I have bought and sold many RVs over my 50 years of RV ownership and want to help people to avoid RV buying and selling problems.
Your RV has been for sale for awhile, but nobody has offered to buy it.
You’ve cleaned it, detailed it, taken great photos in good locations and placed informative, complete ads in a variety of places.
You know that the longer your unit sits, the more it will deteriorate and the lower its value will be, so you are starting to get desperate.
What you may not know is that there are certain things that are deal killers when it comes to trying to sell your recreational vehicle yourself.
If you can find ways to make corrections, you will have a much better chance to sell.
The good news is that in most instances, you’ll be able to achieve this goal.
Many owners who are selling their coaches base their sales prices on what they paid for them, the cost of the upgrades they added or the amount of money they still owe on them.
This is the wrong approach.
Buyers don’t care about any of these things. All they do care about is how much bang they can get for their buck.
Many use the NADA RV Price guide as the Bible of cost, so if your unit is much higher than what they see in that guide, you’ll be killing any chance you have of getting your unit sold.
You won’t be able to change what you paid for or invested in your unit over the years, and you can’t change the amount of money you owe.
What you can do, however, is look at the NADA guide and try to figure out how you can strike a balance between what you want to get for your unit and the price people will be willing to pay for it.
Normally, they won’t match. Thus, you have to find a way to compromise. If you don’t, you’ll be sitting for years looking at what used to be a fun vehicle!
The answer, for most people, is to be willing to take a financial loss. For some, the only way to do this is to get some sort of loan from the bank that you can pay off over time after your coach gets sold.
If you own your unit free and clear, you won’t need the loan. You’ll just have to tolerate the loss.
The only good news here is that what you’ll end up paying per month will be far less than what you were paying before, and you’ll no longer have to worry about selling your RV!
Another deal killer for many buyers is age.
Older travel units can be in great condition, but their problem is…well…they’re older!
- body style may be outdated,
- interior colors might no longer be popular,
- appliances can be old fashioned or
- fabrics and flooring may be worn.
There may also be minor body damage, fading paint, and older tires.
However, you may have paid a good deal of money for your baby, know it is in good mechanical condition and think it would be a great deal for somebody because you’ve priced it appropriately.
The bad news is that buyers generally comparisons shop. Thus, if they’ve seen coaches at similar price points that are newer, they are not likely to buy yours.
However, if you are willing to put some elbow grease and money into your coach, you can still find a buyer by doing things such as
- installing new tires,
- fixing minor body damage,
- replacing drab window treatments with brighter, sleeker ones,
- upgrading appliances and
- putting furniture covers on sofas and chairs
and using these upgrades as selling points along with the fact that older coaches are sturdier and more well-built than newer ones.
Making these changes will definitely be costly, but they will also help you to sell your RV, which is your main goal.
People are more likely to buy vehicles that have less than 70,000 miles on them, even if they have diesel engines.
So, if you want to sell, do so when your mileage is within that range.
Also, be careful of the “low mileage” trap some sellers fall into.
Normally, a coach should travel 5,000 to 10,000 miles annually. So, a unit that is 10 years old should have between 50,000 and 100,000 miles on the odometer.
If it has much less than that, this indicates that people have lived in it. This is not a good thing because it translates in a buyer’s mind to appliances that will break sooner, tires that may have rotted on the inside and furniture that has been used too much.
Diesel owners will be the first people to tell you that these engines can last up to 300,000 miles on average, and that is true. However, the rest of the coach doesn’t fare so well.
My husband and I once bought a very high end older diesel coach that had 95,000 miles on it. It was beautiful outside and in because it had apparently been well maintained.
However, it had problems every single day of the first vacation for which we used it.
- Internal wiring was brittle and broke easily. This wreaked havoc with anything electronic in our unit.
- The generator had major problems that left us without electricity for days.
- The entry steps even broke off completely when we accidentally hit an orange highway cone! This left us having to use a ladder to enter and leave the coach!
What we thought was a good deal ended up costing us $5,000 for repairs in less than six months.
This experience makes the point that it doesn’t matter how long an engine will last if the components won’t do the same!
4. Floor Plan
Sometimes I wonder what RV designers must have been thinking when they put together some of the floor plans I’ve seen in recreational vehicles.
If bathrooms, cooking and dining areas are too small, TVs are poorly placed, entry doors are inconvenient or storage is minimal, selling a coach can be very difficult.
I know of one right now that has been sitting on a dealer’s lot for quite some time because those who look closely will see that it has almost no space available for hanging clothes!
People do buy RVs with these flaws because they may never have owned an RV before, don’t realize the problems these issues will give them and dealers throw in extras to make buying easier.
However, selling badly designed coaches yourself can be difficult.
Usually the only way to get rid of these types of units is to sell them at very low prices or invest some money and elbow grease into upgrades.
5. Body Damage
Even novice buyers generally know that coaches with body damage are not worth having because repairing them can be so costly.
Furthermore, they can be and usually are signs that the coach has been in some sort of accident. This makes potential buyers wonder if the frame has also been damaged and makes them shy away.
A few scrapes and small dents won’t bother most people, but if your unit has a delamination problem, long scratches or big dents, you need to repair them if you want to sell unless you are willing to give your unit away.
If I walk into a coach and smell tank odor, cigarette residue, pet smell, body odor or mildew, I turn around and walk right back out.
Most other people do, as well.
Price, design and condition mean nothing to buyers when these smells are present because they are clear signs that the people who own the coach are not clean about themselves and do not give their units proper care.
If your RV smells, and you want to sell it, you should air it out completely, scrub the interior down from top to bottom, sanitize the toilet and holding tanks, and deep clean the carpets and upholstery.
You should also look for water leaks, find out what caused them and make appropriate repairs.
Otherwise, selling will be almost impossible for you.
One of the best products my husband and I have ever used for eliminating odors in the main body of a vehicle is called Odor-X. Unlike some of the others we tried, this one really works. It doesn't just cover odors up, it gets rid of them without leaving any type of residue.
You only need to spray it on and let it dry. I know for a fact that it will eliminate cigarette smoke odors because that was why I originally purchased it.
You can eliminate tank smell using the methods I describe in The Best Way to Dump and Deep Clean Your RV's Tank, but for other odors, this product is a must have.
Buying and using it will be a small price to pay to be able to get your coach sold.
7. Big Slide Rooms
Educated buyers generally do not want to buy recreational vehicles with slide rooms that are too many or too deep.
The reason for this is that when the slides are closed, people cannot often access certain areas of their travel units.
So, if you have slide rooms in a coach you are trying to sell, always show it with the slides in. That way people won't have to guess about whether they will be able to open refrigerator doors or make it back to the bedroom if they are not parked in a campground.
If your slides are so big that they block access, selling is going to be a big problem for you.
A few years ago 40 foot long RVs were all the rage.
Then gas prices rose, slide rooms became popular and the popularity of such big coaches waned.
On the other hand, units that are quite small can be unpopular as well.
You can't change the size of your coach, but it is so big that it intimidates potential buyers or so small as to make them feel they'll be uncomfortable traveling in it, you've got a problem.
The answer to it, of course, is to find a buyer who wants to own what you are selling.
This isn't easy and can take some time to do, but if you are not having much success, lowering the price usually will bring a buyer to your doorstep.
Invest Carefully to Avoid Selling Problems
One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying RVs is understanding that at some point in the future they will be selling them.
All of the problems mentioned in this article can be avoided simply by making good buying decisions at the point of sale.
If you purchase a clean coach that is well designed, not too old, has appropriate mileage on it and is not too costly, you’ll be in a much better situation when it’s time to sell as long as you make it a point to maintain it properly.
Because coaches like this are highly valued!
Don’t make the mistake of purchasing a unit that has any one of the things you’ve read about here that will make it difficult to sell later.
Buy right, and you’ll be able to sell right!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on February 09, 2018:
Kenna McHugh: You make my point. People each have their own views about what they like in an RV. Some wouldn't even notice or care about the one you mention here, but others would feel exactly as you do. Sellers never "get" this an often wonder why they can't find buyers for their units. The design flaw you mention can't be fixed, but others can. However, sellers need to define the problems before they can deal with them! Thanks for commenting and stopping by.
Kenna McHugh from Northern California on February 08, 2018:
I found your article interesting. I remember seeing a camper trailer with the bathroom near the kitchen/dining area. I think I'd rather have one with the bathroom back by the bedroom. Kitchen and bathrooms close together are not appealing.