This could be RV buying advice even though it is about the entire process all the way to selling the RV.
I loved my RV, living in my RV, and the family we’ve become while living in that RV.
But dang I was happy to see the buyer drive off in that darned thing?
- Because we want to switch to a small Class C RV for zipping around and vacationing easier
- Because a 40 foot, 12,000 pound fifth wheel requires a monster truck and I don’t have one
- Because 40 foot fifth wheel is just REALLY REALLY big
- Because the fifth wheel tied up $36,000
- Because the fifth wheel had me paying $455 every month
- Because my insurance was running about $100 every month for the RV
- Because we weren’t currently using it and that is very hard on RVs
So I had LOTS of reasons to sell it.
In retrospect, the RV treated me very, very well. As I review the ownership of the RV, I’ll list things as a series of tips that might help you get more out of your RV, save more money, and have more fun.
Have a clear cut purpose for any RV you will buy
I get very sad about our country when I see so many storage lots completely full of RVs. That is so wasteful. It also points to so much money that could have been put to more use.
The most beautiful thing to see is an asset in full use. Maybe that is unrealistic and there is a happy medium.
But if you are making payments and not using an RV, then I think a healthy re-examination is in order.
I was lucky.
Sheri and I were going to live in our RV full time. And we did.
After purchasing the Open Range 399BHS for $47,000 (approx) brand new we started living in the RV full time. We loved it.
Turns out, the kids (14 and 10) loved it too. So much so, the RV was central in a legal action. Call me for details on that. Great story. Not ready for print for about 4 more years.
We also bought land and the RV was central to being able to develop the land quickly and affordably. We lived in the RV while putting in utilities and prepping for a home.
For the three years we owned it, we never paid rent except lot rent ($300 or less). Every month we were in the RV, we saved anywhere from $500-1200 per month depending upon how you look at it. We also made a little progress on the RV loan and were able to write off the interest on the RV note.
Most importantly – living in the RV cemented our family relationship. All the “big house” people can make fun of the “po folk” eeking out a life in an RV, but we grew amazingly close.
Looking back, the RV was a GREAT investment for many reasons.
Most importantly, we used the pee out of the darned thing. If you can’t do this, then an RV for you will get very expensive very fast.
When buying new, EXPECT major discounts off of list price
We purchased an RV buyers guide which gave us a SINGLE piece of information that made the book worthwhile.
The advice was “RV Dealers are fully equipped to give around 25% off of the list price of an RV.”
The rest of the buyers guide was nice, but Open Range was too new to be in their book. So the buyers guide wasn’t that useful
But getting a big price off of list is really critical. If you don’t do this you’ll be screwed.
Because it means that people who DO know this, will expect the new prices to be around 25% lower and the USED prices to be suitably lower than that.
If you buy at full price, make payments for 2-4 years, then expect to sell and pay off your note, it will be impossible. You’ll literally be upside down on your note for 10-20% of the purchase price of the RV. Let me repeat, you may have to come up with up to 20% of the purchase price your RV, just to sell your RV.
If I had not gotten 25% off of the Open Range when I sold it, I would have had to come up with nearly $10,000 to sell the darned thing. I would have had to pay off the loan by adding $10,000 to the check I received from the buyer. Ouch!
To get a good idea of the list price for RVs, once you zero in on the size, type, and hopefully brand and model of the RV you are interested in buying, do a study of the market using online sales tools and also calling out of state dealers.
Why out of state dealers? Because if you call the local dealer where you are really thinking about buying, then you won’t have the information you need. You need to know list prices BEFORE talking with the dealer where you plan on purchasing – otherwise, you’ll be at a severe information advantage.
How did we do on the Open Range 399BHS? According to the dealer, the list price of the unit is around $66,000 (in 2010). We bought ours for around $47,000 which is a 29% discount. We put down $5,000 and financed $42,000.
When I went to sell the RV, we received $35,000 and I sent in $600 to pay off our note. Yes I did send in a little money, but I don’t feel bad about it. For me, $600 felt like it was “in the noise”
Don’t fight the market – Your profit or loss is locked in at purchase time
When I decided to list the RV, I put it on rvtrader.com and on eBay (which RV52 collects auctions from).
When deciding what price to list the RV, I made a decision that I really just wanted to break even. I didn’t need to get top dollar for the RV.
So when I looked at ALL of the 399BHS units for sale, I noticed the price range was from $42K-66K. Yes, unbelievable as it sounds, some people were listing their RVs for sale at prices where you could get a new unit for less than the used price. I don’t understand this pricing.
So I then listed mine at $38K so I would be the cheapest on the market. Why? For one reason I could because my note was less than $36K. That would not have been true had we not fought hard for our full 25% discount. But I could. The other reason was that I was not focused on making any money on the sale, but instead was more focused on freeing up the monthly payment, insurance, and freeing myself from the debt. Plus if I have to wait three more months for that buyer, I would have blown any additional profit in payments.
But the KEY POINT I’m trying to make is that you have to look at all the comparable units for sale and price accordingly. You can’t just make up how much money you will sell it for. You have to list it for a number relative to the units already for sale.
It seems silly, but many people look at their note, and list the RV at the same price as the note. Generally, if they purchased at full price, or got a measly $5K off of the list price, they are never going to sell the RV at that price.
So might as well be realistic and know that you simply cannot fight the market. Price it like the others.
Late in the year you are likely to get NO realistic offers
I listed the Open Range around September.
I think I got one or two low-ball “flyer” offers that I rejected immediately, but that was about it.
After January 1, I started getting a legitimate inquiry about once every two weeks.
In February, I received an inquiry about once every 2-3 days.
I’ll have to remember that when we get our next RV. Buy in the fall. Sell in the spring.
When selling online, be prepared for very dangerous con artists
You need to be aware of two scams that I’ll list here.
The first one is receiving MORE money than the unit is worth in a cashiers check where you have to rebate a thousand or two back to the buyer.
The other is more direct, you get a cashiers check for the RV.
In both cases, you are getting a bad cashiers check. Impossible you say? Well it isn’t. And oddly, the banking industry, lame as it is, seemingly will happily let you cash a cashiers check ONLY to tell you 3-5 days later that the check isn’t good. They ask for the money back AND a bad check penalty on top of it. Don’t get me started on the banking industry.
So, it is incumbent upon you to really be 100% sure of your buyer AND you can devise a selling scenario in which funds are 100% verified before going too far.
Here are some tips that might help you get a safe deal:
- Avoid any inquiries that are TEXTED to you and then vector you to an email address ending in lots of numbers. For example email@example.com
- Avoid any inquiries that are TEXTED to you and have the word STOP in them. Nothing says “alert” faster.
- Avoid any inquiries where they are almost a panicked buyer and have to do something fast.
- Avoid any inquiries where you have to give back a small amount for whatever bogus reason might exist.
- Avoid financing the buyer.
- Avoid cashiers checks.
- Avoid buyers who buy sight unseen (You can make an exception)
- Avoid buyers you can’t verify
- Verify buyers by checking their email address
- In Google – surround it with double quotes to do the search.
- In facebook – about 60% of the time, these people will show up.
- In facebook look for their wives names and cross reference
- Use wire transfers for cash. Verify PRIOR to any possession of the vehicle.
YOU DECIDE – how aggressive will you be when selling?
This is the big question.
It always is.
Are you willing to hold on for the “next offer” to get an additional $5000 for example?
Or are you willing to accept a little bit less to sell the RV to the buyer you have in front of you?
If it is your first offer in a long period of time, you might actually JUMP on the offer.
If you have been getting offers regularly, then maybe you are priced correctly and you could hold firm.
But if it is getting to be June, July, or August, you might be getting past the buying season and have to wait until spring. Can you tolerate another 6 months of waiting? Was the waiting worth it?
Another 6 months of waiting could actually lower the price of your RV by another 5%.
I can’t actually give you the answer. I can tell you that you are in charge and you own this decision 100%.
What happened to me? Honestly, I took the first offer. Sad but true. After I accepted this offer, which was 1.5K under my ask, I had three very specific calls about the RV. One guy in particular was looking for the EXACT model I owned and he was in Texas. In other words, I probably could have gotten my ask.
But I wasn’t willing to keep making payments if I was wrong. So I left $1,500 on the table.
Do I feel bad about that?
Nope. Because right now, I have no note, no RV, and no payments. I’m completely free to choose my new RV – which will probably NOT be new, but a used Class C.
Be honest and forthright
There were things wrong with our Open Range RV. I’m not talking about little things either.
There were two things that I felt I needed to be upfront with my buyer.
1) The front gray tank had a leak.
2) The home theater system was not working.
On the home theater system, I think a person could find a suitable replacement on ebay for $50 so I wasn’t too worried about that one. I mainly wanted to disclose this one because it would be one of the FIRST things a buyer would turn on and sit back and hope to enjoy. I felt I had to set expectations so that this was not a negative surprise.
On the front gray tank, I disclosed that it was leaking, and that was only when I opened the gray tank after it had been full of water. I don’t really know what the issue was or is.
I had planned on fixing the problems, but since the buyer got such a good deal – I took his first offer of $35K, I decided that I would disclose rather than repair.
I also did that because we were doing a transaction without seeing each other in person. I thought that it would be good if he had total trust. Letting him know upfront what were the known problems seems important and tells him that he is dealing with a guy that wants to be painfully honest.
He never pushed back. I think he knew he got a great deal. I think unbeknownst to me, he was worried I would not honor the deal and want more money.
How did I disclose the issues? On the sales contract of course!
How the sale of our RV went down
Now that you have piles of interesting information about the sale, geared towards “tips”, I thought I would simply outline the chronology of selling of my RV…
- Listed for sale : August 17, 2013 (rvtrader.com / featured ad on RV52.com )
- I had a video and about 20 pictures of the unit.
- Listing price 38,5K, but dropped to $37.5K in November
- Process leads
- 20-30 “so called leads” that were SMS messages
- about 5 leads in email that were decent.
- about 10 leads in email that were bogus
- Got the lead that actually bought my RV: 1/25/2014
- Lead requested “rock bottom” pricing
- Did I have more pictures with specific details asking to be shown.
- Using email address, I went into research mode.
- Straight google search
- facebook search
- linkedin search
- found apparent wife’s name
- searched and cross referenced wife’s names/pictures versus the leads
- I was fairly convinced that the trail was sufficiently real.
- Sent back
- “Make an offer and lets see where it takes us”
- Uploaded about 100 pictures to dropbox
- Received offer of $35K ( 1/25/2014 )
- I sent signed offer letter ( 1/26/2014 ), containing,
- Purchase price
- Vehicle details including VIN
- My full address
- Buyers full address
- Disclosure about broken things
- Insurance requirement statement
- As-IS no-warranty reminder
- Verifiable payment requirement
- Between 1/30 and 2/4 or so, we both worked on payments to my bank that held the note.
- AMAZINGLY – the buyer wired the money directly to my noteholder. Since it was a wire, the money was instantly verifiable.
- At this point I was a little worried because if the buyer reneged, which I think should happen because of the sales contract, I did not think that I could get a new loan to “undo” the transaction. So that was a worry.
- Until 2/3 I had still NEVER SPOKE to the buyer on the phone – even though we had exchanged about 100 SMS/texts and emails. We did finally talk and he seemed like a very nice guy.
- We did go the the Texas DMV and pick up temp permit to transport in the buyers name. It cost us $25 and the buyer gladly reimbursed us so he could get his RV quicker.
- 2/14/2014 – Buyer picks up the RV with his 350 dually.
- I have him the 360 degree tour
- Reminded him the tires were three years old and had mostly sat (a little worry about dry rot)
- Went over a few systems
- Helped them get connected
- Signed the title over which came that day in the mail.
- Signed the Texas form 130U
- Off the RV went into the sunset. It really was a sunset.
Here is a picture of ole Gussy Lou’s last Hurrah on the RV52.com World Headquarters: