HUD Code Manufacturers! R U Listening?

Attention HUD Code Housing Manufacturers! Are You Listening?

If NOT; no one to blame but yourselves, if shipments continue to languish!

I.

Last week, at a Finance Seminar in Springfield, IL., Greg O’Berry, President & COO of Hometown America, and chairman of MHI’s National Communities Council division, during his ‘State of the MHIndustry’ keynote address, opined IMAGE continues to be a perennial bugbear for HUD Code manufactured housing! *1 And until we ‘Take a Major Step to Image – Educate the Consumer – Public’, our systems – built housing product is ‘not their father’s mobile home’, but an attractive and high quality, affordable and non – subsidized, ‘green’ and energy efficient Shelter Alternative, our annual housing shipment total will continue to bump along at its’ 60 year nadir. *2

Well, the HUD Code manufactured housing industry, a.k.a. MHIndustry, is now poised to ‘Take (that) Major Step to Image – Educate the Consumer Public’!
Did YOU read last week’s blog posting titled ‘The CAMPAIGN’? If not, you might want to stop reading this blog posting, and scroll back a week to this web site’s archive, to do so. Seriously. Then the following paragraphs will enjoy maximum impact, relative to your thinking, and hopefully – personal and corporate action and support of The CAMPAIGN!

An early alternative title for this week’s blog was ‘The CAMPAIAGN Revisited – through the eyes of manufactured housing aficionados responding to this timely and strategic Challenge and Opportunity!’ But if you’re with me this far, title alternatives no longer matter. What you want to know NOW, is what our peers have been saying and writing in response to ‘The CAMPAIGN!’ And FYI, last week’s posting generated the strongest reader response of the 120 blogs penned to date. That’s very ‘telling’….

But first, a clarification to last week’s blog, wherein was stated, “…The CAMPAIGN debuted at a recent national gathering of manufactured housing executives and landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators, meeting in Washington, DC.” This was actually the Fall meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’), under the leadership of Kenneth Lipschutz, VP of finance & acquisition at Brookside Communities in Detroit, MI. Why is this important to know? ULI’s MHCC, as a discreet product council, functions as the de facto THINK TANK for the MHIndustry! And now, having provided the bully pulpit for ‘a concept whose time is now’, next key step is to identify national and or regional DO TANKS (e.g. advocacy and trade groups representing manufactured housing and LLCommunities, along with private and public firms), to articulate, fund and implement The CAMPAIGN! If you’d like information about becoming an ULI & MHCC participating member, contact Kenneth via (248) 645-1077.

Here’re some of the ‘lightly edited remarks’ our peers submitted regarding The CAMPAIGN:

“The CAMPAIGN is the first real, viable light at the end of this black hole (i.e. minimal home shipments) for the MHIndustry. This is so exciting. I hope ‘the big three’ will listen to reason, putting away self – serving mind sets for the first time in six decades!” *3 JK in IN.

“I am all for, and willing to help support, any type of national (brand) awareness program. I think the big box store parking lot is an interesting concept. Worth exploring!” JD in MI.

“Exactly George. The CAMPAIGN does not have to be ‘perfectly agreeable’ to everyone; but certainly implemented loudly and nationally! We will not legislated, regulate, or postulate ourselves out of this mess. We must SELL our way out!” NB in AZ

“Interesting post George. Some observations and comments relative to The CAMPAIGN:

Advantages of big – box exposure over MHRetail sales lots include, more traffic, indirect solicitation (e.g. ‘See a new home while shopping at Walmart!’), tacit endorsement by the big – box stores, not to mention even more traffic for the stores!

Disadvantages might include bog – box stores, or shopping center owners, charging for this prime exposure, big – box store reluctance to endorse what might be seen as a ‘problem product’, and big – box reluctance to overcrowd their parking lot.

Concerns/questions regarding which manufacturers homes would be displayed and how many homes displayed at one time – obviously dependent on size of parking lot.

Local landlease communities should be present, in some fashion, at big – box store displays, to give prospective homebuyers more options for siting their new home.

A Code of Ethics, signed onto by MHIndustry participants, along with minimum standards (e.g. for LLCommunity participation) would be welcome improvements in support of The CAMPAIGN.”

The preceding five observations and comments submitted by industry veteran & GMHA board member, Spencer Roane, of Atlanta, GA.

“It’s been tried in the past. Perhaps a conversation with former MHI economist Jim Clifton is in order, to benefit from his experience in working with bog box stores a few years ago.” Marty Lavin in VT.

“We used to do a number of ‘shows’ in big box (store) parking lots. It’s not as easy as you think, to draw people into the houses. Some people are afraid they are getting sucked into a 90 minute condo type sales presentation. The key might be signage: ‘A 10 minute tour that could change your life and budget!’ Once inside, they’ll see our homes are ‘nicer than their home’ and ‘not what they expected – it was better.’ Expect some initial push back from MHRetailers, e.g. ‘Who’s going to pay for these displays?’ & ‘Who’s going to man them?’ & ‘I’ve got a great street location already!’ With that said, however, ‘Access to new potential homebuyers is the key to the success of The CAMPAIGN.” RK in WI.

What follows here, is the most thoughtful and far reaching response to last week’s blog introducing The CAMPAIGN. While the big – box store concept isn’t even mentioned in this overview, there’s enough related verbiage and thinking to the concept, to use it as a conclusion to this week’s revisit to The CAMPAIGN concept:

“…a lot of what was talked about 20 years ago is still being discussed today: better recognition and acceptance of the manufactured housing brand and (landlease community) income – producing property type; also zoning, construction codes, proper and fair lending practices, etc.. Another constant, is the inability of the MHIndustry as a whole, and its’ leaders, to gain a secure market footing where ‘affordable housing’ and LLCommunities are concerned; to secure reliable, reputable financing for the housing product; and, creation of national branding and advertising campaigns!

“Furthermore, until there is a unified group to assaults the problems that erode the foundation of the MHIndustry, the collection of well – intended businessmen and women working therein, will continue to be forced to deal with many, if not all, these problems individually. And that unified group will need a lot of money to professionalize the industry. Therein lies the rub. Without a major, identifiable ‘State Farm’ in the mix, everyone appears to be, and is, on their own! As observed at the Networking Roundtable last month, ‘Where are the manufacturers and home sellers in the problem – solving part of this (industry survival) equation? Who will commit to funding the industry’s ‘bank’ to move it forward? All too often it appears our Great Whites don’t lead with their money, but rather with their advice and PowerPoint presentations.” PS in IL.

With all that said, where does it leave The CAMPAIGN today? This website and weekly blog is just one voice in the manufactured housing wilderness, and YOU’ve responded well to my request for input last week. BUT, have YOU contacted executives at Clayton Homes, Champion Homes, and CAVCO Industries – all of whom were represented at the aforementioned ULI/MHCC meeting in Washington, DC – encouraging them to ‘give legs’ to The CAMPAIGN? If not, YOU owe it to yourself, and the rest of us, to do so, the sooner the better! For contact information, see End Note # 4. And, if a direct dues – paying member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), it wouldn’t hurt to contact Thayer Long @ (703) 558-0678, to encourage that national advocacy body to grab this bull by the horns as well, and lead the MHIndustry back to increased volume of new home sales (nee shipments)! Not a member? Join when you phone! For that matter, it’s also a good idea to tell Danny Ghorbani about The CAMPAIGN! His national advocacy body, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) represents most of the smaller HUD Code housing manufacturers in the U.S. These stakeholders should especially want to become actively involved in The CAMPAIGN! Contact Danny via (202) 783-4087.

Finally; keep the blog responses coming! Not only do they stimulate my writing juices each week, in our behalf, but – as you can see in the previous paragraphs – your considered responses provide the very fodder that comprise the best blog postings of all! Reply directly to this blog, or via gfa7156@aol.com or via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Postscript. Just realized the email address included in last week’s introduction to The CAMPAIGN, contained a typo. Should have read: ahaven@creativehavenmedia.com
Strongly recommend you contact Amy Haven of creativehavenmedia.com to encourage her and her team of four marketing executives, in Cherry Hill, NJ, to do whatever they can, as you too are doing, to get the manufactured housing industry to fund and implement The CAMPAIGN! Their phone: (609) 313-5885.

II.

25 of you joined me for the Finance Seminar in Springfield, IL., this past week! Now, how many of you will be in Grove City, Ohio @ 28 & 29 October for OMHA’s ‘Self Finance Legal Compliance Seminar’? All presenters are from one law firm (Tomkies Scheiderer, LLP) and 21st Mortgage. To register, phone Tim Williams at (614) 799-2340. And, lest you forget; during the very same time frame, the Five State Mid – Atlantic Annual Conference convenes in Albany, NY. Phone Nancy Geer @ (518) 867-3242. And, on Friday 29 October, Jim Keller, MHM, will be conducting IMHA/RVIC’s ‘Installer Continuing Education – Transportation & Safety Seminar (four hours) in Indianapolis, IN., from 1 – 5PM. To register, phone Jim at (317) 370-5954.

On November 17 – 19, there’ll be a Captive Finance Workshop in Chicago, IL. For information, phone Ken Rishel @ (773) 647-3125.

III.

Will I see you at the Louisville MHShow on 13 & 14 January 2011? Sure hope so. As I told you last week, there’ll be a special day of seminars for those ‘selling and self – financing new and resale homes in LLCommunities’. For registration information, phone Dennis Hill @ (770) 587-3350.

IV.
OK, I let the cat out of the bag last week, by announcing preliminary plans for a National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus III, probably in Florida during early February 2011. Already, a dozen of you have committed to attend – that’s how timely and critical this contemporary topic is to LLCommunity owners/operators nationwide: ‘Examining Self – finance from the LLCommunity owner/operator Perspective!’ And yes, there’re plans to invite a few realty and chattel lenders to input as resource voices during discussions of the ‘present and future of self – finance within LLCommunities’, relative to ‘realty mortgages and refinance’, as well as ‘permanence or not, of the self – finance trend’.

What you may or may not know, there’s a special Insider’s Contact List of LLCommunity owners/operators who’ve patronized the previous two NSAC caucuses. We plan to distribute a letter this week, to update/purge said list, so an Advance Planning Document can be sent out during late November. So, if you own and or fee manage one or more LLCommunities, and would like to be included on the Invitation List for NSAC III, let me know by responding to this blog, or email via gfa7156@aol.com , or phone (317) 346-7156.

Attendance at NSAC III will be limited to 100 LLCommunity owner/operators, plus invited resource voices. Just as the previous two NSAC caucuses set the stage for our asset class survival this decade (i.e. Five Action Areas still very much in play) and HUD manufacturers now fabricating Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) for siting in our properties, with the help of Business Development Managers (‘BDM’); NSAC III will likely be the defining venue for chattel finance in the LLCommunity environment!

V.

Finally. The 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT compilation nears completion. But some LLCommunity owners/operators who read this blog posting each week, and who’ve been listed in previous editions, have NOT submitted their portfolio data yet. So, FAX questionnaire to (317) 346-7159 ASAP! Need a questionnaire? Phone (317) 346-7156.

VI.

If you’re an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, pay close attention to the November issue – arriving next week. Front page will feature a Request for Proposal to acquire and/or absorb the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class ‘work product(s)’ of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing. While there’s no immediate plan to retire or exit the MHBusiness anytime soon, planning should begin now, in 2010 and early 2011, to ensure the gradual, orderly and effective transition of newsletters, texts, forms, reports, MHM program, events, etc., from one permanent platform (i.e. 1980 to 2010, so far) to another, during the year(s) ahead. Platform preferences, in declining order of interest? 1) An existing or new national, not – for – profit MH, or realty – oriented association, to purchase and absorb GFA/PMN in toto; 2) An existing or new national, for – profit firm, to purchase and absorb GFA/PMN in toto; or, 3) Dismantling of GFA/PMN, selling off revenue – producers: two subscriber – supported newsletters, 21 year old Roundtable event, popular MHM certification program, textbook and forms inventory, ALLEN REPORT, and more. Interested in learning more? Read the November issue of the Allen Letter professional journal: Phone (317) 346-7156 to subscribe.

***
End Notes.

1. bugbear. Persistent problem or source of annoyance

2. systems – built housing. The trade term of preference, per Joe Stegmayer, chairman & CEO of CAVCO Industries, and new chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’). Alternatives: factory – built housing & industrialized housing, with HUD Code manufactured housing as a subset of all three terms.

3. Clayton Homes, Champion Homes, CAVCO Industries.

4. Clayton Homes: Kevin Clayton @ 865) 380-3000. Or ask for Lance Hull, BDM or Colt Davis, BDM. Champion Homes: Kevin Flaherty, BDM @ (919) 467-0099. CAVCO Industries: Joe Stegmayer @ (602) 256-6263 or Bill Danforth, BDM @ (602) 763-0521. And while you’re at it: Chris Miller, BDM, at Adventure Homes @ (877) 510-1955X109; Steve Quick, BDM, with Fleetwood Homes @ (512) 255-7743; Brian Cira, BDM, with Harmony Homes @ (800) 999-8787X3235; Ed Hussey, Jr., BDM, with Liberty Homes @ (574) 533-0431; and, Terry Decio, BDM, with Skyline Corporation @ (574) 294-6521.

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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