Sell Your RV
In many respects, RV sales are similar to other big-ticket transactions such as a car or a house.
So if you blindly rush ahead, you could lose out on thou$ands of dollars!
A little bit of planning and research will help maximize the selling price. Below you will find guidance on how to get a fair price for your RV and a list of places to sell.
Before Offering for Sale
Here are some important tasks you should complete before offering your RV for sale:
- Make an honest assessment of the condition and note any problem areas. Start with our RV PDI Inspection Checklist.
- Determine the fair market value (FMV) objectively. Don’t crunch the numbers yourself! Just follow our steps in Determining an RV’s Fair Market Value)
- Set your asking price based on the FMV, plus a reasonable amount for the inevitable negotiations.
Speaking of negotiations: Yes, most buyers will haggle. No one wants to pay sticker price. Many people feel like paying the sticker price is a personal indictment of weakness, like failing to open the pickle jar or staying silent when someone cuts in line. Increase your sticker price by at least 5-10% for haggle wiggle room. And know your bottom line before beginning negotiations!
How to Maximize Your RV Resale Value
When you’re selling a machine that is worth tens of thousands of dollars, small decisions can be worth a lot of money. If you want to maximize the selling price and earn the buyer’s trust, do the following to maximize the resale value of your RV.
1) Prepare the Numbers
- Collect all original RV, accessory, and appliance manuals that came with your recreational vehicle. If you don’t have the paper copies, print off a list of hyperlinks to the online manuals.
- Prepare a summary document of all past maintenance items and their costs.
- If this is a towable RV, provide a log of actual miles towed.
- Calculate fuel consumption as accurately as possible. The buyer will ask. And no one will believe you if you say, “Oh, never noticed any difference myself!”
2) Do Basic Upkeep & Maintenance
- Prepare a summary document of all past maintenance items and their costs.
- If this is a motorized RV, perform basic maintenance items that are due in the near future, such as oil change, air filter change, etc.
3) Pick the Selling Season
Who buys RVs around January 20th, when the world is cold, gloomy and gray? The RV selling season begins around March in the warm South and Southwestern states, ramps up through June, and begins to ramp down after August. By the end of October, sales have normally returned to their off-season plateau.
For more information, you can check out the Reports & Trends page from RVIA.
4) Location, Location, Location!
In the summer, the best states to buy a used RV are Arizona, Texas, and Florida. If you already live in or near one of these states, great! Being in a major city in any of these states will also make your option appear more affordable compared to high dealership prices. If you feel you don’t have enough local traffic, road tripping to one of these places will get more eyes on your camper. Consider the costs of getting there and getting back and decide if the larger buyer pool is worth the road trip.
If you feel like going to Big Sky Country, the state of Montana has no sales tax and attracts more vehicle buyers because of that fact.
I know this may seem counterintuitive, but if you live near an RV show, that is a great time to post your RV. Your price will be much more affordable than new RVs that dealers are bringing into town and you’ll benefit from the increase in buyer interest.
5) Sell When You Don’t Have To
I know this might seem obvious, but if you aren’t in a rush to sell your RV, you don’t have to accept offers lower than what you know the value is (because you did your homework and know your RV’s fair market value). Of course, this isn’t always possible though, so implement the other tips if this isn’t a luxury you have.
6) Repair Whatever Pays You Back
In the same way above-ground pools normally cost more to install than they add to the value of a home, you don’t want to spend your time fixing problems that don’t put money back into your pocket.
Replacing that broken water heater for $60 so the faucets work? Check! You’ve just increased the value of your camper by hundreds of dollars!
Reupholstering all the cushions to hide that one coffee stain? Eh … probably not.
This again works better if you don’t have to sell immediately. When selling used vehicles, it usually isn’t worth it to put work into it unless you will make at least the full repair amount back when you sell it.
If you do need to sell fast, having work done (and all maintenance records available) can make your rig more attractive and quicker to sell.
7) Make Your RV Presentable
If I can give one tip for selling your RV, it’s this: clean it before taking pictures. If your RV is chaotic, even the highest-valued RV won’t get what it’s worth. Well-staged, clear pictures go a long way. This is especially important if selling online.
You can even opt for a professional appraisal if you want. While it might not be necessary, and can cost you several hundred dollars or more, it can back up the claims you’re making about your camper’s fair market value. Start by calling your insurance company for an appraisal or find a certified appraiser near you.
- Give the RV a thorough cleaning inside and out. Check for signs and smells of rodent and insect infestations!
8) Know How to Sell
Your RV may not be in perfect condition. However, if you can tie personal stories and anecdotes to the RV, you may be more sympathetic to buyers. This helps you stand out from other sellers who are just selling a machine: you’re selling a story. Talking about your RV honeymoon or trips with the kids makes you stand out.
So, you’ve put in the necessary repairs, written the perfect story of the life of Myrtle the motor home, and taken wedding-worthy photos; now comes the time to put it all together: selling.
How to Sell a (Gently) Used RV - Sell By Owner!
If you decide to sell the RV yourself, several venues are available to you.
Consider listing with multiple services simultaneously to sell quickly.
Starting locally is the cheapest option. It’s free to park your RV in a high-traffic local area with a ‘for sale’ sign. As a local business owner if you can park your model by their storefront or road-facing parking lots.
Many free and inexpensive listing options are available to you locally. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Place a FOR SALE sign in the RV window.
- Post your listing on free online marketplaces, such as:
- Place ad in local newspaper classifieds or specialized sales magazines. This typically works best for specialty sales, like Airstreams, vintage and classic campers, $250,000+ Class A motorhomes, etc.
- Ask local RV parks and campgrounds for permission to post a small ad on their bulletin board. Be sure to include your email or phone number!
- Ask your RV club if you can place an ad in their mailing, newsletter, or email broadcast.
Online Classifieds & Auctions
To reach a nationwide audience, list your RV online. Almost everyone shops over the Internet and is willing to travel great distances to inspect and take delivery of big-ticket items.
(I once drove 1,800 miles to pick up a 700-sqft dome tent, but that’s a different story).
We recommend the following online services:
As the seller, you are responsible for all fees associated with listing and selling your RV. Be sure to read all terms and conditions before listing with any service.
(Shameless plug for RVT here.) RVT is the nation’s premiere leader for RV and camper classifieds. You can buy, sell, and even read reviews written by real RV owners. You can list your RV on this marketplace for as little as the cost of a dinner for two. Want to list your RV at RVT Classifieds?
Simply put, Camping World is massive. It’s the Walmart of RVs. If you’re looking to sell on consignment, get a consignment quote from Camping World here. (You can also sell directly to or trade in your RV to Camping World as well.)
If you don’t have the time to show your RV to potential buyers, consider putting it on consignment. Many RV dealers will accept consignments to augment their own inventory.
Start with dealers that sell the brand of your RV. Most manufacturers offer online look-up of their dealers. Take a look at our list of manufacturers, find your brand, and either click the “Dealer Locator” link or call the phone number next to the name. Once you are on the manufacturer web site, look around the page to find a link for “Dealers”, “Dealer Locator”, “Find a Dealer”, or similar terms.
Sell To RV Dealer
For the quickest sale, consider selling to an RV dealer. This method is quick, but chances are you will have to accept a lower price. In return for accepting less money, you keep the time it would have taken to clean, get ready for sale, show, and deal with upset buyers in case of problems after delivery. Start with dealers that sell the brand of your RV (see Consignment section above to find dealers near you).
Trade to RV Dealer
f you want to trade in your RV to a dealership, this will save you a lot of work. However, that ease will come at a price.
If you’re okay with making less or just need to get rid of your RV fast, trading it in is the easiest option, assuming you’re interested in purchasing another RV.
If all else fails, keep a ‘for sale’ sign in your window as you camp and road trip. This works well especially in popular areas of the US Southwest and near major national parks.
Got a Clunker?
If your RV is damaged or extremely old, you may have difficulty selling it on the open market.
You also may not want to deal with the hassle of answering questions, meeting prospective buyers, writing descriptions, etc.
Changing Gears maintains a full roster of ways to dispose of your old motorhome or camper trailer! Our directory lists RV salvage and wrecking yards by state, plus independently-owned RV parts stores.
You can dispose of your old RV at a:
- Salvage or wrecking yard
- Metal recycling center
- Scrap yard
- Junk dealer
- Towing and wrecking company
Most of these companies will pay you a flat fee based on the weight of your RV.
(Psst, you might also be able to purchase some gently used parts at a great price from these locations!)
Click the button below to search for RV salvage yards in your area.
Andy Herrick is a blogging nerd, #8 Enneagram, wannabe bread baker, INTJ, RV industry professional, and small business entrepreneur. He can be found hanging out with his lovely wife and family, skiing, cycling, climbing, hiking, and convincing anyone who will listen why dogs aren’t really that great of pets. Also, he runs this website.