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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Beachcamper

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

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

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.