“Correction: George McCarthy, president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, said parks containing about a fifth of mobile home lots nationwide have been purchased by institutional investors over the past eight years. That statistic was incorrect in an earlier version of this Associated Press article.” So said CNBC at the end of their version of the Associated Press (AP) article linked here. That was an entirely appropriate way of disclosing a factual error and correcting the record on that 7.25.2022 mistakenly published fact-error. MHProNews reached out to George W. “Mac” McCarthy at the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy on Jul 25, 2022, 3:33 PM about concerns on how some manufactured home data was being conveyed that had cited him and Lincoln Institute as the source.
That emailed outreach read as follows.
George and Will,
We are the largest and most read trade media serving the manufactured home industry’s professionals. As you may or may not know, CNBC and others in mainstream media have made the following statement today or recently, citing you.
The paragraph in question (errantly) states: ” George McCarthy, president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, said about a fifth of mobile home parks, or around 800,000, have been purchased in the past eight years by institutional investors.”
As I suspect you would realize, there aren’t 800,000 manufactured home communities in the entire U.S. The actual count is more like 45,000, by what we believe are the better estimates.
One, please advise if your organization plans to reach out to these media outlets to correct the error?
Also, what Lincoln Land document are the referring to, please? If you’d provide that PDF, we’d be interested in reviewing it.
For our own clarity on the CNBC cited statement, did you perhaps indicate somewhere that 800,000 manufactured home sites changed hands?
We will likely report on this topic in the near future, and an emailed reply is preferred for our mutual accuracy and clarity.
Please advise, thank you.
Tony …[for MHProNews] ##
In about 7 minutes, McCarthy sent the following reply.
Yes, we caught the error and had already pointed it out to the AP reporter who misquoted it, before it went to press. We are well aware that there are not 800,000 parks in the country. I’m not sure who picked up the story on CNBC, but we will try to clear that up as well.
I’m not sure which report you are referring to. Please let us know and we will send what we have.
President and CEO
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy …##
At 4:07 PM, this email was sent to the Lincoln Institute’s president and media contact.
Thank you for the swift response. Our interest would be in whatever report AP, CNBC, and others who have used that same phrasing might be referring to from you? Did they merely misunderstand some statement you made, or where they referring to a report by you/Lincoln Land on manufactured home communities and private equity?
Please let me know if you’d like that prior email quoted, or if you’d rather provide a different (e.g: refined) statement for our planned reporting purposes.
Thanks again for the prompt reply.
McCarthy sent this reply at 4.36 PM on 7.25.2022.
We have been tracking purchases of MH communities by various investors for years with our partner ROC USA through reports from investment houses like JLL and SeekingAlpha. The 800,000 site estimate comes from accumulating annual estimates from 2015-2021. Based on our review of the various investor reports, private equity purchased around 550k sites and REITs purchased around 250k sites. The volume of purchases financed by Freddie Mac came directly from their Duty to Serve report submitted to the FHFA. The AP mis-quote came directly from me in a telephone interview. We attempted to correct it twice with the reporter before he went to press, but somehow it slipped through the cracks at AP. CNBC drew the quote directly from the AP. We already have reached out to the AP (again!) and we’re trying to get to CNBC to correct the error.
Hope this helps.
At 4:41 PM, the following email was sent to McCarthy.
Fantastic, well stated, and appreciated.
As a follow up, what are you using as the base data-point for the number of land-lease community sites? We’ve seen the number 4.3 million total nationally, how does that compare with your data?
Doing the math, that works out to be about 95.6 sites average per community if there are 45,000 MHCs of all sizes nationally.
LMK, and again, value the prompt and specific replies. If you have a preferred photo you’d like used with your quote, kindly send or have a colleague send.
At 4:54 PM on 7.25.2022 was this.
Yes, I’ve seen the 4.4M number thrown around. I think it is a little high. We are going to try to get a better estimate, but that is the one we’re using. Also, we’ve got an estimate of 46,500 parks which would put the average size a little lower. This is a number that we are now in the process of estimating ourselves.
WR the picture, perhaps Will has something on hand. I’m at home today, so I don’t have access to photos.
That professional exchange reflects how such errors could ideally be dealt with by mainstream media, bloggers, commentators, and others. McCarthy and his colleague made the necessary outreach to CNBC and AP to get the corrections made. Once they did so, CNBC modified their report and then provided the disclaimer noted at the top that acknowledged the corrected error.
The headline and toplines from the AP-CNBC version of the report said the following.
Rents spike as big-pocketed investors buy mobile home parks
- Mobile home residents are facing increased rents as institutional investors buy up their parks.
- Residents of Ridgeview Homes in upstate New York have started a rent strike.
- These residents have seen 6% increase in rent, while living conditions stay stagnant or worsen. …”
The AP/CNBC report is one of scores of such local, regional, and national news items in 2022 alone that spotlight this ongoing black eye topic for the manufactured housing industry. Beyond the press for national legislation to supposedly correct what’s going wrong in the manufactured home community space – and beyond.
It is not per se the job of manufactured housing trade media to make the effort for such factual corrections by third parties. In the ideal, trade publishers should strive to utilize the correct information themselves. They should also seek to use the proper terminology, which has for decades has been a thorny issue for the manufactured housing industry.
That facts and terminology are a problem has been acknowledged by no less a figure than Gary Shiffman, President and CEO of Sun Communities. During an earnings call, he acknowledged that there is “no national repository of [reliable] information” and a “scarcity” of available manufactured home communities.
That is per the head of a firm who has a company official on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) board of directors.
Theoretically, the effort to correct the record on factually inaccurate reports ought to fall to a good post-production trade association. While MHI has its defenders among their reportedly ‘over 1000’ member firms, a closer look reveals that hundreds of those members are actually count each individual Clayton Homes retail store as a separate member. Merely counting those locations as part of one company (which is the reality of the matter) could cut the number of MHI member firms down to around 700. MHProNews was the first, and perhaps still only, trade media that exposed this member-company tally slight-of-hand.
Tim Williams, long a prominent member of MHI and the President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage, and a former MHI chairman made a commentary and commitment to MHProNews that included the following points.
“I understand the argument that we must work harder to tell our story and emphasize the advantages of manufactured homes. We have a good product and a good story to tell. We don’t need to tell it to people with an agenda who will only tell half the story. MHI has been focused on communicating positive messages about manufactured housing’s benefit. We are targeting media sources that will give us a fair hearing and policymakers in Washington.
This effort to drown out the negative media attention has been steadily increasing and we are pleased to have so many members willing to highlight the positive message of manufactured housing in this effort. We believe this is the right approach for the industry.”
Williams also made these points in that same exclusive message to MHProNews.
“…MHI President/CEO Dick Jennison is in the process of hiring a seasoned media relations professional.”
“It is the intent of MHI to broaden its public relations/communications focus to include positive consumer stories including testimonials on why people choose to live in and how they benefit from manufactured homes and living in our communities.”
The full commentary by Williams is found on the MHProNews Industry Voices blog at this link here.
The evidence and implications in the full context of Williams’ remarks included these points:
- MHI realized that there is a problem with inaccurate reporting by mainstream media.
- When MHI hired a media relations person, that said professional would make outreaches to media and others that misstate the record on manufactured housing.
- MHI would work to “drown out” the negative news with positive news.
How has MHI performed on this published commitment? See the reports for the week that was in MHVille as a partial answer. For another means of reflecting on the evidence of how the effort has gone see the screen capture from 9.10.2022 of Google news results shown below.
See also the post-script following our weekly headline recap to learn still more.
With no further adieu, here are the headlines for the week that was from 9.4 to 9.11.2022.
What’s New and Recent on MHLivingNews
What’s New and Recent from Washington, D.C. from MHARR
What’s New and Recent on the Masthead
What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews
21st’s Williams was quite correct in saying that manufactured housing has a good story to tell. His stated goal of promoting that good story of manufactured housing via MHI was a worthwhile and commonsense ambition.
But what has been the reality?
MHProNews has from time to time during the last 3 years checked with an author or publication to see if anyone on behalf of MHI had reached out to them about errors in their column or report. As of this writing, not a single instance of MHI making such an outreach has been identified. While this may be a luck of the draw, this example from McCarthy reveals that when a source contacts a media or writer, there are times when the publication will make the requested changes.
Perhaps the most dramatic such change in recent years occurred when MHProNews reached out to Scholastica “Gay” Cororaton regarding errors in a research report under her byline. To their credit, not only did the Cororaton make each and every requested correction, the National Association of Realtors Journal of Real Estate Studies pulled the factually inaccurate version of that report and replaced it with the corrected version. Then, Cororaton acknowledged in the first footnote the efforts of this writer and MHARR’s President and CEO Mark Weiss in making those factually required changes.
The Roper Report, commissioned by MHI, was supposed to lead to a long-awaited manufactured housing industry image campaign.
“Catastrophic” “Expensive Dog Food” “Least Liked Industry…Ever Studied” Joanne Stevens, Warren Buffett, Marty Lavin, Roper Report – Years of Costly Manufactured Housing Institute “Failures”-Facts & Analysis
“Unleashing Potential Sales,” “Perception is Reality” “Savage Report” Good & Bad for Manufactured Housing Institute, MHI’s Roper Report, AARP, Marty Lavin Strike Again – plus Manufactured Housing Stock Updates
“We Need a National Campaign Now” – WV Housing Institute (WVHI) Leaders said to Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Celebrate Defeat of Anti-MH Zoning Initiative too; plus Manufactured Housing Market Updates
But instead, the Roper Report ended up as but one more item in a veritable sea of problematic ‘news’ about manufactured housing. It is as Williams framed it, as cited above,
“This effort to drown out the negative media attention has been steadily increasing and we are pleased to have so many members willing to highlight the positive message of manufactured housing in this effort. We believe this is the right approach for the industry,” – Tim Williams/21st for MHI. That sounds akin to what pro-MHI member Darren Krolewski mused on that topic, which is that there is more bad news that seems to drown out the good news. The Saturday Daily Business News on MHProNews report linked above and here provides additional evidence that the bad news outweighs in the good news in the public mind. See the examples of actual readers comments on that Yahoo Finance post about manufactured housing. The negative takes seem to dramatically outweigh the more positive or neutral ones.
Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton said over a decade ago during a video interview that the industry was ready then to do an educational and image campaign.
If so, what happened to that ‘image and education’ campaign that Clayton said was forthcoming?
What is certain is that the Recreational Vehicle (RV) industry has been doing such an educational campaign for well over 2 decades. Their result is that RVs moved from trailing MH shipments by 3 MH to 2 RVs in 1998 to some 4+ RVs to 1 MH in more recent years.
So long as the powers that be in manufactured housing are not held accountable beyond the concerns raised here, by MHARR, or the scant few others in the industry about MHI’s apparently poor follow through on these promises, more of the same is to be expected. But in fairness to MHI, they are not the one organization that says one thing, and then does another. That say one thing but do another pattern seems to be part of federal policy in the last 19 months. The antitrust and other legal concerns are rather well evidenced. To learn more, see the reports linked below. ##
Again, our thanks to free email subscribers and all readers like you, our tipsters/sources, sponsors and God for making and keeping us the runaway number one source for authentic “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.