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

April 3, 2011

Pithy SALMAGUNDI or just more POTPOURRI?

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 5:07 am

Pithy SALMAGUNDI or just some more POTPOURRI?

Piggish?, Half Loaf trumps No Loaf, ‘MHParty of the Year!’, More on Rebranding, Super Symposium II Precis’, & Era Ends as Greentree is Sold!


What a week it was! Nearly 150 convened and confabulated in Albany, NY., at Nancy Geer’s Superb Super Symposium II – including REIT firm, UMH Properties’ corporate staff and regional property managers, especially Eugene & Sam Landy, & Christine Lindsey, MHM. Know what? This was also, the only manufactured housing/landlease community gathering to date, during which industry/asset class’ chattel (personal property) freelance finance/service experts, Dick Ernst (972/503-3201) & Ken Rishel (217/971-3968 enjoyed ample time and audience to fully ‘splain’ in vogue ‘buy here – pay here’ & ‘captive finance’ self-finance methodologies, from their perspectives! And now,’ Lease – Option’ appears on the scene. Too bad YOU missed it.

Icing on this cake, was meeting and listening to new National Communities Council (‘NCC’) exec Lisa Brechtel, describe the focus and scope of her work, in our behalf, in Washington, DC: (703) 558-0666. Other notables present at this educational soiree’? Terry Decio of Skyline Corp., David Lentz of American Land Lease, Dr. David Funk of Cornell University, Kian Wagner of Green Courte Partners, Jim Freyer of Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Robin Pfeil of Triton Valley Estates, and the DeMarco Brothers of Security Mortgage. If you’d like a FREE copy of the material I presented at this event, including the ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ worksheet – for calculating ‘affordable’ & ‘risky’ price points of new & resale homes sited in & outside LLCommunities, phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764, and request it.


If you’re a bona fide real estate investor, do you agree or disagree with this ‘one of six’ recommendations for making the most of the recession, recently published in the March/April 2011 issue of URBAN LAND magazine: “Be realistic about the hurdle rate. Writing in January 2010 for National Real Estate Investor, Ethan Penner, executive managing director & president of CBRE Capital Partners, noted, “The desire to get a real estate return in the high teens or 20 percent is piggish.” Penner’s thesis (suggests) an appropriate return expectation for real estate should be around 10 percent.” True or false? Whadaya think? Wonder if he owns investment real estate (i.e. ‘has any real skin in the game’, as they say) or simply sells it; and such a statement helps keep client expectations in check. I’ve long been taught ‘Profit is the reward for taking risk.’ So, it stands to reason, willingness to take big risk opens the door to big profits, just as taking big risks leaves one vulnerable to big failure as well. Any commentary out there?


Consider marking 1 August 2011 on your MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class planning calendar. Why? There’re whisperings of a ‘MHParty of the Year!’ that day in Elkhart, IN., at or near the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame, Museum, and Library. Details likely to follow during weeks ahead. And, if you’ve never visited the excellent facility, then this could be a double – barrel treat!


‘Half a loaf is better than no loaf!’ That’s the reaction evoked by the following quote, again – from March/April 2011 issue of URBAN LAND magazine, describing ‘affordable housing’:

“Housing is considered affordable if 30 percent or less of a household’s income is dedicated to paying the rent or a mortgage.” Cited in ‘Affordable Housing’s New Profile’, p.116.

First off; ‘Thank You’, Dan Withee & Ricky de la Rosa, co-authors of this piece, for describing up front, the perspective from which you write!’ The Housing Expense Factor or HEF, is one of four measures of housing affordability documented in HOUSING AFFORDOGRAPHY, published in June 2008.*1 BUT, here’s ‘the other half that loaf’: What’s included in the referenced mortgage payment? Barebones, being just principle & interest (‘PI’); or Loaded, including principle, interest, taxes, insurance, and household utility, but not telecommunications expenses? Which is it? Makes a whale of a difference to the mortgagor & mortgagee, as to ‘how much house is purchased’ & ‘how much risk is incurred’. For example, a barebones HEF = more house & more risk, while a loaded HEF = less house & less risk; hence, more affordable! Why? Taxes, insurance, and household utility bills still have to be paid; and it’s easier to do, when they’re included within the HEF; more difficult when paid outside the HEF!

Perhaps the day will come when international and national real estate – related trade bodies like ULI, NAR, NAHB, MBA, and others, will finally and once and for all, identify which of the four measures of housing affordability they ascribe to, then explain the ‘dollars, cents & percentage’ parameters being used to ‘make their case’, relative to the ‘affordable housing’ perspective they’re espousing in trade publication features and books. When that day finally (if ever) arrives, we – the affordable housing practitioners & providers – will have been given ‘the entire loaf’ with which to plan and work, not half a loaf or less, as is the sad case today!


Rebranding? You bet! In landlease (nee manufactured home) community circles, think ‘the original Hometown America’ of a decade ago, and American Land Lease’s new Solstice (adult living) & Clearview (family living) brands of today. Then there’s Chuck Fanaro’s iconic SaddleBrook Farms outside Chicago; Rob Tunnell’s luxurious Baywood in Delaware; Doug Daniel’s showcase communities in Springfield, IL.; Troy and Cheryl Brost’s beautiful SongBrook in Eugene; even Skyline Corporation’s intentional segue away from ‘manufactured housing’ to ‘factory – built housing’ terminology, in all its’ advertising! Yes, there’s a new wave a – building & a – flowing, from coast to coast. Are YOU an integral part of it yet? Send me your examples and observed evidences of rebranding throughout the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class! Mail to GFA c/o Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247 or via

It was suggested privately, during last week’s Super Symposium II; that at MHI’s annual meeting this Fall in Phoenix, salaried and elected leaders of this body politic, should trek into the desert, dig a deep hole, and drop in a plaque with the words ‘manufactured housing’ printed on it. When the hole is covered over, return from the desert, carrying a similarly – sized plaque, with the word ‘housing’ or words ‘factory – built housing’ printed on it, symbolically marking the end of manufactured housing as our industry’s everyday, much – abused moniker, rebranding as factory – built housing going forward! What do YOU think of the idea? Tell Thayer Long @ (703) 558-0678.


Loan servicer Green Tree to be sold! According to the StarTribune, ‘Walter Investment Management Corp., announced it has reached a deal to acquire Green Tree for $1.065 billion. The once – troubled Green Tree started out servicing loans on manufactured housing, but that sector now makes up just 36 percent of its’ business. The firm has a $37 billion portfolio composed of 745,000 residential home improvement and home equity loans, manufactured housing loans, and consumer installment loans.” This marks the closing of one sorry chapter in manufactured housing history.


State of the MHIndustry & LLCommunity Asset Class. Just occurred to me, you probably haven’t had anyone describe the present state of our industry and income – producing property type, to you, this year. While I’ve run out of space to do the subject justice in this week’s blog posting, perhaps I’ll share it with you next Sunday – assuming, of course, there’s not some ‘breaking news’ I need to get to you in lieu of such an overview. Here’re some tantalizing tidbits contained therein: new home shipment volume for 2010; Clayton Homes’ approximate national market share; average property portfolio size during 2010; national average physical occupancy & OER during 2010; and, Randy Rowe’s Five Point Plan to Save the MHIndustry! This latter ‘plan’ was first espoused at the 19th annual International Networking Roundtable during Fall 2010, but was renewed, with vigor, by David Lentz, during his presentation at the aforementioned Super Symposium II in Albany this past week. So ‘the plan’ is alive and well to many of us!


A minor but important shift in trade terminology. Increasingly, I see association execs, trade publications, and property owners/operators adopting and using the’ landlease community’ label for our unique real estate asset class. That’s great! But there’s a minor tweak yet to be made, and it’s this: ‘landlease community’, when the two words land & lease are combined, rightly narrows the focus relative to this homeowner/site lessee lifestyle. However, when the two words remain separated, as in ‘land lease community’, we run the very real risk of being ‘cornfused’ with other types of ‘land leased realty’. Do we want that? I think not. Landlease Community has given us a needed and timely panacea to recreate, to rebrand ourselves, featuring superb curb appeal, resident – friendly environs, and intrinsic home value. Let others continue to operate using lesser, vestigial word descriptions. Just let’s not confuse ourselves, and our residents, as to the ‘really right label’ for this new multifamily rental property reality! Agreed?

End Note.

1. Measures of housing affordability: Housing Expense Factor (‘HEF’), Housing Opportunity Index (‘HOI’), Housing Wage (‘HW’), & ‘One Who Believes’…

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. Copies of the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT continue to be available for purchase. The $450.00 cover price has been discounted to $250.00. And as an added bonus, if you purchase the report, for this latter amount, we’ll include a complementary annual subscription to the Allen Letter professional journal, a savings of $134.95. As the number of print MHPublications has dwindled, the newsletter’s subscriber base has continued to grow month after month. To place your order, phone, (317) 346-7156, or the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE.

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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