Manufactured Housing History & Future by Degrees

Manufactured Housing History & Future by Degrees

Remember the old canard regarding college degree abbreviations with dual meanings, such as BS, or bulls _ _ _? Followed by an MS degree, or ‘more of the same’; and finally, the coveted PhD degree, where it’s ‘Piled higher and deeper!’

Well, apparently the time has arrived, to realize and be motivated by parallel degrees (of frustration), relative to HUD Code manufactured housing’s history, present and future, as a sustainable business enterprise. For more than 13 years we’ve suffered our own form of BS, as in ‘Below average Shipments’. And as we near the end of year 2011, we’re experiencing profound MS, as in ‘More of the Same’, having been driven to our industry’s historic 60 year nadir point. But now, like the Brazilian bareback bull rider (from whom this metaphor is borrowed), we’re indeed PhD: ‘Poor, Hungry & Driven’, to find and win, once and for all, our way out of this upside down national housing market!

How are we accomplish this fete? Well, in this veteran industry observer’s opinion, there’re two initiatives afoot, when there should be but one. However, we could wind up with three by year end – OR only ONE, if the ‘third’ comes on like gang busters!

I.

The first initiative began 2/27/2008 at National State of the Asset Class caucus I, convened at the all – adult FountainView landlease community in Tampa, FL. There, 100+/- portfolio owners/operators gathered, and before leaving, agreed on Five Action Areas to guide their collective Business Future during the years ahead. Much of that initiative remains ‘in play’ 3 ½ years later, evidenced by Green Courte Partners’ founder Randy Rowe in his Five Part Plan to Save the Manufactured Housing Industry, keynote address delivered at the 19th annual International Networking Roundtable in Phoenix, AZ., September 2010; then recorded for posterity, in the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT – still available for purchase, from PMN Publishing via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764..

The national caucus initiative took a different direction a year later, as 100+/- HUD Code housing manufacturers and landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators met together, for the first time in manufactured housing history, at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame, Museum & Library facility in Elkhart, IN., on 2/27/2009. During NSAC caucus II, the Community Series Home concept (i.e. specially designed singlesection homes & smaller multisection homes for siting in LLCommunities) was birthed, and two dozen Business Development Managers (‘BDM’) named by the manufacturers – to specialize in marketing CSH models to communities. Much of this initiative too remains ‘in play’ 2 ½ years later, as evidenced by the presence of CSH models on display, and presence of BDMs at every Networking Roundtable since then!

The next manifestation of the first national initiative played out recently at the 20th annual Networking Roundtable in San Antonio, TX., when a record number of 200 registrants learned of plans to ensure continuation of landlease community research and resources they’d come to rely on during the past 30 years. This event was widely referred to as Stage I of ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’

NOW attention is focused on the Manufactured Housing Institute’s annual meeting, during the 75th year of its’ existence, in Phoenix, AZ. What’s expected to happen? Hard to say. Nothing on the published agenda suggests any Big Picture initiative relative to ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’, but one never knows for sure, until the event (a.k.a. Stage II) begins on 2 October and ends 4 October 2011.

But here’s a HINT. Whether a new, MHIndustry wide national initiative actually materializes from MHI’s annual meeting, really depends on the personal and corporate perspective(s) of its’ elected and salaried leaders; to wit:

• Industry success or failure, on the macro level, depends in large part, on the activities and goals effected on the micro (individual and corporate) level, NOT on some grand national scale and plan, OR

• Industry success or failure, on the macro level, depends in large part, on the activities and goals effected on the national advocacy level, by elected and salaried industry and asset class leaders, according to some grand scale and plan.

Learning how our national elected and salaried leaders perceive their responsibility, if any at all, to caucus, discuss, brainstorm, plan and ultimately effect a pragmatic program pursuant to ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ is where we are today. How will we know? By being present at said national gathering and paying attention to what’s said and written during the weeks following….

A Stage III, if deemed necessary, depending on the outcome of Stage II, will likely be announced by year end, and occur sometime early in year 2012. Think NSAC caucus III, if need be..

II.

Yes there’s another would be national initiative afoot. It too has its’ roots in a for profit firm, via a for profit vehicle labeled the Manufactured Home Alliance. It appears to be funded, at least in part, by $31.95/year ‘memberships’, with promises of discounts, MH financing, insurance, advocacy information, and more; suggesting, “The idea of mobilizing a national network of homeowners has great potential.”

But there’s difficulty understanding MH Alliance goals and activities, here quoted in part, relative to “MH Business Professionals (big stake) – Very low buy in, encourage and incentives to be an MH Association member and use best practices.”

Randy Rowe’s Five Point Plan (to Save the Manufactured Housing Industry) is here too referenced, being: 1) better warranties and customer service, 2) improve chattel financing, 3) economic security for homeowners, 4) MLS, and 5) image and marketing. On the same page, MH Alliance key part, the ‘Phoenix Project’ is described in formulaic fashion, as being comprised of Positive PR + Prestige + Profitable (sic).

There really isn’t much to add at this point in time. But the initiative bears watching, especially if MHI demurs taking the lead, on the macro level, to caucus, discuss, brainstorm, plan and ultimately effect a pragmatic program pursuant to ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’

III.

As you know, reading through this blog posting to this point, there’s nothing (yet) of substance to describe or tell you about Stage II of ‘How to Save Our Industry?!’ There’s not yet, if there ever will be, a third ‘hopefully overriding’ macro national initiative to save the manufactured housing industry.

If status quo prevails however, expect existing initiatives, whether an NSAC Caucus III and new not for profit national research and resource platform funded by landlease community owners/operators in the first instance; and or, manufactured home owners and rental homesite lessees, et. al., in the latter instance, to continue in their respective macro and micro environments, to effect positive impact on the industry and asset class.

But how ‘bout YOU? Frustrated yet with manufactured housing’s now decade long malaise, and consequences thereof (i.e. historic low new home shipment levels, year after year; and, sliding physical and economic occupancy levels in LLCommunities large and small)? If so, to which of the two perspectives, described above, do you ascribe?

• Keeping one’s nose to the business grindstone, and national initiatives be damned, OR.

• Look to national advocacy body leadership, of all stripes, for relief and succor!

As usual, this veteran MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class observer and commentator would surely like to know! Comment via mail: GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247, phone (317) 346-7156, or email: gfa7156@aol.com

IV.

FLASH ANNOUNCEMENT. If you attended Spencer Roane’s ‘almost standing room only’ presentation of ‘Lease – Option Financing of new and resale home transactions in the landlease community environment’, at the recent 20th anniversary Networking Roundtable in Texas – or missed it altogether, but want the timely & ‘available nowhere else’ information, go to the Summary’ page of http://www.leaseoptionmhsales.com/ To open the Powerpoint file, click the link, then ‘Open’ or ‘Save’, then ‘Read Only’. You’ll be glad you did!

V.

Remember John Grissim? Manufactured housing trade journalist and author? Well, he’s just published the first issue of ‘The Grissim Perspective’, a free e – newsletter designed and intended to communicate ‘occasional news, notes and commentary about the factory – built home industry.’ (Speaking of the factory – built housing industry, just spoke at length with Don Carlson, editor and publisher of the shuttered Automated Builder magazine; he’s well and awaiting an opportunity to return to ‘the business’). Anyway, if Grissim’s e – newsletter is anything like his popular ‘The Grissim Report’ subscription – based newsletter, this offering too will likely be widely circulated. To get on the inside track with ‘The Grissim Perspective’, email him at john@grissimguides.com and pen Perspective on the subject line. He’ll also put you on a list to receive future issues.

VI.

Deadline for submission of landlease community portfolio statistical input for the 23rd ALLEN REPORT (a.k.a. ‘’Who’s Who Among Landlease Community Portfolio Owners/operators Throughout North America!’) is now past. BUT, not too late to be included if your completed questionnaire is sent in (by FAX @ 317.346-7158) by Friday, 9 September 2011. Or mail it to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247. Need a questionnaire to complete? Simply phone (317) 346-7156 this week; leave a message.

***

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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