MHI Week In Review — April 26, 2013

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Positive Energy Flows at the 2013 National Congress & Expo for Manufactured and Modular Housing

MHI would like to thank the 830 attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors that helped make the 2013 Congress & Expo for Manufactured and Modular Housing a great event. Attendance was up 18 percent over last year’s Congress & Expo. Attendees from all sectors of the industry and from across the country convened at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas on April 16th – 18th to take advantage of the educational sessions, the National Communities Council (NCC) Forum, networking opportunities, and to see the latest and greatest products and services offered by the exhibitors.

Sponsored by Wells Fargo, the Wednesday general session Keynote speaker was Ro Khanna, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Commerce. Khanna managed the 108 domestic Commerce offices that help U.S. companies export and innovate. In that role, Khanna became an advocate for an economic growth agenda focused on advanced manufacturing and dynamic service industries. He authored the book, Entrepreneurial Nation, which discusses the future of American manufacturing and provides many examples of successful U.S. manufacturing companies and identifies the attributes and policies that contribute to their success.

Sponsored by Assurant Specialty Property, Thursday’s general session speaker was Dr. Celia Chen, senior director at Moody’s Analytics, where she specializes in housing economics. Dr. Chen provided information on recent housing market gains and predictions for the future. She provided evidence of strengthening economic growth which in turn fuels increased household formation. In addition, housing continues to be undervalued in many markets throughout the U.S. and housing affordability remains high. Combined with stabilizing lending standards, she demonstrated that home sales will strengthen. The pace of homebuilding continues to be below normal and this will help absorb excess housing (vacant homes for sale, for rent, or held off the market). She demonstrated that the new home market is tightening in terms of supply and the number of months on the market. This will result in a ramping up of residential construction and she predicted that manufactured home shipments will also rise during the next few years. Click here to view Dr. Chen’s presentation.

Twelve educational workshops were presented by outstanding speakers and panels. Wednesday’s workshops were sponsored by Neace Lukens and Thursday’s workshops were sponsored by RHP Properties, Inc. The workshops covered the following topics: Surging Demand for Manufactured Housing in Energy Boom Areas; Maximizing Ancillary Revenue from Cable TV Providers; AML/SAR, SAFE Act and Lease-to-Purchase – What You Need to Know; Increase Customer Confidence by Improving Your Retail Sales Center Environment; Managing Your Community Water Systems; MHI Legislative and Regulatory Update; Are There Business Opportunities in the Home Resale Market for Retailers; Lending and the Impact of Dodd-Frank on the Manufactured Housing Industry; Enhance Your Professional Image; Attracting More Cash and Credit-Worthy Customers to Your Sales Center; Ask the Attorneys; and Protecting Your Business, Saving Money and Planning for the Future. To view handout materials from the workshops, click here.

During the 2013 National Awards Luncheon, awards were presented to communities, retailers, manufacturers, and companies who provide outstanding customer service and leadership for the industry. Click here to view the awards presentation. Click here to view the press release highlighting the award-winning industry members.

Please mark your calendars for the 2014 Congress & Expo which will be held April 15-17, 2014 at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.

Once again, MHI thanks the 2013 Congress & Expo exhibitors and sponsors.


Diamond Sponsors

Marcus & Millichap
Sunstone Manufactured Housing Consultants

Platinum Sponsors

Oliver Technologies, Inc.
Wells Fargo

Gold Sponsors

Assurant Specialty Property
GE Capital Real Estate
Green Courte Partners, LLC
Inspire Communities
Neace Lukens
Rent Manager
RHP Properties, Inc.
UMH Properties, Inc.
Yes! Communities

Silver Sponsors

Hart, King & Coldren
Lippert Components, Inc.

Bronze Sponsors

21st Mortgage Corporation
ARA Manufactured Housing Group
CU Factory Built Lending
Riverstone Communities
Shaw Industries
Sun Communities, Inc.
U.S. Bank

2013 NCC Spring Forum (formerly NCC Forum): Record Attendance & New Name

“Very informative, lots of fresh ideas,” is the feedback from attendees of last week’s NCC Spring Forum on April 16th in Las Vegas. With record attendance, participants overwhelmingly indicated high satisfaction with the quality of speakers, content, and topics.

The morning’s key note speaker, LaVaughn M. Henry, Ph.D., Vice President and Senior Regional Officer of the Cincinnati Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, provided his view of the U.S. economy. Walking the audience through statistics which addressed employment, household and business spending, and inflation, Dr. Henry stated that the economy continues to recover, although slowly by historical standards. He further noted that residential real estate markets are showing signs of strength in supply and demand. With a dynamic delivery, attendee comments described this session as both “entertaining and outstanding.”

The “Acquisitions from the Acquirer’s Perspective” panel discussion was also well-received. Moderated by Todd Fletcher of ARA Manufactured Housing Group, questions to the panelists covered a variety of topics such as acquisition criteria, method of locating recent acquisitions, and market trends of financing. The “Managing Inventory for Your Community” featured MHI Chairman Nathan Smith as a panelist who offered his perspective on dealing with vacancies and when to refurbish or replace.

Noted social media strategist Crystal Washington provided a realistic, hands-on approach to understanding the role of social media in today’s business environment. “You may not actually use it,” she advised, “but you must beaware of what’s being said about your business.” With riveting, high-energy video clips, plus ten steps for building a social medial strategy many attendees noted her emphasis on “practical” implementation. Commented one attendee, “I don’t Tweet and won’t. But, I learned that it is useful – big leap!”

Many attendees commented on the practical ideas shared during the “Collecting Rent – Balancing Art & Science” panel discussion moderated by Richard Winkelman of Brookside Communities. Presenting ideas from large owners and regional managers, this discussion ranged from initial resident screening to the initiation of legal proceedings. The panel also fielded a variety of “how to” questions from the audience.

Despite being the last session of the day, after several highly informative sessions, the closing panel received the second highest vote as the “favorite” part of the day. Moderated by John McLaren of Sun Communities, “Executive Viewpoint: Customer Service Is the Future” featured senior officers from some of the largest community owners discussing the importance of quality service. Comments about this panel included “I’m always amazed at how involved the speakers are with customers” and “lots of doable actions to take home and implement.”

Last week’s event also reflected an updated name as the NCC Spring Forum, which was formerly known as the MHI National Communities Council Forum, since the NCC has announced the creation of its new Fall Leadership Forum which will debut October 16th -18th in downtown Chicago. The theme of this exciting new flagship event is “Building a Vision for the Future” and includes Sam Zell, Chairman of Equity Group Investments, as a featured speaker at this year’s inaugural event. These two events provide members with unparalleled networking and educational opportunities.

MHI Financial Services Update

Wall Street Journal Examines HOEPA’s Impact on Manufactured Housing

On April 24th, the Wall Street Journal detailed MHI’s efforts to reform a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that would severely curtail the availability of credit needed by low- and moderate-income families seeking to purchase manufactured housing. MHI has been working to spotlight certain provisions of the law that could substantially curtail credit access for the purchase of affordable manufactured housing. MHI continues to work on enactment of legislation and regulations to minimize the law’s unintended impacts on the manufactured housing market. Click here to view the article.

CFPB Issues QM Clarifications

On April 19th, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued proposed clarifications to five areas of the recently released ability-to-repay/Qualified Mortgage (QM) rulemaking. The proposed rulemaking includes a clarification in calculating debt-to-income (DTI) ratio—which incorporates FHA DTI calculation guidelines. Also included are clarifications regarding the small servicer exemption, Reg. X (RESPA) preemption, and temporary QM status. To view the proposed clarifications click here.

Escrow Rule Compliance Guide Released by CFPB

On April 22nd, the CFPB issued a compliance guide for the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) escrow rule that was finalized in January 2013. The rule increases to five years the minimum time for which lenders must maintain an escrow account on a “higher-priced” mortgage secured by a first lien. Institutions serving rural and underserved areas, as well as institutions with less than $2 billion in assets and that originate fewer than 500 first-lien covered loans annually, may qualify for an exemption from the rule, which takes effect June 1st. The guide covers some additional exemptions from the rule. To view the guide, click here.

Legal Aspects of Social Marketing Examined

On May 8th, Ballard-Spahr will be conducting a webinar examining the legal issues that companies should consider when using social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, when marketing financial products. The webinar is free and will take place at 12:30 pm ET on May 8th. For more information,click here.

Panel Examines Reform of Housing and Real Estate Tax Deductions

In an April 25th hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, housing and tax advocates examined how certain Federal tax provisions affect the housing sector and homeownership. Leaders of the both the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees are both considering reforms to the home mortgage interest deduction. It is estimated in 2012, the home mortgage interest deduction cost the government $68 billion in lost revenue.

Critics of the deduction have argued it does little to encourage homeownership and instead provides a benefit to higher-income households to purchase larger homes. The deduction is available only to the one-third of taxpayers who itemize their deductions and tend to have higher incomes. More than three-quarters of the benefit in 2012 went to households with annual incomes exceeding $100,000.

During the hearing, the National Association of Homebuilders cited studies indicating that home prices could rise by as much as 15 percent if the deduction was eliminated or substantially curtailed. President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request includes a significant reduction in the mortgage interest deduction. However, any modification to the deduction would require Congressional approval.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) has vowed that he would give “careful, thoughtful review” of tax breaks for homeowners, including the mortgage interest deduction.

For more information on the hearing, click here.

CFPB Releases Semiannual Report

On March 29th, CFPB released its third semiannual report, which covers its activities from July 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. The report reviews the CFPB’s supervision, enforcement, and rulemaking activities over the subject period.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray testified before the Senate Committee on Banking on April 23rd, where the main points of contention were the CFPB’s collection of data on Americans’ credit habits, as well as debt collection practices and the activities of the payday lending industry.

In an interesting twist, the House Financial Services Committee did not hear testimony from Director Cordray because, as House Chairman Hensarling stated, “The court’s unanimous ruling makes it clear that there is no legally-appointed director of the CFPB at this time. By law, the committee can receive this testimony only from a director who is appointed in accordance with the Constitution and the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the bureau.” (While President Obama purported to appoint Richard Cordray to the position on January 4, 2012, a unanimous federal appeals court ruling on January 25, 2013 found that the process by which Cordray was appointed was constitutionally invalid.)

House Financial Services Committee Holds Seventh Hearing on Reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Addresses Amending the Dodd-Frank Act

On Wednesday, April 24th the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “Building a Sustainable Housing Finance System: Regulatory Impediments to Private Investment Capital.” This is the seventh hearing the committee has had on reforming the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Privatizing the GSEs is the top priority for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

As many Americans know, before the financial crisis of 2008, the securitization of residential mortgages in the U.S. was provided by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private mortgage securitizers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were created to compete for a share of the housing finance market, which would increase the supply of mortgage credit and lower costs for consumers.

Notwithstanding the competitive advantages conferred upon the GSEs by their government-backed charters, the GSEs’ charters prohibited them from purchasing and securitizing certain mortgages. Private issuers of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchased and securitized the mortgages that the GSEs were prohibited from purchasing. The private-label MBS market thrived as private sector investors sought out new opportunities to gain a return on their capital without relying on government-backed loans. Between 2002 and 2007, private issuers sold more than $3 trillion in MBS.

But in 2008, with the onset of the financial crisis, the private securitization market came to a halt. Holders of many private-label MBS suffered severe losses as defaults rose and the value of the homes serving as collateral for the underlying mortgages fell. New private-label MBS issues fell dramatically.

The downturn in the housing market that crippled the private MBS market also proved ruinous for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which had also invested in some MBS. By September 2008, it was clear that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were insolvent, and the U.S. government stepped in to place both firms under conservatorship, with the financial backing of U.S. taxpayers.

Conservatorship has allowed the GSEs not only to continue their mortgage market operations but also to greatly expand their market footprint and effectively drive some private sector competition out of the market. As a result, the U.S. government is now responsible for nearly all of the securitization market, with approximately 75 percent performed by the GSEs in conservatorship and roughly 25 percent performed by Ginnie Mae, which securitizes mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Beyond the market domination of the GSEs, there have been a number of regulatory changes that have created impediments to the private investment capital in the housing finance sector. MHI, as well as many other housing finance associations, remain concerned about several provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203) that will likely further affect the mechanics of U.S. housing finance.

At the hearing, Chairman Hensarling noted, “I know that many of my friends on the other side of the aisle have much invested in the Dodd-Frank law and its brand, and I respect that. But if you agree that private capital and not taxpayer capital should be the foundation of our housing finance system, then I hope you will have open minds that perhaps some limited number of provisions of the Dodd-Frank law perhaps could be refined and improved upon at this time.” Mr. Hensarling also specifically stated that he believes that the Qualified Mortgage (QM) and Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) regulations need to be carefully examined.

Later in his comments, Chairman Hensarling also noted his stark contrast in views on this subject with President Obama, mentioning the April 2ndWashington Post article, ‘Obama Administration pushes banks to make home loans to people with weaker credit.’

“Had the story been posted April 1st I might have thought it was an April Fools’ joke. I asked the question, ‘Have we as a nation learned nothing?’ The article went on to say that the Obama housing officials were urging Obama justice officials to offer banks the equivalent of ‘get out of jail free’ cards if they would lend money to folks with weaker credit.”

For more information on this topic, to watch the hearing, or to read witness testimony click here to view the website andclick here to view the article in the Washington Post.

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