‘Short Takes’, Newsy Notes & MHIndustry Peccadiloes

‘Short Takes’, Newsy Notes, MHIndustry Peccadilloes

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’18 New Pioneers Pondering the Future of RESEARCH & RESOURCES for all Landlease Communities Nationwide…

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‘Short Takes’, Newsy Notes, & a few MHIndustry Peccadilloes

Blog floggers (readers) by the dozen, continue to respond to this Official MHIndustry & LLCommunity Blog Posting each week We don’t begin to include all of them here, but certainly ones that address, and hopefully bring reason to various observations, issues, and happenstances germane to our double dual industry (i.e. HUD Code home manufacturing & distribution; landlease community investment & management). Have YOU taken the time, or made an effort, to respond of late? Maybe now is the time for YOU to do so….

MHRetailers disappearing? Not by a long shot! This firsthand experience from a retired, but still actively engaged MHIndustry aficionado. During a recent road trip, “…found the South still to have a plethora of independent ‘street’ MHRetailers (f.k.a. ‘street dealerships’), some of the company store variety, others individually – owned salescenters. Most had three or four cars parked outside their sales offices, and almost all were clean, with plenty of flags, lots of attractive colors, and all were attractive and well – appointed from the street view. Nearly all advertised a ‘singlesection special’ and a ‘multisection special’ (Actually, they ballyhooed ‘singlewide’ & ‘doublewide’ models). The SURPRISE was that virtually every marquee proclaimed ‘MOBILE HOMES FOR SALE!’. Which begs the question, ‘Is it maybe time to go back to the future? You know, smaller, low cost, simply appointed, fast to move into, and easy to finance homes!?’ Who’d a thunk we are proving ourselves (this way) every day, and there are indeed folk selling many new homes, even profiting from our ‘past business practices’. WOW.” NB

More on the professional property management issue. From a 20 year manager of conventional apartment communities, now with a year as an on – site landlease (f.k.a. manufactured home) community manager: “Wanted to express to you how appreciative I am, as a property management professional, of your response. I manage a park (i.e. LLCommunity) of 486 homes, and know that it takes more than a warm body to be an active part of the asset’s success! Thank you for recognizing the need for a professional to fill the position of manager, and not just a warm body who happens to live on – site, so (ownership) can save money by not having to close the leasing office. We both know that results in early burn – out because, in essence, the manager never ‘goes home from work.’ “ KC

Property portfolio owners/operators not all paying their fair share of state MHAssociation dues! “I’ve been an executive in partnerships, over the years, in OH, IN, NC, & VA; and always fought with partners over paying MHAssociation dues, because they kept asking, ‘Show us in real terms what we are getting for our money?’ This, unless there’s a ‘hot legislative battle or issue afoot’ is often difficult to do; and add to this, their propensity to act like outsiders, doing their own thing (e.g. ‘I’ve got it handled myself!, instead of ‘Let’s band together!’), as well as being difficult to identify in the first place.” Don’t look for this to change much in the future. In any given state, where there were used to be two dozen sole proprietor – owned LLCommunities, each paying $500.00/year in dues (Total income = $12,000.00); but since have been acquired and are now part of, say, two portfolios, whose owners/operators purposely pay dues for only one such property in each portfolio; well, that’s an immediate, direct, annual loss of $11,000.00 in dues revenue for that state’s MHAssociation. And multiply that ‘hit’ ten times over, and there’s the ‘game changer’ many associations have suffered during the past two decades of landlease community consolidation. What to do about it? Well, here’s the ‘game plan’ I’ve suggested in states where I pay MHAssociation membership dues. FIRST, identify present members not paying their fair (full) share of dues; SECOND, identify out of state property portfolio ‘players’ who aren’t yet dues – paying members; and THIRD, form a volunteer group of LLCommunity owners who’re dues – paying members, and approach recalcitrant firms directly, first by letter, then – if necessary – in person. BUT along the way, these same state MHAssociations must be offering timely services; be engaged in effective lobbying; and, regularly hosting value – laden programs, like Super Symposiums, State of the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class presentations ‘that mean something’, and opportunities for professional property management training and certification. If NOT, then why make the effort to attract new, dues – paying members?

Plight of the small businessman and woman competing for national recognition at the annual MHCongress Awards Luncheon. “LOL. Pretty hard to compete with REITs. MHI should segregate the ‘big boys’ who have all their managers vote for themselves.” Probably a good idea. In all fairness though, two ‘little guys’, both from central Illinois, did garner national recognition, one as a MHRetailer and other as a LLCommunity owner, at this year’s MHCongress in Las Vegas. Still though, there’s room for improvement.

More on the controversial ‘unrestricted’ vs. ‘restricted’ distribution of handout materials at MHI events policy. “I want to weigh in on the issue of literature at the MHCongress. As one who’s ponied up for a booth since day one, I believe that if one wants to advertise at the MHCongress, they should pay for a booth as well. If I could hawk my wares for free, why would I spend the time and effort on a booth? I’m certain that booth rentals pay a big part in the financial success of the MHCongress, and I want it to continue as a great industry event. Having said that, it might be appropriate for speakers to have their materials in the room at the time of their presentation, as a way of thanking them for their participation.” DW Well put. But I think ‘the handout distribution issue’ has more to do with said practice at MHI meetings, rather than at this annual big $$$ ticket event in Las Vegas. But hey, we’ll wait to see if/how their new restrictive ‘handouts’ policy discourages or encourages MHI membership by small businesses.

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’18 New Pioneers’ Pondering the Future of RESEARCH & RESOURCES for All Landlease Community Owners/operators Nationwide….

Well the personal epiphany of late February 2012 is being realized, as you read these very lines – assuming you’re doing so between 29 April and 5 May. That’s the week between posting this particular blog, at the community-investor.com website, and the next Sunday posting.

A letter and survey were distributed 24 April, to ’18 New Pioneers’ plus a half dozen ‘advisors’- landlease community owners all, who’ve stepped forward to brainstorm and ponder, then plan, the future of RESEARCH & RESOURCES for all landlease community owners/operators in the U.S., and eventually Canada! Their individual input will be collected and summarized during the first two weeks of May, when an initial White Paper will be prepared, then sent to them for further consideration. During mid – June, as many of these businessmen and women as possible, from more than a dozen states – ranging from New England and Florida to California and the Pacific Northwest, will convene at SaddleBrook Farms in Grayslake, IL., for a day long strategic planning meeting. Those proceedings will likely be akin to the popular FOCUS meeting format of the past 20 years.

Why ’18 New Pioneers’? Mainly as a respectful nod to the 18 ‘then’ manufactured home community owners/operators, who convened 31 August 1993, to begin the process to ensure adequate and appropriate national ADVOCACY for our unique, income – producing property type, before several of their number launched IPOs (Initial Public Offerings of their stock) to become real estate investment trusts (REITs) during the mid 1990s. Today, that ADVOCACY effort is well handled by MHI’s National Communities Council (‘NCC”) division. Are YOU a direct, dues – paying member yet? If not, phone Bruce Savage @ (703) 558-0666 and do so today! Tell him ‘George sent me!’ Seriously.

Back to the ’18 New Pioneers’. Besides being ‘LLCommunity owners all’; with one or two exceptions, they’re also representatives of the new generation of owners/operators. In fact, only one of these ‘owners’ has been a member of both ‘18’ groups. And none of them are listed among the 15 largest portfolio ‘players’ profiled in the 23rd annual ALLEN REPORT.

And frankly, it’s not too late for you to make your interest known, to participate as a supporter of this latter day RESEARCH & RESOURCES project. Simply contact me via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. This is certainly NOT a closed clique of LLCommunity owners!

With our asset class’ ADVOCACY effort now in place for 16 years (NCC didn’t officially supplant the original Industry Steering Committee until 1 January 1996), it’s time to turn our thoughts and efforts to ensuring adequate and appropriate national RESEARCH & RESOURCES for the unique, income – producing property type! Last time around, need for ADVOCACY was driven by an imminent REIT wave. This time around, RESEARCH & RESOURCES is being driven by the perennial need of landlease community owners/operators for print and online communication; benchmark statistical information; periodic networking and deal – making opportunities; as well as professional property management training and certification; and more….

If you’re thinking, ‘What about the new, national not for profit, Center for Manufactured Housing Studies (CMHS), I’ve been reading about of late; isn’t that supposed to be the standard bearer for landlease community RESEARCH going forward?’ In a word, YES. But it’s hoped RESEARCH & RESOURCES will continue to move forward together, as they have in the ‘for profit’ realm for the past 30 years. And at present, since they are intertwined from start to finish, it’s one more consideration the ’18 New Pioneers’ and their advisors, will be pondering and planning for, during the months ahead.

Is there an ‘end game’ to this epiphany cum strategic planning session? Again, YES. Ideally, as was the case during the Networking Roundtable in San Antonio, TX., last Fall (2011), this year, 12 – 14 September, in San Diego, we’ll be in a position to announce how RESEARCH & RESOURCES will likely move ahead together, in accords with NCC’s ADVOCACY efforts, from that point forward. But, only time – and effort, will surely tell, and spawn the needed results. SO, continue to follow this saga here, and in the Allen Letter professional journal. ($134.95/year = 12 issues, via the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE).

Finally, I’ll share this broad hint with you. Since the MHCongress in Las Vegas, no fewer than three new alternatives have been proffered, but are not yet vetted. One has considerable depth of manufactured housing experience, and more; another comes from the national and professional real estate management ‘side of the house’; and a third, from generic real estate investment quarters. It’s likely the ’18 New Pioneers’ will evaluate one or more of these alternatives, given their (and yours, by extension) interest in ensuring landlease community RESEARCH & RESOURCES, continue on into the future. Exception(s) will occur only when confidence has been requested and assured.

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George Allen, CPM®Emeritus & MHM®Master
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 462467
(317) 346-7156

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