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Buffett’s Letter Defends Clayton; Trump, Other Hopefuls POTUS Path via Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing? 

February 28th, 2016 2 comments

As some pundits expected, Warren Buffet’s letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders provided a fact-based, 1.5 page defense in the 30 page annual document. The Clayton Homes and relevant facts on MH Lending – a de facto defense aimed at Mike Baker’s and Daniel Wagner’s year long campaign waged in the Seattle Times, Center for Public Integrity and BuzzFeed – is linked here.

The full Buffett annual letter is linked here.

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If you take the filter of news out of the Google search shown above, there are over 40,000 hits on this topic at the date and time shown, per Google. Image credits, Google, Reuters, WSJ.

Could the Path to a Presidential Hopefuls Victory align with Supporting Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act? 

The short answer is a maybe that could easily be a yes. The reasons why have been repeatedly noted in our twin trade publishing platforms.  But let’s summarize them this way.

1) America faces an affordable housing crisis, as Julian Castro says in the video below, and manufactured housing is a vital part of that solution. 

2) MH is a potential Micro-targeting and PR bonanza. With some 6% of the U.S. Population living in MH, and many March Madness Primary states having even heavier numbers of MH owners, plus impacted conventional housing owners and renters, any savvy presidential candidate can be a hero to millions – simply by doing the right thing. Manufactured housing ought to be a non-partisan, or bi-partisan issue – because affordable quality housing is non-partisan.  

The short version is that any candidate who stands up for the reasons we’ve repeatedly spotlighted to protect existing home owners values, while promoting affordable quality living at no cost to taxpayers, taps into a total no-brainer, sure to win over some undecided voters or that will motivate voters who might not otherwise go to the polls…

3) The facts Mr. Buffett’s letter presents,

  • points we’ve raised on MHProNews or on MHLivingNews, and
  • facts that CFPB’s Richard Corday agreed with Senator Bob Corker on in the video above, 
  • a close look reveals that manufactured home chattel loan rates are not predatory. It’s just simple business math!

That math also proves the GAO was correct in saying manufactured home loans – even at a higher rate – routinely provide a lower monthly housing cost than any other form of housing.  See the in-depth, video interview with Marty Lavin, JD for more insights from an independent expert on the topic.

More commentary on the Buffett letter’s defense of Clayton Homes will be found in the new March issue.  The March issue of MHProNews may go live as early as Monday night, but more likely will be live on the home page Tuesday evening. Watch for it here on the MH Industry’s runaway most popular source for Industry News, Tips and Views Pros Can Use ©.  ##

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Standing Room Only seminars are scheduled for the 2016 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, including SuperCharged Marketing and Sales, Financing and MHC/Retail Lessons Learned. Seminar details, linked hereMore Tunica Show details, linked here. Tony and the MHProNews – MHLivingNews team will be at booth #74 at Tunica.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach

DC Complexity plus Rising Sales, Rising Pressures on MH

February 5th, 2016 No comments

Reminder: like so many of you, we love the manufactured housing industry, and believe strongly in its future. Good news exists like the wine that cheers us ahead; troubling news is there for us to identify, navigate and overcome so our home owners and we as professionals can grow even more.

rising-home-sales-shutterstock-masthead-blog-mhpronews-Let’s note the rising new home MH shipment report, linked here, and look at a positive step forward.

DC Complexity

MHI issued a statement, which reads in part as follows:

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to increase the flexibility for low income families to use a Section 8 voucher to purchase a manufactured home.  The amendment was approved by voice vote…”

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Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

This amendment, which was supported by Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling (R-TX) and Ranking Member Waters (D-CA), allows vouchers to be used not just for the cost of leasing the land (which is currently permitted) but also for other monthly costs of purchasing a manufactured home loan, including mortgage payments, property tax, and insurance. The change would allow families that receive a tenant-based Section 8 voucher to help pay for an alternative to renting an apartment – allowing them to actually purchase a home.  The amendment does not provide any direct funds or require anyone to use a voucher to live in a manufactured home. However, with this change the approximately 2.1 million Section 8 voucher holders in America will now have the option to use their Section 8 voucher to buy a manufactured home.  

The broader bill that now includes this provision, H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 472-0. It will now be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Among the comments from readers on this was this:

More than ten years ago at an MHI convention (name withheld) suggested to Barney Frank that this was the one thing gov’t could do which would help everyone.  It went nowhere as he wasn’t listening.

Under the right circumstances this measure could be the most exciting thing since the HUD Code.

But, things are never as good or as bad as one thinks.  This does however, have the potential to really help. Why piss away apt rent money? Let people use that money to buy their MH.

Now let’s see the details and hope for the best.”

The reason the Masthead will refer to this as DC Complexity is this easily overlooked part of the MHI release:

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Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member, Financial Services Committee.

This amendment, which was supported by Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling (R-TX) and Ranking Member Waters (D-CA), allows vouchers to be used…”

Recall that it was Maxine Waters that recently lead a public charge to have Clayton Homes investigated by the Department of Justice?

We shouldn’t look sideways at this potential for this gift to MH. Congressional Representative Waters is on the attack on MH on one topic, and yet supporting MH on this issue. That reveals how complex DC can be.

In this political environment, it doesn’t pay to burn a bridge in the nation’s capitol, does it?

Unreported in the release where acknowledgments of others who have publicly called on HUD for like reforms, including MHARR, MHI and another as seen from this link here.

Seattle Times –The Beat(ing) of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Clayton Homes and MH lending goes on…

The news alert read like this…

Washington state moves to protect mobile-home buyers

Center for Public Integrity

The ongoing investigation of the industry, “The Mobile-Home Trap,” has focused on Clayton Homes, a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire …

In the wake of the above and related, we received this comment that was initially sent on the record by a well know industry leader, and then a follow up message requested it not be on the record.

Tony,

In my opinion the Section 8 MHI posting and the DOJ investigation of Clayton Homes financial entities appears to be a concert conducted to appeal to the 98%ers and to get local NIMBY’s to remake the LLC communities into a new type of affordable housing.

The goal is to offset troubling local affordable housing issues nationwide.  Since Socialism and Rent Control appear to be a Democrat and Progressives theme and a claim to equality in housing. Only one “Gotcha” is needed to validate and prove Clayton Homes finance arm’s troubles.

The trend and recent actions clearly shows a path to change for the future of HUD (Code manufactured) housing.” (Editor’s note – the words “Code manufactured” – was implied, but not in the original, and was inserted above for clarity of meaning).

Follow ups made it clear that this writer wasn’t throwing someone under the bus, nor necessarily favoring what is happening on this issue. Rather, that professional suggests that the HUD Code MH and MHC industries are being forced into changes, whether it wants them or not.

About Lesli Gooch’s Op-Ed

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Marty Lavin, JD looking happy and trim in the dining area of his winter residence in Miami Beach, the 70′ custom Italian ship, the Spy Sea.

Marty Lavin, JD, is a successful, award-winning attorney who’s business interests included MH lending, communities and retail sales. His opinion is worth noting, because he worked with one of the GSEs during the 2000s. When he read Dr. Gooch’s OpEd, he shared the following comment on the record to us:

I think Dr. Gooch is very well intended, but the industry position doesn’t necessarily align with the ends of the GSEs. Perhaps a better understanding of their position might lead to a better outcome…if that is possible. It’s much more than just helping consumers buy homes. The GSEs need these folks to be able to stay in them. Therein lies the rub.”

Once more, a close reading of his observations aren’t a slam on Lesli Gooch, or MHI. Marty Lavin has years of experience working with a particular GSE. He understands where they are coming from. Lavin is applying good reasoning: in the absence of meeting the GSE’s concerns, he believes they won’t voluntarily budge.

MHI-itis?

This leads to a broader issue, one we’ve raised in a slightly different way before.

What is keeping MHI from achieving its goals?

Yes, among other factors, there’s opposition in DC from so-called consumer groups. But those same groups claim to champion manufactured housing as a good solution for affordable quality living.

Manufactured housing and its lending ought to be seen as non-partisan issues. Yet all to often, it’s precisely in political and ‘crony capitalist’ terms how MH and it’s lending are being portrayed. That’s tragic, because the status quo is harming millions of owners of low cost MH, and untold thousands of buyers annually who in pre-Dodd-Frank had financing, and thanks to the CFPB’s 2014 implementation of those rules, today do not.

We know that DC works differently than many states do. But the principles are similar. State governments and the federal government mirror each other in the sense there is an executive, legislative and judicial branch and then there are executive branch agencies that enforce rules and regulations. There is lobbying at the state level akin to what happens in Washington, DC.

We know a number of MH state associations that are getting the job done for their members, while working in concert whenever possible with consumer groups. Let’s suggest that’s a model that MHI needs to better implement.

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Ishbel Dickens, NMHOA, photo credit Madison Park Times.

Why? Until we either get consumer groups on the same page as the industry – for the sake of consumers and for

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Doug Ryan, CFED’s point man on manufactured housing.

professionals alike – there exists an often adversarial relationship with non-profits such as Ishbel Dickens of NMHOA and Doug Ryan at CFED, to name but two examples.

Those groups are linked with what is going on in the ongoing media war launched against Clayton Homes et al, as the Center for Public Integrity’s own release indicates, “The ongoing investigation of the industry, “The Mobile-Home Trap,” has focused on Clayton Homes, a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire…”

Our Daily Business News take on this thorny issue is below.

Seattle Times announces State Investigation of Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes, as expected – Analysis –

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Image credit – collage of Industry Association logos by MHProNews, each logo is the property of their respective organization, and is used here under Fair Use guidelines.

DC Talk and DC Complexity

Once more, your Masthead scribe will be in DC to listen to what is going on there, first hand. The rules of the association are clear. I can’t report on what goes on in the meeting, but what is said in the hallways outside the meeting rooms and beyond the event are fair game.

We’ll see what that hallway and beyond – DC talk – will reveal.

We still want to see S 682 passed, because it is good for consumers and good for the industry. There are those who say Preserving Access is “dead, dead, dead” – that we might at best save the MLO comp rule portion of it.

Another well placed source says the entire bill is still at play, and that’s exactly why the Seattle Times et al are continuing their assault on MHI’s backed bill.

Is passage of the bill doable? Yes. Will it get done the way things are moving now? What do you think?  We Provide, You Decide. ©

Quoting from the MHI website…

MHI Mission Statement – MHI is the national trade organization representing all segments of the factory-built housing industry. MHI serves its membership by providing industry research, promotion, education and government relations programs, and by building and facilitating consensus within the industry.”

Let’s ask: is this mission statement being fully lived up to?

If the mission statement were a reality, would we be further along or perhaps have even already passed the highly modest CFPB/Dodd-Frank reform legislation sought in HR 650-S 682?

What the high numbers of comments, forwards and thousands of reads on our recent Masthead on a related topic suggests is that change must come to MHI, the only question is how and when.

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Graphic credit, OpenSourceway and FlickrCreativeCommons

We want the bill passed, for reasons noted numerous times over the years. It might get passed with no changes at MHI, just rocking along with business as usual there. But my sincere concern is that without change, we are whistling in the wind.

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1I’m looking forward to visits on Capitol Hill.

We’ll catch up with another Masthead after the MHI meetings, perhaps next Wednesday.jan-hollingsworth-for-mhlivingnews-com-55

Until then, stay current with Matthew Silver’s Daily Business News, and you’ve simply got to read Jan Hollingsworth’s latest:

http://manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-frugal-manufactured-mansions-take-their-place-in-the-california-sun/

Your insights and thoughts? They’re valued.

Let’s end as we began. Good news cheers us on, issues are there for us to learn from and navigate. Onward! ##

l.a.'tony'kovach-us-supreme-court-washington-dc-mhpronews-com-By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

 

2016 Louisville Show Previews, Updates on Media – Clayton Homes Drama

January 13th, 2016 No comments

For the next few moments, let me again encourage those on the fence to make the trek to Louisville for the 2016 Manufactured Housing Show. Industry pros need to get their batteries recharged! Many will need to get their inventory refreshed and restocked. Dozens of suppliers are waiting to share their latest. We’ll be at the show too, at booth #215. We’ll have some fun things, others will as well.

You can find a number of articles that are Louisville focused on the home page, under Featured Articles.  Plus there are invites from others on the Corporate Press Release module, click here to scroll through the latest show related news.

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With that necessary and upbeat break, let’s turn to the less joyous recent news hitting the MH industry.

Seattle Times/BuzzFeed’s Mike Baker Daniel Wagner duo Strikes Again

As NanoTech News and other published media outlets put it about Baker and Wagner:

The writing duo’s use of the term “mobile home” is clearly meant to invoke the image of shoddy, pre-HUD Code trailer houses, and bestow upon billionaire Buffett the aura of an unscrupulous slumlord presiding over the financial rape of the poor and disenfranchised.

Nor do these so-called journalists, who claim expertise in financial reporting, seem to have even a tenuous grasp on the types of loans available to these buyers and how home-only “chattel” loans for manufactured homes are underwritten.”

But has the horse left the proverbial barn with respect to much of the mainstream media coverage of this story?

Beyond the original Seattle Times/Buzz Feed and related follow up articles, Bloomberg, The Hill and a host of others are covering the latest word that House Democrat Maxine Waters is calling for an investigation into the Warren Buffett MH “empire.”

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Image credits, screen captures from Google News.

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If that isn’t enough, here is what the Motley Fool said a few days earlier.

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Motley Fool, which certainy has made some errant comments over the years about MH, has recently said they can imagine that Warren Buffett won’t find the $577 million in profits from Clayton Homes/manufactured housing as being enough to keep it in the Berkshire-Hathaway fold.

To get the latest on this issue, see our Daily Business News report, linked here.

MHI has remained mute on the above, some say, understandably. But the numbers in the industry who see their need to publicly respond to the PBS NewsHour piece is growing. Our take on that, is linked here.

We’ve received numerous thank you style messages on our taking on the PBS and SeattleTimes topics, and providing the industry something – instead of nothing – for the more serious researchers into these stories to balance out the online coverage of MH in the News.

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Please see the latest on public-focused MHLivingNews on these issues, linked below.

Bad and Good – Two Sides – Manufactured Home Living and News Reporting

About the bad news noted above, I was asked by an industry pro, the following via email:

Do you think it would go away if we drop our legislation?” 

No, I don’t think abandoning the Preserving Access bill would end this stream of bad news in the media. It would be hard to imagine anything more encouraging to Ishbel Dickens and company than MHI and others in the industry abandoning HR 650/S 682. It is my sincere hope that the powers-that-be decide to amp up, and give an all out effort to win on this bill. That can be done using ways we’ve already outlined that it could be accomplished. 

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I’ll close with the witty Matthew Silver’s headline on Wisdom Homes, which was touting their success and plans just a few months ago. Today, here’s that Wisdom related headline:

Manufactured Homes have Gone to Pot

Let’s catch up this weekend, your thoughts and news tips are encouraged and valued. ##

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Standing Room Only seminars are scheduled for the 2016 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, including SuperCharged Marketing and Sales, Financing and MHC/Retail Lessons Learned. More details, linked here.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

Analysis-SeattleTimes-BuzzFeed allege – Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes Exploit Minorities?

December 30th, 2015 No comments

First, a programming note – the new January 2016 issue of MHProNews monthly Featured Articles are scheduled to go live by the evening of Saturday, January 2nd. 

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Photo/Image collage credits = Warren Buffett photo, UK Telegraph, Seattle Times, BuzzFeed, Clayton Homes logos, belong to each respective firm; click here or the graphic above to see the report.

Next, we will keep this simple. Some don’t understand, or dislike, free enterprise. Some don’t get it that when you make loans that create opportunities for home ownership to those with marginal credit, you will have a higher default rate.

We reported weeks ago in a video interview with attorney and MH lending expert, Marty Lavin, his statement that the success rate for those big MH lenders making loans to those with marginal credit was some 83%. That ought to be celebrated. Instead, the duo below villify it. Should the vast majority be forced to rent, thanks to those with an agenda to protect Dodd-Frank instead of the minorities and working people they claim to want to “protect?” 

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Agenda journalists? Mike Baker, left; Daniel Wagner. right. Photo credits – l- nfoic, r – talking biz news, all photos, logos and images are used per fair use guidelines.

We have an extensive report on the Seattle Times/BuzzFeed story, which attacks Warren Buffett – for purposes of sensationalism and increased clicks – Clayton Homes and their affiliated lenders, linked here. Your thoughts and feedback, are welcome. 

Let’s do what it takes to make 2016 a much, much better year than the past few have been. ##

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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, speaking at the recent New York Housing Association meeting. Tony will be presenting at the 2016 Tunica MH Show.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.