Consider the following 5 bullets.
- The interests of thousands of manufactured housing businesses that are independently owned are being destabilized by larger rivals in purportedly deceptive, illicit and illegal ways.
- The value of the property of millions of mobile and manufactured homeowners are being undermined by tactics that redirect or thwart good laws in ways not originally imagined by legislators.
- Certain key federal officials are apparently involved, at agencies such as HUD and the FHFA. When laws are not being properly enforced that reflects on those who are charged with their implementation.
- Investors in specific publicly traded firms who are not scrutinizing the details in corporate and national trade association behavior patterns, related facts and trends are arguably being short-changed.
- Members of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and numbers of the state association “affiliates” arguably have leaders who are feeding them steadily to consolidators at a discounted valuation. Those leaders are purportedly failing their members under their fiduciary responsibilities. A similar claim could be advanced – all of the above with evidence linked further below – regarding a number of MHI member publicly traded firms.
The evidence for the bullets above are laid out in a series of reports that are linked from their respective headlines for this past week. Additional evidence is found via other links, including those reports that follow the byline and notices.
While anyone can have an opinion on anything, here on MHProNews we rely on facts, evidence, common sense and the applied quotes of individuals who should know what they are talking about. From a large body of evidence, reasonable and objective people can deduce those 5 bullets at the top. Or as Daniel Patrick Moynihan summed it up, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Those 5 bullets are the elements and outcomes of a scheme so brazen that it is being carried out openly, in plain sight. When those accused of those allegations are called into question, in keeping with the mantra of confidence fraudsters, they “never give up the con.” Of course those who are engaged in this behavior will deny, duck or distract from those concerns. That is the nature of a con job or any scheme that operates in the open.
With that outline, the prudent reader should correctly wonder about the linked evidence. It is plentiful. Perhaps most importantly, it stands publicly unchallenged as to the facts advanced.
If those accused wanted to do so, they could debate their performance and posturing about these allegations publicly. But instead, they assign this or that surrogate to attempt diversionary or even smear tactics. An example of an ‘over the target reaction’ by the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis is shown below. Those informed on the tricks used in deception can spot the fact that big claims using hyperbole and smear tactics – without supporting evidence, and that duck the allegations noted herein – are just empty words. That said, the tactics of deception are used by decievers precisely because they work on some people.
Proof That Something Is Seriously Wrong in the Manufactured Housing Industry
Before self-proclaimed 25-year industry veteran Tim Williams sent a series of messages recently to MHProNews – see examples linked here, plus more about him in reports and pull quotes further below that reference his purported diversionary tactics in detail – Mary Gaiski with the Pennsylvania Manufactured Housing Association (PMHA) said the following. Ponder how her statement reflects on the work of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
Two days after that quote by Gaiski was published by MHProNews, Executive Director Williams said the following among other things. As the quotations make clear, Williams was defending and promoting the “supurb” – his word – work of MHI CEO Lesli Gooch who he said was ‘the best he’s seen in 25 years.’
In the face of distractions and detractors, MHProNews keeps returning to the facts, evidence and supporting quotes that are accurately cited.
Gaiski isn’t the first to highlight what amounts to national association leadership failures. 2 state associations broke away from MHI in 2018, specifically citing years of failed performance. If not for reasons linked here, others arguably would if they could.
Stating the obvious can be clarifying. If the manufactured home industry was roaring, would anyone be discussing these concerns involving MHI at all? Obviously not. So the reasons these issues have dogged MHI and their big boy backers for several years is precisely because the industry is underperforming during an affordable housing crisis.
The ‘tell’ or clue that manufactured housing is not performing is so apparent, that once the facts and evidence are understood, even non-manufactured housing professionals can rapidly grasp what’s occurring.
First, publicly traded firms admit that the industry is underperforming, basing that notion upon historic norms. This graphic below is one of several key items in a report about Cavco Industries and its relevance to this issue. The link to that report on Cavco (NASDAQ:CVCO) is found in our report headline recap. It should be noted that Skyline Champion (NYSE:SKY) has published similar data that is also referenced in a report linked from last week that can be accessed below.
Given literally decades of positive third-party research that proves the quality, durability and value of
modern manufactured homes, if the industry’s leaders were doing their jobs properly,
then the industry should be soaring. Instead it is snoring. Which begs questions
like – what are the true causes of the manufactured housing’s underperformance?
Here are the facts, with ample evidence to back these next 7 bullets found in the reports linked below. In no particular order of importance.
- An affordable housing crisis is raging in all fifty states as well as in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico.
- The most proven form of unsubsidized affordable housing in the modern era is HUD Code regulated manufactured homes.
- Specific laws were passed by Congress in 2000 and 2008 that included provisions designed to protect consumers and boost affordable manufactured home ownership.
- Over ten years after the Duty to Serve (DTS) manufactured housing lending was mandated for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the law being enacted by a widely bipartisan majority in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 – DTS still isn’t being enforced as envisioned. How is that possible?
- Almost 2 decades have elapsed since the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. The MHIA was also widely bipartisan. Why aren’t all of its provisions being robustly enforced? Note that in 2012, the House investigated complaints then about the failure to fully enforce the MHIA and its enhanced preemption provision, among others.
- If those two laws were being fully and properly enforced, taxpayers would be saving billions of dollars annually, because more affordable housing would be supplied by the free market. Furthermore, local and state governments would have larger streams of revenue coming in than is currently occurring, because there would be more homeowners.
- These issues directly impact millions of manufactured homeowners, as a special report planned for early this week will detail.
Thus, the question must be asked. Why are good laws that favor manufactured housing and manufactured home owners being thwarted? That case could be summed up like this:
- years of evidence points to the notion that industry underperformance benefits specific ‘special interests’ who want to consolidate the industry at discounted valuations. Those special interests are in reflected by key corporations that exert great sway over MHI and most state associations.
- That claim about depressed industry performance reducing the value of existing independent businesses happens to fit Warren Buffett’s mantra about investing at a bargain value whenever possible. Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway owns Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage and other prominent manufactured housing industry companies. The industry’s underperformance can be traced back to the time that Berkshire acquired Clayton and its lending.
- Are these factoids all coincidences? Or are these part of a crafted scheme that produces these troubling outcomes?
If the premise about the causes of the industry’s underperformance are accepted as true – or at least plausible – then the picture emerges of a brazen scheme that harms mobile and manufactured homeowners, independent businesses, numbers of investors and taxpayers. It would be a ploy so bold that it’s being carried out openly with winks and nods. When asked about these evidence based concerns, the purported ringleaders pretend and posture that all is well. They respond with diversions, such as publishing new photo ops or videos that feature public officials. It is as if those photos or videos are somehow evidence that they are doing their jobs well. While photo ops from MHI abound, the powers that be have one or more surrogates attack the messengers who warn about or report facts and trends. MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister site stood virtually alone in manufactured housing media in holding MHI accountable, often citing current or former MHI member complaints.
But others in the mainstream news media have raised similar issues, as will be noted following the this past week’s report recap. Don’t miss that part of this article.
Returning to industry voiced concerns, one recent example from another factory built housing association has erupted. To date, who else has published for the industry’s professionals or investors to consider the serious allegations being made by the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) Executive Director Tom Hardiman? Why did MHEC members – the Manufactured Housing Executives Council – and MHI fail to inform their members of this new controversy?
The problem isn’t a lack of evidence that manufactured housing is being undermined from within the industry to the harm of independently owned businesses and millions of manufactured homeowners. Rather, there is an abundance of evidence, as the reports following this introduction reflect.
That may explain – as one of the reports linked below the byline and notices reflects – why a growing number of state and federal officials are probing allegedly predatory and potentially illegal practices in manufactured housing. It would be journalistically irresponsible NOT to bring these issues to the attention of thousands of remaining independents. Indeed, those who have lost or sold their businesses at artificially depressed prices should be keen to explore this and the related topics too.
The Acid Tests for Manufactured Housing Professionals and Sincere Advocates
Here are objective measures and ‘acid tests’ for the claims Williams, MHI or other pro-MHI surrogates make that should be contrasted with their claims that ‘all is well.’
- What are the production and shipment trends in manufactured housing? How do those trends compare with decades past? Note that the graphic above and the report about Cavco Industries and Skyline Champion below answers that in detail, using MHI-member sourced materials. The facts are clear. The industry is underperforming. That is occurring during an affordable housing crisis. Why is this happening? Why has this been occurring for so many years? Who might benefit from underperformance?
- How does manufactured home industry production and shipment trends compare with others in conventional housing or big ticket sales like RVs or automotive?
- How does access to retail and wholesale financing in manufactured housing compare with other industries, such as conventional housing, RVs or automotive?
- When MHI – or their state affiliates – advocate, are they properly pushing for the full and complete implementation of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act, including “enhanced preemption,” as well as for robust lending mandated by HERA 2008 under the DTS mandates for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Or are MHI and their allies posturing efforts while they actually push instead for lending on a new class of homes they’ve called “CrossModTM homes” that they claim their research proves will be widely embraced? But if MHI’s claims about “CrossModTM homes” are accurate at all, then why are those “CrossModTM homes” that Fannie calls MH Advantage® and Freddie calls ChoiceHomesSM barely selling in the marketplace? See the Cavco and other reprots linked below for answers to those questions.
Boiling it Down
An industry expert told MHProNews during a recent call that the tests for manufactured housing advocacy by umbrella trade groups could be boiled down to these.
- Are the practical effects of the efforts by MHI geared to benefit all sized operations in the industry, including independents, or are they in fact just benefiting a select few that happen to be consolidators?
- Whatever MHI and their leading lights claim to do, what are the actual measurable results?
Two questions. Who benefits – qui bono – which happens to be the investigator’s question. Plus, what are the actual results.
The outcomes are clear. The industry has been underperforming ever since Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway invested in Clayton Homes and their affiliated lenders. It is MHI member produced evidence, found in the reports linked below, that makes that plain. More on that following this week’s headline reports.
With that introduction, and no further adieu, let’s dive into the headlines for the reports in the week that was, from 2.9 to 2.16.2020.
What’s New on MHLivingNews
What’s New on the Masthead
What’s New from Washington, D.C. from MHARR
What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews
We observed previously that if you cause an industry to underperform long enough, then you get what wise Zig Ziglar said is the effect of being “cooked in a squat.” Try running while you are squatting. It simply can’t happen. To correct that stunted condition, one first needs accurate information. Then, a solid plan of action, followed by implementation.
With that in mind…
The industry has historic problems that mask opportunities.
- The interests of potentially millions of manufactured home owners are being threatened and many are already seeing their values undermined. That is happening despite MHI’s so-called code of ethical conduct. That could be a blessing in disguise for white hat operations, so long as they make a bright-line distinction between their business models and that of certain insider firms at MHI.
- The white hats of this industry want and need more sales. Those consumers will trust white hats more when the millions of manufactured homeowners interests are working in tandem with white hat independents.
- By contrast, what the black hats want is for consumers and industry to be at loggerheads. The evidence for that is among the reports linked below the byline and notices.
There are plenty of reasons for white hat industry pros should say, enough is enough. The powers that be are hoping that social glue and the lemming effect of habits – among other factors – keep them in line.
- There are really good reasons for investors in manufactured housing to sit up and realize that whatever profit level they may be obtaining, more could be earned if the interests of the majority were being respected. Who said that? How about billionaire Nick Hanauer?
- In conjunction with others, we are laying the foundation for a new type of ‘post production’ efforts that would bring together potentially hundreds of thousands of current home owners with white hat independents and honest affordable housing advocates. If you aren’t yet on our x2 weekly headline email news list, sign up to stay informed on those developments.
If you have a news tip or topic, please make that part of your effort to get manufactured housing back to the levels that it ought to be. Never forget that former MHI staff ‘leader’ Dick Jennison promised the industry could reach 500,000 new manufactured home shipments. On that number, we agree. In fact, we think that number is too low, but it is a reasonable interim target.
After 15 years of underperformance and MHI saying ‘trust our leadership,’ isn’t it time to change that scratched and broken record and move on? When considering what is near the core of the industry’s underperformance for over a decade and a half, ponder what Robin Harding – who stated he was a long-time Buffett admirer – said in the Financial Times.
There is more about the issue that Harding said in the reports linked here and here, among others. But let’s consider another outside financial writer’s take on Buffett and his strategic “castle and moat” strategem.
Any chance that this is still considered mere coincidence or routine fumbling by MHI and their big boy bosses? Or is this part of a plan that is being openly executed? For those who doubt, and a degree of skepticism is warranted in any examination of evidence, consider what some have called a prima facie example of antitrust law violation exhibited by this letter from the other Tim Williams, the former chairman of MHI and still the current President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage Corporation
Yes, absolutely we as management of the largest and most-read manufactured home industry publication believe that there is more than enough evidence to open any number of state and federal investigations into what is going wrong in manufactured housing. Ponder two disticentive statements from MHI member Skyline-Champion (SKY).
Because the SKY statement above relates to their IR package statement below. When the industry is underperforming, why should their be so much focus on M&A activity?
When the big 3 MHI producing members now hold – as the above from SKY indicates, some 80 percent market share between them, why would they keep squeezing the independents that remain?
What makes this consolidation of production – and other parts of the industry – into so few hands possible?
This is a matter of cause and effect. This occurred in good measure because Berkshire has dominated the lending, and MHI has magically failed to get FHFA to enforce the law on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s legal Duty to Serve manufactured home lending. Still believe in tooth fairies?
It is often difficult to accept the slings and arrows of those like OMHA’s Williams who has wrongfully claimed that MHProNews doing such reports has done ‘NOTHING’ but harm the industry. Who is harming the industry? Those who report on what others have done? Or those who have behaved in problematic ways that mainstream media, public officials and our trade publications believe are wrong?
Note that Clayton’s hometown news channel questions them and spotlighted some of these concerns. But no one in media, other than MHProNews and MHLivingNews, has to date pulled together all of this evidence to make the case for why what has stunted manufactured housing is arguably a case of market manipulation. That manipulation has occured in a variety of ways, the purpotedly violated several state and federal laws. Why would they do all this?
The answer is deceptively simple. Manufactured housing is the future of affordable housing. Alan Amy explained it in the video below as the reason that billion dollar corporations are consolidating the industry.
MHI award winner Marty Lavin summed up the industry’s woes in these phrases.
This purported scheme in manufactured housing makes former billionaire Bernie Madoff’s openly operating multi-billion dollar scheme look like chump change by comparison. As a useful analogy, it was the persisent push by Harry Markopolis and others that caused public officials to finally take action against once highly connected and protected Madoff. Can the same occur in manufactured housing and for similar reasons?
That said, our thanks to those who make this work possible. That includes those who provide the tips and documents that no one else in MHVille gets – or would publish if they did get it. Some want perfumed BS, and they find that nonsense elsewhere. But for those who want straight talk that is backed up by facts, evidence, and expert analysis, you and thousands of other pros like you have found the right place here today.
Our stated goal is simple. We want to see the industry return to and surpass its glory days and achieve its greatness through sustainable white hat business practices. We already have the laws that are needed to accomplish that goal.
Here’s the punch line. That’s what’s astonishing. MHARR is quite right. The good laws needed to advance manufactured housing are already on the federal law books. We as white hat industry professionals need to act in a manner that insures that those laws are enforced. That will require a measure of organized effort. 2020 is an election year. That’s potentially good news for those willing to think ahead and act accordingly.
While some scheme – and let’s be honest, they’ve been slowly winning – let the white hats set aside the illusions of motion that they’ve peddled by those who benefit from industry underperformance. It isn’t photo ops or videos with Dr. Carson that are needed. It might be nice for those who get paid to travel, but what precisely did the other years of photos and videos with public officials do to raise production levels in the last few years?
- What’s required is a clarity of mind that presses for good laws to be fully and properly enforced. That implementation would cost the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their allies money, wouldn’t it? So is it any surprise that MHI postures efforts without delivering results?
- But if the industry’s white hats achieved their potential through competitive lending options and enhanced preemption enforcement that would remove zoning barriers, then the future would be brighter for not only our industry, but also for millions of more consumers.
That’s the story. That’s why we shine the spotlight day after day.
More are ahead. Stay tuned to the straight talk network with smart analysis that the MH Axis tries to pretend doesn’t exit. Ha!
That’s it for now on this Sunday installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, week in review, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)
(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.