Anyone Bought an RV Park?

20 Replies

Hey,

I am working with someone who has been in the mobile home business for about 20 years and has owned several parks. He has found an abandoned mobile home park that he thinks he could convert into a 62 space RV park in South Texas. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with RV parks and what they think about them? Thanks. I would just be an investor in it.

Well I own a RV , and a campground is a lot of work . Here is my take on it , the campground needs to be near something attractive . Like the beach , an amusement park , a tourist area , etc .  If its in the middle of nowhere , the campground has to be the attraction , this takes big money , you have to supply the entertainment .Like pool , game room , mini golf , bands on the weekend , kids games etc.  You need a camp store also .    A 62 space campground is small , one nights stay in season is an average of $ 50.00 with water , electric and sewer included .   An example of a campground that is the draw is  https://www.bethpagecamp.com/  this is a first class operation , and isnt cheap . But it is on the chesapeake bay , and is awesome .  This a simple basic campground that does well because the draw is next door , an amusement park , this campground has little ammeneties   http://www.oldmillstreamcampground.com/      BUT its clean and well kept .    Another campground we go to services out of state workers , who are working in Washington dc , about 40 sites are dedicated to them , these guys roll in in their $ 50K trucks pulling a $ 70K fifth wheel trailer and lots of them are welders from the mid west .

Just like houses , location , location , location .

Love @Matthew Paul 's rendition a bunch. Once again it get's back to being in THE PATH OF PROGRESS.  But he's spot on. First question I'd ask is why is it abandoned? Kinda sounds like one of those old antique Mo-bile gas stations on Route 66 that were the in thing when my Dad, Buzz, and his buddy, Mocks, were driven their Model T across the USA in the late '30's. 

They were the in thing in those days. Some even had a beer stop with a pool table (that's how Buzz and Mocks made money on their journey). But the funny thing is I drove Route 66 back to the Midwest myself in '04 looking for just one of those ole pit stops and only found a few bones and nothing close to a cold beer let alone a pool table.

I classify parks into two categories; resort and residential.  This sounds like a residential or man camp type park.   In Texas, these parks cater to long-term residents either contract type workers during building booms and then lower income residents during other times.  John is right, you need to find out why it's empty.  What is the local population?  What are the largest employers in the area?  Is there a plant or other industry that has shut down?  If the area is growing, then it could be a good time to convert but if there's already been a bust then you'll have a hard time filling the park.

You might want to look at those things and also place some test ads in craigslists to see what the interest in the spaces would be.

Oh, I see these opportunities all the time. The RV business can be seasonal especially if not in a major city. So, you may need to research the market supply and demand in the area. Good luck! 

It takes a long time to start and grow a RV park. Slow process with little return to begin.

I have a family friend whose father started a RV park and it took 20 years to grow it to the success it is today. His son now owns it and benefits from his fathers hard work.

Additionally if it is seasonal you will find that in season you will work and be on call 24/7 when starting due to low cash flow. If you get big enough you will be hiring staff during the season or you will still be 24/7. A RV park is very labour intensive and a small park will not support employees.

@Hal Cranmer I am in the process of building one now. If my calculations are correct as soon as I have "drove the last nail" in it I will have more than doubled my equity before I ever rent out the first space. That's due partly to me doing the work myself and I'm getting the land for what is owed on the taxes though. It is a small park and will be a mixture of vacationers and workers due to the high volume of builders in the area. I plan on keeping it 5 years then will see if I want to sell it or keep it. The land is primo right on the bay.

Thoroughly vet this project before you spend any money. @Belinda Lopez has good advice on her website and knows more than I do about RV parks. Take any sound advice you can get. I read on one website that RV parks default less than other real estate. According to that site Funeral homes were the lowest and RV parks were second. IF that is true most of the reason for that is due to planning beforehand. It cant be like a flip and figure it out as you go. Best of luck and keep us posted. 

is it near George west? South Texas  had a MAJOR oil boom. There was little to no housing available so many mobile homes and bunk houses made there way down there.  Whole communities where set up for workers to live in. After the crash in the oil market many of these places became ghost towns.  I'm just guessing but wouldn't be surprised if what your looking at is the remains of the oil boom. 

A lot of you are saying that "RV park is very labor-intensive".  Does it mean that it is very hard to be an absentee owner, and have one of the residents be the maintenance guy?  I'm talking about 100 unit community, with the owner residing far, far away.

In my neck of the woods, RV living is a way of life. We live in an oil boom area. Small RV parks spring up overnight and stay full. The towns they are in have no apartments nor rent housing. 

I have thought about starting one myself. I've heard startup costs can be about 50k to 60k with a well, septic, and electric hookups. 

Has anyone started one from scratch so to speak and know the costs?

@Gil Flmeinga , there are several sites that feature RV Parks for sale, just google them but I've also discovered that some of those sites are just ways for the site owner to get the best deals first before they post them out!  Because they are such a niche, not many Brokers really know how to list or sell them as they are rare to see good deals listed.  There are also some Facebook groups (I know I have one) that are for RV & Mobile Home Park owners that folks post parks for sale.

They are absolutely less intensive than hotels and it depends on the type of park as to how much the owner needs to be around. They can absolutely be run absentee from the beach or place with a laptop and phone IF you have a great manager on-site. I always say "the park takes on the personality of the owner" so if the owner is a great business person who treats the park like a jewel it will be a great park. If the owner treats the park like their own personal ATM, never does maintenance, rents to anyone, then the park with quickly gain that reputation with residents & neighbors and the local law enforcement. Please don't anyone here ever have one of "those" parks. It's a great niche and so many folks need affordable housing, we need more owners to take pride in their parks and offer a safe place to live and they can create an incredible cash flow as equity and appreciation grows each year. One park really can make your whole retirement and it doesn't even need to be a big park.

Will anyone recommend any books/websites about  investing in an RV park?  We sold our house and are living in an RV.  Im a camp host learning how to figure out how to run such a park.  We wanted to visit markets that are less expensive than California.  Maybe look for a duplex or fourplex.  But now Im thinking, maybe the future for me is to own an RV park.  

This is such a subjective question and a lot of variables that make it hard to answer. Ive got a park im expanding currently, and have 3 new developments that are in the works. If you want any info on those let me know. These are in the Austin and DFW area. 

@Belinda Lopez is spot on with her description of the different types of RV parks: Residential, Resort, or Man Camps.  All of them are viable opportunities, but some are more work than others and some will come with more volatility than others.  The first, and most important criteria is always location. Location, Location, Location. 

Man camps can be amazing, but when the work in the area comes to a halt, they can become a ghost town, so if you buy one, make sure you are extremely confident with the current and future forecast for work.  

Resorts can require the most work and are often seasonal, but if well located can be a great long term asset to own. 

Residential RV parks are becoming more and more common.  Even though 100% of the park may be rolling stock RVs, it is not uncommon to have the same residents for 5 years or more who never move their RV.  These kind of RV parks may have originally been more of a temporary solution, but because of location have become a permanent living solution.  Again, it's all about location.  

Originally posted by @HERAN PATEL :

This is such a subjective question and a lot of variables that make it hard to answer. Ive got a park im expanding currently, and have 3 new developments that are in the works. If you want any info on those let me know. These are in the Austin and DFW area. 

@HERAN PATEL, I'm looking at an existing 28 pad RV park for sale now in a tiny town a few hours west of Austin/DFW... No apparent amenities, just a basic pad with hookup. I'd love your perspective on this niche since you're in the "area." 

Thanks!

Sara

I am interested in putting in an RV park, to start with a 14 space park with room to add on. I have a tank (pond) that needs work but I think it will be so nice to park your RV near the pond and just make it a nice place to live short term or log term. I am really interested in costs that I could expect to create this. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this.

I am outside of Austin about 1 hour and see that it could be a bedroom community for the Austin area and/or a getaway for a weekend.

Thank you, Joe 

I rent my sfh's mostly to traveling blue collar workers and this is the same group that would be staying in RV parks if it's a man camp type of situation. One thing to look for is if it's an area where drilling is happening or construction/refinery work. The drilling can be very boom or bust but if it's in an area with a lot of refineries it is pretty steady due to the amount of construction and ongoing maintenance needed. If it's in an area like this I'd be very interested in knowing more.