News & Notes Archive - August 2006
Homeowner’s insurance — Key things to keep in mind
It comes as no surprise in the wake of the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons that homeowner insurance premiums in Florida and the Gulf states region have increased substantially, in some cases more than 20%, with owners of older manufactured homes generally shouldering a slightly higher premium than those who own site built dwellings.
But what many home shoppers may not know is that regardless of where in the U.S. your manufactured home is placed, some regional and national home insurers won’t sell you a policy if the roof pitch on your home is less than 4/12. Roof pitch is measured by the number of inches the roof slope rises for every 12 inches of lateral distance. A 4/12 pitch is considered the minimum for any site-built home.
That’s the standard used by Safeco, the large insurer in the Pacific Northwest. Nor will Safeco write a policy on a home that still has axles and running gear on its chassis, even though the homeowner has no intention of ever moving the home.
I recently spoke with an agent who sells Safeco policies and she explained the likely reason for the restriction is that Safeco considers either or both of these conditions an indicator of below average construction quality, with homes in this category more susceptible of sustaining damage or loss.
You can call those restrictions discriminatory, but statistically Safeco is probably correct. Keep this in mind when making your home purchase decision.
In addition, even though a retailer may offer homeowner’s insurance from either an outside provider or a company-owned subsidiary, take the time to get quotes from at least two other providers —Allstate and State Farm, for example—before making your decision. They may have better deals. Many MH retailers push their insurance coverage because they receive sizeable sales commissions, which is fine for them, but the total price may not be competitive with that of major national providers.
Factory Built Owners of America endorses The Ratings Guide
Several months back, just after the Ratings Guide was published, the director of the Factory Built Owners of America, a consumer education non-profit based in San Antonio, TX, invited me to send them a copy for consideration for a possible endorsement. I did so. Time passed and I had nearly abandoned any expectation of hearing from them when, voila!, the director emailed me with news that the organization’s board of directors had voted unanimously to endorse the guide, as follows:
“We have reviewed The Grissim Ratings Guide to Manufactured Homes and find it
to be an important contribution to the growing body of consumer educational
information to help factory built home buyers make informed choices about the
features and construction quality that will provide the most long-term value. Because
we would like to see a more objective rating system developed, we strongly
encourage all manufacturers to actively participate in refining Grissim’s rating
system. We look forward to subsequent Ratings Guides. Great start!”
– Board of Directors, Factory Built Owners of America
I am honored by the endorsement. If you haven’t heard of the FBOA, they’re an interesting non-profit (web site: http://www.factorybuiltowners.org/), started last year with funding support from the San Antonio Credit Union (SACU) which in recent years has become a major national lender in the manufactured housing sector.
SACU’s goal is to help MH buyers and MH owners in all aspects of consumer awareness, particularly in the area of purchasing manufactured homes and home financing best practices. Their web site is www.sacu.com. You can contact them directly to see if you qualify.
FBOA’s membership is over 5,000 and growing. Members receive a newsletter plus discounts on goods and services. SACU hopes the FBOA will in time be self-sustaining, but one big plus already is a growing pool of responsible, informed creditworthy consumers eligible for SACU mortgages for manufactured homes.
I’ve heard good things about the San Antonio Credit Union. For example, here’s a recent email from someone who purchased my guides:
Just wanted to say thank you for publishing this type of guide. As a catalog librarian and a manufactured home owner I feel it is a very valuable resource.
For what it's worth: A few years ago I "swapped" my very tired 1977 Fleetwood for a new manufactured home. After trying to work with the local manufactured home dealer—whom I had researched, by the way—regarding ordered items and set up problems (i.e., six weeks to install skirting?—I don't think so), I turned them in to the Building Division for the state of Oregon.
I have high compliments for how my complaint was handled and resolved by representatives at the state office.
About a year ago I refinanced the home, via a local broker, with the Manufactured Home Lending Division of the San Antonio Federal Credit Union. Very good company to deal with: you get a human when you call, and your questions are answered promptly and clearly.
Dorcas L. Phelan
White City, Oregon