With 10,000 baby boomers retiring per day, there has never been more demand for RVs and the retirement lifestyle of traveling America in an RV. And with more RVs on the road (currently over 8 million of them), they all have to have a place to park for the night – or head for a destination. Many Americans are taking advantage of this demand by buying RV parks as an investment. But how do you successfully buy an RV park?


When looking at the financial statements for an RV park, it is important to “normalize” these numbers through averaging. Don’t buy an RV park based on one year’s revenue. Numbers can be flawed due to unseasonably cold or warm weather, or even because of local construction projects and the price of gasoline. You need to see several years of statements to get a true handle on how much the RV park can be expected to produce in income.


At the same time, you have to focus on the current numbers on the RV park. Declining revenue over several years can suggest that there are bigger problems ahead, while growing income means just the opposite trend. The most accurate reflection of reality for the RV park is what you have going on right now. So when you average the numbers, you are hoping that they support the current revenue, and that the current revenue is up from the prior year. Any other setting means that you need additional caution and probably a lower price for the property.


Even though RV parks can appear fun and attractive, it’s still all about the money. You can’t overpay for an RV park and have a happy ending. Before you being looking at RV parks to buy, you need to determine what rate of return works for your goals. If you say to yourself “I need a 20% cash-on-cash return to feel good about this investment”, then you know that you need to buy a park at a 10% cap rate with 80% leverage in the form of a loan. Your focus should always be on the math. Where many buyers screw up is that they buy based on scenic beauty or pride of ownership, and lose sight of the big picture, which is all about the money.


Remember that the total cost of a project is not only the initial price, but also the cost of the improvements. Some buyers forget this simple fact, and only calculate their rate of return on the original price of the RV park, not counting any improvements. We have seen cases in which the renovations to the RV park can cost as much as 50% of the total purchase price, which can reduce a perceived 10% cap rate down to 7% — which can make the entire RV park upside down on day one.


Things happen. You need to always be ready for a rainy day. Don’t put too much down on any RV park deal – leave yourself some money in the bank. In addition, don’t cut your budget too tight. If the RV park can make $5,000 per month, don’t saddle it with a $4,999 per month payment. Remember the old saying “under-promise and over-deliver”, and put in a bunch of “padding” into every number you budget. That way, if your estimates were off – or the market dips temporarily — you’re still O.K.


Benjamin Franklin once said that “diligence is the mother of good luck” and that’s as true in RV parks as any other type of real estate. Don’t leave your investment to chance; increase your odds by performing good due diligence.


If a seller is wanting you to buy an RV park with poor financial information, or declining revenues, or it’s located in a sketchy area, or the survey shows it’s in a floodplain, then the price of the park just went down substantially. You have to be compensated for greater risk by higher return. Don’t let the seller try to convince you that the perceived problem is low-odds and not worth worrying about. Every risk is real and must be accompanied by a price concession. Another way to overcome troubled deals is by having the seller carry most – if not all – of the financing on the deal. That transfers the risk back on the seller, and insulates your potential loss if the deal goes bad. It’s been said that all bad deals can be fixed with zero-down seller carry, and that’s not far off.


RV parks can make excellent investments, but only if you use common sense and focus on the money. There are thousands of RV parks in the United States, so don’t stretch or rush to buy the first one you see. Mitigate risk and do great diligence – and stay completely focused on the rate of return – and you should be able to find the RV park of your dreams.

Frank Rolfe is a mobile home and RV park investor and owns over 100 parks with his partner Dave Reynolds. Frank also teaches about RV Park Investing through

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Although RV users are not as susceptible to fuel prices as the average American, due to higher disposable income and more willingness to spend it on their RV trips, it still makes sense to make the guests that come into your RV park stay for more nights. Remember that one RV that stays for four days is the same cash flow as having four different RVs stay overnight. Indeed, one of the best ways to hedge your revenue risk is to have guests stay more nights before moving on. So how do you do it?

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How To Earn Lifetime RV Park/Campground Customers

There are over 8,000,000 RV owners in the U.S. And they all have to stay somewhere. But that’s no excuse for not treating every single one as though they are the most important customer in the world. That kind of attitude will propel you to the top of the pile in RV park owners – and reward you with outstanding occupancy and cash flow.

So how do you earn lifetime RV park customers? Continue reading

Marketing your RV Park or Campground with Signage

Marketing an RV resort or campground is tricky.  Customers come from all over and for many reasons.  But one piece of marketing that is always important for RV parks is signage on well-traveled roads and highways.

The first step in constructing a successful signage campaign is evaluating what highways or roads are important to you – where does the traffic come from?  To help you in this matter, you can normally buy a “traffic count map” from your local state right-of-way office.  This map shows how many cars per day travel on the highways and major surface roads.  This will give you a good idea of the volume of traffic.  The next step is to find out more particulars on where your customers are coming from.  The best way to achieve this step is to tape a regional map to a piece of marker-board, and either hang it on the wall or place on an easel.  Every time a customer checks in, put a dot or pin on the map where they came from.  You will soon start to see patterns on where your customers really come from and where to emphasize your resources. Continue reading

RV Resort and Campground Managers, Employees, and Casual Labor

Once you find a potential manager for your RV Resort or Campground, the work is still not over.  Questions such as background checks, credit checks, how much to pay them, what their responsibilities will be, are they an employee or contractor and others still need to be answered.

Should you obtain a background or credit check?  The right answer to this question is probably yes.  Does everyone do it?  No. Continue reading

How To Find An RV Park For Sale

Many investors are considering buying RV parks as not only an investment, but as a lifestyle choice. With millions of Americans approaching retirement, a very fundamental concept is combining one’s retirement years with one’s investment objectives – and this often points to an RV park as the best of both worlds.

RV parks not only offer high investment returns, but a satisfying, enjoyable lifestyle. The opportunity to be your own boss, and enjoy a beautiful scenic area, work with happy customers, and spend a good deal of time outside, is an unbeatable opportunity for most people.

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RV Park Service – Change your Attitude!

The last time I was at a National Park, I noticed that there is a certain “feel” to being there.  It’s a happy, safe feeling, kind of like being a kid at your Grandmother’s house.  And I think you get that feeling from the attitude of the Park Rangers and employees.

So what makes National Park employees different and so attractive as role models for RV Park Management?  I think the reasons are numerous: Continue reading

Finding and Evaluating RV Park and Campground Investments

Of all the questions I receive from investors that are looking to purchase an RV Park or Campground there are two questions that are asked most often:

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These are important questions and there are several ways to find RV Parks and Campground investments and even more ways that one can approach evaluation of that investment.  When I first started in the business about 12 years ago, I spent a lot of money driving across the country looking at listings I found in major newspapers and on the internet.  While this allowed me to see a lot of potential deals, it was a big waste of time and money.  Many times I would get in my car and drive 1,000 miles only to find that the park I was looking at was a complete dump, had unrealistic profit and loss projections, or was already under contract by another investor.  Continue reading

The Importance of RV Park Signage

One of the most overlooked improvements you can make to your RV Park or Campground is professional-quality signage.  Good looking signage gives customers a great first impression, and has a real purpose — giving good information and directions.  It’s the amenity that keeps on giving; making your job easier and looking good while doing it. Continue reading

Mobile Home Park Versus RV Park and Campground Investments

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