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Buying a mobile home park: considerations for buyers

Mobile home parks for sale: considerations for buyers

It's tradition for many American families to travel around the country in their RVs, to visit remote and scenic surroundings in the comfort of a portable home.

Running a recreational vehicle (RV) park can be a rewarding and profitable lifestyle business. Although you must be willing to work weekends as well as weekdays, and be available to your guests at most times of the day, it's in many ways a low-stress existence that allows you to live in areas of great tranquillity and natural beauty.

No wonder so many city-dwellers desperate to escape the rat race decide that an RV park offers the best escape route.

If you want to buy an RV park then consider the following factors.

Location

People invariably choose a part of the country they want to visit before choosing an RV park, and proximity to certain tourist attractions is often the primary motivation for picking a particular site. Your research into RV parks for sale should include a considerable amount of assessment of the merits and drawbacks of the location.

Ideal plots for RV parks are close to a main motorway, although obviously not so close that traffic noise spoils the ambience

Ideal plots for RV parks are close to a main motorway, although obviously not so close that traffic noise spoils the ambience. Obviously, the more well travelled the route the better the business opportunity.

Proximity to recreational features, for example a beach, lake, golf course or hiking trail, is a major advantage. The location has huge implications for the facilities you should have.

Amenities

If the surrounding area is short on amenities and tourist attractions then it's arguably more important for your site to be a destination in itself.

Some families are content to spend much of their time on site relaxing by their RV, in which case it's vital to provide everything they need - perhaps a bar for the adults and arcade games or a playground for the children.

Another consideration is the proximity of shops. Remotely located, many RV parks are often a long distance from the nearest shop, in which case an on-site store is highly desirable.

There is a distinction between 'overnight' and 'destination' parks, characterised by the average length of guests' stays. Where on the spectrum between these types your RV park sits, and where you want it to sit, influences the facilities on offer and your marketing.

A site with laundry facilities, for example, will be better placed to attract 'RVers' for longer periods, especially if the nearest washateria is many miles away. Whereas RVs invariably have perfectly adequate restroom or eating facilities, they don't tend to contain washing machines, so this is arguably a particularly important service to provide.

Easy access to amenities such as water, electricity and sewer systems are increasingly essential for many RV parks. Laundry services, restrooms and shower facilities have been rated the most important considerations in surveys of RV users. Washrooms in particular need regular cleaning, arguably daily.

Wi-Fi internet access, which you may charge for although many parks offer a free service, is a particular advantage if you're targeting the younger market.

Many RV owners travel as a group for various clubs and organisations, so for them a clubhouse would be a big attraction. Allowing you to book large groups and sell food and drink at premium prices (you have a captive audience with no nearby competition after all) a clubhouse/bar/restaurant facility can be enormously lucrative.

However, if your site is near to a busy conurbation with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars then anything more than a modest on-site store and clubhouse might be an unwarranted investment.

Target audience

You need to assess the customer base of any RV park for sale you have under consideration. RVers range from families who see it as an affordable and liberating alternative to hotels, through retired couples who see it as a practical way to have frequent vacations, to young bohemians who see it as the best vehicle for visiting music festivals and the like.

What's the typical profile of visitors to the area the RV park is based in? Do its facilities cater for such visitors?

Let's say the area is heavily frequented by retired couples but the park is marketed as a lively destination for families. Perhaps there's great scope for shifting your marketing to target the lucrative retirees market segment.

Plot size

How many RVs can the site accommodate? And how large are the plots? Are customers likely to feel cramped?

Is there any scope for expanding the number? If the park consistently fills up and still makes only a modest profit, then scope for generating large revenues is obviously limited.

RVers often value spacious plots with a defined property line between plots. In deciding on plot sizes there's obviously a trade-off to consider between revenue potential and customer satisfaction levels based on privacy, noise levels and space.

Be mindful, however, that you can justify price increases if you expand plot sizes, but you must consider what your target audience can afford and is willing to pay.

Overall, running a successful RV park means understanding the RV lifestyle and the needs of RVers (though not necessarily being an RV owner yourself) and being friendly, accommodating and available to your guests, even at unsociable times.

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