This week on the RV Podcast, we give you inside tips on how to sell your RV. Don't get low balled from a dealer that offers to buy it or take it in as a trade-in. Sell it yourself!
We did and the process couldn't have gone more smoothly. And in the process, we learned a lot that literally saved us tens of thousands of dollars when it came time to sell our RV so we could buy a new one.
This week in Episode 301 of the RV Podcast, we share our personal experience in selling our RV (we did so just last week), introduce you to the couple who bought it, hear from a dealer and learn from an expert at RV Trader how to sell your RV and get the most for your used RVs.
Here's a player to the audio version of this RV Podcast episode on how to sell your RV. You can also listen to the RV Podcast on your favorite podcast app. A full article with links, transcripts, photos, and other resources follows:
BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT HOW TO SELL YOUR RV…TWO PROGRAMMING NOTES
First a couple of RV Podcast programming notes. I (MIKE) am doing this episode solo this week as Jennifer, my lifelong traveling and the bride of my youth, is feeling a bit under the weather this week and thus, won’t be able to handle her normal co-hosting duties. We’re hoping she’s back next week feeling much better.
Secondly, from popular demand, we’re rearranging the order of the various segments of the RV Podcast. We’ll move our Interview of the Week segment up towards the top of each episode, to more quickly get to the key theme of each podcast. The other regular sections will follow the interview.
RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – How to sell your RV
And this week, that theme is how to sell your RV… yourself, instead if trading it in or selling it outright to an RV dealer.
As regular listeners know, Jennifer and I bought a brand-new RV last week – a 2021 Wonder Rear Twin Model from Leisure Travel Vans. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be talking a lot about why we changed RVs, why we chose the Ford Transit vs the Mercedes Sprinter chassis and showing videos and photos and doing a full review and walkthrough on the RVLifestyle.com travel blog.
We have so much content about that new Wonder to show you that it will take lots of articles and videos.
But this week on the RV Podcast and in this article on the RVLifestyle.com travel blog, we talk about how to sell your RV yourself, which we just did with the 2019 Leisure Travel Vans Unity FXa that we have owned for the past year and a half.
We change RVs a lot. I want to know as much as possible how the different models handle. Their strengths and weaknesses, so I can speak from experience in our videos and blog articles. There were lots of reasons why we chose the Wonder on the Ford Transit chassis and I have a whole article coming out on that in a could of days.
Beware of being low-balled!
But obviously, to buy a new one, we had to sell our old one.
We thought of simply trading it in at a dealer or selling it to them outright. Many advertise that they are desperate for used RVs and are paying “premium rates” or “top dollar for your trade.”
When I checked with a couple of dealers who advertise that, it didn’t take long to realize that top dollar to a dealer was not reflective of what our RV is really worth.
The dealers quite simply low balled us. They offered wholesale prices. In our case, almost $30,000 LESS than what we actually sold it for ourselves. Dealers make big money on trade-ins. By low, sell high. You can’t blame them.
But you also can blame us in saying no way.
Tip #1 on how to sell your RV – Do your research
There is no Kelly Blue Book prices for RVs.
But there is something called the NADA RV Guide which stands for the National Automotive Dealers Association. But the NADA Guides – which cover automobiles, motorcycles, boats, classic cars, manufactured homes and RVs – is actually owned by JD Power. They just bought the use of the NADA logo and name for marketing purposes because NADA is well known. JD Power runs the sites.
The NADA guides give you low, high and average valuations on RVs. In our case, when we entered the data for our Unity, we found that, on average, units like ours were selling for about $34,000 more than what we were offered by those low-balling RV dealers. And with all the extra gadgets and gizmos we added to that Unity FX, we were sure we could get even a bit more.
We also checked RVTrader.com, a well-respected online classified website that 160,000 new and pre-owned units for sale by dealers and private sellers across the country.
I did a search on RVTrader.com for a model similar to ours to see what they were selling for. The information coincided pretty much spot on with what we found in the NADA Guide.
So we set our asking price….which was $38,000 above the low ball wholesale offers from the RV dealers we checked with.
Tip #2 on how to sell your RV privately – Listing it
We were going to spend $34.95 and send in some photos and list our Unity FX on the RV Trader website. I’ve heard great things about the results private sellers get there, But I didn’t have to.
In a YouTube discussion at the end of May, I mentioned that we had decided to get a new RV and would be selling our old one.
Literally as soon as our YouTube Livestream that night ended, my e-mail dinged from Bipi and Frank, a recently retired couple from Missouri. They were interested in buying our Unity. We sent several emails back and forth. I gave my asking price, they countered, and we agreed to a price about $3,000 less than what I was asking… but still $35K more than the best offer I had from dealers.
Bipi and Frank felt they knew our RV after watching so many of our videos and after a few more questions, the deal was set.
By the way, I heard from at least five other people who expressed an interest in buying our old rig.
On the day we handed Bipi and Frank the keys, I asked them to explain how it all came about. Here’s what they had to say:
“We were actually coming home from Florida and we pulled into a tiny little campground because we were tired,” said Bipi. “And we turned on your YouTube, Ask Us Anything show on Sunday night and you mentioned that you're going to be selling it. So, I just typed out a quick little email and you responded. Frank, the next morning said, ‘You do realize that you have written about buying their entity’ and I said, ‘Yes and I slept on it. And I think we're going to buy it’. He said, ‘Okay.’
Frank retired back in January from a long career in medicine as a general surgeon. He says he and Bipi were so busy working that they just didn’t have time for much else.
“We've always wanted to see the United States,” he told us. “And so we got started watching y'all.”
Bipi says the videos did the trick.
“It's because of y'all,” she told us “He always thought he wanted one, but I never really saw us going through it until we started watching your videos. And we couldn't resist.”
We loved meeting them. As we waved goodbye, they headed out to Michigan’s Upper peninsula for a nice road trip vacation to get used to their new RV.
Now, most of you don’t have a huge Internet audience as we do so you need to find some other ways to sell.
Here’s some more tips.
Tip #3 on how to sell your RV – Guard Against Fraud
My first recommendation is RV Trader.
You may also want to place a sign on the RV and park it in a prominent spot.
Print up flyers and drop by RV parks and ask to put it up on their bulletin boards
Also try Facebook Marketplace, Craigs List and even e-Bay
I interviewed Paige Bouma of RV Trader for some advice about selling your RV yourself and she was very helpful, especially in telling us how not to get ripped off.
Here’s a transcript of our extended interview with Paige that goes over several more steps on how to sell your RV:
Mike Wendland: The first question I get from so many of our listeners and viewers on our YouTube channel about how to sell your RV is how do I not get ripped off? They advertise like on Facebook Marketplace or Craig's List or eBay and they get all these weird responses. Give us some advice there if you will.
Paige Bourma: Okay. The biggest thing in how to sell your RV is making sure you're listed in the right spot and that you are using common sense. If somebody is texting you and they're saying hey, can you send me a PIN or can I just give you money in another way, can I put it online, can you send me the unit ahead of time, like, use common sense. If something doesn't feel right it's probably not.
Mike Wendland: People get really overwhelmed by this. There seems to be almost more fraud on some of the online marketplace type sites than there is in the real world of face-to-face, so people are leery of selling it themselves and many of them say well, I
‘ll just go to a dealer. Talk to our audience, if you will, about why that may not be a good idea on how to sell your RV. You may be shortchanging yourself if you turn it in as a trade-in or if you take a buyout, have an outright buy from a dealer.
Paige Bourma: I think it all goes down to research, right? Know what you're trying to get out of the unit, know what makes the most sense, again if you're going to be trading in or not trading in, if you're trading up. You just have to go through and do the research to figure out where is the best place for you to sell this unit and what's your best price. You may also have to determine like how much… If you owe on it still, how much do you still owe on it.
A lot of that information in how to sell your RV just goes into the research before you put it up. I tell everybody just take a few minutes to think about what are you trying to get out of this unit when you sell it? Why are you selling it? So start to think about those before you make the decision of where is the best place.
Again, it's not always bad to sell it through a dealer, and you also have dealers that do consignment, so they can take the unit for you, consign it, sell it for you, and then you can get paid that way too, right? So there's a lot of different ways to look at it.
Tip #4 on how to sell your RV – Get the paperwork ready
Mike Wendland: The thing that seems to scare so many people when it comes to how to sell your RV is the legal stuff, the documents. What's necessary? What do people need to know about getting those proper documents to sell it?
Paige Bourma: I think you need to, you know, go through… For myself, we make sure we always… We keep all of our stuff in one spot, so go through and make sure you've got your title, it's ready to go, you've got any of your paperwork on any payments that you may have owed, all of that.
I think you also want to make sure you have all of your service records. That will help you get a better price also, right? So make sure that you're saving your service records, what work you've had done on your unit. Also if you have any of your manuals from when you purchased it, like keep all of that in one spot. Make it very easy for when you go to sell. Here's everything I've got on this unit.
Mike Wendland: And every state I know is a little different on the titling. Some states give you the title, in some states, the lienholder has the title and they only release it after its paid for, making sure that they have the right documents and getting that title.
Paige Bourma: I would say the best thing there is to look towards your state or what are their requirements. Then also, you know, you can talk to your bank and decides who holds that lein for you.
Tip #5 on how to sell your RV – Marketing your RV
Mike Wendland: How does somebody then market their RV? Any tips on how that ad should look?
Paige Bourma: Absolutely. That is probably the most important part to me, in how do you make your ad stand out from anyone else's ad? So it's going to start with… Two kind of main points are quality photos. Make sure you have really good pictures, and I would say the more the merrier when it comes to pictures. So put up a lot of photos.
Then the second is make sure you have a well-written description of your unit. It's not just the facts of that unit. Really take the time to market it and to talk about the unit. Start to think about why you bought the unit and what you like about it.
I will tell you with both the photos and the descriptions one of the things that my family… We always do before we sell a unit, is we actually decide we're going to be selling this unit, so usually it's on one of our camping trips that we say let's take a bunch of photos while we're out here. Let's use this time to write the description as a family. It gives you that opportunity to really remember why you love this unit and to write from the heart about what you like about the unit and start thinking about maybe first time buyers and what would they want to hear about this unit.
We camp all the time, so we know why it's important to have a big gray water and black water tank, but somebody else may not, so if that's something your unit has got, a big tank, or let's say you've got a big refrigerator and that's a great feature for you, having a large fridge to keep a lot of food, it's been a big deal for you, or you love your outdoor kitchen, write from the heart about those features that are important to you and have made a difference in this being a special unit for you.
I also say make sure you clean that unit thoroughly. Go in and clean it up. Make sure it looks really good so that you can have pretty, nice pictures.
Tip #6 on how to sell your RV – Be honest and transparent
Then another really important piece in how to sell your RV is to make sure you're honest about the unit. We know that RVs have… You know, they're going to break. They're going to have little imperfections.
Make sure you're taking those pictures and you're showcasing that there's a little broken piece here, or you're showcasing there's some wear on the wood over in this area, because what you don't want is you don't want somebody to come out to look at that unit and be like, “Wow, you said this unit looked great, and there's three things that are broken or look worn here.” So just be honest. It helps to give you credibility when you are selling that unit.
Those are my main tips for making sure that you can get the highest price for your unit. It's going to be all about making sure that you're marketing it well and that you're standing out, and make sure you're listing a price.
Tip #7 on how to sell your RV – How to get paid
Mike Wendland: And now the big question that they have about how t sell your RV is how do I arrange payment? You know, you've done the research, you've got some trust going with the buyer, but how do you get paid?
Paige Bourma: So again, a couple of different ways. I would recommend telling them upfront, be very upfront, this is how you're going to accept a payment. So you could do like cashier's check. You could always do it… Depending on the size of the unit and the size of the transaction, you could always require cash or even money orders.
They're going to be your safest way, but you can also do… Depending on if you already have something set up, you could do PayPal or you could do Venmo. It really depends on what you as the seller are most comfortable with that transaction.
I would highly recommend not doing a regular personal check from somebody. You don't want to go down that road. And if it's something that, you know, you're not used to and you're not comfortable and somebody says, “Hey, I'd like to make a payment on this online site. How do you feel about it? I'll pay you all the money then,” if you're not comfortable and that's not something that you do regularly, do not do that. It has to be a comfortable sale for you as well.
Mike Wendland: There's also I suppose direct deposit from their bank to your bank?
Paige Bourma: Yep. You can absolutely go that route, and just wait till you make sure that all of those funds are cleared.
Mike Wendland: I'm told that a cashier's check is generally preferred by a bank, so I would suppose another way is that the buyer could meet you at your bank and you could process it that way? Is that done?
Paige Bourma: Absolutely. You know, again ask questions too. Like, talk to your bank. Just say I'm looking to make a sizeable transaction, and they'll want to know how much this is going to be for. On average we're expecting to get $20,000 for this unit. Can you tell me what's my best way?
So you can always… I'm really big with taking to the expert, so reach out to your bank locally. Again, reach out to… Look online for what are the requirements, what are the best ways to do this in your local area.
Mike Wendland: Talk about how RV Trader works. What do you do about the problem of potential fraud from somebody trying to buy through your ad on RV Trader?
Paige Bourma: We do have a dedicated fraud department. We're trained if we see anything that looks suspect coming in as far as leads for a specific unit they start to look at those specific leads to see if anything looks suspect based on their fraud training. So-
Mike Wendland: Now you say leads. Do you mean somebody who is responding to your ad?
Paige Bourma: Correct. You have an ad out, so we're going through and we're just kind of looking to see if there's anything that looks like it could be fraudulent from some of the responses that you might be getting or somebody that's interested. So we'll flag those. We'll pull those down.
Mike Wendland: The cost for this, for a basic ad for an RV on RV Trader? I know you have different levels and different aspects, but what do they start at Paige?
Paige Bourma: The basic rate to list your RV on RV Trader is going to start at $34.95, and it goes up from there based on the number of photos you want to put in, if you want to go in and add a video, you want to feature your ad or even make it premium so it comes up even higher, depending on how quickly you're looking to move this unit.
Mike Wendland: And last question, are you seeing an uptick in the number of RVs that are being sold privately these days? We keep hearing about the RV boom and I wonder if that shows up in the used marketplace as well?
Paige Bourma: It does. I'm going to say it's kind of an understatement right now. We are seeing so many people looking for RVs and selling, and it's a great time for people to upgrade. Right now social distancing is perfect in an RV, right? It lends itself to that, so I think that's part of why everybody wants to RV right now, is it's a great time to be with your family, explore, be outside. You're comfortable, so everyone is interested in either buying one for the first time, renting to try it out, or even selling their current unit to buy a new one.
Mike Wendland: Well, you know Paige, I like to say that I was socially distant before it was cool.
Paige Bourma: Me too. Right? We love it. We love being out there and camping and being with our family and disconnecting, and I'm so excited to see more and more people are getting involved in RVing, and anything we can help them, that's what we're here for.
Mike Wendland: Well, Paige Bourma, RV Trader, we'll put a link in the show notes for the podcast. Thank you for helping us tread the waters of how to sell your RV. We'll have you come back again sometime and we'll do one on the opposite end of buying an RV. But thank you so much for your time, and we'll see you on the road. Happy trails.
Paige Bourma: Excellent. Happy camping.
Tip #8 on how to sell your RV – Consider processing the paperwork through a dealer
Some dealers try to low ball you. But others really go out of their ways to hep, too.
Ours sure did. While I found our buyers and didn’t have to rely on a dealer to advertise and show our RV, I was able to process the deal through Holland Motorhomes by having Bipi and Frank make their check out to Holland Motorhomes instead of me.
Holland then charged me a reasonable paperwork fee for rolling it into my new purchase deal, earmarking the money I got for the Unity as a trade-in on my new purchase.
I ran this by my CPA, who recommended this approach to streamline all the paperwork.
Brad Borr, my salesman at Holland, thus was able to assure the paperwork from my sale of the Unity and purchase of the Wonder was all handled properly. It saved me having to pay taxes on the money Bipi and Frank paid for my Unity. And they were able to make a direct sales tax payment to their home state of Missouri through Holland Motor Home’s services, as well as get a temporary plate until their new Missouri plates are available back home.
“If the dealer does it they can assure the funding is in place and the title work is filled out and signed off correctly,” said Brad. “It’s a smoother transition that way.”
If you’re selling privately, without a dealer, Brad says the best way to handle a transaction would be through a wire transfer directly to the seller’s bank, rather than taking a certified check or cashier’s check or personal check.
“Wire transfers are pretty instant,” he said
So there you go. That’s how we did it.
And those are the 8 tips you can also follow on how to sell your RV.
The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country
RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK
The Hershey RV Show is officially canceled for this fall, another casualty of the pandemic. This is the first time in 53 years the show will not happen as organizers said COVID-19 just posed too many challenges. The show, billed America's largest RV Show, is one of our favorite and it usually happens in late September. Click here to get a sense of what it is like from years past.
Mama grizzly attacks woman at Yellowstone, injuries minor
A woman hiking alone at Yellowstone National Park was attacked by a female grizzly last week. The woman was not seriously injured and the grizzly was protecting her baby, a normal behavior, so no action will be taken against the bear, according to a news release. The 37-year-old woman was hiking on Fairy Falls Trail near Old Faithful when this happened. She had bear spray but for reasons that were not clear was unable to use it. This was the first bear injury of the travel season at Yellowstone, and officials urge travelers to remember that it is never a good idea to travel alone in backwoods areas, and if you have bear spray, be sure to review how to use it. Here is a story we ran some time back on bear spray which includes several helpful tips.
Most Americans taking a vacation this summer are planning a road trip, according to AAA
AAA is estimating travel will be down this summer for the first time since 2009, with about 700 million Americans planning to take a summer trip, according to a news release. About 97 percent of the planned trips are road trips, compared to 87 percent in a normal year. And Denver, CO, is the most searched vacation city, compared to Orlando, FL., from years past. The main reason for the change, of course, is concerns about COVID-19.
Top 10 places to see meteors across the U.S.
One thing Jen and I love to do any time we camp away from the city lights is to take time to enjoy the night sky. Last week an article in EarthSky listed their top 10 spots throughout the country to see meteors. The list, click here, includes a nice variety of locations. When looking up, be sure to take some pictures. Here is an article we did some time back on how to best capture the night sky with your camera.
Five states still report closed or restricted campgrounds, the rest are now open
After partially opening campgrounds at Yosemite National Park, one was closed again. But more campgrounds in upper New York are opening to existing reservations July 1. And so it goes. Camping during this time of a pandemic requires a scorecard. Thankfully our friends at Campendium are doing their best to keep track, and as of this writing, about 90 percent of the campgrounds are their site are now open. As always, if you are heading out, check ahead by clicking here.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America's #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping
RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK
QUESTION: This question came into our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group from Dorene, who asks:
Newbie here! What do you do with your dogs if you leave the RV for a few hours?
ANSWER: With Bo, our Norwegian Elkhound, we use a technology tool to give us peace of mind that when Bo is in the RV and we are working out or out to dinner or taking a hike where pets are not allowed, that we can know that the temperature is safe for him. It’s called the Nimble Pet Safety Temperature Monitor.
It uses a cell signal on the Verizon network to send me text alerts if the temperature exceeds the limits I set (85 degrees F). That way I can return to the RV and address the issue by turning on or adjusting the AC. The device also works through an app and I can call it up to display the RV interior temperature on demand.
Dorene’s question also brought some great tips from members of our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:
Jerry ‘n Jean suggest tuning into something called DogTV, a 24/7 channel with programs scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone. Through years of research by some of the world’s top pet experts, special content was created to meet specific attributes of a dog’s sense of vision and hearing and supports their natural behavior patterns.
The result: a confident, happy dog, who’s less likely to develop stress, separation anxiety or other related problems. You join and download an app to your favorite streaming device. They offer a free trial. After that its basically $7 a month of you pay a year in advance. We haven’t yet tried it but it looks pretty cool. Says Jerry ‘n Jean
“We usually leave the TV on and we always come back to sleeping dogs. If we are going for more than half day we do doggie day care.”
Malinda doesn’t necessarily watch DogTV but she does turn on the TV in our her, saying “We always left the TV on …..masks sounds they might hear outside and yeah ….they usually sleep the whole time!”
Matt says “We loaded a bunch of relaxation music on a drive that plays through the radio. Blocks out the noise outside as much as we can.”
And Pegi offers “Campgrounds usually have a dog walker for hire or know of one. We did that for years! It was perfect.”
All this info comes from our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group. If you’re not a member, just go to RVLifestyle.com/facebook and join, you’ll be one of 37,000 group users there to help each other with all aspects of the RV Lifestyle.
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium
OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom & Patti Burkett
Last week we told you a bit about the history and geography of Avery Island and ended with Edmund McIlhenny’s first shipments of pepper sauce to restaurants in New Orleans. Absent anything better suited, he used cologne bottles to provide the best dispensing.
The tabasco pepper originated in somewhere in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere and made their way to the USA with population migrations in the seventeenth century.
Interestingly, the bush that produces tabascos is a perennial and will grow for years. When ripe, they come in at about 50,000 on the Scoville scale, about ten times the punch of a jalapeño, but far below the likes of a ghost pepper or Carolina Reaper.
While the pepper fields are in full operation, they can’t begin to provide the fruit needed to fill two and a half million bottles a week, so most are grown in Latin America. Those peppers are shipped here, mixed with peppers from Avery Island, and taste-tested before being set to age, mixed with a little salt, in used whiskey barrels fron Kentucky and Tennessee. The mash is so corrosive that forklifts, which normally last five to seven years, have to be replaced every three in the barrel warehouses. The mash rests for about three years in the barrel. After another taste test by a McIlhenny family member, vinegar is added and the distinctive red sauce goes into bottles.
Avery Island is unique in that many of the employees live right on the property. When the operation first started up, the location was too remote for workers to easily arrive for daily shifts, so housing was built to accommodate them.
That housing remains, and today nearly a hundred of the factory staff live on the grounds. One worker, mopping floors in the visitor center, told us, “I can’t wait to get in my two years so I can apply to live here. Everybody says it’s just great.” Some of the families are in their third generation of living on the island, which has a school, church, and small shopping area.
An island visit offers multiple options. On the factory tour, you can see everything from the pepper fields to the bottling plant and tasting lab. From the tasting lab come many of the products featured in the gift shop.
When we visited they were sampling out Tabasco chili and Tabasco soft-serve ice cream. The ice cream was surprisingly tasty. Many other things were on the shelves—a dozen varieties of Tabasco sauce, t-shirts, cookware, novelty items, and pre-cooked food. More food was available at the next-door restaurant.
The second major offering is the Jungle Gardens. In 1895, Edmund McIlhenny noted that the Gulf’s population of snowy egrets was being decimated by hunters serving the hat trade in Northern cities.
He gathered up as many of the remaining birds as he could and set up a refuge, which he called Bird City, on the island. It was lauded by no less than Teddy Roosevelt. From that start grew Jungle Gardens, a lush subtropical paradise of plants and animals. It includes information on the salt mines and early employee housing.
Word is that Avery Island is slowly sinking and will someday recede into the Gulf. If you want to see things from peppers to pelicans and eat crawfish, boudin, and cornbread with some legendary hot sauce, this is the place to do it—just a bit south of US 90 and a short drive off the beaten path.
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