The RV Shrink: Co-op discombobulation: To invest or not to invest in an RV lot

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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

Dear Rooster:
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

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

##RVT917

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TravelingMan
20 days ago

If you consider the costs of a private piece of property, some communities are not that bad.

Private Property:

Purchase of private property: $
Title Fees: $
Septic: $
Electric: $
A Well or Water Tap: $
Permits: $
Concrete Pad: $
Driveway: $
Yard Mowing: $
Landscaping: $
Patio Deck: $

All of this is limited by your imagination and you still won’t have a clubhouse with a gym, swimming pool, pool table, walking trails, pickleball courts, community events, some golf amenities, etc. It will also be limited use if you elect a northern and southern territory when you have to leave because of cold/snow and/or extreme heat. You’re then paying all that money out for your own usage 6 months of the year, but then you still have to pay to live somewhere else the other 6 months of the year.

We had considered an RV community once. It would have cost $25,000 + annual dues of $1100 a year. And you still had property taxes of about $500 a year. Then there were “special” assessments to upgrade the 30A electric to 50A and install internet. And there were run down buildings and roads that would soon need “special assessments” of their own. There was also discussion about charging for water and sewer which to this point of the development was free. One still had to pay for trash service which could be split by three property owners if they put all trash in the central lot location. Hopefully it would not have been ours.

So then we thought, why limit our camping and exploring adventure?

For the money, we elected to stay traveling and getting to see more of God’s beautiful country. And, we get to experience new friends, local cuisine, and finding out about local history. Plus, we get to enjoy whatever weather we want. And when we run into thoughtless dog owners that don’t responsibly take care of their pets and like to party til wee hours of the morning, we just move.

There can be something to be said if you like to stay in one spot to reduce driving expenses. But if you own a deisel, it will cost you in the way of engine repairs as deisel’s are meant to be driven. Not stationary.

And for us, we don’t like staring at the same old view everyday for the next 30 years.

It might actually be right for you though. Just make sure you weigh it all out before you make that purchase. At best, you may break even. At worst, you will probably loose money by the time Realtor commissions, title fees and improvements are considered. But if you really like that spot, it might be worth it. Just look at it like you bought an expensive movie theater ticket. When the show is over, you can move on to something else.

TravelingMan
20 days ago
Reply to  TravelingMan

Economics…take the $25,000 for the 35’x65′ lot + 5 years of taxes, dues, electric, assessments, fees to the association for renting out your property while you’re not there, and trash.

Now, if you paid $600 a month for a space in a resort, how many months would that money stretch? Throw in less expensive campgrounds and some boon docking. Now how many years can you go for that same money?

And, how many places would you get you see that you might not have otherwise?

And, if you are older, now that is one less thing your kids will have to deal with in Probate.

Beachcamper
8 months ago

We purchased an RV lot in south Florida before we went fulltime. I lived in a condo prior so was well aware of the pros and cons of association rules and regulations. Our lot has a storage shed and landscaping on both sides, access to the Gulf of Mexico and the ten thousand islands via 2 Marina’s. Three saltwater heated pools, tennis court and gym. I love coming back to my landing pad for the winter. We have many friends there now and don’t mind participating in the “collective” to enhance our community. If I get back the money that I paid for it, I will be more than happy. I don’t see this as a return on my investment,it’s a niche market. However, after traveling all summer, finding a place in south Florida in the winter is not only expensive but sometimes impossible unless you reserve a year in advance. In this case, we are not only saving money but are assured a spot in a place of warmth and sunshine during the winter. What is that worth to you?

Jim Van Ostran
8 months ago

I agree with most of this response but also agree with Marmot about the appreciation thing. Anyway, in the late 70’s I borrowed my Dad’s C-Class and drove down to the Florida Keys. We stayed at Cudjoe Key RV Resort. They were selling water front lots, with a boat slip next to your site, concrete drive and pad for $15,000. My reaction at that time was OMG who would pay $15G for this little piece of ground. Today those sell for over $700k per site. I am a realtor in Florida and I must add that this type of “investment” has a very limited market even when times are good. They are also dependent on the economic market. If RV sales are falling then the ability of selling an RV site could also be difficult. You will never figure out all of the answers. A lot of your decision is on gut feelings and if you are going to really enjoy having the site while you are still on this side of the grass, then I say go for it.

Marmot
8 months ago

Richard Mallery’s explanation of RV lot appreciation makes no sense to me. The rest of the article seems reasonable and understandable. I spent 30 years as a banker so the concept of appreciation is a familiar one.