LAS VEGAS – Jax Budde and her husband are the Property Spouses” — like the “Property Brothers,” but for RVs.
They started their company, Free Bird RVs, in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I never even held a drill before I started this business,” Budde said.
The demand for RVs is soaring, even with higher fuel costs. She says she is booked through October.
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It would cost between $250 to $275 to fill an empty gas tank for one of the RVs she is selling.
The couple rents out RVs, but most of their time is spent renovating them.
Budde said that while the rental side of the business has slowed down, she has a waitlist for her customized RVs.
The RV Industry Association (RVIA) reported that 2021 was a record year for manufacturing.
“What we are seeing in the RV industry is that it is not deterring demand,” RVIA spokeswoman Monika Geraci said.
Automakers built more than 600,000 RVs last year, compared to an estimated 430,000 in 2020.
“High fuel prices don’t mean that people aren’t going to go RV, but we do see behavior changes,” Geraci added.
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Jan Silverstein and his wife are two of the millions of people expected to set out on a road trip this summer. They are driving about 3,200 miles.
“This gets seven miles to the gallon, and gas is anywhere from five and a quarter to well, we’ve seen it in Mendocino County at almost $10, and we’re going through there,” Silverstein said. “But I guarantee you, I won’t be buying there.”
The national average for regular gas as of Thursday is $4.85, according to AAA.
Some people use RVs as a home, which could save money in the long term. Budde said she has had some customers who would do this.
“Most people that buy from me are not looking to travel, and they’re looking to park them somewhere and live in them,” Budde said. “With prices of houses being what they are, how hard it is to get rental situations right now, this is a solution to that problem where people can feel like it’s a home.”
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They are also a source of income for others.
“On the flip side of that, it’s investors who understand that you can park this on your land and use it as a guest house (or) Airbnb, and there’s a lot of profit to be made as an investment in these as well,” Budde added.