Written by: Matt Gast
There’s a new player in the recreational vehicle loan arena and its entry has the potential to turn traditional RV financing on its ear.
Outdoorsy, one of the young-but-established leaders in the RV peer-to-peer rental business, announced a new partnership with Lead Bank to bring new finance options to RV buyers. The new partnership would give all RVers – not just those using Outdoorsy’s rental platform – another quick option other than traditional financing offered by dealers.
"We surveyed the 40,000 RV owner users on the Outdoorsy platform and discovered that only 10% said they comparison shopped for financing when they purchased their RV,” said Anish Bhatt, Outdoorsy’s new Vice President of Product. Bhatt joined the Outdoorsy executive team in April 2021 to oversee Outdoorsy’s partnership with Lead Bank as well as leading a full range of services and tools that help owners manage, promote, and grow their listings.
Bhatt said while loans offered by Lead Bank are primarily targeting users of the Outdoorsy platform, he welcomes RVers not using Outdoorsy to still check Lead Bank’s rates when purchasing or refinancing their rigs.
“We would, of course, like them to put their RVs on Outdoorsy, but we are not limiting the financing to that,” he said. “We will offer loans to all RV owners. They can even refinance their current RV to receive a better rate. This applies to all classes of RVs, camper vans and overland vehicles.”
RV buyers aren’t shopping around for best rates
RV financing caught the attention of Outdoorsy executives when they discovered that 90 percent of RV owners never shopped for the best rate or compared rates from multiple lenders. Most RVers tend to automatically accept the interest rate offered by the RV dealer.
Bhatt said traditional banks and credit unions don’t know how to value what can be a consumer’s second-largest lifetime purchase after their home.
“This became obvious for the entrepreneurs using the Outdoorsy platform,” he said. “Our users generate income from their RVs, but banks were not considering that hard income as an asset of owning the rig. In those cases, they end up offering less-than-favorable loan terms.”
He said the timing was right for Outdoorsy and Lead Bank to step into the picture.
“We knew that we could offer RV owners rates that would be more competitive,” Bhatt said. “We can put more cash back into the pockets of RV owners and allow them to grow their rental businesses out faster.”
Refinancing is a new concept for RV owners
He said refinancing an RV loan is also a new concept for most owners. But, as loans for some rigs have climbed into the 15-year to 20-year range, refinancing can be an attractive option.
“Most RV owners never refinance their loans and don’t take advantage of the low-interest rates available in the market. This product helps Outdoorsy owners save hundreds of dollars a month,” said Outdoorsy’s Co-founder and CEO Jeff Cavins. “We’re excited to help put more money in the pockets of RV owners while also enabling them to earn extra income by listing their RVs for rent on Outdoorsy.”
Cavins said many RV owners find themselves locked into interest rates “hovering anywhere from 6-12 percent.”
Cavins said Outdoorsy’s proprietary data on RV ownership and usage – including data on the revenue potential of renting an RV – allows Outdoorsy and Lead Bank to enter the lending marketplace with favorable rate options.
Numerous applications already received
Although RV owners don’t need to rent their vehicles through the Outdoorsy marketplace in order to take advantage of Lead Bank’s financing, the new service is well underway with numerous applications already received from Outdoorsy’s existing community of 40,000-plus RV owners.
The Outdoorsy/Lead Bank partnership could cut local banks and credit unions out of traditional financing arranged by RV dealers.
“We are ready to unlock a massive wave of new owners who originally walked away from dealerships offering unfavorable loan terms,” Bhatt said. “We’ve heard this grievance from our customers and many of our most successful listers. Many want to buy a new vehicle and grow their rental business and their fleets, but there hasn’t been a financially viable way to fund the costs. With the launch of our partnership with Lead Bank, I’m thrilled to be able to offer industry-low interest rates that help make RV ownership and rental business dreams a reality.”
With the RV Industry Association expecting more than 600,000 RV unit shipments in 2022, the customer base seems ripe for a new player.
“Industry-low interest rates”
Lead Bank, which is based in Kansas City, would underwrite the loans and offer “industry-low interest rates.”
“Partnering with Outdoorsy and offering our competitive Banking as a Service solution to this RV-lending fintech [financial technology] ultimately gives more communities access to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Melissa Beltrame, CMO of Lead Bank. “Lead Bank continues to imagine how traditional community banks can serve new companies with compliant and innovative lending products, resulting in a win for the bank, a win for the company, and a win for the borrower.”
Outdoorsy will work with RV dealerships too
In addition to RV loan financing, Outdoorsy said it plans to team with RV dealerships to provide additional loan financing options for consumers looking to purchase RVs. In looking to the future, Outdoorsy plans to take on other financing and banking initiatives to help RV owners upgrade their vehicles, build out their rental businesses, and offer financial incentives for optimal RV owners operating their rental businesses on Outdoorsy.
It’s been a busy year for Outdoorsy. In June, it launched Roamly, its RV-focused insurance product that eliminates the commercial use exclusion clause and allows RVs to be “rent-ready.”
For more information on RV financing through Outdoorsy and Lead Bank, RV owners can visit outdoorsy.com/loans.