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Real Value in Serving RVs

Shelter Specifically for RVs Can Be a Strong Selling Point for Buyers of Single-Family Homes.

The RV industry is on pace for a record number of shipments this year. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) estimates more than 400,000 RVs will be delivered in 2016. That includes travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, truck campers, folding camper trailers and motor homes. About 9 million RVs are now on the road in the United States, and an estimated 8 percent to 9 percent of all U.S. households now own an RV.

New high-end motor homes can easily cost $100,000, $200,000, $300,000 or more—a sizable investment that you don’t necessarily want to just leave sitting out on the street.

So, where do you park all those things?

New home builders have come up with at least four solutions for buyers who want to keep their RVs close to home—and investors interested in providing this amenity to their tenants:

RV Parking Lot

Our Florida market expert, Lesley Deutch, noted that GL Homes incorporated an on-site RV and boat parking area in its active-adult masterplan Valencia Lakes in Tampa, Florida. Marisa Lufkin, project manager at Valencia Lakes, notes that the RV parking area was a big selling point for the community when it first opened, and that all the spaces were reserved within the first year of home sales. There is now a waiting list. The spaces lease for $65 per month (paid up-front for a full year), about double the price of a space in a traditional RV parking facility.

Although the RV parking area at Valencia is roughly 1.3 acres in size and has about 50 spaces, other communities with RV parking lots are as small as 0.5 to 0.6 acres with 25 to 30 spaces. Many people also use the spaces for boat storage (estimated at 10 percent to 25 percent of spaces).

RV Garage Attached to the Home

Las Vegas market expert Ken Perlman noticed that Lennar was having success with homes that include an RV garage at its Encore Collection project in Heritage, an active-adult community in the Cadence masterplan in Henderson, Nevada. According to Brian Bell, the on-site sales agent at Encore, the company offers one plan with an RV garage, and it’s the most popular of all its plans.

Despite a premium of about $25,000, around 20 percent of the homes sold so far are the RV garage plan. The garage is 22 feet, 2 inches x 42 feet, 8inches, which is large enough for most (but not all) RVs, and it includes a 50-amp outlet, which can also be used to charge electric vehicles. Homeowners can clean out tanks through a sewage connection outside the back door of the garage. Lot sizes are about 6,000 square feet.

Entire Community with RV Garages

Arizona RV Homes is developing Valley View at Sunrise Hills, a new home community in Fort Mojave, Arizona, where every house includes an RV garage. The standard RV garage is 22 feet by 52 feet (1,144 square feet). However, Arizona RV Homes owner Ron Bernstein notes that the company can modify the garages. He has built some as deep as 70 feet and 80 feet. Lot sizes are a minimum of 9,500 square feet and include not only the enclosed RV garage, but an additional outside pad with full hook-ups that is large enough to accommodate a second RV.

Some buyers have added additional one- or two-car garages in the backyard. One floor plan offered is a one-bedroom, one-bath house with just 766 square feet—in this case, your garage is bigger than your house! Many buyers at Valley View upgrade the garage and include air conditioning. One buyer added a loft with an elevator in the garage. Homes range from about $175,000 to $350,000.

RV Port-Homes

Reunion Pointe by Bella Terra, located east of Mobile, Alabama, offers RV “port-homes.” These are homes with a covered outdoor area at the side of the home large enough to accommodate an RV, but open to the air. According to the builder, 74 percent of its buyers prefer a two-bedroom home. The target market is Baby Boomers, including full-time residents and second-home owners. The builder offers a three-night “stay and play” special at a sister community to introduce prospects to the community lifestyle. 

Honorable Mention: Side Yard RV Space—the Old Standby

Many new home builders plot homes with a side yard space with the room to accommodate an RV on a lot (typically at least 15 feet). In many cases, it’s as simple as just making sure the side yard space is wide enough and that the driveway configuration is such that an RV can be pulled into the side yard. (If you go this sure, include enough room for slide-outs.) New home projects advertising “room for RV parking” can stand out from the competition.

With more and more Americans owning RVs, builders have the opportunity to design homes and communities that accommodate RVs and set themselves apart from the competition.