Why Selling Your RV Can Be a Big Problem

Updated on January 27, 2019
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

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.

There was a time when people who owned campers, motorhomes, and travel trailers found it easy to sell their units, but this is no longer the case. Many are left owning coaches they no longer need, want, or can afford to own purely because of buyer ignorance about the recreational vehicle marketplace.

The RV industry has chosen to remain silent about this issue because to address it would mean reduced income. They feel that it is better for consumers to face financial catastrophe than for them to suffer reduced profits.

However, they are well aware of how the game is played and that many who purchase their products will eventually find themselves in financial trouble simply because they were not aware of the rules!

A warning for all RV consumers about what they may be facing when it comes time to sell their coaches.
A warning for all RV consumers about what they may be facing when it comes time to sell their coaches. | Source

Buying an RV Is Often a Financial Disaster Waiting to Happen

The underlying problem is that buyers are paying much more than in the past, getting less for their money, and finding that reselling is almost impossible. As a result, there are thousands of beautiful motorhomes, campers, and travel trailers sitting vacant while their owners desperately try to figure out how to save themselves financially.

Owners are upside down on their RV loans, don't understand valuation, and think they can recoup by asking unreasonably high prices for their units. These RVs sit for years and keep depreciating and deteriorating while their owners keep hoping that someone will buy them. Many never get sold, and the financial losses to their owners are staggering.

Why Is It So Hard to Resell an RV?

The basic story of how people end up owning RVs they cannot sell is always the same. For example, a couple might decide to buy a recreational vehicle for living or travel that they can enjoy during their early retirement years. Some sell their homes to pay for their coaches, and others borrow money to cover these costs.

In most cases they pay upwards of $100,000 because they want luxury and have found the means to obtain it. They rarely understand the real costs involved in RV ownership, but they just keep paying because that's what you do when you own a recreational vehicle!

All goes well until tragedy strikes. It can come in the form of an accident, illness or death. It may also show up as a major financial loss. Sometimes it may simply be the result of old age setting in. Whatever the case, the tragedy that has taken place makes the couple (or the remaining spouse) realize that it’s time to sell the travel unit, and can't.

Top Problems With Selling RVs

  1. They owe more for it than it is worth because they paid too much for it to begin with.
  2. Banks rarely finance older RVs.
  3. There is too much competition from others who also need to sell.
  4. Their coach is outdated.
  5. The RV has unpopular features that are known to cause expensive problems.
  6. They can't afford to sell it!

Dong get stuck with a recreational vehicle you cannot afford to keep or sell.
Dong get stuck with a recreational vehicle you cannot afford to keep or sell. | Source

A Sad Real Life Example

In 2005 a couple purchased a new motorhome that cost $187,000. They sold their home to help pay for the coach, which today is worth $39,900. They financed the balance and used the rest of their home equity to help pay their retirement living expenses.

Towards the end of 2014, the couple decided to sell the RV. Because they assumed this would happen fairly quickly, they went ahead and purchased a home and spent the rest of their cash ($30,000) on upgrades.

Three months after they moved into their home, the husband died. The new widow

  1. lost a good deal of her income due to her husband's passing,
  2. now pays several thousand dollars a year to own and store her RV,
  3. does not have enough money to cover the difference between what she owes on her travel unit and what someone would be willing to pay her for it,
  4. has no home equity from which she can borrow,
  5. will not be able to refinance her RV loan for the difference that will be due, and
  6. can't find potential buyers who will have financing.

Furthermore, the coach has issues that are serious enough to cause a savvy buyer (if she can even find one) to offer her much less than the estimated value. In short, due to unforeseen circumstances and some very poor mistakes in judgement, this woman now owns a recreational vehicle that she can neither afford to sell or keep!

Sad as it is, her story is not unusual.

How to Keep This from Happening to You

Having read all that has been written here, the lesson should be clear, but here it is in black and white. The worst RV buying mistake you can make is to purchase a travel unit that costs more than you will be able to afford to pay if problems occur down the road.

The story I just shared with you is a common one. The details may vary from one person to the next, but the bottom line is that to protect yourself, you need to be extremely careful about how much you pay to buy any coach. Not only does their value drop quickly, but they are all expensive to maintain, store, travel and live in. You should research the costs involved in these issues long before you make the mistake of purchasing an RV you may not be able to afford down the road. To do otherwise is to create an RV selling problem that can be financially disastrous for you.

Where many unsold RVs end up: a Recreational Vehicle Auction

Has this article made you think twice about buying a recreational vehicle?

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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.

Questions & Answers

  • I'm seriously considering going full-time RV. I do plan on a 1 or 2 week rental or share before I make the buy. Would you please direct me to a resource that could recreate all the negatives - environmental as well as financial - that are common with this life style?

    If you click on this link https://hubpages.com/@timetraveler2 you'll find a listing of more than 100 articles that discuss a great deal about RV living and travel. There is much to consider when making a big decision like this, so spend some time reading before you do anything. Renting first is a good idea,but renting for a few weeks is much different than living full time. As with anything else, there are both benefits and caveats involved in full timing.

  • Does selling an RV have anything to do with location?

    It can. It would be much easier to sell, especially an expensive RV, if you live in a larger city. People do sell online, but many people prefer not to take the chance of spending a lot of money to travel to see an RV when they can just bide their time and buy one locally.

  • Would travel trailers have the same result as selling an RV?

    The problems can still be the same depending on price. The less costly a unit, the more likely it is to sell easily...IF it's in good shape and IF you are not upside down on your loan.

© 2016 Sondra Rochelle


Submit a Comment
  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    3 years ago from USA

    Janda Raker: Good for you! You're doing it the right way and will save yourself a ton of money and many headaches as a result! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Janda Raker profile image

    Janda Raker 

    3 years ago from Amarillo, Texas

    Good points! I especially agree with your suggestion that the buyer should purchase the least elaborate rig they can tolerate. Even if the RVer spends many months of the year in his/her rig, the Taj Majal is NOT required! Our simple pickup and camper has sufficed nicely for many years now.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    3 years ago from USA

    Blond Logic: No doubt! It's a problem that kind of snuck up on the public but is now rearing a very ugly head and clearly is heartbreaking. Many people jump into RVing without realizing the financial consequences or doing any research whatsoever, and usually they are the ones who face these problems. We never think there will come a day when we have to sell, but it always arrives...often with a hefty price tag. Thanks for reading and commenting. Nice to see you again!

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 

    3 years ago from Brazil

    This problem must be heartbreaking form many people. Especially at a time of life when they thought they could be without a care in the world. I could see this causing health problems and possibly marital problems as a result of the stress.


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