Find used recreational vehicle values

Another way to determine the FMV for a new recreational vehicle is to find the FMV of a similar used model and add back the depreciation. For example, let's say you found a one-year-old model in excellent condition. You've heard it said that a fair price is the amount a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing accept. This is very true, but you also have to consider market conditions to bring the two sides together.

These conditions are largely dictated by statistical data derived from completed sales. Let's look at a few techniques for determining FMV of a used recreational vehicle. Its primary limitation for RV's is that the prices are statistically derived and not from actual selling prices. If you will be relying heavily on the NADA Guides as a buyer, I suggest you use the "Low Retail" number in the online guide or the "Used Wholesale" number in the printed guide as your target price. By far the best way to determine FMV is by observing the actual selling prices of similar units. Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

For the uninitiated, RV is short for Recreational Vehicle. It can also be called a motorhome or a coach. You can also use a tag-along, 5th wheel, pop-up, or any other type of camper design. Regardless of the design type, this article will provide you with a good perspective on the pitfalls ahead of you as you go through the process of relieving yourself of your wheeled wilderness hotel and move up to something newer or more luxurious.

You see, the whole RV industry survives on the premise that you will eventually want to trade up to a newer and better camper. The manufacturers, dealers, service centers, even your fellow campers—all expect you to trade up to a bigger, better, newer, and of course, more expensive camper. So, If trading up is what you really want to do, then here are a few of the things you need to know to get the most out of the deal when you do trade your RV.

We protect you and your RV investment

Once you decide that you really are going to shop for a newer rig, you need to perform a thorough examination of your existing RV. The exterior as well as the interior need an honest evaluation of their condition, because you need to know your rig's real value. This may not be too difficult, because after hopping around all of those campgrounds, you know what looks good and what looks bad about your existing rig as well as what works properly and what has problems.

You just need to sit down and put it all together in one place. Make your checklist including everything that is good or bad about your rig, including the status of the items below, as well as other items, if you feel they may affect your trade-in value. If these or other items are not working properly when a potential buyer or a salesman examines your rig this can really hurt the deal.


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For instance, if someone walks into a rig and turns on the front AC, and it does not run or isn't cooling well, they will assume that it is broken and they will want it repaired or even replaced. If they find two or three "problems" like this, they will most likely try to get out of the deal and move on to something else that they can have more confidence in. Before you move forward with your search for another rig, you need to sort out your newly compiled list and make honest and sometimes painful determinations. Break your "Bad" list down into three categories:.

Once you have gone through this process, and done what you can to fix the important things you have designated as being Category-1 or Category-2 ones, then make a formal list of the remaining things that are either broken or have some sort of problem that you are going to show the buyer or salesman. That's right: you will have a better chance of closing a deal if you let them see that you are being honest with them, and that you know some things that do need repair, than if you just tell them that "everything works great".

Rarely does anyone get away with trading in a rig with a major problem without the dealership finding that problem during the trading process which always includes a thorough inspection by one of their in-house experts. And, while you are worried over the hit you will take on the price, remember that almost every RV sales center has its own service center that can make a lot of these repairs much cheaper than you can.

They're set up to more easily fix many of the things that you can't or don't want to fix. They might try to knock down their offering price for your rig, but just check the numbers and use the information you have in your dealings with them.

Kelley Blue Book RV Values For Motor Homes and Campers

Next, you need to determine the realistic value of your rig and of the rigs at your dealer's site that you might like. When you go to a dealer, the first thing that they will do is walk over to their computer and print out the potential NADA values for your rig. So, it will help you in your negotiations if you already have a copy in your hands that you have read and understand, intimately.

The Business section is for dealers who have paid for their own special book of pricing; I'll explain that later. On the Consumer page you should select the RV tab at the top. A window will pop up and you need to enter your Zip Code. Yep, they have different pricing for different parts of the country, on the exact same rigs. Go figure.


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  • To do the latter, enter the manufacturer's name, and after the page updates, enter the specific model name, model number, and length of the RV. You will go to another page that lists ALL of the particular options and accessories that were available on your rig when it was new. You need to go through this list carefully and select each and every one that exists on your rig. This list will be used to determine the five prices of your rig. Once you enter the details you will be taken to the next page, the Pricing page, which gives you five important numbers that you need in your negotiations or your selling strategy:.

    Yet a sixth number, Average Suggested Wholesale Price, will not appear on that page but is discussed in the next section. No one uses this number in dealing, except really crooked dealers trying to take advantage of someone looking for an RV, and of course by uninformed rig owners, who use it as a bragging number. The next number you will see is the lowest, and it is the "Base Low Retail" price. Then, as you look down the page, you will see the Accessory-Loaded Low Retail" and "Accessory-Loaded High Retail" pricing for your rig, showing the value of all of your accessories and options added to the base price.

    Well, theoretically, If you are trying to sell your rig yourself, you want to use the "high retail" price for your area and expect a potential buyer to offer you something a little lower.. Realistically, I suggest that you should start your negotiations expecting an offer for your RV to be at a price somewhere between the "Base Low Retail" and the "Base High Retail" price, depending on the condition of your rig.

    Should I buy a new or used RV?

    If it has body damage, scratched-up paint, or worn carpet, or the ceiling and wallpaper show water damage, or major appliances don't work, or it needs new tires, then you will need to adjust your pricing accordingly if you want to get a fast sale or trade. Lately, many of the dealers tend to offer trade-in pricing that's even below the Low Retail price listed.

    Tis give them a larger margin on what they pay for your RV and what they will be selling it for, once they clean it up. Now, lets talk about dealers and their "Little Brown Book. So, when they open their little book, they will have another number listed for their rigs and for yours. This is a mystery number, sometimes called "Wholesale" that only the dealers have access to. You see, there is no such thing as an official wholesale price , but this number exists, and it's the bottom number that the vehicle is worth to dealers and to banks.

    This is the price at which they really want to spend on your rig.

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    The numbers change, not only due to the aging of the world's RVs, but also due to the economy and to feedback NADA gets about what rigs are really selling for. They get new books with new pricing every month or so. Dealers use this wholesale figure as the base value for calculating their profit on RVs they own themselves, and for calculating their profit on a traded-in RV.

    You see, if they are asking somewhere below the high retail price for their rig, which they usually do, and if they offer somewhere at or below the low retail price for yours—after they have knocked it for every scratch and mile it has on it—then they are in a guaranteed profit position. Often a very large profit position. Then if he offers you something in between Wholesale and Low Retail for yours and you actually accept, he is in Fat City.

    He still has his margin on his rig, and a guaranteed margin on yours when he resells it. He ends up with a win-win situation anyway. Another note here for you. If a salesman realizes that you have done your homework, even on their unit, they will quickly let you know that they will do the trade either way that you want, with or without options and accessories added.

    But the numbers will be stacked the same way on their rig and your rig. Just remember, if you opt to do the trade "with options" there is a sales tax involved. But dealers do tend to prefer this level of pricing because they usually already have banks that will provide financing for the higher price.

    Dealer Locator

    Now, remember, they will start somewhere in the range of the numbers that you see on NADA, not their special little "Wholesale" number that is even lower. The best interest rate you will ever get on an RV is when its a new one. Your challenge is to catch the dealer at some disadvantage that will force them to eat a little into their pricing. Here are some hints that might help you:.

    You see, lots of people get cold feet and never come back the next day, and the salesman ends up losing the deal; so they want to keep you there and close, now. At the end of the day, after talking to the salesman, his boss, and whoever else that they will bring in to get you to sign a deal, walk away anyway!

    You really do need to let the numbers get cold.