A Cup of Coffee with… Randy Rowe

Cup-manufacturedhomepronews1) Who, What and Where: (Your name, and your formal title at Green Courte Partners).

Randy Rowe, Founder and Chairman of Green Courte Partners, LLC.

2) Background: (Educational/Professional snapshot before entering the factory-built housing arena. Specifically mention the other firms you worked with prior to GCP).
Prior to founding Green Courte Partners and acquiring American Land Lease, I was a co-founder and Chairman of Hometown America, LLC and previously Co-Chairman and CEO of Manufactured Home Communities, Inc. (currently known as Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc.) My educational background includes college at Denison University, business school at Harvard and law school at the University of Michigan.

3) When and How: (When and how you began Green Courte Partners, which could include a recap of the years since GCP began.)

Green Courte Partners, LLC (“GCP”) was formed in June, 2002 and acquired its first land-lease community in August, 2004. Currently, GCP’s portfolio of land-lease communities is the nation’s seventh largest, with more than 18,500 home sites across 50 communities in ten states. After GCP’s acquisition of American Land Lease, Inc. (“ALL”) in March 2009, GCP integrated ALL’s substantial operating capabilities with GCP’s existing land-lease community infrastructure to create a consolidated enterprise which has an exceptional operating platform combined with an extremely flexible and well-capitalized acquisition capability.

4) What are your personal interests or hobbies? How do you like to spend non-work time?

I enjoy fly fishing, golf, tennis, skiing, movies, theatre, music and spending time with friends and family.

5) What do you think sets Green Courte apart from others in the industry who are buying MHCs today?

We approach the industry with the belief that manufactured housing can and should be a major part of the solution to the challenge of affordable housing in this and other countries. We also believe that there is an opportunity to raise the standards of what we as an industry provides and as a result have committed to ALL’s “Good Neighbor Pledge.”

As to what we can provide existing community owners who may be considering a sale, we approach each investment as an opportunity to customize a transaction structure that meets the seller’s specific requirements including:

  • If a seller is concerned about income taxes or estate planning, our team has expert tax professionals who will work to create a structure that addresses each seller’s needs and helps provide for its family’s future; or,

  • If a community owner needs a strategic partner or additional equity capital to grow its business, or if an existing partner wishes to be bought out but the other partner wants to stay invested in the community, we can create a joint venture to help recapitalize the asset.

Our team is committed to being responsive, flexible and creative, and we are known for delivering on our commitments. We believe that we can uniquely provide the maximum value for a community or portfolio. Unlike many other firms, GCP has absolute discretion over all of its investment decisions and can access the capital required for an acquisition on ten days’ notice, which allows GCP to move quickly, flexibly and reliably to meet each seller’s needs.

6) What do you consider the largest challenges facing the industry and land lease communities in today?

Collectively we are faced with a rapidly changing business model. Community owners, chattel lenders, home manufacturers, home retailers and brokers all need to work together to improve the customer experience. I offered suggestions to address these issues two years ago when I proposed a 5 Point Plan setting forth the issues the industry most needs to address: 1) better home warranties and responsive customer service; 2) better, more accessible chattel financing (particularly for resale homes); 3) long-term ground leases to provide residents with more economic certainty and security; 4) a deeper, more efficient resale market for used homes by including used manufactured homes within Realtor multiple listing services; and, 5) a broader understanding of the industry achieved through national and regional marketing programs.

7) As you know, some 75% of all loans in manufactured housing are personal property or ‘chattel’ loans, according to a recent survey by the Census Bureau. While all home lending is important, clearly personal property lending is the life blood of manufactured housing at this time. In spite of what HERA 2008 called for – namely, the “Duty to Serve” manufactured housing, first the GSEs and now the FHFA have failed to implement what the law seems to require. What steps, if any, should the NCC/MHI or other industry groups and players take in addressing such issues?

I know NCC/MHI is actively working on this problem. Clearly it is a challenging time to get GSEs actively into the chattel space given the broader issues they are facing as to what they, the GSEs, will look like on a going forward basis. However, it does seem that FHFA and HUD have been very slow to comply with Congressional intent, which is unfortunate. HUD would produce a much bigger positive impact on the affordable housing problem if it were to commit more resources to the manufactured housing solution. One positive development is that as more and more industry players have been forced to move into the direct lending business they have been able to show that properly underwritten and properly serviced chattel loans have a much lower frequency and severity of loss experience than was the case under the flawed 1990s lending programs. As more and more performance data is collected it should become easier to convince the capital markets of the appropriate pricing of capital for our homebuyers and an increase of loan availability should result.

8) You are involved in the Urban Land Institute. For those who are not familiar with this body, please share some insights and give readers a sense as to what attracts you to involvement with them.

I have been active in the Urban Land Institute (“ULI”) for 27 years and currently serve as a Trustee. ULI’s mission “is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.” ULI has 30,000 members worldwide and is the leading convening, education and research organization for real estate development. ULI also has a Manufactured Housing Community Council which focuses on our industry and provides a mechanism for us to showcase to the broader real estate community the benefits of what our housing product offers.

9) Closing thoughts or comments?

While there are many challenges facing the industry, including a dramatic increase in overlapping regulatory requirements, if the industry stays focused on the needs of our customer we can collectively look forward to a very promising future. This is a time when we need to come together through NCC/MHI, and through our collective actions, to put in place constructive solutions as we continue to strive to achieve this industry’s potential.

 

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