I have been involved in the sale of camp, school, church, and residential care centers, among other types of properties for over 10 years. I have reviewed some of the camp offerings on this site and would like to chime in a little bit in regards to what I have learned over the years. Disclaimer: I haven't visited any of the sites listed here and therefore can not comment on the pricing being offered. Disclaimer 2: I'm just throwing out my thoughts, based on my experiences. You as a buyer or seller can have vastly different thoughts and opinions, and that is OK.
The first thing I notice when a camp or other similar special purpose property is put up for sale, it is often listed for too high of a price. The prices generally come from the current owners who think the property is worth a certain amount, sometimes based on expected rebuild cost, or a realtor that doesn't know the first thing about such properties, and has no idea how to price the property. Consider a property in Massachusetts that was originally listed at 3.2 million and ultimately sold for $800,000. This is not unusual. I have seen many, in fact, a majority of these properties sell for between 25% and 33% of original asking price.
Unless you are super lucky, you will never be able to sell a property for the rebuild cost. Why would someone buy a used facility that would require extra renovations to meet their needs when they could build brand new, to exact specifications, for the same amount?
But what if the camp is profitable? Recently I viewed a camp facility listed for $1.5 million. The camp was profitable, so it should be an easy $1.5 million sale, right? Wrong. The property was completely paid for so there were no loan expenses and there was minuscule profit as is. Someone investing $1.5 million to purchase the camp would have to wait a very long time, some time after the property is paid off, to see any sort of profit. Unfortunately, the only entities who can make such investments are large organizations, but these organizations are generally not seeking to purchase special purpose property such as camps. Most who are seeking property are not-for-profit organizations or individuals who have a dream of owning a camp, neither of which tend to have a lot of money to invest. Based on the sale prices I've seen of other similar facilities and the location of the camp, I personally would expect the camp to sell for approximately $500,000. Another facility, also listed for $1,500,000 that is currently for sale I can't see selling for more than $300,000 or $400,000.
So how should a seller decide how much to sell for? This question varies from camp to camp. However, my best suggestion is to consider how much you paid for the camp. Prices for rural properties such as camps do not incur significant changes in value from year to year. Renovations generally do not add a whole lot of value. Facilities built via donations ethically should not contribute a whole lot to your asking price. If you happen to have a recent appraisal (not tax appraisal), you can also use that as a launching point, but if there are few comp sales in the area, even that can be hit or miss. Don't be surprised if you can only get 75%, or even 50% of appraisal value.
Conversely, a buyer should tread carefully when searching for a camp property. Make sure that you can break even after all operational costs, which includes original purchase price, property loan interest, renovations, maintenance, insurance, utilities, staffing, supplies, etc., to name just a few. Never buy without getting an appraisal. Banks will generally require the appraisal for any type of property, and won't lend to you unless you are coming in under appraisal value. As banks are generally not familiar with special purpose properties such as camps, it can be all that much harder to get a loan, so you'll probably need to come in quite a bit under appraisal for a bank to offer a property loan unless you can put in a significant down payment. If you can get owner financing on good terms, this would be ideal, however we have found most sellers are not interested in owner financing or require 40%, at minimum, up-front.
Here are some recent sales I'm familiar with, but did not represent:
Massachusetts, 70+ acres, 28,000+ sq feet, mostly in good condition. Original asking price, $3.2 million. Final sale price, $800,000.
California, 15 level acres, 19,000+ sq ft in turn-key condition with excellent road frontage and nearby popular tourist village. Original asking price, $2.5 million. Final sale price, $800,000.
Vermont, 14+ acres, 42,000+ sq ft in turn-key condition with excellent road frontage, large town and popular ski slopes nearby. Original asking price, $2.8 million. Final sale price, $1,000,000
Texas, 70+ acres, campground in turn-key condition with lake, high ropes course, pool, newer buildings, etc. Original asking price, $675,000, Final sale price, $675,000.
All the above, except the Texas camp, were for sale for prolonged periods of time. Had they priced the property more appropriately to start, as the Texas property was, they would not have had to incur the years of maintenance and other costs that go along with owning a property.
Last edited by CampRealty; 02/13/18 04:57 AM.