Dear RV Shrink:
Perhaps you can referee a disagreement between my husband and me. I want to invest in an RV lot in a co-op park; he does not. He has all kinds of reasons, none of which makes sense to me. He calls RV and mobile home parks “God’s Waiting Room.” He says they should give you a plot when they sell you a lot. Every time I bring the subject up he just says, “Shoot me!”
His latest argument is an economic one. He says the lot in the park I am interested in does not appreciate like most property. You can only sell it for what you paid, plus improvements you have verified over the years. Is this true? Is putting money into a co-op park a bad investment? —Looking for a roost in Rockport
I can’t change your husband’s perception of parks, but I can address the investment debate.
First, co-op parks are a lot like a condo investment. It is living by committee – that means a collective of rules and fees that can change over time. Fees are generally in the form of a yearly maintenance fee that covers all the basics. This can increase as the collective decides to spend additional money on park improvements and as the cost of regular maintenance increases over the years.
As for the argument of appreciation, you are getting your appreciation at the point of purchase. You don’t have to wait years for it; you got the sellers’. When you sell, you will be doing the same for the next buyer. This type of transaction keeps costs down.
The other advantage of a popular park is that most have a long waiting list of people trying to get in. This is not an advantage when you want to buy, but makes it a quick deal when you want to sell. If the park you are interested in has a long waiting list, why not put some money down and at least get in line. That will give you a lot of time to continue arguing about actually pulling the trigger. I don’t mean “shooting your husband.” I mean purchasing a lot. You can always get your money back if you change your mind. If you wait too long you may need a plot instead of a lot.
In your husband’s defense, some people are just not cut out to be part of a cooperative. Read all the rules and regulations before you plop any money on the table. You will also have to deal with engaging in community chores, events, votes and some disagreements. This is true with any organization. You will find some people complain if hung with a new rope. You might want to sit in on a board meeting before you make your decision.
If you do all your homework and it doesn’t seem to crimp your lifestyle, compare what is offered to investment and development in a personal piece of real estate, if local zoning even allows RV parking. You may find the cost much higher than a turn-key investment in a park. Most offer a program that leases your lot when you are not using it, which helps lower your annual maintenance fee.
So to convince your husband I would use all the economic, safety, security and conveniences of a co-op park to offset his hesitancy. If all else fails you could just listen to your husband and do what he says, but I don’t know if that will hold up in court as a good defense strategy. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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