Salmagundi of Manufactured Housing News & Views

A Salmagundi of MHIndustry News & Views….*1

I.

Just learned Automated Builder magazine, after switching from print to online format (i.e. ezine) recently, now “will take a furlough”, replaced by a monthly online AB newsletter, at an annual subscription rate of $50.00. Phone (805) 642-9735. Many of us ‘in the MHBusiness’, cut our industry baby teeth reading AB publisher Don Carlson’s informative and often comment – provoking editorials. Tragically, this is the second online ezine to cease publication (Think The Grissim Report) since the June debut of factory – built housing’s Official Resource for Print & On – line Media directory. As related side; what’s John Grissim up to these days? Read the September issue of the Allen Letter professional journal to find out. Hint: ‘It’s a mystery!’

Know what this means? Here’s what remains of manufactured housing media: ONE advertiser – supported print magazine, the Journal; TWO subscriber – supported print newsletters: the Allen Letter professional journal & the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! (Phone 317/346-7156); and, TWO online monthly ezines, Chattel Finance Newsletter (free) via captivefinance.net & Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management (free) via MHMSM.com. Then there’re Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) Community Connections online newsletter, published quarterly for National Communities Council (‘NCC’) members (Phone 703/558-0678); and, Dick Moore’s (Think MHRetailer par excellence) INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES (free) online newsletter, which appears when he gets the itch to share his extensive knowledge, and express strong opinions, on various manufactured housing issues. And that folks, is all that remains!

II.

“Better to lease than to be S.A.F.E.d!” is a new landlease community bromide making the rounds these days.*2 The point seems to be, there’re less regulatory hurdles to clear ‘leasing a manufactured home on – site in a LLCommunity’, than when engaging in property owner financing of new and resale homes, via either ‘captive finance’ or ‘buy here – pay here’ chattel loan underwriting and servicing procedures. What do you think? For more information on this timely and critical topic, read Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer, available for $29.95 postpaid, by via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633.4764. Also FYI! A Captive Finance Workshop is scheduled for 24 & 25 August in Chicago, IL. Phone (217) 971-3968.

III.

At the annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, hosted by the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, at its’ marvelous museum and library facility, in Elkhart, IN., on 2 August, we learned of the passing of Professor Carl Edwards, one of our industry’s few remaining genuine pioneers. Carl was a good friend to many, and has long been regarded and respected as manufactured housing’s de facto historian! His last book, Homes for Travel and Living was published in 1977, and a copy sits on a shelf in my office library. What I remember most about Carl, however, is a series of his reprints, dating back to 1970 – 74, titled: ‘Different Dwelling Costs – Mobile Homes as Housing’s Best Buy’. These served as the basis for some of my earliest trade magazine writing in the mid 1980s.

Speaking of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Museum and Library facility, I encourage you to financially support this guardian of our collective RV/MH business legacy; better yet, visit the large the new facility, located right along the I-80/90 Toll Road on the East side of Elkhart, IN. Phone (574) 293-2344 for more information. Carolyn and I’ve donated annually, for more than a decade; won’t you join us? And consider hosting your firm’s next industry – related training or social event in one of the facility’s large, attractive display halls or meeting rooms! You’ll be glad you did!

IV.

Let’s revisit the final two paragraphs of last week’s blog posting. Why? Both generated thoughtful remarks you need to read! Remember, these provocative paragraphs were penned by one of the few true, decades – seasoned sages remaining active in the MHIndustry:

• “Relative to the long – awaited Title I program. As you probably know, the final regs are out; and, while GNMA has lifted its’ moratorium, it’s also established (stringent financial guarantee) guidelines that effectively eliminate all but two (Really one, when you consider who owns the two firms) chattel lenders from participating in the program, virtually ending competition among said lenders!” Hmm. First we lost many lenders; then most MHRetailers; next our housing manufacturers; and now, possibly 50 percent of the remaining lenders?

One of several responses. “I share the same concerns, from the portion of the blog that relates to Title I and GNMA requirements. Between these requirements, FINREG and the S.A.F.E. Act, the only people who’ll be left, are the exact ones the government is afraid of, the TBTF (‘Too Big to Fail!) folk. They’ll be the only ones able to absorb the costs that continue to appear, as we try to conduct compliant chattel loan programs. For example, see Friday announcements of bank closings. Never is a TBTF bank listed, just your small community banks caught up in all the new regulation requirements forced upon them. So, if the TBTF folk are not loaning money, and the small community banks don’t, who are we left with?” PB (lightly edited)

• “And George, except for selling to Seniors, home financing is the key to success in our industry! As long as we market home products and LLCommunities to low and moderate income buyers, who’re mostly credit – challenged, we’re going to have difficulty obtaining viable home financing programs anywhere. Answer? While there’s no simple solution, greatly and widely ‘improving our image’ with the general public, will help to move us up the credit score chain to more credit worthy buyers, and access new financing options for home sales.” Hmm. This gets kinda personal. So, what will YOU do, even ME, to address this image issue?

Here’s how some of you replied to the second paragraph. Again, comments lightly edited.

“I agree we need image enhancement. We hear about different efforts being started, but then seems to dissipate, and we never get the REAL reason for its’ demise. Do you know, or can you get to the bottom of ‘why’ these plans never come to fruition? Strictly money? Who’s going to pay? Who is in control? At the (17th) Networking Roundtable in Mystic, CT., the (home) purchasers agreed to add a lot of money to each house (sold) to fund a program. (One manufacturer) seemed to be enthusiastically in favor of it. Does (another manufacturer) not see this as favorable to them, or do they want to do it on their own, for their own brand only?” JD

“Your (sage’s) last paragraph poignantly hammers the smart MH guys and gals. We are not promoting ourselves! While we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars playing chess (lobbying) with the bureaucrats in state houses and DC, we ignore our customers. Even if we had chattel (finance matters) handled, would customers be visiting our sales centers/dealerships? We must require our (trade) associations to get busy promoting, advertising, and showing our (housing) products to the masses! Who needs financing when we have no customers of substance? The author of that paragraph needs a hug ‘attaboy’ – or ‘girl’, for seeing ‘where some of our cheese is hiding’ – right behind our own lack of promotion!” NP

Point? These and additional, similar responses, arrive from the grassroots of this industry, throughout the U.S. There’re messages here to be heeded. Who’s listening?

V.

Next week will mark the posting of my 100th blog, if I’ve got the count right; might be #99. Anyway, as some of you know, this blog series’ began on Manufactured Home Merchandiser’s website more than a year ago, before the print trade magazine ceased publication; then it segued to the community-investor.com website. I want this to be a special posting, and have already started working on it. A possible title and topic might be: To Churn or To Nurture? Deciding to ‘make easy money’ or ‘build lasting value’, when owning/operating one or more landlease communities! What do you think? A much needed discussion? Or; too heady, controversial, and simply a ‘none of your darn business’ topic? But hey; if you’ve got a better topic idea, let me know ASAP via this website, email: gfa7156@aol.com, or either of the aforementioned telephone numbers.

VI.

In little more than a month, 200+/- of the most active LLCommunity owners/operators in North America will gather, from 15 – 17 September 2010, at the beautiful Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort Hotel in Phoenix, AZ., for 2 ½ days of the Best Education (nearly two dozen or so seminar & panel offerings), Interpersonal Networking (at nearly a dozen social events and meals), and superb Deal – making venue (Beginning with Marcus & Millichap’s State of the Asset Class presentation of dozens of LLCommunities ‘for sale’ – and much more) available anytime, anywhere in the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class! CAVCO and Champion Homes plan to have Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) on display, adjacent to the International Networking Roundtable’s meeting rooms. Come and meet HUD Code home manufacturers’ Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) who know how to ‘talk LLCommunity’, when it comes to new home sales! Keynote presenter this year? Randy Rowe, of Green Courte Partners & American Land Lease renown returns! Don’t miss ‘his take’ on ‘what’s going on’ throughout the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class these days! (317) 346-7156.

One hiccup to this year’s INR schedule. Had hoped to provide a side – by – side opportunity for our two national advocacy bodies to tell their respective stories during a panel session. This isn’t going to happen. BUT, have already arranged for an equally informative and equally stimulating panel session relative to….

VII.

By now, ‘you know me’; more accurately, ‘my writing style’, from previous blog postings. I oft leave the best news till last, at the very end of the weekly blog. While not quite true this time around, I do indeed leave a titillating teaser tidbit with you! In either the August 22nd or 29th blog posting, at this website, Watch for a very Special & Timely Announcement, of a Most POSITIVE Nature! Hint. ‘The South may indeed rise again!’

In the meantime; will I see you in Chicago on the 23rd, 24th & 25th of August? How ‘bout in Phoenix, AZ on the 15th, 16th & 17th of September? Sure hope so! Those two venues are followed by MHI’s annual meeting in Denver, CO., on the 27th & 28th of September; and , the Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) – not HUD’s MHCC (Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee), on the 12th thru 15th of October in Washington, DC. Whew! How does one keep abreast of these workshops, roundtables, annual meetings, and council (a.k.a. ‘Think Tank’) gatherings? When YOU can’t attend, know the event descriptions and proceedings are almost always reported in the pages of the Allen Letter professional journal! One more reason many of your peers, if not yet you, subscribe! (317) 346-7156.

End Notes:
1. Salmagundi. A hash or stew; any mixture.
2. Safe And Fair Enforcement of Mortgage Licensing Act

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®, Emeritus, MHM. Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247

Leave a Reply