What is MY RV Worth Now?


Posted on: October 18, 2021
Written by: Peggy Dent


What is My RV Worth?

You might be pleasantly surprised, or even blown away, by what your RV is worth, if you haven’t appraised your RV’s value in a few years. Let me assure you that there has never been a better time to sell an RV than right now, because the demand for recreational vehicles is skyrocketing and the supply has been, and continues to be, constrained by lingering disruptions in the supply chain.  RV sales have been brisk throughout the pandemic and some RV dealers are reporting year-over-year RV sales that are 25% higher than the same period last year. However, they are also struggling to fill the demand, because of extensive ongoing disruption in the supply chain. As a result some RV buyers are so desperate to acquire a new RV, they’re putting large sums of money down on vehicles with uncertain delivery dates, extending to well over a year or more.

That makes this a great time to sell a used RV!

The Pandemic Changed Everything

With the onset of the pandemic, many socio-economic norms were disrupted. The lockdown forced millions of people into their homes, where they had time to re-examine their life choices and priorities. Many quickly learned how to work remotely and they were able to continue their employment without leaving home. They learned how to manage their children’s education who were adapting to remote learning protocols.  Suddenly, many people realized they could work from anywhere, as long as, they had an internet connection, and this realization altered their mindset about life and limitations.

large bus style motorhome.
Knowing what it’s really worth is the first step in selling a used RV.    Photo P Dent

Working From an RV

In the midst of this international upheaval, people began to reevaluate their career choices and their work/life balance, and many came to the realization that unrelenting 60-hour work weeks did not lead to a rewarding, desirable, or sustainable lifestyle.  People lost their jobs or resigned in record numbers and as the lockdown wore on, people began searching for alternatives; different travel and recreational opportunities, and better ways to balance all the things they held dear.  As a result of this reassessment, many people came to the realization that an RV afforded both a safe and a unique travel opportunity, and that full-time RVing would be possible and exciting.  Why not? They realized they could work from anywhere. Why not in an RV?

So as the pandemic continued, more and more people began to think that an RV could open the door to a whole new lifestyle.  It would be a safe way to travel, it would be a convenient place to live and work, and it offered the young and old alike, an opportunity to bring to fruition their long-delayed desire for more adventure. All these factors came together to create a massive interest in (and demand for) new and used RVs.

Market is Primed for RV Sales

As a result, the market is now primed to produce the best possible sales price for people who are ready to sell their RVs.  But there are many ways you can sell an RV. Some offer a speedy, low risk transaction, while others will garner a higher price but come with more risk. The typical options for RV sales are to sell it quickly to either an RV dealer or (if the rig is old and in need of repairs) to an RV wholesaler. Those two options may be the fastest and safest way to sell your RV, but neither will result in a very good price. Alternatively, you could sell your RV through a broker or put it on a consignment lot, which has a slightly higher level of risk, but also a potentially higher selling price.  The alternative method would be to sell it to a private party which yields the highest return on your investment.   The options are:

  • low price – low risk, by selling to a dealer
  • moderate price – moderate risk, through a consignment lot
  • high price – by selling it privately
5th wheel trailer in black and white
5th wheel trailers are wildly popular for weekend fun or full-time Rving.   Photo P Dent

Ways to Valuate an RV

Regardless of the way you decide to sell your RV it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of what your RV is worth prior to offering it for sale. This is where the rubber meets the road. It can be difficult to determine the precise value of any RV because they are much more like houses than cars, in terms of valuation. With a car, you can research the Kelly Bluebook to determine the approximate value of your vehicle, but there is no Kelly Bluebook for RVs.  Unlike cars, RV’s have many variables that impact the value: age, type, size, floorplan, manufacturer, amenities, and modifications, are all factors that impact the value of an RV.

Don’t Guess What Your RV is Worth

The worst thing you can do is guess what it’s worth, or base your sale price on what you owe.  You need hard data, and a realistic valuation of your RV before you approach an RV dealer, consignment lot, or even put a sign in the window offering your RV for sale.  You could try to determine the value of your RV by comparing it to other rigs for sale in publications like RV Trader or by comparing it to other RVs for sale on eBay.  The problem with this methodology is that you may not be able to find RVs that are comparable to yours and even if you do, the prices listed are the asking prices, not what the seller will receive in an actual sale. This method of determining what your RV is worth is time consuming and not very accurate.

A mid size Airstream trailer
Airstream products retain their value and are popular with RVers. Photo P. Dent

Better Way to Valuate Your RV

There is a better way to determine the actual value of your RV in its present condition.  Every used RV is unique, so you really need to talk to someone with extensive knowledge of the used RV industry, who can correctly add or subtract the value of every unique component of your RV.  Excessive milage will diminish its value, while the installation of an aftermarket solar panels and lithium battery system will increase its value.  Double pane windows in a travel trailer, or bunk beds in the garage of a toy hauler will add value. Automatic jacks are more than just a convenience. They also increase an RV’s value.  A microwave oven is standard in most RVs, but one that is also a convection oven, will make a difference.  Even the brand name will impact an RV’s value.

Talk to a Used RV Expert

There is no single source, like a Kelly Bluebook, that will allow you to factor in all those variables to get an accurate valuation, so you need to talk to professionals who know how every feature can impact the buyers’ perception of value.  After all, the real value of any RV is what buyers are willing to pay for it.  You can talk to one of these experts for free, at National Vehicle. They will interview you, ask dozens of questions, and assemble an accurate written appraisal of your RV’s real value in today’s market and email it to you.

Alpine style RV set up in an RV park
There are buyers for every size and style of RVs.   Photo P. Dent

If You Want to Sell, Knowing Its Value is Half the Battle

You may be very pleasantly surprised by the valuation you receive from these professionals.  Then if you decide to trade it in on a different RV, or sell it outright to a dealer, you can negotiate with confidence.  If you want to put a sign in the window and wait for a buyer, you’ll be armed with the knowledge of what you can confidently ask for your RV.  There are some risks in the peer-to-peer sale, so if you want to lower that risk, but still realize the best possible price, those same experts at National Vehicle would be happy to help you sell it for a modest fee, but the most important step is to determine what your RV is really worth.

No Better Time to Sell

With limited supply and skyrocketing demand, there has never been a better time to sell your RV than right now. Whether you sell it to a dealer or a private party, knowing what it is really worth is a vital first step.

 

Author: Peggy Dent has been RVing in a Class A motorhome since 1999 and has traveled over 130,000 miles across the US and Canada in an RV. She is a writer and regular contributor to numerous RV related publications.