How to Effect MHIndustry Turnaround; TRENDS

COBA7@ community-investor.com Blog # 315 Copyright 21 September 2014

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

This blog posting ‘is a national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’

To input this blog &/or affiliate with Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance®, a.k.a. COBA7®, use Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

*ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin, fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.’

Introduction to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website:

I.

‘Participate in MHIndustry Turnaround! How? Get FREE Copy of Official WHITE PAPER &…’ Five Specific Steps to Effect the MHIndustry Turnaround – and the sooner the better! These are things YOU can do NOW – if you care about your livelihood.

II.

‘Recent Past, Present, & Emerging Trends Throughout the LLLCommunity Asset Class’
NO ONE ELSE will describe the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of the past 15+/- years! Read & Learn, then Commit to Participate & get our industry & asset class back on track!

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I.

Participate in MHIndustry Turnaround! How?
Get FREE Copy of Official WHITE PAPER &…

But first, read what a few attendees, at the recently concluded 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable, had to say about it:

• “Well Done! One of the Best Values in any type of conference I’ve attended in ages!!!”

• ‘Thank You, George & Carolyn, for another Great Conference. The Future of the (manufactured housing) industry is an important topic which would benefit from more open and vigorous discussion!”

• “I would like more from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac on the possibility of financing (manufactured) homes within manufactured home communities. Furthermore, this venue was a nice change of pace. We need to feel inspired and excited about the future of our industry..”

The writers are not identified, as the Event Evaluation Forms did not ask for individual’s names or contact information. But, as they say, ‘The beat goes on!’ Next year’s 24th annual International Networking Roundtable is scheduled for 9-11 September 2015. Where? That’s not been decided, but we’re open to suggestions: Phone (317) 346-7156.

Now, take the following FIVE SPECIFIC STEPS to effectively move HUD-Code manufactured housing up and away from its’ six year ‘malaise-afflicted state of being’ (50,000+/- shipments/year since year 2009), onto a productive business model route to new HUD-Code home shipment recovery!

STEP # 1. Telephone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and request a FREE copy of the aforementioned Official WHITE PAPER! The research, preparation, and distribution of this salient 20 page document, initially during the 23rd annual Networking Roundtable – and now to YOU, has been funded by several HUD-Code home manufacturers and LLLCommunity owners/operators, all tired of operating in a vacuum, and now seeking renewed prosperity! So, read the Official WHITE PAPER closely, record your ideas and suggestions in the spaces provided therein, then…

STEP # 2. Read the proceedings from two stimulating National Public Forums (‘NPF’) held the morning of 9/11 at the Networking Roundtable. Professionally prepared by the staff of American Housing Advocates, or AHA. Said proceedings will be published in the October issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Either read the proceedings as a newsletter subscriber or, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE and request a FREE copy! Now, with your Official WHITE PAPER notes and NPF proceedings in hand…

STEP # 3. Ponder and complete the CHALLENGE-OPPORTUNITY Worksheet that’ll be mailed to you with the WHITE PAPER and NPF proceedings. This one page worksheet is designed to outline your ideas and suggestions for discussion at a National Strategic Planning Meeting this Winter. Instructions on the CHALLENGE-OPPORTUNITY Worksheet encourage you to make five copies of your handiwork, then mail them to five of manufactured housing’s national advocacy leaders and influencers! At that point it becomes their responsibility – if they have a mind to do so – to rally, organize and lead MHIndustry and LLLCommunity businessmen and women via…

STEP # 4. A National Strategic Planning Meeting, to which anyone and everyone (especially YOU) in the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity asset class, no matter what national association, institute, or affiliation. Just be willing to ‘pay your own way’! It’s envisioned such an historic two day event would be planned and facilitated jointly by MHARR, MHI, & COBA7®*1; occurring, again, sometime this Winter in an easily accessible central location, in a facility that’s reasonably priced, – possibly in a warm climate. Once strategic planning is complete, return home and together…

STEP # 5. DO IT! But is all this possible? You bet it is! What follows, in the next section of this week’s blog posting, is a summary of recent Past, Present, and Emerging Trends, related to the land-lease-lifestyle community asset class. The common thread through all the trends? How LLLCommunity owners/operators did not ‘sit on their hands’ and wait for chattel financing to return, or the national economy to improve – but rather, took matters into their own hands, and crafted new avenues to business success! Now it’s time for the HUD-Code home manufacturing/distribution segment of the manufactured housing industry to plan and perform similarly. Are YOU aboard?

II.

Recent Past, Present & Emerging Trends

Throughout the LLLCommunity Asset Class

RECENT PAST TRENDS.

Circa year 2000, independent (street) MHRetailers, featuring Big Box = Big Bucks ‘developer series’ manufactured homes were competed head-to-head with traditional stick builders, and filled vacant rental homesites in (then) manufactured home communities. The trend? In a futile effort to sustain new HUD-Code home annual shipment levels at the 1998 acme of 372,843 units, ‘we’ often turned homebuying/site lessee customers ‘Upside Down in Mobilehome Parks’!*2 Consequence? By year 2005,, more than 250,000 repossessed manufactured homes, and a slide from the all time high physical occupancy level of 95%, in 1998, down to 75+/-% within a decade!

A corollary trend, subsequent to turning homebuyers/site lessees ‘upside down’ financially, and near wholesale chattel capital exit, then hiatus, from the manufactured housing scene, precipitated MHCommunity owners/operators to buy, resell, and self-finance repo, resale, and eventually new homes, even modular units, and RV park models on-site, throughout the U.S.. In fact, the variety of shelter types now found on-site, suggested the new collective term of ‘land-lease-lifestyle community’ or LLLCommunity, as being more appropriate than the previous moniker.

PRESENT DAY TRENDS

Year 2008 saw the birth of another new trend, this one in manufactured housing design. On 27 February 2008, 100+/- HUD-Code home manufacturers and community owners/operators convened at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s new Hall of Fame facility in Elkhart, IN., to ‘Discuss & agree on what it’d take to sell more new manufactured homes into communities!’ The answer? Community Series Home models, designed specifically for in-community placement. CSH models are generally smaller size multisection homes and modest-sized singlesection homes, but all feature a dozen or so durability-enhancing features, to facilitate unit repairs between tenants or homeowners.

At that same time, a core of several dozen Business Development Managers, or BDMs, were named by home manufacturers, to specialize in marketing CSH models to community owners/operators nationwide. Most active among these sales pros, are Steve Quick of Fleetwood Homes, Byron Stroud of Champion Homes, Rick Grewe of Hart Housing, Michael Kinsbury of Adventure Homes, Bill Danforth of Cavco Homes, and Mark Ledet of Legacy Homes. For more on CSH Models & a list of all BDMs, phone (317) 346-7156.

So prevalent has the practice of buying new manufactured homes directly from the factory, then selling them to homebuyers/site lessees on-site, and engaging in self-finance, of one sort or another, the (now) land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators have become widely recognized as being the trend: a ‘New Breed of MHRetailer & Lender’! But there’s a hitch, actually some shortcomings, that need to be addressed if the manufactured housing industry expects to fully recover from its’ six year malaise (Year 2009 to present day) and eventually regain national housing market share. Answers to these shortcomings might be found in at least two emerging trends….

EMERGING TRENDS

Research, resources, communication, networking, deal-making, professional property management, and (when need be) national advocacy are seven key functions, that until recently (1 January 2015), lacked a singular national identity and source among LLLCommunity owners/operators. Enter the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®. Now, along with the Manufactured Housing Institute’s National Communities Council division, whose sole emphasis is ‘national advocacy’, these seven bases are now well covered. By phoning the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, any LLLCommunity owners/operator in the U.S. and Canada, can access needed statistics & directories; online & print communication, networking & deal-making opportunities; professional PM training & certification; even national advocacy – since COBA7®’ assumed the role of official MHIndustry ombudsman (press). To tap into MHI’s NCC division’s ‘national advocacy’ interest, phone (703) 558-0666 and talk to Jenny Hodge.

Then there’s manufactured housing Sales Training! Until recently, that’s been the continuing bugaboo (Beside identifying sources of chattel capital for seller-financing of sales transactions) of on-site home sales in small to mid-sized LLLCommunities and property portfolios. Where to go? Who to use to learn to effectively market and sell new and resale homes on-site? Oh sure, large portfolio folk have used the past half decade to recruit conventional home marketing and sales personnel from outside the MHIndustry, then fashion in-house programs to meet their unique needs. But there’re NO existent in-industry trainers willing or able to make the transition from independent (street) MHRetail sales center operation (i.e. Selling product & price) to on-site LLLCommunity sales center methodology (Selling home & lifestyle) – till now. Effective with his keynote presentation on this subject during the 23rd annual Networking Roundtable, John Ace Underwood, CMI®, of Selling Edge, appears to have successfully ‘made that transition’. *3. But truth be told, for this emerging trend to flourish, we need more such trainers, and the sooner the better. Seriously interested? Let me know ASAP!

FUTURE TRENDS.

Obviously I don’t know what they’ll be, anymore than anyone reading this blog posting.. But one thing is certain: the manufactured housing industry, and by dint of its’ close relationship – LLLCommunities, are at a critical crossroads in their 70+ year history. Either continue to muddle along as we’ve been doing, for the past six to nine years, or make a concerted effort to strategically plan and effect our collective future going forward, where respective Business Models are concerned – along with Image Improvement, National Advertising, and more….

But I will go out on one ‘future trend’ limb. With the census of independent (street) MHRetailers having plummeted from approximately 1100 (circa 1998) down to fewer than 400 nationwide today, who’re manufactured home buyers, owning scattered building sites conveyed fee simple, going to buy new manufactured homes from, going forward? The following is an unsolicited quote from a LLLCommunity portfolio owner/operator:

“While visiting one of our properties this week , two phone calls came in from prospects wanting to buy new manufactured homes from us, for their private property. Our manager tells me he gets these calls frequently; also at another of our other properties. While most of us are glad to sell homes within our LLLCommunities, pretty much at cost to get the site rent; if demand continues to increase for such homes outside our properties, we may have to get comfortable with that end of the business too.”

In a similar vein, we’ve also been hearing from LLLCommunity owners/operators, who’re marketing and selling new and resale homes on-site, complaining about factory and warranty service challenges. Again, ‘years ago’ one could count on local independent (street) MHRetailers to handle some of this responsibility to our home buying customers, but that’s not the case anymore. SO, who’s to step in and become the customer service rep of the 21st Century? Some now opine that since home installers must now be ‘licensed to perform’, they should be encouraged to broaden their business service base to include this opportunity ‘for a price’. What say you? Again, interested minds would like to know.

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End Note.

1. Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform @ (202) 783-4087; Manufactured Housing Institute @ (703) 558-0400; &, Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, @ Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764..

2. ‘Upside Down in a Mobilehome Park’ is one of the classic trade publication articles that describes, in fictional story-telling fashion, what happened to the average homebuying/site lessee customer at the turn of this century. To obtain a FREE copy of the reprint, simply telephone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

3. John ‘Ace’ Underwood recently addressed the Illinois association’s annual meeting, on how to engage in on-site home sales, and will be a featured presenter at the SECO Summit in the South on 1 & 2 October, followed by similar presentations in Indiana and Iowa, during the months ahead. Reach him via junderw794@aol.com

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