Reflections from the Executive Director

15 Jun 2017 10:34 AM | Anonymous

Working for Happy Campers

It's a lot more fun working for an association when there's a nice upturn in sales going on.

I came to MHISC in '92 when the manufactured home industry was booming and zooming toward record sales. 

It seemed like most everybody on the board of directors was getting rich.  They were easy-going and they appreciated—or forgave—most everything the staff did back then. 

Around 2008, the economy and housing, including manufactured housing, all went to Hades in a Mercedes.  There weren't as many happy campers in the industry.  "Survive to thrive" has a positive ring to it but it's a tough business model.

Now the manufactured home industry has seen four straight years of moderate growth.  

Conditions are right for that growth to continue—but without the high rate of repossessions that has plagued both the site-built and factory-built home market in the past decade.  

Here's why: 

The companies that survived the downturn were some of the most efficient and well-run. These businesses treated their customers well and survived on repeat or referral business during the lean years. 

In South Carolina, state government guidelines have been put in place in recent years to be sure that new retailers seeking to get into the business have the financial strength, experience and ethical background that they should.

Today, lending practices are moving toward a happy medium.  In past decades lending standards were too loose. The result is that many buyers got in over their head, purchasing more home than they could afford. 

In response, Washington over-reacted. This led to excessive regulation at the federal level in the form of laws such as the Dodd-Frank Act.  Now, the mood in Congress is more moderate.   The US House has already passed legislation that would roll back some of the provisions that made it difficult for many families to get house loans.  The pendulum is moving back to the middle.

Factors are coming into place to create a strong continuing upturn for the MH industry in South Carolina.  We will have a dealer base that is a combination of savvy veterans and well-screened newcomers.  Lending practices will be reasonable.  Most importantly, as site-built prices go up, the demand for affordable housing will be greater than ever.

The future will bring steady growth. A high percentage of customers will buy their house with a good loan they can afford to pay.  Expect to see more happy campers in the manufactured home industry very soon.

MHISC is the voice of the manufactured and modular home industries in South Carolina.

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