Sell Your RV For What It's Worth Part 1
Our time as a fulltime RV family has come to a temporary halt and we’ve enjoyed the moments and memories we have made together. But now that we’ve moved back into a house, what do we do with the RV? We cannot keep it in our driveway or on the side street by our house. If we store it, we will have to pay a monthly fee on top of the expensive maintenance and upkeep for something we cannot use for the foreseeable future.
Everyday you own an RV, the depreciation clock is ticking down the minutes until the value of the RV is not worth the money you’ve spent. And while we knew this going into RV life, when life takes a turn and you need to move on, there are important decisions to make- whether to keep it or not. And as a rule of thumb, 10 years is when an RV starts to “age out.”
Many RV parks will not allow RVs that are 10 years or older. Many will make an exception; however, it is a hassle to explain yourself and send pictures each time you want to make a reservation. And some will just flat out say “no way.” And and original equipment may begin to require more and more work; or even a complete overhaul. While we hadn’t had to repair much yet with Sally, we began to notice a few issues.
The refrigerator worked; but like many RV refrigerators it wasn’t like a home refrigerator. Then, the back A/C unit just stopped working. We replaced it and fixed all major issues as they came. The slideouts worked; however, we had a couple of times where they just didn’t act “right.” As you live fulltime in an RV, you notice when something just doesn’t feel “right.”
We toyed with the idea of renting out our Winnebago Class A motorhome on Outdoorsy.com or a similar site that is much like AirBnb. But we quickly realized that we did not want to incur the liability should something go wrong. And we took care of Sweet Sally. She was our home.We loved her. Would those that rent her out do the same?
In the end, due to the costs of keeping the RV, maintaining the RV versus renting it out or selling it… selling made the most sense. It allowed us to lighten the load on our finances and not have to worry about maintaining something we did not need at this time in our lives. We know we will be back on the road and when the time comes, we will find a new “Sally.” And, we’ll make new travel memories. But till then, Sweet Sally needed a new family to enjoy the RV life. She needed to be free, and we needed to be free.
So now comes the big question… How do you sell this massive depreciating asset at 9 years old right before the big “10 year” mark? Thankfully, we researched and researched and figured out a few “hacks” that allowed us to sell our Sweet Sally at just the right price for us. We hope this information will help you as you look to do the same.
First, please note, we are (were) just a fulltime family and by no means should this information be taken as the be-all-end-all. Do your research and do what is right for your situation and your family. This is our personal experience and we hope it will help others to think of creative ways to prepare to sell their RV.
Pare Down and Your RV
First things first, if you are selling your fulltime residence; note that a new buyer may not be a fulltime RVer and even if they are, they don’t want to see a messy, cluttered RV. In preparation to sell Sally, we needed to clear her out. We began the process by finding a nearby self storage place and we began packing up boxes and clearing the canvas. We left only things that would help “sell” the lifestyle to a potential buyer. We made the RV as spacious as we could.
This meant taking out any extra dishes, pots and pans, our Instant Pot which did not fit in any of our cabinets. We took all the kids toys except a few “essentials” and we cleared out all of the winter clothes and extra clothes. We cleared out extra tools and hobby items (life vests, outdoor toys, etc.) We ate everything out of the pantry and got rid of old, expired food. We took out all of the non-essential homeschool books and we basically left empty storage so our buyers could “imagine” their stuff fitting in the RV.
What to Leave
We left all of the things we were including in the sale. We sold the RV with Tom’s “Connected RV Solution” including a Pepwave Router and Ubiquity Access Point. We left items that were considered “decor” from when we pulled down the hideous “RV Pictures.” This included a whiteboard and clock as well as several wall decals with a travel theme. We left 1 week of clothes and we left all of the bedding and essentials so the drawers and overhead bins were not full. We also were including the tow dolly in the package price because we didn’t have a place to store the dolly and didn’t want to worry about it after the sale of the RV. Any extra items we used up, gave away or put in storage.
Stage the RV
In order to paint a picture for a future buyer ( just like selling a home), you want to make the buyer able to picture themselves in the RV. When we sold our home before moving into the RV, we spent several days cleaning, clearing and staging as well as baking fresh cookies to leave the house smelling inviting for the new owner. We kept this in mind as we staged Sally. We put together a neat package for the buyer. We bought fresh fruit for each showing and flowers for the table. We had a message board with the quote by Gandalf “The world isn’t in your maps & books, It’s Out There”
Research the True Value of Your RV
Rule number one when trying to get a good picture of the true value of your RV is to use multiple sources. We began with RVTrader.com. We looked up our exact make and model and year and looked to see what was already available on RVTrader. We saw that Sally was being listed by other private owners for between 45k-60k. We saw that the ones that were priced on the higher end of the spectrum were no better than ours and thought maybe we could list on the higher side, leaving room for negotiation. But on a few return visits to the site, we noticed the higher priced Sightseers were still available after months of being on the site. I had checked the value a few times in the past year (just to see) and noticed the same RV was still listed several months later.
Then, we checked the NADA guides and saw a little more information about the value of the RV. We were able to put in all of the specifications of our make, model and year, including many added features and were able to get an estimated value from them as well. The website is nadaguides.com/RVs.
We thought we were done with the research and had a number in our head of what we wanted to gain from the sale of our RV based on what we owed on it and what we felt she was worth based on our research. But, the process did not end there. In Part 2, we will go into the details of how we came to a listing price and the details of how many listings we posted as well as how long it took to find the right buyer for our RV as well as the process of handling the sale of the RV when you have a current bank loan on that RV.
Spoiler alert, the sale did not take months, but the preparation did!