LAS VEGAS — Jax Budde and her husband are property spouses” — like the “property brothers,” but for RVs.
They launched their business, Free Bird RVs, in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I never even held an exercise before I started this business,” Budde said.
RV demand is skyrocketing, even with higher fuel costs. She says she is booked until October.
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It would cost between $250 and $275 to fill an empty gas tank for one of the recreational vehicles she sells.
The couple rent motorhomes, but spend most of their time renovating them.
Budde said while the rental side of the business has slowed down, it has a waiting list for its custom RVs.
The RV Industry Association (RVIA) reported that 2021 was a banner year for manufacturing.
“What we’re seeing in the VR industry is that it’s not deterring demand,” said RVIA spokeswoman Monika Geraci.
Automakers built more than 600,000 recreational vehicles last year, up from about 430,000 in 2020.
“High fuel prices don’t mean people won’t go motorhomes, but we are seeing changes in behavior,” Geraci added.
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Jan Silverstein and his wife are two of the millions set to go on a road trip this summer. They travel about 3,200 miles.
“It’s been seven miles to the gallon, and the gas is five and a quarter at the well, we’ve seen it in Mendocino County at close to $10, and we’re going there,” Silverstein said. “But I guarantee you I won’t buy there.”
The national average for regular gasoline as of Thursday is $4.85, according to AAA.
Some people use RVs as homes, which could save money in the long run. Budde said she had clients who would do that.
“Most people who buy from me aren’t looking to travel, and they’re looking to park somewhere and live there,” Budde said. “With house prices being what they are, how difficult it is to get rental situations right now, this is a solution to this problem where people can feel at home.”
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They are also a source of income for others.
“On the other hand, it’s the investors who understand that you can park it on your land and use it as a guesthouse (or) Airbnb, and there’s a lot of profit to be made as an investment too. in these,” Budde added.