Freddie Mac will now allow conventional financing for manufactured housing (Credit: Ben Lane HW)

GSE rolls out new manufactured housing financing

Freddie Mac will soon see no difference between certain manufactured homes and traditional single-family housing from a financing standpoint.  The government-sponsored enterprise announced Friday that it is rolling out a new financing program for manufactured housing that will bring conventional financing to factory-built housing.

The program, which is called CHOICEHome, is a two-year pilot that will allow for conventional financing for certain manufactured homes. The homes that will be eligible for the program have features like permanent foundations and pitched roofs.

Many of these homes also come with energy-saving features like Energy Star Qualified Low-E windows, programmable thermostats and minimum insulation values.

According to Freddie Mac, it will treat loans secured by CHOICEHome like loans that are secured by single-family site-built homes.

“If a factory-built home meets certain specifications, it will be granted a CHOICEHome certification and will be eligible for CHOICEHome financing,” Freddie Mac said, adding that its loan products HomeOne and Home Possible will be available for manufactured housing.

Additionally, Freddie Mac said that appraisers will be able to use site-built housing as a comparable for valuation.

The program is part of Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plan, which focuses on supporting underserved markets by financing more rural and manufactured housing and preserving more affordable housing for homebuyers and renters nationwide.

“Today’s manufactured homes can deliver outstanding quality at prices that are up to 50% less per square foot than conventional site-built homes,” Freddie Mac noted. “These savings can enable more Americans to own their own home, even in the face of an ever-widening housing affordability gap.”

According to Freddie Mac, to meet the CHOICEHome eligibility requirements, manufacturers and lenders must follow Department of Housing and Urban Development-code guidelines for the construction and siting of the home in order, and lenders must follow local and state guidelines for manufactured housing titled as real property.

“Finding a home is more difficult than ever because of the ongoing housing supply shortage in many parts of the country, especially when looking for a home at a lower price point,” said Mike Dawson, vice president of Single-Family Affordable Lending Strategy and Policy at Freddie Mac.

“Currently there are more than 22 million families living in factory-built housing, and with that number expected to grow, there’s an opportunity for factory-built homes to address the housing supply shortage and quality housing overall,” Dawson added. “This new generation of manufactured housing might just be the best option for first-time homebuyers, Millennials, and empty-nesters looking to downsize.”

(Credit: Ben Lane HW)

If you have questions regarding manufactured housing finance, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have assisted numerous companies and individuals in this legal field.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you.

Is the RV Industry Headed for a Slowdown?

There is a little known fact about the RV sector that the rest of America should pay heed to. The RV industry has long been an economic barometer of sorts, providing a leading indicator of the direction of the economy as a whole.   “R.V.’s have always preceded the rest of the economy in a downturn and in an upturn,” said Richard Curtin, an economist at the University of Michigan.  Many members of this industry are currently watching this trend as they see RV sales starting to level off.

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RV industry shipments aim to hit 539,900 through the end of 2018, in what would mark 9 straight years of growth.  This is a 7% increase over 2017 which tallied 504,600, and still less than the 550,000 forecasted for 2019.  Shipments year over year through Q1 saw a 13.4% lift.  These figures were provided by Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the RV Industry Association, to the association back in June.

Mr. Hugelmeyer has a lot to be optimistic about with the aging population, which tend to be the bread and butter of the RV industry, as well as outsized interest from the millennial age group, who are entering their generational period of extra discretionary income.  This all seems to align with the fact that since 2010, when the sector was emerging from the financial crisis, the RV industry has grown at an annual average of 12.6%.

Not everyone, however, shares Mr. Hugelmeyer’s glass half-full interpretation.  The city of Elkhart, Indiana, self-dubbed the “RV Capital of the World” is responsible for the production of more than 80 percent of Recreational vehicles sold in the U.S.  Many in the industry here are getting a different sense of the headwinds that propel this little corner of the economy.

While overall RV shipments were up for July, motor home shipments were down 6.5% in the same month.  Richard Curtin sees this as a “yellow light”.  Mr. Curtin acknowledges this could be a temporary condition such as excess inventory due to overproduction involving a nearly 10 year boom.  While not a significant cause for concern yet, there are other future looking indicators to be considered as opposed to historic sales.

Elkhart enjoys some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, at just over 2%.  Despite this, recently some companies there have been cutting their production workers to four day work weeks instead of five to alleviate some of the excess inventory.

Others point not to the temporary labor glut, but the larger factors that could be contributing to these headwinds.  The RV industry, like many other manufacturing and farming communities are hit first and hardest by the impacts of the trade tariffs.  Cost of goods for many in the industry are seeing increases of up to 50%.  These costs ultimately pass through to the consumer, and many blame the rising prices for the levelling off in shipments.

Senator Joe Donelly, A Democrat whose home is near Elkhart says, “I think there’s serious concern about the effects of tariffs on the R.V. industry.  So many of the components that go into R.V.s are directly affected by these tariffs.  Echoing these sentiments is Mark Dobson, the head of the Economic Development Corporation in Elkhart County, “Nobody’s in a panic, they are just concerned.”

Still, where some fear a downturn, others are thriving.  LCI industries, a large manufacturer of components for RV’s are experiencing growth in growing sectors.  CEO Jason Lippert is optimistic.  His company saw aftermarket component sales rise by more than half in the second quarter, signaling a move to RV maintenance as opposed to new purchases.  Dan Holtz, a small business owner in the industry welcomes a perceived slowdown, as he has said he is having trouble finding enough workers and sees it as nothing more than an expected correction.

While no one in the industry has hit the brakes just yet, some are starting to take their foot off the accelerator.  While Mr. Curtin believes conditions metaphorically display a yellow light, he concludes that, “Depending on how things evolve in six months, it could be a red light, getting to the end of the expansion.”  Every business owner in the RV industry concerned about the slowdown being experienced within the sector should retain qualified counsel to represent their interests.

Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have over 12 years’ experience in representing clients in the RV space.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can assist you with protecting your RV business today.

Thrift & McLemore, LLC announces the completion of commercial leases.

Atlanta (5.18.17) – Thrift & McLemore, LLC announces the completion of all negotiated commercial leases for new a 175-acre mixed-use development, with anchor tenants such as Whole Foods Market and iPic Theaters. For more information concerning Thrift & McLemore’s commercial leasing practice, please contact Ryan McLemore at 678.671.4031 or [email protected].

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