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Seasonal Campgrounds Popular on N.J. Coast

April 10, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

Rich Tierney purchased his piece of land at New Jersey’s Bay Cove Resort when it opened 20 years ago.
At the time, condominium parks — seasonal campgrounds where people own their properties and live in recreational vehicles or recreational park trailers — were all the rage.
That hasn’t changed, according to a report in the Press of Atlantic City.
“It seems like (condo properties) don’t stay on the market too long,” said Tierney, who lives in Wildwood, N.J., when Bay Cove is closed for the winter. “It’s the price, the location and the environment.”
It’s also a time when red-hot shore properties are failing to sell like they did a few years ago, while average home prices in southeastern New Jersey are on the rise, according to housing figures from the fourth quarter of 2007.
But holding up in this roller-coaster market are home sales in condo parks, say park managers and real estate agents, because of their “getaway affordability” and proximity to sand and surf.
“With the buyers’ market right now, we have seen an increase in the sale of condominium sites,” said Jay Otto, executive director of the New Jersey Campground Owner’s Association (NJCOA). “The big development in condo parks happened in the ’80s, and those owners are dying off or getting older, so they’re selling their properties or passing them on to relatives.”
While the housing market is cyclical in nature, condo parks seem to thrive in their own unique bubble, said Realtor Linda Williams. That’s because buying and selling is dictated by availability: New condo park building is virtually non-existent, while current property owners are holding on to their sites for the long haul.
“People don’t buy them to flip them. They’re buying it because they’re the most affordable way to have a place at the shore,” said Williams, of Coldwell Banker James C. Otton Real Estate. “You can’t buy a condo in Wildwood for $100,000.”
One of the newest condo resorts in New Jersey is called Laurel Pond. The 75-acre park is unique in that people not only buy properties there, but can also rent them out.
Also, unlike condo parks that are closed in the winter, property owners can check into Laurel Pond at any time — they just can’t stay longer than 10 weeks per calendar year.
The cost for an RV site is $97,500, while cabin-style homes — called “luxury wilderness lodges” — range from $139,500 to $197,500.
Some general features and facts about condo parks, according to the NJCOA and local real estate agents, include:

  • There are more than a dozen condo parks statewide, with more than half in Cape May County and one in Atlantic County.
  • The parks are seasonal, meaning people typically can only reside there from March or April to October.
  • Each property must house a recreational vehicle or a park model trailer, which are characterized as being 400 square feet and under. The units generally have one or two bedrooms.
  • Although it depends on location, property taxes can cost around $600 to $650 and are paid to the municipality.
  • Property owners do pay annual condo fees to the park’s association. Those can range from about $825 to $1,500, and includes water and sewer service, trash pick-up and use of any pools or recreational facilities.
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