NEW ERA = finally COBA7 & now, ‘Lifestyle’

Blog # 274 Copyright 2013 8 December 2013

George Allen Writes About Key MHBusiness Matters, Concerns,& Much More…

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

Purpose of this blog. ‘To be the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Ways to respond: Critical responses & helpful ideas Welcome for future blog coverage; gfa7156@aol.com; Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

I.

‘COBA7’

II.

Giving ‘Lifestyle’ Legs…

III.

The Elephant in the Room

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I.

‘COBA7’

‘Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance’, already the buzz among land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators throughout the US & CN’

Here’s the first of several responses to last week’s blog introduction to the ‘Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance’, and how ‘COBA7’will usher in a NEW ERA for ‘all of us’ during 2014:

“Well thought out, George, but there is an 8th part or purpose of the Allen activities. The opportunities you provide for all (manufactured housing) industry folk, to opine about their business concerns, beliefs and practices, is also Invaluable; and I feel should be highlighted! Large or small, you hear them all….” JR That’s certainly the case; you folk do write and communicate a lot with me, as you’ll soon read in Parts II & III of this blog.

Following is a Summary of Seven Functions targeted by the COBA7. And please remember; this is NOT a formal membership $ driven ‘for profit’ or ‘not for profit’ trade group; rather, it’s ‘an informal alliance of businessmen and women with land-lease-lifestyle community ownership/operations in common’. The three subscription Options, described a little later in this blog, is how the research, printing, and distribution (postage) costs will be covered going forward. So, please decide SOON, at what level you want to align your advocacy, research, resources, communication, networking, deal-making, and property management training/certification needs with COBA7. Specifically,

• National Advocacy. While the mission of one national council, there are issues and opportunities presently being ignored, that need to be addressed during 2014

• Statistical Research. The 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Land-lease-lifestyle Community Owners/operators Throughout North America!’ is Bigger (167+ owners/operators identified this year; up 52% from 110 ‘players’ listed last year!) & Better (More benchmark statistics and ‘good to know’ information than ever before…)

• Resources Distribution. 12 Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs, include: ‘Official State of the MHIndustry & LLLCommunities!, National $ Registry of RE & Chattel Lenders, ‘Who Ya Gonna Call’ list of freelance consultants, Official directory of print & online MHPublications; Official MHLexicon; and, six additional information – packed titles & directories!

• Print & Online Communication via weekly blog posting, the Allen Letter professional journal, and/or the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter.

• Peer Networking via annual Networking Roundtable & periodic FOCUS Groups for LLLCommunity owners/operators desiring to caucus confidentially.

• Deal – making via opportunities planned & hosted with & by national real estate brokerages specializing in the Marketing of LLLCommunties in U.S. & CN

• Professional Property Management Training & Certification via the popular Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® one day class for owners/operators

You know, the blog correspondent quoted at the beginning of Part I to this week’s blog posting is Too Right. Sad to say, but there are NO longer, any other present day outlets or voices available to MHIndustry & LLLCommunity businessmen and women, other than three print and a couple online ezines and blogs. Here’re a couple sobering, troubling questions, along with one very dark thought: 1) When was the last time you read opinions and observations by our peers in print or online, except for the casual interview here and there, and the guest features you read in the Allen Letter professional journal? Now consider; 2) How would we fare, information-sharing and communication-wise, throughout our realty asset class, if we lost one or all these present day media means? Consequence. We’d likely have little to NO trade press left, and revert to the Dark Ages of No Communication suffered more than 25 years ago – except for what was written about home manufacturers!

To that end, decide before the end of December 2013, which of three Options describe your subscription affiliation with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, or COBA7, during 2014:

Option I. Allen Letter professional journal alone – No SSRDs (e.g. And no ALLEN
REPORT) enclosed with 12 monthly issues of the newsletter @ $134.95

Option II. Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, &
12 monthly Signature Series Resource Documents, @ $544.95/year

Option III. Allen Letter professional journal, 25th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, &
12 monthly Signature Series Resource Documents, & the Allen
CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter, @ $944.95/year.

For those with existing subscriptions to either or both monthly print newsletters, an adjustment will be made to the amount you pay to begin the new year (2014). And remember; the 25th anniversary Biggest & Best ALLEN REPORT ever, will NOT be enclosed as a lagniappe or ‘freebie’ in the January 2014 Allen Letter professional journal!

To order Option I, II, or III subscription, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. If already an Allen Letter professional journal subscriber, & NOT interested in receiving the 25th annual ALLEN REPORT & 12 SSRDs, simply await a renewal form on or near your subscription date.

Bottom Line, One Last Time. Your financial support of the ‘Community Owner (7 Part) Business Alliance’ ensures LLLCommunity owners/operators, large and small, nationwide, will benefit from the Seven Functions described above, for years, even decades, to come! This is your opportunity to ‘get on board’ during December 2013. Watch for an announcement of a meeting of COBA7 affiliates during Louisville MHShow, likely on 22 January at a hotel near the KY State Fair Grounds….
II.

Giving ‘Lifestyle’ Legs…

The ‘Lifestyle’ adjective is catching–on far faster than we expected it would!

Here’s how another blog flogger (reader) suggests we help the manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community asset class to embrace the ‘Lifestyle’ adjective among all segments or components of our unique, double – dual business type.*1

1. Start locally. Talk it up, and encourage exemplary businesses, new and old, to introduce Lifestyle into their entity name, mission statement, advertising, etc.. Even involve one’s state manufactured housing association in this new positioning of our housing type and community lifestyle.

2. Zero – in on HUD-Code manufacturers & land-lease-lifestyle community owners/operators actively using Community Series Homes, or CSH Models, to fill some of those 250,000 vacant rental homesites nationwide! In a word; if we’re ‘taking the high road’ with new CSH Model homes, why not include Lifestyle in all marketing efforts as well? Same can be said of using the cutting edge Modular Lifestyle homes.

3. Insist all local housing market rent surveys of LLLCommunities, by JLT & Associates and others, to include ‘all such properties’, NOT just the cherry – picked few of lively interest to property portfolio consolidators. Then identify the ‘best’ properties within said surveys, and highlight them as being exemplary ‘Lifestyle’ communities in that local housing market(s).

As you likely recall from last week’s blog posting, the world’s largest owner/operator of land-lease-lifestyle communities (i.e. Equity Lifestyle Properties, or ELS, Inc., for short), and Canada’s largest owner/operator of LLLCommunities, Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities, Inc., have already incorporated the adjective Lifestyle into their entity names! And Modular Lifestyles, a California converter of ‘trailer parks’ into land-lease-lifestyle communities, is setting a positive example among property owners/operators on the West coast. Let me know, via the contact alternatives listed at the beginning of this blog posting, when you’ve introduced the adjective Lifestyle into your corporate name!

End Note. 1. Double-dual business type? ‘HUD-Code home manufacturing & distribution; LLLCommunity development & investment/management’.

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III.

The Elephant in the Room

And this, from a third blog flogger (reader), & so worthy of your attention!

“George. Kudos to you for identifying ‘the elephant in the room’, affecting the present and future of our property type (land-lease-lifestyle communities), especially where major (portfolio) players are concerned!”

“The titanic lack of professional property management of these multi – million dollar real estate investment assets is perplexing. I know from where it (i.e. nominal worth of on-site managers) rises – the bean counters assumption ‘real estate is the value of the asset’. This view pales however, when site and home vacancy rears its’ head! My conclusion is, many of the mature and successful industry professionals we’ve known over the years, have risen to senior management positions, and now struggle to keep their fresh crop of ‘apartment leasing consultants’ afloat in their sea of home sales and site leasing ignorance.”

“Just make a few (telephone) calls, and ask the person answering (leasing or sales consultant) a few questions, if you want to experience the ‘dumbing down’ of today’s on – site staff. These are often (former) apartment leasing staffers who’ve discovered, working as LLLCommunity managers brings more job satisfaction than painting walls, cleaning carpets, and servicing appliances during make – ready. But they’ve NOT learned – or been taught. probably due to training budget constraints, the basics and finer points of community management, home sales, and site leasing.”

“I frankly, but selfishly, appreciate this phenomenon (i.e. Corporate training, supervision, & Mystery Shopping shortfalls), because it makes it SOOOO easy to compete against them! How does one beat their really nice curb appeal and high rents? By effectively managing, selling, leasing on – site! And ask their residents if they would buy there again, and put up with the ‘artificially inflated market rents’ these firms manufacture. Not! So, I thank God for the REITs!” (Edited. GFA)

WOW! As we asked earlier in this blog posting, ‘Where else can businessmen and women, from the grassroots of our industry/asset class, and working on the front lines of property management, home sales, and rental homesite leasing, go to publicly share their observations, opinions, ideas, even criticisms of the status quo, and how we conduct our various business interests?; Answer: ‘Nowhere else!’ Just here – and here’s how….

The following terse line is also from a ‘last week’ blog flogger, one with 30+ years in the manufactured housing industry – and it’s not me!

“Good plan for a new organization (‘NO; again, ‘COBA7’ is a ‘business alliance’, NOT a formal business or association entity funded by membership dues! GFA). Often wondered, over the years, why communities and retailers have stuck it out with the (national advocacy body/ies). Let’s get-r-dun!” NB

Think that an outlandish comment? I don’t, and here’s why. Let’s call it ‘affluence gerrymandering’ – the de facto control of national trade association agenda (voter) power by 1) always holding national meetings in expensive venues, affordable only to the most affluent of businesses and state trade associations – hence discouraging member participation; and where, 2) voting is restricted to only those relatively few members in attendance at said national meetings! *1 This is not a new concept, not at all. It’s been the self-serving, power-garnering pattern, within certain manufactured housing industry advocacy circles, for more than three decades. In this industry observer’s opinion, it’s high time for wholesale change, of one sort or another…!

What change(s)? There’re really only two choices, maybe three. To 1) work from within, as direct, dues – paying members, collectively agreeing to propose and effect changes – in selection of meeting venues, and changing organization’s bylaws (e.g. allowing proxy voting by absentee members). And barring success there, 2) launch a new trade entity designed, in part, to correct self – serving matters like ‘affluence gerrymandering’ and rejection of proxy voting by absentee members, OR, 3) put up with ‘affluence gerrymandering’ and rejection of proxy voting for another three decades! Whew! Let’s hope neither of the latter two alternatives become reality.

End Note. 1. ‘gerrymandering’ = “…change the boundaries of election districts to give one political party an unfair advantage.” In the instance of ‘affluence gerrymandering’? Effect artificial boundaries, i.e. 1) one’s ability to participate financially, & 2) restrict voting privilege to those direct, dues – paying members in attendance at meetings, ‘to give one political party (e.g. affluent businesses) an unfair advantage.’

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IV.

Hey, keep those emails, voicemail messages, penned notes, even telephone calls, coming my way! It ‘more than appears’ this weekly blog posting has struck a strong responsive chord among the 1,000+/- BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) recipients most Sunday mornings. At present we’re averaging more than a dozen written inquiries, insightful opinions, and helpful suggestions per week. And that’s fine. I can easily handle that volume. Don’t know ‘bout you, but I’m convinced the trade politic junkies, a.k.a. ‘wonks’ are so entrenched in one national advocacy body, they must continually ‘read about themselves’, and their ineffectiveness as leaders, lobbyists (Where’s that Senate bill we’ve been awaiting since before Thanksgiving?) and communicators, until they collectively adopt a New Years Resolution to better represent our entire industry!

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247

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