There are several hot-button issues that are circulating in manufactured housing. They include, but are not limited to, the following.
- The failure of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) to respond to the Bryan, TX “ban” and limitations places on new or pre-owned manufactured housing. That ban is the most recent in a string of such cases in various parts of the country. This is a post-production issue. Sources in Texas say that MHI members were present, but no staff from MHI was known to have participated or reportedly intervened in that zoning/placement/restrictions and ban controversy.
- The failure of MHI to obtain market significant lending from the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac), a post-production issue covered by MHI’s claim to represent “all segments of factory-built housing.” Nor has MHI in another similar manner obtained relief from FHA in their 10/10 rule for manufactured home chattel or “home only” personal property lending.
- The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has noted that those failures by MHI in the finance realm have benefited the Berkshire Hathaway brands – arguably MHI’s most prominent and powerful sponsors – involved in manufactured home lending. But that benefit to lenders such as 21st Mortgage or Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) has harmed the interests of consumers and manufactured home independents. It must be noted in fairness that certain MHI members have private efforts to move the GSEs. But by contrast, Tim Williams admitted to several industry members in San Antonio, TX that 21st and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) had not cooperated with the GSEs in a way that they requested.
- That was confirmed by Paul Barretto, then with Fannie Mae.
- The failure to address either good news or bad news in a manner that could raise the profile of the industry or defend the industry and its members when attacked by mainstream sources. This was a complaint of Frank Rolfe, but it is also documented in several unchallenged reports, linked here, here, and further below the byline.
- More specifically, the John Oliver satirical video report entitled “Mobile Homes” has gone unchallenged publicly by MHI, Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, or the Knoxville, TN based brands like Clayton Homes.
The Last Bullet…
It was the last bullet above that was a kind of ‘last straw’ for some members of the Manufactured Housing Executives Council (MHEC). MHEC is open to most industry national and state associations executives. They have what is supposed to be a private communications tool to allow executives the ability to discuss regulatory or legal issues a member(s) faces, and to get input and feedback from other MHEC members.
Rephrased, MHEC is largely common sense, at least in principle.
But it is monitored by MHI and MHARR, and occasionally MHI or MHARR will weigh in on a topic. For the most part, it is by state executives, and for state executives, at least in its operating principle.
But sources tell the Daily Business News on MHProNews that some MHEC messages are in fact passed on to non-staffers. At times, for example, an issue discussion is passed along to MHI Executive Committee members, who in turn represent specific companies.
The How Gold Rules report is essential in understanding how raw power has been exercised by 21st’s Tim Williams, per several state association executive sources.
These are elements tied to the discussion of monopolies, the most recent report is linked below.
All of that is useful – and perhaps necessary – background to fully grasp the significance of what follows.
Ross Kinzler’s Commentary
The Daily Business News on MHProNews had multiple sources provide the much the same tips last week, regarding the John Oliver video reactions and commentary among MHEC state executives.
Some of them gladly jumped in with comments like that of Amy Bliss’. But clearly some were not pleased, as our report yesterday outlined.
Another peer of Bliss’ called what was happening with this issue as “association malpractice.”
Here are those comments in context, with typos in the original, and only bracketed comments added to clarify a meaning. As is our custom, we turn quotes brown and bold, so that it pops and is easily read.
“This is a terrible cover-up by mhi and [other] state associations of this guy’s assault on the industry and its homebuyers. The worthless mhi is sitting on 4 Million dollars reserve and wouldn’t challenge this…For example, they can easily afford to buy an ad…and respond to his key slanders in a few minutes…in order to establish documented response and to deter copy cats that now feel like there is an open season on this industry. That’s what LEGITIMATE ASDOCIATIONS like NAHB or Realtors or NRA or NAM, etc., etc. would do for slanders much more trivial than what this ding bat [John Oliver] has done.
“And what the hell is mhi’s lie to these state[s]…about “they tried to stop it in advance” is all about? Right! If so, why don’t they publicize what and how they tried to do so? Man, talk about association malpractice…mhi has perfected the science. These creeps are truly disgusting.”
There were other comments from those in the chain akin to the thrust of the one immediately above sent to MHProNews, but not all of those were as colorful. MHProNews has several other comments, and reserves the right to do follow up reports on this troubling topic, for reasons that will be clarified in what follows.
But what the various MHEC tips had in common was the fact that there is ‘disgust’ among some state execs over the maneuvers or failures to act that are arguably harming new manufactured home sales.
What was Kinzler’s response to our query about Bliss’ purported backstab among other execs of an MHI member?
You quoted an email that was marked Confidential and asked me to respond to you and others, known and unknown.
No thank you.
As to the individual that unethically forwarded that message, I’m on your trail.”
Here is that screen capture, to document the accuracy of the above.
Let’s note that we’ve held Kinzler and Bliss alike up for good that they did on other issues in our prior published reports, so this is a professional critique, not personal. Their respective accountability is the issue for this specific case.
That said, the point stands that Bliss and Kinzler – instead of holding ‘big boy brands’ in MHI to account for sparking this black-eye report on MHProNews, Bliss targeted an MHI member that had nothing to do with the bad news side of the problematic John Oliver video.
Kinzler stood silently by Bliss, despite the apparent faux pas of her purported backstab of her own and an MHI member.
MHProNews will continue to focus the laser on the issue in this matter. The association that is supposed to benefit and defend the industry, is standing silently by as the industry is assaulted. Who benefits from that pattern of activity?
Isn’t it the big boy brands that are consolidating the industry, and are likewise causing a sizable share of the bad news stories that the industry faces?
These are arguably reasons why a new post-production trade body is necessary. The National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners has already made that break. MHARR made that break years before.
The Bottom Line?
Millennial Tom Fath made the previous statement cited above. The industry does seem to be under attack, and as Frank Rolfe charged, MHI has routinely failed to defend or promote the industry properly.
Ironically, the former MHI chairman, Tim Williams of 21st, made the point to MHProNews on the record that there is a good argument to be made that all such slurs should be addressed.
If so, why aren’t they doing so?
The hypothesis that becoming more obvious is this. Headwinds harm the independents more than the big boys. The big boys can afford temporary setbacks better than independents. Bad news is like taxes or regulations. It is arguably harder on small firms than big ones.
The industry’s production levels are smaller today than when Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway bought into MHVille in 2003. How is that to be explained? Given Berkshire has dozens of its own newspapers, and billions they could invest in correcting the record if they so desired? Isn’t the only logical deduction that they want to see the industry struggle, so that more companies get consolidated at a ‘value’ price?
That’s this afternoon’s “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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Why is Seattle Dying? Affordable Housing, Misplaced Compassion, and Manufactured Homes – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
In just over three weeks, this video below entitled ” Seattle is Dying ” by KOMO, a local ABC TV affiliate there, has broken 2.1 million views. It is an hour-long and compelling documentary that ends with hope based upon some promising solutions. But it first lays out one troubling fact and example after another.