Any time you buy or sell anything, especially a vehicle, or something else large like that, can be a very stressful time. It is no different when you are seeking to buy an RV, or to sell one. Then you have to add in that many families will end up buying an entry level RV like small travel trailers, or teardrop campers as they start off.
However, then they will want to upgrade to a larger unit, as their family grows, their interests change, or they find that they want something more comprehensive for their adventures.
So this means that the chances are quite high, if the whole RV adventure bug has given you a big bite, you will likely need to buy, or sell an RV at some point, perhaps even both.
Many people would prefer going to a private seller to purchase a low-key pre-owned RV, rather than dealing with the non-stop upselling, and probably insanely over-inflated prices that come with going to a dealership.
Knowing how much your RV is worth, or knowing if the RV you are buying, or selling is very important. This is why it is always handy to do plenty of research before you do either.
Some people will assess prices based on a selling price, or by dealerships, or even just by making comparisons to similar units that are found on the RV market. All this pickiness may seem a little subjective for a majority of buyers, and it will only increase the caution that most RV buyers and sellers will feel as they go through the tedious shopping and buying processes.
If you are considering buying, or selling an RV, then the Kelley Blue Book for RV’s would be the best way to learn about the market values for both new and used models right? However, this can leave you wondering if there is a Kelley Blue Book for RV’s and travel trailers.
Once upon a time, Kelley Blue Book did have some RV listings. Sadly though, they are no longer actively valuing used RV’s, or travel trailers. However, there are a plethora of alternative websites, such as NADA (The National Automobile Dealers’ Association), RVTrader, RVUSA, and so on, which do list prices and values for motorhomes, travel trailers, and even the odd truck camper model.
So, today we will tell you all about buying and selling an RV or travel trailer. We will provide you with insights, and answers to questions. Giving you answers to things such as ‘What is the best way to sell my RV’, and ‘How much is my RV worth for a trade in?’ We will also take a look at the typical industry trends and tools to help sellers, and buyers make the best deal.
Let’s take a look at all the information we have for you today.
The alternative pricing guides for RV’s
It is sad that Kelley Blue Book seems to have downgraded to a point where they now only have automobile listings. Although, it is also worth remembering that Kelley Blue Book is not the only option when you need a vehicle property value guide. There are plenty of other RV pricing guides that are maintained by other companies, many with a totally solid reputation in the industry.
Since there are a few options available out there to choose from, it is definitely worth the time to take a closer look at your RV pricing guide options. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at all the options and gain a general average insight into prices this way.
Let’s also take a look at a few of the other things that you may also want to consider if you are heading into the RV market, regardless if you are buying or selling. This is especially important if you want to go through private parties instead of dealerships.
NADA pricing and value guide for RV’s
NADA is a faster growing competitor to the Kelley Blue Book. When they saw that the Kelley Blue Book had left the RV market wide open, with no other major competition, they dove in.
The NADA started working to offer some RV pricing guides, yet they also added in some articles as well, they did this to best help you narrow down the best possible prices available for both new and used RV’s, or travel trailers.
One of the best things about NADA is that they make absolutely every effort to make their whole website intuitive to use, no matter what your skill is with navigating websites. It is super easy to get all the information you need.
Let’s look at the steps you should take when you are looking to get a reasonable price quote on an RV you are interested in.
- First of all, select the manufacturer or the RV, this will then generate a more comprehensive list of options for you to filter through.
- Now, you need to select the model that has peaked your interest. This may even produce a list of body styles, depending on the individual product.
- Now, you need to select the body style, and year, or whichever years you are interested in. It is also possible that there may be optional floor plans available for some RV’s.
Once you have done this you will get a basic quote, then you can factor in accessories, or whatever additional accessories that the second party may have included or removed in your ideal option.
NADA do their absolute best to keep accurate and updated records for you to look at. Although, you may find some of the least popular models are a bit out of date. For the most part they are current, and up to date in their records.
Let’s look at RVTrader
RVTrader’s website is, again, very easy to use, and it provides you with an overall general pricing estimate for a majority of RV’s, motor homes, and popular travel trailers that you can find on the market today.
You only need to enter the relevant information, and it will give you a price range between the absolute highest value for an RV in spick-and-span condition, and the lowest value, likely for a unit that did not receive a lot of decent care.
They will also give you an average quote for a medium-quality RV as well, so you get a full scope of the costing.
This means you will need to accept that there is a price range, thinking of any other specifics, extras, and accessories that you will need to factor in yourself.
Finally, there is RVUSA, which is the other end of the spectrum to NADA. RVUSA is a resource site for any RV buyer or sellers. They have a comprehensive listing of RV’s complete with the most detailed specifications.
It is a great resource if you are looking for an opportunity to start researching the RV, or the travel trailer, that you seek to purchase. They have plenty of tools that will also help you connect with other second party RV buyers, seller’s, dealerships, and even the odd forum that will help you learn more about RV’s. This is a great place for beginners in the RV scene.
Interested parties are also able to post ads, and advertise an RV that they have for sale on this site. It is a fantastic way that you can connect with other RV buyers and sellers, it puts you all in one place. It is a good way to also get a feel for the market to see what similar units may be selling for.
The downfall of this site is that when it comes to pricing up the RV’s by make, model, year, floor plan, and so on, it has some holes in its structure. You can definitely dial up the exact model you want in their comprehensive library.
However, they only have a hard and fast MSRP on about half the models, and these models are typically only newer model years, so you miss out on some of the more aged content.
Simply, it is better that you think of RVUSA as a research platform, and a place to mingle among other RV buyers and sellers, and less of a pricing and quoting service. You can certainly use this site, however, we would recommend you use it alongside either RVTrader, or NADA, as well, to get the most comprehensive resource information.
What can affect the price of a second-hand RV and travel trailer?
When you use any of the above sites, these places will only typically give you a price range that is the best guess, on any particular unit. Aside from this, you will need to take a few other things into consideration. There are plenty of things that can influence how the price of an RV may be higher or lower than the typical average.
Let us now have a look at a selection of the things that are most likely to influence the price of an RV, or travel trailer.
It can be a bit of a challenge to determine the overall condition of an RV if you were to buy it (or a travel trailer), from a private party in a different state, or even just a bit too far away to reasonably be able to take it for a test drive.
You can always look for certain cues in pictures. For example, any hints that there could be a water leak, any dents, any discoloration in panels, cracks in sidewalls, or rust around the wheel wells. Give the photos a good glaring at, really delve deep into the images, and try to pick up on any subtle cues that there may be some conditional issues with the RV or travel trailer.
While you are doing this, also pay neat attention to the upholstery as well, especially on things such as a convertible sleeper bed, or on tri fold sofa beds. Keep a keen eye out for any signs that there could be an issue.
If you can go visit the item yourself, this is even better because you can give it a thorough check.
Mileage is more significant to RV’s and motor homes. While travel trailers, toy haulers, or fifth wheel campers, distance travelled can affect things such as the electronic trailer brake, the state of the wheel bearings, and the life of the tire tread.
Now, it is a downside that a majority of trailer, or tow-behind camper owners tend not to keep an accurate tab of the distance travelled, so in this instance this may be an issue for you. If you can check it however, it is worth doing so. Otherwise, take a look at the mechanics and tires of the vehicle, or trailer to get a good idea of the mileage.
Records of repair and inspection
This is pretty much a show of pride of ownership, as it is the simplicity of maintaining accurate records of repair and the life of the RV/ Travel Trailer.
If a private seller has this on hand when you ask, and if they are willing to show them, then this is a statement of confidence, and it should alone give you proof that the seller has maintained the vehicle well.
No one would be willing to show a document if the document contained information that could damage their prospective sale.
This document should also give you an idea of what has been maintained and if anything should be in need of doing to the RV in the near, or distant future. Getting a hold of this document is a good start if you are interested in purchasing an RV.
Any accessories and extras
Dealers and manufacturers of RV’s love to put in extras and optional features, upgrading appliance packages into certain model floor plans, and sprucing up items. This can include things such as hydraulic levelers, power awnings, backup cameras, satellite TV antennas, and a whole load of other upgradable appliances.
Sometimes these will even offer bed upgrades as well, going from a queen-sized bed to a king-sized bed. This can be a great way for them to raise the initial sale price. However, you must also remember that this will often increase the sale price when a private party then resells it second-hand as well, so this is something to keep in mind.
Do RVs depreciate in value?
RV’s, like any other vehicle, including cars and trucks, will depreciate in value. Depending on your perspective, this can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing: if you are a seller of a pre-owned RV, or a buyer of a pre-owned RV. This means that you may be able to get more for your money if you are willing to purchase a well maintained pre-owned RV.
This does mean that there is the potential for some negotiating over the price of the pre-owned RV. Especially if the seller came up with the price without putting in a lot of research
Do remember that some brands will hold onto their original value more than others, this is certainly true for a brand such as ‘Airstream’.
Generally, you can expect for an average RV to depreciate about 20% or so, in the first year, and then after then they will depreciate by about another 2%-5% for each year that comes after that. So as a buyer and as a seller, you should keep this in mind.
What if I want to sell my RV or travel trailer?- The Top Tips
As much as we would love for selling and buying items to be simple, it is not as simple as popping it online and requesting a price. It’s not like Etsy, Ebay, or Craigslist. Selling a pre-owned RV, or a pre-owned travel trailer can be rather tricky. You will be fighting depreciation, however, you will also want to get the best for your money as well.
There is an all-too-common fear that you will pop an asking price on it that is just too high, and that this will end up scaring off potential buyers. However, you do not want to ask for too little either, It’s a catch 22.
To help you, we have put together some simple steps to take in this process that will straighten out some of the more common difficulties and help you sell your RV for a good price, making sure that you make in cash what your RV is worth in value and good times.
Tackle any maintenance issues
The first step that you should take before you list your RV, or travel trailer is to tackle any possible maintenance issues. This includes things such as fixing any leaky faucets, ensuring all the trim is properly attached, that the upholstery is in stellar condition, and you could even go as far as rotating the tires.
If you are selling a motorhome, then you want to also complete engine maintenance as well, including things such as changing the oil. Ensure that any state inspections are also completed and that the tabs are up-to-date.
Doing all of these things will add value to your RV or travel trailer, making it more attractive to potential buyers, and it will also likely get you a lot more value on it too.
Deep cleaning is necessary
Do not hesitate to give your RV a thorough clean down. A clean RV shows pride of ownership, this will also encourage potential buyers. It will also make you much more of a preferable seller in comparison to those other RV sellers who do not as such clean and well cared for RV’s within the same price range. Simply, you are more likely to make a sale.
So, if you are eager to make a sale, a thorough deep clean should be high up on your to-do list.
You need to make sure that the refrigerator is spotless, that the bedding is freshly washed and neatly made, any smoke marks in the kitchen by the stove top should be wiped away, and the bathroom should be pristine and spotless.
Everyone likes to see a shiny clean product when they are looking to buy anything. Remember, you are not only trying to sell your RV, but you are trying to beat other sellers by making yours look the absolute best.
Also, you should clear out your cupboards and give them a good clean down. Ensure that all the glass surfaces are cleaned, and all crumbs are vacuumed up. The more you do, the more attractive it will look and the more likely you are to make a good sale, and sooner.
You need to get a clean title
This applies if you own your RV outright, if you own it yourself, and you have paid it off, then the bank will have sent you a lien release card. This should be a simple document that proves that you have paid it off in full, and you are now the full owner of the RV.
You can then take this information to your local department of motor vehicles (DMV) and they should then provide you with a clean title, with no traces of the previous lender. If you do not have the lien release card, then you can simply call up the bank, and they could then provide you with a duplicate in a few moments.
Of course, there is also the possibility that you still owe money on your RV, or your travel trailer. If this is the case then you should contact your lender and inform them that you are considering selling. You should do this as they may have rules in place for this type of situation that you will need to follow.
Regardless, any lending institution will want a full repayment upon the sale, or you should have some other type of collateral to cover the difference if you cannot sell the RV for more than you still owe on the lending.
Know when is the best time to sell
It is possible, like anything else, that the Northern Tier States may see a price swing of RV’s and travel trailers depending on what season it is. Dealerships will be aware that when the snow starts to fall, their sales will dry up, and RV sales will not be a great income source.
This means that they will often offer clearance sales at cut-rate prices, simply with the goal of moving vehicles off of their sales lots. So, if you are buying and are on a budget, winter buying may be a good idea. But if you are selling, avoid the cooler months.
The issue with the dealerships cutting prices steeply in these times is that it kind of turns them into a more direct competition with private sellers who are hoping for a sale of their gently pre-owned RV.
When we say this, we mean that if you were to imagine yourself as a potential buyer, and you are looking during those winter months when dealerships drop prices.
On one hand you would have the possibly risky, and unknown history of a private seller and their pre-owned RV, on the other hand you have the cut-price, brand-new RV from a dealership for only a couple of thousand dollars extra. Which would you go for?
In the northern US and Canada, sales of RVs will usually pick up in the spring months, and continue through the summer. It is around this time that dealerships will offer their models with the highest price tag.
This also means that you can raise the asking price of your RV/ travel trailer, and still make your potential buyers feel like they are getting a sweet deal when they look at you in comparison to the high-pressure, high-price tag environment of the RV dealerships.
The where and the how of selling
If you have time to spare, and some experience and know-how in negotiating sales, then you may be interested in selling your RV yourself. This is the way in which you will make the most money, however, if this is how you want to go about doing this, then you need to also think about what your time is worth.
If you put an advert online through a site such as RVUSA then it will certainly attract the right people, the interested people. However, they might be on the other side of the country, which can be problematic.
Of course, you could also try selling it through adverts in a local newspaper, or even on a public sales board. Your local grocery store might have a tag board, here you might be able to post an ad for your RV, as these boards tend to be available for anyone to post an advert for anything they are selling. So, this could be a good call.
This is often free, or you may incur a very minimalistic fee. The nicer side of doing it this way is that if you do find an interested party, they won’t be hundreds of miles away, and you can actually deal with them face to face, they will be able to do test drives without any hassle, and it will cost you nothing, or bare minimum to advertise your RV.
The issue here is that there may not be any interested parties local to you, or they may not shop where you placed the advert, so they may not see it. This means that if you decide to advertise locally, then you are going to have to relax, it may take a while for you to gain some interest in your RV, and it will take longer than you might otherwise expect to close a deal.
If you sell on consignment with local RV dealerships, or a car dealership, then it could all go through faster. People who go to these places are there because they are interested, so you are already targeting the correct audience from the off.
It will also spare you from the legwork and time, you do not have to worry about closing the deal, haggling, or having to play the part of the sales person. Instead, you can just kick back and relax.
The only issue with this option is that the dealership will likely charge you a fee for holding your RV, and they will also take a cut of the final profits for their efforts and service.
Dealing with closing a deal and taking payment
Okay, so, let’s hypothesize here for a moment. Say you have researched a good price for your second-hand RV and travel trailer. You have got the interest, and now you have negotiated a good deal with a private buyer. Fantastic! You even went as far as to ensure that you have a clean title from the DMV too, good on you!
Now, signing over the RV to a second party is pretty easy. There is even a portion of the title that will have all those necessary blanks for them to fill in. You will need to include a bill of sale too, though.
Right, so once that is all filled out, it is now the buyers’ responsibility to file the sale with the DMV in their state. Meanwhile, you will need to inform your insurance company of the sales as soon as you can.
Depending on their financing, you should gently persuade them to also take out their own insurance policy for when they take it back to their home as well. It is better to be safe than sorry.
When you take your payment, remember to inform them ahead of time if you want cash or a cashiers check. There have been many times in the past when a person made a high ticket private sale, only to later discover that the private check lacked sufficient funds. So, cover yourself and notify them of your requirements.
Get on the road
Selling or buying an RV or travel trailer does not need to be difficult, just do your research, choose the best options for you, and enjoy the future your purchase or sale brings for you.