And Now There Are Four, Maybe Five…
Blog # 519 @ 4 February; Copyright 2019; www.educatemhc.com
Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
This blog posting is sole national advocate, official ombudsman, historian, research reporter, education resource & online communication media for North American land lease communities
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INTRODUCTION: This week’s blog posting probably does not need an introduction, as it ‘speaks for itself’, profiling ‘four, no make it five’ national advocates for manufactured housing and land lease communities. Don’t think this has been done before, so is likely a ‘keeper’ for future professional reference where investors, employees, and peers are concerned.
And Now There Are Four, Maybe Five…
The Increasing Number, Evolving Nature, & Reduced Efficacy of National Manufactured Housing Advocacy
In 1975 there was one. By 11985there were two, as a new manufactured housing entity splintered from the first. Then, between 1993 7& 1996, a subgroup of the first entity emerged to ostensibly represent (then) manufactured home communities nationwide. In 2014, a formalized ‘for profit’ alliance ensured ongoing national research, communication, networking, and professional property management training & certification for (now) land lease community owners/operators. And during 2018, a new national lobbing group launched out West, to position a dedicated lobbyist, for the realty asset class alone, in Washington, DC.
So, do you think you know who all these folk are? Well, let’s see….
Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), birthed during 1975, absorbed the National Manufactured Housing Federation (‘NMHF’) in 1991, and today claims to represent all sectors of the factory-built housing industry from its’ offices in Arlington, VA. Majority of its’ income is from HUD-Code housing manufacturer sector members. Visit mhi.org to learn more.
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’), for ideological reasons, splintered from MHI during 1985, under the founding leadership of now retired Danny Ghorbani. Its’ membership, to this day, is comprised solely of HUD-Code housing manufacturers. And in the minds of many, MHARR serves as manufactured housing’s ‘regulatory watchdog’ in “Washington, DC. Visit mharr.org to learn more.
In 1993, just ahead of the manufactured home community REIT wavelet, 19 property portfolio owners/operators formed an Industry Steering Committee (‘ISC’) to better represent their business interests on the national scene. Three years later, MHI absorbed the ad hoc group, forming the National Communities Council (‘NCC’) – later to become a division of MHI. Enthusiasm was high, early on. But as time passed, and given the decline of novel programs like the Community Attributes System (‘CAS’), and perennial internal issues, the NCC’s presence, in this observer’s opinion, waned, and attendance at meetings declined. Read a history of the first two decades of the NCC, in Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years!, available at www.educatemhc.com
Fast forward to 2018. During that year, several western states, frustrated over what they viewed as inadequate national lobbying in behalf of land lease community owners/operators, large and small, nationwide, formed a National Association of Manufactured Housing Communities (‘NAMHCO’). To date, a Washington, DC. Based lobbyist has been hired, and the group grows in membership and influence.
During most of this time, from year 1980 forward, there was a ‘for profit’ outlier, in Indianapolis, IN., to the not-for-profit trade entities just profiled. Originally, GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, a COBA7 division (‘Community Owners – 7 Part – Business Alliance’) materialized in early 2014, to serve land lease community owners/operators statistical research, print & online communication, networking & deal-making, as well as professional property management training & Certification needs. Now, in 2019, all this has undergone further change, from print to a 100% digital platform, under the guidance of EducateMHC. For land lease community products and services available, via this latest evolution to national manufactured housing advocacy, visits www.educatemhc.com
So, there you have an overview of four to five national advocates for manufactured housing in general, and in three instances, land lease communities in particular. Now, let’s take a closer, albeit subjective look at each entity and how they’re perceived today….
But first, a general, important observation. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when there were just two national advocacy bodies, MHI & MHARR, representing HUD-Code manufactured housing, legislators and regulators were believed to play one entity off against the other, when pressed to legislate or regulate in regards to one or another aspect of manufactured housing. So, this contretemps (‘embarrassing situation’) is not a new challenge to the industry, but one that continues unabated to this day.
Manufactured Housing Institute. Some pundits say, ‘If there was no MHI there wouldn’t be a manufactured housing industry!’ Probably a lot of truth to that, as no other national advocacy entity comes close to representing ALL segments of that type factory-built housing. And there’s the first ‘rub’. If one accepts Don Carlson’s (of now defunct Automated Builder magazine fame) description of factory- built housing, as being comprised of 1) production site builders (i.e. stick builders using factory-fabricated components like roof trusses and pre-hung door and window units), 2) panelizers, 3) HJUD-Code manufactured housing, and 4) modular homes; well, where does MHI fit into the ‘production site builder’ and panelizer representation picture? It doesn’t. MHI does claim to represent the modular housing folk, but to a far smaller degreed, per website presence, than manufactured housing. And then there’s the institute’s questionable practice of reporting monthly new home shipment volumes, researched and published by IBTS, differently from HUD;, MHAARRA, COBA7 – and now, EducateMHC.*1
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform. Until the manufactured housing industry’s nadir year 2009, when only 49,789+/- new HUD-Code homes were shipped, MHARR’s focus was solely on regulatory matters pertaining to their core membership, mostly regional manufacturers of HUD-Code homes!*2 Since then, the association’s political interest has broadened to include chattel capital sourcing for new HUD-Code homes going into land lease communities; and, the unique, income-producing property type itself. Additionally, MHARR has become known for its’ overt support of the creation of a new national ;trade body to, in their opinion, better represent post production business enterprises. And while this has yet to occur, some credit this encouragement as one catalyst behind the emergence of aforementioned NHAMHCO.
National Communities Council division of the Manufactured Housing Institute. There is no separate MHI/NCC web site dedicated to the information needs of land lease communities, large and small, nationwide. Over the years (1996 – present day), good ideas have come and gone. An attempt to quality grade land lease communities was tabled out of fear of categorizing properties based on curb appeal, resident relations, and other measures. And in this observer’s opinion, professional property management training and certification do not begin to garner the attention sorely needed throughout the realty asset class. So, it’s been no surprise to see other attempts at advocacy, education, and representation materialize.
National Association of Manufactured Housing Communities. Too early to say much about this most recent arrival on the national advocacy scene. However, some find it confusing to refer to ‘manufactured housing communities’ in the entity name, when manufactured home community has been di rigour since 1994, with the publication of J.Wiley & sons’ texts, Development, Marketing &* Operation of Manufactured Home Communities, and How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community. And of late, given that as many as six, some say seven;, types of shelter can be found on-site in this property class, makes for a good case for land lease community as moniker of choice. *3
Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, as of January 2019, has been absorbed by EducatgeMHC, a for profit firm, to continue the research, preparation, and distribution, via digital means, of products and services available from GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing, since 1980. *4
So, where does manufactured housing national advocacy go from here? Hard to tell. Everyone enjoys the slow momentum of increased new home shipment volume, and land lease community owners/operators have known for a decade, they must control their own destinies, no longer relying on independent (street) MH Retailers and ‘company stores’ to fill their vacant rental home sites. Yes, there’ ongoing need for overall industry representation by MHI, regulatory oversight by MHARR, advocacy by the NCC, lobbying by NAMHCO, and seven categories of products and services perfected by COBA7 cum EducateMHC. What we don’t need now, is yet another national trade association.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t make, at least passing, mention of a major consequences of ‘consolidation’ among HUD-Code housing manufacturers and land lease community owners/operators where national and state advocacy is concerned. When an industry evolves from dozens of housing manufacturers to the ‘Big Three C firms’ controlling 80+/-% of national market share, expect political power ‘among those few’ to be concentrated nationally at the top! Much the same can be said about consolidation of land lease community into 500+/- portfolios. Before, when there were thousands of property owners actively engaged in state legislative affairs, today there are far too few, as major portfolio ‘players’ opt to not involve on-site property managers in local matters! So, manufacturer presence and power are evident on the national level, while state level participation goes begging, suffering benign neglect – until there’s a major issue (e.g. landlord-tenant legislation) sounds an alarm and stimulates action.
1. IBTS reports a monthly total of new manufactured housing units shipped, including a varying number of DESTINATION PENDING 9’DP’) homes. MHI deducts the number of DP units from IBTS published total, but adds back in DP units from the previous month – assuming all have been shipped to specific locations. According to IBTS this is not a valid assumption, as there is no follow-up accounting for DP units, and it’s common for such accounting to be resolved only after a plant shutters, and remaining inventory is reported to IBTS.
2. MHARR does not publish a list of its’ member firms.
3. Mobile homes, manufactured homes, modular homes, park model RVs, ’RVs for a season’, stick-built homes fabricated on-site to imitate manufactured homes, and now ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) like Tiny houses.
4. Including the 30th anniversary ALLEN REPORT, monthly Allen Letter and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! Publications, as well as the soon to be released ‘21st annual National Registry of ALL Lenders Serving Manufactured Housing & Land Lease Communities’. To purchase, visit www.educatemhc.com