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Smoke, Mirrors, Razzle Dazzle vs. Measurable Performance and Profitable Results

SmokeMirrorsRazzleDazzlevsMeasurablePerformanceProfitableResultsManufacturedHousingProNewsMastheadLATonyKovach

The truth can be painful.  Few adults have lived such a trouble-free life.  Most of us have personally known – or at least know of others through friends or family – the anguish of betrayal by a spouse or partner, an unexpected reversal of health, broken faith in a personal or professional relationship, or some unforeseen reversal of fortune. 

 

Flash back to 1998 in MHVille, and there were but few that year that had a sense of the storm that was coming. The industry sold over 372,000 new HUD Code manufactured homes that year, the peak in the post HUD Code era.  But by 2002, just four years after that modern industry peak, HUD Code manufactured home producers were selling ‘repo beater’ models, homes designed to compete as close as possible with the price point of a finance companies’ repossession.

It was ugly. We were there.

Problematic lending practices harmed the industry in the 1990s.  While some say it was the only reason that manufactured housing soared, that’s demonstrably an element, but not the full story.  After all, the home buyers were at retailers’ sales centers. Real customers were going to land lease communities – and at developments with manufactured homes – precisely because they came looking for a HUD Code manufactured home.

Because that high was achieved once before, it could be achieved or even surpassed again.  But in order to do so, one must navigate around the problems that caused the sugar high and the fall that followed.  The industry should not forever be punished for that, because what happened in the run up to the conventional housing crisis in several ways mirrored what occurred in manufactured homes a few years earlier. Site built housing soared and crashed in the 2008 housing/finance meltdown too.

As a recent caller noted, housing is one of the mainstays of the U.S. economy. As HUD Secretary Carson and scores of others across the left-right divide have noted, housing is the most proven form of wealth creation. Because manufactured homes can and do appreciate in a similar way and for similar reasons as conventional housing does, easy access to manufactured homes is the path to prosperity for potentially millions of Americans.  That spells opportunities for industry professionals and investors. 

All of that is precisely why a relatively small group have arguably been manipulating manufactured housing for roughly the past 15 years. Understanding that manufactured housing will become a dominant force in housing has been known be several third-party researchers, certainly by the late 1990s.  We’ve spotlighted Eric Belsky from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies as but one example, others before or since him are found at this link below. If you’ve not reviewed that impressive compilation of third-party, university level, federal, and/or nonprofit research, you should at least take a glance. The essence of every key misunderstanding about manufactured homes and their impact on other forms of housing are in several respects resolved by research that already exists.

Ultimate Reporters, Researchers, Affordable Housing Advocates, or Shoppers 3’rd Party Research Reports on Mobile Homes, Manufactured Homes, and Modular Housing – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com

Foreward. Susan M. Wachter, writing as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said, “Most new homes in the United States are site-built to State and local codes, but an increasing number are “manufactured homes,” designed and constructed to meet the requirements of the preemptive …

 

This introduction is a way of expressing this notion. Escapism is just that; a dodging of reality instead of facing and embracing reality.  As the Good Book says, only the truth can set you or me free.  

The truth is hiding in plain sight.  There is no need for a conspiracy theory, rather, what is needed is a careful examination of the evidence and patterns of activity are out in the open. What is required is objectivity, an open mind, and a thirst for truth as opposed to reinforcing some belief that may or may not be true.

If a partner has ‘cheated on you,’ ignoring that fact, or engaging in some form of escapism doesn’t change that reality. Painful truths are routinely ‘escaped,’ and shrewd people are counting on precisely the power of a combination of habits and overblown fear to keep people from learning what is real and true.

Fort Worth, Texas this September 16-18 manufactured home sale

 

Reality Checks and Escalation

Third-party sources inform MHProNews that readers here are the runaway largest group in the manufactured home industry’s publishing history. Slick or ugly competitors to our platforms simply don’t compare to our audience size and results.

That this matter is obvious. From the mom and pop businesses to the largest names in our industry’s ranks, as well as those in between, plus investors, advocates, and public officials are either daily or regular readers of MHProNews. We’ve modified our approach on our public focused MHLivingNews.com in roughly the last 18 months too. That has likewise yielded impressive results. On Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews) – residents, seekers, and those who hunger for meaningful insights based upon facts, evidence, and reason – are flocking in even larger numbers. What they routinely tell us via messages and calls is that they find insights and information there that makes sense to them.

Is there evidence that a dogged pursuit of accuracy and the truth matters or pays off? 

Yes.

The proof? From the revival of the Louisville Show to the publicly praised performance for Legacy Housing’s events – our promotions on MHProNews have proven to be superior to all others. That’s a matter of record visible to all with open eyes and minds.

Then are lesser known, but equally profitable solutions that yielded growth and more profits in locations from border to border. While no one bats 1,000 in baseball – neither have we – but our proven batting average in manufactured housing would be Baseball Hall of Fame legendary results level. That’s not bragging, rather, it is the facts backed up by evidence.  The evidence is in the praise that others have shared in word, deed – orally on camera, and in writing

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After more than 25 years, we are still learning, how about you?

 

If the past is the most proven method of understanding performance, then we’ll stack up our record with any rivals.

By contrast, let’s look at several visible, often better funded efforts that make bold claims but have clearly failed to perform in the manner that matters most to independents and investors. 

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), MHVillage, MHInsider, blogger George F. Allen and his buddies, or a monthly publisher that had to become quarterly publisher are but some examples of big claims, often with well-known and sometimes deeper pocket backer(s). But for all of their hoopla, if what they offered was effective and true, then wouldn’t the industry be advancing as measured by an ever growing number of new manufactured home shipments?

 

·        Isn’t the bottom line the bottom line?

·        Aren’t all successful business measured by sales, deals closed, profits, and performance?

 

Both MHI and MHARR agree on this.  Industry shipments are going in reverse.

 

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Monthly Economic Report vs. Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) Report – Comparisons

The subheading below is the start of their July 11, 2019 emailed report by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) to their members and followers. 8,601 New HUD Code Homes Shipped in May In May 2019, new manufactured home shipments were essentially flat with a modest decrease of 1.9% to 8,601 homes as compared to the 8,769 homes shipped in May 2018.

 

 

But beyond that understanding, the two have widely divergent strategies.   Thinkers who want the truth should ask, why? Why have MHI, NAMHCO, and Prosperity Now lined up to favor a bill, while MHARR opposes the same bill? Who is right, and who is wrong?

 

Federal Bill that MHI, Prosperity Now, NAMHCO Tout – MHARR Opposes, Why? | Manufactured and Modular Housing Industry News

Last week, the Daily Business News on MHProNews published a multiple perspective report on a bill that NAMHCO, MHI, and Prosperity Now have all come out in support of, which can be accessed via the text/image box below.

 

If the larger organization – MHI – had the solutions and clout that they claim, why is the industry going in reverse?  Cui bono? Who benefits from that reversal?

We’ve pointed the finger (no, not that finger) publicly at MHI and their sycophants. We’ve called out Clayton, 21st, VMF and others with evidence.  We’ve challenged each of them and their attorneys repeatedly to respond in any way that they can to debunk our research, to debate the evidence, the issues, and industry performance in public.  People that previously praised our work for years and who routinely replied rapidly have gone silent and ducked for about 2 ½ years now. Why?

Yes, we use the word ‘allege’ to cover such discussions, because that is what American law requires.

But our allegations and the evidence that accompanies it have not been challenged.

When the powers that be made a purported deal to propped up George Allen to be their attack dog, that proved to be but one more failed effort to derail the power of what is true and what works. Why? Because Allen himself has called them monopolists in the past.  He just didn’t back up words with hard evidence, as we have at the link here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – among others.

When a former MHI president and more than one MHI vice president has help you with evidence and reason, it makes it easier to find the fact, don’t you agree? When current and former MHI members provide you with evidence, that too makes it easier. 

So, ‘allegations,’ yes – supported by reason that has been gaining attention in Washington and with nonprofits.  Businesses and investors who dive in and examine the evidence routinely say that ours is the only case that makes sense for why manufactured housing is underperforming as an industry.

 

ManufacturedHomeProductionShipmentSince1995MastheadManufacturedHousingAnalysisMHProNews
Buffett led-Berkshire Hathaway clearly has the capital, and the credit lines needed, to fund any sort of educational and/or marketing campaign that their wholly owned subsidiary Clayton Homes may desire. So how does one explain fewer manufactured home sales in 2018 than in 2003, when Berkshire first acquired Clayton Homes and their affiliated lending? How does one explain that in 2019, year over year manufactured home shipments are declining – now for 8 straight months – during an affordable housing crisis?

 

  

Obstacles Are to Scare Away Some from Serious Opportunities

Which leads one to the opportunities.

Ultimate, Proven Contrarian Investing – Ethical vs. Unethical, Legal vs Illegal Manufactured Housing Industry Strategies

 

Opportunities about for those willing to challenge rigged system and the powers that be. We’ve proven that zoning hurdles can be overcome, here and here. So why doesn’t MHI and or their affiliates do the same, in cases like the one linked here or below?

Texas, Florida Cities Plan Manufactured Home Ban, Legacy Housing, FMHA, Lance Inderman/Jessup Housing React | Manufactured and Modular Housing Industry News

In Parker, Florida, My Panhandle reports that ” a revised mobile home ordinance was introduced. The ordinance doesn’t allow for the expansion of mobile home parks, mobile homes in residential areas, and restricts how many mobile homes can come into a park.

 

 

 MHI Does Work…For Some

That MHI ‘works’ for a select few is apparent.  It arguably ‘works’ for a few insiders by keeping the industry underperforming, which means that a few insiders can acquire assets and/or put competitors out of business. That means that the “Moat” grows for a few, while most get the crumbs left on the table.

 

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But how does the growth of the Moat of others in MHVille help or harm you and your business or investment interests?  

Perhaps more to the point, when so many ways have been discovered that allow power players to tip a previously performing firm into insolvency, why wait to become the next meal for a billionaire? If anyone you know floorplans with 21st, for example, have they read the report linked below? That tip is a hot read. It is a arguably a must-read for those who do business with them.

 

CFPB and 21st, Second Shoe Drops? Flooring w/21st Mortgage Corp? Insider Tips

There has been broad industry interest and concerns over the documents and video that Tim Williams at 21st Mortgage Corp, Kevin Clayton at Clayton Homes, and Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway have failed to explain away – or even try. This was initially going to be a report focused only on the 21st flooring issue.

 

Or what about those MHI member firms that are there to ‘go along, to get along,’ but are not ‘in on the gig?’ As one MHI member told MHProNews a few weeks ago, they’ve been members for years, but have ‘never made a dime’ because of MHI.  That firm is engaged with them, has sponsored this or that, and so on. It’s a stunning statement, but why would they say it if it wasn’t true?

Manufactured Housing Institute Members Defending MHI, Great Debate About Manufactured Home Industry Progress, Problems, and Profits

 

Optics, Growth and Risks

How does it look to be associated with an organization that has an apparently witnessed a growing number of companies that become well known via federal, state, or media inquiries into problematic business practices and allegations of illicit and/or illegal activities? Consider the example linked below, or linked here, here, and here.

Home Shopping Consumer Alert – BBB “F” Rated SSK Communities Rebrands As Flagship Communities – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com

It’s a sad day when a good and necessary product or service gets sullied by the bad behavior of certain businesses. At the end of this fact check and exposé will be a video with happy manufactured home customers, but they are not customers of SSK Communities, who recently changed their name to Flagship …

 

For publicly traded businesses, can’t that lead to the kind of plaintiffs’ attorney investigations that has reportedly cost Cavco Industries millions?

Which MHI member firm will be next?  Given that those companies are readers here, they have no plausible deniability, do they?

Nor should those who raise capital privately vs. publicly think they may escape such risks of plaintiffs’ lawsuits. When someone can’t plausibly claim ignorance of what is occurring in manufactured housing, fiduciary and other responsibilities grow.

But the path to solutions are staring you right in the face.  Before looking at that, let’s segue to a mainstream example that is only indirectly connected to manufactured housing.

Rephrased, the HUD Code industry is approaching several tipping points. Cavco could be the canary in the coal mine.

 

 

A Mainstream Example, Applied to MHVille

You may love or hate politics, but this is an apt example that indirectly and directly impacts our industry, as you will see.

Over two years ago, MHProNews informed our readers in multiple reports why the federal investigations that turned into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe were going to lead nowhere. The law is what it is, and by the terms of the law, the 45th president was not guilty.  Who said?  According to voices such as Clinton supporter Alan Dershowitz, JD, of Harvard Law fame. Project Veritas’ controversial but undercover camera work revealed two years ago that CNN producer who said that Russian collusion was a big nothing burger.

Rephrased, we did our homework, listened to experts and evidence, pondered the logic and counterclaims, and using that approach turned out to be correct. The year before, we were essentially alone in MHVille trade media to publicly say that Secretary Hillary Clinton could lose to Donald J. Trump. We did the homework. We used the internals of mainstream polls. We used logic and reason. Once again, we turned out to be correct.

Paying attention to the details pays.

That doesn’t mean that President Donald J. Trump was or is a saint; that wasn’t the legal question in the Mueller probe. None of us are saints. At best, we might be a sinner striving for sainthood, slipping and falling along the way.

Rather, what President Trump was accused of – properly understood – wasn’t a crime.  But what others did is to make it appear to be a crime.  That twist and manipulation of the facts could still land more than one current or former federal officials and their allies in prison. That will take time. But the evidence is there, has been all along, and was visible to those with discerning eyes and minds.

That is said as a parallelism to what’s been occurring in manufactured housing.

To grasp that, ponder this. In the mainstream, there has been a chorus saying that the Mueller probe would ‘prove’ the president guilty. But no such proof exists. Nor could it, because ‘collusion’ is not a crime in that context. Look it up.  “Collusion” as described could apply to antitrust law, not campaigns and transitions.

No one associated with the campaign was proven guilty of collusion with Russia. All the charges that flowed from the Mueller probe were ‘process crimes’ or unconnected with the campaign.  The tactic of the president’s opponents, who come from both major parties and elsewhere, has been implying guilt by generating an ongoing smoke screen.

That can and has happened in our industry too, only in a different way.

To the extent that millions have accepted propaganda is proof that the ‘big lie’ works.  Hold that thought because it absolutely applies to manufactured housing.

Facts are what they are, whether they are comfortable or not.

·        There have been and are examples of individual, independent companies that are growing in a reputable manner in the manufactured housing. There are white hat brands. There are also examples of companies that may be ‘in the gray’ on some points but have not broken federal laws or ‘colluded’ in order to grow.

·        To be accurate and more complete, there are also reports of alleged ‘deals’ and ‘understandings’ between the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their allies and white or gray hats to essentially protect a few from the harm that has arguably hit thousands of other firms. Put some stars next to that point. ****

 

Buffett is Right About Thinking Long Term

MHProNews is in it to win it. We didn’t come looking for a fight, the fight came looking for us. Perhaps it was precisely because we forged a large audience without the help of the ‘big boys.’  Perhaps because we were independent, and never were ‘all in’ on everything that MHI said or did.

Being independent and having an audience the size of MHProNews’ is a problem for those who want to control the narrative in manufactured housing.

We frankly launched what became MHProNews naively to this extent.  We knew the business, we had proven solutions.  But we did not grasp what was occurring behind the dark curtain. But that initial naivety and years of experiences, many while an MHI member and elected board member, yielded to sobering understanding. As our understanding evolved, we’ve told our readers the why behind our evolution.

During the somewhat public to off-the-radar efforts to kill us off as a publisher, in several respects, we have grown demonstrably stronger. 

Years of often painful discoveries have resulted in ‘bright line’ clarity of understanding.

There are now few who better understand the truth of what happens in manufactured housing than we do. It’s been accomplished with the insights and support of numbers of private to public backers. That clarity makes us valuable to numerous researchers, attorneys, millions of residents, potential homeowners, public officials, investors, and current businesses in the industry. What we don’t know is rapidly grasped, given facts and evidence.

We’ve taken the oppositions’ public or off-the-radar hits. We’re still standing.

Here’s the point. If we can take it and continue to advance, you and others can too. In fact, there are several examples of that in MHVille.

We are among those who have stood the test of time. We’ve admitted where we too were duped for a time, but those admissions don’t make us weaker. Our audience engagement tells us candor made us stronger in the eyes of thousands of readers, like you. Over 1.7 million pageviews on MHProNews in June 2019 didn’t occur by accident.

Thousands and thousands of daily readers are here for good reasons. It’s because – like the truth or not – people often want the truth, fact-checks, and real analysis over slickly packaged deception.

My prediction is simple. Based upon the evidence, don’t expect the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their surrogates to admit they are wrong outside of a courtroom or settlement agreement. A mantra among con men is ‘never give up the con.’

Once a con is begun, those who seek to deceive and thereby defraud others of millions to billions have only one step as a recourse. They will keep up the pretense. Some of what they say or do is comical, some of it is just sad.

Never forget that Bernie Madoff got away with his con for years.  It worked until it finally failed.  He’s now in federal prison.  Don’t doubt for a second that some in our industry may go to federal prison. It could happen.  It happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

 

Politics and Manufactured Housing

Our industry’s fortunes are not tied to any one political party. In fact, as political independents, we believe it is necessary to be engaged with both major parties. It pays to grasp the big picture, because the view from 35,000 feet is how industry professionals can score points with either political party. 

 

Both major parties need manufactured housing

Our industry, the facts, the truth make our industry of tremendous value.  The proof? That HUD Secretary Carson, others in the GOP, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and other 2020 Democrats are spending time very much focused on manufactured housing connected issues.

That’s no accident.

But let’s step back from the industry for a few moments, before circling back.

In certain newsrooms and political offices, there were people who knew that the Trump campaign didn’t collude with Russians to win the 2016 elections. As a Trump critic wittily observed, the Trump camp often had trouble coordinating with each other, much less pull off some collusion with Russians.

No one was charged with a crime of collusion with Russians. Not only was the president or none of his family charged, but no one else involved in his campaign was either. In America, you aren’t exonerated.  You are charged or not.  You are prosecuted or not. You don’t plead ‘innocence,’ you plead ‘not guilty.’

Thank God for that part of the process of American justice.

Russian interference in the election in 2016 paled compared to Americans attempting to manipulate millions of other Americans since 2016.  

As we’ve said before, historically speaking, the U.S. has interfered with countries around the world for decades.  Others – including Russia, China, Iran and more – have done the same.  That’s part of why spies exist. Trying to sow discord in the U.S. could never have occurred to the level that it did in 2016-2019 as much as it has without the help of Americans who sought to take advantage of real efforts by Russians, blow it out of performance, and try to pin that on team Trump. Like, love, hate, indifferent or unsure about the president? None of those feelings should influence a person’s understanding of the truth.

That’s a parallelism to manufactured housing.  

Our industry has been misunderstood for years. We’ve documented many times how MHI claims one thing, purportedly does another. See the links above.

We’re not saying that we were geniuses. You might say, we were slow. The truth was hiding in plain sight, which can make it harder to grasp.  The opposition is brilliant. But once we got it, we got it. We missed the truth hiding in plain sight until enough people of good will presented enough evidence to us for the light bulb to go off. Aha!

Once the light is on, the darkness is what it is.

There is a little over 15 months until the 2020 election. Time will tell if the new Attorney General William Barr and his team will or won’t advance the ball on what some claim was an attempted coup from inside Washington, D.C. aimed at unseating a duly elected president. It is still possible that former Secretary Hillary Clinton could end up in legal jeopardy, as could scores of others.

Economic forecasts, despite routine stories and claims to the contrary, are for continued expansion. The rate of GDP growth slowing somewhat is due not to ‘sugar highs’ – as some have misleadingly claimed – but rather due to real as well as artificial blowback. Some want the economy to falter, thinking that might be the best way to unseat President Trump.

What occurred in 2016 tells us that anything can happen in 2020. That said, Democrats like President Barack Obama’s advisor David Axelrod and anti-Trump filmmaker Michael Moore are saying that the 2020 field isn’t shaping up well for Democrats so far. Moore, cursing Mueller, said yesterday that Trump has already won the race for 2020.  That may be going too far, but it reflects a viewpoint not captured by public polls.

Time will tell.  What will happen in Washington, D.C. is up for grabs. Each major party has their game plan.

That may or may not matter to some, but what will happen to manufactured home industry independents of all sorts and sizes is of pressing interest to you.

The HUD Code home industry is vitally necessary.  We will not be surprised if some politicians will pivot in some views, based upon clear and convincing evidence. Wait and see. 

 

·        Antitrust is heating up. Players in both major parties are getting it. We think there are cases to be made for antitrust, RICO, and other legal actions in manufactured housing, see the links further above.

·        Affordable housing is a huge issue. Manufactured housing is the most proven solution. There are fine examples of Democrats and Republicans working together for manufactured housing.  Those industry pros who take a long-term view can see a renewal coming.

·        Investors are looking for places to invest, despite efforts to obscure manufactured housing, more are looking at factory-home building.

 

The billionaire founder of Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) Sam Zell said it. When others are going left, look right.

It is the contrarians that can score big, not the toadies and tag-alongs. 

The parent company to MHProNews – LifeStyle Factory Homes LLC – has been misunderstood and has often been mischaracterized by some. Perhaps the biggest compliment the axis could give us was to ‘come after us’ in a variety of ways. Propping up a bunch of other trade publications that are only lightly read is a backhanded compliment.

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Its slick. Razzle Dazzle. Smoke and mirrors. They say all sorts of sweet sounding words, but if it were true, why is the industry on this date into month 9 of a year over year downturn during an affordable housing crisis? Smoke and mirrors!

Some opt to work with us off the radar. That’s fine and understandable. Others have decided to do so openly.

But only the truth will set the industry, investors, and independents free. 

It’s telling a true and more compelling story that will create growth at the local market level.

Enough good stories in numerous local markets will yield national growth. It’s just that simple. 

Defeating the axis will take time. But all of the bipartisan interest in antitrust action in Washington, D.C. provides reasons for independents to have hope. The demand for affordable housing is clear and compelling. Solutions like enforcing the law on enhanced preemption and the Duty to Serve are simple, yet because of unforced delays, have remained a challenge.

The big boys are fighting like hell to dominate manufactured housing, because it is just that sure a thing.  Only those who get it, and are willing to fight the good fight, can profit from using our proven platform and documented-performance methods.

Some will try to reinvent the wheel.  Good luck with that. Seriously.

Some will turn to those, like MHARR and/or those working with us.  MHARR has proven performance. So do we.

Smoke, mirrors, and razzle dazzle that may ‘feel good,’ but has proven for 9 straight months to be taking the industry in reverse. Then there is proven performance.

We’re building a new coalition.  The rebirth of manufactured housing is already underway.

 

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For those ready to act instead of posture, you know how to contact us. “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, analysis, fact-checks, and commentary.)

(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

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Tony earned the Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma. He has earned multiple awards in manufactured housing and in history. He’s a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
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