Friday, February 7, 2020

Why MHI’s New CrossMod™ Isn’t a Mod at All!

In response to the MHI's new CrossMod™, Tom Hardiman, the Executive Director of the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) opened a discussion forum for its members.

For all the non-members, here is the forum question in its entirety:

You may have recently heard about a new trademarked housing product from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) called CrossMod™. According to their sales literature, the home:

“represents the blending of features built on-site to create a new class of homes for our industry (cross or crossover) and the innovative, efficient methods used in off-site home construction (mod or modern). Additionally, MHI’s research found the undefined use of “mod” drew favorable associations to the terms “modern” and “modular.” While nine percent of respondents said they would consider purchasing a manufactured home, 46 percent said they would purchase a CrossMod™. This is why the distinction between the two categories is so important for attracting more home buyers to our products.”

Please read that paragraph again, let it sink in, and fully understand exactly what is going on. The term “manufactured home” only appeals to nine percent of potential home buyers. But add the “undefined use of mod” to the name and suddenly it jumps to 46%!

MHBA and the commercial trade association MBI, have invested considerable resources into research, education, surveys, and alliances to help improve the public’s perception of the term “modular.” And its working! Today, modular construction is poised to explode in growth.

Dozens of universities across North America now teach architects, engineers, and construction managers about modular construction. This was not the case five years ago! “Modular” didn’t suddenly become popular and acceptable overnight. It did so in part because our industry trade associations made it a priority years ago.

Putting a manufactured home on a permanent foundation, adding a pitched roof and a porch doesn’t make it modular. It makes it a damn nice manufactured home. And that’s nothing to shy away from. Take pride in your own industry and own it! But don’t high-jack our industry because your marketing team thinks it will help with sales.

These new products will inevitably be used as comps when assessing the value of true modular and site-built homes. How is that fair? What happens to the value of the tens of thousands of “regular” manufactured housing units when the industry itself turns it back on them.

I will never make a disparaging remark about a manufactured home. It is a viable and affordable housing solution that is much needed in this country and has provided decent living accommodations for countless people. But it’s NOT a modular home. If this CrossMod™ is built to the federal HUD code, it’s a manufactured home. Calling it something else is just dishonest, disingenuous, and intentionally misleading.

We are calling on the Manufactured Housing Institute to stop marketing this product and to stop misleading the public. We are asking the public to ask one simple question when considering this product: “What code is this built to?”

If I have a bike with two wheels and a seat, and it propels forward as a mode of transportation. Can I call it a Harley Davidson? After all, there are some similarities.

Modcoach Note: if you want to be part of MHBA’s efforts in this matter, please consider becoming a member of the only Association dedicated to modular housing.


Elite Homebuilders said...

That’s exactly what I said. Do not try to create something that doesn’t exist just to pad your sales bottom line. All you’re doing is hurting the industry as a whole and continuing the misunderstanding of what exactly a modular home is!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the people that can't afford a site built or modular home at today's prices want to become home onwers. Will the CrossMod fill that need?

As a modular home builer, the cost of a building a new home like I used to do in my part of NY means I will probably be out of business in a couple of years. Overregulation is killing me.

Tom Hardiman said...

I think you missed the point anonymous. Yes there is too much regulation adding to cost. But how is creating a "new" product and mislabeling it going to help? Adding the term "mod" to a HUD code manufactured home is misleading and MHI even states the reason why in their promo material: only 9% responded favorably when asked about purchasing a manufactured home, but it jumps to 46% when they call it a "mod" home.

People that can't afford a modular or site built home currently have the option of buying a manufactured home.

Kevin said...

I truly understand why so many are upset over this new bait and switch product called CrossMod yet I accept the fact that I can't change deception when the motive is money.

To the point regarding regulations I owned my own business for 15 years and then worked in government as an auditor/assessor for 34 and while I don't accept the regulations as serving the best interest of taxpayers I understand government practices and how they become regulations. The lobbyist and PAC drive policy, not need or common sense, as such rapidly increase your efforts in both to support the Modular Industry as you see it and start change as you direct it; not how it directs you.

Under Virginia statutes a Manufactured Home can be classified as real property if the home is on a permanent foundation (piers), has some sort of skirt or façade, removing all transport equipment and rendering the DMV Titles to the state. It is still compared to homes of similar construction for purposes of value, not site built homes. The whole purpose of this legislation was to ensure proper Title and Lien recordation not appearing in two places, DMV and Clerk of Court when ownership/lien title searches occur.

What does the Modular Home industry want to stand for; Affordable Homes or Homes in direct competition with site built homes or perhaps both. Unfortunately, the local market determines "affordability" not the type of construction. I lived in a SW manufactured home and a DW manufactured home for years because I couldn't afford anything different. I worked harder to do better for my family and myself eventually owning a Custom Built Modular Home, I didn't blame government regulations or cost of homes as the root of my problem.

I was in business for myself for 15 years and if you concentrate on what the other guy is doing or saying you will miss out on your own message that your trying to brand and deliver. Every time you speak of the competition you are advertising for them and not yourself.

I could talk for hours on my own experiences in building a modular home, touring 9 different manufacturing plants, talking to hundreds to educate myself and still knowing all government regulations and had built site built homes I still missed some things that I should have done different. Keep up the hard work in creating the best product you can and support that through education and branding and sometimes that requires changing people and processes to make the product better and more profitable.

Thank you for permitting me to comment.

Harris - Finish Werks said...

You know Clayton is behind this. Gotta be. They trademarked the CrossMod name. Maybe they should consider calling this new classification of souped-up manufactured housing "SuperMan". Unless this is taken?

Where's the PR Kryptonite?

Cynthia Conner, Director of Marketing said...

Modcoach, I totally agree with you. After 30 years of educating the public on the differences of modular homes vs. manufactured homes, we are just supposed to let anyone use the word "mod"? I agree that there is such a need for manufactured housing and I support them 100%, but it is not a "mod" home. Confusing the consumer is not the way to sell houses.

Tom Hardiman said...

Kevin, I agree with just about everything you said. My article (this time) is not about excessive government regulations. Its about what I feel is an intentionally misleading effort by the manufactured housing industry to confuse the public for the sake of more sales.

As the director for the only trade association whose sole focus is IRC built modular homes (MHBA), I have a big problem when the HUD industry wants to call a manufactured homes a "mod" strictly for marketing purposes when the word has meaning in the regulations.

Anonymous said...

What a sham! MHI is tricking the public to think this is not a manufactured home. Sorry MHI, it is! It’s certified to meet the HUD Code, NOT the IRC. Many states identify (IRC built) factory-built homes as “Modular” some call it “Industrialized”. States as well as MHBA should take legal action against MHI. I hope the feds step up and get involved as well!

Anonymous said...

Here are two links that you may be interested in. First is the testimony from Skyline/Champion President Mark Yost to the U.S. Senate, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs promoting CrossMod and the new regs:

Here is the link to the MHI promotion of the confusion for the CrossMod manufactured home: