Industry Briefs September/October 2003

BSM Launches New Web Site (Obviously!)
Just when you thought you’d discovered all the knowledge there is on the Al Gore-invented Internet , it’s time to make your mouse hoof it on over to

Several months in development, the new Building Systems Magazine web site offers much more in-depth information on log, modular and panel building technologies. The new site is not only for builders, it’s also for consumers and members of the media interested in new construction technologies.

“We wanted to make our new site even more useful and comprehensive,â€? says Charles Bevier, editor of Building Systems Magazine, who created the new site only after several failed attempts that took years off his life expectancy. “We really appreciate our advertisers who have been so patient waiting for this new site. We think it’s been worth the wait. We’ve included the basics for those that are new to this type of construction, as well more detailed articles from the magazine, and a press room for sources and stats on the industry.

“We’re also now offering for the first time web exclusive articles that we think will be extremely useful for both builders and manufacturers. For instance, we have recently posted an article by Henry Thomas entitled, “So you want to be a sales manager.â€? Thomas is president of Thomas & Associates and a leading motivation speaker, consultant, and sales training firm specializing in the housing industry. His article addresses many of the problems of those making the transition from sales to managing people.

“We are offering other services that will help builders and developers,â€? Bevier says. “We have posted a piece by Steve Snyder, executive director of the Modular Building Systems Association, on how to draft language for covenants for a development that allows modular homes, but disallows manufactured homes. This language can be copied and pasted right into your bylaws of a subdivision. It will help open up the option of modular technology to developers who don’t know how to define true modular construction.â€?

Fannie Mae Defines “Manufacturedâ€?
It’s no secret that the line between manufactured housing and building systems (i.e. those log, modular and panel building technologies) has become blurred, as HUD code producers are upgrading their structures just enough to qualify for conventional building codes. Now those in the first and secondary mortgage industry are seeking clarity on the issue to avoid taking a bath on repossessions.

Fannie Mae, which operates under a congressional charter to buy low-, moderate-, and middle-income mortgages on the secondary market, recently amended its selling and servicing guidelines for lenders for manufactured homes.

In a directive June 3rd, Fannie Mae defined a manufactured home “as any dwelling unit built on a permanent chassis and attached to a permanent foundation system for purposes of Fannie Mae’s guidelines. Other factory-built housing (not built on a permanent chassis), such as modular, prefabricated, panelized or sectional housing is not considered manufactured housing and continues to be eligible under the guidelines stated in the Selling Guide,â€? according to the Fannie Mae Amendment.

“Our research also indicates that in many case lenders were not aware that mortgages they sold to Fannie Mae were secured by manufactured homes. Accordingly, we remind lenders of their obligation to know whether a mortgage is secured by a manufactured home,â€? according to the Fannie Mae Amendment.

The 30-page amendment also advises mortgage lenders that loans for manufactured homes must meet several criteria, including:

  • The manufactured home must be classified as real property. “The towing hitch, wheels and axles must be removed and the dwelling must assume the characteristics of site-built housing. The land on which the manufactured home is situated must be owned by the borrower in fee simple, unless the manufactured homes is located in a cooperative or condominium project. Mortgages secured by manufactured homes located on leasehold estates are not eligible.â€?
  • The manufactured home must be at least 12 feet wide and have a minimum of 600 square feet of gross living area.
  • The manufactured home must have sufficient square footage and room dimensions to be acceptable to typical purchasers in the market area. We do not specify other minimum requirements for size, roof pitch, or any other specific construction details.
  • The manufactured home must be attached to a permanent foundation system in accordance with the manufacturers requirements for anchoring, support, stability, and maintenance.
  • The manufactured home must be permanently connected to a septic tank or sewage system and to other utilities in accordance with local and state building codes.

Is it Easy Being Green?
Discover how easy it is and how to make your next housing project “greenerâ€? at the Building for Greener Communities National Conference, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Nebraska City, NE. Whether you want to incorporate tree preservation, resource-efficient landscaping and maintenance, energy conservation or special fire prevention measures as a key component of your community, you’ll learn what you need at this event. It’s sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation along with NAHB, Firewise Communities, The American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Public Works Association. A full agenda and registration form are available online, or call The National Arbor Day Foundation at 888-448-7337

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