MHI 2017 Member Company Awards
These companies and their representatives work to improve and advance the industry and dedicate significant volunteer hours helping MHI advocate in Washington, D.C. These members attend MHI business meetings, serve on task forces and committees, participate on conference calls and willingly share their expertise to helps raise the bar for the entire industry.
Community Operator of the Year: YES! Communities
This community operator’s residents influence their decisions and drive them to continually improve. By adapting to their residents’ needs and wants, YES! Communities purchased over 4,000 new homes in the last few years. These homes are not only affordable, but have upgraded appliances, wood-like flooring and open-concept floor plans. There is even an option for residents to purchase the home after renting it. YES! Communities is committed to keeping one aspect of its operation constant – providing affordable housing. With the swings in the economy they could have easily fluctuated prices due to demand, but wanted to stay true to the value proposition of providing affordable housing to thousands of residents.
Other features YES! Communities created based on resident feedback are dog parks; a system that responds to resident’s questions, comments and requests within hours; upgraded playgrounds with creative play areas and climbing walls; and upgrading swimming pools to splash parks.
With communities concentrated in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, YES! Communities continues to grow with 178 communities in 17 states with over 44,000 home sites. It is one of the largest privately-held manufactured home community operators in the United States, and in 2016, the company added two global institutional investors and became a private REIT.
Manufacturer of the Year – Three Plants or More: Clayton Home Building Group
In this past year, Clayton Home Building Group placed strong emphasis on the environment by embracing the ISO 14001 standards which provide practical tools for companies and organizations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities. The ISO 14001 plant registration provides assurance to management, employees and external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. Clayton is committed to building energy efficient, sustainable homes for its customers, and over the past 2 years has registered 38 home building facilities. The increased efficiency and recycling measures result in a drastic reduction in waste. The company recycles a wide range of materials including polystyrene foam, plastic, wood scraps, carpet padding, vinyl siding and cardboard. As of October 2016, the home building facilities diverted more than 16,000 tons of landfill waste and reduced dust by 31 percent.
The company also invested millions of dollars into facility upgrades which resulted in better building practices. Some improvements centered on the employee’s experience and included updated lunch and break rooms, cleaner facilities, new parking lots and new outdoor break environments.
Bringing this innovative mindset into its marketing and advertising strategies, Clayton created a new marketing campaign in 2016 to tell the story of its company and the manufactured housing industry. The campaign gives the company new ways to reach its customers, including new TV and radio commercials to reach those who haven’t always thought of manufactured housing as the next place to look for their new home.
In addition, Clayton worked to develop a new customer experience model. Working with a recognized customer experience guru, the company focused on the journey a manufactured housing customer takes and the best ways to create a world-class customer experience.
Lastly, the company’s CEO helped form a new MHI task force focused on elevating manufactured housing in the eyes of consumers. With America facing an affordable housing crisis, the manufactured housing industry stands as the best solution for affordable new single-family housing. In-depth consumer research is being conducted to find out what would attract more Americans to manufactured housing solutions. This endeavor is for the greater good of the industry and for Americans looking for affordable, quality built homes.
2017 Manufacturer of the Year with Two Plants or Less: Adventure Homes
Adventure Homes continues to be innovative in its design of homes for today’s competitive housing market. They offer a wide-range of homes from affordable HUD-Code homes to modular homes designed for use in inner-city renewal projects. The company takes pride in offering high-end finishes such as ceramic and glass tile on back splashes and in bathroom showers at an affordable price. Adventure Homes is committed to the idea that custom building a home can be affordable. Fifteen percent of the homes built last year were custom floor plans given to the company by its retailers so that their homes can meet their customers needs and wants.
Some of those homes met the needs of the United States Blind Athletes Association (USABA). This organization selected Adventure Homes to build housing for its U.S. Goalball Resident Program. Goalball is a highly-competitive Paralympic sport played by blind or visually-impaired athletes. Adventure Homes was chosen over several site builders because of its unique ability to meet the needs of athletes within the organization’s budget limitations. The U.S. Goalball Team and coaches visited the manufacturing plant and toured model homes. Adventure Homes learned what was important to them for comfort and safety such as using gas stoves versus electric stoves for sound identification and utilizing interior colors that provide for light and dark contrast between floors, walls, cabinets and countertops.
For the fourth year in a row, Adventure Homes has seen double digit sales increases. The company believes it takes the best people to build the best homes – but it takes the best customer to teach them what to build.
Supplier of the Year: Style Crest
Style Crest has supported the manufactured housing industry for more than 45 years. In the past year Style Crest has continued its focus on being the best supplier to its manufactured housing customers which includes original equipment manufacturers, retailers, communities, parts stores and distributors. During the past year, the company introduced several new products for the industry including a new 1.5-ton air conditioner designed to cool smaller homes efficiently, new HVAC indoor coils to allow contractors to meet Department of Energy standards in manufactured home cooling applications, and many other new repair and replacement parts specifically for the manufactured housing customer.
Other efforts include providing high quality beautification products like skirting saver, new colors and styles of foundation covers, and new doors, windows and bathtub options. The company’s customer support includes some of the industry’s best warranty terms found with its own internal homeowner support, warranty processing and technical support teams. With no shortage of natural disasters in the past 12 months, Style Crest and its vendor partners supported the industry and its customers by ensuring there was ample inventory of needed repair and replacement items in the impacted areas and expedited shipments to places in immediate need.
Style Crest also is expanding its extensive home installation capabilities by coordinating or directly installing HVAC, skirting, decks and other items for many of its retail customers. The installation support team uses state of the art technology tools to get the installation jobs done on time and to the customer’s satisfaction. Lastly, a new on-line invoicing platform allows customers to see their invoices 24 hours a day, leading to faster closes for retailers, and a more convenient and streamlined way to pay invoices.
National Lender of the Year: 21st Mortgage Corporation
Underwriting and originating both consumer and commercial loans in 48 states, 21st Mortgage Corporation serves the manufactured housing industry by offering a full range of lending programs that includes home-only loans, loans for pre-owned homes, bi-weekly payment plans, and stage-funded land/home loans. At the end of 2016, the lender was serving more than 175,000 customers, representing more than $8.2 billion in new and used home loans. To elevate service and the customer experience, the loan origination team increased by over 70 percent in 2016. 21st Mortgage added licensed credit managers and a created a credit associate role. As licensed mortgage loan originators, credit associates are assigned to each credit manager to offer customers a more accessible point of contact to discuss their loan terms or other lending needs. This additional level of expertise and customer service allowed the company to have an industry-leading market share last year.
By focusing on continuous improvement, the Land/Home team increased loan volume by more than 22 percent while reducing the total time to process a customer’s loan by more than 21 percent. 21st Mortgage Corporation works with many customers with credit issues or a lack of credit history, and through a responsible and common sense lending approach, helps to make their homeownership dreams a reality. This type of lending support is critical for consumers seeking affordable homeownership opportunities.
Land-lease communities are supported with lending programs that help fill home sites and provide affordable consumer financing. For communities with rental homes, the lender offers a Community Rental Program with commercial financing terms up to one hundred percent of the manufacturer’s invoice. Through these specialized community lending solutions, more than $150 million was invested in land-lease manufactured home communities in 2016 alone.
21st Mortgage Corporation is providing lending in the industry which is critical for consumers seeking affordable housing alternatives, and essential for the growth and stability of the industry’s manufacturing and sales activities.
Regional Lender of the Year: Cascade Financial Services
Cascade Financial Services has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has zero complaints with the CFPB. A tool that contributes to this exceptional customer satisfaction record is a specialized consumer feedback link where customers can provide feedback on ways the company can better serve their needs. Cascade Financial Services used this tool to improve its policies and procedures and to better train employees. In the past year, it also implemented a new loan origination system to provide even higher service levels to homebuyers and retailers. Cascade Financial Services is creating new lending products for manufactured home buyers, including chattel loan products.
The company’s CEO served on MHI’s Duty to Serve Task Force and attended critical meetings with the Federal Housing Finance Administration in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. At the meeting in Washington, Cascade Financial Services also attended representing the Mortgage Bankers Association. The company’s active involvement with the MBA has provided beneficial collaboration on manufactured housing lending priorities. The CEO also organized and hosted a fundraiser for Congresswoman Sinema, one of the industry’s Champions on Capitol Hill and an original sponsor of MHI’s primary legislative effort, H.R. 1699, to address federal regulations implementing the Dodd-Frank Act that do not reflect the unique nature of manufactured home financing and sales processes. It was her largest fundraiser for her successful re-election campaign.
Floorplan Lender of the Year: 21st Mortgage Corporation
The 2017 Floorplan Lender of the Year reached a record loan volume of more than $1.2 billion in new and used home loans during the past year. As the largest floorplan lender in the nation, 21st Mortgage serves over 550 retailers flooring more than 1,200 homes each month. With the rise in popularity of “tiny homes,” the lender has responded by supporting manufacturers and retailers with their inventory financing needs for this unique product. In fact, 21st Mortgage has recently launched an initiative to expand its floor planning presence to include RV and Park Models based upon their customer’s unique needs.
Recognizing the challenging regulatory environment for both lenders and customers in need of financing, the company is one of the most active supporters of MHI’s efforts in Washington, D.C. and beyond. The Company is committed to providing the floorplan lending needed to drive growth in the manufactured housing market today and for years to come.
Manufactured Home Community Lender of the Year: Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has provided over $9.8 billion in financing for manufactured home communities nationwide since 2000. In 2016, Wells Fargo originated nearly $1 billion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, including a $500 million Fannie Mae credit facility on 58 manufactured home communities.
The company expanded its small loan CMBS program to include loans of $15 million or less. This loan program was designed with manufactured home communities in mind as many national lenders are only focused on larger properties and loan sizes. Through the manufactured home community balance sheet program, which was created to fill a void in the market created by the exit of GE Capital, the lender’s balance sheet team originated $490 million of fixed and floating rate debt in 2016.
With the increasing number of rental homes in communities today, many borrowers voiced concerns over the standard limitation of 5 percent community-owned rental homes. To address this, Wells Fargo developed its balance sheet program to allow for a higher percentage of rental homes, and successfully lobbied its lending partners, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to increase the allowed percentage from 5 percent to 25 percent. The lender also annually publishes its Manufactured Home Community Financing Handbook, which has become a valuable resource for both property owners and lenders.
Manufactured Home Community Broker of the Year: ARA Newmark Manufactured Housing Group
ARA Newmark Manufactured Housing Group advises community owners on market conditions, provides value opinions on their communities, and helps them position their communities for sale. Thus, when they do sell, they are making educated decisions and are maximizing the value on the investment they have worked so hard to maintain and operate. This national team works with a very broad and deep pool of owners, investors and industry people across the land-lease manufactured home community sector. Some are existing owners, and others are trying to find a way into the sector.
The advisory roll doesn’t stop with just community owners. The team is in constant contact with appraisers, lenders, equity groups and servicers to help them understand the market. In a sector where research and data are sometimes difficult to find, ARA Newmark Manufactured Housing Group creates an annual expense analysis of real financial statements gathered during the year to demonstrate how communities operate and show year-over-year market trends. This research helps improve the flow of capital into the manufactured housing industry.