Present & Future 0f Manufactured Housing & Community Operations

Blog Posting # 594 @ 17 July 2020; Copyright 2020. Educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

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INTRODUCTION: Today (July 15th) is our – Carolyn and my, 128th day of self-quarantine. All is well. We miss our friends in manufactured housing and among communities. Plan now to join us at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN., the evening of 3 December 2020, for the induction of the Class of 2020. For dinner tickets, phone (574) 293-2344.

I.

Present & Future 0f Manufactured Housing & Community Operations

The ‘In Memoriam’ column, in every issue of The Allen Confidential! business newsletter, lists dozens of colleagues who’ve died during the past few years. Five were members of the RV/MH Hall of Fame – one (Burt Dickman), will be inducted 3 December 2020; four were freelance consultants to the industry and realty asset class (George Goldman, Grayson Schwepfinger, Judy Carr, and ‘Mac’ McClanahan); and, 20 who’d been land lease community owners/operators during their lifetime. Seems HUD-Code housing manufacturers don’t die, they remodel and continue on, like Joe Stegmayer, maybe even starting a new career.

Point? I continue to accept one or two consulting assignments each month; and during one conversation this week, was told and asked: “Seems most long term manufacturing and community consultants (Bill Carr, Dave Alley, Ed Hicks, Don Westphal, David Gorin, me, et.al.) are retiring these days, or have done so already. Who’s coming along to fill their shoes? Know what? That’s an apt and timely question. And when I first started thinking about it, I was depressed, as I could not think of much ‘young blood’ coming into the MHBusiness. But guess what? Upon closer examination, I see more hope than nope! (Sorry, but had to have that bit of alliteration!)

In no particular order, here’s how I see the present and future of manufactured housing and community consulting ‘penciling out’ during the year, even decades ahead.

Relatively young execs are now in place at MHI (Dr. Leslie Gooch & Mark Bowersox), MHARR (Mark Weiss), and NAMHCO (Susan Brenton). That’s encouraging. And NAMHCO’s lobbyist is a ‘young turk’ among Washington, DC. players.

Specific to freelance consultants, ‘think’ Rick Robinson, esquire; Ken Corbin, Paul Baretto , John ‘Ace’ Underwood, and George Porter – though semi-retired, he’ll be inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame on 3 December, to name a few that come to mind.

Interestingly, during the past decade, several of the founders (and sons of founders) – the old guard of HUD-Code manufacturing, have retired or expired. Today, most execs are approaching – or are, middle age plus. And that’s good for the industry. One industry icon who’s still around (though largely inactive) – and in my opinion, remains the most visionary individual to grace manufactured housing, is Chuck Fanaro – developer of beautiful Saddlebrook Farms in Grayslake, IL., and owner of Hi-Tech Housing in Elkhart, IN.*1

Nothing pleases me more than to see second and third generation family members follow in their parents’ steps, taking over and owning/managing land lease communities. This continues to occur, with the Landy father and son at UMH Properties; Rob Shouhayib leading his father’s management team at Choice Properties; partners’ progeny at Bessire and Casenhiser in CA; Barbara and Troy Hames following in their parents’ footsteps in Iowa; David Voss and sons in MO; Bob & Brad Cohron, sons of RV/MH Hall of Fame twins, Darrell & Harrell Cohron; Jared Surnamer, MHM, of Valley Community Management; the Newby clan of Newby Management, in Ellenton, FL; Tunnell family (three generations) in DE. (Recall Pots-n-Nets, and Baywood Communities in Lewes, DE.); and, Ed Zeman, successor to the late Bud Zeman.*2

Unfortunately, ‘consolidation’ continues to exact a toll among lifelong community owners/operators. The recent Jensen family (In CT.) sell-out to REIT Sun Communities, Inc., and Stephenson family (Anderson, IN.) sell-out to REIT UMH Properties.

Probably the youngest and tightest group of young executives can be found at DATACOMP, a.k.a. MHVillage, and MHInsider magazine. Founder and patriarch, Ted Boers, has been succeeded by his son – co president with Darren Krolewski, and Patrick Revere, all officed in Grand Rapids, MI.

Some, but not all inclusive, signs of young blood coming into real estate and personal property finance as well. Remember how much we missed Creighton Weber and Cary Monroe when they retired, and Bruce Tolchin when he passed? And Lew Vela – who knows when he’ll finally ‘hang it up’? Today there’s a plethora of young guys and gals filling those loan originator vacancies. Think Nick Bertino at Wells Fargo, son Chad working with Charlie Williams at Berkadia Commercial, MJ Vukovich at Bellwether Enterprises, Chris San Jose at Yale Capital Advisors, Matt Gentile at Monroe & Giordano, and Eric Oaks at Oxford Bank & Trust (chattel capital).

Know what? It’s much harder to find young execs among the nearly 50 state manufactured housing associations across the U.S. Most are led by industry veterans. Though there is physical fitness enthusiast Jen Allen in DE., Melissa Caron in Massachusetts, and Amy Bliss, who succeeded Ross Kinzler when he retired a few years ago.

Finally. As you likely expect, I’m pleased with how COBA7, a.k.a. GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing succession is progressing. Spotlight-Strategies, headed by Susan McCarty, MHM, and Erin Smith, MHM, continues my legacy of Mystery Shopping land lease communities – as well as other consulting assignments, training & certifying Manufactured Housing Managers (‘MHM’), publishing a monthly newsletter this weekly blog posting, and more than a dozen books about manufactured housing and communities.

So, obviously, business life continues for HUD-Code manufactured housing and the land lease community real estate asset class. Two continuing questions however, which beg answering – relating to the futures of these business models, are these:

• What is it going to take to increase and sustain HUD-Code housing shipments at a level above 100,000 units per year? Made some suggestions to this end in last week’s blog posting (#594) and continue to await your response….

• What must we – anyone do, to ameliorate, better yet lessen, ‘local regulatory barriers to all forms of affordable housing’, facilitating development of new land lease communities throughout the U.S.?

Answers anyone?

End Notes.

1. The Saddlebrook Farms story, from concept thru infill, is told in ‘One Man’s Vision Realized!’, by Mary Anderson, in the book, SWAN SONG, history of land lease communities and official record of HUD-Code housing shipments, 1955 to present day, PMN Publishing, 2017. Available from www.educatemhc.com

2. ‘A Toast to the Community Owner!’ was penned, August 2010, to honor the memory of Bud Zeman, Chicago area owner of land lease communities.

Until every homesite is filled and every bill paid
With mortgage refinancing approved and dollars on the way
We’ll ply this trailer trade, selling & financing affordable homes, factory made
Knowing lesser men truly fear, this business we embrace with our peers
‘So, to community owners everywhere, I offer this toast to our worthy trade;
“May hitches hold, site rent flow, and all our homes be sold!” GFA

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