Selling Your RV – 5 Hacks to Maximize Value


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


1 Clean Like You’ve Never Cleaned Before

Just like cars, RVs get dirty very quickly because they’re exposed to road grime, or they are frequently parked on dusty roads.  Both the outside and inside of an RV needs constant cleaning to get the road grime off the outside, and to control the dust and dirt on the inside.  When you’re preparing to sell your RV you need to clean it like never before.  If you can’t wash and wax the outside yourself then hire RV detailers to do that work. Your RV needs to sparkle regardless of its exterior finish. If the gelcoat is oxidized, or there are water streaks from the rooftop air conditioners, or the water heater has discolored the paint above the vent, then try to remove those unsightly blemishes from the outside.  On the inside clean it from top to bottom, remove the air vents covers and vacuum as far into the air vents as possible. Scrub the floor and walls in the shower, deep clean the sinks, and the toilets.  Pull the drawers out and vacuum inside and under the drawers, inside the closets and cupboards, and under the bed.  Clean the windows inside and out, take the screens off and wash them. Clean every surface in the refrigerator and make sure if it’s been off for a while, that you leave the doors open to eliminate any odor. If your RV is carpeted use a commercial carpet cleaner to deep clean the carpet, as well as any fabric on the furnishings, and if you have a fabric headliner you should shampoo that, as well.

All these little dirty places may just be acceptable camping dirt for you, but a buyer doesn’t want to camp in your dirt. They want to purchase an RV that is as close to new, as possible, and cleaning your rig from top to bottom will go a long way to helping a buyer see its value and potential.  It shows buyers that you take pride in your RV and have maintained it.

trash removed from a used RV
If there’s clutter in your RV. Remove it!    Photo P Dent

2 Stage it Like a New Rig

Once you get your RV clean inside and out, remove all the clutter. If possible empty the basements, the refrigerator, cupboards, cabinets, and drawers.  Even if you intend to keep using it while you have it listed for sale, for the purpose of showcasing your RV, it’s better to return it to as close to “new condition,” as possible.  At the very least, remove the clutter from the floor, countertops, and bathrooms. Carefully make the bed(s) like they would be made, if they were in a swanky hotel.  If the bedspread that matches the décor is not the one you use regularity, put the one that came with your RV back on the bed, so the interior décor is coordinated. Stage the dining room table with nice place settings or a small vase of fresh cut flowers. Take the coffee pot and paper towels off the kitchen counter. Put the sink and stove top covers back in place, so the counter space is an unbroken, uncluttered surface. Stage the whole interior and exterior of the RV so you can take great pictures.  You might even stage it on the outside with a couple of lounge chairs under the extended awning to suggest to prospective buyers how fun it would be to camp in your RV. No one wants to see your extra shoes, a broom, vacuum cleaner, toilet brush, or even a simple roll of paper towels on the counter. The idea is to present your RV in as close to an “as new” condition, as possible, so prospective buyers can mentally insert themselves into that space without any evidence of your presence.

There is a reason real estate brokers hire stagers to prep a house before a showing.  A properly staged house helps buyers imagine what their use of the space could be.  Doing the same thing in an RV will help you sell your RV faster and for more money.  I can’t stress this enough.  Cleaning, staging, and great photos are the key to a rapid and successful sale.

an uncluttered counter in an RV's galley
An uncluttered counter in the galley.      Photo P Dent

3 Excellent Photos Will Do the Selling for You

Now that your RV is as clean as possible, and you have removed all the clutter and staged it for showing, it’s time to take great photos.  Don’t be cavalier about this process.  Photos are typically all a prospective buyer has to go on to make the decision to further investigate your RV and ideally to buy it. The resolution of most smart phones today, is more than adequate for this purpose, but you still need to take these pictures outdoors, on a sunny day. There’s no excuse for poor quality pictures. All photos need to be well-lit, presented in the correct orientation, crystal clear, uncluttered, and comprehensive. Err on the side of too many: you should take multiple pictures of everything, while the RV is clean, staged, and well-lit. You don’t have to use all the pictures you take, but omitting images of some feature could cost you the sale.  Also, an interested buyer might ask for additional photos of some component and you don’t want to have to restage your rig.  Take pictures of; the furniture, beds, bathrooms, closets, appliances, living spaces, counters, floor, ceiling, basements, roof, tires, engine (if it has one) everything.

You’d be amazed by the poor-quality photos that are used in publications like RV Trader. These include images that were taken inside a dark garage, photos that are hard to see, some photos are even upside down, and worse, some ads may have seven close-up pictures of the tires and generator, but none of the furniture or bathrooms. Don’t leave anything out because pictures are all prospective buyers have to evaluate your rig. You don’t know which picture will resonate with a buyer. Again, let me stress how important good photos are to successfully selling your RV.

Photos are the key to a successful peer-to peer sales. If you really want to sell your RV then clean it up, declutter it, and take great pictures of everything inside and out.

a picture of the bedroom in an RV
Matching decor helps present an “As New” look in a used RV.     Photo P Dent

4 Fix Everything You Can Afford to Fix

Another way to expedite the sale of a used RV is to fix everything you can afford to fix. If the headliner shows evidence of water damage and you have repaired the leak, if you can afford to replace the headliner, then do it. If the batteries are old and need to be replaced or the generator won’t start, then having these repairs done will help you sell your rig more quickly.  Most people do not want to purchase an RV that has a whole set of damaged or dysfunctional systems. If it’s a big repair like a slide will not go in and out correctly, and you can’t afford to fix it, then be candid about the need for repair. Additionally, there are a few cosmetic repairs, that can impact your RV’s value. If the door or window screens are damaged, they are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.  The covers over the rooftop air conditioners become brittle over time and need to be replaced, but they are inexpensive and easy to replace. Make sure all the interior, exterior, and basement light bulbs work. Replace the windshield wipers if the RV has a windshield. If your steps show some rust, a bit of paint will touch that up.  Remember the less things the new owner needs to worry about the more likely they will be to buy your rig, over someone else’s.

The selling price is just one element to be considered in a sale. If you can show a buyer there is real value in your rig because you have kept up with all the maintenance and repairs, then you may be able to ask for and receive more money in the sale.

the steering wheel and motorhome dashboard
Don’t leave out any detail in your description:  A stereo, back up camera, vehicle mileage, hours on the generator, cruise control, heated mirrors, tilt stressing wheel, and battery booster switch, are all features shown in this photo.  Photo P Dent

5 List EVERY Feature of Your RV 

When you describe your RV, list everything: the year it was manufactured, when you bought it, its length, weight, height, floorplan, mileage (if it has an engine) how many people will it accommodate for sleeping, what type of TVs and entertainment system does it have. Describe the furnace, holding tanks, water heater, doors, emergency exits, air conditioners, refrigerator, washer and dryer (if present), captain and co captain’s chair adjustments, microwave, convection oven, stove, sinks, bathroom features, slides, jacks, power cord, sinks, bathroom features, type of bed mattress, storage capacity, gas vs diesel (if applicable). Describe in words every aspect of your RV. If you are drawing a blank regarding features, go to RV Trader and read what other people say about their rigs that are similar to yours. Make a list of all the possible features, then determine if your rig has them and how can you best describe each element. If you added solar panels on the roof, or a WIFI booster, or you intend to include your satellite TV dish in the sale, then be sure to describe those add-ons. If you have repaired, enhanced, or replaced some system then describe the work you have done.  Finally, this comprehensive written description of your RV, should be supported by all the good quality photos, mentioned above.

6 Bonus Hack – Disclose Defects to Build Trust

There is one final hack that will help you sell your RV quickly.  If your used RV has some defects (and most used RVs have a few) then including these shortcomings in your written description and, if needed, include a photo of the defect. This will be viewed by most buyers as a trust building disclosure.  Perhaps the steps or a slide do not retract completely. Including this information and a photo of the steps or slide when collapsed will dispel any reservations the buyer might have about the extent of the defect. If the headliner shows evidence of prior water damage, disclose the damage, show it in a picture, then describe how you corrected the underlying cause of the damage, and when.

Being completely candid about defects will build trust. Potential buyers will discover these defects sooner or later anyway, so you might as well use them to your advantage, by showing prospective buyers that you are trustworthy. You will be much better off if you disclose problems rather than letting the buyer discover them on their own.  If you tell a buyer about it up-front, it is disarming. Some folks may not want an RV with these defects, and they won’t even bother to contact you. But on the flip side, if you don’t disclose the problem just to get more people calling you about your RV they will eventually discover the defect and then resent you for wasting their time and trying to concealing critical information. After that, it’s highly unlikely they will buy your RV, because they won’t trust you, and they don’t know what else you might be hiding. Be fully transparent. If your RV has defects, own up to it, and let buyers know. They will thank you for your honesty.

A used trailer set up for camping
Show prospective buyers fun camping pictures of your RV.   Photo P Dent

Use These 5 Hacks to Sell Your RV 

If you want to sell your RV quickly for the best possible price, then follow these simple steps.

  • clean it
  • stage it
  • photograph it
  • fix everything you can afford
  • describe everything
  • and be candid about your RV’s defects

You can also ask for help from the professionals at National Vehicle who facilitate “For Sale By Owner” RV sales every day. This is their business, and they are experts in this industry.