Like many others, I attended the 2014 National Congress & Expo two weeks ago in Las Vegas. I also chose to attend the National Communities Council Spring Forum held all day Tuesday prior to the opening reception. There were some exceptional programs! The attendance was very high according to reports from MHI. While there was an eye brow-raiser (or two…) on the agenda, off-agenda items that were pretty interesting and overall the Spring NCC Forum and MHI's Congress and Expo featured seminars with speakers focused on current industry topics and issues. Numerous vendors on hand shared their services, displayed their products and provided opportunities for deal making.
What should not come as a surprise was the number of new individuals who attended the Congress.
Many professionals from all facets of the housing, finance and investment sectors were on hand to listen and learn about the manufactured housing industry. This is another great indication on the positive future for the industry.
Today, there is something in the neighborhood of Two (2) Billion Dollars chasing the manufactured housing industry! That's Billion with a capital B!
Those dollars may or may not be invested in our sector; only time will tell. What we need to realize is that there is capital willing to invest and grow in manufactured housing. With new capital much can change, improve and set the stage for a brighter future of the industry.
Yet, even with the large amount of new capital looking to invest in the industry, manufactured housing will still be a very small piece of the roughly One (1) Trillion Dollar annual U.S. housing market.
The questions I continue to ponder are;
what can we do to grow the manufactured housing industry’s share of the overall housing industry?
How do we get to the root of the obstacles that continue to impede the MH Industry’s growth?
Flying home after Congress and Expo, those nagging questions bugged me. Below is a thought that came to mind that may provide a profitable starting point.
Why not host an – August 2014? – organizational networking/deal making opportunity event that is Trans-Associational?
Why not consider a location near a fine newer MHC property that breaks the stereotypes – such as Saddlebrook Farms in Grayslake, IL – where the potential for new development could better be understood by those who only know the 1 or 2 star MH properties? Would love to hear suggestions on other possible sites that fill the bill.
That property would also feature great looking, residential style product that is ground set, so this would shatter the 'mobile home' image for potential investors who only know the entry level product.
As you can see, I am not suggesting replacing any current event, such as the upcoming MHI annual meeting, NCC Fall Leadership Forum or other association or industry functions.
Rather I am suggesting something totally fresh and different.
Let’s bring the stakeholders and potential investors to the table at the same time with professional facilitation and the opportunity to participate.
The focus of the meeting would be how to get those multi-billions moving ahead, as well as advance the MH Industry as a larger and viable part of the overall housing market.
What makes this concept different than other current programs is that interested parties are invited regardless of current relationship issues or biases. Bringing goal and solution oriented individuals from differing backgrounds, all committed to growing the manufactured housing industry could be groundbreaking.
Please do not misunderstand; while I'd like to be involved, I am not volunteering to take the lead in this event due to my current business obligations. I am putting the idea out in this public forum for discussion.
The way this gets done is for
commercial real estate brokers and appraisers,
commercial RE lenders and brokers,
MH finance companies (personal property and Mortgage lenders),
Any – or all – HUD Code manufactured housing and modular builders,
Suppliers and other service vendors
to pay for the costs of the meeting, mixers and main meals.
Pick a place that is nice clean convention location, and keep the entry fee really low.
Let's put an asterisks next to this one. What if we make it easy for the hundreds (or thousands?) of owners of MHCs who are looking to exit due to age, health or other reasons to come at a pre-event day to discuss their properties face to face with those who may want to buy them?
Might this be a good way to facilitate the capture of more of that circling capital which would also facilitate the improvement of languishing communities and the sales of more homes in them?
There also ought to be an ability for the event organizers to bar this or that person or group at will, so that the Ishbel Dickens/NMHOA or Industry naysayers don't get in. That keeps this focused on business and solutions.
Just think about the number of organizations who would want to take part in an event of this nature. Here are a few who I believe would join the effort.
There probably are others who should be included on this list. These are the organizations that came to my mind while thinking about who the stakeholders are in the future of the MH Industry.
One more critical point. Let's tackle the creation of a vibrant, efficient resale market for manufactured homes. This is absolutely critical for the future of our industry, the benefit of our residents and lenders as well as our homes' broader acceptance.
By being trans-associational, this could also prove to be fertile ground for meeting with and recruiting new members.
As to a target date, based on the interest being shown about the industry, sometime in the near term would be better than delaying. By doing it in the summer, a successful meeting could position the 2015 trade shows for dovetailing with this concept.
The location must be close to a major airport so that there is easy access to the event. As noted, having some newer and older MH communities nearby would be beneficial so that participants can take a charter actually view the new homes and better understand the true breadth of the MH product and variety of community lifestyles.
I believe that an event like this will assist in not only promoting the Manufactured Housing Industry but also could be a catalyst for additional new capital investment and future financing opportunities.
We must not lose sight of a key goal of the meeting; how to advance the MH Industry as a larger and viable part of the overall housing market.
Please feel free to comment below or email me with your thoughts. The future of the MH Industry is ours to create. ##
Rick Rand is the president of Great Value Homes, and has been involved in small and large scale MHC operations. You can contact him at:
Richard J. Rand, President, Great Value Homes, Inc.. 9458 N. Fairway Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53217-1321,