Buying A Used 10k RV- Buy From Dealership or Private Seller?
Interest in the RV lifestyle is at an all-time high, and today, we’re seeing many people getting into RVing by purchasing pre-owned RVs.
It makes much more sense to get a pre-owned RV instead of buying a new one.
If you’re going to get a pre-owned RV or a used RV under $5,000, your purchase options are pretty much limited to private sellers and RV dealerships. For most dealerships, this price point would be a trade in.
Each purchase option has its fair share of benefits & drawbacks, and I don’t think there’s a useful answer to what platform is the best.
There’re mixed reviews regarding each; therefore, you must consider the best long-term ownership decision when purchasing an RV under $5,000.
Now, for those torn between the two, here’s a detailed discussion based on user experience to help make the right choice.
A pertinent issue when purchasing an RV is the pricing. Of course, all used travel trailers under $5,000 have a $5k ceiling height, but some a cheaper than others.
One thing to remember is that sellers, whether private or dealers, may be straight-up ethical in their pricing model or devious.
Most sellers I’ve come across are ignorant and will give incorrect answers or advice. Their primary goal is to dispose of the used RV for you at the best price possible.
Let’s start with the private sellers.
Most private sellers will ask for unrealistic prices for their used RVs, trying to recover what they owe or originally paid for, disregarding the current market prices.
Of course, not all RV private sellers are this way, but generally, the private sale transactions will vary as much as the individuals involved.
In such cases, bargaining is the way of life, and I’d argue that it’s much easier to find lower prices from private sellers.
On the other hand, dealers are usually more “professional” in their used RV trailer pricing and will most likely use the perceived market rate.
However, as with other sellers, they’re still trying to get the best they can from the sale.
A big issue with the dealers is they’ve plenty of overhead costs, and they may quote inflated quotes to cover other costs, such as discounts and more attractive trade-in values.
However, the overhead on the dealership might be worth it if you need financing and warranties. Dealerships have financing aspects in their favor, which is certainly faster and often with better rates.
Whatever route you go with, one thing to remember about the used RVs is that the market is strictly as is- you negotiate what’s included or repaired before.
While most RV dealers will always assure you that they’ve gone through everything, that’s rarely the truth. In most cases, it’s about allowing buyers to test and fix what they complain about.
My advice is when buying a used RV under $5,000, ensure the contract reads the purchase is subject to an inspection by an inspector of your choice and your sole satisfaction. The sale purchase should also allow a thorough inspection and repairs of any defects.
The dealer or private party shouldn’t get a dime until the inspection is complete. If the seller doesn’t welcome an inspection, that might be a sign to stay away from the rig.
Inspecting a used RV rig is crucial if you don’t want surprises along the way. nrvia.org provide some good RV inspectors. They may not be cheap, but they are worth it.
After buying several RVs from private sellers, I’m doubtful I’ll buy a new one again. I’ve found better deals, and many private sellers will have usually worked out all the bugs.
With a private seller, you learn a lot about how the rig was taken care of by the thing the previous owner says.
I’d argue that a private seller knows more about what they’re selling.
On the other hand, dealers are similar to slimy used car dealers, and I don’t expect them to know much about a particular rig. All rigs are general to them, and they may not know what’s wrong with one. In most cases, they rely on what the previous owner told them during trading.
But don’t take my word for it.
Private sellers aren’t truthful either and don’t know how to lie very well, but a dealership salesman gets paid the better they lie.
While I expect a private seller to be conversant with their used travel trailer under $5,000, they might be one of these sellers that don’t share the WHOLE story with you unless you ask the right questions. Therefore, they’re unlikely to share the “gotchas” that may come on your way.
On the flip side, dealers may encourage you to spend time with the rig, looking out for issues. And if you find some, they’re willing to fix it, but not after you drive off. A private seller doesn’t provide any guarantee at all.
In short, everything is a crap shoot regarding the travel trailer history; Pick a deal you’re comfortable with and go for it.
Discount and Warranties
Regarding discounts and warranties, RV dealerships take the lead here.
I’ve never had a private seller discount, but at least with a dealership, you’ve some help if anything goes wrong.
Generally, you’re likely to have more recourse with a dealer than a private seller if something goes wrong.
On the other hand, since there’s a lack of a standardized price for private sellers, you shouldn’t expect a typical discount percentage.
And this is why most sellers will set a high price for their travel trailers to leave room for negotiation. Others will just pick a random value in the air and wait for events to show what’s reasonable. It’s not a useful idea, but quite common.
On the other hand, dealers will price their units high because the buyers will feel great if they get a discount. But remember, the final price will still be high enough to cover their profits.
My advice is always to go to the buying table with a WYSIWYG attitude. IMO, the warranties and discounts are usually crap.
The other most important thing is knowing the unit’s value and offering what makes sense to you. Ignore the sellers asking price, be prepared to back up your offer with data and everything, and see where the negotiation goes.
I’ve run across a couple of scam postings on Craigslist and from experience happens more often than you would think.
Generally, the risk of getting duped or scammed is much higher on a private seller RV deal than on a dealership.
The good news is you can always follow my checklist to determine why an RV owner is disposing of their travel trailer:
- Never purchase a travel trailer where you consider the deal too good. Always follow your instincts.
- Keep away from travel trailers you think are already bringing financial misery to the current owner. The owner can barely keep up with the maintenance and will sell you a dilapidated RV.
- You should also stay away from lemons. These travel trailers seem unfixable and have plenty of patch jobs and mismatched repairs.
- RVers may also dispose of their travel trailer if it’s the wrong size. Either too big or too small for their needs. This is fine.
- If they’re also looking to upgrade to something fancy and have had a fun time with the existing rig, you can bet they’re passing something great to you.
- Even after verifying everything, don’t be too quick to give out money right away-the market isn’t so hot that you’ll lose your rig.
RV dealers are great for buying new RVs. They’ve their selection, all conveniently located in one location for you to “touch and feel.”
However, even with such a convenience, their inventory is limited and may not have all the RV brands, floor plans, or designs you desire.
RV dealerships generally work hard to sell their existing RVs, not the ones you desire or want.
On the other hand, private RV sellers give you a chance to pick almost any RV that may tickle your fancy.
With online RV marketplaces like RV Trader, you can find any RV on your wish list, including fancy or classic RVs.
RVTrader, for example, lists over 150,000 RV in their database, and this should be more than enough to find what you’re looking for
The only drawback with the private sellers is the distance. Most RVs aren’t in a single location; sometimes, you might need to travel thousands of miles to view the RV. It can complicate the purchase process.
Buyer Beware- What to Consider when Purchasing Travel Trailers Under $5,000 or even $20,000
Here’s a quick rundown of the important tips to consider when purchasing your next travel trailer under $5,000 or even $10,000:
- Sellers, whether private sellers or RV dealers, aren’t your friends
- Always assume the seller has zero knowledge about the travel trailer
- You should be the expert and learn everything about the travel trailer. The more knowledgeable you’re, the better you’ll be during the negotiation.
- You must always perform a pre-purchase inspection before committing to the sales agreement. It’ll save you from unpleasant surprises and give you an idea of the issues to deal with
- Consider the RV sale to be final. Assume there will be no warranties or promises. Unless you’ve these in writing, they don’t exist.
- Private sellers will collaborate and work with you on what gets reported to your DMV, but a dealer won’t
Well, that’s everything you need to know about purchasing a used travel trailer for under $5,000 from a private seller and dealership.
It’s clear there’s no winner here; every seller platform has a share of pros and cons.
You need to keep in mind that you’re buying a travel trailer, not the seller. So, do your due diligence in your research, and buy one that seems like the best deal for you, regardless of the seller.