Right-of-center Breitbart observed that “Millions of Americans are unemployed. The economy is struggling to recover from the sharpest contraction in history. Coronavirus infection rates are rising. And the housing market is experiencing an unexpected boom, pushing homebuilder confidence to record highs month after month.”
The tweet below should be hopeful news for the independent minded and keen observers of manufactured housing.
Highlight: “In the wake of the pandemic, … the notion of owning a home in the suburbs, the exurbs, and even in rural areas is really taking off with the American consumer,” @NAHBhome CEO Jerry Howard says on the housing outlook. Full interview: pic.twitter.com/DGIhStYgQY
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) October 19, 2020
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported on 10.19.2020 the following on their NAHB Now blog.
“In a further show of strength for the housing sector, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased two points to 85 in October, further surpassing the previous all-time high of 83 recorded in September, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. These are the first two months the index has ever been above 80.
“Traffic remains high and record-low interest rates are keeping demand strong as the concept of ‘home’ has taken on renewed importance for work, study and other purposes in this Covid-era,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “However, it is becoming increasingly challenging to build affordable homes as shortages of lots, labor, lumber and other key building materials are lengthening construction times.”
“The housing market continues to be a bright spot for the economy, supported by increased buyer interest in the suburbs, exurbs and small towns,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “NAHB analysis published last week showed that new single-family home sales are outpacing starts by a historic margin. Bridging this gap will require either a gain in construction volume or reductions in available inventory, which is already at a historic low in terms of months’ supply.”
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 35 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
All the HMI indices posted or matched their highest readings ever in October. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions rose two points to 90, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months increased three points to 88 and the measure charting traffic of prospective buyers held steady at 74.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast increased six points to 82, the Midwest increased three points to 75, the South rose three points to 82 and the West increased five points to 90.”
The graphic above is per Calculated Risk, based on NAHB data.
Additional Information, MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
Properly understood, the comments by NAHB CEO Jerry Howard should be seen as reasons why manufactured housing could be poised for a boom.
NAHB CEO Jerry Howard was on Fox Business today discussing the record level of home builder confidence in the Housing Market Index (#HMI) and forecasting the outlook for #homebuilding and #realestate in general: https://t.co/gNlDMwJC9q
— NAHB (@NAHBhome) October 19, 2020
But is the HUD Code side of the affordable housing industry in fact soaring, as are conventional housing despite their challenges and ever-rising cost barriers?
The View from Arlington…
While far more costly conventional housing is roaring back, manufactured housing – while recovering from the shutdowns and various limitations that have been caused by the COVID19 economic turmoil starting earlier this year – has been muted.
The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) began touting in the later part of 2018 that the industry had “momentum.” But the evolving facts revealed that the industry was going into a year-over-year decline in shipments during an affordable housing crisis. What kind of momentum is that?
Instead of dealing with the data or focusing on pro-manufactured housing laws that have gone largely thwarted for some 12 to 20 years respectively, the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has arguably pulled yet another “razzle dazzle” rabbit out of their proverbial hat.
The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 is some 20 years since its enactment. MHI’s own affiliate member Mary Gaiski made it plain to mainstream media that the challenges to the industry’s advancement are worse now, not better.
MHI had to admit at the end of 2019, that shipments were in decline.
Note the effort at spin on the above from the Arlington, based trade group?
Since then, for those who carefully observe MHI and their messaging, where has their reporting been on new home production and shipment data? Why has that been downplayed at MHI?
By contrast, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has continued to produce production and shipment data on a monthly basis.
As Washington, D.C. based MHARR points out, they are an independent producers trade group. It is MHI that routinely makes the claim that they reflect the views of “all segments” of manufactured housing. Meaning, they claim to represent both production and post-production interests.
It is the post-production side of the industry that sells the new HUD Code homes or buys them to go into land-lease manufactured home communities. Thus the logical conclusion is that despite photo ops, videos or letters to Congress, the White House, or Trump Administration officials, the net result after some 3½ years of regulatory relief, manufactured housing lagged and dragged behind other segments of the U.S. economy.
MHI member Legacy Housing’s Chairman Curt Hodgson made a similar point to Mary Gaiski’s quote noted above in his remarks to investors.
There is no clearer indicator than the facts objectively reviewed. While HUD Secretary Ben Carson has made numerous pro-manufactured housing related comments in the past few years, why are those comments routinely missing or obscured on MHI’s own website? Where are the MHI press releases, the post-production campaigns to the general public? Put differently, as the classic Wendy’s commercial framed it — where is the beef?
Where are the measurable results from Arlington, Knoxville, Omaha, or other headquarters of various manufactured housing industry oligarchs and plutocrats?
One more data point from the NAHB. Lumber prices are reportedly declining. Before MHI claims to have caused that through their advocacy, and informed industry members risk harming themselves from falling on the floor and laughing themselves to death, the NAHB graphic below is useful.
While MHI is working with their self-touted “coalition” of rental housing and other advocates who are pushing for protections for renters and rental housing providers, why haven’t they been working along side MHARR to get the full and proper implementation of the MHIA 2000 or the DTS?
The powers that be at MHI can run, duck, posture, prance, or hide.
But the facts viewed dispassionately speak. Conventional housing is rising. Why are manufactured homes in year two of a year-over-year decline?
For those who want or need:
- more than the facts,
- or those who want to look beyond the hype from Arlington, Omaha, Knoxville or elsewhere,
- for those keen for professional analysis of the facts that makes sense, on the trade publishing side, there is always MHProNews.
- As we move into our 12th year of publishing, count on MHProNews to tell it like it is, based on evidence, the money trail and the key question, cui bono? Who benefits from the status quo?
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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.
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