By Janet Groene
An Oregon couple plans to retire in 2023 and hopes to travel by RV for five years. They narrowed their choice to a Class C motorhome. On their “must” list are Brand A or Brand B, good fuel mileage, 25-28 feet, two years old or less and will be good towing a small car.
They also want it to be self-contained so they can boondock half the time. No local dealers could find anything close to their needs, so they went online.
They found good candidates in Rhode Island, southern Illinois and Louisiana. With their work schedule, they can’t go in person. Should they buy sight unseen?
Should you buy or sell an RV online sight unseen?
For insights we went to Rachel Heseltine, Vice-President of Consumer Growth at RVTrader.com.
Janet Groene: Does RV Trader provide a list of specifications that sellers must list?
Rachel Heseltine: “The basic requirements we ask for are GVWR, slideouts, bunkhouse, sleeps, engine type and make if applicable, water capacity, AC units, awning and leveling jacks.
“While these are just the basics to get listed on RV Trader,” Rachel says, “we also provide dealers with listing ‘best practices’ such as: be available to prospective buyers; include at least 25 images that include a 360-degree view, interior, front and back, upfits and tires. Lastly, RV Trader suggests sellers create a ‘robust’ description. Include class, mileage, condition and fuel type and specifics about ‘upfits.'”
Why use a paid site to sell (or buy) an RV
Janet: Why should RV sellers use a paid site such as RV Trader rather than free websites such as Craigslist?
Rachel: “Safety is (one big reason). We work overtime to ensure a consumer’s information stays safe and protected throughout the process. RV Trader offers (sellers) a variety of packages. Our top priority is to foster connections (of sellers) with engaged buyers. This allows sellers to have more control of the … relationship with the consumer.”
Janet asks: What are your fees and commissions?
Rachel: “Sellers are charged a listing fee, not a commission. For private sellers listing a single unit, one-time payments are $69.99-$249.95, depending on value and products. For dealers who want to list their inventory, we have a range of packages and products to customize.” See the media kit at RVTrader.com.
Janet: How do you vet buyers and sellers before accepting listings/inquiries?
Rachel: “With sellers we go through a process of quality checks to ensure authenticity.” She admits, “On the buyer side, we are not the direct line of protection. Our main job is to provide a connection between buyers and sellers. Therefore we leave it to dealers to determine the validity of leads. We step in if, for example, we notice a pattern of spam inquiries.” Rachel suggests seeing RV Trader’s online Safety and Fraud Center page.
Why do people buy an RV sight unseen
Janet: What is the main reason people buy an RV sight unseen?
Rachel: In a recent survey, RV Trader found that 38 percent of buyers want the “right unit” and have to look far and wide to find it. Another 28 percent shop for price. “If the price is right, people are willing to travel farther, or have it shipped,” Rachel finds.
Janet: What questions do buyers most often fail to ask?
Rachel: “(1) Maintenance and repair history. (2) Is this the original structure/layout or has it been changed? (3) Is external storage watertight? And, if the camper is towable, (4) How will this hook up to my vehicle?”
Janet Groene sums up
Thank you, Rachel Heseltine. I understand you put sellers and buyers in touch, then it’s up to buyers to make a wise choice. As a buyer I’d have more questions. Do warranties go with the RV or expire with the sale? Full disclosure about problems, repairs and the condition of soft goods such as window coverings and upholstery? Will the seller allow me to get an RV mechanic or insurer of my choice, at my expense, to do an inspection? Test drive?
What are exact measurements of beds, bunks, dining table, interior head room, aisle width when slides are closed? All tank capacities? Has the RV or accessories, such as the refrigerator, had recalls? How were they resolved? Are all items in pictures included?
RV brand, age, price and type of RV are factors in a buyer’s cost for RV insurance. I’d get some hypothetical rate quotes for this RV from an insurer. Ditto the bank, if I’m financing. I’d also check such sites as Carfax. Some list motorized RVs. A one-time report from Carfax is $39.95. I’d check for recalls and also look on sites such as Yelp, rvinsider.com, and RVtravel.com for ratings for brands, model, dealer and the website/social network I’m dealing with.