I have had a great deal of experience both buying and selling RVs and think people should understand the mechanics of doing these things.
If you are thinking about selling your camper, travel trailer, or motor home, there is important information you should know about before attempting to do so.
On the surface, selling a recreational vehicle seems simple, but it really is not.
There are many methods for doing so, but potential sellers should acquaint themselves with the pros and cons of each so that they can choose one that will work best for them.
Among those that are available to people are
- selling their units themselves,
- putting them on consignment with a dealer,
- selling to a dealer who rents units out and
- auctioning their coaches.
Notice that I did not mention selling to a standard dealer. This is because few if any of them will consign for you or purchase your coach outright.
They are not in the business of general reselling and will only sell a used coach that they have taken in on trade from a customer wishing to purchase a more costly one.
The main reason for this is that dealerships make the most money and generally have fewer problems when they sell new.
Many owners tend to assume that if they want to get rid of their used coaches they can simply drive them down to a dealership and sell them off. However, this is wrong thinking.
Unless you are willing to trade your unit for a newer or more costly one, you're on your own when it comes to selling it.
Many people think that selling their RVs themselves is a simple matter of throwing an ad into the paper and waiting for the phone to ring.
This may seem like a good idea, but people who do this sometimes wait years before buyers come knocking.
When this happens, recreational vehicles deteriorate and lose value. It's the exact reason why those who wish to self sell need to do everything possible to find buyers quickly.
The Best Way for You to Sell Your RV provides detailed directions for people who wish to self sell, but before trying to do so they should educate themselves about the kinds of problems they could face.
- Recently a man wrote to ask me what to do about a situation he ran into when selling his coach. His customer paid him, and the seller signed the title and gave it to him However, four months later, the customer still had not signed his portion of the title or taken possession of the coach. He now wanted his money back because he said he had nothing to tow the coach with and no place to store it!
- In the meantime the seller had been paying for insurance and had also winterized the unit. He offered a partial refund, but the customer refused to accept it!
- This left the seller in a very awkward position because his name was still on the title so he was responsible for it legally!
Had the seller qualified his buyer, insisted on accompanying his buyer to the DMV, made him sign the title there or refused to store, insure or, upgrade the coach after the sale, this never would have happened.
Now the seller will have to pay a lawyer to straighten the mess out for him!
This is just one example of the types of things that can happen when people who want to sell their coaches don't take the time to learn what they need to know about doing so.
In this instance, a simple call to the DMV would have eliminated the issue discussed above.
One method that many people use is a variation of self selling to individuals.
They sell online.
There are dozens of companies out there who promise to help you sell your RV fast. Many charge fees and then do nothing, but there are other sites out there that actually are both reasonably priced and helpful. RVclassified.com is one I've used and can attest to.
You can also use sites such as Craigs List, which cost nothing and allow you to post a limited number of photos.
These online selling venues can work, but the problem is that once they appear online, you be barraged with phone calls offering you other deals. Sometimes the calls never stop!
Another problem is that scammers prowl these sites for suckers, so you have to be careful about responding to their calls and emails.
Some people do well with YouTube videos, but they can easily get lost in the tons of RV for sale ads on that site.
If you are nervous about self selling or feel incompetent about doing so, the answer for you might be to take your unit to a consignment seller.
These are dealers who will sell your RV for you for a percentage of the selling price.
This can work well in some cases, but not in all of them because not all consignment sellers are honest and not all take good care of your unit while it is in their possession.
I once put a fifth wheel with such a seller only to find that someone had defecated in the toilet! No way was anybody going to buy it, and no way was I going to leave it with that seller.
If you decide to consign, choose a larger, reputable dealer that is well rated with the Better Business Bureau.
PP Motor Homes in Texas is one of the best. They offer many services and sell many of their coaches in short periods of time. However, to consign with them, you have to meet their guidelines and agree to their terms.
Selling to a Rental Company
If your recreational vehicle is in very good condition and is priced reasonably, you might also be able to sell it to a company whose business is renting RVs to people for short vacations.
There are increasing numbers of businesses like these due to the fact that RV ownership has become expensive in recent years and many people feel that renting is more economical than owning.
Most buy class C motor homes, but a few also purchase class A types, but all will only purchase units that are in good condition.
Another possibility is to sell your travel unit to a campground. These days many of them keep a few RVs available for people to rent. They are more likely to purchase travel trailers than motor homes because they cost less.
You can find RV rental places via a Google search, so if you want yet another selling option, this certainly would be one to try.
Selling at Auction
If you need to sell quickly, you might want to consider putting your RV up for auction.
This can be done either online or at a company that auctions off recreational vehicles locally.
The auction house charges a fee for selling your coach for you, but once the deal is completed, you're done with it.
However, the price you get will likely be rock bottom, so unless you are willing to lose a bundle of money, this option is not for you.
Protect Your Legal Interests
No matter which selling method you use, you need to make sure that you protect your self legally.
This means that you need to
- have all of your legal documents in hand and that they are correct,
- understand your responsibilities and liabilities, and
- know the rules of whichever selling method you are using.
The best way to do this is to spend the money and hire a lawyer who can advise you about the issues with which you'll be dealing.
This may seem expensive, but in the long run it could save you a small fortune.
Remember the guy who paid for the RV but didn't pick it up or sign the title? His case is just one of countless others that can take place, so unless you really are savvy, use the guidance of an attorney!
Never, ever close a deal unless the buyer gives you cash.
There is a lot of fraud when it comes to buying and selling these days, especially when it comes to high ticket items. Accepting anything other than cash puts you at risk.
You may be wondering how to do this, but it’s quite simple. Tell your buyer that you must have cash!
- If he wants your coach, he’ll provide the cash.
- If he can’t afford to buy it or is playing you, he won’t.
When it comes time to settle the deal, have your buyer contact his bank to tell them he will be making a large cash withdrawal and ask them when it will be ready.
Go to the bank with him, count the money and sign all documents, making sure that you have copies of everything for yourself.
Although carrying a huge amount of money around temporarily can be nerve wracking and depositing it legally can be a hassle, demanding cash is the only way you can protect yourself.
If you don’t believe me, ask the manager at your bank about this issue.
Selling an RV Can Be Complicated
If you want to sell your recreational vehicle, you need to understand that doing so can be complicated and can take time.
- If you do it correctly, you can save thousands of dollars.
- If not, you can lose thousands as well.
Much will depend on the age and condition of your coach and where you decide to sell it.
Obviously, the best choice for most people would be to sell to individuals because that is where you can make the most money. However, people who cannot or do not want to do this will have to settle for less.
The important thing to remember is that you do have choices, but no matter which you decide upon, you should always protect yourself legally and financially.
As stated earlier, there is much to know about selling an RV. However, if you prepare yourself for doing so, you'll be fine.
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 November 01, 2018:
I get it. Each situation is different, and sometimes you just have to lose. Sorry that was the case for you.
Liz Westwood from UK on November 01, 2018:
We accepted the loss going through a dealer because we felt that attempting to sell privately would have left my mother in a vulnerable position.
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 01, 2018:
Yes, giving your coach to a dealer to sell for you is an option that works for some people, but the point of this article is that if you sell a unit yourself, you won't have to lose so much. Dealers charge a great deal to sell for you, so the losses can be much bigger.
Liz Westwood from UK on November 01, 2018:
When my Dad died over 10 years ago we were left with a VW camper van less than 2 years old. He had always assured me that his camper vans were an investment and would increase in value. I was very dubious. We were not in a position to do a private sale. Leaving my elderly mother to see potential buyers was not an option. So we contacted the dealer who agreed to pick it up and resell it. Needless to say we lost several thousand pounds off its original purchase price and the dealer probably did quite well out of it.
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on October 30, 2018:
Thank you. Glad you liked it.
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on October 30, 2018:
What great advice. I believe this can be used for any type of vehicle, not only RVs. You're clearly an expert in the subject!