The Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) faces several ongoing problems. One of them is that they are routinely being contradicted by their own statements or that of some of their publicly traded firm. Legacy Housing Corp (LEGH) is arguably an example of that credibility challenge.
By contrast, the thesis advanced here on MHProNews in recent years that the manufactured housing industry is being thwarted from within is being validated by a proper analysis of those Legacy leadership statements.
The examples that follow are based upon Legacy’s recently reported investor relations call transcript provided by Motley Fool transcribers and is published at this link here.
Part 1) Quotes from Legacy Housing Investor Call
As industry professionals know, the Arlington amen corner of the industry has touted their success in representing the interests of the industry. A video made produced for the MHI that touted their accomplishments was recently quietly removed, perhaps due in part to the fact checks done by MHProNews that contradicted their bold claims of “momentum.” As the screen capture further below documents, that same video bragged about their media engagement program and the supposedly millions of Americans that had been exposed to their messaging. Part of the problem that objective thinkers had, of course, is that parade of claimed effort, the HUD Code manufactured home industry’s production and shipments in 2019 went down during an affordable housing crisis.
The quotes that follow are not necessarily in the order that it was stated during the investor call. A prior comment by Legacy’s Curt Hodgson – the second one below – was added. These comments that belie posturing about industry momentum or MHI’s self-proclaimed effectiveness will be followed by an MHProNews analysis and commentary.
Part 2) How Legacy’s Housing Leadership’s Comments Undermines MHI Claims
Let’s note that while we are quoting Legacy, their leadership team may or may not value our use of their pull quotes in this fashion. Put differently, we aren’t speaking for them, but MHProNews is accurately citing their remarks. That disclaimer said, the point isn’t that Hodgson or Legacy intended to undermine MHI’s claims. They may not have been thinking about MHI at all as they made the statements cited above. But that very point is makes their remarks all the more significant.
MHI claims to be working on several issues that include barriers for placement. If so, where MHI’s proof of their self-claimed success on these issues? As Hodgson said, Legacy’s leadership has stressed for some time that locating a place to put a home is a serious hurdle for manufactured housing independent ‘street retailers.’ That challenge that independents and company-owned stores alike face clearly makes MHI and their surrogates claims of effectiveness look weak if not silly, foolish or outrageously false. But in fairness to the MHI affiliate and de facto surrogate’s comment cited below, our sources tell us that Tim Williams was ‘pushed’ into the statement by those connected with MHI. See a more detailed report on Williams and his comments made on MHI’s behalf at this link here.
Part of what makes Williams’ ‘defense’ of MHI CEO Lesli Gooch’s “superb” leadership so obviously weak is that it placed Williams in the uncomfortable spot of contradicting his own years of praise of MHProNews and the objectivity, fairness and accuracy of our publication. One example is shown below of many that could be produced.
Several manufactured housing associations which are deemed by MHI to be “affiliates” have provided comments to MHProNews and/or our public-facing MHLivingNews sister site in part because they knew their comments would be treated fairly and accurately. Recall the comment by North Carolina’s state association staff leader Brad Lovin that echoes a point made by Williams above.
During a time-frame that MHI stood mute on a range of issues, MHProNews and MHLivingNews stood in the breach, while some of MHI’s own members ripped the organization for their problematic behavior that often fueled problems.
It was only after years of such steady efforts that MHI hired a communications professional that is supposedly defending and promoting the industry’s interests. Oddly, since that MHI communications role was restarted and filled by Patti Boerger, she has come and quietly gone – and was quietly replaced. Just one more example of what some observe to be the revolving door at MHI.
Two more public quotes by third-parties reflect the notion that Legacy’s leaderships factual statements are hardly new. As the second reference below indicates, MHI lost state associations who broke away in 2018 citing their lack of effectiveness.
Legacy’s statements about headwinds and the need to fight for market share are supported by what Zillow Group’s research manager told MHProNews recently. The highlighting was added to reflect the status of manufactured housing in the broader housing mix.
Zillow’s prior reports had an element that was useful to this discussion of MHI’s effectiveness because their research sought comments from home buyers about what housing types they were considering and then what housing type they actually purchased. During the same timeframe that MHI proudly proclaimed the millions they had touched through their marketing efforts – the reasons they said the industry had “momentum” in their self-promotion video. As predicted, that MHI self-promotional video has now vanished from their home page.
The solution to these issues are well known and to a great extent are already in the industry’s hands. It was MHI’s then chairman and 21st Mortgage Corporation president Tim Williams who said that there is a good argument to be made for debunking every mistaken claim made by other media. That logic stands in stark contrast to the point that MHI has repeatedly not done what their own chairman said made sense.
Furthermore, the easing or regulatory barriers or obtaining more financing are also in principle reasonably easy to accomplish. How so? Because the answer is to enforce existing laws. MHI is aware of these laws, used to support their enforcement and on paper, and they still claim to want them enforced.
Posturing or claiming a desire for something isn’t the same as performance. MHI award winner Marty Lavin made that point plain in the previously cited quotation below.
If MHI’s leadership actually wanted to get more financing from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then why did they promote the creation of a new class of homes instead of insisting that the Duty to Serve should have been properly understood to be demanded by law as supporting lending on all HUD Code manufactured homes. MHI rival trade group, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) made that point plain in two quotes.
FHFA website underscores Weiss’ point conceptually.
Given the law and the clear need for more financing options, how can MHI leaders or their surrogates say with a straight face that they are effective or “superb?” Enforcing the law should be the steady demand by MHI. If FHFA and the GSEs fail to enforce the law, then MHI should logically join MHARR and others in calling for Congressional oversight hearings and other investigations.
Furthermore, to the points obliquely raised by Legacy Housing or others about placement barriers. If MHI really wanted the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) to be fully enforced and to have the”enhanced preemption” provision of the law to be widely known and fully enforced, then why don’t those words even appear on their website?
Keep in mind, they once MHI did have “enhanced preemption” documentation on their website. They did so noting engagement with MHARR. This next document was, per an insider source, found on their website for some time. But since the Berkshire era began, that document was either removed or is now hidden behind a firewall.
It’s clear that MHI has easy access to HUD, FHFA leadership or that of key lawmakers.
Those facts and realities begs these questions.
- Given their self-proclaimed “clout” and the access that their photo opportunities demonstrate, why have MHI leaders failed to get enhanced preemption fully enforced by MHI?
- If they are so good – so “superb” – why have they failed to get DTS and enhanced preemption to be fully enforced?
- Those twin failures to get existing laws fully enforced are harming independent retailers. Who says so? That’s obvious from shipment data and it also implied by Legacy Housing comments, cited above.
- Keep in mind that the Modular Home Builders Association has recently jumped in with their own concerns about “dishonest” behavior by MHI, which they argued is undermining the value of existing manufactured homes.
There is either inept or corrupt behavior that has been occurring in manufactured housing for some years.
To go deeper on the growing track record of related issues that have arguably been keeping manufactured housing underperforming during an affordable housing crisis, see the timely reports further below. That’s it for this report on manufactured housing “Industry News Tips and Views Pros Can Use“ © – MHVille’s runaway #1 news source, where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary.) Notice: all third party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a co-founder and managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
There is more than enough evidence that there is corruption, deceptive trade practices and other arguably illegal activities that are benefiting a few to the harm of the many. See the related articles below.
The bad news is that the opposition to ethical ‘white hat’ businesses, investors and other professionals have deep pockets and they are politically connected. But the good news is that Bernie Madoff could have once made that similar claim. Today, Madoff sits in a federal cell. It took persistence on the part of a few professionals with federal officials to finally topple Madoff’s multi-billion dollar empire.
David Dworkin, National Housing Conference, Compared and Contrasted with Lesli Gooch, Manufactured Housing Institute on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Proposed Modifications to FHFA on Duty to Serve Finance Plans