Archive for the ‘Manufactured Homes’ Category

Inhouse Corporation: Our 25th Year

July 28, 2014

Celebrating  25 Years of Service

(Image Credit: Inhouse Corporation)

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AS WE ENTER OUR TWENTY-FIFTH YEAR OF SERVICE we are proud to look back at our accomplishments. Its a track record that includes non-subsidized affordable homeownership, manufactured/ modular homes, real estate broker services, multi-family/ commercial property management as well as the creation and operation of residential cooperatives for modest income households.

Among the entities we’ve assisted are municipalities, government agencies, investors, landlords and residents/ tenants with administrative services, management, consulting, research, training and mentoring for all sorts of issues, problems, questions and day-to-day routines as they relate to housing and income properties.

Although New York is our home state, as internet technology has grown over the years so too has our ability to render many of our services online to virtually all corners of the state. And we’ve even taken assignments in other areas on a case-by-case basis. Yet our philosophy remains the same — we don’t try gaining business by cutting friendly personal attention, reducing value or sacrificing quality to our existing clients. We build our firm one client at a time. Its probably one reason many remain clients for years.

Many thanks to all our friends, clients and business associates who helped us to reach this point.

We look forward to working with you and making new friends and clients during the next twenty-five years.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

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Manufactured Homes: In the Eye of the Beholder

June 8, 2014

 2014-06-08 - Old Home

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SOMETIMES A DEBATE ABOUT MANUFACTURED HOMES TAKES UNUSUAL TWISTS and turns, especially when encountering deep-seated perceptions and misinterpretations.

While assisting a town update and revise its restrictive and antiquated mobile homes code, an evidently prominent individual opposed the proposed recognition of modular structures as part of the town’s housing stock. Our effort sought to expand the official role of those homes into affordable housing; he wanted to remove any ability to place them anywhere outside a manufactured home community.

He argued the insertion of affordable modular and manufactured homes into current neighborhoods would bring transients and lower income households causing reductions in business and town revenue. He opined existing home values would suffer inasmuch as modular and manufactured homes rapidly deteriorate and depreciate in value, then he buttressed such slanted allegations with a prediction of slums and abandoned homes. He said the code change would make a mockery of responsible town growth resulting in people relocating, thereby making folly of the expense to preserve a few historic homes by moving them from the path of development into residential neighborhoods since there would be nobody to buy them. Simply stated, his fire and brimstone imagery had the town sliding into a financial abyss if the new code was adopted.

One town representative asked the fellow if he was aware of the need for affordable housing (he said the need was exaggerated). Our team asked if he knew the difference between modular and manufactured homes (he said he knew they were the same from reading the town code).

We then asked him if he recalled the town code currently defined a modular and manufactured home as a structure that is built in one location but installed in another. He emphatically said yes and he wanted the code to keep those structures out of residential neighborhoods.

A look around the room suggested his comments might be resonating with some members of the public, which seemed problematic since the town appeared surprised and unprepared to appropriately respond to his orchestration of scare tactics. Several folks who supported the code revision donned expressions of concern, likely thinking the proposal to produce suitable affordable housing was in jeopardy before leaving the starting gate.

We then asked one more question: Why did not the gentleman object when modular/ manufactured homes were recently installed in the residential neighborhoods he mentioned? He stared … then said there were no such installations, that the code wouldn’t allow it.

We countered: Since the code says a structure built in one location but installed in another is a manufactured home, since the historic homes being preserved had been built in one location but were moved to another, and despite the special code exemptions that permitted them to be moved, under the code that was being revised those historic homes are modular/ manufactured homes by definition and they had been situated in residential neighborhoods as the gentleman had stated.

The point was made.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: Not Just About Checks

May 18, 2014

 Headache

(Image Credit: Google Images – pixabay.com)

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IT SEEMED A STRAIGHTFORWARD ASSIGNMENT: PROPERTY MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING … though it evolved into a eye-opening lesson for the property owner.

A widowed woman and her son retained us to help her re-establish fiscal stability in the forty site manufactured home community she and her late husband owned. Her adult son lived in another state and her husband, who was the property manager for the community, had been seriously ill for the prior year and unable to conduct the business. Other than depositing whatever rent payments arrived and paying overdue bills, the widow knew little about what her husband did but she wanted the business to continue and she wanted to learn about property management.

With her son’s attorney we ironed out an agreement that would have us temporarily manage the property while we trained the widow on community operations. As a means of introduction to her training we had the widow (the community owner) look over our shoulder as we worked with her to create then implement a strategy to get the community on its financial feet.

In consultation with the owner’s accountant, using available bank statements and committing nearly two weeks to develop a fairly reliable and reasonably clear financial picture from the montage of missing and unorganized data. Slowly unpaid bills and overdue rent were identified and rectification commenced.

Residents with outstanding rent fell into a delinquency range of one to ten months. We sought to settle delinquencies through voluntary resident cooperation and use evictions only as a last resort. Payment plans most residents could afford were created. For the few who couldn’t afford the payment plans we found neighborhood organizations to assist them.  The strategy worked in every case but one ― a young couple with rent severely overdue. Every effort to communicate with them was met with silence. The owner tried to reach out to them since the couple had always been friendly towards her. Unfortunately she too had no luck. Weeks elapsed, eviction was started.

Each step in the eviction process saw the owner request more time for them. And at every step we not only explained our desire to avoid eviction but also the realities of the matter, including the absence of their cooperation left no other options. Her son also spoke to her about this. Finally, having obtained the warrant of eviction and having waited the mandatory period for warrant enforcement, the Sheriff arrived and the physical eviction began … then it stopped midway.

While we dislike evictions, the property owner was upset to the point of positioning herself so that she bodily blocked eviction efforts. It took a very long phone call from her son to convince her to let the eviction proceed. Days later she called to apologize, saying there is more to running the community and property management than she thought. She announced her intention to sell the community, and she did.

Lesson learned: It’s not  just collecting and writing checks.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

The Purchase Agreement and Lease: Sign Or Not

May 11, 2014

Signing Purchase Agreement

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 “IF I DON’T ACCEPT THE SITE LEASE I’VE BEEN OFFERED CAN I BE FORCED TO MOVE? What happens if I decide to relocate my manufactured home to a different community before this lease ends? I don’t like all the terms in the offered lease, can they be changed?” These and similar questions often are concerns of a first-time manufactured home purchaser in a land-lease community.

While the foregoing represents a small sampling of the common questions that arise, to be most helpful answers to questions should be obtained from an attorney retained to assist with the manufactured home purchase agreement and/or the site lease before they are signed. Unfortunately too many folks think an attorney unnecessary to buy a so-called “mobile home” or sign a site lease only to later face these types of issues and questions.

Despite our recommendation to use an attorney, in the absence of one we advise that New York requires the community manager to offer no less than a one-year site lease, and although the resident-tenant is not required to sign it, without a signed lease that resident enters a month-to-month tenancy. Among other things it means that little more than a notification of thirty days can require the tenant to leave the community for no particular reason. Sure, we’re not likely to terminate a tenancy simply because it could be done, yet by itself such a tenancy virtually offers no protection for the homeowner tenant. Consequently the tenant should not summarily dismiss an offered site lease without serious investigation, consideration and attorney input.

If the resident decides to move before the lease expires, an advance notice of such a decision is required. Assuming the resident’s rental account is current, there are no resident violations and such a notice is received, we then try to negotiate a premature end to the lease. This sometimes means working with the departing resident to find a new tenant for the soon to be vacant site.

Can lease terms be changed? For our properties the lease terms and provisions tend to be based on practice and experience so any request to change the lease would need to be very compelling to be considered.

So what’s the bottom line? As with any substantial or major purchase or obligation, thoroughly read the documents and consult with your attorney before making any commitment. A failure to understand the terms to the transaction and the liability it may bring can lead to problems later.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Do All Manufactured Homes Depreciate?

May 4, 2014

 2014-04-27 - doublewide

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PROBABLY EVERYONE HAS HEARD some variation of “All manufactured homes depreciate in value.” Such absolute statements seldom are totally correct. And as you might guess, logic suggests there are manufactured homes that declined in value but not all of them did, just as there are stick-built homes that appreciate in value but not all of them do.

So how did such a notion start? To view this matter we’ll compare the manufactured and stick-built home structures themselves on an “apples to apples” basis by creating an academic scenario that adjusts for different construction codes and equalizes other factors that influence value. We’ll regard the homes and the land under them as separate yet related components to value and momentarily overlook the fact that many manufactured homes are deemed a personal property improvement to real estate (as in a land-lease community) instead of being judged a part of the real estate (as are stick-built homes).

Our scenario then levels the majority of value influencing factors ― such as quality of construction, architecture, regular proper maintenance, age and location ― resulting in the manufactured and stick-built homes having matching ages, configurations and architecture on similarly sized fee-simple parcels of identical value in the same neighborhood. This leaves the value factors of construction quality and maintenance to contemplate.

Envisioned for comparison are low-end homes, both manufactured and stick-built, the quality of which is expected to reflect streamlined construction approaches and minimally acceptable materials. Hence, typical wear and tear plus a tendency toward rapid deterioration are prone to cause early negative effects unless a vigilant maintenance program is utilized. Through our scenario, when such homes and their land receive appropriate attention as and when needed, we see a gain in comparable approximate opportunities at longevity, faring well and enjoying commensurate appreciation in accord with the prevailing housing market. Consequently, any persistent tendency towards depreciation seems less related to structural characteristics and more connected to the other component to value, the real estate under the home.

Many manufactured homes are placed in land-lease communities where they are considered personal property and their owners lease rather than own the land on which the homes rest (whereas the stick-built homes and the land under them are treated as real property). Unlike the stick-built home, in a so-called “normal” economy the land-lease situation contributes no land value to the home value and it is this absence of contributing land value that enhances the prospect of depreciation particularly for the marginally maintained manufactured home.

In the end it seems circumstances of the land-lease and jurisdictions that categorize manufactured homes as personal property appear responsible for the inaccurate notion that all manufactured homes depreciate.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

This Isn’t A Cooperative, Is It?

March 15, 2014
2014-03-15 - Mfd Home Community Co-Op

Manufactured Home Co-Ops
Expand Ownership Interest

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DESPITE THOSE WHO STILL MAY SAY THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MANUFACTURED HOME COOPERATIVE, they really do exist … and we’ve been helping to create and operate them for more than 24 years. In fact, we worked on one of the very first such cooperatives in New York State.

Nonetheless, it still seems to surprise many since housing cooperatives (co-ops) are generally associated with  apartment buildings, especially in metropolitan areas. So when the word “co-op” is mentioned folks usually envision a massive structure reaching into the sky and encompassing numerous dwelling units. But that vision is only partly correct because the term “housing cooperative” does not describe a structure or building. Instead, it describes a form of ownership. Just as a person or company may own a property or operate a business, so too may a cooperative.

Consequently, there is a large variety of cooperative types beyond those for housing, such as farm, food, health care and credit union cooperatives. Simply stated, the cooperative entity is a state recognized formal organization wherein  members (shareholders) of the cooperative own a share of stock in the cooperative corporation, which share conveys to the shareholder certain rights. In the housing arena the co-op typically owns the dwelling structure and common areas and the shareholder has the right to use the designated dwelling space for which the shareholder pays a fee (occupancy charge) under an occupancy agreement (proprietary lease).

However, in the case of a New York manufactured home community the arrangement diverges from what might be seen as a “normal” cooperative scenario. Here the manufactured home (dwelling) is most often owned by the shareholder separate and apart from the co-op while the cooperative owns and operates the land, resulting in the shareholder getting an occupancy agreement from the cooperative for a portion of the land on which the shareholder’s manufactured home is installed. As with most other housing cooperatives, the shareholder pays an occupancy charge to the co-op.

This translates into a situation where: Each shareholder owns his/her manufactured home as well as being a part-owner (shareholder) of the cooperative corporation along with the other shareholders; the co-op owns/ operates the land; and through occupancy agreements with the co-op the shareholders are tenants of the cooperative.

In this way the manufactured home community cooperative broadens the ownership interest of shareholders in that they own their homes and share an ownership interest in the land. When that ownership interest is appropriately combined with regular training for board members/shareholders and proper operations, the manufactured home cooperative is a win for the residents and may provide a non-subsidized affordable housing resource for the town in which it is located.

For more information on New York manufactured home cooperatives, feel free to contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com  and place the word “Co-ops” on the subject line.

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Need coaching, training or problem troubleshooting regarding the foregoing or other housing issues? Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation.

Improving Non-Subsidized Affordable Home Ownership

February 22, 2014

2014-02-22 - Home Affordability

Affordable Housing and Home Ownership   

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IN THE SLOWLY RECEDING WAKE OF FORECLOSURES, AFFORDABLE HOME OWNERSHIP continues to inch along an uneven path. The stubbornly sluggish economy and tighter lending practices have had many opting to rent rather than buy and its a situation that is more than just an interesting phenomenon in housing trends.

Most jurisdictions actively seek substantial levels of home ownership as one significant factor that helps stabilize neighborhoods. In fact, there are numerous benefits to folks owning their homes, not only for society in general but also for the homeowner and the homeowner’s household. In 2012 those benefits were documented through the research and reporting of the National Association of Realtors (http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/social-benefits-of-stable-housing-2012-04.pdf).

However, this blog article will not recount all the positive attributes of homeownership. And for now, at least, we’ll avoid any debates about taxpayer dollars subsidizing affordable housing (also known as worker class housing) or the bias some affluent neighborhoods may have against worker class housing. Instead, we’ll focus on and acknowledge the value of home ownership that has been and is formally demonstrated in specialized low-income state loan programs and municipal affordable housing projects that are underwritten with tax money in an effort to extend the American Dream to many folks of modest means.

With home ownership being important enough to warrant such governmental affordable home programs, rather than just relying on tax money, especially during anemic economic times, shouldn’t legislators take actions that better ensure private sector affordability whenever possible? It certainly seems the logical and fiscally prudent way to go. And it would free those funds for other needed purposes. Yet, for whatever reasons, some jurisdictions impose taxes and unique regulations on manufactured housing—a viable form of non-subsidized private sector affordable home ownership currently available (see our January 26, 2014 blog posting entitled Manufactured Housing: A Reputation Revisited). So let’s take a look at this situation in New York, our base state.

Manufactured homes here are technically categorized as personal property (chattel), as opposed to traditional “stick-built” housing being real property. The chattel category includes all personal items such as vehicles, boats, tools and all other objects not deemed real property (real estate, land). As chattel, obtaining long-term manufactured home purchase financing through conventional mortgages is a challenge, if possible at all.

Excluding modular homes from this discussion, the cost for a new manufactured home is often thirty percent (30%) to fifty-five percent (55%) less per square foot than traditional housing (depending on the actual location). Hence, for the most part they are inherently more affordable as a housing purchase option.

But that affordability is undermined. Like other chattel, a new manufactured home is subject to sales tax, but unlike other chattel, once the home is installed it is also subject to real property taxes as well. No other form of housing is known to be subjected to sales and property taxes, a factor that makes such housing less affordable.

Further, municipalities have been known to adopt restrictive zoning codes on manufactured homes that frequently prevent them being placed on private parcels. As a result most are placed in multi-family manufactured home communities, which in most cases yield an arrangement where the individual owns the manufactured home but rents (leases) the site upon which the home rests. Such communities are operated under municipal permits that require periodic renewals, sometimes as often as once per year. Each renewal usually entails payment of a fee. Again, other multi-family residences don’t have this requirement or expense, the cost of which is often proportionately passed along to the homeowner through site rent.

And then the entirety of manufactured home communities are subjected to annual health department inspections in order to obtain the required annual operating permit from that department. This permit is in addition to compliance with whatever conditions the building department  may impose in a particular municipality, it carries its own annual fee and yes, other multi-family properties don’t have this annual health department mandate or expense. This cost is also proportionately paid by the homeowners.

Comparatively, in many municipalities if an inspection is conducted in an apartment building the building department typically does it on a particular unit when a complaint is filed or, depending on the involved municipal code, before a new tenant moves into vacant unit.

In the end, the effect of such regulations and tax further reduce the limited purchasing power of folks with modest incomes thereby preventing or making more difficult their ability to be homeowners. In the case of manufactured housing, what should be a significant resource for non-subsidized private sector affordable housing and home ownership is rendered less so.

Considering the favorable aspects of home ownership, removing or restricting barriers to affordability would be a needed change for the better.

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Need coaching, training or problem troubleshooting regarding the foregoing or other housing issues? Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation.

Manufactured Housing: A Reputation Revisited

January 26, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Street scene of properly managed manufactured home community (Inhouse Corporation photo).

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WHENEVER  A MANUFACTURED HOME COMMUNITY is mentioned what does your mind perceive? Is it a decent place where folks of modest means can affordably own a home and enjoy a plot of land, or is it a ramshackle and rundown collection of “trailers” sitting amid weeds within an arm’s length of each other?

Although most folks have become more familiar with manufactured homes and manufactured home communities, some of the old negative stereotypes and misconceptions still seem to persist — as was evidenced during a recent discussion with other real estate agents. Some of those agents convey a sense that such homes do not standup well and decline in value while their communities deteriorate to unflattering conditions. They speak in terms that imply the homes themselves are to blame.

To be sure, such misperceptions have been addressed by manufactured home representatives numerous times in the past. So we’ll just briefly touch upon these issues here.

Despite being built to the same construction codes, are there manufactured homes of good to excellent quality? Yes, indeed. And are there manufactured homes of lesser quality? Yes, of course. But on the flip side of that same coin are there not stick-built homes of good to excellent quality while some stick-built homes have lesser quality … even though they are all fashioned under the same building code? Yup.

So why should manufactured homes be viewed as though the structures themselves are devilishly possessed by some monstrous intent to unnaturally force their own deterioration? Obviously, they should not be. If the owner of any structure does not maintain it, the structure degrades whether it is manufactured or stick-built.

Moreover, with all other factors being favorable, whether a structure is manufactured or stick-built if it is properly maintained it will either keep or increase its value.

Similar rationale should be applied to manufactured home communities. After all, if an apartment complex falls into disrepair most folks blame its management for the problem. The same should be true if a crumbling manufactured home community is encountered. It is not the homes within that community causing the trouble. Most times it is the lack of appropriate property management.

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To go to the Inhouse Corporation website click here or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement that at no time will the reader rely upon or act upon anything contained or implied in this blog and that any and all actions that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation.