II & III of this blog.

Following is a Summary of Seven Functions targeted by the COBA7. And please remember; this is NOT a formal membership $ driven ‘for profit’ or ‘not for profit’ trade group; rather, it’s ‘an informal alliance of businessmen and women with land-lease-lifestyle community ownership/operations in common’. The three subscription Options, described a little later in this blog, is how the research, printing, and distribution (postage) costs will be covered going forward. So, please decide SOON, at what level you want to align your advocacy, research, resources, communication, networking, deal-making, and property management training/certification needs with COBA7. Specifically,

• National Advocacy. While the mission of one national council, there are issues and opportunities presently being ignored, that need to be addressed during 2014

• Statistical Research. The 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ is Bigger (167+ owners/operators identified this year; up 52% from 110 ‘players’ listed last year!) & Better (More benchmark statistics and ‘good to know’ information than ever before…)

• Resources Distribution. 12 Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs, include: ‘Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunities!, National $ Registry of RE & Chattel Lenders, ‘Who Ya Gonna Call’ list of freelance consultants, Official directory of print & online MHPublications; Official MHLexicon; and, six additional information – packed titles & directories!

• Print & Online Communication via weekly blog posting, the Allen Letter professional journal, and/or the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter.

• Peer Networking via annual Networking Roundtable & periodic FOCUS Groups for LLLCommunity owners/operators desiring to caucus confidentially.

• Deal – making via opportunities planned & hosted with & by national real estate brokerages specializing in the Marketing of LLLCommunties in U.S. & CN

• Professional Property Management Training & Certification via the popular Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® one day class for owners/operators

You know, the blog correspondent quoted at the beginning of Part I to this week’s blog posting is Too Right. Sad to say, but there are NO longer, any other present day outlets or voices available to MHIndustry & LLLCommunity businessmen and women, other than three print and a couple online ezines and blogs. Here’re a couple sobering, troubling questions, along with one very dark thought: 1) When was the last time you read opinions and observations by our peers in print or online, except for the casual interview here and there, and the guest features you read in the Allen Letter professional journal? Now consider; 2) How would we fare, information-sharing and communication-wise, throughout our realty asset class, if we lost one or all these present day media means? Consequence. We’d likely have little to NO trade press left, and revert to the Dark Ages of No Communication suffered more than 25 years ago – except for what was written about home manufacturers!

To that end, decide before the end of December 2013, which of three Options describe your subscription affiliation with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, during 2014:

Option I. Allen Letter professional journal alone – No SSRDs (e.g. And no ALLEN
REPORT) enclosed with 12 monthly issues of the newsletter @ $134.95

Option II. Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, &
12 monthly Signature Series Resource Documents, @ $544.95/year

Option III. Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, &
12 monthly Signature Series Resource Documents, & the Allen
CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter, @ $944.95/year.

For those with existing subscriptions to either or both monthly print newsletters, an adjustment will be made to the amount you pay to begin the new year (2014). And remember; the 25th anniversary Biggest & Best ALLEN REPORT ever, will NOT be enclosed as a lagniappe or ‘freebie’ in the January 2014 Allen Letter professional journal!

To order Option I, II, or III subscription, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. If already an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, & NOT interested in receiving the 25th annual ALLEN REPORT & 12 SSRDs, simply await a renewal form on or near your subscription date.

Bottom Line, One Last Time. Your financial support of the ‘Community Owner (7 Part) Business Alliance’ ensures LLLCommunity owners/operators, large and small, nationwide, will benefit from the Seven Functions described above, for years, even decades, to come! This is your opportunity to ‘get on board’ during December 2013. Watch for an announcement of a meeting of COBA7 affiliates during Louisville MHShow, likely on 22 January at a hotel near the KY State Fair Grounds….
II.

Giving ‘Lifestyle’ Legs…

The ‘Lifestyle’ adjective is catching–on far faster than we expected it would!

Here’s how another blog flogger (reader) suggests we help the manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community asset class to embrace the ‘Lifestyle’ adjective among all segments or components of our unique, double – dual business type.*1

1. Start locally. Talk it up, and encourage exemplary businesses, new and old, to introduce Lifestyle into their entity name, mission statement, advertising, etc.. Even involve one’s state manufactured housing association in this new positioning of our housing type and community lifestyle.

2. Zero – in on HUD-Code manufacturers & land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators actively using Community Series Homes, or CSH Models, to fill some of those 250,000 vacant rental homesites nationwide! In a word; if we’re ‘taking the high road’ with new CSH Model homes, why not include Lifestyle in all marketing efforts as well? Same can be said of using the cutting edge Modular Lifestyle homes.

3. Insist all local housing market rent surveys of LLLCommunities, by JLT & Associates and others, to include ‘all such properties’, NOT just the cherry – picked few of lively interest to property portfolio consolidators. Then identify the ‘best’ properties within said surveys, and highlight them as being exemplary ‘Lifestyle’ communities in that local housing market(s).

As you likely recall from last week’s blog posting, the world’s largest owner/operator of land-lease-lifestyle communities (i.e. Equity Lifestyle Properties, or ELS, Inc., for short), and Canada’s largest owner/operator of LLLCommunities, Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities, Inc., have already incorporated the adjective Lifestyle into their entity names! And Modular Lifestyles, a California converter of ‘trailer parks’ into land-lease-lifestyle communities, is setting a positive example among property owners/operators on the West coast. Let me know, via the contact alternatives listed at the beginning of this blog posting, when you’ve introduced the adjective Lifestyle into your corporate name!

End Note. 1. Double-dual business type? ‘HUD-Code home manufacturing & distribution; LLLCommunity development & investment/management’.

***

III.

The Elephant in the Room

And this, from a third blog flogger (reader), & so worthy of your attention!

“George. Kudos to you for identifying ‘the elephant in the room’, affecting the present and future of our property type (land-lease-lifestyle communities), especially where major (portfolio) players are concerned!”

“The titanic lack of professional property management of these multi – million dollar real estate investment assets is perplexing. I know from where it (i.e. nominal worth of on-site managers) rises – the bean counters assumption ‘real estate is the value of the asset’. This view pales however, when site and home vacancy rears its’ head! My conclusion is, many of the mature and successful industry professionals we’ve known over the years, have risen to senior management positions, and now struggle to keep their fresh crop of ‘apartment leasing consultants’ afloat in their sea of home sales and site leasing ignorance.”

“Just make a few (telephone) calls, and ask the person answering (leasing or sales consultant) a few questions, if you want to experience the ‘dumbing down’ of today’s on – site staff. These are often (former) apartment leasing staffers who’ve discovered, working as LLLCommunity managers brings more job satisfaction than painting walls, cleaning carpets, and servicing appliances during make – ready. But they’ve NOT learned – or been taught. probably due to training budget constraints, the basics and finer points of community management, home sales, and site leasing.”

“I frankly, but selfishly, appreciate this phenomenon (i.e. Corporate training, supervision, & Mystery Shopping shortfalls), because it makes it SOOOO easy to compete against them! How does one beat their really nice curb appeal and high rents? By effectively managing, selling, leasing on – site! And ask their residents if they would buy there again, and put up with the ‘artificially inflated market rents’ these firms manufacture. Not! So, I thank God for the REITs!” (Edited. GFA)

WOW! As we asked earlier in this blog posting, ‘Where else can businessmen and women, from the grassroots of our industry/asset class, and working on the front lines of property management, home sales, and rental homesite leasing, go to publicly share their observations, opinions, ideas, even criticisms of the status quo, and how we conduct our various business interests?; Answer: ‘Nowhere else!’ Just here – and here’s how….

The following terse line is also from a ‘last week’ blog flogger, one with 30+ years in the manufactured housing industry – and it’s not me!

“Good plan for a new organization (‘NO; again, ‘COBA7’ is a ‘business alliance’, NOT a formal business or association entity funded by membership dues! GFA). Often wondered, over the years, why communities and retailers have stuck it out with the (national advocacy body/ies). Let’s get-r-dun!” NB

Think that an outlandish comment? I don’t, and here’s why. Let’s call it ‘affluence gerrymandering’ – the de facto control of national trade association agenda (voter) power by 1) always holding national meetings in expensive venues, affordable only to the most affluent of businesses and state trade associations – hence discouraging member participation; and where, 2) voting is restricted to only those relatively few members in attendance at said national meetings! *1 This is not a new concept, not at all. It’s been the self-serving, power-garnering pattern, within certain manufactured housing industry advocacy circles, for more than three decades. In this industry observer’s opinion, it’s high time for wholesale change, of one sort or another…!

What change(s)? There’re really only two choices, maybe three. To 1) work from within, as direct, dues – paying members, collectively agreeing to propose and effect changes – in selection of meeting venues, and changing organization’s bylaws (e.g. allowing proxy voting by absentee members). And barring success there, 2) launch a new trade entity designed, in part, to correct self – serving matters like ‘affluence gerrymandering’ and rejection of proxy voting by absentee members, OR, 3) put up with ‘affluence gerrymandering’ and rejection of proxy voting for another three decades! Whew! Let’s hope neither of the latter two alternatives become reality.

End Note. 1. ‘gerrymandering’ = “…change the boundaries of election districts to give one political party an unfair advantage.” In the instance of ‘affluence gerrymandering’? Effect artificial boundaries, i.e. 1) one’s ability to participate financially, & 2) restrict voting privilege to those direct, dues – paying members in attendance at meetings, ‘to give one political party (e.g. affluent businesses) an unfair advantage.’

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IV.

Hey, keep those emails, voicemail messages, penned notes, even telephone calls, coming my way! It ‘more than appears’ this weekly blog posting has struck a strong responsive chord among the 1,000+/- BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) recipients most Sunday mornings. At present we’re averaging more than a dozen written inquiries, insightful opinions, and helpful suggestions per week. And that’s fine. I can easily handle that volume. Don’t know ‘bout you, but I’m convinced the trade politic junkies, a.k.a. ‘wonks’ are so entrenched in one national advocacy body, they must continually ‘read about themselves’, and their ineffectiveness as leaders, lobbyists (Where’s that Senate bill we’ve been awaiting since before Thanksgiving?) and communicators, until they collectively adopt a New Years Resolution to better represent our entire industry!

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247

MHInitiative@2014

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Blog # 273 Copyright 2013 1 December 2013

George Allen Writes About Key MHBusiness Interests & Concerns – & More…

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufacture housing.’

Purpose of this blog. To be the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!

Ways to respond: Critical responses & helpful ideas Welcome for future blog coverage; gfa7156@aol.com; Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

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MHInitiative®2014*1

As I started to pen this week’s blog posting, and given the nature of narratives I was about to share, I recalled this earthy riposte:

“Hey, you do know the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story, don’t you?”

Well, a fairy tale begins…’Once upon a time….’, while a sea story starts…’This ain’t no sh–!”

With that rhetorical juxtaposition in mind, YOU DECIDE THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, whether what transpired during year 2014, was indeed a fairy tale come true – OR one gone seriously awry; OR, is it a sea story with no one left around to tell or who cares?

Manufactured Housing’s ‘Perfect Storm’ in 2014?

The confluence of several interrelated factors & happenstances suggest it so!

Let’s begin with MHI’s Conference Call with state manufactured housing association executives on 21 November, AND the ‘too little too late’ Senate Bill mirroring House Bill # 1779, a.k.a. ‘Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2013’. (On ‘Thanksgiving Day’ we were still waiting Senator J. Donnelly (D-IN) to introduce the latter bill – six months late, and a scant month before the end of this year’s legislative session!) Go figure.

Taken together; given the gist of said conference call, teaching ‘How to Live with the Truth in Lending Act’, rather than fighting it or welcoming needed/expected changes; and, effecting this last gasp, as penned earlier, ‘too little too late’ Senate Bill aping the stalled House Bill, suggests our industry’s efforts to unravel Dodd-Frank legislation, have been akin to stepping on Super Man’s cape, pissing up a rope or into the wind, even like repeatedly transporting, setting up, and dissembling a HUD-Code multisection manufactured home! It simply isn’t gonna – or in the latter instance, happen! But is THAT ‘the Real Story’ around and behind the failure of this round of legislative change effort? Methinks Not. But let’s wait and see what the unintended (Really?) consequences turn out to be, during 2014, (A hint) ‘regarding respective corporate National Market Share percentages of 1) HUD-Code home manufacturing, and 2) chattel capital sourcing.’

Here’s a summary look at major manufactured housing industry components or segments, and what they should consider doing in 2014, to weather the Perfect Storm:

HUD-Code home manufacturers. Learn to play better with the land-lease-lifestyle community folk! Whether you agree or not with last week’s blog headline: Land-lease-lifestyle Communities = Future of the Manufactured Housing Industry!, know until easier – to – obtain chattel financing, of new and resale manufactured homes sited in LLLCommunities ‘returns’ in volume to this industry, this unique, income – producing property type, is the only game in town, with an estimated 250,000 vacant rental homesites to be filled nationwide; that is, unless one wants to hang his/her future on ‘fracking’. So, if you’re not already aggressively marketing Community Series Homes, a.k.a. CSH Models to LLLCommunity owners/operators, big and small, learn how to do so during 2014! Two hints: First; pressure national advocacy bodies to plan and host a National Strategic Planning Meeting focused on how to effectively market CSH Model homes to the 42,500 LLLCommunities NOT in anyone’s property portfolio! And, if not already familiar with the ‘5 – RPs of Marketing’ and how they apply to you and LLLCommunities, order a FREE plastic wallet card containing what you need to know about Right Product, Right Place, right Price, Right Promotion, Right People. *2

Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators. Property disposition and consolidation among portfolio ‘players’, in the U.S. & Canada, continues unabated. Read the 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT (A.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators Throughout North America!’) for details – and much more.*2 Number One concern among owners/operators continues to be filling vacant rental homesites with new homes and qualified homeowners/site lessees. This only happens ‘today’ when has sufficient and reliable sources of chattel capital to engage in one form or another of self – finance; more about that later. In this MHIndustry veteran observer’s opinion, the second most obvious shortcoming, throughout the realty asset class, is the absence of professional property management, at all levels. For the most part, we continue to run our valuable income – producing properties ‘by the seat of our pants’. If not already familiar with the aforementioned ‘5-RPs of Marketing plastic wallet card – for LLLCommunities, order one today. Also ask for the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet. And if you’re really bold and conscientious, you’ll sign all your property managers up for training and certification as Manufactured Housing Managers® or MHMs®! *3

Manufactured housing finance. This is one area where ‘angels surely fear to tred’. As an industry, we have a bad, repetitive history of abusing our access to personal property (chattel) capital, seeing dozens of independent, third party ‘lenders’ of this type financing ‘come and go’, over the years. Memories of our most recent debacle, looking back to 1998 – 2008, a period sometimes labeled our Enronesque period, remains painful and consequential, i.e. Five years of record low ‘new home shipments’ @ 50,000+/-/year, and still no easy access to any volume of reasonable chattel financing for new and resale manufactured homes on – site in land-lease-lifestyle communities! Today? Appears we fight (or comply) with state and federal financial regulations on every front. Oh sure, chattel capital is available from the (now) Big Five + One independent lenders serving the manufactured housing industry, but only to prospective homebuyers/site lessees with ‘higher than average’ credit scores.*4 During the past five or more years, some new, and some old, terms like self – finance, ‘captive finance’, and lease – option have come to the fore, as more and more land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators aggressively market, sell and self – finance new and resale homes on – site in their properties. How pervasive have these practices become? The annual ALLEN REPORT, during the past several years has estimated/documented more than $5 billion dollars of ‘contract sale’ paper on – site; this up from a few million dollars at the turn of the Century. And, during 2013, one of the nation’s largest LLLCommunity owners/operators, Zeman MHC, launched it’s own ‘bank’ (Green Hill Financial), to serve the chattel finance needs of other property portfolio owners/operators, first in a few states, then more….

End Notes.

1. MHInitiative®. The latter day or successor term for the National State of the Asset Class caucuses held on 27 February 2008 & 2009 respectively. Every year since then, we’ve ended the year, at PMN Publishing, with an update regarding the landmark matters decided upon at those two seminal meetings. Here you have this year’s summary and look ahead into year 2014. To learn what happened at the two aforementioned NSAC caucuses, read Landlease Communities, Manufactured Home Communities, Mobile Home Parks, Trailer Courts & Camps, & Affordable Housing, PMN Publishing, 2011. To order, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

2. To order the 25th annual ALLEN REPORT and or FREE ‘5 – RPs of Marketing plastic wallet cards (one for HUD- Code home manufacturers & one for LLLCommunity owners/operators), phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE in previous end note.

3. ‘Ah Ha & Uh Oh! Worksheet for calculating ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ new & resale price points for homes going into LLLCommunities or site conveyed fee simple, use the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE in end note # 1.

4. 21st Mortgage Corporation, Triad Financial Services, Inc., CU Factory Built Lending, U.S. Bank – Manufactured Housing Finance, & Green Hill Financial; as well as Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. (latter = Clayton Homes’ in – house chattel lender)

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