Numbers, Attitudes, Books & Errors all ‘UP’ at MHCongress!

Numbers, Attitudes, Books & Errors, all ‘UP’ AT MHCongress!

Just about ‘anyone who’s anybody’ in the MH business was in Las Vegas

I.
First the numbers! According to Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) exec Thayer Long, overall attendance at the recently concluded 2010 Manufactured Housing Congress, in Las Vegas, NV. was up from 690 in 2009, to 730 last week! That’s progress; hopefully on our way back to the ‘thousands’ of a few years ago.

Just as impressive, was the jump in the number of landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators participating in the Fifth Annual National Communities Council (‘NCC’) FORUM. Here, attendance rose from the 150 present last year, to 200 this time around. And no wonder; ‘everyone’ opined this year’s joint program with Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) highly regarded Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) was a Winner, from start to finish!

II.
Borrowed from a chapter title in Chapbook of Business and Management Wisdom, here’re ‘Scintillatingly Salient – but – Salacious’ observations gleaned from three days of ‘goings on’ at this year’s MHCongress. *1

Historic! This was first time in ULI history, for one of its’ several dozen ‘product councils’ to meet independent of the institute’s major membership meeting, this year occurring near simultaneously in Boston, MA. Why important? MHCC is widely regarded as MHIndustry’s de facto Think Tank. This joint meeting cements a key working relationship between MHI and ULI. No ‘attitude adjustment’ needed here!

The (Mobile Home) Park Girl debuted at this year’s MHCongress, offering property management services to LLCommunities in Texas. Contact Ms. Acosta via (877) 565-3444. When she gets the MHIndustry lingo right, and adds a PM credential or two to her name and firm, look for that team to be a ‘professional’ property management force to contend with in Texas and possibly elsewhere.

Spectrum Utilities Solutions recently acquired Edison Micro – Utilities, and Water Saver Systems, giving it a presence in 24 states – from New Jersey to California, offering utility submetering equipment, installation, and billing services. Contact: Fred Rice and Dave Eversole, respectively, at (614) 214-777 & 738-9996.

Dick Bessire of Bessire & Casenhiser circulated a list of ‘43 Useful Ways to Use DW-40’. Want a copy? Call (909) 594-0501. ‘Keeps flies off cows’, ‘attracts fish when sprayed on bait’, and much much more! WD-40 that is, not the list!

SUNSTONE manufactured housing consultants also debuted at this MHCongress. ‘Think’ Bob McBroom, Christopher Nortley, and Kolman Bubis. (312) 479-1200. Had planned to ‘do a story’ describing their transition from CBRichard Ellis, but we never got together….YOU can though, by phoning (312) 442-4402.

Nearly 100 copies of the just released Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer were sold, at a special show price of $20.00, at the MHCongress! The 100 page compendium contains ‘Almost everything you’ve wanted and needed to know about manufactured housing (chattel) finance but didn’t know who to ask!’ Now available to the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class at large, for only $29.95 (postpaid), by phoning (317) 346-7156 or via the website posting this blog: community-investor.com Contains the Official MHIndustry Lexicon (glossary), two ways to value manufactured homes, sources of MH chattel finance, finance service & consulting firms, federal programs, regulatory reform, and ‘How to sell & self – finance new & resale homes in LLCommunities’, list of all BDMs, description of Community Series Homes or ‘CSH’, and much much more!

Paul Bradley’s ROC – USA made a splash at the MHCongress! How so? A dozen members of his LLCommunity team attended FORUM & Congress seminars, networked with new and old peers at social events, manned an Information Booth on the show floor, and generally interacted with MHIndustry and LLCommunity businessmen and women – explaining their unique Business Model, converting this income – producing property type from private to cooperative ownership.*2

Susan Gargano of Creative Haven Media & Marketing, and Lauren Shippy of The DeSimone Group, both from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, were present and actively seeking creative but practical ways to assist the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class in a soon and joint recovery from their ‘now decade long’ economic malaise. If YOU have ideas, contact them, respectively via (609) 351-6043 & (856) 702-6007. Tell ‘em ‘George sent you!’

Lou Vela, now with iCAP Michigan, as senior director, was as busy as ever, lining up real estate mortgage clients. (248) 539-7800. Do YOU have a copy of the 12th annual ‘Lender’s Registry of Real Estate Loan Originators & Lenders’? Was enclosed as a lagniappe with the March issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. Call (317) 346-7156 to request a FREE copy. Speaking of RE lenders, Brian Mills (727) 374-6040 was present, as were the DiMarco brothers (585) 423-0230, Charlie Williams (602) 284-8772, Dan Armstrong (205) 991-6700, Lew Grace (949) 477-1545, John Jacobs (813) 829-5061, Bruce Tolchin (310) 442-8400, and Cary Monroe (813)229-5055.

The Jerry Gowans, present at the MHCongress sans wife Donna, have a new book out, Take the ‘E’ out of EGO and ‘GO’! Check it out via www.EoutofEGO.com

Did you pick up one or both the FREE books Don Westphal distributed at his booth? If not, and you’re anticipating the rejuvenation of an aging or abused LLCommunity, YOU need these useful and timely resources! Contact him via (248) 651-5518.

And, if you’re at all into social networking, either as a novice or regular, contact Suzanne S. Felber via TrailerDiva.com and request a copy of ‘A Do – it Yourself Guide to Social Media’ produced by The Home Idea Factory. Or phone (214) 941-8341.

Speaking of books. If you didn’t get a FREE copy of the fourth edition of Tony Petosa, Nick Bertino & Creighton Weber’s Manufactured Home Community Financing Handbook, go to wellsfargo.com/mhc Frankly, this real estate mortgage How To text, and survey of present day lending trends, should be on every LLCommunity owner/operators book shelf, to be read before acquiring or refinancing another property!

At CPM® candidate Candice Hocomb’s excellent seminar on ‘Managing LLCommunities in Tough Times’, there were no fewer than six Certified Property Managers® on hand to hear and give her moral support: Michael Sullivan, CPM®; Allan Alt, CPM®; Bill Cramer, CPM® & MHM; John Rogosich, CPM® & MHM; and George Allen, CPM® & MHM. Can’t even recall the last time there were that many CPMs® in one room at a manufactured housing or landlease community function!

III.
And now for some ERRORS. Here’s a general one: If you or your firm have any intention of being or becoming a significant ‘player’ on the MHIndustry and or LLCommunity business scene, it’s an obvious ERROR for YOU not to participate in the annual MHCongress. For example; ask yourself (if present at said event), ‘What print trade publications were present?’ Answer: At least three FREE and subscriber – supported business newsletters (e.g. Allen Letter professional journal @ 317/346-7156), but no trade magazine(s) whatsoever! And, ‘What online trade publications were present?’ Answer: Several, but not all! Keep that in mind when product and service vendors vie for your business. Ask them, ‘What are you doing to keep MHBusiness segments healthy and growing in today’s difficult economy?’ Special Announcement: If you’d like one of the first copies of Official Manufactured Housing PRINT MEDIA Resources, ON LINE MEDIA Resources, and SOCIAL MEDIA Resources Contact List, being readied for distribution, as a lagniappe, in an upcoming issue of the aforementioned Allen Letter professional journal; SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

Some specific ERRORS. One speaker opined, though treated this as a fact, “More LLCommunities are going into foreclosure these days than ever before!” NOT! Ask any LLCommunity (nee ‘mobile home park’) veteran who was around when the HUD Code went into effect in 1976. Not only did home shipments plunge from 575,940 in 1972 to 49,789 in 2009, but physical occupancy didn’t rise much above 50 percent ‘way back then’ until we hit our historic 95 percent high in the late 1990s, and to have now dropped off to 88.2 percent! There’s ‘no valid comparison’ between foreclosure volumes during the late 1970s with what’s happening today!

And this: “More LLCommunities are being bulldozed today than are being built!” NOT! Just read the last several annual ALLEN REPORTS. While not replicating the ‘new development’ volume of the early 1970s (again; when 575,940 homes/per year, with 80+ percent going into ‘mobile home parks’) and late 1990s, during our mini – renascence, there’ll still a healthy number of new LLCommunities being built every year, and existing properties being expanded.

And this: “Past industry standard OERs *3 no longer apply to contemporary LLCommunity operations!” NOT SO! All the ‘old OERs’ still apply; it’s simply prudent, in some instances (e.g. when dealing with older properties and deteriorating infrastructures), to add a new line item labeled ‘capital reserves’, and with a percentage allowance relative to anticipated need for near and far future on – site capital expenditures.

The BIGGEST ERRORS of all did not occur at this year’s MHCongress, but they were indeed addressed. What are they? Too high rental homesite rent rates in particular local housing markets, and the consequences thereof! First; here’re two ‘real life examples’ of too high rental homesite rates. In central Florida, a large LLCommunity charges more than $600.00/month site rent in a local housing market where 2BR2B conventional apartment units rent for $800.00/month. Using the 3:1 ratio, (Where site rents are 1/3rd apartment rents), target site rent is $260/month; so, present site rent is nearly 2 ½ times what this Rule of Thumb suggests! Result? To sustain occupancy, the owner/operator allegedly puts prospective homebuyers into resale homes for as little as $75.00, if they’ll sign a homesite lease at the above – referenced $600/month rate. And in central Indiana, a 1BR1B apartment on a golf course goes for $426/month rent, while a mile down the road, a large LLCommunity, with declining occupancy, continues to charge $446/month site rent in this local housing market where the 3:1 Ratio suggests site rent should be $300/month or less. (Based on $900/month for 2BR2B conventional apartment). Bottom line ERRORS? Giving homes away to get site rent, and leasing vacant rental homesites for nearly the same amount one can move into a 1BR1B apartment on a golf course! Those are just two of the horror (error) stories circulating these days….

So, how were these and other out of balance site rent situations addressed at this year’s FORUM and MHCongress? In a variety of ways. Some LLCommunity owners/operators actually (finally) recommended lowering rental homesite rent rates! Others decline to do so, preferring to make up for losses in physical occupancy by ‘renting’ homes on – site, and expanding existent home sales and self – finance programs. Not sure if the NCC FORUM ‘book’, containing Power Point Presentations on this topic, is available for purchase, but you might call (703) 558-0678 and ask Thayer Long if they are. And while you’re at it, find out how to become a direct member of MHI in general, the NCC in particular!

But, for the first time in many years, LLCommunity owners/operators, in general, are clamoring to learn 1) How to decide the appropriate site rent in any given local housing market (Think 3:1 Ratio described two paragraphs earlier), and 2) How to calculate ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ price points for new and resale manufactured homes in any given local housing market. If you’d like a copy of the handout used for the 1 ½ hour class: ‘Is Your LLCommunity Really Ready to Sell & Self – finance New & Resale Homes On – site?’, phone (317) 346-7156 and request it. And, while you’re at it, consider ordering a copy of the aforementioned Manufactured Housing Finance Primer for only $29.95 (postpaid). Why? Because the seminar syllabus is part of chapter # 7, and includes several helpful forms, including the EQUALIZER, and the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ formulae.

IV
In closing, I owe you an update regarding remarks made at the conclusion of last week’s blog posting. Yes, some HUD Code housing manufacturers are interested in ‘finally getting together’ to talk about our industry’s Business Model and how to best weather the ‘Near Perfect Storm’ we’ve been in now for a decade. More approached me – confidentially, about this, in Las Vegas. So, if you have a real and vested (i.e. ‘skin in the game’) interest in seeing HUD Code manufactured housing survive threats of a Grand Conspiracy, and thrive, then let me know by email, phone or whatever. Just since last week’s blog posting, I’ve received several such inquiries, but need more, to decide if and when to proceed with planning a third NSAC caucus type event for this segment of the MHBusiness.*4

*****

End Notes.

1. Chapbook of Business and Management Wisdom, by George Allen, is available for $10.00, per copy, from PMN Publishing. (317) 346-7156.

2. ROC = resident – owned communities

3. OER = operating expense ratio(s)
4.
5. NSAC caucus. Two have been held to date: 2/27/08 in Tampa, FL., attended by 100+ LLCommunity owners/operators; and, 2/27/09 in Elkhart, IN., attended by 100+ HUD Code home manufacturers & LLCommunity owners/operators.

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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