Fed Says Manufacturing Up, Housing Markets Still Weak

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla.

We begin with these stories:

Fed Says Manufacturing Up, Housing Markets Still Weak

The most recent Beige Book report from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts says that, on balance, national economic activity continued to rise, albeit at a modest pace, during the reporting period from September to early October. Manufacturing activity continued to expand, with production and new orders rising across most Districts. Housing markets however remained weak and suggested overall home sales were sluggish or declining and were below year-ago levels. There were scattered reports of some improvement in home sales in a few districts, however. Philadelphia noted an increase in sales of existing homes, and Richmond, Kansas City, and Dallas reported upticks in sales of higher-priced homes. Home inventories were elevated or rising according to most district reports. Home prices were generally stable since the last report, although Kansas City noted a decrease in prices, and New York and Minneapolis reported declines in some metros. Homebuilders in the Atlanta District reported downward price pressure and expressed concern about rising foreclosures and bank-owned properties coming to market. Single-family construction activity was at very low levels, but had improved somewhat in the Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City districts. Atlanta reported a softening of construction activity overall, and Minneapolis said single-family building activity was mixed across metros. Builders in the Dallas District said they had pulled back on starts considerably after the run-up earlier in the year. Respondents’ outlooks suggested sales and construction would remain subdued through year-end.

NY Lawyers Required to Sign Off on Foreclosures

Reuters reported Wednesday that New York courts are the first in the United States to require lawyers handling foreclosures for banks and servicers to sign a form verifying the procedure has been done properly. Lawyers representing plaintiffs in residential foreclosure actions must now submit affirmations that they took “reasonable” steps to verify the accuracy of the underlying documents. Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, told the reporters nearly 80,000 foreclosure actions are pending in the state’s courts. The White House also warned it would hold lenders accountable for illegal foreclosure practices.

Small House Trend Could Benefit MH Industry

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says a new look at housing starts based on data from the Census Bureau finds that single-family homes in the U.S. continued to get smaller last year, and the downward trend is likely to last significantly beyond the end of the recession. From a peak of 2,268 square feet in 2006, the median size of new single-family homes dropped consistently through last year, when the size was down to an even 2,100. “A new housing market is emerging, and even with the recession in the rear view mirror, we expect the popularity of smaller homes to persist,” said Bob Jones, chairman of NAHB and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Some of the factors the group attributes to the size decline is keeping energy costs down and the growing presence of first-time buyers, both arenas that make manufactured housing competitive.

Manufactured Homes in the News

Monster Houses Languish, Manufactured Homes Move

From Washington State The Wenatchee World says high-priced homes are languishing on the market while manufactured home sales increase. Homes priced at $600,000 and higher there were selling so slowly in September that Pacific Appraisal Associates estimate it could take up to seven years to exhaust the current inventory at the present sales rate. Even homes priced at $200,000 to $350,000 could take up to a year or more to sell. Also of note, for the year, manufactured and mobile home sales there have risen 29 percent, from 45 in 2009 to 58 this year. Compared to 2009, listings for both types of homes rose 25 percent in September.

“More News continues…”

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by:

Precision Capital Funding, on the Web at CaptiveFinance.net. Precision Capital Funding earned the MHI 2010 Service Supplier of the Year Award.

For more information, email Kenneth Rishel at kennethrishel@captivefinance.net or call 217-971-3968.

Now, back to our stories.

PA Rent Increases Restricted

From Landsdale, Pennsylvania and The Reporter we learn that legislation intended to eliminate unreasonable and unexpected increases in lot rents for people living in manufactured housing communities got through both houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. According to the report, State Reps. Rick Taylor, D-151st, and Kate Harper, R-61st , both say H.B. 2212 will help current residents by slowing down future ground rent increases. Under the new law, manufactured home community owners would be required to provide potential lessees with a disclosure that includes information about how and when rent can be increased, a three-year history of the rental rate for the tenant’s lot and information regarding utility fees and community facilities, rules and regulations, according to a release from Taylor’s office. The law also allows tenants 60 days to decide to renew their lease if a rent increase is planned.

Manufactured Home In, Zoning Official Out

From New York the Watertown Daily Times reports that a zoning officer’s contract will not be renewed on account of a manufactured home approval. Theresa town zoning officer Richard S. Soluri allowed a family to put up a manufactured home when the zoning law allows modular, but not manufactured, homes. The furor came not from opposition to the manufactured home but because other residents had been denied the same variance, according to local television station WWNY. Instead of replacing the zoning officer, we could suggest the town of Theresa listen to its residents and take a look at changing its zoning laws.

Factory-built Housing in the News

Builder Blu Adds Modular Home Pioneer Michael Harris to Board

Green-home builder Blu Homes announced this week the company has hired Michael Harris as a consultant and appointed him to its board of advisors. Harris has been a career-long innovator in the modular housing industry. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of Lindal Cedar Homes since 2006. Prior to that, Harris was President and CEO of Deck House, Inc. of Acton, Mass. where he worked for 31 years.

With a focus on energy-efficiency, Blu Homes allows customers to choose a home model and customize it with roofing, cladding, finishes, fixtures and accessories.

In Market News…

Dow Roars, MH Value Sputters

News from the Federal Reserve of modest economic growth sent stock prices roaring upward Wednesday. In its report just one month ago the Fed had described the economy as decelerating. Meanwhile on the whole, activity on manufactured housing and related stocks was sputtering. The day saw relatively strong performance from UMH Properties, Sun Communities, Equity Lifestyle Properties and Cavco, but others including Palm Harbor Homes Inc and Universal Forest Products closed lower. The manufactured housing composite value ended the day lower by more than one percent. The Dow closed up by about as much.

On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor L.A. Tony Kovach, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, INdustry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla. Gday!

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