Multimedia Musings

by Christopher J. Spurlock

Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Very Mobile Week

This week has been one of the longest of my (rather short) reporting career. I spent almost as many hours reporting as I spent sleeping, and when I turned in my story this week, I felt more relieved it was finished than proud of the result.

The story my team worked on was about mobile homes, or more specifically, a new bill in the legislature that will change how the homes are classified. We thought the story sounded interesting and multi-dimensional, but it turned out to be more confusing than anything else.

I’ll spare you the details here because a) I’m exhausted and b) you’ll find them in the text story and TV package below.

Happy reading/watching!

Lenders wary of issuing loans to mobile home owners

BY EVA DOU and CHRIS SPURLOCK

When mobile homes are attached to a permanent foundation on a piece of land, they’re virtually identical to stick-built houses in form and function. But they are still different in the eyes of a lender.

“Mobile home owners pretty much have to have better credit than regular home owners to get a loan,” said Bryan Crump, owner of the manufactured home dealership Cedar Creek Homes in Columbia.

This difference arises from the fact that most mobile homes are classified as personal property, similar to motor vehicles. When they’re attached to a permanent foundation, they become real estate, but there is not an established process for homeowners to register the change with the county assessor. 

A bill in the Missouri senate sponsored by Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, would establish a procedure for the conversion, but until then, lenders are wary of issuing mortgages for homes that could be put on wheels and hauled away at any time.

“Companies who make loans, they want to make certain they have good collateral,” said Harry Gallagher, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Missouri. “Personal property tends to depreciate rather quickly, while improved real estate appreciates. It’s relatively safe to make a 20-year loan that’s considered real estate, less safe if it’s personal property.”

According to a study from the Journal of Business, few banks provide mobile home loans to consumers on a direct basis.  Instead, homeowners must make arrangements with mobile home dealers to get financing. 

“We’ve had a lot of individuals that have not been able to obtain a title for a home,” said Tom Hagar, executive director of the Missouri Manufactured Housing Association. “This went all the way to Washington…and has been something we’ve worked on for a long time.”

There are about 200,000 mobile homes in Missouri, about 10 percent of the homes in the state, according to the MU Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis. 

Kenney Hubble, manager of RE/MAX Boone Realty, said he sees about a customer a month who has trouble buying or selling a mobile home because of its classification. He said it shouldn’t matter whether a home started out mobile if it is now attached to a permanent foundation on a piece of property.
“Someone’s not going to spend $10,000 to attach their mobile home to the ground and not want that to be permanent,” Hubble said. 

Cunningham’s bill passed both houses last year, but Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed it because an unpopular amendment was attached. Proponents of the bill said they’re hoping to keep the bill “clean” this year and get it into law, as most other states already have a similar measure. 

VIDEO:

New bill will make it easier for mobile home owners to get loans from Chris Spurlock on Vimeo.

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P.S. I almost forgot, I spent all of last Friday afternoon working my first shift at the Missourian! While I was there, I put together an audio slideshow that you can watch here: SLIDESHOW

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Going Cold Turkey or The Story of a Post-Twitter Existence

When I thought about all the things I could give up for Lent…well, nothing much came to mind (perhaps because I didn’t really think about it too hard). Maybe that makes me a bad Catholic, or maybe I’m just lazy. Regardless, I chose not to give up anything. However, I did decided to make a smaller sacrifice: I decided to give up Twitter. For a week.

Since I first joined Twitter on Feb. 26, 2009, I’ve sent over 2,000 tweets and read thousands (maybe millions) more. It is a huge part of my social existence, and plays a key role in my journalism life as well.

But, I wanted to take a break to reevaluate the way I use Twitter. So, I decided to take a week off to test myself and learn more about my Twitter habits.

It’s only been four days so far, and honestly it’s been incredibly difficult. Monday, the first day, was especially tough. I felt myself wanting to clink the little Twitter icon at the top of my bookmark bar out of habit alone. I needed to be connected, to be ‘plugged in’ to my social sphere. And when important news broke, my first impulse was also to go right to Twitter. But I couldn’t. I didn’t want to give in.

So far I’ve learned a few important things from this experiment:

1. I don’t need to tweet everything I think. During these four days, there have been things I’ve wanted to tweet, and probably would have had I been able to access Twitter in the immediate way I typically can (I’m rarely without my laptop or iPhone). Instead, I was forced to ask myself, “Is that really important? Will that really contribute anything? Is it necessary, relevant, etc?” About half of the time, the answer was no.

2. I’m more productive and more engaged without Twitter. My girlfriend is always nagging me lovingly teasing me about being on Twitter all the time, and she has a point. Since I have an iPhone, I’m able to quickly access and update Twitter at any time, and I do. I also constantly have Twitter open on my laptop, which is a huge distraction. Since I’ve been on this cleanse, I’ve been more engaged in real life conversations, and I’ve gotten a lot more done.

3. I do actually need Twitter. Like I mentioned earlier, my first instinct when news breaks is to turn to Twitter. I get so many real-time updates from so many sources, it would be silly for a journalist not to use it, both for sharing and consuming news. Thus, I can’t give it up.

I’m not suggesting that everyone take a week from Twitter to learn, but I would recommend taking a step back to evaluate how you use it. It could really do you some good.