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Only 3 Options – the Elephant in the Room

June 19th, 2018 No comments

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A) In manufactured housing production, the elephant in the room is Clayton Homes. They are owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which also owns the 2 largest industry lenders, 21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF). Berkshire also owns a large stake in the industry’s third largest single family manufactured home loan lender, Wells Fargo.

There are only three (3) options on the following topic. The Berkshire owned manufactured housing brands either:

1)     know very specifically what must happen to grow manufactured housing sales up to the industry’s sustainable potential, which some estimate to be between half a million and a million HUD Code manufactured homes (MH) annually.

2)     The Berkshire brands in MH don’t know what must occur to grow the industry to reach its potential.

3)     Some point on the spectrum between numbers 1 and 2 above.

That’s about 150 words. The rest are details and commentary.

 

B) Arguably, any of the 3 positions above ought to be alarming to the vast majority of the industry’s independents. Why?

The case has be made by voices inside and outside of MHVille, that the Warren Buffett led Berkshire brands in MHVille dominate the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

While he’s been silent in recent months, MH Communities pro Frank Rolfe was among the industry’s professionals who blasted MHI and their “hypocrisy” and failed “leadership” in defense or promotion of the MHIndustry.

Marty Lavin, a MHI award-winner, said on-the-record that MHI only works for the interests of the big boys.” Lavin added that MHI only work for the interests of smaller companies if they happen to align with the interests of “the big boys.”

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was cited by the Washington Post (WaPo) as having been the driving force for the removal of Pam Danner at HUD. MHI‘s EVP Lesli Gooch specifically told WaPo they took no part in removing Danner. Why not?

We could outline other examples, on the Duty to Serve (DTS), DOE and the energy rule, or how Pam Danner got her job in the first place. MHI has been on the wrong side of numerous issues, plus the execution on other important issues.

The bottom line is that MHI’s track record are seen by several professionals as problematic, save for the consolidation of smaller companies into the hands of larger ones. That’s about 275 words. The rest are details and commentary.

 

C) So in about 400 words above, a case has been outlined. Logic and evidence-based concerns, plus common-sense reveals why the Berkshire brands and MHI arguably should not be trusted by the vast majority of MHVille independents. The rest are details and commentary.  We’ll invite them again to debate this publicly via video.  If we were wrong, why don’t they take us up on that invite and prove us wrong?

 

D) State communities associations have broken away from MHI. They are in the process of formalizing the launch of an independent manufactured home national communities association.

Those MH Communities have split because they lost confidence in MHI representing their interests. The rest are details and commentary.

 

E) Smoking Gun 3 documented and outlined how 21st Mortgage questionably pulled-back on lending to MH Independents in 2009. Hundreds of retailers folded afterwards.

As a result, a number of HUD Code manufactured home producers either failed, or were absorbed by Clayton.  Some where absorbed by Cavco, which is led by a former Clayton division president. Skyline Champion recently combined. Now 80 percent of the industry’s production is in the hands of those three vertically integrated firms.

The rest are details and commentary.

 

F) Manufactured housing is increasingly being recognized as the affordable housing solution that is hiding in plain sight. MHLivingNews touted that theme years ago. Others in media have been picking up on that very theme. Coincidence?

There is a need for 8.3 million affordable housing units in America today. It can only be provided cost-effectively by some form of factory building. HUD Code manufactured homes are the most affordable solution today.

 

G) Even though Clayton and MHI each have marketing and PR people, they have routinely allowed bad news stories that unjustly harm the industry’s image to go unaddressed. They have done so for years. 21st Mortgage CEO Tim Williams, the prior MHI Chairman, admitted on-the-record that the case could be made that every unfair story about MH should get addressed. Frank Rolfe has said similarly.

The above is about 700 words total to say that MHI and Berkshire may not cause every bad news story in MHVille, but they fail to address the majority of them.

The upshot? Limited new home sales and more Consolidation. See what award-winning Alan Amy said about that in the video.

 

H) The MH Communities sector recognized their need for independent representation. Retailers and others in the post production sector arguably need representation do too. MHARR is clearly representing the interests of the industry’s independent producers, as WaPo, the SBA, George Washington University and other third-party sources reflect.

 

I) Is there any reason why the Berkshire brands couldn’t repeat what they did in 2009? Shouldn’t every independent operator realize that they have a symbolic target on their head?

The rest are details and commentary.

 

J) Thanks to our supporters, we planned ahead years ago by creating the industry’s first and premier pro-industry educational platform with MHLivingNews.com.

MHProNews was a key part of the rebirth of the Louisville Show, as everyone in show management at the time said on camera and/or in writing.

We’ve proven our ability to get into mainstream media, such as Washington D.C.’s The Hill. Or consider often-referenced by others in media, Value Penguin, which ranks among the top 2 percent of all websites in America. Value Penguin dwarfs anything in MHVille for traffic.

 

K) We and those that support our efforts know what must be done to remove the shackles that have hobbled manufactured housing for years. Information and understanding are the First Phase.

Armed with evidence and reason, we are at the cusp of starting Phase 2.

The details and next steps will follow in the days ahead. Stay tuned, and sign up for our industry leading emailed headline news updates. From the biggest names in MHVille, to the mom-and pops, and thousands in between, we continue to lead the industry in readership. The reasons include insights like those above.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
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Socialists, Communists, Capitalists, Clarity, Smear, Truth, and “Kissing Ass”

September 27th, 2017 No comments

Stating the Obvious for clarity. It’s complex world, where the agendas are often hidden or disguised. It isn’t always easy to know the truth on a subject. In manufactured housing, that’s also the reality.  Knowing the truth can be challenging.

We’ll get to the he headline later, but for now, please let me note the following.

We love:

  • this industry,
  • family, faith, flag, and free enterprise (if my wife is reading this, not necessarily in that order of importance).

We are pro-success, done ethically. Because we believe in a Supreme Authority, our values ideally are guided and enlightened by those ultimate truths. Having laid out our principles in often detailed statements before, let’s jump beyond that to the topic for today.

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Hey, there are some who just don’t have a free will choice, due to some circumstance. But others play the game because they think they benefit from it. The reality in manufactured housing is, exposing the game and playing it straight is more profitable than playing the game, or kissing someone’s donkey.

The Smear

One popular example from the left of “the smear” is to call whoever opposes them “a racist.” It’s been used for so long, it ought to be worn out by now.  The right can use Smear tactics too.

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The reason Smear Tactics can still be effective is because millions are too busy, to distracted by work, family, friends, sports, drink, drugs, sex, the tube, social media, or whatever else.

But today, there are other media options beyond the mainstream media.

This publication seeks to serves what is good and the truth as it is known and understood to be.

We have in the past given the benefit of the doubt to certain voices, until the doubt has been removed by a long preponderance of evidence carefully examined, and shared with you, the Industry’s:

  • Owners, executives, managers, and rising stars,
  • Investors,
  • Political operatives and elected officials,
  • Mainstream media,
  • Researchers, educators and political officials.

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Some in MHLand:

  • have egos the size of Texas,
  • blow with the wind,
  • will kiss any ugly -ss for a dollar,
  • just don’t know,
  • are into their habits so deeply, they don’t see reality, etc.

During the 2016 campaign, Warren Buffett said he supported what
Sec. Hillary Clinton
supported. That’s why he backed Clinton.
Sec. Clinton supported Dodd-Frank and the CFPB.
Do you see the disconnect
between MHI’s stated
position on CFPB and Preserving Access,
and what Warren Buffett said several times?

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The truth about MHI is in several ways hiding in plain sight. But the MHProNews exclusively obtained documents from Tim Williams speaks volumes. But only to those with an open mind to reality, vs. fantasy. Click here to see the brief, yet powerful, report.

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The slide is from then MHI Chairman, Tim Williams, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage Corp. Isn’t it obvious that what Williams was saying was the polar opposite of what Warren Buffett supported?  Are we to believe that MHI’s chair that worked for Buffett opposed Buffett’s positions?  Arrows and commentary in red from the Masthead blog, MHProNews.com.

But a number of others have no choice for economic reasons have to play the MHI game, but they don’t like what is going on, and help inform us all they can.

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MHProNews.com/Pixabay.

Those later sources often provide priceless insights. Thank you, one and all.

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Got a tip?  Document of general interest?  Help us help the industry. iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com

Then, there are straight up supporters or those who are allied through mostly common visions or interests.

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Quick History – Conspiracy Theories and Reality

James Watt was the Secretary of the Interior Department, under President Ronald Reagan.

He was known as a pithy comments and quote machine. He has several interesting insights you can find on those quotable quotes websites, or Wikipedia.

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But the following quote of Watt’s I can’t find anywhere online, so I was not able to verify it precisely.  It goes something like this.

I don’t believe in what are commonly known as conspiracy theories. What I do believe in are people with common interests, acting in ways that benefit their common interests and that therefor look to be conspiratorial.’ – James Watt, former Secretary of the Interior.

That was so powerful, it has long stuck with me. Does it apply to manufactured housing? “We Provide, You Decide.” ©

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“Conspiracy” Hiding in Plain Sight?

Set against the James Watt point that people with common interest often behave in ways that align with those interests – thus appearing to be conspiratorial –  let’s note the following.

If you or I are accused or questioned about something that’s demonstrably not true,
the normal person simply disproves the allegation, and moves on.

Correct?

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So, if the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the powers-that-be behind MHI can readily disprove the array of questions and concerns about their favoritism and performance, why don’t they do so?

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Isn’t it likely they are ducking out precisely because the accusations are true? Because they have no good come-back?

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Why didn’t MHI ask to use this image, or create one like it of their own? Could it be that that Berkshire Hathaway owned companies like Clayton, VMF or 21st would benefit, whether or not the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act bill passed or not?  Sources tell MHProNews that the non-profits would have made a deal on the MLO rule, which would have benefited every MH Lender and every retailer, communities, and consumers.  Why didn’t MHI take that deal?  Why spend millions and fail? Or was that pro noted above correct, that BH profits either way, so why compromise at all?  Didn’t they win if it failed, or win if they succeeded?

The Truth is Hiding in Plain Sight

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Whatever MHI wants to say about trying to cut back on HUD overreaches, it is obvious that the easiest possible step is to ask the Trump Administration to have Pam Danner reassigned.  Why do they duck the obvious conflict between their words and deeds? Photo – Pam Danner, JD, addressing MHI members. Photo credit, MHProNews.

  • Pam Danner
  • Lois Starkey
  • Duty to Serve (DTS) (FHFA/GSEs)
  • CFPB and Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act – Opportunities Missed
  • Monopolistic Practices that use Heavy Regulations to Force more Consolidations
  • Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000) and enhanced preemption
  • Racism and Steering
  • Not Defending the Industry and its Image, etc., etc.

These are just some of the issues that have arisen or been spotlighted in roughly the last two two years.

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Some date back further, such as a column in 2014 that spotlighted the high cost – and risks to the industry – from low volumes of new home sales.  That risk to independents is hitting the industry again now, in the growing FEMA fiasco.

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Insider Sources

We have used a combination of inside voices off the record and visible professionals speaking on the record. While we often agree with MHARR, we are not joined at the hip.

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Perhaps the most compelling for thoughtful readers are the quotes from people in MHI, in their own words. Videos and their own written statements, carefully analyzed in the light of known facts.


From within the Berkshire Hathaway owned family of Clayton, Vanderbilt, 21st and other units;

From within MHI,

From state, professional, and third-party groups studying the industry – often with no axe to grind – MHProNews has provided a series of reports and exposes unlike anything that the industry has ever seen.

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MHI, Clayton, 21st and VMF have not engaged directly in public on these issues. But they have done so indirectly and often behind the scenes.  They don’t try to refute/disprove us, rather, they try other alleged tactics to undermine our efforts – which benefit the bulk of the industry’s professionals and investors.

Long term, our call to reform MHI and their alleged monopolistic masters would benefit them too.  Because monopoly inevitably leads to a break up, and it harms the market place, public and society.  That’s why there are laws against monopolies.

Thinkers simply have to wonder: why do the mega-rich take a public position that seems to contradict their own interests?  Isn’t the obvious answer from years of evidence that they posture one thing, do another, because it has worked for them time and again?

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

We’ve taken our precautions.

We’ve called out the powers that be to debate, or discuss, or be interviewed on video, so all can see it.  They duck, dodge, detract, distract, delay, etc. If they were right, they’d simply publicly seek to prove me to be a fool. Why are they reluctant to stand up for their track record? Do they de facto admit that they lack success at their own stated goals?

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The reason thousands come – including they and their allies daily – is because we say what’s real and support allegations with credible evidence.

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MHI Meetings, Networking and Events Can Be Replaced

The one thing that we hear that MHI ‘does okay with’ are their networking meetings.  That brings real value to some professionals.  But IMHO, they could be done better and for less.

We can’t say if MHARR will expand after their November 2017 meeting. But they have publicly supported the need for a third association that truly represents the “post-production” sector of MH – meaning others besides factory home builders.

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There was some movement by a few groups to do a true association, they’ve never come to pass.

It would be very profitable for the industry to do so.  Ironically, it could benefit the big players over time too. Because monopolies tend historically to fail over time, and harm many along the way to failure.

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Note, quoting someone on a topic should not be construed to imply we agree on all topics. That said, the above by George Allen on his own blog was interesting.

The industry is growing faster beyond Clayton and Cavco, their own statistics prove it.

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It’s time for the break up, since MHI has declined offers to reform itself.

Industry Pros Question the Effectiveness of National Association – Bob Crawford and Frank Rolfe from ManufacturedHome-ModularHomeNews on Vimeo.

 

NewManufacturedHousing1trillion9PercentNew1percentExistingHomeSales2016CreditManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNewsFinally, we will continue to spotlight politics, because it routinely impacts our industry in clear or subtle ways. I know some question our support for the president and his agenda. We appreciate the candid feedback from those who see that topic differently.

While the GOP – as an independent, I’m not a member of that or any other political party – may be gripped by its identity crisis, the Trump wing is gaining ground.  As odd as it sounds, the victory of Roy Moore over Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate primary proves that to be true.

The RINOs – perhaps better known as the “Establishment” Republicans – will, if this pattern continues, fade from the scene over time.

Americans are seeking to take back their country.

Manufactured housing professionals want to take back their industry.

The two go hand in hand.  That’s why we supported Donald J. Trump when MHI put two pro-Clinton speakers on their stage just days before the election last November.

Manufactured Home Industry Leaders Praise MHLivingNews and MHProNews.

The hypocrisy and the game playing, the masks and deception are coming to an end.

When their allegedly manipulative music stops, watch a growing number of industry pros exit MHI.  They won’t want to be associated with that crew.

In the meantime, we’ll be spotlighting the issues that can help industry professionals and investors maximize their returns and success.

Read the news and commentary.  Consider what it means to you.  Then, think about how you and your location and organization can benefit by applying the insights you find here on MHProNews and/or on MHLivingNews.

You don’t have to spend a dime with us to do that, do you?

Of course, for those who see the value of what we do, it is common sense to support our efforts.  Because no other organization in the history of the industry has produced more pro-industry insights and defended the industry more than MHLivingNews and MHProNews.

We are only able to do so thanks to sponsors and client support.

Allegations, Reality and the Future

The powers that be have already lost, they may not realize it yet.  The momentum has shifted.

With the masks, and smoke screens falling and blowing away, the industry can grow at a pace it has only dreamed about for years.

We and select clients know how that is done.  Its profitable, and done at the local level.

Think about why MHI has turned us down time and again, and failed to respond time and again.  Think about why – on an issue as simple as Pam Danner being exited from her role in the manufactured housing program office at HUD – they won’t take a public stand for doing that, even when a growing number of their own members want that to take place.

Yes, we think the days of MHI and their masters as it has existed are about over.  Oh, they’ll continue on in some form or fashion, because Berkshire Hathaway and their allies need an organ like MHI.

But for the majority of members, aren’t you feeding the hand that bites yours?  ## (Commentary, analysis, news.)

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

LATonyKovachMHLivingNewsMHProNewsManufacturedHomeIndustryPublisherMarketingSalesTrainerConsultant-

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.

Can we all get focused, please?

September 25th, 2013 No comments

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) won't say it, because they understandably want to be polite. The state and MHC associations, ditto. So who is going to make the point that an important industry association voice is essentially inaudible on a key financing issue facing manufactured housing?

Before making the point, let me share what a MHARR leader reminded me privately about regarding the subject of working for the passage of HR 1779. "Tony, we've told MHI that we fully support their efforts on this matter."

True enough, and we've reported that fact here repeatedly. In fact, that is about the only place you can read about MHARR's support of HR 1779, here…in our words, instead of MHARR's. Here's proof:

mharr-on-hr-1779-masthead-mhpronews-com-.png

That said, when MHARR's office sends out a press release (PR) – often once, or sometimes twice a week – is it too much to hope for to see one PR that is solely focused on a call to action from MHARR followers in support of grass roots action on HR 1779?

In politics, perception is often seen as reality.

With most people reading…almost nothing…from MHARR in its press releases in support HR 1779, we are hereby calling on their office to take the obvious step of clearly supporting in a visible, public fashion what the organization already says they do in fact support.

Missed Opportunity and Error in Fact

The most recent MHARR "Washington Update" PR – seen at the link here – focuses on GSE reform, mentions HR 1779 in passing, missing the opportunity to say that MHARR supports this legislative effort and calls on their followers to robustly support it.

The same MHARR press release then tackles the topic of FHA Title I (home only) lending, which seems to included an error in fact. For the record, there are two manufactured housing lenders who can originate Title 1 loans, Vanderbilt Mortgage AND 21st Mortgage.

Editorially, we agree that there needs to be more Title I lending, and support the position taken by manufactured housing finance expert, Dick Ernst of FinmarkUSA.com, who pointed out in July 2010 in a meeting with industry and federal officials that a smaller reserve level than the so-called "10-10" (10 million dollars and 10%) could accomplish the goal.

For that matter, we agree with a subsequent MHARR statement that it wasn't Manufactured Housing financing that caused the financial meltdown in 2008, yet somehow, the MH Industry has been tarred with a heavier brush than those who were the players in that meltdown! CFPB, how is that fair?

So while we agree with the goal MHARR points to, doesn't it make sense to work robustly to protect the lenders we have and work in closer concert with them to obtain the desired goals; be it HR 1779, or more Title I lending?

A quick spotlight on Title I

A quick series of inquiries from MHProNews to our contacts about each of the industry's primary lender's revealed the following:

  • Vanderbilt and 21st both can originate Title 1 loans,
  • Triad Financial wanted to do Title 1 loans, but the second part of the 10-10 rule kept them from it. Sources say they were prepared to do the 10 million dollar reserve, but their repeated requests to officials for less than the 10% level fell on deaf ears. Given the research done by Dick Ernst on that subject, that reserve requirement is worthy of a deeper look.
  • CU Factory Built Lending, US Bank, Green Hill Financial and Mountainside Financial do not offer Title 1, and for a variety of reasons have no current plans to pursue it.

GSE Reform…Important, But…

An amazing paragraph from the MHARR Washington Update, linked above, will be quoted in its entirety below and will be followed by a quick analysis to make some points.

Based on this fluid but steadily evolving situation, MHARR has developed alternative strategies and approaches that it has already shared with its working group partners at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). While focusing primarily on the development and advancement of language that would clearly, definitively and, on a mandatory basis, include all types of manufactured home loans in any final GSE reform bill, it is apparent that even with the passage of such legislation, the current GSEs will continue to exist for at least five more years – and possibly longer. Indeed, if a stalemate ultimately develops over the final shape of GSE reform legislation, the continued existence of the GSEs could be indefinite, and must be factored into the industry’s efforts to expand the securitization of private sector chattel loans, contrary to the assertions of some within the industry who have already declared (and promoted) the demise of the industry’s hard-won “duty to serve” underserved markets provision (DTS) including manufactured housing.

-See more at: http://www.MHProNews.com/latest-news-from-mharr/6290-mharr-september-23-2013-washington-update

Analysis:

  • MHARR's own words indicate that the GSE reform is potentially going no-where.
  • We'd agree that early engagement by the Industry is a good idea on the GSE reform topic, a lesson we hopefully learned from the SAFE Act and Dodd-Frank's 'unintended consequences.'
  • But why spend all this time and 'digital ink' on a topic that is likely NOT advancing soon, when there IS advancement on HR 1779! It is HR 1779 that needs the push, NOW! We have over 70 co-sponsors, that's better than last year at this time, but need more co-sponsors…when? Now!
  • As an aside, we'd agree with MHARR that the DTS in HERA 2008 should not be forgotten. Here is an example of a topic that MHI seems unwilling to invest in at present, and yet it may become more important than ever in the aftermath of what happens – or fails to happen – between now and mid-January 2014, when CFPB regs will go into effect.

There is a crying need for the parties based in and near DC to work more efficiently together. MHARR's paid staff and MHI's paid staff are each advocating for their respective constituencies, and those interests are closely aligned.

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Jim Ayotte's commentary in his fine interview, A Cup of Coffee with...Jim Ayotte makes the key point. Our industry routinely fails to advance when all hands on deck are pulling in any direction save the same one! Since Jim has been a part of MHI and also has the state (“grass roots”) perspective, it seems that his thoughts on this subject are highly relevant indeed.

Let me draw to a close with yet another key set of insights from another exclusive interview we did.

In our A Cup of Coffee with…Leigh Abrams, Drew' highly successful chairman makes the point over and over of how important image building is for our industry. He points out that RVs are way outselling manufactured housing. One key reason why? Their image campaign!

Image building is NOT just about selling more homes, as important as that obviously ought to be! Until the public and public officials generally 'get it' that manufactured homes are quality, durable, affordable and appealing homes, we will be kept at a low ebb in production and respect.

So long as this or that player is more concerned with the size of their slice of a small pie, we could be suppressing the great potential of our own future.

So can we all get focused, please? Yes, we need to pull together on HR 1779. Not someday, now!

While claiming no expertise, having spoken with experts and having seen significant levels of data, in my mind there is no doubt that failure to pass HR 1779 will negatively impact the Industry but perhaps more important, it will thus impact the home values of millions of people who have low-cost pre-HUD Code mobile or post HUD Code manufactured homes.

Beyond HR 1779, we also need to move rapidly to improve our image, because the two go hand in hand. We can't hope to win on defense alone.

The victory will come if and when:

  • Industry professionals and their businesses
  • Associations
  • Consumers

all have a clear win-win-win. Win-lose often ends up being a lose-lose. In fact, the argument should be made that the list above should be reversed. If consumers are harmed, we are harmed!

Dr. Stephen Covey was spot on in his brilliant volume, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”

Let MHARR seek to better understand MHI, and vice-versa. As just one example, without MHARR manufacturers, would the come back of the Louisville Show happened? I doubt it.

As the big boys sort all of this stuff out…

Let's all seek to truly see why the industry is not embraced by the public at large as widely and robustly as it ought to be.

When we start seeking win-wins and management by objective (MBO), we may yet obtain the desired outcomes that will benefit all involved. Can enough of us get focused and make that happen? Please?

Shall we? ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for September and see the other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Get More MH Chattel Financing

July 17th, 2012 No comments

Will you raise you pen to paper, fax or send off a quick email to improve access to manufactured housing personal property (home only/chattel) financing?

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) rulemaking is asking for comments under their proposed Affordable Housing Goals (AHG) for 2012-2014.

I've sent my comments in as follows below. You can write your own, or use the attached at the end and simply put in your own words that you support this too.

——— start of letter to Alfred Pollard at FHFA ——–

Dear Mr. Alfred M.Pollard,
I'm writing as an individual, as a member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and as the publisher of the manufactured housing industry's largest trade publication, MHProNews.com, on the topic ofRIN 2590–AA49.

The GSE's were required by Congress in the Duty to Serve (DTS) Provision of HERA 2008 (please see attached references) to serve manufactured home lending, including personal property (home only/chattel) finance lending. This DTS has been ignored to the detriment of the Industry and to the American public.

I would agree with the bulk of the attachment, which was drafted by MHARR on behalf of their members, in terms of the facts and logic. But let me add a few points that I'm personally aware of that mitigates in favor of the change in policy by FHFA. Because in the ideal, what we all want is smart government policy.

First, it is self-evident that chattel lending by Triad, US Bank, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt Mortgage and CU Factory Built Lending – among others – is successful andprofitable. Therefore, there is no valid excuse for FHFA to ignore the law that Congress enacted specifically to make America's most affordable housing more readily available.

Furthermore, any concern for losses could easily be mitigated by a proper re-marketing program. Having been involved in successful manufactured housing re-marketing efforts with lenders in the past, I would say again that there is no valid reason for this policy to exist.

Manufactured housing cleaned up its financing act in the wake of the Conseco meltdown, while the mortgage industry kept on going down the same path that ultimately lead to the far more damaging and costly mortgage and housing meltdown. I won't get into the fact that the meltdown in the conventional housing market was fueled by questionable policies that neither political party seems to want to address these days. However, MHARR's attached paper is quite correct, the problems in housing and financing today clearly lie in the arena of the conventional housing world.

Any rationale that denies the implementation of the DTS is entirely misguided, discriminatory or based on false understandings and premises about factory-built HUD Code manufactured homes gets anything other than equal treatment with conventional homes. Please keep in mind that conventional housing construction are mostly factory built parts which happen to be site assembled.

I would make one other point that I'm not sure has ever been properly stressed by any trade body in this discussion. It is this:Supporting manufactured housing in the fashion required by the DTS would save the federal, state and local governments untold billions of dollars insubsidizedhousing costs. There is simply no way that the 'alleged risks' the FHFA has pointed to are not dramatically outweighed by the benefits!

As one possible myth buster among many, you may find thisvideo to be of interest. The video dramatically proves how durable modern manufactured homes truly are. HUD Code manufactured homes should be the pride of America and her elected and appointed officials! You and your colleagues may also find this photo gallery of interest.

All discrimination is based on ignorance or fears that are not warranted. It is ignorance, outdated myths and fear that harms manufactured homes, because when people dig sincerely and objectively into the facts, there is no housing value in America that comes close to the quality, durability, appeal and overall value.

Supporting the change advocated to comply with the DTS would result in lower government costs, more job creation, more affordable home ownership and a more balanced budget. In our times, each of these and the reasons attached are reasons to 'just say yes' for FHFA to follow the law and implement DTS as intended by Congress.

Respectfully,

L.A. 'Tony' Kovach

———— end of letter to FHFA ————

We have until July 26, 2012 to email in a comment. Whether you take 1-2 minute and use the attachments below from your own email or take longer to write your own, make your voice heard!

Don't curse the shadowy darkness or be apathetic. Be pro-active. Light the candle, send the message. Make your voice heard! Then ask your associates to do the same. Thanks. ##

Editor's Note:

Email Comments to Alfred M. Pollard, General Counsel, may be sent

by email to RegComments@fhfa.gov

Please include ‘‘RIN 2590–AA49’’ in the subject line of the message.

Download/Attachments,

Letter from MHProNews.

Letter from MHARR.

Elephants in the Room and Manufactured Housing

August 21st, 2010 5 comments

Warning: This blog post is not for the faint of heart or for those who think they can skim and get it all.  As an Industry Pro, directly or indirectly, this impacts YOU every day.

In a recent conversation with George F. Allen, I mentioned a discussion topic that Finmark’s Dick Ernst and I shared in preparation for our INdustry in Focus interview with Dick about manufactured home financing.  During that conversation, Mr. Ernst used the memorable phrase, “elephants in the room.” Specifically, we spoke about the challenges that lenders and home owners face when resale time comes.  “That’s the elephant in the room, Tony, that we as an industry need to deal with.” was the gist of Dick’s revealing statement.

The president of a manufactured housing finance company and the senior VP of yet another lender I’ve recently spoken with concur.

As George and I spoke, he commented on the customer or secondary (resale) market side with, “I was going to say, you’re right, that is the second elephant in the room.  This is an important topic, Tony. Maybe you should consider doing a Linkedin or blog post on it.” GFA being correct, I agreed.  As a result of that advice, a lively Linkedin MHC group discussion has begun…

So here I am suggesting to an Industry pro like yourself that we need to take a long, hard look at how to change this avoidable and troubling dynamic.  We need a process that allows an MH customer or finance company to exit at least as easily from their manufactured home asset as someone might from a conventional stick built house.

Why?

Because as long as we have elephants in the room, those pachyderms will be pushing out of the room customers, investors, lenders, public officials and a whole host of opportunities that we otherwise would deserve!  We can be:

  • Selling more homes.
  • Have happier manufactured home owners.
  • Get more MH referrals.
  • Enjoy more, better, happier…these are some of the rewards for solving the ‘problem pachyderms’ issue!

The bottom line is you can make more money long term, and so can the Industry, once we face and fix this plaguing problem.

Yet some – perhaps many – who will read this may knee jerk in opposition.  Why?

Let’s take a look…

VMF and 21st stated in the MHI Summer Meeting with FHA officials that when they take in a repossession, they wholesale that repo 65% of the time.  Other lenders in the room were nodding or made sounds that indicated that Berkshire Hathaway affiliates are not alone.  Now they may make this ‘work,’ but at what cost? Higher rates on manufactured homes than conventional housing are certainly among the sad consequences.

Less lending availability is another avoidable consequence!

Why has the FHA set such a high bar on finance companies who will be doing FHA Title I loans?  Because of past industry losses in financing.

Why do the GSEs hesitate to lend on MH chattel, in spite of the Duty to Serve mandate from Congress?  Because of past industry losses in financing.

Why are so many MH communities doing in house financing?  To the tune of billions of dollars?  Because it is almost a necessity, due to past industry losses in financing.

Why does Ken Rishel and company teach community operators and retailers how to raise the capital and do legally compliant ‘captive chattel financing?’  Because there aren’t enough MH chattel lenders available without doing it in house.  I’d bet that Ken would also ad that because doing it in house is a profit center of it’s own…when it is done right!

Now, please don’t shoot the messenger for reporting what you already know.

The only way to deal with the elephant in the room that no one wants to touch is to look closely at the various dynamics and then do what it takes. If we as a manufactured housing professional, company or as an Industry want to climb out of the Industry’s financing limiting doldrums, we better deal with the issues head on!

When a MHIndustry lender is wholesaling off repo inventory 2 times out of 3, that means that some out there are ‘getting a good deal.’  But the ‘good deal’ to a community, retailer or wholesaler means a lender took a beating.  When the lender takes enough beatings, they may say, ENOUGH!  That leads to the skittish behavior of FHA and The GSEs on this subject.  Those losses on repos cause other financial institutions and potential lenders to look warily at the manufactured housing product, because Conseco/Greentree is not ancient history to them.

Now please don’t misread this.

For example, the government agencies have Congressional mandates.  They should serve manufactured housing as the law requires, period, end of story!  In my world and yours, if Congress passes a law, we obey. If you don’t like it, you work to change it. But if you and I simply fail to obey a law, then we get fined, prosecuted, jailed, or strung up.  I say, the GSEs and FHA should do as Congress mandated.  They should do so broadly, rapidly and effectively.   These agencies should find the solution to the elephants in the room issue as part of the implementation of the legislation that Congress created and the president signed into law.

This means that the FHA and the GSEs should find a way to make the programs sustainable and work long term.

We in the Industry, if we are smart, should help them.

That is what MHI and those Industry leaders were trying to do in DC a few weeks ago, trying to shed light with Vicki Bott and other FHA and HUD officials on ways to make their program work.  Because a sustainable program is a win for everyone!

But let’s go back to those who can’t resist doing that wholesale deal on a repo.

And let’s go back to those lenders who shed their inventory at bargain basement rates.

Knowingly or not, each are contributing to the long term history in the financing/resale realm that has plagued our Industry, those elephants in the room.

Before writing this, I also spoke with a wholesale repo buyer, who effectively said:

“If they are going to sell me a home at these prices, why would I say no?”

I admit, that has to be tempting.  But a number of points come up in analyzing this long term, and you can think of them as well or better than I.

Now, please note, the wholesale buyer has learned how to move that inventory.  So why can’t the lender do the same?

I spoke with a long term MH lender, who effectively said:

“I have x homes and x millions tied up in inventory in just the x market.  The regulators are checking our files right now.  We want to continue to do MH lending.  But every time a ‘park’ (his term) bills me for lot rent, every time a park fails to help resell a home at retail, every time a home sits and sits instead of resells for a good price, every time I have to move a home in order to get it sold, it puts that much more pressure on our manufactured home financing program.”

Do we need to lose another lender(s) before we learn our lesson?  Hello?  If we are the ‘survivors’ of the Great MH Lending Meltdown that started around the turn of the century, who needs coffee?

Now all of these are actual or paraphrased comments from real people who didn’t ask to be named for obvious reasons, and each one is revealing.

To the future potential of the MHIndustry, these viewpoints and their implications are chilling.

Let’s imagine for a moment, that FHFA, in the aftermath of the tidal wave of comments they received last month, relented.  Let’s say they put a program in place that really met the intent of Congress in the Duty to Serve legislative provisions.  Let’s further imagine that FHA modified their threshold for Title I lenders, lowering the amount and making more capital thereby available to the Industry.

Then let’s image that nothing has changed about the resale/remarketing issue.  What would eventually happen?

They’d take their lumps for a while, then go back to Congress and understandably say, “we told you so!”

So now ladies and gents, we better tackle this once and for all.  We should not only work on Congress and these agencies to get the financing we need, but also work with them to make sure that repos don’t result in big losses.

That is just long term, common sense.

That said, one gent told me recently that in our Industry long term may be 10 minutes to 10 days.  “I’ve got the end of the month coming up, and have to get this deal done!”  Oye, vez.  We have to think 10 weeks, 10 months and 10 years ahead too.  A dozen years have gone by since we sank from nearly 373,000 shipments to under 50,000 last year.  We are inching up this year, and that is good.  It reminds us that we can grow again.  But if we don’t buckle down and do ALL that it takes, we will have a shorter and shallower bubble than we had in the roaring 90s.

Or, we can have the best years the Industry has ever had.  The choice is in our hands.

Let us shift gears and briefly look at an example that may lead to a solution.

Back in the late 80s (and again in the early 2000s), I was in a leadership role of  a successful resale programs for various manufactured housing lenders.  We:

  • set up a structured approach that reduced their losses, accelerated their resale time line and got assets back on the books at prices that were close to new ‘repo fighter’ home prices then.
  • There were legal and systemic limits that kept us from selling repos for even more, but I am here to say, we could have sold those homes for more money had the financing system allowed for it.
  • We didn’t buy repos ourselves, meaning we didn’t compete against the lenders repos with our own inventory, as to me that seemed like a conflict of interest.
  • Our team did repo sales for lenders, period!  We got paid commissions, and we earned a lot of those.  We also received got paid some spiffs and other incentives, all above board, that were part of our agreement.
  • We looked at issues and we dealt with them in the best fashion possible to control costs for lenders and limit their losses.
Late 80s_MH Industry Article_collage

Late 80s MH Industry Article collage, recounted results helping lenders save money on repos.

It wasn’t perfect, but it worked a lot better for those MH lender clients than they had elsewhere in that state.  We know this because they said so, and backed it up by bringing us ever increasing levels of inventory, and then asked us to expand into different markets in other states.

Foremost_Insurance_Kudos_Letter_to_our_Repo_Retail_Center

Foremost Insurance Kudos Letter to our Repo Retail Center

That was then.  Maybe there are similar efforts out there now, but:

  • where are they now?
  • If they are out there, why are key MHIndustry lenders still wholesaling 65% of the time?
  • If they aren’t out there, why aren’t MHIndustry lenders creating a program that works for all long term?

Ladies and gents, this isn’t rocket science. This is about discipline, solution orientation and will power.  Other industries face this issue and make it work.

We…

Can…

Too!

I don’t quote sources unless they wish or agree to be quoted or have spoken in public.  So  privately to me or via posted comments, I am hereby inviting industry members to comment on the elephants in the room.

Please share your experiences and viewpoints.  Please agree or disagree.

Heck, let’s have a debate here if you want to, that is what posted comments are for too.

We as MH professionals, companies and as an Industry have to move the resale/re-marketing subject ahead.

We don’t need endless meetings and another task force that later disbands, for whatever reasons.  I am not criticizing anyone, but I am challenging every stake holder to think this through and resolve it for the long term benefit of all involved.

Some MHCommunity operators do a good job at this.  If they can, others can too.

How do you solve a big problem?  You face it squarely and deal with it honestly.

How do you eat an elephant?  One proverbial bite at a time. # #

_________

End Note:

A few The Masthead blog posts ago, I touched on this topic lightly.  It was part of the broader subject of what are our Industry’s strengths and weaknesses are.  That post referenced how we could be doing 200,000 to 800,000+ new annual manufactured home shipments a year!  Not someday, right now. If you missed that prior post due to vacations or whatever, you might want to read or re-read it.

I was thinking back to the repo glut of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

  • Do we miss selling 372,000+ homes a year?
  • Do we miss having full communities?
  • Do we miss building new MHCs or fee simple developments?
  • Do we want factories that are at or near capacity?
  • Do we miss having more retailers?
  • Do we miss more lenders, vendors…

Please read, or re-read this blog post linked below.  It outlines the path for MHIndustry  business growth today.

http://www.mhmarketingsalesmanagement.com/blogs/tonykovach/manufactured-housing-industry-growth-potential/ # #

_________

L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, MHM

Publisher, MH Marketer and The Masthead blogger

Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management trade journal at www.MHMarketingSalesManagement.com aka www.MHMSM.com

tony@mhmsm.com

847-730-3692