“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” So said author and newspaper man Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain per GoodReads. In order to grasp the true state of the contemporary manufactured housing industry in August 2021, Twain’s insight should be carefully considered. Clemens, using the pen name of Twain, it was said by those who have studied the man to be a periodic liar. Clemens would stir the pot from time to time with lies, deception, misdirection, and hyperbole. Meaning, Twain knew lying well. That Twain notion of understanding the facts first before distorting reality to the targeted ‘marks’ is revealing. Given that manufactured housing is underperforming, per large Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) corporate members, during an affordable housing crisis begs a dispassionate look at the true causes of that underperformance. Given that MHI and their key leaders often say the right things, but appear to be doing something else requires an objective thinker to at least consider that deception may be involved. Twain’s notion of some having the willingness to distort the facts should be considered as an apparent vantagepoint of some key leaders in high profile manufactured housing leadership positions. There are several reports in among the various headlines for the week that was found below that illustrate those concerns and in several instances make that factual case abundantly clear. Agree, disagree or are somewhere in between about MHI, the possibility of serious deception being deployed by manufactured housing leaders must be considered. After all, several MHI corporate leaders and documents have publicly said that they aim at consolidation of a “fragmented” industry. caused by years of underperformance while posturing a desire for growth must be objectively considered.
But in recent years here on MHProNews – and in this report – facts are used and then tested by evidence and quotations accurately conveyed to illustrate reality. This new infographic collage, using sources inside and outside of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) illustrates that while MHI says one thing officially, there is ample evidence that they are subtly working for the consolidation of the industry. This is despite the fact that they claim to be working for industry growth and for “all segments” of manufactured housing. When MHI’s own members contradict their official claims, that is a red flag. It has, per several sources, legal and ethical considerations.
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Reality is not always politically correct or popular.
Reality and inconvenient truths are especially disliked among those who appear to be bold confidence or “con” men wearing suits, dresses, pantsuits, or pressed shirts.
Though the cons and illegalities were distinctive, Enron, Madoff, WorldCom, and about a dozen other major 21st century scams initially involved people who were well thought of and even praised, often even after the initial allegations against them were made known.
Thus, for those who would avoid the snares of what the evidence suggests are liars and con artists of whatever gender, facts and relevant evidence should not be ignored.
Ignoring the facts and reality can be somewhat like the troubled fellow tripping on drugs or intoxicated who is standing on a ledge or cliff and is deluded into thinking he can fly. Gravity is real, like it or not.
Obviously, thousands upon thousands of daily readers here care about authentic manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © or they wouldn’t come to MHProNews. Friends and foes alike flock to these pages. That’s demonstrated in a report found below too.
The powers that be that keep manufactured housing underperforming during an affordable housing crisis deploy various methods in an attempt to push back, obscure, distract, attack, or otherwise engage in “razzle dazzle.” The razzle dazzle is a con man’s trick. Who says?
The Office of Justice Programs says that the Razzle Dazzle can be used in gambling, but “The basic criminal charge against a Razzle Dazzle operator would be gambling, it may be possible to press others including fraud, false pretense, larceny, or theft by deception.” Illusion and deception are methods to divert the view of thousands of professionals and millions of others from the vexing facts.
Those who mistakenly place their trust in those who spin lies and who fail to routinely look back, look around, and then look ahead based upon solid evidence are therefor risking stepping off a proverbial ledge.
One doesn’t have to agree with Warren Buffett on everything to agree with him on the value that long term thinking, ample time (hours) daily for informative reading, a careful look at history, and his grasping the nature of habits have all proven to be profitable, pragmatic, and therefore useful to him and his business interests. In jest – or is he serious? – Buffett has called Charlie Munger his “partner in crime” says Quora, The Atlantic and other sources.
Sometimes, when someone is bold enough and confident enough to manipulate or lie in an audacious and repetitive manner, not only this or that industry have been impacted to the tune of billions of dollars, but entire nations have been conquered due to the failure of the many from organizing in a timely fashion against the Big Lie.
Reality and the probing, inquisitive and skeptical mind are near the heart of what authentic education and information is about. Who said so? The disruptive agent-of-change Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In order to challenge an existing order, serious change is fundamental.
With the thirst for the truth that sets people free vs. spin, falsehood or fables in mind, let’s get deeper into the headline topics of the true state of the manufactured housing industry by reviewing facts, evidence, and statements from those who claim or ought to know.
At the current pace of sales, HUD Code Manufactured Homes are projected to top 100,000 units produced and shipped before year’s end in 2021. That is a relatively low number, per Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member Cavco Industries own information, which are shown in detail from a report linked further below. Put differently, during a sustained and growing affordable housing crisis, manufactured housing is underperforming historically.
While labor, supply chain, and government intervention relayed issues – think COVID19, mandates, lockdowns, hyperinflation, financing etc. – could impact that projection, as noted 2021 may be the first year in over a decade that over 100,000 HUD Code manufactured homes are built. Again, there is more on that in the Cavco and other reports shown in the headlines for the week below.
Let’s put that HUD Code home production/shipment data into context.
By comparison to 1998, the last high-water mark for manufactured housing, that 100,000 plus HUD Code homes plus barrier is still only going to be about 30 percent (+/-) of the nearly 373,000 manufactured homes (MH) built that year. In 1998, some 4 years before Berkshire got into manufactured housing, MH outsold RVs by a margin of about 3 to 2. Fast forward to 2021. RVs are expected to have a record year, said Sun Communities Gary Shiffman, citing RV industry data. RVs will outpace MH by some 4 to 1 in 2021. Note that the article linked below that cites that data and more is near the top of the most read on MHProNews for August 2021.
Berkshire Hathaway is involved in a major way in the RV industry. RVs are soaring. Manufactured housing is snoring. So why are manufactured homes comparatively dragging while RVs are roaring toward projected record highs?
The answer is simple. The powers that be in manufactured housing like the status quo for their own good reasons. That is the executive summary that independents and others must deal with. Given repeated opportunities to debunk the facts, evidence, or logic of the reports below, MHI, Berkshire Hathaway, and their manufactured housing brands and attorneys have routinely declined. The most recent opportunity was on Thursday 8.26.2021. Confirmation of the inquiries were obtained, but no responses were provided. Thus, a prima facia case exists.
Those powers that be find their national trade association expression in the manufactured home industry via the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
Those statements are obvious and documented in the reports linked among the headlines below.
On paper, to the casual observer, the Arlington, VA based MHI stance on key issues impacting manufactured housing would seem to be quite like their national production focused rival trade group.
- The Washington, D.C. based Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has a fraction of the size and budget of MHI.
- The two trade groups worked together to enact the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 (also called the 2000 reform law).
- After years of fencing on issues that MHARR had been pursuing, new leaders at MHI in the late 1990s pivoted to join forces with MHARR to make the MHIA reality. Insiders say that the modular home builders – among others – might love having a similar law that would be national in scope that preempts and simplifies their construction process. Perhaps. But in practice as longtime MHI member Marty Lavin once observed, the HUD Code has been effectively weaponized in the Berkshire era. The MHIA law that was supposed to give enhanced preemption to overcome local zoning issues has been thwarted. While some of that has been accomplished from beyond the boundaries of manufactured housing, sources and evidence indicate that a healthy dose of the problem is from inside the industry itself.
But posturing is not always reality. Here is how Lavin framed it.
The apparent meaning of that MHVille Lavinism is that despite what the MHIA says, enhanced preemption is largely ignored and has been turned on its head.
As an upcoming planned report will illustrate, MHI has once again apparently failed to weigh in on a post-production local issue. MHI has made no indication that they will attempt to use their self-proclaimed clout to get HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to reverse her stunning on camera statement made in response to a set up question that MHI indicated they are responsible for having asked on video camera as recorded by CSPAN.
Instead of acknowledging the problem, MHI apparently attempted to covered it up by bragged about it as MHI in Action.
“MHI in Action” indeed. Note, to the concerns raised by James A. “Jim” Schmitz and his colleagues, when asked about the on the record comments from Democratic lawmakers quoted below, HUD’s media relations office declined to explain the obvious disconnect.
MHI and their powers that be clearly have the access, capital, and lobbying capabilities. Who says? MHI does and then they strive to prove it through photos, videos, and emails that are full of what former MHI VP and former MHARR CEO Danny Ghorbani called braggadocio.
Is Ghorbani right? Look at the evidence. MHI talks a big talk. Yet, the de facto admit that they have failed to advance existing federal laws for some 13 to 21 years respectively after they were enacted.
How else is that explained other than as the status quo is the authentic desire of MHI’s dominant brands?
Those statements, claimed facts, and trends stated above have been abundantly exemplified in recent reports published exclusively on MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister site.
Among those reports is perhaps the most definitive collection of references ever on the topics of zoning, placement, and financing. It is the Samuel Strommen Knudson Law report linked among the headlines for the week that was, found further below. It is no surprise that the fresh Strommen report is surging in readership on MHLivingNews.
Strommen’s factual and evidence-based case for the “Monopolization of American Manufactured Housing” is presented in full via the link below. Strommen’s claims are then tested against the counter arguments advanced by MHI surrogates.
Additionally, Strommen’s arguments are further examined in the light of statements by Berkshire manufactured housing units leaders such as Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams (21st Mortgage Corp), and Warren Buffett himself.
For years, an ever-more-apparent head fake via MHI and their dominant brands has been made plain. It is so apparent that an MHI corporate insider dared tell MHProNews that unless MHI starts actually doing what they claim to be posturing, another downturn is looming in the near future.
Imagine. Picture another manufactured housing downturn while a growing affordable housing crisis rages.
Another downturn is ahead while MHI’s home page still features their much ballyhooed but self-evidently failed CrossMods initiative.
The truth has been hiding in plain sight for years. MHI, along with their outside attorney, have claimed to be working for all segments of the industry. But once the rhetoric is brushed aside long enough to compare it to the facts, trends, and internal contradictions, an entirely different picture emerges.
If not for MHARR acting as a counterweight, and the reports on MHProNews and MHLivingNews that keeps an eye on reality vs monopolistic corporate mendacity, the industry might already be just 3 producers – if that – when there were dozens of different manufactured home producing brands just 2 short decades ago.
The HUD Code home industry suffers from three intertwined issues. They are as follows, in no specific order of importance.
1) Education/Perception/Marketing. Kevin Clayton said about a decade ago that “the industry” – often an MHI insider’s euphemism for MHI – was ready for a national campaign.
Kevin was arguably correct in those observations. But in hindsight, he apparently had no intention of carrying it out. The proof is found in what’s actually occurred, and what Kevin said Warren Buffett told him. “Rest assured…” you can have whatever money you need, said Buffett, per Kevin.
2) Competitive and Sustainable Financing. Again, it is Kevin Clayton that made the simple yet compelling argument. Clayton claims that MHI has proven to the GSEs that they can do chattel or home only lending successfully and sustainably. Clayton told that to Congress on behalf of MHI. He did so under Truth in Testimony certification. If Kevin lied or was deceptive, lying to Congress can be prosecuted.
Actually, the logic of that claim, be it candid or spin, is demonstrable. If Triad Financial Services (TFS, a division of publicly traded Canadian ECN) can do this sustainably for decades, why not others too?
So the evidence-based arguments that were made to the FHFA by this writer in the March 25, 2021 listening session – found linked here on the FHFA website – are just icing on the cake. Which brings us to item 3.
3) Zoning/Placement. Besides, MHARR, MHI itself, that tipster referenced above that says a downturn is ahead if MHI fails to act, there are the out in the open statements by Kevin Clayton, MHI CEO Lesli Gooch, Mark Weiss, J.D. for MHARR, Democratic lawmakers involved in passing the MHIA to name but a few. Bill Matchneer, J.D., the first Administrator for HUD’s Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP) told MHProNews and conference call attendees that HUD’s Office of General Counsel was foot dragging. For whatever reasons after making those remarks, not much time passed before Matchneer and the apparently MHI connected law firm he worked for parted ways. But Matchneer’s comments, as insightful, useful, and important as they are were arguably only stating the obvious. If HUD wanted to enforce the enhanced preemption portion of the MHIA law, they could have done so during the Bush-Cheney, Obama Biden, Trump Pence Administrations. If HUD and their office of General Counsel wanted to enforce the law, they could do so now Secretary Marcia Fudge era.
The evidence is clear. Despite MHI’s claims, they are contradicted by MHI members’ and others statements and evidence. Can anyone be this inept as to be fail to implement existing laws for 13 and 21 years respectively, given their clout and resources? MHI can’t have it both ways. If they were doing what they claim on their IRS Form 990, the industry would be roaring. But instead, it is snoring.
While it snores, it is being steadily consolidated. That appears to be the self evident authentic agenda for MHI. Nor are they willing to debate that claim publicly. That means that the case against MHI – and by inference, their dominating brands – stands effectively unchallenged.
Don’t miss today’s postscript on contrarians.
With no further adieu, let’s pivot to the headlines for the week that was. Dive deeply into the reports and inspiration for the reports for the week of August 22, 2021 to August 29, 2021.
What’s New on MHLivingNews
What’s New from MHARR in August 2021
What’s New on the Masthead
What’s New from Tim Connors, CSP, on the Words of Wisdom
The Latest from the Cutting Edge
What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews
Postscript – About Contrarians
In reviewing – or better yet, thoughtfully reading each of the above, several notions should come to light for those who are discerning. Many of the reports, past and present, have been contrarian. MHProNews and MHLivingNews do not have a problem with citing a source that leans left or right. We don’t have a problem accurately quoting sources that we disagree with on some, many, or even most issues. What is common about the reports above are the numbers of contrarian views provided. It is the investor who goes along with the flow that automatically does the best. The contrarian investor often does better. So says, Sam Zell and Robert Robotti, among two who have been involved in manufactured housing for years.
We often present more Democratic than Republican views on MHProNews as well as on our sister site. That is not necessarily because a Democrat is in the White House or due to the fact that the Democratic Party controls Congress at this time. Their thinking merits consideration. So does GOP thought. These should be held up to their own claims and historic performance. Meaning, be it Democrat or Republican, the statements should be tested against reality. Facts and performance matter.
We have occasionally mentioned for years the need for a moral compass in our profession as well as all others.
This happens to be as American as mom and apple pie.
George Washington was a wealthy man in his day. That quote by Democrat Robert Reich is interesting, insightful, but not entirely true.
In the face of serious injustice, Americans for centuries have turned to the lessons of faith. That is a President Washington takeaway. If people are not grounded in the truth and fundamental honestly, then the dishonest will routinely prevail.
Having cited several religious groups over the years, this Sunday we’ll close with the homily for today from the Rev. Emmanuel Akalue. The Nigerian born American citizen is quite the Scripture scholar. In the face of an array of social, political, and economic concerns, he had this to say today.
Homily – 22nd Sunday of the Year B 2021
On this 22nd Sunday of the Year, we share the Message: “Accepting and Yielding to the Word of God in our lives.” Beloved, every weekend, the Church or other Christian assemblies are filled with people worshiping, praying and praising God. But, are their hearts really with God? What do they stand for or believe deep within their hearts? Are their values faith-inspired or are they strongly founded on worldly conventions incompatible with the Word of God? Christ’s rebuke to the Pharisees and Scribes in our Gospel Passage (Mark 7:1-23) should be concerning to us: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” It implies Jesus also condemns ceremonial Christianity of hypocrisy, false worship and false teachings.
Today, there is a great disconnect between the Gospel of Christ and the personal convictions of many Christians. Many Christians even agitate that the Church should change or modify the teaching of Christ to conform to secular principles and human conventions. Some denigrate Divine Revelation as not smart or scientific enough. How misguided! It is precisely human knowledge, scientific or not, that is imperfect. Genuine knowledge is from God (cf. 1Cor 1:20, 25); as St. James declares in the Second Reading (Jas 1:17-18, 21-22, 27), “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” The point is, truth does not come from below, from human beings – human political, cultural or ideological opinions. Truth comes from above, from God. And, “Jesus perfected revelation….we now await no further new public revelation” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 4). Accordingly, we ONLY teach, affirm and follow what Jesus commanded directly or indirectly through His Apostles (cf. Matt 28:20; John 15:16; Eph 1:3); nothing more! The Church has no mandate to do or teach anything not in the Bible and Sacred Tradition (cf. Matt 28:18-20; 2Thess 2:15).
Accordingly, there is no room from confusion and no one should be confused regarding the proper understanding of life. Our faith must have practical ramifications for our lifestyle, choices, positions, opinions, and convictions on any matter of faith and morals (cf. Luke 6:46). Our political, cultural, social, religious and ideological orientations must be based on the Word of God, not on human opinions and sentiments. Or Christ would say, “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition” (cf. Col 2:8). Please, whenever anyone criticizes the Church’s teaching on marriage, human sexuality, abortion and contraception, priestly ordination, etc., before you fall for it, tell the person: “Please, explain your position to me from the Bible or from Sacred Tradition.”
To this end, let us know where to draw the line: Constitutional Amendment is for man-made laws; God’s revelation is perfect (cf. Psalm 19:7-10); it is in no need of modification or adjustment. Moses declard to Israel in our First Reading (Deut 4:1-2, 6-8), “Hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live…. you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it” (cf. Deut 12:32; Rev 22:18-19). Christ taught us the same message at a higher level: The Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2Tim 3:16; 2Pet 1:20-21) gives life. The word of man – human politics, culture or ideology – does not give life. Christ declares to Christians, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). For almost 2000 years, the Church has followed what has been given “from the beginning” (cf. John 15:26-27; cf. Heb 13:7-10; 2Tim 4:2-4; 1John 2:24).
Finally, Jesus wants us to avoid misplaced priorities of the Pharisees and Scribes, whose hypocrisy led to exclusive focus on outward righteousness, denigrating others as unbelievers and unclean and purifying themselves ritually after having contact with others in public places (cf. Luke 11:39). Jesus insists that mere contact with other human beings – unbelievers or not – does not make anyone unclean: “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within…. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” Thus, Jesus indicted them, saying, “You outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt 23:28). So instead of avoiding any category of persons, we should rather focus on repentance from our sins, based on the Word of God, so as to win God’s favor through Christ our Lord. Amen. ##
There are numbers who believe that an awakening occurring in the U.S., and perhaps in other nations too.
Part of that awakening must be grounded in spiritual realities.
At the end of the day, the day will end. When our life is over, we face judgment. Some think that they can escape death or pull a fast one on God. God’s both merciful and just. The creator of heaven and earth is not fooled. Our opinions will not override perfect divine insight and will.
The time is always right to do the right thing. That is true in business as well as in every other aspect of our lives. ##
Our thanks to you, our sources, and sponsors 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
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