Buying or selling an RV? Here’s help with finding the right price



One of the toughest games in the RV lifestyle is trying to determine what a given RV is worth. Buying or selling, you need good information. The key expression: Fair Market Value (FMV).

We offer tips below to help determine RV values — but factors such as internal and external wear and tear, mileage, upgrades, add-ons and overall demand must be taken into consideration as well.

New RV value

If you’re considering a new RV purchase, it can be really difficult to determine the FMV. Face it, you don’t have the same information and knowledge on the RV as the dealer has. If you don’t know what the dealer paid for the RV, you can’t really determine if the selling price is reasonable. If finding that wholesale price isn’t possible, then there are still ways you can search to see what other buyers are paying for the same RV with similar features.

The RV Consumer Group (RVCG) is known for its RV ratings information, and it’s something that many RVers review to find out about quality, safety and value. Aside from that information, the Group also provides the average price paid for each particular model, the average list price and even an expected depreciation schedule.

Depreciation to determine RV value

If you’re a buyer who is trying to determine new RV values of the makes and models you are interested in, you can reverse the depreciation of a used model that is only a few years old to get a estimate of what a new model should cost. You can get the depreciation schedule from RVCG as mentioned above, or you can calculate it manually.

For example: Assume that you have calculated an RV model that is a few years old would have 30 percent depreciation. You find a used RV for $100,000, but you want to know what the fair market price is for a new model. Take the used selling price and mark it up by the depreciation percentage. In this case you take the $100,000 sales price and divide it by .70 (100 percent to 30 percent depreciation) to arrive at an acceptable fair market price for the new RV at $142,857.

RV value guesstimation

If you find yourself out shopping for an RV and begin negotiating without having previously done your homework on the fair market value of the model you are shopping, there are a couple of key themes to keep in mind. Manufacturer’s suggested retail prices are commonly marked up by the dealer, in some cases by as much as 40 percent, depending on the model and brand. As a buyer, if you assume that the ticket price is marked up past a fair margin, you may decide to negotiate down to a smaller markup. Keep in mind that most RV dealers won’t dip much below 5 to 10 percent, even if their life depended on the sale! Once you arrive in your head on the acceptable margin, you should do some quick math to arrive at your negotiation starting point.

Used RV value

Whether buyer or seller, “What’s this RV worth?” is the foremost consideration when figuring a reasonable sell or buy price. When the seller is an individual, for the buyer it’s an especially difficult process. If you’re the buyer and the seller is a dealer, then look closely at the advice above on buying a new rig.

If you’re a seller, finding the “right” price means you need to look at a combination of the current market, current statistics and the condition of your RV. For a quick and easy answer, sellers can look at the National Automobile Dealers Association Guides (the NADA Guides) to determine their RV’s FMV. While this is not always the most reliable method of determining a selling price, it is convenient and easy. Other options along these lines include Kelley Blue Book and the RV Consumer Group, as mentioned earlier.

The reason the NADA Guides and Kelley Blue Book are not always the best resource when asking “What is my RV worth?” is because they often give sellers an unrealistic expectation of profit. If you use the guides to help determine your asking price, focus on the “Low Retail” or “Used Wholesale” amounts instead of the higher numbers, which are often far less realistic.

image: tpirwoodmark, public domain, courtesy

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