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Old 08-21-2020, 02:03 PM   #1
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Thoughts on RV lot ownership in RV resorts

DW and I are thinking of buying a lot in an RV resort, specifically Traverse Bay RV Resort near Traverse City Michigan. Lots here are generally about 45' wide by 90' long and include sewer, elect, water, and cable. Price's range from $45,000 to $75,000. Annual fee's run about $2,200.

Buying a lot may fit nicely into our future plans of spending summers up north and winters in our Florida sticks and bricks home. For the last 3 years we have spent summers in our RV away from our home traveling the west, mid-west, and Alaska.
We're not done traveling yet as we want to spend the next 2 summers visiting the Canadian Maritimes and the Pacific coast. So we will not be using the lot yet, however we may route to Michigan to spend a couple of weeks if our plans allow us to. Buying now at low interest rates may be financially smart and we would have a place to stay if our traveling plans change. The resort allows us to place the lot in their rental program. We get 60% of rental income with it likely to be rented the entire months of July & August.

We have stayed at another RV resort in the mountains of North Carolina and enjoyed it but we found the things to do at that particular RV resort due to its location limited. Traverse City is a tourist and vacation hot spot with lots to do and see. However Traverse Bay RV Resort is only open 6 months of the year and all RV's must be removed during the "off season". This doesn't pose a problem for us as we spend the winters in Florida and would have no need to use the lot during the winter.

This RV resort is comprised of 2 sections, one is a Class A motorhome section only and the second is a Class A and or 5th wheel section. Our plan after traveling in a couple of years is to sell our motorhome and purchase a 5th wheel which we will pay to have a service store the unit in the winter and place it in the lot in the summer.

The appeal of this type of summer lifestyle to us is:
  • Get out of the Florida summer heat
  • Enjoy an area with lots to do and see
  • Living so close to others it's easy to make friends.
  • The resort has several weekly organized events and dinners so easy to meet people. The virus is curtailing that this year.
  • Cheap way to own a "2nd home"
I'd like to get your thoughts on this.
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:12 PM   #2
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If spending your summer in one place is worth while to you then do it.....
Pricing/interest is just going to go UP so buying now seems prudent

And if you don't use it have the Resort Rent it out.......seems good deal also




WE traveled ALL the time and the thought of PARKING it was NOT for us.
After 2 weeks we got ichy feet and needed to GO
FTng for us meant traveling.....Snowbirding was just not for us


But if we lived in FL (NEVER HAPPEN) we would definitely LEAVE come summer...LOL
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:15 PM   #3
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Depends what you want to do with it. We bought in a SoCal resort 16 years ago and it has saved us a ton of money. Plus we customized the way we like. We leave and there is no infrastructure left on the property. We come and go when we like.

Many also rent their sites to family and friends when not using it.

It’s your money. What do you want to do with it.
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:23 PM   #4
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Thanks guys for your thoughts. I forget to mention the Resort has a nice clubhouse, 2 laundry facilities, pool and exercise room. The maintenance on these common areas are included in the annual fees.
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:26 PM   #5
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How easy is it to sell these lots if you decide you don't like it after a few years? Do they appreciate in value? Do the fees cover all the utilities expenses?

You should make sure this isn't on par with "investing" in a timeshare where you can't recoup your initial cost and the fees skyrocket leaving you with something you can't sell and have no way to discontinue paying escalating fees.
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:43 PM   #6
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Good point, but this is a deeded lot type of RV resort, you own the lot and pay an annual fee to maintain the common areas. Owners receive their own property tax bill. I believe the county considers this a condo association. There is an association comprised of a 3 member board that maintains and enforces any restrictions and covenants. According to the management company 3 lots traded hands last Monday. There are currently 217 RV lots but the management company, which really consists of a single person investor, owns several and won't put them for sale so they can keep them as rentals. I asked him about this and he said I can't sell units unless I have people renting in here, like you, and they buy after seeing how nice this place is.

Additionally the management company is expanding the park to include about 84 400 sq ft park models similarly setup like the RV sites. They are in a separate but adjacent section. However I think there is some issue with the local planning board and additional approval may be necessary before more park models are installed. There are 6 park models already in place and I believe 3 have sold.
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:26 PM   #7
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I think that if you're a snowbird and winter in the same spot every year, why not lock down a good spot that you own. It's still real estate, so you'll never lose money on it.

For us, we live in California, so we can take the RV out 12 months out of the year without winterizing or having to store it. We've styed at resorts where the spots were privately owned, but it's not for us. We don't want to be locked down to go going to the same place all the time. It would b nice if you can buy 5-6 of these around the country.
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:32 PM   #8
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I think that if you're a snowbird and winter in the same spot every year, why not lock down a good spot that you own. It's still real estate, so you'll never lose money on it.

For us, we live in California, so we can take the RV out 12 months out of the year without winterizing or having to store it. We've styed at resorts where the spots were privately owned, but it's not for us. We don't want to be locked down to go going to the same place all the time. It would b nice if you can buy 5-6 of these around the country.
We have owned a couple of different lots in Outdoor Resorts- Indio California. They were great, but hardly great investments. They are recreational property and subject to wild price swings. Lots that once sold for $300,000 sold for less than $100,000 during the real estate crash and only recently rebounded to near the peak. And those peak priced lots had many improvements and extensive maintenance necessary to keep those high prices.
I would make double sure that the HOA is very, very strict. At Outdoor Resorts one example I remember is a guy was forced to tear down his $30,000 shade structure because it was 6" too tall. He was furious, but the HOA is keeping the property values up by forcing everyone to obey the rules and keep the resort flawless. I have seen way too many "resorst" start letting little things just slip bye and eventually they have big problems. It is compounded by parks changing their primary marketing strategy. A Class A only park changing to allow 5th wheels and potentially other types tells me they could be struggling. I would be especially wary of the park models, since they are pretty much permanently sited and even though they look great now, what will they be 10 or 15 years down the road. Go check out some of the snowbird park reviews in Yuma and you will get an idea of what I am talking about.
Final thought, be sure you understand the rental arrangement. Some parks place all the rents into pools based on the type of lot and divide it up evenly amongst all the owners who placed their lots into the rental pool. Others only pay the rent to you if your site was actually rented. If you are only paid if your site is rented you are out of luck if 99% of the sites are rented and your site is a 1%er. In that case you better be sure you have a very desirable lot, otherwise that rent you are banking on may not materialize.
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:25 PM   #9
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Why be tied down to returning to the same place every winter??? As we full time we would rather go to new places all the time.
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:42 PM   #10
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Why be tied down to returning to the same place every winter??? As we full time we would rather go to new places all the time.
Not following. Why would you be tied to one place. We have owned an RV lot for years in California and it hasn’t limited us in any way. I’m curious of your thought process on this. How would ownership of an RV property limit travel?
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Old 08-22-2020, 12:28 AM   #11
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Why be tied down to returning to the same place every winter??? As we full time we would rather go to new places all the time.

I agree. If we owned something we'd feel we had to use it. I guess that depends on how much money you have to play around with. We enjoy exploring new places all the time.
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Old 08-22-2020, 02:51 AM   #12
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We couldn't be happier at our little square of paradise. Maybe rent first to check out the atmosphere of the place. Our is friendly and welcoming and we've made lots of great friends.

It's probably not a moneymaker, but we should break even, at least, someday. You can't say that about non-deeded parks.
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Old 08-22-2020, 08:30 AM   #13
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lot ownership vs Renting

Very important look at any an all legal battles that have occurred at the park an see what they are all about an if they effect your buying decision. Another words Google the parks name. If not then your plans should go forward. A park in North Georgia had a developer that wanted to make this his lifetime income an held back the lots for sale so he could never be thrown off the board. The cost to remove this guy was very expensive born by the owners of the park. In other words is the developer on the board? Stay away from that park.
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Old 08-22-2020, 10:29 AM   #14
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Why be tied down to returning to the same place every winter??? As we full time we would rather go to new places all the time.
We enjoyed returning each year. Meeting up with friends, getting the golf group back together eating at our favorite restaurants. At least in the Palm Springs area there is a lifetime of exploring right outside your door. There are national parks, a world class zoo, casinos, a different restaurant every night if you so desire. To us, there is a difference between summer travel and snowbirding. We love to travel to different places in the RV, but we like that in smaller doses. The walls start to close in and after a while travel becomes less a thrill and more a chore. Owning a site in a resort gives us an elaborate outdoor kitchen, outdoor television space and lounging areas all covered by retractable shade covers and screens. To us it adds a thousand plus square feet of living space. There's a golf course 50 feet away, pools, fitness center and activities should we wish to join in.
We found that winter is just limiting in travel. Choices really distill down to Southern California, Arizona, South Texas and Southern Florida. We tried them all before we settled on Southern Cal. It's personal preference, for sure, but the only one of those areas we would even think about returning to instead of Palm Springs would be South Florida. Loved the Everglades and Ocean but it is a long, long ways away from our summer home. Then there is that 800lb gorilla in the room, Bugs and Snakes. The California Desert Resort Cities are snake free and bugs are pretty much limited to crickets and flies.
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