Your Turn to Vent & be Titillated

YOUR TURN TO VENT & BE TITILLATED!

Tales, Opinions & a Lament, from MHIndustry Blog Floggers (readers); &,
Allusion to Major Occurring MHIndustry News You’ll Read Nowhere Else!

But first. Given the remote possibility you don’t know HUD Code manufactured housing continues to be ‘in the tank’ – ‘an historic nadir’, annual shipment volume – wise, know this: Year 2010 HUD Code manufactured housing shipments numbered 50,046 units; up just 257 homes from year 2009 total of 49,789. This is probably why an industry pundit recently labeled the past decade, ’a mhcession in the midst of the national recession’. And ‘No’, this is not the allusion to major occurring MHIndustry News available nowhere else….

I.

DISCLAIMER. The following tales, opinions and lament, provided by MHIndustry and LLCommunity aficionados, have been edited for length and clarity of expression, and are not necessarily the views of the blogger! GFA

The vicious cycle. This from a licensed MHInstaller: “Recently went, on behalf of a HUD Code home manufacturer, to a home that had problems. Had lots of water under it, the roof was dripping, floor squeaked, and doors stuck. Asked the MHRetailer, “Who set this up?” He replied, he did. I asked, “Why the water?” MHRetailer said he made a deal with the homeowner, that the homeowner would grade the lot. I said, “Well, couldn’t you see he did it wrong?” MHRetialer, “Not my problem!” I said, “Really, so why are you here now?” His response was that the home manufacturer said to show up, so he did. The manufacturer’s rep was outside, beating his head against a tree (figuratively speaking, I think), saying “How can you make someone care?” The vicious cycle: ‘The manufacturer can’t or won’t fire the MHRetailer. The MHRetailer can’t fire the homeowner for grading the lot wrong; and, the local building inspector is clueless and couldn’t care less. It was, after all, ‘just a trailer’.’ Frankly, this is how as an industry, we are sometimes our own worst enemy.

In search of a solution. This from a veteran landlease (nee manufactured home) community owner in the Southeast, asking ‘What’s wrong with this, if anything?’ “I buy a home from a resident or finance company for $10,000. and fix it up. Now I want to sell it outright for $20,000. or am willing to do a ‘rent to own’ if need be. So, a resident moves in and pays me $600 per month, with $200 of that earmarked for site rent, the balance is credited toward the eventual purchase of the home. Assuming there’s ‘no cash down payment’ and no interest or carrying charge, the home is paid off in 50 months. If resident want s to pay it off early, there’s no pre – payment penalty. If they abandon the home, the arrangement ends. I go into the home each month to change the AC filters and spray for insects. This allows me to oversee the condition of the home as long as I own it. If the arrangement goes bad, no public tax money is lost, no lender suffers, only me.” In search of a solution. What do YOU think or know?

The Mom & Pop Lament. This from a veteran LLCommunity owner in the Midwest. “The name of the game is to keep buying homes, so our rental homesites can remain filled, or sell out. My local bank doesn’t want me to sell out, but I get weary always being right at my credit limit for the home sales part of my business. And I really don’t like the ‘rent to buy’ avenue, even though it doesn’t differ much from a contract sale. But buyers do tend to feel a little more obligation if they’re buying on contract, rather than renting to own. It’s only semantics, to me, as ‘contracts’ are simply glorified ‘rentals’.” The Mom & Pop Lament. What would YOU do? What are YOU doing?

Large versus small owners/operators. This from a longtime LLCommunity owner in the East. “As I’ve said before, George, large operators and small operators of LLCommunities, march to different drums. The (operational) problems are identical, but solutions totally different; in that small operators can (and do) make decisions instantly, without worrying about stockholders, multistate regulations, Wall Street analysts, and the SEC. Smaller operators are more secure and comfortable in what we’re doing, and are more forthcoming – willing to share all when asked, describe what works and what doesn’t, with others in the business. People who work for big outfits think they’re going to get dismissed if their boss finds out they got a good idea from someone else. Hence, they oft parade around telling everyone they’ve got everything figured out. Usually takes two to three years to learn they don’t, then they get canned and the process begins over again. Do I care those guys disregard my advice or what I do? It would be real hard for me to care less!” Large versus small owners/operators. Has this been your experience, or something different? In fairness and truth, salaried LLCommunity executives are vulnerable to the whims of their bosses, while sole proprietors have ‘all their skin in their game’, understanding the concept of profit as being their ‘reward for taking risks!’

II.

In an earlier blog posting, we introduced the latest ‘trick pony’ to fill pages in real estate – related publications. Not any particular ‘generation’ demographic, or how to ‘leed’ the way ‘going green’, rather the concept (or fad?) of Sustainability – one more idea in play to end the national recession, mancession (i.e. More unemployed men than women), maybe even the decade long mhcession! (Described in first paragraph of this blog!)

Well, here’s how one blog flogger addressed Sustainability – ‘the innate ability to withstand normal use’. The writer comes at this, within the context of the MHIndustry, by citing personal and career expertise and experience as a home designer, consumer advocate, manufactured home owner, even MHLobbyist….

Home designer. “A firm I worked for, marketed modular homes as being comparable to ‘stick built homes’. Why? Cuz the public kept comparing ‘mods’ to ‘mobile homes’, which ‘everyone knew’ were temporary structures, underscored by ease of relocation among ‘mobile home parks’.” Situation here, where structural design and quality of fabrication, to enhance transportability, did not translate as Sustainability.

Consumer advocate disguised as a production inspector. “The corporate focus, observed while a plant inspector, was ‘Get those boxes out the back door!’ From sales commissions, to production line worker incentives, to corporate exec bonuses, all was geared to how FAST the completed boxes could be pushed from the plant. Yes, some companies gave lip service to quality, but that’s all it was; and too often still is, little more than a corporate smoke screen.” If true, how difficult –if – not – impossible it is, to build and ship a structure that’ll withstand normal use over time (Think Sustainability!), while using particle board flooring in bathrooms, thin gauge flap door hinges, plastic plumbing fixtures, and the like….

Manufactured home owner. “While still working in the MHIndustry, I purchased one of the best manufactured homes on the market, ‘fully optioned out’, and sited it on my own land. Since moving into this home less than a decade ago, I’ve completely rebuilt one bathroom due to water line damage incurred at the plant – but not realized till much later. Replaced the water heater after three years of use; the original refrigerator and dishwasher after four years. Air conditioning system is in the process of being replaced, along with kitchen counter tops. Carpet is shot, but will have to wait till savings catch up with expenditures.” Sustainable? Not this one.

Industry lobbyist. “Here’s an acid test. Ask anyone who works in manufactured housing this question: ‘Do You live in a manufactured home?’ Not many do; prompting recollection of that classic joke about not marrying a virgin from a certain distant state. ‘Why not?’ “Because if she isn’t good enough for her own kin, she isn’t good enough for you!” So, people who work in the MHIndustry know the product is temporary. In fact, a former colleague, upon hearing me grouse about problems with my home, commented: “You work in the industry, you should have known better than to BUY one.” Not sure how this observation squares with being an industry lobbyist; but it does raise further questions about product Sustainability. What say YOU?

III.

Not entirely sure what direction I’ll go with next week’s blog posting, but will tell you this: There’s a whole new privately conceived, funded and implemented national manufactured housing product and image marketing strategy already in play, regarding the smart positioning and advertising of an entire retirement landlease community property portfolio! In a word, it’s stunning ‘re – branding’; though its’ creator might disagree, and opine it’s ‘debut branding of the first order’! Either way, it is quite the unfolding marketing tale, about which more research and documentation needs to occur, before sharing specific or generic details here and elsewhere. Think Trojan Horse….

IV.

Have YOU made reservations to attend New York Housing Association’s Super Symposium II in a little more than two weeks? Surely hope so! Expect to interact with close to 200 LLCommunity owners/operators. For information, and to register, phone Nancy Geer @ (518) 867-3242.

I certainly plan to be present, and will bring along remaining copies of the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT, to sell at a very special price. Or, if you don’t want to wait until then, phone (317) 346-7156 and ask for the special offer combination of the ALLEN REPORT & one year subscription (12 monthly issues) to the Allen Letter professional journal, together for only $250.00. – that’s a $334.95 savings off the cover price of the report & $134.95 newsletter subscription price! Offer only good as long as there’re copies of the 22nd ALLEN REPORT.

*****

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
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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