SECO21 in Full Swing

The SECO National Conference of Community Owners Holds Virtual Meeting For Manufactured Housing Professionals

SECO21 is underway with hundreds of manufactured housing professionals attending and involved in a variety of educational and networking opportunities, including solo presentations, expert panels, mini-TED talks, fireside chats, and a cocktail hour.

During a session called Ready, Set, Grow: Developing and Expanding with Manufactured Housing, Scott Roberts, of Roberts Communities, led the audience through a session on the potential opportunity and common pitfalls in breaking new ground.

“We need more and more people to take the risk and develop new communities,” said Roberts, who has a large presence in Texas and the west.

But, Roberts warned, the development business is not for the faint of heart.

“It seems every time I’ve purchased a property I’ve been in a flood zone,” he said. “It gets very expensive.”

Roberts said developers of a new ground-up manufactured home community can expect to invest about 25% more than the original plan indicates, and that it can take as many as five years to begin making money on the property.

“Flatter is better. Don’t try to work against mother nature. And you have to be on a flat surface to make manufactured homes work they way they should,” he said.

Roberts said he prefers to develop in major metro areas with a population of 300,000 or greater, and preferably in a place with good job growth.

“I look for cities with expensive apartments,” Roberts said. “Your real competition at that point is the $200,000 home buyer.”

Roberts, a second-generation owner, said he’s built his track record with attractive, affordable communities and a winning presentation ready when he goes to talk with planning and zoning officials.

“We have no issued getting zoning,” Roberts said. “If more people do high-quality projects… the more communities you’ll get to create.”

Don Westphal, of Nadi Group, has consulted with Robert Communities on planning and design, and affirmed the approach toward answering all local questions and concerns on a new project from the outset.

“Don’t be caught flat-footed,” Westphal said. “Have answer to all of the questions… everyone is going to want to pick apart your plan.

“Presentation is what it’s all about,” he continued. “Exhibit in your presentation what the impact on the environment will be, and what steps you’re taking.”

Westphal emphasized building a team, explaining everyone’s qualifications, and preparing to talk with neighbors about specifics.

“Where will the entrance for the community be? It seems like a small thing, but it’s not. Is there a home across the street that can expect headlight through the wide each day as residents are coming or going?”

SECO21 is underway and continues through Oct. 1. Check back for updates from MHInsider, the leader in manufactured housing industry news, and bookmark our site for more news and information about manufactured housing industry events and conferences.