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July 2014

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JULY 2014 18 THE JOURNAL How can you compare boxed wine to man- ufactured housing? Please explain? David B., St Petersburg, FL Who would doubt we live in a world where others around us inevitably have a major effect on our tastes, both virtually and in reality. Does the packaging of consumer goods literally change the product inside, its image, or its desirability? In reality no! Virtually yes! But who really pays any attention to reality anymore. The vir- tual world affects more than we think. Its one of the basic realities of our industry. But how does the boxed wine compare? My com- parison is related to the notion of how living in a manufactured home may be seen by some as like consuming wine from a box. How good could it be with that packaging? In reality even consumers of wine who are not necessarily "snobs" seem to avoid the purchase and consumption of wine from a box. All but the lowest social "caste" of wine drinkers know that a liter of the popular Coppola Diamond Se- ries or Chateau La Fite Rothschild if packaged in one of the protective new wine boxes, would taste as good of course, but who would buy it if it was packaged in a "box" And so, for those of us "good guys" who for many years have known the construction quality reality of today's better-built HUD Code manu- factured homes, we have to in effect, deal with the "wine in a box" metaphor. In fact, my lovely (French Canadian born) wife of 35 years even used to say, "wine in a box is all watered down". Really! Every day in my age 55+ seniors community sales center when taking prospective residents through the model/sample homes I hear things like "why this is beautiful, it looks just like a real home", or "it looks nice on the inside, but what's in the construction materials that makes it less expensive", or when taken on a factory tour I hear: "I never knew how well these trailer homes were built". I had a recent bank executive's wife, who was also an "experienced" licensed real estate agent, comment "its too bad your products are manu- factured homes, because you'll never be able to sell them on a par with site built. It would be even better if you were able to refer to them as modulars" (not withstanding the fact that our homes have the same options and features as so- called modular or DCR homes). In fact our homes are virtually indistinguish- able from site built when viewed from both the inside and out, except perhaps for the use of car- ports instead of garages. It helps to improve the exterior appearance if we add a garage and do a "low silhouette" installation, but these two fea- tures only increase the end product pricing, and do very little to add real functional value to the homes. And, the way so many landscape architects and civil engineer planners in the past, tend to line the homes up like Army barracks on long narrow streets, with on-street parking, some- times even herringbone style, in communities adds to our overall "box" like appearance. At a small price to pay for all over density, good plan- ning and design can produce community designs, which make good use of curvi-linear interior streets with small-enclosed neighborhoods, which are effective both in traffic calming and in street appearance. What other mistaken notions do we hear, and how do we deal with them? "These homes are known to always depreciate in value over time, leaving me with no equity when I sell it, or "Manufactured Homes are un- stable in high winds, and must be evacuated at the notice of the slightest storm" (we can thank our ignorant weather persons for that one), or "I hear about fires in these cheaply built homes which go so fast, the residents never have time to escape", "These homes are cheaply built with lesser quality materials, weaker structural com- ponents, and paper thin walls". No kidding! At one time, I agree most of today's modern factory built products from automobiles to widg- ets originally had a history of lesser quality con- struction, Wake Up America, all that is behind us now, with the standards and procedures im- plemented by Congress in the Housing Act of 1974. All factory built non-modular or RV homes built after June 1976 must meet these high standards, which include the same Electrical and Plumbing codes as site built homes, and as amended regularly. In fact, many construction techniques used today in site built homes have originally been used and perfected in manufac- tured housing. That's why taking my prospective buyers on a factory tour is so important. By establishing the high quality materials and workmanship, from the inside as they are being built helps them to visibly see the reality of their new homes as they are being built. By the way, after 35 years of marriage, and during the past 2 years, my wife and I both hap- pily live in a modern, high quality HUD code manufactured home, which she happily shows off to friends and relatives who think we are so bad off, as to now be living in a "trailer". That's one for the "good guys". Edward "Eddie" Hicks, lic. RE Broker, and Lic. Mortgage Broker has been a manufactured housing community developer and industry consultant, retailer and home manufacturer since 1963, and is currently the sales manager for a seniors Age 55+ m/h condo- minium homesite community in Central Florida: Hid- den Harbor on Lake Harris. He may be reached at (813) 300-6150 and at His websites are: www.fac- and Ask Eddie BY ED HICKS DEVELOPMENT MARKETING T J

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