MHIndustry Need a Good Muckraking Journalist!

MHIndustry needs a good muckraking* journalist…. Why?

(And it’s not going to be me!) Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SHARK ATTACK!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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