George Allen / EducateMHC Blog Mobile Home & Land Lease Community Advocate & Expert

September 22, 2022

What You Need to Know for This Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 6:38 am

Blog Posting # 707. Copyright 23 September 2022. EducateMHC

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing!
EducateMHC is the online national advocate, realty asset class historian, trend spotter, education resource, & textbook supplier for land lease communities throughout North America!
To input this blog and or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815 and or visit educatemhc.com

What You Need to Know for This Week

From a faithful blog reader: “So sad to hear about John Boll and Steve Waite. I knew Steve and learned early on about John’s legacy. And your first paragraph about overvalued land lease communities is simply ‘the same story, new decade’! Wall Street guys throw their money into the manufactured housing industry and get burned – every time! I well remember how many independent (street) MHRetailers sold their businesses, circa 2007. The ones who took stock got suckered and lost big time! Those who took cash won big time! And some were able to buy back their former business at a steep discount!” The MH industry simply ‘spins’ the wheel’ every 25+/- years! “(Edited. GFA)

Clear proof of these sorry phenomena? Year 2022 – 1998 (our last ‘big year’ for new MH shipments) = 24 years; and, 1998 – 25 years = 1973 (When 579,940 new ‘mobile homes’ were shipped nationwide!). These production statistics quoted from SWAN SONG, ‘History of land Lease Community Real Estate Asset Class (1970 to present day) & Official Record of Manufactured Housing Shipments (1955 to present day)’, George Allen. Book available for purchase via www.educatemhc.com

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According to MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE magazine for September 2022, “The average U.S. asking (conventional apartment unit) rent in July is $1,717.00, up $10.00 from the previous month.” So, what does that mean for rental homesites in land lease communities on average across the U.S.? Simply divide the $1,717 figure by ‘3’ to calculate $572. Estimated rental homesite rate. But remember, rental housing market rates are all local; ranging from below $200/month in rural south locations and up to $1,500/month is select high rent areas, e.g. Newport Beach, California and Lewes, Delaware, for starters – where land lease communities are concerned.

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I’m oft asked about heretofore (‘before this time’) standout personalities in the manufactured housing business, among land lease community owners/operators, and related fields of endeavor. Have two for you this week.

Remember Chrissy Jackson, ACM? Well, according to my research, she is happily retired in St. Petersburg, FL., and part of the time enjoys being a ‘discussion colleague’ for the Academy of Senior Professionals at private Eckerd College in that city.

Many of us knew and enjoyed being with Mary Frances de la Pava, founder and owner of the Jefferson Group in Arlington, VA. She marketed land lease communities throughout the east. Now retired, she spends her time with her daughter Carla’s family.

***

Last chance to register and participate! As many of you know, Carolyn and I will be attending ‘the first and only reunion’ of USMC officers I trained with during late 1967 and early 1968. We’re convening in Quantico, VA., next week for 3 ½ days. Expecting to renew friendships with 50 fellow officers from nearly 60 years ago.

And then I’ll be flying down to Atlanta to participate in the 11th annual SECO Conference for land lease community owners/operators from throughout the U.S.. This is the largest annual gathering of land lease community owners/operators – for property management education, viewing new HUD-Code manufactured homes, and best interpersonal networking available anywhere in our industry and realty asset class! Hope to see you there!

***

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC

September 16, 2022

A Letter & Death Announcements….

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 8:11 am

Blog Posting # 706. Copyright 16 September 2022. EducateMHC

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC is the online national advocate, realty asset class historian, trend spotter. Education resource, textbook supplier for land lease communities throughout North America! To input this blog and or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815 and or visit www.educatemhc.com

A Letter & Death Announcements….

“Thanks for the good blog, George! For the first time, I’m seeing overvaluing of land lease communities causing operational issues (e.g. not enough $ to cover debt & operational expenses). And those not able to operate profitable communities are marketing them in hopes of finding someone to pay their investment back and more. Surely one must be a savvy property manager these days to succeed in this generally overheated market! (Edited. GFA)
***

The late Steve Waite of Fayetteville, TN., was better and more widely known than I realized when I first learned of his 26 August 2022 passing. Steve was 67 years of age at the time, and at this writing, no obituary has been published. But the memories and positive recollections have been arriving here almost daily.

Rick Rand, president of Great Value Homes in WI recalls: “I first met Steve sometime in the early 1990s. He was a loan officer with, I believe, Goldome Financial. We met again when Steve joined ROC/Chateau Communities, and operated a regional portfolio of land lease communities for them. Steve was a real gentleman and very nice guy. He was kind, soft spoken and always had a smile. We last talked at an MH Congress. Told me he was enjoying his family and life back home on his farm in TN.” (Lightly edited. GFA)

And this from Spencer Roane, MHM, of Pentagon Properties in GA. “Steve knew so much about the manufactured housing industry, particularly community development and management, from his days working with Jim Clayton. Yet he was so soft spoken, humble, and willing to help any other community owner.”

Lou Vela in FL. “Still remember when I gave him a $400,000 commission pursuant to the selling of Gary McDaniel’s land lease communities.” (Lightly edited. GFA)

And finally, Kurt D. Kelley of Mobile Insurance in TX. “Steve was a gentleman, trustworthy, hard-working and a good example for all those around him. Rest in Peace Steve Waite! The world was a better place because you were in it.”

***

While I didn’t know John Boll or MI well, I was still surprised to learn of his 24 August passing. What follows here is quoted from a screen shot, penned by James R. Hagerty, and forwarded to me by Matt Follett in CA. “One of (John Boll’s) goals was to escape the ‘trailer trash’ stigma (with new) developments that were comfortable and stylish. The name he chose for his company: Chateau Estates. (These were) five star communities (where) residents weren’t allowed to let weeds grow or to perch old cars on cinder blocks. He provided clubhouses, swimming pools, and sometimes fitness centers. Through organic growth, acquisitions and mergers, the company, renamed Chateau Communities, Inc., (now a REIT) spread to more than 200 locations in 36 states in the early 2000s. In 2003 he sold Chateau to Hometown America, LLC…for about $1 billion, plus $1.2 billion in assumed debt and preferred stock.” And active philanthropist, he shuttled between homes in Key largo, FL; Grosse Pointe Shores, MI., and Beaver Creek, CO. He was 93 years of age when he died.

***

Chalk this up to nostalgia if you must. But yesterday, 15 September 2022, I attended an OPEN HOUSE hosted by General Supply here in Indianapolis, IN. Tom Todd, owner and CEO was host. Besides really good food and drink, the fun and games throughout the early afternoon, was equaled only by opportunities to network and interact among manufactured housing businessmen and women past and present. In my case, I got to catch-up on land lease community news with Rick Roethke of Barrington Investments (in town for a couple days before returning home to southern California); Bill Young, Jr., independent (street) MHRetailer recently relocated to Greencastle, IN; Jimmy Laser and Brian Moench of Anchor Solutions (Helical Screw Pile Foundations); and Don Geddert, local manufactured housing icon. Oh, there were others, but no one you’d know. And a little surprising, but certainly welcome, was the fact that well more than 100 premium gifts were raffled off during the event.

Why tell you all this? Events such as this occur throughout the U.S. on a regular basis – we just don’t hear about them very often. Few states have meaningful newsletters anymore, and on the national scene, no monthly publications at all. So this weekly blog posting has been my way of encouraging you to attend the 11th annual SECO Conference at Stone Mountain, GA., @ 13-16 October 2022. For more information, just google SECO. I plan to be present for a couple days, and hope to see you poolside in person, at the Old Timers’ Panel, one afternoon. Are there any other industry events you should patronize during the month of October? Sure. But you’ll have to seek them out, as they express no interest in anything I do in your behalf.

***

More details next week, maybe. But I may have lucked onto an engineering firm that routinely engineers new land lease communities nationwide, and is the duty expert, so to speak, in helical screw pile foundations.

George Allen, CPM, MHM Educatemhc.com

September 8, 2022

I Can’t Tell You How Many Times…

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 12:12 pm

Blog Posting # 705. Copyright 9 September 2022. EducateMHC

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC is the online national advocate, realty asset class historian, trend spotter, education resource, textbook supplier for land lease communities throughout North America! To input this blog and or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815 and or visit www.educatemhc.com
***
We get letters! Nary a week goes by that we don’t receive one or more reactions to blog content, along with ideas on how to solve various manufactured housing industry challenges.
Well, this past week, after we talked – once again – about the extravagant sales prices of land lease communities, along with consequential exorbitant rental homesite rate increases, we received the following heart-tugging letter from a conscientious fee management firm exec.

“I managed a 75 rental homesite community in Indiana for 14 years, taking it from rundown chaos to beautiful, well-managed property. We had people banging on our door wanting to move-in. And we couldn’t rehab manufactured homes fast enough to meet the need.

Well, it sold three months ago for an astronomical price. The new owner claimed to be unable to afford professional property management – so our services were terminated. Now I receive text messages from residents desperate for help – reporting their leases not being honored, drastic rent increases, yards overgrown with weeds, little on-site management; and what there is, having a nasty attitude.

It grieves my heart, but there’s nothing I can do legally, to help these people. They were cared about and nurtured under our management, but now they are being ‘raped & pillaged’, as you described in your blog last week. You and I have been around the manufactured housing industry for several decades. I now see the value of these communities about to plummet, as some folk who can afford to do so, move their homes elsewhere; others will abandon their homes; and those leasing or renting will walk away when their leases expire. Word gets around when a community becomes an undesirable place to live!

It grieves people like me, who have lived and breathed manufactured housing, and have it ‘in our blood’, to see short-lived, opportunistic (new) owners raping our resident base and giving our industry a ‘trashy’, ‘shyster’ type reputation. Many of us have worked hard to change the negative perspective of our industry, only to have our reputation shoved back several notches by those who give little attention to the operation of these properties, and only care about the bottom line.” (Lightly edited.)

And yet another epistle chastises me for “…bringing up the fact buyers are overpaying for our asset class – which in turn, drives up rental rates….” But the writer goes on to say, “I like the idea of pegging site rent to the cost of a three bedroom apartment” in the same local housing market as a land lease community.

And this writer ends his commentary with this salient observation: “I can’t tell you how many times I hear municipalities begging for someone to build affordable housing. Just do not mention manufactured housing or you will lose their attention quickly.” (Also lightly edited. GFA)

Well, some of us – hopefully many of us, will soon be packing our bags and making the trek to Stone Mountain, GA., for the 11th annual SECO Conference. For more information, google SECO. I make few manufactured housing-related business trips anymore, since retiring during August 2021. For me to spend personal funds (I’ve liquidated all our business entities) for travel and lodging, an event had better be pretty good and worthwhile. I feel SECO meets this requirement. Hope to see you there too.

The week before SECO will find Carolyn and I in Woodbridge, VA., attending the first reunion of USMC officers I trained with during late 1967 & early 1968. It will be a bittersweet experience. Many of the young lieutenants I trained with that year wound up being Killed in Action in Vietnam. While I’ll be happy to renew old friendships, after 55 years, we’re already reminiscing about friends we lost back then but, to date, have not had an opportunity to honor. Sure, their names are engraved on The Wall in Washington, DC., and many of us have made ‘rubbings’ thereof, but not said a proper ‘Good-bye’ to them or the few spouses and children they left behind, e.g. Marcus Fiebelkorn and his wife and now grown child. In my case I’ll see John Dietz, who I entered the USMC officer program with in 1964; Chris Ray who was a fellow platoon commander – but not Dick Brooks, a USNA grad, who was a platoon commander in the same company, but has since died. One of our group is an astronaut who’s been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Yes, I’m looking forward to the event, but wary of emotional consequences.

If you’re going to be in Indianapolis on the 15th of September, plan to swing by Capitol Supply between 11Am & 3PM to participate in their Open House. Anyone ask you why you’re there, tell them ‘George sent me!’ I will be there too. GFA

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC

September 3, 2022

Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 6:22 am

Blog Posting # 704. Copyright 2 September 2022. EducateMHC

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing!
EducateMHC is the online national advocate, realty asset class historian, trend spotter, education resource, textbook supplier for land lease communities throughout North America!
To input this blog and or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815 and or visit www.educatemhc.com
***
As often happens here at EducateMHC, we received a pithy and thought-provoking paragraph penned by a veteran multi-land lease community owner who’s as frustrated with the predatory purchasing and operation of this unique income-producing property type as we are. This time around however, his/her (You ‘woke’ folk out there like that? I don’t) comments stimulated some deep thinking on property prosperity-to-failure cycles that have occurred since the mid-1970s when I got into this business. First comes the pithy paragraph, then an historic timeline that should interest every one of you.

“Who me?”, “Screw you!”, and “A wing and a prayer!” are colliding throughout the land lease community asset class these days! One can argue, ‘sellers’ shouldn’t be criticized for selling their land lease community at dumb-high prices, e.g. ‘If someone wants to buy your 10 year old Timex for $1,000, sell it with ‘buyer-beware’ innocence.’ The fallacy here, within our property type, means having to justify ultra-high prices by firing existing employees (Who made the property what it is) and raise rents 50-100 percent. On the other side of the equation are investors who think homeowners/lessees have no choice but to pay higher rents. Wrong. They move out, leaving community owners with abandoned homes, vacant rental homesites, increased ‘common area maintenance’ costs, density that prohibits move-in of new homes, and frankly, prospective homebuyers/site lessees reluctant to move into the community because of the ‘rape & pillage’ attitude of the property owner. Meanwhile, state regulators, legislators, and lenders are now questioning the efficacy of ‘affordable housing’ in land lease communities! (lightly edited. GFA)

Please reread that paragraph before proceeding. Why? You’re about to learn how history repeats itself in the manufactured housing industry and among land lease communities.

My history in this ‘double dual industry’*1 goes back to 1978, two years after the infamous HUD-Code was implemented, in effect, driving annual new ‘mobile home’ production from a record high of 579,940 units down to 274,901+/-*2 in 1978! The fallout? Thousands of newly developed ‘mobile home parks’, nationwide, built to handle the 500,000 new homes per year volume – went begging, for move-ins that never materialized.

Well, during the late 1970s, investment real estate syndicators arrived on the (then) mobile home community scene. Syndicators oft sold ‘tax loss’ positions to wealthy investors who’d use them to offset high incomes from professions, etc., (e.g. doctors, lawyers, etc.). All this came to an end in 1985-6 when the federal income tax laws changed, pretty much outlawing use of tax losses in underperforming properties. Many syndicators stopped their deal-making at that point, and some early portfolio owners/operators went out of business, e.g. Ellenburg Capital.

Another casualty of this tax law change was the widespread failure of S&Ls (savings & loan associations) across the U.S. In 1989 the RTC (Resolution Trust Corporation), a federal agency, launched – to sell off bad loans and investment realty accumulated by the S&Ls. For a while there were many low-priced acquisition opportunities for interested investors. And, for a while, the (now) manufactured home community property type rebounded as an opportunistic investment.

Then, in 1994-5, four portfolio owners/operators, of this property type, went public as real estate investment trusts (‘REITs’); those being ELS, Inc., (formerly MHC, Inc.), Chateau Communities (merged with ROC in 1997, acquired CWS in 2001 & Hometown America in 2003), Sun Communities, and UMH Properties. There have been two other REITs: the original ARC in 2004 & 2005; followed, from 1998 thru 2008, by American Land Lease, until it was acquired by Green Courte Partners. And today, there’re two additional REITs: Flagship Communities (Formerly SSK Communities, and traded on the Canadian stock exchange) and MHPC, Inc. (Manufactured Housing Properties, Inc.)

Now, since the turn of the century, we’ve seen continued consolidation of the realty asset class (a.k.a. land lease community portfolio count now at 500 sole proprietors, corporations, REITs, ROCs, and more), via equity deals (Think Green Courte Partners), hedge funds (from outside the manufactured housing industry) – too numerous to name here. But therein lies the perennial question: ‘When, and among whom, will the next great shakeout occur?’ Why is a ‘shakeout’ almost inevitable?

During the past decade, first among larger institutional investment grade land lease communities, but now – it seems – among all-sized such properties, traditional valuation of investment real estate has been ‘thrown out the window’ and exorbitant prices are being paid, i.e. 10% ‘average’ cap rate deals now sell for 7 & 8%; and top grade properties, previously sold at 7 or 8% now go for 5% or less income capitalization rates. But that’s only half the story.

Once the transaction deal has been consummated or ‘closed’; in order to cover very high mortgage payments on the newly acquired land lease community, operating expenses are trimmed, and rental homesite rates are increased far greater than CPI (Consumer Price Index), and new fees introduced (e.g. water and sewer fees, etc.). Decades ago, discouraged homeowners/site lessees could relocate their manufactured homes across town at reasonable moving fees. Not today. Homes, especially multisection homes, are far too large to move, and given generally high occupancy elsewhere, there’s nowhere to go. So, discontent and frustration reign. That’s why we see efforts ‘everywhere’ it seems, to introduce and pass various forms of landlord-tenant legislation.

So, what’s next? Time will tell. But we’ve kinda been here before. On one hand manufactured housing is ballyhooed as being our nation’s answer to ‘affordable housing’; but at the same time, a relatively few predatory income-producing property owners sour the barrel for everyone.

What do I see? Perhaps state and national advocates for manufactured housing will implement some of my past advice in this arena, i.e.

• Voluntarily peg rental homesite rates in sync with other forms of multifamily rentals in the same local housing market. How’s that done? Simple. Via market survey, ascertain the average 3BR2B rent rate among conventional apartment communities (not subsidized); then divide by ‘3’ for a suggested base rental homesite rate rate among land lease communities, e.g. $1,200/month for apartment rent, then $400/month for rental homesites.

• Voluntarily implement long term rental homesite leases that extend beyond the mortgage term of a homeowner/site lessee’s residence.

• Voluntarily promote professional property management training and certification among on-site personnel, along with implementation of positive resident relations measures.

And Yes, there’s even more that can be, should be done, to improve today’s questionable, sometimes discouraging environments among land lease communities nationwide. What ideas and suggestions do you have? Please let me know via gfa7156@aol.com

Don’t you find it strange that no one else, anywhere, in the manufactured housing industry seeks your input on such critical matters as this? Well, here’re two suggestions to make that happen.

First off. If you haven’t already registered to do so, plan now to be present at the 11th annual SECO Conference in Atlanta, GA., on 3-5 October 2020. I’ll be there; and I believe, timely matters such as what’s covered in this blog posting, will be addressed in panel discussions. Google SECO for more information.

And those of you who’re MHI/NCC devotees, particularly the latter, do you find it strange that my services have never been retained, as an industry/asset class resource, to lead a discussion of this matter at any of their meetings? What is everyone afraid of?

End Notes:




1. ‘double dual industry’. A term I coined decades ago to describe how our overall ‘industry’ is comprised of four parts: housing manufacturers and independent (street) MHRetailers; and, land lease community owners/operators and property management operations (to now include on-site home sales and seller-financing)

2. These MH production statistics are quoted from the only deeply-resourced and published history of said information (from 1955 to present day): SWAN SONG, George Allen, PMN Publishing, 2017, updated 2018. The (+/-) designation cautions readers that there are parallel presentations of this key data; that provided by IBTS, HUD, MHARR, & EducateMHC, and that adjusted by MHI.

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC

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