Perhaps one of the most useful, in depth, third-party research reports performed about the manufactured home industry in the past decade was the one published by Realtor University in 2018. It was a data-driven study, illustrated with useful graphics and charts. The core work and author is credited to Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton, Certified Business Economist (CBE), who was reportedly asked to do the research by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, Ph.D.
As footnote number one in Ms. Cororaton published report reflects, several professionals from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) were involved in the research. That should not be a surprise, as they are the largest national trade association, and they self-proclaim that they are involved in all segments – production and post-production – of manufactured homes and factory-built housing. Given that there were several glitches with the report as it was first published, did none of those three look, look closely enough, or care enough to ask for corrections of the NAR research? If not, why not?
Initially, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was not involved, and that should not be construed as a slight, as they self-state that their mission is representing the interests of the independent producers of HUD Code manufactured homes. MHARR is a producers’ association, and the research the Cororaton did for NAR was more post-production focused.
MHProNews and MHLivingNews are hardly alone in raising the issue of MHI’s track record of representing the broader industry’s interests.
We’ll save time by linking the report below and pointing readers to others linked from that, as it includes current and former MHI members – including concerns publicly raised in writing by a former MHI president – who politely and/or sharply have criticized their own association. See the link-laced 6oo word executive summary linked below.
As regular readers know, but new MHProNews readers may not, despite the affordable housing crisis, the HUD Code manufactured home industry is now into the tenth straight month of year-over-year declines in production. One would think that the Arlington, VA based MHI – which claims to be promoting the industry – would bring as much attention as possible to largely positive, independent NAR research.
But in fact, there is no evidence from the search below that any such promotional effort by MHI has taken place. Why not?
All of those are questions are reasons for concern.
But the focus, as the headline states, are purported errors that MHI failed to address with NAR/Realtor University and their researcher in the original version of their report. That original version, after reported review by 3 MHI connected professionals, had factual mistakes in:
- terminology in places,
- the date the HUD Code went into effect,
- some graphics/illustrations with factual errors,
- other items missed in their originally published report.
To document that beyond the screen captures, anyone can see the original report with errors linked here, and the corrected version of the research that is linked here, and compare the two. Note that in the corrected version, Ms. Cororaton thoughtfully added to the credits on page 48, footnote 1 our publisher, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, who personally brought those needed corrections to her attention. She also added Mark Weiss, J.D., President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, who after his review, confirmed several items that needed to be corrected.
Let’s stress that Ms. Cororaton, as an outsider looking in, would benefit from and need some expert insights. Absent correct inputs, or suggestions by experts for needed corrections, what occurred in the first version of the report could have happened to the best of us in a similar situation. So nothing here should be construed to diminish her work, intention or efforts. Compare her overall fine work to the collection of other research found at the link below, and Ms. Cororation’s research stands tall.
Why This Matters to MHVille Pros and Investors
Inaccurate information and a misunderstanding about the truth vs. outdate realities or disproven myths are among the reasons manufactured homes aren’t already soaring. Who says? See what former Cavco CEO Joe Stegmayer said recently in an MHI video, further below. If the largest national association – MHI – and those 3 professionals mentioned apparently don’t take its organization’s own credibility or that of the industry they claim to represent more seriously, why would anyone be surprised that the industry is widely misunderstood?
But before we turn to that video, let’s note another prior point by Mr. Stegmayer. Some years ago, Stegmayer – then president and CEO of Cavco Industries (CVCO) – emailed our publisher to say that there was a factual error in a report MHProNews published by one of our writers about a subsidiary. We double checked concern, and Stegmayer was correct. The correction in that report was promptly made. That is what the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) code of ethical conduct says should occur.
Cororaton lived up to those SPJ standards. So too did the publishers of that research for Realtor University. Then why, by contrast, is it do difficult to get MHI to admit or correct errors, which are often significant in nature? Hold that thought for the related reports, below the byline and notices.
Tim Williams, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway brand 21st Mortgage Corporation and then chairman of MHI, publicly praised MHProNews and our publisher – among other reasons – precisely for making corrections when needed in a factual error. Both Williams and Stegmayer, the later being MHI’s current executive committee chair, are debatably correct in saying that accuracy in information matters. Mistakes happen, which means that making corrections matter.
Among the challenges that manufactured housing faces are a wide range of misunderstanding about the industry, its products or services. Then Skyline Corporation executive Terry Decio said the following to MHProNews on camera in a video interview.
Stegmayer last June said on a video that manufactured housing is ‘so much of an untold story.’ On the one hand, that is true. But the flip side of that coin is, why has MHI been failing to tell that “untold story?” Skyline Champion’s Mark Yost and HUD Secretary Ben Carson are also on this next video. Dr. Carson is making the point that the regulations that barred manufactured housing in the past may have made sense when they were first enacted, but they no longer do today. It was one of several examples of MHI team members having an opportunity to raise the topic of enhanced preemption.
The video above is well done, and they deserve credit for that, but then they should also be held to account for the fact that the video has had to date fewer than 1,000 views. MHI and/or MHI members invested thousands of dollars in those videos from the Innovative Housing Showcase. Given the effort and cost, don’t MHI and the sponsors of those videos want them to be widely viewed?
When asked to hold MHI, Clayton Homes, or other ‘big boys’ in the industry to account, MHR publisher Kurt Kelly said the following.
The Word – Error
The word “error” has the following synonyms, per Oxford.
Synonyms: mistake, fallacy, misconception, delusion; inaccuracy, miscalculation, misreckoning; blunder, fault, flaw, oversight; misprint, literal, erratum, misinterpretation, misreading; informal slip-up, bloomer, boo-boo, howler, boner, fail; informal boob…
- the state or condition of being wrong in conduct or judgment.
The industry should be soaring, as Stegmayer himself suggested in the video above when he said that millions of manufactured homes could be built to address the affordable housing crisis.
But instead of advancing, instead of building ‘millions of homes,’ the industry is demonstrably going in reverse for 10 straight months in year-over-year production. That should be unacceptable. Where is the accountability at MHI? Hindsight is 20-20, as Warren Buffett himself suggested. That is why looking back is as necessary as looking ahead, or looking around at the present.
We noted near the top some of the principles that MHProNews and our sister site use, including the investigators question, cui bono? Who benefits from an action and/or inaction?
“We [the manufactured home industry] could provide homes for millions of people” said MHI Chairman Stegmayer. That’s the same point that MHProNews has made for years. So, why did MHI’s soon-to-exit president, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison argue for slow growth in the video posted below? Who benefits from slow growth?
That answer in a word? Consolidators. Aren’t these significant examples of problematic behavior by MHI leaders and staff?
Those manufactured housing consolidators include Cavco, which recently announced their deal to acquire a long-time independent HUD Code producer, Destiny Industries. When an industry is depressed, valuations are reduced. That’s part of business 101.
Here’s how award-winning independent retailer Alan Amy aptly described the opportunities but also the problems.
- misunderstandings about manufactured homes to fester,
- by failing to promote positive information about manufactured housing,
- MHI is arguably in error, not only on the NAR related above, but other issues too.
To learn more, see the related report, below.
After months of reports, MHI finally pivoted on the enhanced preemption issue. Will reports like this spark MHI to change course, and do their self-proclaimed job of promoting manufactured housing? That’s the question posted by this second installment today of manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
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