What No One Else Will Tell You!
Blog # 412 Copyright 2016 COBA7® @ 4 September 2016, community-investor.com
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 sold national advocacy voice, official ombudsman & historian, research report & online communication media for North American LLLCommunities!
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.
COBA7® Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’ Goal of its’ print/online media = to ‘Not only inform & opine, but transform & improve MHBusiness Model Performance.’
What No One Else Will Tell You!
The long view of manufactured housing ‘national advocacy’ & land-lease-lifestyle community ‘resources’, from 1980 to 2017….
During 1980, when 221,091 new HUD-Code homes were shipped nationwide (compared to only 70,544 during 2015), and but 25 (then) ‘mobile home park’ property portfolios (compared to 500+/- during 2015), there was but one ‘national advocate’ in behalf of manufactured housing fabrication/distribution, and scarce few ‘national resources’ relative to the unique, income-producing property type.
At the time, the ‘national advocate’ was the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), but joined in 1985 by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’), an MHI splinter group. MHI was then, as it continues to be today, (large) manufacturer-dominated; while MHARR serves smaller, regional ‘regulation averse’ HUD-Code home manufacturers; along the way, earning the sobriquet of ‘manufactured housing WATCHDOG in Washington, DC’! Mobile home parks cum manufactured home communities were represented, until 1996, by a committee of MHI member volunteers, with personal and corporate interests in the realty asset class.
All this began to change in 1988, when the first book in 20 years, on any aspect of manufactured housing and its’ real estate component, was published as Mobile Home Park Management (Today’s 6th edition retitled as Landlease Community Management). In short order, ‘mobile home park’ owners started receiving and reading the Allen Letter, and in 1991, were invited to attend the first International Networking Roundtable, in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Two years later, 19 property portfolio owners met in Indianapolis, In., to form an Industry Steering Committee (‘ISC’) – which turned out to be the forerunner of MHI’s National Communities Council division, launched January 1996, under the leadership of Jim Ayotte. Two years before this landmark event, J. Wiley & Sons publishers, tapped into the need for more (now) MHCommunities in which to site an increasing volume of HUD-Code homes being shipped, e.g., 303,932 in 1994.. Development, Marketing & Operation of Manufactured Home Communities enjoyed two print runs before being remaindered. However, after 22 years, it remains the only text on the subject and sells well on the internet and via PMN Publishing. In 1996 & 1998, J. Wiley & Sons marketed two editions of How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community. The text is out of print, though available online…
The point to this point? No real change to MHI, between 1980 and 2000, except for launch of the NCC division – like its organizational parent, simply a ‘national advocate’. And, in the opinion of this veteran industry observer and NCC board member, a division serving the largest of the property portfolio owners/operators! What about MHCommunity owners/operators, and small to mid-sized portfolio ‘players’ in general, nationwide? Some pay dues, as I do, to MHI/NCC. But hundreds of others subscribe to one or both monthly newsletters distributed by PMN Publishing, plus a dozen or more Signature Series Resource Documents or SSRDs; first and foremost of which, is the (27th) annual ALLEN REPORT.
The dawning of the 21st Century, besides seeing manufactured housing’s $ bubble burst, and the dire consequences thereof (During 1998 & 2009 = 372,843 & 49,789 new HUD-Code home shipments respectively), also foisted a ‘sea change’ on the ‘double dual industry’ (i.e. home manufacturing/distribution & realty investment/management). This, in addition to the start of a major paradigm shift, continuing to this day (2016), as the MHIndustry & (now) land-lease-lifestyle community asset class reconstruct their collective home distribution business model. The little acknowledged ‘sea change’, on the other hand, has everything to do with the debut of a new generation of home manufacturers, and MHCommunity owners on the national business scene! Some of this infusion of new blood, however, was restricted as corporate consolidation compromised the identities of several housing manufacturers and many larger LLLCommunities.
On the realty component side alone, with an eye to documenting the appearance of this new next generation, recall the household names of Shiffman, Partridge, McDaniel, Landy, Bessire, Casenhiser, Galland, Zeman, Newby, Smith, Nodel, Vukovich, Shouhayib, Santeford, Haney, Schrader, Flood, Harshaw, Follett, Horner, Cohron, Hames, Ditto, Ives, Germano, Stevenson, Wolfe, Steferud, Singer, Jensen, Steiner, Steele, Boggs, Holefelder, Durand, McKee – and many more. (Most of these names were culled from the 27th ALLEN REPORT listing of 120 portfolios, with another 380 firms waiting in the wings!) As a related aside, the 28th annual ALLEN REPORT is being researched as you read these lines. The formal report will appear as an SSRD lagniappe, in the January 2017 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. To reserve your copy, phone the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.
The 16 year paradigm shift in the new home distribution business model; plus, the ‘sea change’ of new next generation talent and motivation; as well as the increased presence of investors from outside the MHIndustry & LLLCommunity asset class, in large part, motivated the January 2014 launch of the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance® or COBA7®. Yes, while we all need – and hopefully benefit from, ‘national advocacy’ effected in behalf of the realty asset class by MHI’s NCC division, there’s a major, ongoing need for the large array of LLLCommunity-oriented products and services, a.k.a. ‘national resources’ unavailable from any other national entity representing manufactured housing!
And this is where ‘a (serious) rub’ comes into play! MHI and its’ NCC division appear to be content in their myopic world of ‘national advocacy’! And many of us in the LLLCommunity business world are OK with that. But WHY does MHI’s NCC division NOT actively, even passively (Except when attending Networking Roundtables), support the seven parts that comprise COBA7®? To date, though repeatedly invited to do so, the NCC has NOT affiliated with COBA7®, i.e. via annual fees – like many LLLCommunity folk pay to the MHI/NCC! Had they done so, here’re the ways they’d have benefitted:
• Ongoing statistical research. Think the ALLEN REPORT. This statistical compendium is routinely referenced and cited by private and public entities.
• Updating & distribution of a dozen SSRDs, e.g. 16th National Registry of ALL Lenders, directories of HUD-Code home manufacturers, trade entities, etc..
• Weekly & monthly communication, via print (two newsletters) and online (weekly blog @ community-investor.com), focused on LLLCommunities
• Superb networking opportunities via annual Networking Roundtable. (25th anniversary event ‘this week’ in Nashville,) and various specialty groups…
• Realty deal-making opportunities. Something not offered by anyone else, anywhere, in the U.S. and Canada
• Professional property management training & certification via Manufactured Housing Manager® program. More than 1,000 MHM®s manage in US & CN!
• National advocacy when need be; specifically (press) ombudsman and official historian to the manufactured housing industry & LLLCommunity asset class.
NCC’s present day posture rarely acknowledges COBA7® as the primary ‘national resource’ of LLLCommunity products & services, prompting this embarrassing question:
Is there a nefarious (‘unspeakably wicked’) tone to, or aspect of, this near total lack of recognition and cooperation between MHI’s NCC division and COBA7®, a division of GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing? If so, WHY? If not; why does it appear to be so?
Indicators, if not proof, of NCC division’s standoffish and clique-supporting activities:
NCC executives are (sometimes) complimentary about one’s activities in behalf of the manufactured housing industry and LLLCommunities, but they avoid attending COBA7® events (e.g. None expected to attend this week’s 25th anniversary Networking Roundtable in Nashville, TN!); all the while insistent, however, that NCC board members (e.g. ‘me’) be present at all division meetings!
NCC routinely imitates ‘national resources’ created and nurtured by (now) COBA7®,
1. Top 50 List of Owners vs. annual ALLEN REPORT
2. Fall leadership forum for LLLCommunity owners, scheduled shortly after aforementioned annual Networking Roundtable each Fall
3. Since the early 1990s, when MHEI launched the ACM program – after asking GFA Management, Inc., not to launch its’ MHM program (to be based on the 1988 text, Mobile Home Park Management). MHM® was started a decade later.
NCC, in an apparent effort to restrict member participation in national elections of its’ officers, forbids proxy voting – even though it’s a permitted practice during elections of MHI board members. (Hmm. ‘What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander’, don’t you think?). And then there’s the discriminatory practice of ‘affluence gerrymandering’. This occurs as the MHI & NCC meet in expensive, usually resort locations – effectively limiting the number of direct, dues-paying members who can afford to attend and participate in group proceedings.
Now, looking ahead to 2017. COBA7® affiliates have been suggesting stark alternatives, relative to an ongoing, or not, relationship with MHI/NCC:
• Continue the one-sided relationship unchanged, simply to stay abreast and informed of MHI/NCC present and future plans and activities, i.e. COBA7® to maintain paid membership with MHI/NCC, while MHI/NCC continues to ignore COBA7®, and not pay to affiliate at the Option I, II, or III levels.
• Once again, invite MHI/NCC to formally affiliate with COBA7® at the Option I, II, or III level.
• Quit MHI/NCC altogether and take steps to increase presence and effectiveness as a primary ‘national advocate’ for land-lease-lifestyle communities nationwide. COBA7® is already on the ‘invite’ list among several federal regulatory agencies and departments. Several property portfolio owners/operators have already volunteered to fund this effort, if need be.
What do you think COBA7® should do? Respond to this blog posting via email, phone, or letter to COBA7® c/o Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
17 years ago, during February 1999, I penned a feature article for The Journal. It was titled, ‘Why I Belong!’, and soon became a popular reprint among state MHAssociations, as a new member recruiting tool. After making 10 specific points in favor of supporting one’s state and national trade entities, I ended with this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
“Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.”
The question LLLCommunity owners/operators should be asking themselves NOW, is this: WHO has my interests, as a businessman or woman, at heart and in hand, promoting this unique, income-producing property type, nationwide; ensuring its’ statistical research, resource distribution, print & online communication, networking & deal-making needs, professional property management training & certification, even national advocacy needs are being met well and consistently?
Frankly, COBA7® believes the previous paragraph goal can be best met by an active, working partnership between the NCC as ‘national advocate’, and COBA7® as ‘national resource’. But it will take you, as LLLCommunity owners/operators, to make this happen, by dint of your support and vocal sharing of your thoughts and opinions!