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Manufactured Housing Image – Progress at Last?

In reviewing Realtor.com’s manufactured housing report that was picked up by FoxNews and reported in the Daily Business News, a stark reality has to be noted.  Their article represents real progress and hope for manufactured housing’s image and what looks to be a more solid understanding by their writer, Angela Colley.

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Image credits, Realtor.com.

Among the comments in, was a pat on the back to… MHLivingNews.com, for its steady drum beat of positive stories about manufactured homes, some of which seems to have influenced the narrative found in Colley’s column.

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Angela N Colley, credit, Twitter.

Either way, Colley deserves to be commended for doing a balanced report that properly used industry nomenclature; something it can be hard to get some MH pros to do.  This is a sign of progress.

No Popping the Cork on the Champagne Bottle…Yet

The HUD Code side of the factory-built home industry is making serious progress on numerous fronts. This reality is reflected in double-digit rises in new manufactured housing shipments in recent months.  There are plenty of encouraging signs, in the U.S. and globally, as the promise of 1.1 million global units annually in factory-home building tells us that we’re becoming more mainstream.

But there still remains a slew of zoning, HUD, DOE, CFPB, DTS and other challenges that manufactured housing faces.  Each of these acts as a foot-on-the-brakes for even more rapid growth in sales of new homes.

One of those impediments is the other side of mainstream media reports; all-too-often negative when it comes to reflections of resident relations in manufactured home communities.

True, media editors often loves an ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ type of stories. But knowing that, doesn’t it make sense for our industry to work all the harder at getting the good word and the good news out?!

Some of those negative, mainstream media accounts – we know from first-hand experience are exaggerated or overlook realities that take place in the real world.  For example, site fees tend to rise, for all the reasons that rents in mainstream housing rise, or property taxes in mainstream housing rise.

But when you see year-after-year of aggressive increases without good underlying fundamentals, that can turn off even die-hard MHPros in the community sector.  It’s also a reason why some at the GSE’s don’t want to do home only (personal property, chattel loans) in MHCs. Duh!

A number of MH and MHC Pros hate to see those rapid spikes being done by others, but when given the chance to comment publicly, they may opt to say nothing.  Too politically sensitive…

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Matthew Silver, Daily Business News.

Matthew Silver, in his routinely effective way, thread the needle on this report:

Residents of Oregon Manufactured Home Community Consider Long-term Leases

We offered a good sampling of manufactured housing pros we know, mostly from the community sector, to share a public comment on the article and issue linked above.  The common response, paraphrased?  “This is too sensitive a topic for me to comment on, but thanks for asking.”

That said, one party did comment, Paul Bradly, with ROC USA, who said this:

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Paul Bradley, holding the Jerry Voorhis memorial award.

This is an example of an unbalanced long-term lease that is causing nightmares – bad press and customer relations for the community owner and anxiety and high costs for the homeowners.

The Freddie Mac lease was indexed and had pass through for tax, water, and sewer increases but what’s remarkably different is the dark cloud of a 25% increase in base rent for new buyers in this Oregon example. 

That seems counter-productive.  Don’t we want homeowners to be able to sell, take their equity, and move on for work or whatever?  It’s in everyone’s interest to have an effective resale market!  That’s something Warren Buffet told Kevin Clayton years ago.  Not much has changed, yet.

Rent Control

I’ve lived and worked in states that have some form of rent control, and it is something we oppose in principle as overall harmful to business and consumers alike.

But isn’t it the perception – and in the media, perception magically becomes reality – of aggressive rent increases that create the blow-back that all-too-often ends up in some form of rent control?

We aren’t spelling out the answer tonight.  We’re simply pointing out that there’s more good news reports, but there are still troubling news reports too.  The community sector is hot, as the recent buyout of the majority of Yes! Communities underscores.

But let’s be candid.  A good bit of the black eye that comes manufactured housing’s way – right or wrong, fairly or unfairly – originates from MH Communities too.

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Every true career professional ought to seek to inform him/her self and others too. That’s an obvious part of industry advancement.

Most community owners and operators we know, and those we work with, regulate their site fees in ways that keep residents in their homes, and who love their lifestyle. Interviews on MHLivingNews demonstrate that reality.

The anecdotal evidence suggests the same. But when those aggressive hikes hit the local news, how many would be, could be MH buyers are turned off?

Long may free enterprise reign! But let’s not see our fellows doing avoidable missteps that cause so many headaches and heart-aches. Even those exiting the industry ought to carefully protect the interests and image of home owners and the industry that has rewarded them…isn’t that the wise approach?  Yes or yes?

Ending on a Positive

The future for manufactured housing is, was and will always be based upon our ability as professionals to bring real value to ever more Americans in a manner that makes millions happy with their housing choice.  Most of the MH Industry does that daily. That’s part of why our industry is growing, MH is an amazingly good value at a time when quality living at lower costs are so badly needed by so many.  MHProNews and MHLivingNews – our writers and supporters – are twin-engine-platforms that support, fuel and benefit from that pro-MH effort.

Stating the obvious is useful and brings clarity. The more we can increase the good news in the mainstream media – based upon realities – the less the occasional bad news will harm the many who do things right.

But in that perfect-world ideal, motiving all pros to embrace the wisdom of doing things right – first, last and always – will hasten the day the mainstream will completely embrace our homes, communities and lifestyles as the solution for the future.

Spin always is what it is. By contrast – The Truth well told is Powerful.  ##

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Jan Hollingsworth, award winning writer, reporter, author of numerous features on MHLivingNews. Google Jan’s name + MHLivingNews, dive in, enjoy and share them widely.

Programing note and thank you – for the thoughtful feedback on Jan’s work key topics on MHLivingNews, for the new work

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Frank Griffin, Daily Business News, MHProNews.

being done by Frank Griffin on the Daily Business News (DBNs) and on MHLivingNews, and look for a new report from Frank that you won’t find anywhere else in MHVille – a report on a study that underscores the amazing potential that we have to grow many times larger in new home shipments than we currently are.  This week!  Only on the Daily Business News.

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L. A. “Tony” Kovach questioning NY SAA team during New York Housing Association meeting. Photo Credit, Mark Simon, Dirty Jerz Images.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

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