From time to time, it is healthy to have a conversation about the best way we can move forward in a changing world, and in doing so, think through some potential long term goals and aspirations. If we do not at least have those conversations and think these sorts of ideas through, then we are guaranteed that nothing changes.
What follows are simply conversation starters based on my personal observations, no more and no less. They represent no more than my own thoughts.
To quote the American political philosopher, Robert Nozick, “My thoughts do not aim for your assent – just place them alongside your own reflections for a while.” In that spirit, I would offer the following ideas for our industry in Virginia:
Elimination of titles for manufactured homes — While we have been quite successful in cleaning up titling in Virginia, we should have a conversation about the continued long-term need for titles for manufactured homes. We sell homes, not cars, and as such, we should think about how to find a way to convey ownership and perfect personal property security interests in a way that reflects that fact, and in doing so, simplify the process for manufactured homes that are sold as real property. To be sure, doing this would require a viable alternative method of securing personal property interests in manufactured homes. Without such an alternative, elimination of vehicle titles for manufactured homes cannot happen.
Elimination of zoning discrimination against manufactured housing — We need to think about ways to eliminate zoning discrimination against manufactured housing in Virginia. A home is a home.
Being clear about what makes us who we are — We need to be clear that we are simply a mode of construction, just like our site-built friends and our colleagues in the apartment industry. Things beyond that distinction do not define us, and we should not let them. We are not a niche or boutique industry. We are no different than our site-built friends. We are not better, nor are we worse. We build homes, many times in a more efficient manner than many of our competitors. We sell those homes. We lease those homes and the land they are on. That is no more and no less than anyone else in the housing industry.
Embracing our diversity — We should embrace the diversity that characterizes various forms of factory built housing, and in doing so, make sure that we do not allow regulators and others to play us all off against one another. We all should support equity in zoning (a home is a home); all of our homes are well-built. We should, however, also be open about the various styles of construction and what distinguishes them.
Positioning ourselves for a changing development patterns — We should have a conversation about how we position ourselves in a nation that is becoming more urban and suburban and less rural with each passing day. For example, one trend in redevelopment is the use of mixed -use, mixed-income planned unit developments. Our homes (both manufactured and modular) offer the perfect solution for a number of the residential components of these types of neighborhoods at a cost per-square-foot and at a level of quality that allows us to compete favorably with our site-built competitors. But we need to make sure we have the right regulatory and marketing framework in place.
Again, these are just conversation starters. Nothing more. Nothing less. As always, I welcome your thoughts. ##
By Tyler Craddock, Executive Director, VAMMA.
(Editor's note: while this first appeared in VAMMA's publication, the suggestion was made that this has value well beyond their borders. Conversations are needed in the industry, this has some important topics to consider! Published here with Tyler's expressed permission.)