The dream of owning a mountain retreat may be fading for many. Home sale prices have skyrocketed thanks to many urbanites exiting cities for more “wide open” spaces. Sales of recreational vehicles are following suit.
On the home sales front, last year’s real estate sales in Colorado’s high country saw more than $15 billion change hands in property deals in eight resort counties, a historic 61% increase over 2019 despite a nearly three-month shutdown of all real estate activity, according to an article published in the industry newsletter The Snow Industry Letter. The article points out that “homes are selling sight unseen for highest-ever prices. Ultra-wealthy buyers, flush with 2020 stock market millions and the recognition they don’t need to be in an office, are flocking to mountain communities”.
RV sales are experiencing a significant boom as well. A Mountain Travel Symposium webinar last month entitled “The Rise of the RV and What it Means for Mountain Resorts” examined that topic. The webinar featured two experts – Matt Smith, director of marketing for Winnebago, and Brad Hanna EVP/director of Business Strategy for Barkely (a creative agency specializing in branding).
Seems that sales of recreational vehicles (RVs) are up across the board, except for one category, – Big Bus RVs.
Overall, RV sales were up 13% in 2020 and up 30% year-to-date, according to Smith. Travel trailer sales were up 18% in 2020 and 35% year-to-date. Between 75-85% of the smaller, more compact units are first-time purchases. Motor home sales were up 42% in 2020 and 52% year-to-date.
There are 11.5 million RVs on the road, with that number expected to climb to 20.6 million in five years. In addition to a renewed interest in outdoor activity due to the pandemic, webinar speakers said that recreational enthusiasts have set aside money for vacations, have time to travel while working and are on a quest to get away from crowds.
Three of the RV purchaser sub-groups that were discussed were Ruggeds – a “younger, 55 and under” affluent group that is thoroughly immersed in the active outdoor lifestyle; Nomads – similar to Ruggeds but not quite as adventurous and trending a bit older; and Family-focused – those who want the comforts of home while camping and cater to the interests of their children.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), 56 million people in the U.S. are expected to go RVing this summer. And not just because of COVID.
On a related note, a recent article by Jason Blevins in The Colorado Sun noted that “dozens of Colorado companies that customize cargo vans into homes on wheels are reporting brisk business as housing prices and rents climb alongside pandemic-fueled push for backcountry adventure.”