RV Lot Ownership: What You Need to Know

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December 20, 2019

Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort in Newport, Oregon. Photo: Peter Mercer An RV and white jeep parked on a bluff overlooking the ocean.

We’ve all seen the real estate signs along the highway that proclaim, “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.” Many parks make good on the promise of the ideally located home. When parks offer RV lots for sale, travelers can find the comfort and security of ownership in some of the most beautiful parts of North America.

It hasn’t always been this way. A few decades ago, only a handful of parks offered RV lots for sale. RV travelers who purchased this property in those early stages were thought by some to be crazy. Well, it turned out that these early purchasers were quite level-headed. The concept took off and the values climbed, rewarding many of the early buyers with nice profits when they sold their lots.

Golf carts parked in front of main office buildings at RV resort.

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, El Mirage, Arizona

Today, throughout North America, you can find RV lots for sale in several RV resorts. Similar to the housing market, RV lot real estate has a wide range in selling prices. You can find some sites in the $40,000 range and others that push the one-million-dollar mark. This price variation is driven by factors similar to the home sale market, with a special focus on location, location, location.

Lots come in all shapes and sizes. Some include amenities like carriage houses, multilevel decking, outdoor kitchens and even private swimming pools, all dramatically influencing price. Quite frankly, there are some jaw-dropping parks in North America that house some of the most palatial RV sites that one could imagine.

Boats moored on a placid harbor.

Hilton Head Harbor RV Resort & Marina, South Carolina

I’ve seen all sides of the lot-ownership experience. I’ve owned an RV lot in Florida and occasionally rent a lot in Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort in Newport, Oregon, an all-ownership RV park on the Pacific coast. So, let’s look at some of the reasons for owning your own RV site, and then let’s examine some of the costs and challenges to consider.

Lot-Owning Advantages

Below are some of the perks that come with owning your own lot.

A guaranteed spot. With booming RV sales and the growing RV lifestyle, available campsites are becoming scarce in many regions during peak times. Purchasing a site can assure your place in the sun, as well as knowing it will meet your expectations. All when you want it.

Privileges of Ownership. Owning a site allows you to customize your own space according to your taste. You can add and store garden furniture, ornaments, landscape additions, patios, carriage houses and more. There’s also the potential for significant financial appreciation on your investment, unlike your RV, which goes down in value.

A pond reflecting a lush, tropical resort.

Naples Motorcoach Resort & Boat Club, Naples, Florida

Revenue Stream. The lot you own can be an income property when you are not using it. You could lease it for the season or have the park management rent it out on a short-term basis. Of course, you’ll have to work out a percentage for the park.

Membership in a Group. When you own a lot, you become part of the larger RV park community, meeting new friends season after season. Many resorts offer numerous activities to enjoy such as men, women, and couples billiards; potlucks; dinners with special entertainment and/or bands with dancing; lawn bowling tournaments; bingo; tennis and/or pickleball courts; arts and crafting clubs; exercise classes; dance classes; on-site restaurants and bars; on-site RV shows with vendors booths; and much more.

A Porsche parked next to a luxury motorhome.

Aztec RV Resort, Margate, Florida

Special Rights and Privileges. There’s big advantages to owning versus renting. These vary from park to park and may include services and product discounts, premium cable and more. No more worrying about check-out times — you can come and go as you please.

No more ever-escalating site rental charges. Owning your own RV site can somewhat help control your future camping budget. You can’t predict the fluctuations of campground rates for future travels — but you know exactly how much you’ll be paying for your property.

This all sounds pretty good, right? Well, before you get your checkbook out, let’s explore what may be the cons.

Leisure seekers float on a river on inner tubes.

Russian River RV Campground, Cloverdale, California

Expenses and Considerations

Before joining the lot-ownership club, remember that purchasing a lot involves some expenses and obligations that you may not have foreseen.

Fees. In addition to the sale price, other registration fees and transfer taxes may apply to your location. Yearly property taxes must be paid. Liability insurance, though usually not that expensive, is also an add-on. You may have to join a group similar to a home owner’s association or condo association. In these arrangements, charges are a shared expense covering maintenance of all the common areas and related equipment and assets. These must be paid monthly or quarterly. Items covered can include swimming pool service, landscaping, housekeeping, administration, security, utilities, telephone, property and liability insurance, general maintenance and reserve fund account. Fees also may go toward advertising, Wi-Fi charges, cable fees, year-end accounting, legal services, etc. These association charges can range from as low as $50 to over $500 per month.

A red, wooden deck overlooks a placid pond.

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama

Special Assessments. In addition to being responsible for paying the set monthly owners association charges, you may be subject to special assessments should an unexpected expense develops that is not within the reserve fund’s scope. Keep in mind, these costs are ongoing throughout the year, even during the off-season.

Site Upkeep. You are responsible for maintenance on your own site. This would include any monthly personal landscape fees, maintenance of patio areas, carriage house issues, etc. While the majority of the resort community gets along and enjoys every day, owner-controlled association boards sometimes encounter friction when dealing with each other. This, especially during election campaigning, can affect the community somewhat.

A modernistic swimming pool shimmers at the feet of palm trees.

LVM Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada

A Seller’s Market? When the time comes, reselling can take a while because of the niche market. Economic downturns can affect the resale more than that of the general real estate market due to it being a luxury recreational property.

Hopefully, this helps in giving some insight into the basic overview of RV site ownership. Establishing a permanent recreational site for your seasonal stays can bring you a wealth of pleasure and can fulfill your RV lifestyle immersion.

So, is owning an RV site right for you? If you think it may be, start searching your desired area and run the numbers.

Peter Mercer — To Buy or Not, It’s Your Choice