There are times we strive to serve meat and potatoes, which the dictionary defines as “ordinary but fundamental things; basic ingredients.” But there are other times that we dive deeper into the issues that are pressing – say, towards a deadline. Yesterday was such a day. Webalizer and other metrics on our site tell us that it was a record day for the month, and at a glance (there’s a lot of data to sift through), yesterday might be one of the top days of the year for reader totals and pageviews. It looks like there was about 80 percent more visitors than normal yesterday.
So ICYMI you may want to go back a day see what all the interest was in.
That factoid must vex those who puff out their chests and prance about talking about their latest photo opportunities with public officials. In meat and potatoes fashion, we simply ask the pertinent questions. What did the photo opportunities (photo ops) over the past year by industry leaders associated with MHI net for the independent producers, communities, retailers, suppliers or others in the HUD Code manufactured home industry, pray tell?
What did those MHI photo ops over the past two years net for manufactured housing?
- What relief did the industry’s so-called leaders bring to the homeowners seeking more equity and financial stability?
- What relief did the industry’s so-called leaders bring when it comes to establishing growth in new manufactured home sales vs. promises made by outgoing MHI President Dick Jennison?
- What can the industry’s leaders point to that demonstrates more and better lending is now available for manufactured housing’s independent producers, sellers, businesses, current and potential homeowners?
- How many new developments are opening up vs. closures, as a result of all of those photo ops? Who benefits from that ratio?
- How has enhanced preemption been advanced in practice through visits at the White House, or at HUD with top officials?
- How has the FHFA responded to high level, face-to-face meetings that produced photo ops? Didn’t Gooch’s own letter say it fell short? Ya think, Lesli?
Let’s be clear. We are not singling out Trump Administration officials, Democrats or Republicans. There were certainly face-to-face meetings by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) with federal officials during the Obama Administration too. Going back to the Bush (43) Administration, there were meetings then too – with what measurable outcomes?
One has to go back to the Bush 41 and into the Clinton Administrations years to see soaring sales trends for manufactured housing. Those are historic facts. How can MHI look the industry’s members in the eyes and claim to be working for growth, when their own members investor relations statements prove otherwise? How does MHI explain that Warren Buffett donations flowed through dark money channels to MHAction, the same group that disrupted Dr. Carson’s address in Las Vegas, NV? That’s another fact: see the evidence linked here.
The Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – says they represent all segments of manufactured housing and factory-built housing.
First, taken at face value, their own claims may itself may be a conflict of interest. Modular housing has their own institutes, at least two. One that represents residential modular construction, the other represents commercial modular building. Then, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has their Building Systems Council. Does MHI really need to claim to represent the interests of modular and prefab builders? Nor should the industry forget that Kevin Clayton is increasingly into site built housing, another conflict of interest for MHI with HUD Code manufactured home builders? Hold that thought.
So, recently MHI claimed in writing to represent the interests of all segments of HUD Code manufactured housing. Seriously? Who benefits from what they first called a ‘new class of homes’ and have now pivoted to the moniker of “CrossModTM Homes” – is it mainstream HUD Code housing? MHI’s CEO-elect Lesli Gooch’s own letter yesterday to the FHFA makes it clear that their new program that MHI pushed for in behind closed door meetings with the GSEs is not working.
When the data is reviewed, not some fancy hypothetical video or photo op towards a nebulous goal in the murky future, the MHI plans aren’t bearing the fruit they claim they were aimed at achieving. Watch the video on their home page before they take it down. Because what they claimed took place and the results are clearly two entirely different things. The video is slick. But is it paltering? Is it deliberately misleading their own smaller, independent members?
That begs the question. Who benefited while manufactured housing shipments dipped during an affordable housing crisis? Wasn’t it larger firms – often MHI members – that are consolidating smaller ones at a discounted valuation?
If you look at the data and the trends, they are hardly more clear. Who says?
Pour over the public statements made by publicly traded firms such as Sun Communities (SUI), Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), Cavco Industries (CVCO), or Skyline Champion (SKY). Consolidation – mergers and acquisition activities – are a staple for discussion.
But don’t stop there.
Look at the non-publicly traded firms that are also often MHI members and are into consolidation. They continue to buy up manufactured home land-lease communities that were often previously owned by mom-and-pop operations. Who says? Marcus and Millichap’s research services.
MHI’s National Communities Council (NCC) stopped publishing their annual list of their top community operators. Sources tell MHProNews that a deal was struck with blogger George Allen, that can be reviewed in the report below. Per sources that have proven to be reliable, Allen acts as a part-time attack dog (surrogate) for MHI, and MHI no longer competed against his own annual statistical report that the Indianapolis metro based writer sold for profit. MHProNews has no documentary evidence to back those claims up, but watching the details of the behavior of each suggests that the claims of those sources are proving accurate. Perhaps it is coincidence, perhaps it is collusion. Note that not all collusion is illegal, but some forms of it may be, per legal sources.
But there is something else that may be a motive why such a bargain was struck by MHI/NCC division with blogger Allen. MHI/NCC realized that MHProNews utilized those published reports that revealed increasing consolidation pointed to patterns of activity. Heaven help the fine folks in Arlington if they published data that might be accurate and might be used against the interests of consolidators.
Let’s be clear. MHProNews editorially has no problem with honest free enterprise.
That said, we are as opposed to crony, vulture capitalism as we are to socialism. There is a middle ground, and the founding fathers of this nation sought to establish it. As the Trump Administration’s antitrust assistant attorney general reminded one of his recent audiences, Thomas Jefferson was opposed to monopolies. Concerns over monopolistic practices is a theme that MHProNews has touted prior to the Trump Administration coming into office.
Our focus has been, and will continue to be, on proven principles that go beyond a merely partisan political line.
The current and prior MHI board of directors – so called ‘elected’ officials – represent the interests of firms that are routinely what MHI award winner Marty Lavin aptly referred to as the big boys. Lavin plainly said that the big boys work for the little guys only to the extent that it benefits themselves.
Entirely separate from Lavin, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR, previously ARR) founding president Danny Ghorbani said something similar to MHProNews in a comment shown below.
Entirely apart from Lavin, Ghorbani or other voices that are often in MHI, was the action of those associations that broke away from MHI saying that they failed to produce results. Bingo. Spot on, isn’t it?
We See the MHI Leadership and their Photos, But Where’s the Beef?
Our publisher periodically has fun with turning MHI photo ops into cartoonish memes. Some might react with hostility toward these images. Others laugh, get the points, and a serious topic was conveyed by the use of satire or humor.
The links from this report go to research that:
- Is evidence based.
- Accurately quotes other parties in context.
- Unpacks claims made by so-called MHI insiders and analyzes them.
- Noting that we routinely have offered to MHI, their ‘big boy’ members, and other parties we question or critique to give a formal reply if they so wish. We contact the MHI outside attorney. Apparently MHI’s inside attorney, former General Counsel Rick Robinson, couldn’t take it any longer, and he jumped ship. Who is Robinson working for now? A competitor of ours. How revealing.
MHI’s elected and appointed leaders are educated and intelligent.
Which begs the question, how could so many that are so educated and intelligent perform so badly on behalf the industry’s independents, investors, millions of current homeowners and potential consumers? Is ‘failure after effort’ an accident or a coy plan?
Perhaps the most damning departure message for MHI was that of their former president Chris Stinebert. In his departing letter to the industry, Stinebert politely – but in our view, pointedly – slapped MHI and their leaders repeatedly in the face for their action and inaction.
There is no lack of evidence for what we call the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their allies purported weaponization of the industry’s good laws and accomplishments, or failure to defend and fully enforce the industry’s accomplishments and good laws. Who says? Some of MHI’s own members, as well as independents outside of their association.
In drawing to a close, let’s note that MHI was essentially alone from the axis’ apparent members in submitting statements to the FHFA yesterday. By contrast, those from the industry that took an opposing view outnumber the comments by MHI, and are arguably more cogent. See for yourself, by looking at the various reports from 11.15.2019.
MHI’s statement under the signature of Lesli Gooch arguably proves the point that we make. Gooch bobs and weaves, postures and palters. At the end of the day, what does her message say? They are okay with a reduction in loans for manufactured housing, just not that big a reduction. But that same message essentially admits that performance should be measure by sales and loans closed. Carefully read in the light of known facts, Gooch’s letter to the FHFA is a strikingly self-contradictory document.
For a Ph.D. to put her name to such miasma makes one think that her degree is short for “Piled Higher, Deeper.” But in all sincerity, we at MHProNews thank Gooch for it.
It arguably proves the very points we’ve been making for the past few years. Photo ops. Posturing. Big claims. No joy. Who benefits? Consolidators. Who suffers? Millions who need affordable housing. It is a disgrace, and arguably criminal activity is involved. When MHI’s outside attorney assigned to monitor this site (yes, it is true) and others were challenged to debunk those notions, how did they reply?
Silence. Why? Because they have purportedly painted themselves into a corner already.
MHI is arguably LYING to their own members, LYING to the independents of the industry, LYING to public officials, including the IRS. Smoke and mirrors? They’ve got some. Razzle dazzle with photo ops with top officials? Check, they’ve done that too.
But where are the increased lending options that consumers and independents thirst for?
Who benefits from that lack of increased lending?
Who in positions of power in the federal government or the GSEs are colluding with MHI and their ‘big boy’ members to slowly choke the industry’s independents and consumers?
While MHI touts their ‘accomplishments’ in their 2018 video, MHProNews alone among the industry’s trade publishers cast doubts about their claims. MHProNews alone warned that the ‘new class of homes’ now dubbed “CrossModTM Homes” was in fact a Trojan Horse that could reduce sales instead of increase them. How could we know years in advance?
- Because we know the industry, watch the details and trends, then apply reason and common sense.
- We have expert sources, often from MHI insider/member companies.
- We know that if the good laws already on the books were fully enforced, and if MHI were truly promoting the industry, sales would soar to record levels.
That’s clarity based on understanding is what eats the lunch of the consolidators who won’t debate their performance or these issues publicly. Why not?
Now, this is heading toward the final point for today. There are some new entrants into manufactured housing. Some of these know the landscape, they see the landmines and the ‘rigged system.’ They are challenging it anyway.
There are also existing players that have long understood that the system was rigged, frankly before we did as trade media. We bought the smoke and mirrors for a time, because it looks convincing. It is only through the lens of time, experience, and metrics that one sees that what they posture doing doesn’t work, save for the vulture consolidators.
That’s the definition of monopolization using crony, corrupt capitalism.
During a radio broadcast call with Fox Business Networks’ Charles Payne, publisher L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach put it to him that the reason that some are turning to socialism is because they see that crony capitalism is unjust. Payne agreed, and that FBN’s program anchor began to talk on air with millions listening about “the Moat” after Tony Kovach mentioned Clayton Homes.
Tony wanted to have a little fun with MHI and their puppet masters. Knowing how proud they are of their photos, he made arrangements for his own photo op.
Note that Tony will be traveling to Washington, D.C. soon. We’ll see what photo ops – and more?! – that trip brings.
MHProNews knows with certainty that several public officials at the federal and state levels are investigating the corruption that we’ve been spotlighting. Among the audio books that Tony has, that he sometimes makes us listen to while we drive are ones by university level researcher and business author, Jim Collins. They include “From Good to Great,” and “How the Mighty Fall.” Arrogance and failure to adapt to reality is one way that the mighty fall.
Tony can be at times – difficult. I know, because I live with the man. Sometimes we spar over this or that, as couples sometimes do. But when presented with evidence, he is willing to pivot. He’s proved that time and again that given new evidence, he is willing to reevaluate what is occurring. By nature, he is fun-loving, goal focused, ‘can do,’ and light-hearted. On this date, MHI’s LinkedIn page has less than 1 follower for every 8 that Tony has. Who do you think the industry’s pros trust more for accurate information?
MHI gloried in Tony, and was happy to have him as a board member – and they paid for MHProNews services. They do so arguably up to the point that they began to get uncomfortable with some of his polite but persistent questions about issues like these.
- Other options in lending that MHI wouldn’t promote.
- Why they would not work to fully enforce the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, including its enhanced preemption provision.
- Why they slow walked industry education and promotion, offering instead programs that failed to meaningfully move the needle.
- Questions about their ‘new class of homes’ plan (more on that below).
- Why they failed to press the GSEs or FHFA on the Duty to Serve manufactured housing mandated by the Housing and Economic Improvement Act (HERA) law.
- Why they failed to engage with residents in a constructive manner.
- What would happen to the industry when communities began to fill up.
- Why they wouldn’t actively ask the new Trump Administration to remove Pam Danner from her administrator’s role at HUD’s Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP).
- Items with respect to the sprinkler issue, removable chassis, and more.
In hindsight, perhaps MHI’s so-called leaders cleverly tried to maneuver him because they knew we had the largest audience in the industry. But when the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act increasingly proved to be a clever sham, Tony began to speak out publicly on matters he had spoken out more privately before. When Tony wouldn’t back down – that’s his stubborn streak – well, let’s just say that the powers that be arguably tried to make life more difficult.
For MHI to embrace Allen, who has ironically trashed them several times over the years, or lifted up ‘new’ publications and platforms that may look slick, but have produced no measurable results for the industry – all while kissing up to MHI and the powers that be.
It’s an elaborate, stage managed – and rigged – game.
It could not be carried out without ‘deep state’ insiders and others help.
If the powers that be seriously wanted to see more affordable housing and more home ownership, they already have the good laws on the books needed to accomplish that goal. They are intelligent people. Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway have significant resources, are we to believe that they can’t get good laws on the books enforced? Or is it more logical to believe that they don’t want them enforced, so their own profits and consolidation at a discount continues?
It is a tangled web. But the truth is hiding in plain sight. Once you have the decoder ring – which is simple – the reality becomes soberingly apparently. Good laws aren’t being enforced. The industry is consolidating because it is underperforming.
If the powers that be want to demand that good laws already on the book be fully enforced, let them show a photo op of that, please?
This was supposed to be shorter than this, but sometimes you get on a roll. Yesterday was a record day in November for readers, and it was meat and potatoes. Where is the lending.
We’ll close with this. When we are at a live event, there are these different types of responses.
- Some can’t thank us enough for our reports. Some of those literally hug us. They are grateful that we are shedding a light on how our industry has been weaponized and undermined. See the related reports for more.
- Some give us a wide berth, as if being seen standing near us might be an issue for them with a boss.
- Some don’t yet know what to think.
During the American revolution, there was three camps too. For England, for independence, those on the fence.
Just as both Democrats and Republicans say that there is a war underway for the ‘soul of America,’ so too there is a struggle underway for control and domination of as much of manufactured housing as is possible without drawing antitrust scrutiny. Why? Because it is the most proven form of affordable housing. Limiting manufactured housing artificially helps a range of powerful interests, but it arguably hurts the vast majority of the American people, smaller businesses, and ethical investors.
That’s your Saturday installment of manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
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