New or used, if you’re shopping for an RV, you may face less of a hit in your wallet. The high appeal for both motorized and towable rigs brought on by the pandemic frenzy has lost its luster—and RV sellers are feeling the bite. This according to both used sales watchers and by RV dealers themselves. RV prices are heading down.
Supply, demand, and greed fueled RV price spikes
The old law of “supply and demand,” coupled for some with “greed,” caused a tremendous spike in the prices of new RVs when the pandemic hit. Several dealers frankly admitted that many RV dealers were in hog-heaven, writing sales with 40 to 50 percent markups at the height of the pandemic. Frustrated and pent-up buyers were lined up to buy whatever rigs could be found. Dealers and manufacturers took advantage of the fever and cleared out lots, while manufacturing employees ran themselves ragged to try and keep up.
Now the worm has turned, according to dealers on a teleconference roundtable attended by an RVtravel.com associate. Buyers plunked down small amounts of money, then signed contracts that would take 20 years to pay off in order to get their families into RVing. With huge markups on 2021 and 2022 models, dealers say a large number of buyers are “under water.” With very little of their payments going to principal, and most to interest, these buyers owe more money on their now-used rigs than the RVs are worth. Some are said to have broken out in tears when learning their units aren’t suitable as trade-ins because of the situation.
Already old, but “brand-new”
While the RV manufacturing industry has kept churning out new rigs, the number of new retail sales has dropped off. Now shipments of RVs are largely filling up dealer lots. Imagine being an RV dealer today with a large number of 2022 models on your lot. They’re “new” rigs, having come to you direct from the manufacturer. Of course, you also have 2023 models. But look out! Manufacturers are already producing rigs with 2024 model-year stickers. That means some of your “brand-new” stock is looking to be two years old. The cost of “flooring,” or paying the interest for buying these new units from the manufacturers, must be keeping some dealers awake at night.
As a result, dealers on the roundtable say some are desperate to move out this “new” stock. Camping World (not a roundtable participant), whose aspirations are to dominate the RV retail market, itself is even now having what it touts as an “RV Garage Sale,” with some units slashed in price by as much as 50%. Thor is offering “rebates” of $5,000 on some Class A units. Another RVtravel.com associate who owns an RV repair facility says one of his customers recently bought a sticker-priced $96,000 fifth wheel with a $40,000 discount. At the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, RV show, one dealer explained huge sale discounts as a way to “try and limit the amount of money we’re losing.”
Used RV market prices down
So, how about the used RV market? Mirroring the new RV market, the prices of used rigs during the pandemic skyrocketed. But in somewhat like fashion, “What goes up must come down” also applies. Used RV auction watching group, Black Book, just released its compilation of market prices for sales occurring in January. Black Book’s specialist in RV prices, Eric Lawrence, writes, “The average selling price for motorized units was $67,539, which is down $5,902 (8.1%) from the previous month. Towables came in at $19,541, up $359 (1.8%) from last month.”
While towable unit RV prices did go up slightly, that follows a huge drop that extended over three months. Lawrence adds, “One year ago the average motorhome sold for $68,842 and the average towable unit brought $21,865.” That translates to a nearly 2% decrease in wholesale selling prices of motorhomes. But towables sank a whopping 10.6% in value. As to the future, Lawrence says his crystal ball indicates moderate “but not crazy” decreases in used values.
Use this to your advantage
What’s the bottom line for RV buyers? Expect that you should have more leverage when negotiating a sale price, particularly in the “new” market. If you want a truly new unit, but aren’t frightened by the thought of not buying “the latest and greatest,” you might consider shopping for a 2022 model-year rig. And in terms of buying a preowned RV, prices still should be better than they have been.
In any event, as we’ve always urged, resist the salesman’s spiel of “low, low, monthly payments!” Avoid long-term contracts. If you’re stretching out your payments for 15 or 20 years, you could easily find yourself underwater. And breathing that way can be deadly.
No mention of rising interest rates.
quality of workmanship going down also. i love my older Jayco. built tough….not like todays cardboard boxes
Camping World one of the worst offenders here , they tried hard to get me to finance a camper, I refused all the games a word play they did not want me paying Cash for a camper because financing is how they really make their money 💰💰💰💰 in the end they did everything in their power to make the purchase difficult from the Title Clerk trying to sabotage the transfer of ownership, she even had the nerve to tell the DMV they didn’t know the rules ??? Yes I paid a little more than it was worth but the secret is make them believe your financing the purchase get all the documents signed with a price then pay them so they can’t pull anything. They hate Cash no money in it for them. No kick back from the financing, no hidden fees buried in the loans. It’s paid for and done .
I live in Florida I have not seen any price reduction. This is what I am getting from dealers, buy it at this price or don’t have a good day. Plus these newer RV’S are pure junk. I looked at hundreds of all types of RV’S low quality at the highest price as possible. From 200,000.00 to 15,000.00 all junk.
You don’t own anything until it’s fully paid for. RV, boat, car, truck and your house.
Don’t forget the taxes you pay every year on everything you own
These upside down loans will keep these RVs from hitting the used market for years. The used late-model RVs I’m seeing are not a good deal yet, especially with the aggressive pricing to move out the 2022s.
I’ve been pricing Outdoors 20BD and 25 RD travel trailers. Dealers don’t seem to be offering deals. There’s two dealers that are about $10,000. cheaper than most other dealer. I asked if they had delivery service. They said no. Would have it insped by certified inspector 1st. Probable in a month I will stop by. Even used Outdoors RV there is a limit selection. Even looked for used Grand Designed travel trailer with the Rear Dinette and there isn’t many.
ORV ( Outdoors RV ) units are a little diffident when it comes to pricing. Even in “normal” times you might see a 20-30% discount off the MSRP on Forest River / Keystone units and only 10% off ORV units. When we were shopping for our ORV ( 2018 ) some dealers were $10,000 different. Ended up buying from Thompson RV in eastern OR. near the plant. If you get the chance take the plant tour. We drove the 4500 miles r/t to pick ours up. ( Ohio )
This is no different than the housing bust a few years ago. It’s up to you to know your financial situation. RV salesman, much like the realtors were only interested in making a sale. It mattered not whether you could afford the mortgage or payment. If you bought a million dollar home or expensive RV that was above your means, whose fault is that?
A good basic rule to live by: don’t finance anything that goes down in value.
On top of the overpriced covid camper phenomenon is the dramatic increase in campground rates. It’s insane and driven by greed by the likes of Sun Outdoors. So the people who bought an rv when they had fluff in the monthly budget are now paying 40% more just to eat. I know I am. I won’t even go into energy prices. So where are these people even camping. I’m just about done with it. My memorial day weekend is suddenly free but any park with decent amenities is laughably overpriced. People bought on credit and are camping on credit. When a weekend at Yogi’s is over $500 how are they not. A reckoning is coming.
I’m not sure that the next 2 years in the RV industry and it’s specific market condition is predictable in its current state. Not unlike the short sales in real estate that went on in the aftermath of the great recession 14 years ago, the under-secured loans on RVs purchased over the past 4 years may create a similar condition with people walking away from debt that they signed for. Owing 85k on a unit worth 45k could make it a coin toss to walk away, or not, for a young couple realizing it will only take 3 years to rebuild a FICO score or 10 years to get right-side up in an RV they second guess.
This will be a bit generational. The generation that wants plumbers and landscapers to pay off their student loans for a gender studies degree, may want forgiveness on their RV purchase too.
Well said, especially the “bit generational” part. I do have a question, who would take physical possession of the RV, (in storage or the owners driveway) if one were to choose the FICO route?
The bank that holds the loan would become the owner.
I’m thinking that once the banks have started taking possession of these units and are paying for storage on 1,000 RVs, hypothetically, it will be a deep deep cut to the price. Similar to the short sales, they will learn to write off 70% of the original loan and write a new loan to a new buyer for 30% of the previous loan creating a breakeven over a 10 year average term.
The only other scenario would be loan forgiveness forvotes, but without the teacher’s union involved I just don’t see a handout coming. Maybe learning math from the handout, loan forgiveness demographic is what this generation missed out on. No it couldn’t be, I hear how smart they are all the time.
Oh I’m sure banks will be thrilled to own a bunch of used RV’s. Sarcasm there. House prices, after the great recession, rebounded tremendously to their ridiculously high prices today. I highly doubt a bunch of used RV’s, sitting on a foreclosure lot for months or years, are going to command any increase in price or any great value. I too thought that people who put low down payments on their Rv’s will just walk away.
The “entitled” generation
Far too many people really don’t know what credit costs. They just want it, and they want it now. A dealer / financial institution says just sign on the dotted line, doesn’t mean your are smart financially because you could own something you really couldn’t afford. People have to learn, vehicles and RV’s for the most part are a losing proposition.
Not all younger people want plumbers and landscapers to pay off student loans. It’s actually the uninformed that made dumb decisions and the rich that go to ridiculously overpriced schools yelling for this. Anyone brought up by a caring family that taught their children hard work vs. grifting from others is not asking for this.
Don’t believe the news and the extreme left pushing this message. Same as the extreme right saying it’s all young and all left. The majority of America is moderate but not allowed into the political arena due to the two party control pushing extremes on both ends.