MHCongress Shakes Things Up! Sun Communities = #1 in size

COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 346 Copyright @ 26 April 2015

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle Communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities and ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

This blog posting is a national advocacy voice, official ombudsman (press), research reporter, & online communication media, for all LLLCommunities in North America!

To input this blog &/or affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® a.k.a. COBA7®, use Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

COBA7® Motto = ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’, & the Goal of its’ print & online media = to ‘Not only inform & opine, but transform & improve our MHBusiness model!’

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Attendance and enthusiasm may well have been up, during the recent MHCongress in Las Vegas; but – in my opinion – the event was awash with unneeded controversy (Read I.), suffered a ‘telling’ oversight (Read II.), but did experience bona fide off-agenda progress between GSE Fannie Mae and LLLCommunity owners/operators (Read III.). Oh yes, and there was some on-camera drama better left undescribed for the time being….

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I.

GUESS WHO MIGHT NOT LIKE THE CONSEQUENCE OF THIS CHANGE?

Manufactured Housing Institute’s National Communities Council divisions

‘April 2015, Largest 50 Community Owners & Operators’ List, Ranking Property Portfolios Based on Rental Homesites for HUD-Code Homes (After Omitting All RV Sites!), Positions REIT Sun Communities, Inc., to Supplant ELS, Inc., as Largest Owner/operator of Land-lease-lifestyle Communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) in the World! How so? Read on…

The above paragraph, and what follows, are stunning headline statements spawned by unnecessary unilateral changes to property portfolio inventory methodology utilized by the ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’) for the past 26 years! Brings to mind the truism: ‘If it isn’t broken, why fix it?’

• NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’ positions Sun Communities, Inc., a real estate investment trust (‘REIT’), to soon be publicly identified as Largest Owner/operator of Land-lease-lifestyle Communities (a.k.a. manufactured home communities) in North America, for the first time since its’ IPO (Initial Public Offering…of stock) in 1994; repositioning competitor ELS, Inc., into second place – for the first time ever! How so? While presently listed as number two on the NCCs ‘April 2015 list’ (Remember; sans RV sites in property portfolio counts!), Sun’s recent acquisition of 3,130 rental homesites in FL, increases its’ total rental homesite count to 74,259, significantly greater than the RV site-stripped portfolio of ELS, Inc., now at only 71,129 rental homesites!

• Furthermore, the NCC’s purposeful omission of ‘recreational vehicle sites’ from their official rental homesite count, on the ‘April 2015 list’, ignores the growing presence and role of mixed use properties as an integral part of the paradigm shift (i.e. LLLCommunities, not MHRetailers, filling vacant rental homesites with a variety of housing options), underway since the start of the new millennium! For example; of the six types of shelter now commonly found sited within LLLCommunities, two of them are recreational vehicle (‘RV’) related!*1 Why the omission of RV sites from the portfolio counts? Ask them, not me. In my opinion, it likely has to do with MHI being a HUD-Code housing related national advocate, not wanting to mix RVs into their housing coverage and representation – even though their manufacturer members fabricate and ship recreational vehicles when need be. COBA7®, on the other hand, source of the annual ALLEN REPORT will continue to inventory MH & RV sites together, before ranking property portfolio firms in order of declining total site count.

• Good News. While the NCC does not identify any new property portfolio ‘players’ on the ‘April 2015 list’ of 50 community owners & operators, they do provide ‘rental homesite count’ information from 18+/- firms not reporting same in recent years. This new information will likely be included next year, in the 27th annual ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. Official ‘Who’s Who Among LLLCommunity Portfolio Owners/operators Located Throughout North America!’ For a copy of the 12 page, 26th annual ALLEN REPORT, listing 110, of the known 500+/- firms, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, or COBA7®.

• Comparing the NCC’s inaugural ‘April 2015 list’ with the 26th ALLEN REPORT, down to 1,000 rental homesites property portfolio size, the latter identifies 40+/- firms NOT included on the former’s list! What makes the matter even more interesting, is there’re dozens of additional LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators who do not appear on either proprietary list. Here’re just a few, in alphabetical order: Brandenburg, Staedler & Moore (CA), Churchill Group (CO), Lakeshore Communities (IL), Moore Enterprises (TX), Phoenix Manufactured Homes (PA), Tower Management (CA), and many more….again, 500+/- in all, owning/operating more than five communities &/or 500 rental homesites apiece.

• Of the 50 firms named on the NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’ only 20 are highlighted in bold print, or 40 percent thereof, identifying them as direct, dues-paying NCC members. However, among the first 79 firms reviewed on the 26th ALLEN REPORT (down to the same 1,000 rental homesite count limit), 50 firms, or 63 percent, are affiliated with COBA7®! And, among all 50 firms listed on the NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’, more than half are presently affiliated with COBA7®!

• Be wary of unsubstantiated claims. These two quotes are from the NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’: “MHI’s National Communities Council is the leading national organization representing the interests of manufactured home community owners, operators, managers, developers, lenders, and suppliers.” Really? How is this measured? Perhaps by number of direct, dues-paying members? If so, reread previous paragraph and reconsider. Then this, “The NCC is also the industry’s most reliable source of data used to create more opportunities for the successful development, operation, and marketing of land-lease communities.” Really? First, what are we talking about here? ‘Manufactured home communities’ OR ‘land-lease communities’? And, just what ‘reliable sources of data’ are available, related to physical & economic occupancy, operating expense ratios, rental rates, income capitalization rates, PM salaries, and more? An inquiring public would like to know…

Bottom lines? The NCC’s ‘April 2015 list’ contains the names of only 50 firms owning/operating LLLCommunity portfolios comprised of 1,000 or more rental (HUD-Code only) homesites. The 26th ALLEN REPORT lists 79 like-sized firms (i.e. with 1,000 or more rental homesites), 110 overall! Truth be told, the actual total number of such firms, with 1,000+ rental homesites apiece, is closer to 100, perhaps even 150 firms. The majority of these shadow owners/operators eschew any form of publicity, for a variety of good and personal reasons. However, they almost all routinely cooperate with, and financially support, the ongoing realty asset class research of COBA7®.

Finally; all 500+/- known LLLCommunity portfolio owners/operators, especially the firm’s decision-makers, can be accessed by anyone, for a price, by direct mail, via COBA7®. Lenders, insurers, and property portfolio builders do so all the time. Simply phone the above-referenced Official MHIndustry HOTLINE….

End Note.

1. Six types of shelter found in many contemporary land-lease-lifestyle communities (hence use of the new specialty term for the realty asset class): pre-HUD code ‘mobile homes’, post-HUD code manufactured homes, modular homes, ‘park model RVs’ – especially suitable for functionally obsolete rental homesites in generally older properties, ‘RVs for a season’, and in FL., stick-built homes constructed on-site, usually following severe hurricanes, to imitate HUD-Code manufactured homes. A.k.a. ‘LLLCommunities’. GFA

II.

2015 Awards Luncheon at the MHCongress

One Pithy Question: Where is/are the annual MHIndustry awards for design(s) of Community Series Homes, or CSH Models?

You know, the specially-designed homes, agreed upon during the National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus, convened at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame facility on 27 February 2009 – six years ago! There, 100+/- HUD-Code home manufacturers and (then) manufactured home community owners/operators agreed to ‘What it would take to sell more new manufactured homes into this unique, income-producing property type nationwide?’ Their answer? Singlesection and modest-sized multisection (NOT the ‘big box = big bucks’ behemoths taking our industry, at the time, down the road toward oblivion, via head-to-head competition with site-builders), but HUD-Code homes with one or more WOW! factors inside and out, plus a plethora of durability-enhancing features, enabling inexpensive ‘make-ready’ between contract buyers and renters.

Yes, these are the same specially-designed homes that, for the most part, have stimulated at least a five, maybe ten percent increase in the number of HUD-Code homes being delivered directly into (now) land-lease-lifestyle communities, from 25% in 2009 to 30% by end of 2013, and likely even higher now!

Furthermore, these Community Series Homes, or CSH Models, have had a lot to do with the manufactured housing industry’s successfully executing a paradigm shift, since the beginning of the New Millennium. A paradigm shift forced by the lack of easy access to chattel capital, hence fewer homes now sold by independent (street) MHRetailers into LLLCommunities; with many CSH Models now sold, and often seller-financed, by the owners/operators of these multifamily rental properties!

So, why aren’t we recognizing this ‘change in design’ to meet market demand? Hopefully the folk who dream up these awards will effect this needed and worthy addition, in time for the 2016 MHCongress.

In the meantime, if you’d like a list of product specification characteristic of Community Series Homes, along with a list of HUD-Code home manufacturers who routinely fabricate and ship them to LLLCommunities, simply phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. You do not have to be a COBA7® affiliate to request and receive this very helpful Signature Series Resource Document, or SSRD – one of more than a dozen produced by COBA7®..

III.

Fannie Mae, the GSE, Makes MHIndustry History!

Yes, they sure did! For 2 ½ hours during the afternoon on Wednesday 15 April, 30 individuals (20 @ Fannie Mae reps, lenders, & financial consultants, plus nine land-lease-lifestyle community portfolio owners/operators, and one Mom & Pop ‘player’ – me) identified and discussed a variety of issues of mutual interest and concern. The LLLCommunity owners/operators hailed from New Hampshire to California, New Jersey to Colorado, and from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

What’d we talk about and resolve? Much and little. Huh? Yes, we ‘much’ discussed rental units on-site in LLLCommunities, flood plain issues, pre-HUD Code homes, park model RVs, the defunct STAR quality rating system re LLLCommunities, and near the end of the meeting, HUD’s Federal Installation Standard implementation and enforcement plans, and possible role for Frost Free Foundations® along the way. But ‘little’ was resolved. Nor did any of us expect change or closure.

This Las Vegas venue was a continuation of spirited dialogue begun during the 23rd annual Networking Roundtable, in Peachtree City, GA., last Fall – when Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, for the first time, met and talked with 200 LLLCommunity owners/operators from throughout the U.S. The Las Vegas venue, ‘off MHI’s MHCongress agenda’, was/is also a springboard onto the 24th annual Networking Roundtable, scheduled for 9-11 September 2015, in San Diego, CA.. Once again, the two GSEs, along with invited representation of the Federal Housing Finance Authority, will continue the Open Discussion of what the GSE’s ‘can do for us’ and what we could ‘do for them’.

To ensure an invitation to participate in the 24th International Networking Roundtable, 9-11 September 2015, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and ask for an event brochure, containing the exciting agenda and names of 20 presenters. Also know, this year’s theme, keynoted by a half dozen HUD-Code home manufacturers, is ‘How to Sell More New Community Series Homes into LLLCommunities Nationwide!’ If you own/operate LLLCommunities, how can you not want to be present to prosper from this unique combination of ability, experience, and motivation?

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