Too Late or Not Too Late? Part II, maybe even III

Too Late or Not Too Late? Part II, maybe III.

“These rent, income, and demographic trends are staring the (manufactured housing) industry in the face, and are tremendous cause for optimism – it is great to see you calling that out.”
&
“Your challenge in paragraph four (of blog # 148, on 10 July 2011) is well stated, and I will be interested to see who the takers are.”

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These are two of the shorter, but typical responses, to paragraph IV of the above – referenced blog posting, that began with these words: “OK, enough ‘reading between the lines’ for the time being. Let’s talk internal politics for awhile.”

All we’re suggesting then and here, in consecutive blog postings, is there’re two, maybe three, opportunities this Fall and Winter, to get a handle on the present day circumstances of the (1) landlease community asset class and (2) manufactured housing industry, by collectively discussing, debating, brainstorming, and planning our very future, by dint of ‘How to Save the Manufactured Housing Industry!’

Here’re the two, maybe three opportunities, in some detail:

I.

Triple Anniversary International Networking Roundtable.

This event occurs 14 – 16 September in San Antonio, TX. Be present to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), 20th consecutive annual International Networking Roundtable, and 15th year of MHI’s National Communities Council division! In addition to nearly two dozen presenters and panels covering timely and cutting edge landlease community – related topics, there’ll be dozens of landlease communities showcased ‘for sale’, ten interpersonal networking events, and plenty of opportunities for deal – making. The final session of this year’s Roundtable will be your opportunity to help chart the future of the landlease (nee manufactured home) community asset class, relative to statistics research and publication, print and online communication among portfolio owners/operators, professional property management training and certification, as well as the continuation of a dozen or more Signature Series Resource Documents (‘SSRD’s) used by landlease community owners/operators throughout North America. For information, visit this website, or place an email (gfa7156@aol.com) or telephone request (MHIndustry HOTLINE: 877/MFD-HSNG or 633-4764) today. Attendance limited to 200 registrants.

Manufactured Housing Institute’s annual meeting.

This event occurs 2 – 4 October in Phoenix, AZ. Agenda? Following is taken directly from an email message to members, dated 18 July: “Annual Meeting to continue work on MHI’s priority areas: Financial Regulatory Implementation and Overhaul; S.A.F.E. Act Implementation; GSE Reform and Government’s Role in Housing; Tax Reform and Energy Issues.” Nary a word about any priority relative to reversing the present shipment nadir bedeviling the manufactured housing industry.

Same communiqué goes on to say: “It takes the collective experience and ideas from all members to achieve the highest level of success with these very important issues. Your involvement in the Annual Meeting is essential to the industry’s commitment to growth.” OK, I can buy into all that; but frankly, why not after the word ‘success’, say/write ‘in rejuvenating the marketing, sales and production germane to HUD Code manufactured housing!’ In a word, so to speak, if MHI isn’t going to take steps to ‘Save the manufactured housing industry!’, who is? Your response to this expose’?

And if you own/operate landlease communities in the U.S., for sure plan to attend the regular meeting of MHI’s National Communities Council division during this time frame! The NCC is ‘the national forum’ where, in this industry observer’s opinion, the national grassroots effort to ‘Save the Manufactured Housing Industry!’ should begin.
For more information, visit manufacturedhousing.org or phone (703) 558-0678. And while you’re at it, if a landlease community owner/operator, and not a direct, dues – paying member of MHI’s NCC division, do so – by phoning Lisa Brechtel @ (703) 558-0666. Tell her ‘George sent me!’

Third National State of the Asset Class caucus.

This event is not scheduled at this time, but will likely occur during January or February 2012, somewhere in Florida, preferably on – site in a large landlease community – to lend ambiance to efforts to ‘Save the Manufactured Housing Industry!’

There’s ‘two for two’ success precedent to having a third National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucus. While many manufactured housing aficionados are well aware of what occurred on 2/27/08 & 2/27/09, it’s worth taking a moment and two short paragraphs to summarize proceedings:

• 100+/- landlease community owners/operators, from throughout the U.S. convened at the FountainView (all adult or retirement) landlease community in Tampa, FL. Result? Agreement on five ‘suggestions, strategies, and or action areas’: 1) Importance of effective and ongoing political influence, and landlease community advocacy at local, state and national levels; 2) Getting the word out! Timely dual need for a national manufactured housing ad campaign and productive local housing market – tailored promotions; 3) Value Proposition. Ensure a fair interplay of housing product pricing, financing and value, with site rental and more; 4) Measure Customer Satisfaction via resident relations indicators, volume of home sales and site leasing referrals, and degree of tenant retention! 5) Financing and servicing of new and resale home transactions on – site, and financing of landlease communities per se. When one stops and thinks about it, all five areas have seen their share of trade press publicity, if not accompanying action, since first codified three and a half years ago!

• 100+/- HUD Code home manufacturers and landlease community portfolio owners/operators convened at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s new Hall of Fame, museum & library facility in Elkhart, IN. End result? For the first time in manufactured housing industry history, manufacturers and landlease community owners/operators engaged in open and spirited dialog regarding ‘What type homes the latter needed to fill vacant rental homesites’, and ‘What the former were willing to do to accommodate said needs’. It was as simple as that. Results? During the following twelve months, several manufacturers designed and built Community Series Homes (i.e. inexpensive singlesection & smaller multisection) – different from the Developer Series Homes (i.e. Bigger Box = Bigger Bucks homes shipped shortly before and after year 2000) for direct siting and sale within landlease communities. And a new job title and description emerged, that of Business Development Manager or BDMs – manufacturer personnel expected to ‘walk and talk’ landlease communities, to increase those firms’ market share!

Enter a third NSAC caucus. Whatever you read these days, in the trade press, there’s an increasing chorus, among journalists, publishers, and some state and national leaders, that something ‘big’ or at least ‘substantial’ needs to be done to get the manufactured housing industry back on track, in terms of annual new home shipment volume, or watch the industry continue its’ slide into eventual oblivion.

By year end, the future of landlease community research and resources should be secure, as a new national not for profit platform materializes to ensure little to no change in the products and services already enjoyed by landlease community owners/operators form coast to coast, and in Canada.

The remaining issue will be, as it is now – unless greatly addressed during MHI’s aforementioned meeting in early October, is how to ‘Save the Manufactured Housing Industry!’ And given the scope of this challenge, there’s no way progress will be achieved in just one day. Preliminary plans call for a two day affair, so if interested in participating, plan on that. And it’ll be, most likely, consecutive weekdays in the middle of a month.

What’ll be covered? What sort of agenda? Well, that’s where you, blog floggers (readers) come in. Approximately 400 manufactured housing and landlease community folk receive a BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) every Sunday – like the one you received announcing this posting! Sometime in mid or late October, if need be, we’ll likely send you a questionnaire, soliciting your input as to topics and format for the third NSAC caucus. In the meantime, at the 20th Networking Roundtable, and prior to MHI’s annual meeting, if you agree with the premise of this blog posting (i.e. Save the Manufactured Housing Industry!), let your thoughts and opinions be known to salaried and elected leaders alike! Now is not the time to be shy about what you think it’ll take to get our industry back on track.

An interesting sidebar has been popping up of late, ever since we coined the concept: MHActivist, a few blog postings ago. More than one responder has commented that individuals participating in the serious exercises suggested in this week’s posting should be ‘stakeholders’ (i.e. business owners), and that we take steps to ensure plenty of grassroots (as opposed to, as they put it, Astroturf) businessmen and women are given opportunity to comment and participate. Well, starting with this posting, here’s your opportunity….

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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. 46247 (317) 346-7156

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