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Camp Sale Pricing

Posted By: CampRealty

Camp Sale Pricing - 02/12/18 12:03 AM

Note: I am not a broker or agent. This post is based on my own research of looking for camp real estate for approximately 15 years. This post is merely to provide guidance to sellers on how to appropriately price their property to procure a quick sale and to buyers on reasonable prices to pay for camp properties.

I have been involved in the research of camp, school, church, and residential care centers, among other types of properties for approximately 15 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 on the ACA message boards 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. I provide this information solely so that sellers can have an idea of a price to sell at for quick sale. No seller should want to wait for someone to buy, all while sinking more money into a deteriorating property.

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. It doesn't seem all that unusual to start out at far too high of a price, only to wind up selling several years later for 25-50% of original price.

Unless you are super lucky, which would probably be due to a great location, 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? The only reason they could possibly do so is if they needed a property right away. In the camp world, that never happens.

But what if the camp is profitable? Several years ago I viewed a camp facility listed for $1.5 million. The camp was profitable and the structures were reasonably kept up, 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. The loan on the purchase would add considerable expense and be quite some time before the new owner would be able to recoup costs. 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, the location of the camp, and bearing in mind that the new owner was potentially also purchasing the business, I'd expect the camp to sell for approximately $750,000-$800,000. Another facility, also listed for $1,500,000, which was based on rebuild cost, which is currently non-operational and smaller, 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, unfortunately, generally do not add a whole lot of value. 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. However, if you price it right to start, you can perhaps experience a quick sale at or near asking price.

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 loan expenses, renovations, maintenance, insurance, utilities, staffing, supplies, taxes, 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. Banks will likely also want at least 40% down-payment, if they are willing to lend to you at all.

Here are some recent sales I'm familiar with, but did not represent. None of these properties were in operation at the time, so costs are for property only, not the business:

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 (rare!), 19,000+ sq ft in turn-key condition with excellent road frontage and popular mountain tourist village nearby. Original asking price, $2.5 million. Final sale price, $800,000

Vermont, 14+ acres, 42,000+ sq ft in modern, turn-key condition with excellent road frontage, built in 2000, 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

Oregon, 50+ acres 48,000 sq ft in turn-key condition. Stunning, well-maintained structures in Northwestern architecture. Original asking price circa 2010 is unknown. Price in 2016, 6 years after original listing, was lowered to $1.5 million. Final sale price, $975,000

North Carolina, 15 acres, over 40,000 sq ft. Appraised at 3.4 million, original asking price $2.75 million. Last asking price $875,000. Not sure what actual sale price was, but assume at or lower than $875,000.

Massachusetts, 12 acres, 28,000 sq ft. Originally listed for 5.5 million in 2009, then 2.995 million. Sold for 1.2 million in 2016. Currently back on market for $2.990 million.

Georgia, 195 acres, 15 acre lake, former Hidden Lake Academy, Originally listed for 10.5 million and lowered to 6.5 million1. Sold for $3.175 million after foreclosure. 2

Georgia, 25,000 sq ft on 15 acres. Appraised at over 1.5 million. I originally became knowledgeable of this property when listed at $995,000. Last listing price known was $399,000. Unknown sale price.

Virginia Intermont College. Listed for $15,000,000, sold for $3,300,000.

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 upkeep costs that go along with owning a property.

Posted By: T. Edward

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 02/15/18 02:46 AM

Thank you for the input regarding pricing. Do you have a particular formula that you use when determining the asking price? For example I've been told 6 times net revenue with a possible additional amount if the acreage is large. I have also been told some sellers base it on gross revenues. For example 1.5 - 2 times gross revenue.
Posted By: CampRealty

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 02/17/18 09:40 PM

There is no tried and true formula for camps and other special purpose properties. In general, the listing price is generally what the owner hopes to sell it for, not necessarily what the realtor expects it to sell it for. For the most part, realtors do not know what the business revenue or income is, so price is not based on those, instead more focused on appraisal and comp sales, if available. Or, in the case of some realtors, a wild guess. I tend to focus on comp sales and adjust based on things such as location, infrastructure, square footage, acreage, and condition of facilities to determine realistic prices that sellers can hope to obtain.

As many camps for sale are non-operational, or have very limited operations, and thus very limited revenue, you can't really use the 6 times revenue formula. In these cases, sale price is generally based more on assets rather than revenue.
Posted By: NYC French Camp

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 04/02/18 06:45 PM


I'd like to speak to you. What is your email please?
Posted By: Fred Greenberg/m

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 06/02/18 12:02 AM

Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 1
Gorgeous established summer camp for sale. Perfect condition and open this summer. Olympic size pool, river and lake. Minature golf course, 8 tennis courts, inside gym, many buildings and plenty of room for expansion. safe location but easily access to airports. Established camp for over 50 years but family not interested in taking over. Reasonable price for the right individual. Huge group business pre and post camp. Minimum investment needed as bank will finance and income will pay investment. If you want to go into the camping business this is the perfect opportunity. Make an appointment to see this amazing facility but only interested buyers. Interested contact Looking for a camp realtor
Posted By: Credo-3

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 06/05/18 12:50 PM

Plz email me more info at I'm interested. Thank you!
Posted By: lovesummercamp1

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 06/06/18 12:01 AM

Where is this property located?
Posted By: Marrie

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 08/27/18 03:00 PM

Good morning
This is very informative information
Thank you for sharing your wisdom on this .
My email
I have a couple questions I'd like to ask and gain your insight on privately .
Thank you
Posted By: Cover2

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 08/29/18 04:26 PM

CampRealty - sent you a PM
Posted By: Matt A

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 11/25/18 02:59 AM

I too have been researching the camp and rental business sales for the past 10 years or so, and in earnest the past 3 years as I am looking to purchase my own camp at present. Your overall assessment is dead on but not unusual for a buyer to overvalue what they are selling. Too often though their numbers are based on the emotional attachment and that search for the "angel buyer" who is willing to overpay because camps are in short supply and/or they are simply unrealistic about the value of their seasonal business. But when you run the numbers, the true valuation is substantially less. There is no bright line formula, but getting a fair appraisal of the land is the starting point. Because at the end of the day, the business is not worth nearly as much as the land, and you need the land as collateral for any bank financing. Most banks will not give you any money towards the purchase for the value of the business, so this ends up very much being a "land deal" with some additional value based on either cash flow or good will.

If you need some help putting together a deal of your own, I am happy to help and consult.
Posted By: CampRealty

Re: Camp Sale Pricing - 04/07/19 02:34 AM

Sorry for bumping, found another hospitality listing and the system won't let me edit the original post.

Grace University, 3 acres, 142,000 square feet, originally listed at 3.5 million, sells for about 1.25 million.

Wentworth Military Academy, 47 acres, 212,000+ sq ft, originally listed at 3.5 million, currently listed at 1.95 million.
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