On October 30, 2020 – on a Friday and just days before the presidential and general election that has the nation’s rapt attention – the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued its ANNUAL HOUSING REPORT for the period covering JANUARY 1, 2019 – DECEMBER 31, 2019. In less than an hour from the time of its release MHProNews received the first of several related ‘insider’ tips from well placed sources.
One of those tips reads as follows.
“Well, here it is. Again, in the report linked below, FHFA is saying that FNM [i.e.: Fannie Mae] and FRM [Freddie Mac] have “complied” with MH DTS [manufactured housing Duty to Serve legal mandate], when they clearly have not. This time, though, the report explains how this fiction is possible. Per the language highlighted below, they’re saying that MH chattel loans were excluded from FHFA’s compliance determination. So, effectively, they’re saying that FNM and FRM “complied” with MH DTS, because they’re totally ignoring 80% of the market in making that evaluation, and pretending that it simply does not exist.”
That source had the following concluding word, “Unreal!”
The key segment that source referred to, found in the FHFA document linked here as a reference. The words the source referenced from the FHFA document reads as follows.
“For manufactured homes titled as personal property, or chattel loans, both Enterprises submitted infeasibility requests on their chattel pilot initiatives, requesting that FHFA exclude these objectives from consideration during the annual Duty to Serve performance evaluation for 2019. An Enterprise may submit an infeasibility request if underserved market conditions or other extenuating circumstances outside of its control substantially interfere with its accomplishment of an objective. FHFA approved these infeasibility requests on February 27, 2020.”
In a parallel or related insight from a different well-placed source, was this tip to MHProNews. Speaking about Tim Williams, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned 21st Mortgage Corporation, was this message.
- Tim Williams [21st] said he was “happy [the GSEs Duty to Serve] pilot program failed. His words.”
Both of the GSEs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are supposed to be supervised by the FHFA, had purported ‘pilot’ loan programs. But data and sources make clear that those so-called ‘pilots’ are merely window dressing aimed at quelling concerns by consumer groups and manufactured home independents.
That is the context for Williams’ reference cited above about his happiness over the failed GSE pilot programs. The reason his statement is such a significant admission will be outlined below, as it undermines affordable housing seekers, owners, independent business owners, and others.
Williams was a prior chairman of MHI and is still active on the MHI board of directors. As 21st is the nation’s largest manufactured home personal property – i.e. home only or “chattel loan” lender – and one which ‘buys deeper’ at higher interest rates than many other industry lenders charge, Williams’ remarks are a bombshell admission on several levels. One is that it arguably belied the on-camera statements made by Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett, affirmed by Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, regarding manufactured housing and the DTS lending programs that the GSEs are mandated by federal law to be providing.
“Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett speaks at the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Buffett said it would be “very good for America” if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did more to help finance manufactured homes,” said Yahoo’s YouTube page where this video was posted on May 4, 2019.
Another is that it once more confirmed one of the apparent meanings of an on-camera admission by Kevin Clayton, CEO at Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes.
Informed sources indicate that several at MHI and beyond are aware of this statement by Williams that he is “happy” that the DTS pilot program failed.
Additionally, there are other new insights from sources inside the GSEs with clear ties to Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member firms. Those may become the subject of developing and related revelations.
These and other related facts and insights fit a pattern of previous reports that include the recent reports on the purported undermining and market manipulation by Berkshire owned brands and their allies at MHI and in ‘the system’ that by law is supposed to provide these lending options.
MHProNews provided an opportunity for Williams, Tom Hodges – Clayton Homes General Counsel and MHI Chairman – and Lesli Gooch, MHI CEO, to correct, clarify or deny the statements.
As you and those attorneys, media, public officials, media, investors, professionals, nonprofit, and consumer leaders in the BCC line routinely know, personal property or “chattel” lending is a hot issue in manufactured housing.
Limiting lending, said the Urban Institute, undermines manufactured homeowners’ value. But it also harms the competitiveness of manufactured housing independents, among others.
With that backdrop, we have it on good authority that Tim Williams@21st recently cheered the failure of the GSEs pilot project for chattel loans under the Duty to Serve program.
We also have fresh insights from within the GSEs/FHFA that point to purported collusion by key players associated with the Manufactured Housing Institute – including, but arguably not limited to the three of you – that likewise point to ‘failure by design’ of the Duty to Serve personal property lending in manufactured housing.
Given years of evidence by sources inside and outside of manufactured housing that point to market manipulation and possible antitrust and other violations of the law, we are hereby giving you and opportunity to respond to these various allegations.
Additionally, if there are any factual or logical errors you wish to raise with any recent or prior reports, by all means, please do so at this time.
You know the drill. Please email your comments for our mutual accuracy in handling.
We’ll plan a report in the near term either way, based on the information we have in hand. Thank you.
## End of body of quoted email. ##
Among the comments from an MHI connected member who was among those BCC’d in the above was this pithy remark. “Sock it to em, Tony.” That “Tony” is a reference to this writer for MHProNews.
Additional Information, MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
As the message to Tim Williams, Tom Hodges, Kevin Clayton – who was among those BCC’d – MHI member attorneys, and Lesli Gooch briefly spelled out, the purported and uncontested statement by Williams undermines millions of manufactured homeowners valuations. That is according to the research and logic of the Urban Institute, which Warren Buffett was named a lifetime trustee of and which has obtained years of funding from Buffett.
Limiting lending options is one of the key issues that the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), among others in the industry, has said artificially constrains manufactured housing sales.
That constraint of lending is a ‘barrier of entry,’ persistence and exit for the manufactured housing industry. That in turn limits the interest of potential investors, lenders, and competitors. That was admitted to by pro-MHI member Andy Gedo in the most significant public debate on the issues that help explain why affordable manufactured housing has been underperforming during an affordable housing crisis.
But purported market manipulation also has the impact of undermining the value of independently owned manufactured home businesses. That logically means that Clayton Homes and others who are ‘consolidating’ the industry – who are routinely MHI members – are evidently doing so at a discounted valuation than what would occur in the absence of such market manipulation. Meaning, such undermining of lending on manufactured housing harms independents who produce manufactured homes in factories, suppliers, retailers, community owners, and others.
Furthermore, it undercuts the initial statement made by Williams in his infamous 2009 letter, shown below, that legal sources have told MHProNews appears to be a prima facie case of market manipulation and antitrust violations.
Note that Williams, in that letter above, encouraged thousands of retailers to get DTS implemented. But as exclusive MHProNews reports and analysis linked here and here reflect, Williams statement in that letter, along with others cited made by Williams ‘on the record’ in uncontested statements, were arguably head fakes. Those head fakes aimed at deflecting 21st’s apparent role that de facto led to thousands of manufactured home independents failing or selling out at deeply discounted rates compared to their previous business valuations.
The value of millions of manufactured homes, and the work and dreams of thousands of manufactured housing professionals were apparently undermined or destroyed by Buffett’s lieutenants at 21st, Clayton Homes, and other brands – which have used MHI for years as additional cover.
That not only hurts those noted, but this scheme further harms taxpayers and public coffers at the federal, state, and local levels. For every person or household that could have purchased a manufactured home affordably, housing subsidies can be saved in many cases. There is also the benefit of adding to the local tax base.
On the DTS and financing side, several at MHI have made similar admissions. See the quotes above, but also the one below. See MHI award winner Marty Lavin’s DTS comments linked here.
These are often company leaders in the Arlington, VA based trade group that claims to be working for all segments of manufactured housing. But instead, they are quite apparently working for the interests of consolidators, something that neither MHI senior staff nor their elected leadership have contested, as the email above and several others in recent years evidenced.
MHI’s illogical push in recent weeks favoring Democratic lawmakers and a ‘coalition’ of trade groups that are working against industry interests were de facto rebuffed by the White House.
The main apparent rationale for MHI’s ‘coalition’ – beyond window dressing designed to keep the con-game going that turns smaller firms into discounted appetizers at Buffett’s Buffet – is that it also aims to unseat the president and his congressional backers that are seeking to “drain the swamp” of corruption that links the billionaire class and their multination corporations with crony capitalist practices.
That argument isn’t new. It has been made by Democrats and Democratic backers, dating back in some cases for over 2 decades. More recently, it has been made by progressive – meaning, naturally pro-Democratic – award-winning journalist and attorney, Glen Greenwald.
See the in depth report linked above. On the political right, is a recent bookend statement by Tucker Carlson on right-of-center Fox News.
Consider this pull quote and how it applies to the issues that have arguably hobbled our industry for over 15 years.
…The people we should watch carefully include business moguls, the intelligence agencies, prominent academics, cultural figures, military leaders, and most obviously, our politicians. The rest of us can’t really know what the people in charge are doing at all times. A reporter’s job is to find out and tell us,” said Carlson.
Here are some extended pull quotes from Carlson via Fox, for greater context.
For five years, we have watched the news media treat Donald Trump in a way that no American president has ever been treated. Richard Nixon himself — disgraced and forced to resign his office in the end — got a pass by comparison…
Reporters hate Trump with an all-consuming mania. They hate him so intensely that at times it’s been amusing to watch. If Donald Trump announced a cure for cancer at one of his rallies, CNN would denounce him for fixing drug prices.
If you’re a fair minded person, all this has been infuriating. Not only is it dishonest, it’s also patronizing because it’s almost unbelievably stupid.
…”Trump spied for Russia! Trump works for Putin! Trump’s a racist because he likes borders and doesn’t want to live in Haiti!”
Clearly, all the smart kids went into finance…
…The people we should watch carefully include business moguls, the intelligence agencies, prominent academics, cultural figures, military leaders, and most obviously, our politicians. The rest of us can’t really know what the people in charge are doing at all times. A reporter’s job is to find out and tell us.
… These people are your enemies. They are misleading you so that you will obey, and maybe it’ll work. Maybe they will get Joe Biden elected president next week without asking the most basic questions or vetting him in any way. That’s the gambit…”
Voices like progressive Greenwald on the political left, or Tucker Carlson on the political right, are both pointing to very similar descriptions of the elements of a rigged system.
What they say isn’t all new. MHProNews has previously reported numerous other similar observations by people inside media and inside politics. They are the voices that one should consider, when asking the obvious question. How is it possible that affordable manufactured housing is struggling so during an affordable housing crisis? When the data and research are so favorable to our industry, are we to believe that MHI and their insiders are too stupid or inept to return our industry to its glory days or beyond?
Everyone mentioned in this report is either educated, experienced, successful, or all of the above. It defies belief that they could be so inept. The far more plausible argument is what Tim Williams’ comment highlighted. He and the Berkshire brands, arguably in conjunction or with cover from others, undermined manufactured housing from within. That’s hurt millions of consumers, taxpayers, and thousands of industry business owners and even more professionals. While mainstream housing is soaring, manufactured housing is snoring.
The low state of the industry during an affordable housing crisis defies belief. Which routinely means that someone is benefiting from the status quo.
The election is yet to be held, as election day is November 3, 2020, there are reasons to think that the record turnout for early voting will reveal if the nation is taking a tilt further left or if enough voters will back President Donald J. Trump and Republicans in U.S. House and Senate races, or state or local level contests.
With antitrust action now formally underway against Google, and signs that other antitrust and corporate corruption actions pending, those are items that are de facto on the ballot in this election. Google, Facebook, and others in big tech, big business, big media and their “oligarchs and plutocrats” are largely backing the Democratic Biden-Harris ticket and those in Congressional contests that would support them.
In fairness, antitrust has languished under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. But as left-leaning Open Markets and others across the left-right divide reported, posturing antitrust or small business favoring action was not what occurred during the Obama-Biden Administration.
As has been noted in recent reports, there are bright-line connections between the donor class, numbers of leading Democrats, and forces that operate inside our industry.
Summary and Conclusions
Tim Williams doesn’t deny any of the allegations or evidence. Nor do his Berkshire Hathaway buddies or other MHI insiders. The one pro-MHI professional who dared debate these concerns ended up making useful admissions before throwing in the towel. Williams said he is happy that the DTS pilot for manufactured home personal property lending failed. That fits years of facts previously reported on MHProNews.
There are words and there are deeds. No matter how great someone’s words may sound, positive action trumps words. Perhaps that should be capitalized for emphasis: Positive Action Trumps Empty Words.
If you haven’t already done so, vote for the only ticket that has provided serious evidence that they want to break up the network that voices across the left-and-right agree has formed that has subverted not only our industry, but numerous other American professions.
It is easier to lie and deceive that it is to disprove the deception.
We’ve put our work, money, time, talent, and votes where our mouths are. Many of you have too, but for those who have not yet done so, it is your turn. Vote wisely, inform others, and get them to do the same.
All should watch the teaser and the full video.
In the context of all of the above, these two political cartoon by Branco at Americans for Limited Government may make sense.
There is always more to read and more to come. Stay tuned with the runaway number one source for authentic “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, 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 MHProNews.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.