MHIndustry’s Enronessque Period & No NCC Meeting!

Blog # 229 Copyright 2013 20 January 2013

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

I.

Manufactured Housing Industry’s Enronesque Period

II.

What? No Meeting of the National Communities Council?

III.

MHInitiative®, Second Generation Workshop, & More…

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I.

Manufactured Housing Industry’s Enronesque Period

‘When We Dodged a Lethal Bullet & Didn’t Know It!’

“The Enron scandal, revealed in October 2001, eventually led to the bankruptcy of the Enron Corporation, an American energy company based in Houston…” Google Search
-meanwhile-
The manufactured housing industry’s businessmen and women routinely engaged in turning our (home buying) customers ‘upside down’ financially, using a variety of housing finance shenanigans, a.k.a. predatory lending measures.

The adjective ‘enronesque’ has since been spawned by the aforementioned Enron scandal; and to this day, ‘relates to accounting methods meant to deceive, accounting legerdemain spun to make something seem affordable.’ Housing maybe?

Frankly, it’s a minor miracle ‘enronesque’ hasn’t been applied before this, to manufactured housing industry financial shenanigans that, in large part, caused us to lose our independent, third party sources of chattel (personal property) finance; and, in lesser part, why those resources haven’t returned, en masse, to this day.

Remember business life back then? At the turn of the 21st Century, specifically 1998, when during our brief renascence, the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry shipped 372,843 new, mostly Developer Series Homes (a.k.a. ‘Big Boxes = Big Bucks’), to compete head to head, as land and home packages – for increased local housing market share – against production site builders.

As a rule, we sold customers ‘more home than they could afford’, accepted false or inaccurate loan applications, encouraged phantom and insufficient mortgage down payments, and engaged in underwriting ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) with flagrant interest rate swings, and too often, arranged for the installation of these behemoth new homes in (then) manufactured home communities, ‘rent free’ for periods of time.

Yep, this sad period in our industry’s history, when independent ‘street’ MHRetailers, and company stores alike, espoused this mantra: ‘We have no $$$ down, no job, no problem deals for you!’, deserves this label:

Manufactured Housing’s Enronesque Period, circa 1994 – 2002

And it will be so – labeled next time the Signature Series Resource Document, ‘Paradigm Shifts of Mobile & Manufactured Housing’ (subtitled: ‘Serving shelter needs of the newly wed & nearly dead for seven decades’) is updated (November 2013), and distributed as a lagniappe in the Allen Letter professional journal. To subscribe, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

II.

What? No Meeting of the National Communities Council?

As a direct, dues – paying member of the Manufactured Housing Institute and its’ National Communities Council division, my firm pays $500.00/year as a land lease lifestyle community owner/operator. And I’ll pay a near like amount to participate in MHI’s annual Legislative Conference in late February. And let’s not forget the hundreds of dollars in annual dues we pay to Indiana and Illinois Manufactured Housing Associations ,’just to be eligible’ to be a direct, dues – paying member of the national Advocacy body. And NOW I learn there will be NO opportunity, during MHI’s annual Legislative Conference, to meet and network with fellow NCC division members in Arlington, VA @ 25 & 26 February. Where’s the dues value in that change of plans?

WHY no meeting? Following passage is quoted, in part, from email correspondence received from the division’s chairman, on 16 January – a week and a month before many of us expected to convene in Arlington, VA., for the first time since MHI’s annual meeting, and NCC’s debacle meeting on 8 October 2012, in San Antonio, TX.

“In lieu of the NCC business meeting that has been held traditionally in
conjunction with the MHI Legislative Conference and Winter Meeting, at the
upcoming meeting, the NCC Executive Committee will instead hold a closed
planning workshop focused on solidifying the NCC’s vision for the future. Our
goal will be to define a vision that ensures the NCC supports MHI’s broader
legislative advocacy and marketing outreach efforts, provides the range of
services most valuable to the variety of constituents we represent, makes interim
NCC meetings more productive for all our members, and expands our
membership to add to our resources and strength as the only MHI division
representing community owners.”

Don’t know ‘bout you, but the first of several questions this paragraph raises, is this:

Why didn’t NCC Executive Committee hold a ‘closed planning workshop’ between its’ last meeting during October 2012 and now, so it’d be ready and able to communicate its’ ‘vision for the future’ in late February in VA?

Know what this selfish pre empting of the ‘traditional’ February meeting means to those of us who are faithful attendees (As a related aside, I’m an elected NCC board member, but do you think we’ll be invited to this Executive Committee soiree? Nope.)? We get to wait until the next NCC meeting, probably next Fall at MHI’s annual meeting, unless there’s’ an interim NCC meeting during the MHCongress in Las Vegas this coming April.

You probably noticed the four part goal contained within the quoted paragraph. Broken out, the parts are:

• “…define a vision that ensures the NCC supports MHI’s broader legislative advocacy and marketing outreach efforts…” That’s pretty much ‘business as usual’, based on my not having missed an MHI/NCC division meeting in years.

• “…provides the range of services most valuable to the variety of constituents we represent…” One can only hope, between now and this ‘closed planning workshop’, the Executive Committee reaches out to its’ members, including ‘yours truly’, and asks: What ‘services (are) most valuable to me as a land lease lifestyle community owner/operator?’ Think that’ll happen? Wait and see. But given the MHIndustry’s penchant for designing, building, and shipping homes to ‘then sell’, rather than the other way around; my guess is we’ll wind up being told what ‘services (are) most valuable to me as a LLLCommunity owner/operator.’ That too, sad to say, is pretty much ‘business as usual’ for this group.

• “…makes interim NCC meetings more productive for all of our members…” Hmm. What’s the ‘diff’ between an interim and a regularly scheduled NCC meeting?

• “…expands our membership to add to our resources and strength as the only MHI division representing community owners.” Now this is a cute one. An obvious call for more dues revenue; but what are direct, dues – paying LLLCommunity owners/operators, like you and me, receiving in terms of benefits, from NCC membership? National advocacy, for sure. But what else? Non – meetings like this one in February 2013?

At this point, I’d like to ask the following question of NCC’s Executive Committee:

It’s pretty well known throughout the land lease lifestyle community realty asset class, MHI’s NCC division effectively handles the national Advocacy needs of its’ unique, income – producing property type members. But what about the plethora of other products and services LLLCommunity owners/operators presently enjoy, from other sources, and not presently provided by MHI’s NCC division?

STOP HERE! Originally, the plan was to list ‘right here’, those needed products and services, some think should be available via MHI’s NCC division. However, several LLLCommunity owner friends advised ‘not to do so’, likening the matter to ‘beating a dead horse’ where this national body is concerned. So, to switch the subject…

There’s concern today’s NCC division has become a ‘Big Boys (largest property portfolio owner/operator dominated) Club’, given No representation on its’ present Executive Committee, by sole proprietors and smaller property portfolio owners/operators. There’s serious concern this imbalance bodes ill for small businessmen and women, where present and future NCC Advocacy decisions – as well as Research& Resources, if or when taken in – house at the MHI/NCC, might be concerned. This issue deserves to be soon addressed, but not in a ‘closed planning workshop’ attended by the division’s executive committee and a few invited guests.

And let there be no misunderstanding. I plan to attend MHI’s annual Legislative Conference in late February 2013; and if NCC’s Executive Committee wants to meet with me before, during, or after their ‘closed planning workshop’, I’ll do my best to be accommodate them.

III.

MHInitiative®, Second Generation Workshop, & More…

Let’s hold this off until maybe next week. Many who’ve been responding to this blog of late, have inquired as to when and where there’ll be a FOCUS Group meeting this Winter (i.e. a 1 ½ day regional gathering of LLLCommunity owners and senior executive property managers addressing five key operational topics they select); and, what plans there are afoot for an industry wide MHInitiative®. In this latter instance, MHInitiative® plans are ‘on hold’ until we learn what, if anything, unfolds from MHI’s NCC division’s ‘closed planning workshop’ in late February, and the anticipated emergence of the Manufactured Home Community Owners Association of North America, or MHCOA in short, around that same time…think 27 February 2013.

Others of you, have been asking us to plan and host a one or two day program, dealing with Business Succession Planning, for second and third generation owners/operators of land lease lifestyle communities. If this topic is a ‘hot button’ for you and your family, let me know via email: gfa7156@aol.com or the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE. It continues to be ‘simply amazing to me’ that none of our present day national bodies appear to be sensitive to not only routine, but special needs (like this one) on the part of their constituents, industry and nationwide.

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

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