Blog Posting # 600 @ 31 August 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. Most of the quotes in Part II of this blog (#600) have been lightly edited to ensure consistency in terminology and descriptions. GFA
This is George Allen’s 600th Weekly Blog Posting Since 2008!
Twelve years of pretty much ‘shooting from the hip’, where manufactured housing & land lease community reporting of statistics, identifying challenges, and documenting emerging trends are concerned. When industry & realty asset class NEWS could not wait until the next Allen Letter – recently renamed The Allen Confidential! was penned and published, this blog led the way, informing inquisitive and thoughtful decision-makers what was taking place around them nationwide! And those timely NEWS perspectives continue today, as we look closely at Manufactured Housing’s (latest) Conundrum!
Trust you will continue to follow this blog’s NEWS through to the 700th posting two years from now. And along the way, know I want to hear from you, with NEWS tips and leads, via email@example.com
Manufactured Housing’s Conundrum:
“Is COVID-19 really the culprit for manufactured housing ills these days, or simply being used as cover for other troublesome realities?”
We asked this timely question of 60 manufactured housing & land lease community ‘insiders’ from every segment of the industry and realty asset class, during mid-August. Since then we’ve received a dozen written responses, mostly via email and telephone, expressing a wide range of views, but with this common theme: one way or another, the coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of manufactured housing production & land lease community operations!
This is what representatives from two HUD-Code housing manufacturer penned:
• “Over the past month, we saw our largest (price) jump in lumber and OSB (‘oriented strand board’) ever. The demand for building products – from shingles to doors to 2X4s to OSB have gone up and up. The OSB mills (staffing) have been reduced and shut down for COVID.” Another respondent: “The (building) materials have gone crazy over the past few weeks, e.g. July 24th & 31st, OSB went up 25-30%.”
• Freight cost factors: Fuel prices, road construction and municipal detours forcing longer routes. And, once again, “…there’s a shortage of truck and escort drivers.”
• ‘Improvements in materials’ (e.g. window wrap, upgraded furnaces, Ecobee thermostats, etc.) have contributed to product price increases.
• From a land lease community owner: “…in CA, at the ________ plant, 35% of employees are off work, and the product coming off line has major problems, and there is no one available to fix the problems.”
Zeroing in on the lumber supply shortage. Here’s what MHI recently wrote on the subject:
• ‘The random Lengths Framing Composite Price topped $600 per 1,000 board feet at the end of July – marking the first time that prices have topped the $600 level. Framing lumber prices have soared roughly 80% since mid-April while the price of OSB is up well over 100% from a year ago.”
• And something you might not know: “…housing demand has remained steady across the country, and there was also an unexpected surge in demand from do-it-yourselfers and big box retailers during the pandemic.” Plus, “…tariffs on lumber imports from Canada continue to average more than 20%.”
Underscoring what you just read, here’s a summary quoted from the 19-25 August issue of The Epoch Times – the weekly newspaper I now read instead of The New York Times and The Washington Post.
• “Supply shortages of framing lumber and OSB are harming the U.S. economic recovery and its burgeoning housing market – according to the National Association of Home Builders (‘NAHB’).”
• NAHB suggests the White House urge “…domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages.”
How are land lease communities handling these increased manufactured housing costs?
• ‘Over the last few years we have (been) filling rental homesites with new homes we sell at cost, if need be. All we really care about is having established the market rent for that space; that is where the true value of these communities lies.”
• “…while I’m selling new homes at cost, I have come to require the homes to remain in the (land lease) community for at least four years. Other communities use ‘secret shoppers’ to buy my homes, only to move them out. In our sales contract, I require the home remain in the community a minimum of four years, and if they move it beforehand, they are required to pay the pro-rated amount of site rent that remains. Doing this, puts the home price where a street dealer is disincentivized from purchasing my discounted homes.”
• “As you are aware, in CA, we have no new land lease communities, so have been changing out lots of pre-1980s homes with newer, high end manufactured homes.”
• “I no longer consider investing in land lease communities in soft markets because I simply don’t know where the product pricing will be, to fill vacant rental homesites.”
Talk about a two-edged sword dilemma. Here it is:
• “…the stimulus checks and added unemployment benefits have helped some of our perpetually late residents get caught up on their rent balances.” (&)
• “…we pay our employees a ‘COVID Bonus’ for continuing to work fulltime during the pandemic”, to offset the ‘more $ to not work’ compensation they receive from government sources.
Two bottom lines, of sorts, for this week’s blog: Through June 2020, HUD-Code housing shipments have slipped by 200 units from June a year ago – and continue to fall. And, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (‘FHFA’), housing prices, nationwide, are up 5.4 percent from a year ago, year to date. So, fewer manufactured homes available, even as conventional housing prices continue to rise.
Well, that’s our conundrum summary to date. If you’d like to add your comments to this mix, simply email me via firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTSCRIPT. Lest you think the coronavirus is affecting just our industry, where shortages are concerned, here’s an observation from a recent issue of the Washington Examiner magazine: ‘Timber, coin, and gun shortages attributed to the coronavirus.’
Revisiting the T-Shirt Collection
If you enjoyed last week’s blog describing my T-Shirt collection, the one about to be donated to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN., and have MH-related corporate T-Shirt(s) you’d like to add to the collection, simply box them up and send to George Allen c/o 170 Commerce Dr., Franklin, IN. 46131.
George Allen, CPM, MHM