What’s a MHSherpa?

Blog # 214 Copyright 2012 7 October 2012

Perspective. ‘Land lease lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities, & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, are the real estate component of manufactured housing.’


Blog Readers’ Responses to Last Week’s Question: ‘MHIndustry Leaders! Where Will YOU Take US in 2013?’


In Search of a MHSherpa, or maybe Guru, or probably Maven….


The Symposium Movement Lives – on! In Indy @ 10/18/2012



Blog Readers’ Responses to Last Week’s Question: ‘MHIndustry Leaders! Where Will YOU Take US in 2013?

Rarely have to wait long, when a weekly blog posting at community-investor.com, ‘touches a nerve’ with its’ readership. While not heavy in volume this past week, the nature of the responses has been weighty indeed. Here’re but two of them:

“Could we assume we, as an industry, are tip – toeing to the ‘tipping point’ of oblivion? I remain amazed and disappointed by our ‘leaders’.” NB. Well, here’s a coincidental postscript to that blog flogger’s (reader’s) question and comment:

One MHIndustry executive, enjoying salaried and elected positions of leadership, sees what I pen, as being

“…public attacks against MHI, and (the) public positions you take are counter to the industry’s interests….” The critic goes on to cite two examples from recent blog postings at the community-investor website:

• He/she says I’m “…asserting that (land lease lifestyle) community rents are too high.” My response? Yes, in some local housing markets, and possibly too low in others.

• He/she asserts I’m “…trying to create and apply generalizations for economic relationships, between land values and home/improvement values that fundamentally don’t exist.” Here the writer refers to the decades old 3:1 Rule of Thumb*1, regarding a supposed relationship between LLLCommunity monthly homesite rental rates, and the monthly rent amount for 3BR2B conventional apartment units in the same local housing market, assuming they’re weighted evenly regarding what’s included therein. Anyway, this particular Rule of Thumb has been in play since the mid – 1970s, and was NOT created by me.

Further response? Twofold. FIRST; there’s the old bromide, ‘Beware of generalities, as they’re generally as wrong as they are right!’ That’s apropos to both scenarios described above; as our industry, and asset class, is indeed ‘local housing market driven’. So again; Yes, in some cases LLLCommunity site rent might well be ‘too high’; in others, ‘too low’. Where the Rule of Thumb is concerned, it’s simply a self – applied tool to give one a preliminary ‘feel’ for multifamily rental property rates within a given local housing market. No more; no less. And SECOND? How ‘bout if you take a few minutes to let me know how YOU feel about both ‘issues’, relative to our realty asset class. See end of this blog posting for contact information.

And here’s yet another viewpoint expressed by a faithful blog flogger:

“It isn’t that would be homebuyers don’t ‘want’ the nicer houses (our HUD – Code manufacturers build), they simply can’t ‘afford’ the nicer ones! That’s why many of us land lease lifestyle community owners are remodeling used homes and ‘carrying the paper’, one way or another, to accommodate rent – to – own or lease option buyers, even those simply leasing the units. Here in the Midwest, when the home sale price nears $20,000, or goes slightly over that, we frequently have to hold the inventory for several months. Then, we get $1,000 or $1,500 down, or if we’re very lucky, $2,500. I try to ‘carry paper’ for no longer than five years, but with more expensive homes, we sometimes have to go out six or seven years, to make the payments fit the buyer’s budget. Here’s a new twist for you, illustrating how much of an entitlement society our society has become, thanks to the current national political climate. Some of our applicants now list ‘unemployment’ as their job! Then I have to explain that ‘unemployment’ is not a job. But that when they do have a ‘real job’, with a real paycheck, they should come back and reapply to buy a home from us.” SN (edited. GFA)


In Search of a MHSherpa, or maybe Guru, or possibly Maven…

A wealth management group, in a recent ad, likened their financial expertise to that of a sherpa:

‘A knowledgeable, experienced guide that provides exceptional guidance and support when venturing into dangerous, unknown territory.”

Wow! Could we ever use one of those folk, a sherpa; better yet, a MHSherpa! Think about it! Someone who understands, lives and works the HUD – Code manufactured housing business, has it ‘in their blood’ (‘Ah, the attitude & motivation to succeed!’); and is capable of ‘leading’ (‘guiding’) us from ‘in front’ AMD ‘behind’ (support), into present day dangerous, once known – but now unknown, territory, purveying truly affordable housing to those living below their local housing market’s Area Median Income, but desiring to live in a place of their own, building equity along the way!

Or maybe we’re talking about needing a guru here; you know, a MHGuru! By definition…

‘…any person who counsels or advises, a mentor; a leader in a particular field.’

Hmm. That sounds familiar. I recall a number of faux MHGurus who’ve ‘come and gone’ over the years; no, make that dozens during the past three decades. While more than ‘flashes in the pan’ at the time, none hung around very long; often growing (their businesses) ‘far too big, far too fast’, before flaming out. For that matter, I don’t see many, if any, bona fide MHGurus on the manufactured housing business horizon, or even military crest (that’s the backside of a hilltop, where one enjoys a measure of cover and concealment from one’s enemy or opponent) these days! Just a few self – effacing ones, successful in their own right, but content (albeit ‘selfish’?) staying in the background, running their own companies, not particularly helping our industry and asset class at large, to survive and once again thrive. Any self – effacing MHGurus out there listening, and motivated to read this paragraph as a personal Call to Arms (Help)? Let’s hope so….

Or perhaps it’s simply a maven, a MHMaven, we seek. You know, someone who’s an expert (at what they do), a connoisseur of sorts: ‘one competent to pass critical judgments in an art (of homebuilding), or in matters of taste (curb appeal and resident relations)’, and ‘a discerning judge of the best in any field.’ Now there’s a place to start!

A MHSherpa or two together, to guide us into dangerous, unknown territory; assisted by one or more MHGurus with proven ability and experience – honed knowledge; whose progress is measured and judged by MHMavens with the best interests of the HUD – Code manufactured housing industry and land lease lifestyle community asset class in mind and practice! WOW, what a team, if we could just put it together – soon!

So, how do we find these individuals, ‘players’, entities? Well, something was penned, during the past few weeks of online blogging, about the Manufactured Housing Institute sponsoring a volunteer Blue Ribbon Task Force to, in some folks’ minds, ‘Save Our Industry!’ Since this national advocacy body is meeting in San Antonio during the next several days, let’s watch and see what might come out of those meetings of the various membership divisions, not the least of which being the National Communities Council division. Calling all MHSherpas; MHGurus; and, MHMavens!


The Symposium Movement Lives – on! In Indy on 10/18/2012

Mark your calendars with the date 10/18/2012, then phone (317) 247-6258, extension # 11, and ask Mark Bowersox for details! All I know, for sure, is I plan to participate, as I did SECO, in Atlanta, GA., a couple months ago. And likewise, come away with some new ideas and helpful suggestions I can use in my businesses. See YOU there? Hope so….

End Note:

1. 3:1 Rule of Thumb. Simply, it generally takes the rent collected from three rental homesites in a land lease lifestyle community to equal the rent collected from one 3BR2B conventional apartment or townhouse, in the same local housing market.


George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry,
The Land Lease Lifestyle Community Asset Class &
Affordable Housing Purists & Enthusiasts Nationwide
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764

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