“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” – English maxim, origin credited to George Herbert.
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things take time.
You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett
Notice: MHProNews will be doing a website theme and URL switchover this weekend. By industry standards, ours is a huge website. Expect glitches. As every seasoned and successful business professional knows, change routinely means anticipated and unexpected bumps-in-the-road. That said, patience and persistence pays. What’s coming is relevant and potentially profitable to many.
Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. SWOT.
Every person, profession, situation in life has its own SWOT. These are not always clearly understood by those who are in the middle of their own circumstances. Thus outsiders, often with experience in that same field, are brought in by success-minded business leaders to be a second set of eyes. Physicians often refer a patient to another doctor or an expert for a second opinion.
Everyone that has ever owned a business that has endured for more than four years has achieved something that the majority of those who start a business can’t claim. If a business is profitable at the end of its fourth year, that is a notable accomplishment.
If that same 4+ year-old business can honestly say that they have achieved that profitability and sustainability with a high degree of customer satisfaction, so much the better. That combination of honest business success with both internal and external satisfaction merits celebration.
Among public officials in both major parties that have studied manufactured housing with an open mind, several things become clear. Manufactured homes have been routinely misunderstood for years.
For those who understand business strategies, that factoid and what follow are opportunities in disguise.
• About every third American is living in rental housing.
• There are some 22 million Americans living in pre-HUD Code mobile homes or in post HUD Code manufactured homes.
• Millions of conventional housing owners plan to upsize, downsize, and otherwise change housing.
• NIMBYism and land use policies that are often designed to protect or promote special interests are among the reasons that manufactured homes are often blocked by zoning and placement restrictions. HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who is the top federal official in charge of regulating manufactured homes, has made it clear that he gets those facts.
• Education is part of the solution to that issue. Secretary Carson has personally made efforts at educating others about manufactured homes on national TV programs, in published speeches, as well as in Senate testimony. There are plenty of examples of third-party studies that span more than 20 years that debunk the misplaced fears that many have about manufactured homes.
• The new presidential executive order (EO) establishing a White House Council to promote affordable housing underscores the two bullets above. President Donald J. Trump’s new EO also specifically cited manufactured homes.
There is more. But those bullets are enough to make a ‘can do’ minded professional wonder why manufactured housing isn’t performing far better than it is? Why is the industry only producing and shipping about ¼th of what it did in 1998? Or why is the industry only shipping about 17 percent of what was achieved in the early 1970s?
For those whose only answer is ‘lending,’ that’s at best incomplete. For those who say image, that’s part of it too, but that’s an opportunity in disguise for those who see clearly. Simplistic ‘answers’ like those are often going to hobble professional growth.
Why, by contrast, has the RV industry gone from being outsold by manufactured homes at a 3 to 2 margin in 1998, to RVs outselling manufactured homes by some 5 to 1 in 2018? RVs also had image problems decades ago, but they addressed that successfully. RVs – towable or motorized – for most Americans are as their name implies, are recreational. By contrast, manufactured homes, while some are used as second homes, are for the most part primary permanent housing.
Meaning, the RV industry’s potential size should only be a fraction of what the potential is for manufactured housing. That’s another outside indicator that manufactured housing should be doing several times its current sales levels.
Seen through the eyes of an honest SWOT analysis, there are clearly obstacles and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses in the manufactured housing industry in the summer of 2019.
At a more granular and personalized level, there is a SWOT for every professional, location, business, and organization. But the infographic below reflects the enormous potential that the industry has.
Amazon, Chinese imports, and 3D printed housing are just some of several looming threats to the domestic sales of more manufactured homes.
But at this time, HUD Code manufactured homes have a clear price-per-square foot and/or other advantages over its rivals. As HUD Secretary Carson and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Certified Business Economist Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton have both said, manufactured homes are more resilient – far safer – than most realize.
· At least on paper, manufactured homes also have an advantage due to the ‘enhanced preemption’ clause that is already law, as established in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000.
· Manufactured housing has – at least on paper – support from the Duty to Serve (DTS) provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, that mandated support for manufactured homes. These two bullets are examples of good laws already on the books that are not being properly implemented. That’s an opportunity in disguise for the savvy with moxie and resources.
There are also aspects of FHA, VA, and USDA (Rural Development) lending, plus several state finance programs, that offer opportunities for manufactured home professionals and investors to serve potentially millions of Americans who want to upsize, downsize, or get their first home. To be crystal clear, those opportunities exist apart from the so called ‘new class of homes’ that some in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis are promoting. That new class of homes, whatever the intention, is arguably more problematic than promising.
When people think image or stigma, that too is part of SWOT. However, a crisis that is properly understood is often an opportunity in disguise.
Sam Zell famously observed that when others are going left, look right. Zell told MHProNews via the late Howard Walker, JD, then Vice Chairman of Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), that the ELS chairman has never lost confidence in manufactured homes and communities. Zell has preached that they aren’t ‘trailers or trailer parks,’ in his own pointed way.
The fact that Zell-led ELS and Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway have invested billions into the manufactured housing industry, and continue to do so, should speak volumes to objective thinkers. The fact that others are following suit is likewise noteworthy.
Here is where there may be some parting of the ways between various industry professionals. To oversimplify, there are those in manufactured housing that fully grasp the realities noted and linked herein. Some are ‘black hat’ operations, while others are ‘white hat’ business. On MHLivingNews we encourage housing shoppers to discern that difference.
There are candidly those who don’t get it about such realities regarding ‘black hats’ in the ranks, or are in fear or denial, or may understand but don’t know what to do about issues like the ones found in the reports linked above and below.
HBO’s John Oliver on Last Week Tonight Mobile Homes Video, Manufactured Home Communities Fact Check – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
” Mobile homes were perfected by humans, but invented by snails,” John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, per Time. ” The homes of some the poorest people in America are being snapped up by some of the richest people in America.” Really?
Each of those are thorny topics. But ‘leaders grasp nettles.’ Nettles, properly understood, are prickly but have medicinal properties. ‘Grasping nettles’ is an apt metaphor that manufactured housing industry owners, managers, leaders, investors, and professionals should strive to understand and master in the context of their own unique SWOT.
During a time that manufactured homes should be roaring, instead, the industry seems to be snoring. There are reasons that is so, including those noted in reports linked from this article. For 9 consecutive months, there are year-over-year declines in the production and shipments of new manufactured homes, despite all of the possible good news and positive resources that are available. That fact, considered in the light of others, begs questions. How to account for the failures to advance by the industry’s self-proclaimed leaders? Or who benefits from such a downturn?
Businesses don’t become successful because they are operated by incompetent people. The management of MHProNews doesn’t believe that those leaders in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis are incompetent; quite the contrary. The are successful and some of them are quite shrewd.
So, there must be other explanations for the relatively low state of the manufactured home industry. There must be good reasons, ones that can lead to profitable opportunities once fully grasped, as to why new manufactured homes are selling at a slower pace than the year that Buffett-led Berkshire bought Clayton Homes and other affiliates starting in 2003.
From the ranks of investors in publicly traded firms in manufactured housing, the controversy at Cavco Industries ought to sound alarm bells, especially in the light of items noted and linked from within this report.
Among public officials – several of whom correctly believe that manufactured homes offers an opportunity to increase affordable home ownership in ways that grows the personal wealth of singles and households – the facts noted and linked herein ought to be significant enough to warrant public hearings into several industry issues. Those hearings should be public and ought to proceed on a range of issues related to: antitrust, RICO, IRS tax-exempt status, and what is causing the failure of existing laws on lending and enhanced preemption to be properly implemented. Experts from all sides and camps of the industry, including consumers, should be part of those Congressional hearings. Industry leaders should be called in to testify under oath.
Then, industry professionals and business owners, past and present, ought to ponder how the facts herein relate to themselves and their business experiences. If the market has been rigged, as some claim based upon evidence like that linked from this article, who has that harmed and to what degree? Who benefited from the allegedly rigged system?
Because investigations and possible litigation aren’t the only steps that ought to occur, what will current and prospective industry investors and business owners and leaders do to navigate the current circumstances? How will professionals respond to their own unique SWOT?
The fact that some businesses are honestly growing, while others are shrinking, should be carefully examined and objectively understood.
· There are no less than half a dozen other serious trade publishers or bloggers that are writing about industry related issues. Why has this trade media stood essentially alone in reporting on these challenges in recent years? Why have some among those half-dozen at one point in time identified or mentioned some of the same problems, but later went silent or flip-flopped on reporting about them?
· Why is it that the National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) and some state association affiliates broken ranks from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)? Why did they say that MHI failed in reflecting their interests?
· Why does the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) so often see matters in stark contrast to what the Berkshire-backed MHI does? Which association is more accurate in their assessments?
These are nuances that have been documented here and/or on our sister site of MHLivingNews.
To understate: it is worth noting that per available third-party evidence and data, MHProNews readership is equal to if not significantly greater than all of the other 6 industry trade media and bloggers combined. That suggests that people recognize the difference between spin and straight talk.
The Next Step
MHProNews is about to take its next evolutionary step. Some of the theme changes on our new website are subtle, but others will be significant.
We already dominate the manufactured home industry in news, fact-checks, and analysis. Nothing else even comes close in size, scope, and professional audience engagement.
Our parent company’s business development and expert services have worked with several operations of all sized firms over the years successfully. Our results are proven in often very public ways, such as the rebirth of the Louisville Manufactured Home Show after years of downturn and finally its only year to be cancelled. That achievements make us a go-to resource for those who are willing to invest in their future to grow.
Others firms or locations that were already successful, but that were not reaching their true potential, have likewise turned to us for proven results.
But those successes mean that companies or locations that closed or sold out for less than their true value were arguably harmed by the so-called leadership of those who are striving for discounted consolidation and acquisitions, by whatever means.
Let’s note that the video interview above was performed prior to the negative news that later hit the headlines about that former MHI chairman and his company. We don’t knowingly work to promote allegedly black-hat operations. We strive, instead, to work with the industry’s apparent white hats. Because of our pivots on MHLivingNews, we are now in a unique position to spotlight the problematic as well as white hats.
Home Shopping Consumer Alert – BBB “F” Rated SSK Communities Rebrands As Flagship Communities – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
It’s a sad day when a good and necessary product or service gets sullied by the bad behavior of certain businesses. At the end of this fact check and expos will be a video with happy manufactured home customers, but they are not customers of SSK Communities, who recently changed their name to Flagship Communities.
Thus, we bring a unique set of experiences, tools, and proven resources. Keen insider insights found here cause more people to logon to MHProNews daily than some of our rivals have monthly.
On MHLivingNews, we’ve been quietly revising and developing a platform that addresses that common questions and concerns from the general public’s perspective. The success in attracting readers there is notable, because individual articles there may get several times more readers than even very popular articles found here on MHProNews.
Put differently, on both platforms, we’ve proven for years measurable results at what we have strived to do.
To make that point, Casey Mack at Legacy Housing, with his company’s general counsel’s expressed okay, said the following.
MHProNews has well-known publishing arms. Our publisher is one of the most highly acclaimed pros on LinkedIn among all manufactured housing professionals.
While our business development services tend to be lower key, the results are praised in videos, written letters of recommendation, and by measurable bottom-line results. Some of those kind comments come from rivals. As Casey Mack and others suggest, our services don’t ‘cost,’ they are investments that properly utilized pay dividends.
With almost a decade of publishing the industry’s most read-trade media, we are about to turn the page to the next chapter.
While we disagree with Warren Buffett on several business ethics and related issues, we agree with him that some things simply take time. We also agree on the importance of reading for understanding, something that Buffett says he spends 5 to 6 hours a day doing and has for years. If you and your team are each reading less than an hour daily on MHProNews and MHLivingNews, then you are not yet reading enough.
Keep in mind the levels of awareness. There are few things that doing them once is enough.
Our Republic just celebrated this week a key time in American history. This nation began a struggle some 243 years ago that defeated the world’s lone superpower during the time our nation’s founding fathers declared the 13 colonies independence from the British king. Perhaps 1/3rd of the people in some form of fashion originally supported that effort for independence.
The U.S. and our allies defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, which some thought unstoppable. The U.S. overcame the power of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. At various times, there were those who said those feats could not be accomplished.
This is a can-do nation. If you are in business, you are likely a can-do person reading this. The industry has very real challenges, both internal and external. It will not be a quick fight, if it is to be successful.
We’re in it for the long haul. This next chapter in manufactured housing trade media is proof of our resolve. The fact that the opposition won’t engage us directly in public debates and forums – after so many of those same people have praised our work for years – is perhaps the most telling reason to believe that we at MHProNews are ‘over the target’ in our analysis and efforts.
Our slogans are as relevant today as when we launched the site under the third logo on the right, below, in mid-October 2009.
We’ve added to those mantras since then “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use.” © and “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing.” ©
The next evolutionary chapter in the industry’s biggest and most read trade media starts this weekend. Stay tuned.
Our thanks to our sponsors and clients for making this possible. Our thanks to our readers for seriously checking in often to consider all the news, fact-checks, reports, and analysis that we share here and on MHLivingNews. With God’s help, the best is yet to come. “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, analysis, and commentary.)
(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
Related Reports: You can click on the image/text boxes to learn more about that topic.
MHARR Cautions Congress on Two Unnecessary And Damaging Manufactured Home Bills | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
Washington, D.C., July 1, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in a June 26, 2019 communication to both houses of Congress (copies attached), has called on legislators to take no action on pending proposed bills that are at best unnecessary and, at worst, harmful and damaging to both the mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing industry and the lower and moderate-income American families that rely on those homes for affordable homeownership.
White House Announces Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers To Affordable Housing | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
MHARR participated in a conference call on June 25, 2019, conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), during which White House officials announced the impending issuance of an Executive Order (EO) to create a “White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.”