Deep Thinkers Respond to FHFA Frustration: ‘Too Few ‘new type’ Homes Financed to Date’

Blog # 564 @ 12 December 2019; www.educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

This blog is the online national advocate, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with EducateMHC, telephone Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Also email: gfa7156@aol.com, & visit www.educatemhc.com

Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!. Goal: promote HUD-Code manufactured housing & land lease communities as U.S. source of affordable attainable housing! MHM class: 1/14/2020 in KY

INTRODUCTION: This week’s blog posting (#564) is how I’ve long wanted this online communique to function; as a means of two way communication between you and me! In Part I we have three bona fide Deep Thinkers, from the manufactured housing industry, sharing their considered views on a lively and timely topic. Wish every week was like this! And Part II? One more clear example of how the 250 page text, Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry, is the One Stop Resource for anyone owning and or operating a land lease community in North America today. If you don’t already have a copy of this tome in hand, you should! GFA

I.

Deep Thinkers Respond to FHFA Frustration:
‘Too Few ‘new type’ Homes Financed to Date’

In other words, ‘Why so-few CrossMod® home loans effected, to date, via Fannie Mae’s MHAdvantage & Freddie Mac’s CHOICEHomes DTS programs?

YES, that was the question raised in last week’s blog posting (#563). The sole answer offered, at the time, was this: “Along with new type of homes comes a new class of home seller – the Developer. Their projects don’t develop quickly.” Along with this answer came this apt caution, based on sorry historic (1989-2002) precedent: Independent (street) MHRetailers and ‘company stores’, envisioning themselves as contractors, must indeed be capable, experienced and motivated to do this complicated and expensive work properly and expeditiously!

Ended Part I of last week’s blog discussion with an open invitation to share ‘your take’ on this and related matters.

And respond ‘some of you’ did! Interestingly, three ‘deep thinkers’ from three distinctively different, and geographically distant-from-one-another local housing markets (i.e. Southeast, Midwest, and West) did so.*1 The important point here, to keep in mind, is how ‘all real estate is local’. With that said, here’s a summary of salient points made by these sage individuals:

• “Not at all thrilled with the CrossMod® name.” No aesthetic appeal whatsoever!

• “Manufactured housing is a housing type. Why purposely diminish that type, by creating a subset whose purpose is to say it is better?” Think about that. Revives the question: Is manufactured housing the epitome of ‘affordable housing’, or simply ‘big box = big bucks’ housing? Difficult to both well simultaneously.

• “The ‘new type’ (manufactured home) will not make a significant impact until developers begin to use the product in subdivisions of many homes.”*2

• Independent (street) “MHRetailers have never succeeded in attracting, in any meaningful way, conventional homebuyers. Conventional (home) buyers don’t go to a (sales) lot to buy; they go to a (subdivision) development.”

• In one region, “…the market for traditional manufactured housing remains strong”; so, “No motivation to expand into new markets” using ‘new type’ homes!

• In that same region, “…there has been push back from homebuilders (re) Fannie’s 4:12 & Freddie’s 5:12 minimum roof pitch requirements” as lower sloped roof pitches are preferred.

• And again, in that region, “…manufactured housing is zoned out of many urban and suburban areas….”; and, though legal challenge is favorable, ‘no sense of urgency at this time’.

• In a distinctly different and distant housing market, ”Recently a number of rental home developments have been site-built here. They are renting like hot cakes. (Perhaps) This is the model” for placement of CrossMod® homes.

A lot to ponder here! Do these eight summary points stimulate further thought, on this matter, from your perspective? If so, let me know ASAP, via gfa7156@aol.com

Now here’s a troubling thought. If we, as an industry, are unable to popularize CrossMod® homes now and in the near future, will said ‘failure’ provide pause and excuse for GSEs, NOT to work further on similar chattel capital DTS programs for home-only loans on new HUD-Code homes going into land lease communities onto rental homesites?

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. HUD-Code housing manufacturers, MHRetailers, land lease community owners/operators, even a rep or two from the FHFA and GSEs have asked me to arrange for an informal, semi-public, face-to-face meeting of concern-minded individuals (i.e. Relative to present day and future of manufactured housing shipment volume, and land lease community operations where the threat of national rent control, are involved!). If YOU are sincerely interested in participating in such a meeting, on 15 or 16 January, during the Louisville MHShow, let me know; again, via gfa7156@aol.com. Once I have the meeting location and times established I will let you know.

End Notes.

1. Deep thinker, in this instance? Present day and recently-retired business executives, each with a minimum of 35 years experience in the manufactured housing business; and, two of whom are RV/MH Hall of Fame members.

2. This deep thinker went on to say, These are “still trailers in the minds of some purchasers, and a significant marketing effort will be needed here. For example, in the Midwest, basements are essential and these (CrossMods®) are equivalent to slab on grade site-built homes that lack storage available in basements.”

II.

ANSWERS to Challenges in Land Lease Community Ownership/Operations…

Did YOU Know? There is an Official Quality Classification System for Land Lease Communities, Large & Small, Nationwide?

Yep, there sure is. But first a little history. Back in the 1960s, up through the mid-1970s, a company called Woodall’s published a telephone directory-like reference listing all mobile home parks throughout the U.S. The company had a staff of property inspectors, who doubled as advertising salespersons, and routinely visited these properties to categorize them as being of 1 Star, 2 Star, 3 Star, 4 Star, & 5 Star quality, with 5 Star being the highest level.

Then these inspectors would ‘change hats’, so to speak, and sell these same communities ads in the Woodall directory. (Hmm. Wonder if bigger ads resulted in a better grade?) This system worked well enough for a decade or two, as long as mobile homes were small enough to be towed behind personal automobiles, and those relocating benefitted from such a directory. This cozy arrangement came to an end around 1976. Since then, at least until the mid-1990s, there was no follow-on property quality grading system. Unfortunately, many real estate brokers have continued the Star Rating myth, to their ends, for the past 40 years.

Enter the ABClassification System for Manufactured Home Communities. This new ‘do it yourself’ evaluation system features seven areas of quality measurement: Appearance (i.e. ‘curb appeal’), Layout, Individual Homesites, Individual Homes, Infrastructure, Amenities, and Community Management. For each of the seven areas, user is challenged to determine whether the property is A = One of the Best; B = Better than Most; C = Good or Average; or D = Fair-Poor. And within each of the seven areas evaluated, the user allocates 100 points; all to one category, or more often than not, split between two adjacent quality grades, e.g. Appearance = A @ 100 points; or maybe B = 50 points & C = 50 points. When all seven areas have been ‘weighted’, the point totals under each of the four (A,B,C,D) categories are totaled, providing an overall ‘value’, often split unevenly between two adjacent values (e.g. A&B or B&C, or C& D…)

The ABClassification System is easier to use than perhaps it sounds/reads. And it does provide a far more detailed quality summary of any given land lease community, large or small.

The system has had an interesting history. First proposed to MHI’s National Communities Council (‘NCC’) for adoption, during the late 1990s, it met covert resistance from one or more of four existing REITs at the time. Why? There was concern, Wall Street analysts, already wreaking havoc with unrealistic quarterly profit expectations (i.e. treating illiquid real estate assets as growth stocks), would seize upon a quality grading system to fine-tune buy-sell stock recommendations of said REITs and property portfolios. So there was no approval or adoption forthcoming from the NCC.

But ever since then, for the past two decades, a standard form used to effect A, B, C, D quality gradings (also referred to as being of 1, 2, 3, 4 ‘diamonds’ quality), has been a popular professional property management tool among land lease community owners/operators wanting to categorically know their property(ies) quality firsthand, rather than relying on a real estate broker’s opinion, oft times couched in defunct STAR grades.

The ABClassification System is featured in the Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Community textbook as Appendix # 47. To order the text, visit www.educatemhc.com

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC

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