Buying an RV from a Private Seller
NO ADSENSE ACCOUNT SELECTED FOR Just as the RV Dealer isn't your enemy
- the Private Seller can be your best friend. They don't have
ANY appreciable overhead built into the sale, other than the
cost of their advertising, and/or any repairs or refurbishing
to be done to the RV.
The private seller is usually much more motivated than a
dealer. They only have ONE unit on which to concentrate their
efforts. Many times their sole intention is to rid themselves
of the burden of their no-longer-needed RV.
In RARE cases, they are WISELY selling by owner so they can
move on to a unit more suited to their present needs and
desires. This allows them to sell their RV for a higher price
than a dealer would allow them on trade-in, while still
offering a bargain to their potential buyers.
Purchasing from a Private Seller can work to your
advantage in many ways:
1. Lower overhead = Lower selling price.
2. Higher motivation = Lower selling price.
3. No over-pricing to allow for trade-ins.
4. More complete vehicle history.
5. A more personal transaction.
Because of these benefits, buying an RV from an individual
may allow you to save thousands of dollars over buying a
similar unit from a dealer.
You MUST however do your due diligence prior to the actual
purchase. Any faulty systems left unchecked or untested will
likely become your own burden unless discovered PRIOR to your
purchase. In other words: "Caveat Emptor"... or "Buyer
For now, let's take a look at some of the advantages of
buying an RV from a private seller.
Lower or NO Overhead Costs
Most individual sellers will incur minimal selling costs
when selling "by owner". Most of these costs will come from
advertising in local newspaper classifieds, Internet
advertisements or other forms of marketing.
When compared to the costs incurred by an RV dealer, the
individual has a major advantage. First of all, they have no
commissions to pay upon the sale. Commissions in the RV
industry are commonly set at approximately 20% of the gross
In other words, if a salesman sells an RV for an average
profit of $5,000 - Then $1,000 of that is going to the salesman
as commission. This is not a concern for the private seller,
therefore sales commission ALONE can be a potential gain of
$1,000 or more to the buyer. (Not to mention the other $4,000
the dealer gained over his wholesale price)
Also, because of the minimal or nonexistent overhead of the
individual seller, profit is commonly NOT a motive for selling.
In MOST cases, the sellers simply want to rid themselves of the
unit. This usually translates into THOUSANDS of dollars in
While most private RV sellers will try to achieve a RETAIL
sales price when the unit is initially offered, they rapidly
tire of the stresses of the sales process and lower their
"perceived" value of the RV. In other words, when they start
the sales process, they have an unrealistic impression of their
RV's value. After dealing with prospective buyers for a minimal
amount of time, they rapidly become educated on the true value
of their RV.
Seriously, think about your own experiences. How many times
have you tried to sell something for a premium price, only to
accept a lower, yet HONEST offer for much less than your
original price? It all goes back to the old saying: "One in the
hand is worth two in the bush." In other words, fatigued
sellers WILL accept a bargain price if the offer is GENUINE. It
ends their suffering - so to speak.
The key is to FIND these fatigued sellers when they are
weak. Just as the predator on the African Plains seeks out the
weaker and slower prey, you must find the weary seller - and
strike when they are at their weakest point. Ruthless -yes...
Unethical - no. It's the law of the urban jungle. Live and
prosper by the law, or live and pay a higher price... still by
the law. (I can't believe I just wrote that)
Higher motivation = Lower selling price
Most private sellers are very IMPATIENT. They easily tire of
the phone calls and missed appointments. Many times they tire
of NO phone calls or ANY appointments to view their RV. This
quickly motivates them to consider any and all GENUINE
Many times these sellers have found an RV that they wish to
purchase upon the sale of their present unit. They worry that
if their RV doesn't sell quickly they'll miss the opportunity
to buy their TARGET unit. This also makes for a very motivated
Most of these sellers realize that if they can sell their RV
for a little more than the RV dealer is offering on trade-in,
they will come out ahead. This is a win-win situation for both
buyer and seller. They are willing to accept a little over
wholesale for their RV, and you able to purchase the same unit
for MUCH less than if it were for sale by an RV dealer.
No Over-Pricing to Allow for Trade-Ins
Hopefully you realize that an RV dealer will ALWAYS take a
trade-in at, or even BELOW wholesale. Also, that same dealer's
"sale price" will nearly ALWAYS be set HIGHER than the actual
RETAIL price of any particular unit. This is done to allow room
in the price to show the buyer a retail price for their
We know that there was a time you may have traded a car,
boat, RV or something else to a dealer (of any kind) and
thought you actually received RETAIL on your trade-in.
You DIDN'T - EVER! If you don't accept this for ABSOLUTE
truth, then we have failed in our efforts to educate you in the
dealer/individual sales process.
Complete Vehicle History
Most RV dealers DON'T want you to contact the previous owner
of a used RV. Go ahead and try it... Next time you're looking
at a used RV, ask the salesman if you can contact the previous
owner. You'll be amazed how the salesman can come up with
excuses NOT to contact the previous owner... at least not until
the sale has taken place.
It may be reasons of privacy; it may be against company
policy... it will, however be very entertaining.
Private RV sellers normally have a much different
philosophy. They're TRIHILLED to provide complete records of
service work, maintenance, storage information, etc. If they
don't... you might want to ask a few more questions. This is a
good indication of a negligent RV owner. They may be passing
their headache on to you. Do your homework and ask for as many
details about the unit's history as possible.
A more personal transaction
One of the most gratifying aspects of buying a used RV from
an individual is the personal aspect of the buying process. As
a result of your investigation of the RV, you become intimately
involved with the seller.
Hopefully, the RV you are considering has been the seller's
prized possession. They have loved it and taken care of it.
They have (hopefully) kept complete records on each and every
repair, improvement and service work done on the vehicle.
Selling their prized RV is practically the same as losing a
child to college. In many ways, these conscientious sellers may
seem to be sizing you up as a potential owner of their
pre-loved RV. However, at the right time, and for the right
price... They'd more than likely sell it to a carnival.
President - Best Rate, Inc.
Barry Wilder has been associated with his family RV business
for over 25 years. He is currently the owner of Best Rate
Financial Services, providing loans and refinancing for RVs,
boats and aircraft. They also provide RV and Boat
Best Rate Financial Services RV Loans and Financing
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