OLIGARCHY = national MH advocacy?
COBA7® via community-investor.com Blog # 324 Copyright @ 23 November 2014
Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities and ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
This blog posting ‘is the national advocacy voice, ombudsman press*, statistical research reporter, & online communications resource for all LLLCommunities in North America!’
To input this blog &/or affiliate with Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance®, a.k.a. COBA7®, use Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764
*ombudsman press. ‘Manufactured housing’s ronin; fielding inquiries, complaints, etc.’
Introductions to this week’s COBA7® blog posting at community-investor.com website
This is a first, among 324+ blogs posted during the past six plus years! = Only one topic this time around. That’s how timely and important this matter is to many of us in the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry & land-lease-lifestyle community asset class!
‘National manufactured housing advocacy’ today?
Some say OLIGARCHY. But what is that?
‘Governing power in the hands of the few’
Two and three weeks ago this blog column opined, the manufactured housing industry might soon reach the critical ‘tipping point’, in baseball and criminal justice, of being ‘Three Strikes & Out!’- in our case – of the national affordable housing market!*1
STOP HERE! Strongly suggest YOU reread blog postings # 320 & 321 in this website’s blog archives (Just scroll backwards from this blog #324), before you proceed beyond this paragraph. If you don’t have the inclination to do so, that’s OK too. Just read End Note * 2 following, for a summary description of the ‘three historic strikes’ with the potential of knocking our industry out of the national affordable housing market!
BACK NOW? Last week the BEBA (‘Blast Email Blog Alert’) memo with blog posting # 323, again at this website, posed this bold Question and hopeful Answer:
‘Why doesn’t MHIndustry talk about its’ challenges and plan its’ future? Answer here next week!’
So, here we are, and I suppose one might say, ‘Away we go!’ This veteran industry observer’s ANSWER, in the form of a considered opinion, is simple and straightforward:
Lack of Leadership, in Breadth and Depth, among those enjoying elected national office! First in breadth, as MHI is the commonplace presence among the ‘Big Three C’ home manufacturers (Clayton, Champion, Cavco), controlling an estimated 80+/- percent of national manufactured housing market share, but not including many of the regional producers. And then MHARR, comprised primarily of smaller, regional HUD-Code home manufacturers – with all meetings conducted behind closed doors. To make matters worse, the two national advocacy entities, except upon rare occasion, do NOT routinely speak and work together in a united, let alone public fashion, i.e. ‘To talk about manufactured housing’s challenges and plan its’ future!’ So much for depth of effort!
Here’s yet another leading indicator of lack of breadth and depth within this major segment of the manufactured housing industry. Ever wonder WHY there hasn’t been a national brand and or advertising (include here, ‘image improvement’) campaign to date? Simply a selfish fear, among home manufacturers, that non-participants in the funding of such a program(s), might benefit (Gasp!) from the largesse of those financing same, and actually sell new HUD-Code homes to our nation’s home buying public! Believe it!
And the independent, third party chattel capital segment of the manufactured housing industry isn’t much better, maybe worse! With the recent departure of U.S. Bank from the (manufactured) home (indirect) lending scene; of the remaining (now) ‘Big Three plus One’ Lenders, two of them: 21st Mortgage Corporation and Vanderbilt Mortgage & Finance, Inc. (i.e. Clayton Homes’ inside lender) are owned by the same parent company, Berkshire Hathaway. And the remaining two firms, CU Factory Built Lending, and Triad Financial Services, to the best of my knowledge, remain independent, but are regional ‘players’ at best. So, very limited breadth and no depth there anymore…
As a related aside, regarding less access to chattel capital, let’s not forget the two Key Reasons cited by U.S. Bank for departing our industry: we’re too small a niche market, encumbered with too much financial regulation! The question that begs answering here is, ‘What are the two national advocacy bodies doing with this damning info from U.S. Bank, to bring pressure on Congress to mitigate the sorry effects (i.e. less access to chattel capital by folk least able to acquire housing elsewhere) of the S.A.F.E. Act, Dodd-Frank legislation, and the CFPB?’ Know that a half dozen states, at this writing – maybe more, by the time you read these lines, have taken the initiative to reach out, via formal correspondence, to their federal legislators, to this very end! All we can hope for is a ‘prairie fire’ of passion and action ‘By US On Our Own Behalf NOW!’
The content of the foregoing paragraphs should not surprise readers, as the state of OLIGARCHY will continue to exist, during year 2015, among elected officers of MHI, where senior salaried executives from the two cited Berkshire Hathaway companies, and a senior salaried executive from the world’s largest owner/operator of land-lease-lifestyle communities, fill three of four elected offices on the institute’s executive committee. There’s nary a small HUD-Code home manufacturer, chattel capital lender, or land-lease-lifestyle community owner/operator amongst the merry mix.
Know what? All the foregoing could be bearable, maybe even desirable, if there was effectual outreach from national advocacy bodies’ leadership, demonstrating sincere desire for input from grassroots businessmen and women, like YOU & ME, who are, in many cases, their very dues-paying members; and a willingness to convene and facilitate the manufactured housing industry’s ‘first ever’ National Strategic Planning Meeting for the Good of Us All, rather than continue ‘business as usual’ among the OLIGARCHY!
A few more OLIGARCHY indicators? How ‘bout the LLLCommunity income-producing property type itself. What’s going on there? Not much from some quarters, much from others (See second following paragraph for positive strokes). When was the last time you heard or read anything about the Urban Land Institute’s Manufactured Housing Communities (product) Council? Me neither. And how ‘bout MHI’s National Communities Council division, or the NCC? Annual MHI meetings attract maybe a dozen participants, and present elected officers number one bona fide property portfolio owner, and a couple senior salaried executives from other mega portfolios, but nary an owner or property manager of a single or couple LLLCommunities.
And then there’s this imbroglio. Wouldn’t YOU like to know about Rishel Consulting’s periodic HOW TO training sessions re: ‘Effectively raise chattel capital for in-community lending’, e.g. 13 & 14 January 2015 in Chicago? And how ‘bout the popular Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® professional property management training/certification session on 20 January in Luavul, KY? And the Louisville MHShow, 21-23 January? Well, you won’t find them on any national advocacy body’s website or industry calendar – only the events they plan and host, along with those of their state MHAssociation members… So much for MHIndustry leadership Breadth and Depth!
Now for some Good News. The Community Owners (7 part) Business Alliance® or COBA7® has been active for nearly a year. Its’ primary focus is NOT national advocacy (except when ‘need be’, e.g. as the MHIndustry’s official ombudsman (press). It’s other six functions are fully engaged, including
1) ongoing statistical research, e.g. 26th annual ALLEN REPORT due out 1/1/2015
2) updating & distribution of a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents *3
3) weekly & monthly communication online and in print via blog & newsletters
4) superb networking opportunities via networking roundtable & FOCUS groups
5) deal-making opportunities for real estate brokerages and owners/operators
6) professional property management training & certification via the Manufactured Housing Manager® or MHM® program
And the sooner we move COBA7® away from being ‘the one man show it has to be today’, the better I – and all its’ affiliates, a.k.a. ‘MHInsiders’ will like it! To affiliate with the Breadth & Depth of COBA7®, exercise method described in End Note # 1.
The Much Bigger Questions Remain: How do we effectively avoid the imminent tipping point of ‘Three Strikes & We’re Out!’ of the national affordable housing market – due to exorbitant product price increases described in End Note # 2. And how do we move national advocacy bodies away from being oligarchic in nature, effecting more Breadth and Depth of membership, participation, and leadership, than is evident today?
For that matter, ‘Where do we ALL go from here?’ Suggest you ask your national advocacy entity of choice!
1. affordable housing = “Housing is affordable when individuals or households ‘…earning less than half the Area Median Income or AMI’, can afford to rent a conventional apartment and or buy a home in their local housing market.” Quoted from Bruce Savage’s The First 20 Years! This seminal book, describing the launch and early growth of MHI’s National Communities Council is available for purchase from COBA7® via Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.
2. The ‘Three Strikes’ against the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry, and by association, it’s real estate component, the land-lease-lifestyle community real estate asset class, are: 1) Loss of easily accessible chattel capital for ‘MH loans within LLLCommunities’ at turn of this century, nary to return; 2) surprise advent, and now onerous presence, of over (finance) regulation, as an unintended broader consequence of the national recession between roughly 2008 & to date; and, 3) recent near cavalier acquiescence to ‘add to the sale price of new manufactured homes’ via 165% increase in HUD license/label fee, and now, proposed addition of $2-3,000.00+/- per home, to comply with new DOE energy efficiency innovation recommendations.
3. Signature Series Resource Documents, or SSRDs, have become so popular with COBA7® ‘MHInsiders’, we’ve begun researching producing and distributing what is being referred to as SSRD-PLUS. These are reprints, not tied to a month of the year (e.g. annual ALLEN REPORT is distributed every January), covering specific topics of lively interest to LLLCommunity owners/operators. For example, Jay Zandman’s recent Allen Letter feature titled: ‘Loss Control Measures’ for the LLLCommunity. And soon there’ll be Spencer Roane’s elaboration on the ten means of raising capital in support of the on-site financing of new home transactions – which first appeared among End Notes to the Official WHITE PAPER distributed to registrants at the 23rd annual International Networking Roundtable earlier this Fall. If you haven’t seen said list, ‘You don’t know what you’re missing!’ Two more good reasons to affiliate with COBA7®!