Four Takeaways @ State of National Housing Address

Blog Posting # 614 @ 27 November 2020; Copyright 2020: Educatemhc

 

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

 

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INTRODUCTION:

 

 

 

I.

 

Four Takeaways @ State of National Housing Address

 

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University recently hosted a virtual presentation of its’ 31st annual State of the Nation’s Housing research and conclusions. Supposedly there were 1,000 listeners. I was underwhelmed by the number and nature of the observations made during the webinar. Here’re the four that stuck with me:

 

While it was acknowledged, housing matters are ‘local’, as in local housing markets, panelists agreed there was need to re-envision national housing policy at federal level. Depends on which administration.

 

The 2007 & 2008 recession was characterized by a foreclosure crisis; while today’s 2020 pandemic times characterized by a renter crisis. In both instances, beware scams!

 

Today there’s a stronger homeownership market than rental market; thanks, in large part, to young millennials with jobs, buying their first houses.

 

Underscoring all this was a plea for more homebuyer education and information, better screening.

 

I know, not much meat here, and I apologize for that. Perhaps a blog reader, who sat in on this virtual presentation, has more to offer. If so, let me know via gfa7156@aol.com  Thanks! GFA

 

II.

 

MHARR Harangues Post-Production Segments of MHIndustry but Offers No Practical Solutions!

 

In its’ REPORT AND ANALYSIS dated 20 November 2020, MHARR lamented the “…ineffectual representation of the industry’s post-production sector in the nation’s capital, in order to bring these crucial, market essential matters (i.e. consumer financing, discriminatory zoning and placement) to fruition.” (Lightly edited, with parenthetical addition & punctuation. GFA)

 

Rightly and wrongly, MHARR lays this failure at the feet of MHI. Rightly, because MHI overtly claims to represent the entire manufactured housing industry, including post-production sector businesses. Just how effective though, has their advocacy been? Wrongly, because even though there’re MHI divisions representing suppliers, land lease communities, and independent (street) MHRetailers, the bulk of the institute’s funding comes from HUD-code housing manufacturers, who – as a result, pretty much determine the direction, scope, as well as present and future efficacy of the organization.

 

To that end, the question arises, from time to time, when does a business type (e.g. HUD-Code housing manufacturing and home only chattel finance) cross the line, in terms of $ or national market share, to become a monopoly, monopsony, oligopoly or duopoly? The differences among these entities? This definition from Wikipedia:

 

“A monopoly…exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity. This contrasts with a monopsony, which relates to a single entity’s control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly and duopoly which consist of a few sellers dominating a market.”

 

So, there maybe we have the answer to that decades old question of manufactured housing market dominance. Oligopoly or duopoly? Digging deeper into ‘definitions’, we find OLIGOPOLY to be the appropriate term: “a market situation in which prices and other factors are controlled by a few sellers”. Duopoly? Two firms control the market. So, OLIGOPOLY it might be!

 

And while I plowed this furrow in last week’s blog posting (#613), the observation made by MHARR is worth repeating again – as it does in this 20 November report:

 

“Nearly 13 years after enactment of the DTS (i.e. Duty to Serve) mandate by Congress, neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac have securitized a single manufactured housing personal property loan – and have no current plans to provide any DTS support for such loans for the foreseeable future – despite the fact that personal property loans comprise (and have historically comprised) nearly 80 percent of the manufactured housing market, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.”

 

Finally. MHARR laments “…a level of complacency on the part of (HUD) program regulators, toward the regulatory reform process and, at worst,…encouraged outright resistance to (the) process.” I ‘feel the pain’ in this observation. But don’t think blame can be laid entirely at the feet of MHI & MHARR. Frankly, the manufactured housing industry is way underserved, in my opinion, when it comes to investigative journalism and news coverage of regulatory and related matters. Gone are the days of the Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine and The Journal tabloid. Today, The Allen Confidential! focuses on the information needs of land lease community owners/operators, while the quarterly MHInsider magazine is not on the scene enough to exert the sort of pressure needed from time to time.

 

Underscoring the message of the previous paragraph is the woeful lack of financial support (including advertising) from would be subscribers and readers of these few remaining print publications. It seems we’ve become so used to reading immediate, albeit shallow news at any number of online sites – oft penned by self-proclaimed, short-lived ‘experts’ with questionable credentials. Are you doing your part to keep quality trade journalism coming your way?

 

In closing, and as a peripheral matter, I think MHARR’s message(s) would be more effective if not conveyed in 111 word paragraphs, and they’d stop referring to ‘hybrid’ homes, when everyone knows they’re describing the CrossMod™ model HUD-Code manufactured home.

**

George Allen, CPM, MHM

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