Thursday, December 8, 2022


How NOT to sell your RV


The RV pundits told us that after the big rush of the COVID pandemic buying surge slowed down, there’d be a change. They said too many people would find out what RVing was really like, and wouldn’t find it to their liking. They projected a time would come when plenty of used RVs would flood the market. Seems like they’re right—there are plenty of used RVs on craigslist. That doesn’t mean it’s a buyer’s market. It could be, but too many people trying to sell their RVs have taken the Heloise Home Course on How to Hack Off a Potential RV Customer.

Expose yourself

Selling an RV on the internet seems to be a natural. You have plenty of exposure, and if you post on a forum like craigslist, the system makes it easy for the buyer. Plug in the name of the city where you want to buy and the category of the RV you want. Like, “travel trailer.” Most sellers know the difference between a “travel trailer” and a “fifth wheel,” but evidently not all. Happily that’s easily resolved, if the seller posts a picture of the outside of the RV as his first picture. But some apparently want to show the inside of the rig, and a buyer can get pretty excited about what they see—until they find out it’s a fiver—and they really want a travel trailer.

But there are other details that are even more important. Buyers hate to have to contact a seller to ask something as fundamental as, “What year is this rig?” “Who makes this unit?” Yeah, it happens. Discerning buyers are going to be quick to check out pricing. If a seller fails to provide MODEL NUMBER, then not even with a year, maker, and length, it becomes nearly impossible to find a value in a price guide. Here’s one “conversation” by text.

Buyer: “About your travel trailer, could you tell me the model number? Thanks.”

Seller: “The model is Wildwood. No model number.”

Buyer: “It may be printed on the outside near the door. Forest River built several Wildwoods in that size range. Or it might be printed on the spec sheet, often glued inside a cabinet door.”

Seller: “It’s in storage.”

Buyer: “Thanks anyway.”

Did these folks really want to sell?

A failure to communicate

Other sales killers include the old, “What we have here is a failure to communicate” problem. Trying to sell your RV? If you include your phone number, please answer it. If you’re too busy to answer, how’s your voicemail working?

“The number you have reached is 555-123-4567. Please leave a message. [Pause] I’m sorry, the voice mailbox is full.”

sellDelayed responses when trying to sell an RV can also spell out death. Customer spots an online listing for an RV. He sends a text.

Buyer, 2:25 p.m. “Hi. Do you still have the Aljo for sale?”

Seller, 3:56 p.m. “Yes still available.”

Buyer phones seller, asks a few questions. Among them, what’s the model number? Seller says he doesn’t know, but he’ll check and call right back.

Buyer, some time later, texts: “If you can’t track down the model number, a picture of the specifications page, probably glued inside a cabinet door would be great. Thanks.”

Two days later, the buyer, after donning his Sherlock Holmes hat, figures out the model number. He still hasn’t heard back from the seller. Buyer tries texting again, asking if the rig is for sale. Seller doesn’t get back until the next day, texts the model number. This goes back and forth, with lengthy delays, and the buyer finally gets the seller on the phone. Yes, he still has the rig, but then the call drops. A minute later, somebody else answers at the seller’s, says someone is coming right then to look at it.

Eventually the seller admits the first person didn’t buy the rig. Arrangements are made—or are they—to look at the rig. It’s a two-hour drive from the potential buyer’s hometown to the seller’s. When buyer gets into town, he sends a text for final directions—and never hears back.

For us, it took a lot of effort to buy

Finally, here’s how we bought our last RV. After combing through countless “dogs,” in craiglist ads, we finally found something that seemed likely. The pictures were promising, and glory be! The seller had actually put a lot of detailed information about the rig in the ad—including the year, make, and model! All that was left was to make contact with the seller—just drop an email.

And another email. And another. All with no response. We resorted to detective work. The seller gave an approximate location—the intersection of two major streets. “Flying over” with Google Maps revealed that intersection to be a commercial area—but the ad pictures showed the rig parked in front of a residence. However, in the background behind the trailer was a hillside, populated with saguaro cactus. We zoomed out and found a hillside, behind a nearby residential area. From there, it was a painstaking “drive” using Google’s Street View—and there it was. The trailer in question.

Now armed with a street address, we hit the county recorder’s internet site and, finally, tracked down the property owner’s name. Alas! Despite having the name, none of the phone numbers panned out. And still no responses from the email. We finally took the bull by the horns, drove nearly two hours out, and knocked on the door. Yes, the trailer was for sale. We bought it. And along the way, in conversation, the seller mentioned a couple of things about us we hadn’t talked about. We had brought them up in our emails—the seller obviously had gotten them!

It doesn’t take much to do it RIGHT

So, do you REALLY want to sell your RV? It’s not too hard.

  • Post as much detail as you can about your rig in the ad. Include the year, make, and model number.
  • Include pictures—lots of them! Outside, inside, and preferably without the rig loaded with a lot of junk. Unmade beds and cluttered countertops are a major turn-off.
  • Respond to phone calls, or whatever method you use for contact. Do it promptly!
  • Did you sell your rig? Great! But now, go another step. PLEASE take the ad down. There’s plenty of frustration to be told, “Oh, yeah. I sold that motorhome a month ago.”

Maybe it just boils down to that principle we used to live by. “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.” A little common courtesy goes a long way. It might even help you sell that rig!


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David M
1 month ago

Let’s not forget the flip side. Buyers who are too lazy to read the ad and expect you to drop everything to answer questions you already answered.

Jesse Crouse
1 month ago

You are asking self absorbed and entitled people to think of someone besides themselves. Lot’s of luck on that idea.

1 month ago

This information is great for anyone trying to sell anything on the internet. I collect vintage sewing machines. You would be amazed at how many people post the photo of the cabinet with the machine still INSIDE (i.e. unseen). Many, many post photos of the BACK of the machine (collectors get information to ID the model from the front of the machine). Even antique malls are guilty of both of these mistakes.

We have had the best luck selling our rigs by posting the spec sheet and a video from front to back, inside and out. And we answer our phones and email!

1 month ago
Reply to  Brenda

I collect vintage sewing machines too, and yes, so often there is just a photo of the cabinet or one photo of the machine FROM ABOVE. What the heck are they thinking?

Gary W Mayberry
1 month ago

I just cannot believe some of the pictures people put in their for sale ads. You can’t see the RV for all the “junk” covering every square foot. At the very least move the stuff out of each picture until you can empty. I just move on to another when I see something like that. If that is the way they post their ad, I can just imagine how they took care of it. Bye, bye!

1 month ago

I think it comes down to what TIMJET mentioned in the comments: these people are “common sense challenged”. I’ve sold a LOT of stuff on Craigslist over the years, and almost all of it sold within a week or less. When listing something on Craigslist, build your listing from the viewpoint of what you would like to see in an ad if you’d be buying it yourself. Works every time.

Lisa Adcox
1 month ago

We sold our TT through Market Place. We had 4 people look at it. The people that purchased it told me they fell in love when they saw my ad. So I guess I did something right. I had told my husband I hope someone would buy it that loved it as much as I did. Well the lady loves it. I had to give up my fulltime RVing after husband’s stroke but I am happy someone else is loving our home.
I took many pictures plus added a couple from ad when we bought it new. I also listed everything about the tt. You have to list everything and still tell them again when they come to see it.

Ron T.
1 month ago

We live on a fairly busy highway. When we sold our first RV, we put it in the driveway on Labor Day Friday with a for sale sign in the windshield. Four hours later it was sold. It was priced right and clean. Same situation when we sold our Jeep this year. Never got the chance to put them online.

Wayne Caldwell
1 month ago

If you want some cheap amusement, just scroll through the RV ads in Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

1 month ago

I cannot believe how many Craigslist ads tell you it is a Ford E-450 RV. If they don”t know what they are selling then that tells me to stay as far away from it as possible.

1 month ago

The Suggestions at the end of this article on selling your RV are such no-brainers that it’s hard to understand how anyone would not do them. But there are those amoung us that are common sense challenged and just plain lazy. Another reason maybe they are selling for someone else or perhaps a relative and know little about what they have posted for sale.

I sold our motor home in 2 days posting on Craigs list and RV trader. Yes I did all the right things suggested in this article but I also took a week clearing everthing out, and detailing the interior and exterior. It looked good in pictures and in person. And I made sure everything worked, which is a real challenge on a 15 yo diesel pusher motor home.