Timing is everything when it comes to many things in life, like when it comes to selling your RV. We all know that summer is a great time to find out what your RV is worth in order to sell it. But did you know that finding the right buyer for your RV actually starts long before you ever think about hanging that “For Sale” sign out front? I learned this the hard way last month after deciding to put our fifth-wheel up for sale.

How Not to Get the Best Price for Your RV

One of the biggest current trends in RVing is for owners to remodel and redecorate inside their RVs. Many RVers are remodeling their rigs into cozy wheeled homes that show off their personality and enhance their camping style. My husband and I did the same when we bought our second fifth-wheel back in 2014. We had no idea that our modifications would make it difficult to sell years later.

Our new-to-us RV was a 2010 Northwood Arctic Fox 27-5B bunkhouse fifth-wheel. When we discovered it on a dealer lot in Wyoming, we were mesmerized by the RV’s pristine condition. Garaged and meticulously maintained by its previous owners, it still had all its original furnishings and decor. That camper appeared to come straight from the factory, and we couldn’t sign the sales contract fast enough.

View from inside an RV office.

Photo: Rene Agredano

It was the bunkhouse that grabbed us. And what we did to that tiny space would come back to bite us years later when we put the RV up for sale. But back then, all we knew was that the bunkhouse was ideal for creating our future road-warrior workspace. So out went the bunk beds and in went a computer workstation/jeweler’s bench for me. Next, I tossed the factory window valances and put up my own window treatments. Finally, Jim removed the jackknife sofa and replaced it with his own desk built from a tree he felled while workamping on a Colorado dude ranch. Before long, that Arctic Fox was uniquely ours. Then about 10 years later, we decided to try truck camping life. Earlier this year, we made the move to put it up for sale.

“This is a great time to sell!” I said to my husband while trying to convince him. “So many people are working from their RVs; there’s going to be tons of people out there who want a fifth-wheel like ours!” After he agreed, I went online to research my RV’s value. But the online tools I used didn’t give me the ability to estimate the value of our RV modifications. I naively thought had plenty of value and concluded that we could probably get $23,000 for our rig. Next, we listed it for sale in the usual places like private party RV sales websites and on social media marketplaces. And a few weeks later, the lack of buyer enthusiasm was a clear warning sign about our grossly over-estimated RV value.

RV on dusty surface with jagged mountains in background.

Photo: Rene Agredano

Preserve Your RV’s Value: Keep Your Unit in Stock Condition

We remained hopeful that the rig would move quickly after dropping the price by $1,000. But that optimism was squelched one afternoon when we pulled into an RV dealership to inquire about a trade-in. We didn’t have the RV with us, so we had to make do with describing our “home/office RV” setup to the sales manager. He listened patiently, then slowly shook his head while looking at us with an exasperated expression.

“When people buy RVs, they want them in stock condition. I not taking RVs that have been modified. See, by the time I’m done making it stock again, it costs me so much that I don’t make a dime. And they sit on my lot for months because I can’t find a buyer.”  He didn’t need to say anymore. Clearly, our RV was not going to bring in anything as a trade-in. Our only hope was to drop the price further in the private seller’s marketplace.

It took three months, but we finally sold the fifth-wheel after making a drastic price drop to $18,000. When our buyer was considering the purchase of our RV, he didn’t seem to mind the modifications. But he was already making plans to change or remove them. Thankfully, he still wanted to buy the Arctic Fox and after negotiating the price down to $15,500, we closed the deal, and he pulled away with our home in tow.

RV parked and overlooking a reservoir.

Photo: Rene Agredano

Three Reasons Why RV Valuators Pay Off

Hindsight is 20/20, and if we had known what a painstaking process it would be to find the right buyer for our modified RV, we might have thought twice about making those changes in the first place. But even if we had done them while being fully aware of the downsides of an RV remodel, I wish that we had sought the services of RV valuation experts a few months ago when deciding to embark on the RV selling process. Working alongside an expert would have immediately helped determine the actual cash value of an RV like ours. In all likelihood, The Good Sam RV Valuator service might not have been able to convince a dealer to take our unit as a trade-in. But these experts could have given us a reality check on our RV’s value before we wasted time advertising at an unrealistic price point.

Are you planning to take advantage of the summer season to sell your RV? If so, remember that you don’t have to go it alone like we did.

  • The Good Sam RV Valuator uses the power of brand recognition to help private-party RV sellers earn as much as they can from their RV sales.
  • First, they gather your information and marketplace data to calculate the right price point for your rig,
  • Then they put your motorhome, trailer, van, or truck camper in front of thousands of Camping World buyers.
  • Your RV will get seen by many more people than you ever could achieve on your own.

Time is precious. Working with the Good Sam RV Valuator results in a faster sale that quickly gets you into your next recreational vehicle. So before you pick up a hammer or paintbrush to permanently modify your RV, stop to think about what you want to get out of your RV in the future.

If you have the slightest inkling that you might someday sell your RV, put that hammer down. In the RV world, having a house that looks identical to others will give you a far better bang for your buck when it’s time to sell.

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