With news headlines sounding alarms like, "Joblessness on the Rise," "Mortgage Crisis Unfolds," "Record-Breaking Oil Prices," and "Recession Looms," one could easily assume that the U.S. economy is in for a dramatic downward spiral. Just as with other stories in the news, however, reality is much more subtle than the headlines. Although the short-term outlook for much of the economy is bleak, not every sector will suffer. "Even though we've seen some dramatic economic shifts – particularly in the real estate market – RV resorts and manufactured home communities continue to be sound investments," says Leon D. Meekcoms, President of Parkbridge Capital Group, Inc. (www.parkbridgecapital.com), a privately held real estate investment, acquisition, and brokerage firm.
Meekcoms attributes the strength of the manufactured home and RV resort markets to two underlying factors: prosperous Baby Boomers on the verge of retiring are trending toward having affordable second residences, while vacationers are opting for seasonal recreation within driving distance of their homes. "Properties within two hours of major cities and those that are in the Sun Belt will continue to appreciate and provide the foundation for increasing returns over time," says Meekcoms.
Pre-built resort cottages, commonly referred to as "park models," are perfect for cost-conscious Boomers. Maxing out at around 400 square feet, these mini-homes may look like cottages or cabins, but are legally RVs. "Park models are the ultimate hybrid," says Meekcoms. "They can be luxurious and have myriad amenities like a house, but without the tax implications of a permanent residence." Because of the dramatic increase in the popularity of park homes, manufacturers are enjoying keeping up with consumer demand.
Similarly, traditional RV manufacturers are seeing strong demand, and industry insiders estimate that over 8 million families will own recreational vehicles by 2010. Although one might assume that record-breaking fuel prices would discourage RV travel, Meekcoms says that the opposite is true. "Research indicates that those who own RVs overwhelmingly feel that RV vacations are much less expensive than other travel options," he says. "What we're seeing is that RV owners are spending less time on the road and more time at their destinations."
Trends in both park models and RV travel are strong indicators that RV resort properties are a wise investment, which is why Parkbridge Capital has focused on this market. "The number of upscale park model and RV resort communities is relatively small, so demand is sure to outstrip supply in coming years," says Meekcoms. "We're confident that buying, upgrading, and expanding existing properties will maximize investor return while providing Americans with an affordable, or even quite luxurious way to achieve the lifestyle that they desire."