Don’t Be ‘Woke’, Then Broke, in 2020!
2019; 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.’
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INTRODUCTION: Short and (not so) sweet this week! All kinds of interesting – and at times important, ‘breaking news’ around manufactured housing and land lease communities! This week however, just telling you one thing – the risk some, if not many, property portfolio firms are taking, for themselves (i.e. overreaching profit ploys) and the rest of us (stimulating potentially troublesome regulatory legislation). Not enough space to tell you the whole tale here; you’ll have to read, as Paul Harvey was wont to say, ‘the rest of the story’ in the next issue of the Allen Letter. Not a subscriber? Visit www.educatemhc.com to do so!
Don’t Be ‘Woke’, Then Broke, in 2020!
(‘woke’ = ‘aware of social injustice’, e.g. site rent surfeit)
Caution: Year 2000 MH$ Debacle to Maybe Repeat During Year 2020
To understand what follows, you either had to have been active in manufactured housing between years 1998 & 2002, or have read ‘Upside Down in a Mobile Home Park’, circa 2000. In the latter instance, the muckraking classic can be found in an old issue of Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine (a casualty of MH$ debacle), or as Figure G, in Chapter 1, of SWAN SONG – available via www.educatemhc.com.
Gist of being ‘upside down’? How deep discounting of housing down payments (e.g. $5500 reduced to $500), then added to loan balance; deceptively generous but short term adjustable rate (‘A/R’) mortgages; and one year of deferred homesite rent, combined to bring about more than 300,000 ‘repo’ manufactured homes valued at more than $1.3 billion by year 2002, according to a CFPB ‘white paper’. Consequences? Loss of easy access to chattel capital going forward – nary to return, even by year 2019; and, plummeting of new home shipment volume from 372,943+/- in 1998 to only 49,789+/- during industry’s nadir year 2009.*1
Now, looking ahead to year 2020. How do some, if not many of us, see this sorry history maybe repeating itself going forward? Simple. This time around land lease communities, as a real estate asset class, are frequently dealing with rental homesite rates being increased quickly and greatly within recently acquired standalone land lease communities, and within property portfolios, often owned/operated by private equity firms outside the manufactured housing industry.
So, like the ‘upside down’ expose’ tale of two decades past, how do today’s inordinate rental homesite rates affect homeowners/site lessees, on one hand; and the owners/operators of subject land lease communities, on the other? That’s more than can be covered here, but will be fully told, in first person fashion, as a feature in an upcoming issue of the Allen Letter.
Two hints. The ability to buy the house needed, and ability to pay PITI (loan principal, interest, taxes, insurance) and household utilities, is severely impaired when rental homesite rates exceed the 3:1 Rule of Thumb guideline widely used since the 1970s.*2 And, the unexpected ‘woke’ effect on land lease community owners/operators who’ve never been through a site rent juggernaut before. It’s not a pretty picture. So, as an owner/operator you owe it to yourself to read and learn from this new expose’!
FYI. This is the fifth time since 1970, the manufactured housing industry has unintentionally set itself up for a major shakeout! And all the while, we continue our slow paradigm shift/recovery from the last MH$ debacle, our loss of easy access to chattel capital for new home loans!
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1. Until year 2013, monthly manufactured housing shipment totals reported by HUD’s contractor, the Institute for Building Technology & Safety (‘IBTS’), were reported differently by MHI & MHARR. Since then however, HUD, MHARR, NAMHCO, & EducateMHC have reported said totals similarly, so official record of shipment totals is now consistent among those four industry advocates, negating the need for a +/- qualifier.
2. 3:1 Rule of Thumb. Rental homsite rates, in general, are one third the monthly rent charged in a like-sized (e.g. 3BR2B) conventional apartment in the same local housing market as the subject land lease community; e.g. $900/month apartment rent = $300/month approximate land lease community rental homsite rate. Today however, an increasing number of markets are experiencing a 2:1 ratio; e.g. $900/month apartment rent = $450/month approximate land lease community homesite rate.