How much should you pay for a used travel trailer

How much should you pay for a used travel trailer

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Thought of buying a RV in itself is so much exciting. You browse through those beautiful fifth wheels, luxurious class A motorhomes and then you look at their prices. Travel trailer are less costly and wonderful for RVing. A new travel trailer can also cost you much. Used RV or a travel trailer can however come at a price much lower. So, whats the best price for a used travel trailer?

A used travel trailer price depends on many factors like its age, current condition and your negotiating skills. Searching the travel trailer in NADA guideline site gives an approximate value. Its price also has to be in accordance with the depreciation pattern seen in travel trailers.

Taking help from NADA guides

National automobile dealers association or NADA site can help you in determining whats a good price for used travel trailer or RV of your brand model. When you go to a dealer, they would go through NADA website to find out the prices for your rig. And, if you have no idea about this, then you could get it all wrong for your pocket.

So, to be able to get correct prices for your rig, make sure you have gone through the website. You will be able to get the suggested list price, base low price, base average price for you rig. You need to put the brand, year and model of your travel trailer and you get these prices.

Suggested prices is the value of the RV when its brand new. Base low or retail low price is the value of rig if its not in good condition, there could be wear and tears, paint may not in good condition, overall the RV wont be in better state.

An average retail value is for RV’s that are in well condition, that is it should be as per to the relation of the age of the RV. You cant have 5 year old RV in perfect condition like a brand new. But, it shouldn’t be like 20 year too. Elements like paint, tires should be fine and all the appliances should be in working conditions

NADA website is a great way to find out the average price at which the RV same as yours has been sold previously. That kind-of gives you fair value and chances are less that you will be in loss. But, the values in NADA are considering the RV is in good condition.

The dealers will obviously quote you much higher including their commission which can be as high as 30 to 35%. Keep a note of these markup added on trailer by dealer. However this is not something everybody does but dealer may keep a significant markup on used RV’s. Now, its upto you to negotiate and get that percentage lower.

Having a print out of the NADA guide websites values for your rig will give you that confidence and the dealer won’t be able to fool you in any way. You can also visit other website like pplmotorhomes, rvclassified, rvtrader to find out similar classifieds for the same Rv and get a prices that are being quoted there.

Using travel trailer depreciation pattern to understand the cost

So, going through NADA guides can help you in understanding the average prices. Another thing you should be aware of is the depreciation. Having a fair knowledge of this can give you some more insights. When you are looking for RV’s, you may not have single one in your mind and that time you can use this method to understand if the price being quoted is normal or not.

A travel trailer or any other RV depreciates much more and that’s the reason why people go for used ones. Depreciation helps in getting to know whats the good price for a used travel trailer or even any other RV may it be class C or fifth wheel or Class A. Lets see an approximate depreciation pattern in travel trailers.

At one year the travel trailer depreciates around 10-20 %
Two years – depreciation is around 20-24%
Three years – the depreciation around 25%
Four years – trailer could see depreciation of around 28%
Five years – depreciation of around 32%
Six years – depreciation of trailer looks to be 34-45%
Seven years – travel trailer depreciates around 38%
Eight years – it depreciates around 40%
Nine years – the depreciation is around 42-45%
Ten years – depreciation of around 46-48%
Twelve years – the depreciation is around 60%
fifteen years- it could depreciate around 70%

The above numbers are average values and it may not be same for all. It all depends on the condition of the travel trailer. If it has been kept in good conditions and the appliances are in working condition , then the average numbers will same as above.

NADA guides is the best way to figure out whats the best value for the rig, but using depreciation pattern can also make good sense.

It obviously depends on how the trailer is, its age and your negotiating skill, that the price you will pay. The dealer is always going to set it on higher side. They do know that people negotiate and thus keeping the % commission on higher side makes sense for them. You should know this and thus, try your best to get the price down.

Determining fair market value of RV

Fair market value for a RV is the price a buyer want to pay and the seller want to sell at. To get to this fair market value you can use above techniques and get a price that should not result in paying higher.

Using NADA guides and going through sales that have already taken place kind of helps you in understanding the price more accurately. Remember, the sales done for similar RV’s could not be same for you. It depends on the RV age as well. So, you need to figure out the NADA price and apply the depreciation factor depending on the age of your rig.

Using NADA is great, but that cannot be your final source to decide the best price. It will all come down to the age, condition of the travel trailer. The dealer is also going to add his or her percentage. That’s when your Negotiation skills come into picture. Will jump on to that in below section, but first lest see what all elements you need to check in trailer.

Basic checklist

While making an inspection of RV or travel trailer is bigger task, having few basic things checked at first glance could help you a lot. You can move on if it doesn’t fall into your set criteria instead of wasting time.

Finding right travel trailer for you can take a lot of time and having a good initial checklist can reduce the time. This is important as the initial cost and the final cost of ownership may increase if you end up doing repairs and replacements.

Let me list out some of the basic factors which you could use. Remember, a full inspection is a different aspect and for that you can also take help from a RV inspection specialist.

  1. Tires : Look for the condition of the tires. Protecting your RV tires is critical. Sidewalls shouldn’t be worn out. Checking on thread is important. A tire can be useful for upto 5 years. You should be able to make out the difference simply looking at it.
  2. Interiors : Getting into the trailer should give you the feeling of how good the interiors are. Here are some tips to make your rv or travel trailer feel like home. Check walls, doors and windows for any cracks or wear and tears. While with age, there is going to be deterioration, but it shouldn’t be that bad. Make sure it should at-least be repairable if at all that bad.
  3. The ceiling : A ceiling or roof can leak and that’s like the worst experience you can have in a RV. Imagine water dropping on your head while you are inside. You dont want that to happen, don’t you. While finding out leaks and cracks can be difficult but try figuring out for any abnormalities.
  4. Floor : Check for floor, it shouldn’t be dirty. Identify for any soft spots.
  5. Furniture : Make sure all the furniture is in good condition. You can try using or sitting on them to see if it feels comfortable. Most of the times, you get the feel when you see it for the first time itself.
  6. Air conditioner : if the trailer is equipped with ac, check if it works fine or not. Many times telling the owner to keep it ON before arriving to check the RV can be a good thing to do. Remember, it takes time to feel the cooling.
  7. Other electronic appliances : Similar is the case with fridge as well. If it was On before you arrived, then you will get the feel. Most RV’s will have good number of appliances. Smaller tent trailer or pop up campers are equipped with less amenities or appliances though.
  8. Electric points : Check on all the electrical sockets and points. Make sure every lights are in working conditions.
  9. Exterior : Check for any wear and tear. See if the paint is in good conditions
  10. Roof : Roof of a RV can get damaged if not properly maintained. Check for any breaks and crack all around.
  11. Windows : Check if the windows open and close with ease or not. Many a times the windows can jam and hard to open if haven’t been used for months.

Negotiating with the owner or dealer

Buying a used RV or a travel trailer costs you much more and thus, this has to be done with proper negotiation. There are lots of things (which many people ignore or do not fully know) you can negotiate while buying a RV. The dealer will always mention prices that cover their commission and thus its upto you to get it lowered. So many us regret only after paying and making the deal.

Its a big investment and you better make the move only after comparing and going through all the details. Lets have a look at some of the points to consider while making the deal,

1. Your first visit isn’t your final

Remember, its no good to finalize the deal on your first visit. Even if you really liked the trailer, don’t finalize yet. Make sure to visit other dealers and explore more before you pay for the trailer. You never know.

Specially if its your first RV, don’t even think about buying it yet. There are probably 20 more that you will like and may be at lesser price. Thought of owning that first RV is exciting, but make sure you do it with a pause and thought.

2. Look beyond brands

No doubt certain brands will always produce trailers that are worth the money. But, at times we just ignore others and do not have a look. Remember, there are lots of travel trailer making companies out there. And going through brands that you aren’t aware of may land you a good deal.

Do not settle for something that does not fit properly on all points. Go through as many dealers as possible until you find the right fit. Its good to go for established brands but looking beyond them is not bad. You may find a layout that fits your bill or a trailer that gives amenities at right price.

3. Explore online

Before making a visit to a dealer, look online for sellers. Web is a great place to figure out whats happening in any industry. Going through such online dealers kind-of gives you little idea and the expectations.

4. Dealer vs dealer

Let dealer know that you will explore. If this isn’t your first dealer than let them know about other quotes you have got. Its not bad to do that. If the dealer genuinely wants to make a sale at good price then he/she shouldn’t be ignoring that. Doing this makes sense, as you are going to go for a price that makes sense in the end anyway.

5. Let dealer know about whats wrong

Not all travel trailer would be in fine conditions. After going through all the details, let dealer know about points that aren’t as per expectation. Like any interior component may not be in good condition or paint may not be perfect.

There could be some wear and tear in components. Remember you cannot compromise on major wear and tear, but if its manageable then go for it but make sure the dealer reduces the price.

6. Be ready to let it go

Its all in mind when you are at the dealer. If dealer comes to know about what you are thinking then the price isn’t going to come down. Make sure you control your emotions and do not let dealer know about your feelings.

If you liked the RV so much then don’t let it come on your face. A dealer once aware of that may not negotiate further as you have made it clear about going ahead with the deal. You know what i mean. And, don’t get stuck at a price, dealers too have to make their money.

Best time to buy used RV

While buying a new RV or travel trailer can be done during winter seasons, same is not true if you want to go for a used travel trailer or any other motorhome as well. Its best to buy a new RV during winter because dealers are eager to makes some sales. You would find red carpet rolling for you during that time.

But, for used RV’s or travel trailers, the best time is the beginning of spring or summer time. This is the time most people want to sell their RV and move on with a different one.

During winter as well, one can purchase used travel trailer as the sales are down, the dealers may give you extra discount. But, the best time is just the beginning of summer.

Deciding on this time is an important aspect because most people would do impulsive buying at peak season. They are just in a mood to RV and with a single thought they purchase the travel trailer. Such impulsive buying cannot give you good deals. A wait or proper plan will give you best possible deal.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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