MH 1985 History Repeating Itself in 2013?

Blog # 225 Copyright 2012 23 December 2012

Perspective. ‘Land lease lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities, & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

I.

Is History About to Repeat Itself During Year 2013?

II.

Manufactured Home Communities Association of North America

III.

REMINDER!

IV.

Duke University Discovers MHIndustry & LLLCommunities….

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Pay careful attention to what you read here today. No one else in the manufactured housing industry, nor any other land lease lifestyle community owner or operator, will be as candid and forthcoming with you, as that which you are about to learn and ponder…

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I.

Is History About to Repeat Itself During Year 2013?

In matters politic, business, social and otherwise, power is the operative word. And power is measured in many ways; as in votes, dollars, influence and otherwise. Power can be well applied to achieve a greater good, but it can just as easily be subverted to wreak harm, even dissipated to the point of marginalizing one or something into powerlessness.

The HUD – Code manufactured housing industry has been down this power to powerlessness path before. In 1985, I’m told, smaller, regional home manufacturers split from the Manufactured Housing Institute, or MHI, at least in part, because they felt the direction and future of the industry, particularly where HUD – Code related regulatory matters were concerned, was being powered by a few, much larger home manufacturers. Result? Formation of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform or MHARR. To this day, both entities continue to Advocate in behalf of HUD – Code manufactured housing; the former, from offices in Arlington, VA.; the latter, in downtown Washington, DC.

Have these two HUD – Code manufactured housing Advocacy bodies worked well together during the past 17 years? Generally no; though at times, they’ve sought and found common ground, when it came to supporting or opposing specific legislative initiatives and troublesome regulatory issues. One of the clearest and enduring examples of their cooperation, even with its’ downside, was the joint effort to effect passage of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. Its/ downside? The act is still far from being fully implemented; in part – per this industry observer’s opinion – because the two national Advocacy bodies have been unable to ‘power’ effectively together, to get the job done, even after 12 years!

Is MHIndustry unity (Think enhanced power!) on the horizon for year 2013? The chairmen of both national Advocacy bodies seem to think so; but given numerous past false hopes and failed efforts, only the passage of time and tangible results will tell us for sure.

In the meantime, MHARR continues, unofficially, to press for reorganization of various segments of this ‘double dual industry’ (i.e.‘home manufacturing/distribution’ & ‘realty development/investment’) whereby all HUD – Code home manufacturers, large and small (And possibly their OEM suppliers, and maybe ‘company stores’; which begs this question: Who’d Advocate for independent ‘street’ MHRetailers?) would be represented by one national Advocacy entity; and the remaining segments, by another national Advocacy entity (Thinking finance, and maybe land lease lifestyle community owners/operators here; but – again wondering, ‘Who’d Advocate along with, and in behalf of, state manufactured housing associations?’). But wait! Given the recent past, present and continuing depressed state of the industry (e.g. annual home shipments at a 50,000+/- 60 year nadir for the past four or more years!), with no sub prime chattel finance capital relief in sight, some have likened this bold reorganization idea, to ‘rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic after it hitting the iceberg and starting to sink’.

So much for the manufacturing side of the house. How ‘bout expectations, during year 2013, where land lease lifestyle communities’ present and future are concerned?

Their back story is fairly well known. A group of 19 (then) manufactured home community portfolio owners/operators gathered on 31 August 1993, in Indianapolis, IN., to eventually form an ad hoc Industry Steering Committee or ISC. Following a series of meetings and dues collection, by year 1996 (January), MHI formed the National Communities Council or NCC – since granted full division status by the institute. Like MHI, the NCC division has been, and continues to be ‘the national Advocate’ for land lease lifestyle communities, and their owners/operators nationwide.

But wait – again. Here too, there’s at least one elephant – the first one by historic comparison – ‘in this room’ (i.e. Segment of the MHIndustry). Remember how the big versus small HUD – Code home manufacturer matter played out, as just described, in 1985? Well, some fear a similar scenario might be in the offing, where ‘big & small’ land lease lifestyle community owners/operators are concerned. How so? While there’s an acceptable ‘size mix’, among present day, direct, dues – paying members of the NCC division, all elected and ‘appointed’ members of its’ executive committee hail only from among the Top Ten largest LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators listed in the last several ALLEN Reports! And the second elephant? There seems to be a communications shortfall to boot. Only once since the NCC council’s last meeting, 8 October 2012, – and then, in the form of a newsletter, has communication gone out to all members, relative to what and how, as LLLCommunity owners/operators, we should be planning for the upcoming year 2013. And in one instance, a direct, dues – paying member submitted a list of recommended agenda items for the council’s next meeting, in late February; but to date, has not received even an acknowledgement of receipt of said correspondence, let alone the agenda suggestions. Any elephant hunters reading this?

During all this time, since 1980 when it was founded, GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, a ‘for profit’ firm domiciled in Indianapolis, IN., has handled the statistical Research & ‘comprehensive Resource servicing’ of land lease lifestyle communities and their owners/operators nationwide. Today, faced with the probable closing down of the firm by year end 2013, an alternative vehicle, to perpetuate print and online communication media, professional property management education and certification, national and regional interpersonal networking, and deal – making opportunities, is sorely needed.

The plan is for a Manufactured Home Communities Association of North America, or MHCA in short, to take on those responsibilities and tasks, as a new, not for profit, national entity. Furthermore, it is hoped the work of MHI’s NCC division, with its’ sole Advocacy focus, will be complemented by MHCA’s emphasis on statistical Research & ‘comprehensive Resource servicing’. And at some point in the future, when the Center for Manufactured Housing Studies, or CMHS – formed during 2012, is ready, ‘academic research’ in manufactured housing, land lease lifestyle communities, and affordable housing, will become their standard fare, allowing MHCA to focus on Resources needed and desired by LLLCommunities nationwide, and maybe in Canada.

Back to the power and powerlessness theme voiced in the opening paragraph of this essay. In light of the content of the preceding paragraphs, three similar – but in the end, very different pivotal questions beg answering, and the sooner the better:

Will the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry and land lease lifestyle community asset class be best served, by further dissipating national lobbying presence and ‘power’ among four, eventually five, national, not for profit entities: MHARR, MHCA, MHI, & MHI’s NCC division (Right there we see three Advocacy bodies and one Research/Resources entity, but not in that order). And in time, there’ll be a fifth, the CMHS – not really an Advocate, but still to be, a national presence and ‘power’ – by dint of its’ dividing LLLCommunity Research & Resources responsibilities. The answer???

OR

Will the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry and land lease lifestyle community asset class be best served by consolidating presently disparate lobbying ‘power’ into one overarching, all – inclusive national, not for profit Advocacy body yet to be formed or identified??? And if this mega – merger comes about, in the name and interest of enhanced national Advocacy, what becomes of ongoing statistical Research & ‘comprehensive Resource servicing’ enjoyed by land lease lifestyle community owners/operators for the past 33 years? Does the new entity do what present ones have been unwilling to do; assume responsibility for ongoing statistical Research & ‘comprehensive Resource servicing’ for LLLCommunity owners/operators nationwide?

OR

Will the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry and land lease lifestyle community asset class be best served by reorganizing as many as four or five disparate national lobbying ‘powers’ into ‘only two’ new, national, not for profit entities; one being a solely ‘housing – focused’ Advocate; the other, a ‘realty – focused’ national Advocate, statistical Researcher, and ‘comprehensive Resource purveyor’???

A helpful hint! This quote from Woodrow Wilson describes our industry; and by default, its’ realty asset segment, in terms of past, present, and future power perspectives: “As a matter of fact and experience, the more ‘power’ is divided, the more irresponsible it becomes.” Substituting the words ‘ineffective’, ‘counterproductive’, even ‘divisive’, in lieu of ‘irresponsible’, aptly describes ‘what we’ve done to ourselves’ during the past 27 years of national Advocacy presence and powerlessness in our nation’s capitol. So, will year 2013 hold, for us, ‘more of the same’; or a reorganization that restores and enhances, rather than saps our collective power?

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II.

Manufactured Home Communities Association of North America

Steps are being taken to legally form the new, national, not for profit entity, to be known as the Manufactured Home Communities Association of North America, or MHCA, for short. There are a few legal hurdles to be cleared during the next 30 days. It’s hoped a meeting of some, if not majority, of the Pioneers of 2012, will occur during the Louisville MHShow in Kentucky, on 24 January 2013.

Who’re the Pioneers of 2012? They’re an ad hoc group of land lease lifestyle community owners who volunteered, during early 2012, to help market the products and services of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing. We met once at Chuck Fanaro’s beautiful SaddleBrook Farms, in Grayslake, IL., and continue to stay in touch regularly, via various forms of correspondence. When it was finally (recently) realized there wasn’t going to be a ‘buyer’ of aforementioned products and services – all related to the statistical Research & ‘comprehensive Resource servicing’ of LLLCommunity owners/operators nationwide, attention refocused on launching the MHCA.

Watch here (weekly blog posting), as well as in the Allen Letter professional journal, for announcements relative to ‘How to Become a Charter Member of MHCA’, and what the array of membership benefits will include, e.g. newsletter subscription, FREE copy of 24th ALLEN REPORT (vs. $500/copy retail price), and much much more. If you’d like us to add your name to the list of individuals to be notified ‘first’ of this Charter Member opportunity, simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and ask for be so listed.

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III.

REMINDER!

Reserved your copy of ‘Past as Predictor of the Future – or just another Crapshoot?’ yet? All you have to do is reach out to Sue Brenton, executive director of MHC of Arizona. Phone (480) 345-4202. Trust me. You don’t want to miss this expose’ of the MHIndustry and LLLCommunity asset class’ past, present, and future. It’s being published, during January 2013, in that state’s MHAssociation newsletter.

IV.

Duke University Discovers MHIndustry & LLLCommunities….

A Duke University professor, as I understand it, has been retained by a mainline publisher to research and produce a book describing the manufactured housing industry and land lease lifestyle communities. Deadline is sometime during the Summer of 2013.

In the meantime, the author’s research staff member, Ms. Reed Few, has been in touch with this industry observer, and others, and is now absorbing all she can learn about our unique ‘double dual industry’ (Described in part I of this blog posting). In fact, she participated in the recent symposium hosted by the Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association, in Richmond, VA. There she met with 25 land lease lifestyle community owners/operators and several HUD – Code home manufacturer representatives, to learn more about the basics and nuances of our ‘most affordable of all factory – built housing alternatives’ as well as the unique, income – producing property type that caters to manufactured homebuyers/site lessees.

If you’re an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, expect to receive an owner/investor questionnaire, enclosed as a lagniappe, from Ms. Few, in behalf of the book’s author. Please complete and return it promptly. To subscribe to the monthly newsletter, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

By the way, this book is not the same one we told you about last month in this blog series. That one is being researched and authored by a MHIndustry veteran; this one by an academic.

Speaking of books. How many of you remember Ted Boers, founder of DATACOMP? If you do, you know he dropped out of sight a decade or so ago, to concentrate on helping Haitians as a Christian businessman missionary. Well, it’s been quite an adventure for Ted, with some pretty high spiritual peaks, as well as more than his share of deep valleys. He tells this story in the newly released Demons of Poverty, ‘One Entrepreneur’s Experience with Addressing Poverty in Haiti’. I just finished reading it, and will tell you this much here (a longer review will be published in an upcoming issue of the Allen Letter professional journal): It is one of the most unusual non – fiction books I’ve read to date! It has everything: facts, characters, story line, etc. But what I didn’t expect, was the near abject depression Ted had to overcome at one point in his work. And his list of Practical Lessons Learned, for those planning or attempting to ‘do business’ in an undeveloped country, is worth the $14.95 price of the case bound book! Order via Datacomp: (800) 365-1415 or, at only for $9.95, electronically, from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or appleibooks.

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George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master Box # 47024
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry, Indpls, IN. 46247
The Land Lease Lifestyle Community Asset Class, & (317) 346-7156
Affordable Housing Purists & Enthusiasts Nationwide

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