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Around the Campfire: Will the RV bubble burst soon… or not?

As a child I feared balloons. (Not the ones that were already inflated.) I worried when someone was in the process of inflating the balloon. My angst grew right along with the size of the balloon. I hated even thinking about the loud and sudden pop that might happen. Well, many RVers are waiting for a similar “pop”—they’re waiting for the RV bubble to burst. Some eagerly look forward to it, while others have real fear about it happening.

Never been here before

This was the topic around our campfire last night. We all agreed that our modern world rarely experiences a pandemic like COVID. Many, many folks (including some around the fire) viewed RVing as a way to safely isolate during the lockdowns, while still doing something fun. The RV bubble inflated … due to low interest rates that enabled more and more folks to buy RVs. And inflated … through remote-working. And inflated … with mandated at-home schooling. And inflated … with thousands of buyers desperately needing to get something—anything—good out of a very bad situation.

Keep on keeping on

Manufacturers cranked the RV units out as fast as humanly possible. Folks like TJ were lucky enough to claim a rig for themselves. They finally saw a light at the end of the dark, COVID tunnel. But now? TJ is worried. And he’s not alone. Many folks expect that soon the RV bubble will burst. “And then what?” TJ wonders. “When everyone’s back in the office, and kids back in school, who will want to continue RVing?”

“Not me,” Shan said. “Fuel prices have increased too much. I can’t afford to take my fifth-wheel anywhere. My issue is, will I be able to sell it? Will I ever get my money out of it?” That’s a real concern for buyers who purchased RVs in 2019–2021. They paid inflated prices, perhaps even took out a loan, and may very well experience a loss if they try to sell their rig now.

No end in sight

Rico disagreed: “The RV bubble won’t burst anytime soon,” he said. “Just look at how hard it is to reserve a campsite. Lots of places are booked up through the end of the year and into the next. Families will still vacation in their RVs. If money is a worry, they can camp close to home. As a result, they can save on fuel costs. That way, they’ll have a great vacation without spending a lot of money.”

No worries

Rick and Jan aren’t worried in the least. “Out rig is paid off. Since we keep it in our side yard, we don’t have storage fees. We plan to hold on to our RV until we’re no longer able to travel in it. The RV bubble doesn’t affect us at all.”

“We kind of hope the bubble pops and folks will get tired of RVing,” Darrell added. “That way, it’ll be easier for us to find available sites at campgrounds. I’m hoping the site prices go down too, due to less demand.”

No consensus

People around the campfire could not agree. Is it better to get out of RVing now: sell and recoup at least part of the money? Or should you sit tight and hope the RV bubble doesn’t burst any time soon? What if you’re looking to purchase a newer RV? Is now the time? Or should you hope that the RV bubble bursts and you’ll get a good deal on an RV later this year?

What’s your opinion about the RV bubble? Let us know in the comments below.

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Poed
1 month ago

Unless an RVer has bottomless pockets, they will have to park it. It is an alligator eating you. Buying high and selling low, means bottom up for the credit generation. These articles can’t even keep up with the prices. $5 plus in California today. Swing out on the interstate and you will still see fools running 80 MPH in an $80,000 F350.

Julie Gaspàr
1 month ago

Working in the field that manufacturers products to the RV Companies in my area, I can honestly say it’s slowly slowing down. A few RV Companies took the whole week before Memorial Day off, some weeks only working 4 days and majority of them are shutting down for 2 weeks on July 4th. It’ll be rough when the bubble does burst due to my home town is known for RV Manufacturing 😔

Skip
2 months ago

The burst is coming. Over priced RVs and the new norm is setting in. More are turning back to resorts. Back to being served. I’m sure financial institutions are starting to sweat. RVs are like a car poor investment in the depreciation market. A year or two it will be name your price. Same in the tent world. Lots are showing up for sale with supplies as they to are heading back to resorts.

Nat
2 months ago

RVs are a luxury for almost everyone that gets one unlike a car or home/apartment. As a result, if manufacturers do not bring down prices to match the quality of their product (which is terrible in some cases right now) then people will just not buy them. It is that simple. RVs are not a requirement of life and they forget that. The dealer near us told us that the RVs on their lot were a result of good planning during 2021 and they “just” got the shipment. That was 2 months ago and now they have even more, well over 300 plus. Their lot is packed. Why? No one wants to pay what manufacturers and dealers want now for a unit that was 50% less last year. It is simple economics.

Nate
2 months ago

The reservation issue is artificial. Go to a campground that is booked and you will see half the sites empty. People are multi booking, not cancelling, etc. Unlike hotels, people are not punished for booking and not showing up. Start charging them the full amount if they do not cancel within 24 hours then all of a sudden there will be more than enough campsites.

Hopefully the bubble will burst. Sorry but the prices of new RVs are not matching the quality of the new RVs. Something that sold for 60K last year is 130K this year and the quality is the same if not worse. At a certain point people will realize it is too much $$ for that poor quality RV.

Third, they are pricing out a whole segment of people. If new RVs stay inflated there will eventually be a glut of them on the lots. RVs are a luxury, unlike a car that is needed to get to work. You outprice the market and people will just not buy them.

Lyle Latvala
2 months ago

You all seem to love to push the “RV Bubble” narrative. RVs of ALL types are available IF you’re willing to buy a rig anywhere in the country … not just within 50 miles of where you live. No, new ones are not available at 20% off MSRP, but if you’re willing to take your time and do some legwork, you CAN still find used RV ‘deals’. Further, IF you full -time and live in your RV, it doesn’t matter what the price of new RVs is, nor if the inflated prices are going to retreat … unless you’re planning in selling immediately. Can’t we focus on other things happening in the RV world, rather than narratives that you love to discuss?

Rte wertd
21 days ago
Reply to  Lyle Latvala

You must sell RVs?

Alan Sills
2 months ago

I’ve thought about this issue extensively and have written about it on my website. Further I run a Concierge RV Buying and Selling Business so I see certain trends: larger C’s and A’s (gas) and 5th wheels have slowed quite a bit. Sellers will (in most cases) have to go well under “book value” (be careful with how to use NADA) to sell their camper. In contrast, travel trailers (certain floor plans only) and small C’s, B’s and diesel pushers are STILL in demand. Now, further rises in fuel costs WILL cause a decline in demand of these as well – and probably a collapse in the prices of those already slowing. As other posters have noted, there ARE several cross currents and the picture is STILL cloudy.

Virginia
2 months ago

We were planning on a year or two more of travel, but are thinking very hard about selling now. Questions with which we are struggling include:

We have a motorized unit which is not conducive to long-term site rental. Should we simply trade for a park model? Will we be happy in one place vs. visiting many places? Or should we just enjoy the sticks-n-brick home we worked so long to enjoy?

Long-distance travel is becoming more difficult as weekend sites are next to impossible to find, although during the week is great. Will we be happy going to regional-area parks only where we can enjoy 3-4 days vs. 3-4 months of camping in new locations?

And, yes, the financials are a large part of the decision. As with the stock market, knowing when to hold and when to fold is critical. Which regret am I more content to live with: that I missed the boom or that I miss the RV?

What I really miss is my crystal ball!

Jeff
2 months ago

There are a number of moving parts, covid and the ensuing and ongoing supply chain issues leading the way. Just as supply was falling demand goes through the roof. As supply is restored prices will have to come down but I’ve noticed that price increases seem to be unimpeded as long as someone is willing to pay whereas everyone, from corporations to individuals, resents lowering their price(s).
Now it’s high(er) gas prices. For those of us with 10mpg rigs the prospect of a long road trip now is depressing. However, our plan as full-timers had always been to budget our fuel spend. We can stick to that plan despite the increase and just travel fewer miles each month. That could limit us to 1200 – 1700 miles per month depending on price, which varies. Still not bad. Go slow and enjoy the view.
Another aspect is that house prices have risen dramatically in many places and those who can’t afford to pay are buying RVs to live in. They don’t care about gas prices because it’s just a house.

Brian
2 months ago

Maybe it will begin to deflate as gas prices rise or remain high.

Karen Lukert
2 months ago

I’m a full-timer 6+yrs in my RV park. Before covid it was mostly retirees. Then during covid, for 2 years, young families moved in and the waiting list for a lot was about a year. The park has been packed! I wanted a different lot because of a noisy neighbor. Nothing was available. Now the snowbirds left and about half the park is empty… like before covid… like “normal”. So, in my experience, the bubble has burst, at least here, in west-central Florida.

KellyR
2 months ago

Will the bubble burst? Of course it will – that is what bubbles do – they have a short lifespan. Don’t live in the bubble and you will be fine.

Jesse Crouse
2 months ago

Wait till that piece of crap new RV starts falling apart and the 20 year loan still has to be paid every month. Watch the default rate rise and the crap gets dumped on the market from the banks and loan companies trying to salvage some money out of nothing.

David Legge
2 months ago

I think the conversation is mixing two different bubbles. The RV buying bubble is the first one. With the current production backlog manufacturers are set for a couple of years. But with interest rates going up, COVID worries going down and market saturation you have to wonder how much longer before the purchasing bubble bursts. The second bubble is the RV ownership bubble. Will people tire of RVing if gas prices continue to rise, they can’t book a site, and the reality of maintenance and repairs hits them? I think some folks will decide it isn’t for them, but it won’t be a tidal wave.

Nat
2 months ago
Reply to  David Legge

There is always a chance the backlog will disappear. Same thing happened with houses in 2004ish where we were which turned into a housing bubble. The builders had a 2 year waiting list, etc. People ended up dropping out, buying used, etc and the backlog magically became a ghost backlog that no longer existed. We may see the same with new RV orders. People will get tired of waiting and just buy a gently used that comes on the market or just cancel their order and buy a new one sitting on a lot that is slightly different.

Bob
2 months ago

Not all models are sitting on dealers lots . Check small C’s and B’s plus quality built trailers and the backlog is very, very long if you want one. So its what you want. Plus the prices for these quality units are going up.

Brian Burry
2 months ago

RVing has become the recreational and vacation choice for more families due to so many factors other than just Covid scares, the cost to fly, hotel prices and extremely high restaurant expenses all have led many to prefer the control of their vacations and expenses. Stocking up an RV for a trip can be exciting and fun, along with the myriad of locations RV’s can allow us to enjoy. Yes fuel prices are terrible yet the Best Buy for vacations still rest firmly in RVing!!!

Spike
2 months ago

This statement should have been saved for the “Laugh of the day” feature!

“My issue is, will I be able to sell it? Will I ever get my money out of it?”

Poor Shan…delusions of getting all his money back … on an RV! 🙂

While it can happen, and actually I was able to pull it off once, historically it is rare and should never be something to be counted on. When RV sales people use the word “investment,” my response is always “Like a crashing stock market!”

Last edited 2 months ago by Spike
Wayne
2 months ago

Government uses “policy” to effect behaviour. The green agenda has no room for fossil fuel guzzleing RV’ers so we are seen by policy makers as undesirable.
But it is the time of our lives so we are going to do it in spite of the challenges.

Jim H
2 months ago

We sold our TT last fall for a nice profit over what we paid for it in 2019. We decided to sell it after a trip around the Michigan UP where the campgrounds were completely full and noisy. It just wasn’t what it was when we spent 2 or 3 months out on the road. Now that gas is $4 a gallon the decision feels even better.

I too have noticed the inventory piling up at dealerships. A smart guy that I worked for had a saying, “factories always catch up.” My corollary to this is “and overshoot”. It’s only a matter of time before there is a glut of RVs, cars, trucks and new homes.

Bob Heacock
2 months ago

We’ve had our rig for ten years and its paid for, so we’re not concerned about losing money on an investment. What more concerns us is the cost of fuel. Last fall, before the big increase, we spent $1000.00 on fuel just traveling to southern California from the San Francisco bay area. We’ll still do RV camping this season, but closer to home.

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