How to Sell Your RV
Written by Carolyn Jackson
RVs have a pretty long lifespan. They can last up to and beyond 20 years. Sometimes we assume an RV is like a car, and we need a new one every five years, but actually, RVs are built to last and can go for years beyond most cars. But, just because an RV can last up to 20 years doesn’t mean you need to keep the same one for that long. RV manufacturers constantly make new models, upgrades, and technologies that make RVs even more exciting and comfortable.
Whether you want to upgrade to a newer RV or your family dynamics have changed, warranting a different RV style or size, you can sell your current RV to make some money and put towards a new one (or a previously new one). This article will cover how to sell your RV, what you need to do to prepare to sell your current RV, and what to expect throughout the sales process.
- Sell your RV at the beginning of RV season and, if possible, when it is less than five years old or has less than 100,000 miles on it.
- Prepare all your service records and get your RV in top shape before listing it for sale.
- There are multiple ways to sell your RV. Do some research and pick which method works best for your needs and your timeline.
Table of Contents
When Should I Sell My RV?
Three factors determine when you should sell your RV. Two of them you can control (to a degree), and one of them you likely cannot. The two controllable factors are the time of year you sell and the number of years you’ve used your RV. The less controllable factor is when you are ready to sell your RV.
Time of Year
You want to put your RV up for sale before or at the beginning of RV season. RV season is mid-spring through mid-fall — something like April through October, peaking in June-August. With this in mind, putting your RV up for sale in the late March-May timeframe is ideal. Simply put, selling at this time is a matter of supply and demand. More people are interested in RVing when the season is right around the corner. Families will start preparing their summer agendas and plans in early spring and start shopping the market for potential RVs.
Age of RV
The other factor that might contribute to when you are ready to sell your RV is how many years you have used it and how old it is. It is estimated that RVs typically depreciate about 25% in the first three years and after ten years depreciate about 60% in value. Therefore, depending on your financial position, you might want to consider selling when your RV is on the newer end or at least less used so you can earn more money for it. The most sought-after used RVs are those that are five years or less and are lightly used (e.g., under 100,000 miles). Generally, all RV types depreciate at the same rate, so it does not matter if you sell a Motorhome, Travel Trailer, or Fifth Wheel.
When You Are Ready to Sell
The last factor that will affect when to sell your RV is when you are ready. Again, this may be something you can control (e.g., I want to upgrade to a larger RV for more space), but it could also be out of your control (e.g., I lost my job and need to save money, or my daughter got married and I want more space for my family, etc.). Whatever the life circumstances surrounding your desire to sell will factor into the sale process, and feeling ready to part ways with your RV will make the process easier.
What Should I Do to Prepare to Sell My RV?
Before you list your RV on a marketplace or make a dealer with a local dealership, you can prepare your RV to ensure you get top dollar for the sale. There are a few checklist items you can do ahead of time, so there are no surprises for you or the potential buyer.
- Inspect the outside of the RV. Look for any blemishes, scratches, dents, discoloration, rust, etc. If you are able, try your best to repair any of these issues ahead of listing the RV, or you will need to be transparent and up-front with buyers about these issues.
- Collect and organize all the paperwork related to your RV. This includes maintenance records, service appointments, the bill of sale, the title, loan paperwork, etc. It’s better to have more paperwork than you might need and to be prepared to answer any questions with physical evidence that a buyer might have.
- Inspect the inside of the RV. Look for water damage, chipped paint, mold or mildew, dirt, etc. As with the outside, if there are any obvious blemishes, try to fix them before selling or at least be up-front about these issues to potential buyers.
- Deep clean the RV inside and out. Even if you plan to sell ‘as is, your RV can still be clean. Trust us when we say it can make a huge difference for buyers. Get in every nook and cranny and polish it up as best as possible.
- Do a check that all your accessories, such as spare tires, covers, tanks, etc., are in place and functioning properly. Likewise, if you’ve made any aftermarket upgrades to the RV, check that they are working properly so you can use that as a selling point.
- A ‘clean bill of health’ will pay dividends, especially if you are selling the RV yourself. Buyers will appreciate it if you get a service check ahead of sale to ensure the RV is road-trip-ready and they are not buying something that will cost them more money in repairs.
What is the Best Way to Sell My RV?
There are multiple ways to sell your RV, and which method you pick is based on a few things: 1) how quickly you want to sell your RV, 2) what ROI you are looking for for the sale of your RV, and 3) how much time you have to dedicate to the sales process. Some methods take more time and effort, but you get to reap the entire paycheck, while others are quick, but you will only get a portion of the proceeds from the sale. Here are the best and most common five methods to sell your RV:
1. To your dealer as a trade-in
If you want to upgrade to a new RV and your dealer has the one you want, the easiest way to offload your current RV is to use it as a trade-in. The trade-in value is the amount a dealer will give you for your old RV. That money can be used as a down payment towards the purchase of another RV in their inventory. Usually, you will not get your full retail price for your RV if you do a trade-in. The dealer wants to sell that vehicle and will need to eat some costs to sell it on their own and then try to make a profit. Trade-in sales are convenient, quick, and easy if you are willing to make a little less on the sale of your RV and you plan to upgrade to a newer RV immediately.
2. An online marketplace like Facebook Marketplace or Craig’s List
The benefit of this selling method is that it is easy and free. You can easily and quickly list your RV on Craig’s List or Facebook Marketplace (or both) and wait for the calls to come. In addition, the benefit of selling on an online marketplace is that you get to keep all the proceeds from the sale. However, you also are responsible for managing the entire process on your own. This includes possibly dozens of calls, screening potential buyers, weeding out the scammers, and ensuring the sale process is done legally and correctly. Another potential downside of using an online marketplace is that you might not reach the right people. It can be difficult to get exposure for your listing to interested parties, and there is little you can do to boost its reach.
3. Used RV Sales Sites like Pop RVs
Pop RVs comes to you and takes over 100 professional photos and a full list of all the features, equipment, and electronics and then builds out a personalized and professional online listing for you. Pop RVs, then post your RV’s ad on over 20 other RV sales websites, such as RV Trader and RVT (mentioned below). Pop RVs handles all the incoming inquiries about your RV and lets you know when there is a legitimate and up-front offer. Pop RVs does not charge a listing price, and there is no initial cost to use Pop RVs. Pop RVs takes a percentage of the sale if or when the RV formally sells.
4. Put a sign in the window and/or in your yard
This is the path of least resistance. All you need is a few bucks to purchase a for-sale sign. You can post the sign in your yard, at your campsite, and in the window of your RV. This is a good supplemental method. Put a for-sale sign up and post your RV on a sales site like RV Trader. If you only post a for-sale sign, the chances of a person who wants that exact RV seeing the sign are slim. Like other options, if you sell via a for-sale sign, you will have to fully manage the sale from beginning to end.
Consignment means you take your RV to a dealership, and they sell it for you. The benefit of this option is that you do not have to manage the sales process yourself. Instead, the dealership can help you handle getting the RV sales-ready, promoting and marketing your RV, and paperwork for sale. Of course, the dealership will take a cut of the sale price, but this option takes some of the heavy lifting off your shoulders as the RV owner.
Our recommendation is to figure out which option works best for you. Depending on which route you take, we also recommend double-dipping and using multiple methods simultaneously. The goal is to sell the RV for the best possible price as quickly as possible, and the more people you reach with your product, the higher a chance you have to sell it for top dollar.
How Long Does it Take to Sell an RV?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to how long it might take to sell your RV. It all boils down to finding the right person at the right time. This is why we recommend putting your RV listing in as many places as possible. It is possible to sell your RV in a few weeks, but more often, it takes at least a few months for the right buyer to come along. Especially if you are selling your RV yourself, you want to take the time to find the right person, so you don’t run into any issues.
How will I know if it is the right person?
The right person will reach out to you and express serious interest in your RV. You should expect this person to ask educated questions about the RV and how you’ve used it over the years. The right person will be discretionary but motivated. You can ask them questions like what they will use the RV for if they’ve ever owned one before, what make and model it was, what attracted them to your listing, etc. You can ask them to verify their identity as well to ensure there is nothing suspicious going on. The best advice is to listen to your gut. If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is.
What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My RV?
You will need to provide all your RV paperwork at the time of sale. This includes the title, any loan information and remaining payments, all service records (to prove any updates and routine maintenance you’ve done so you can get a better price), and the manufacturer manual, if possible.
Check with your state on local title laws. For example, some states give you the title, but the lienholder has the title in some states, and they only release it after the loan is paid off.
Even if your buyer doesn’t request all this paperwork, it is in your best interest to have it readily available. Often, seeing all the formal paperwork can earn a potential buyer’s trust and entice them to make an offer.
Some states require the seller to report the sale to the local Department of Revenue. For example, in Missouri, you need to deliver a Notice of Sale (Form 5049) or Bill of Sale (Form 1957) form to the Department of Revenue within 30 days of the sale. We advise you to look up the requirements for selling a vehicle in your state’s Department of Revenue site.
How Should I Request Payment for My RV?
If you decide to sell on your own (e.g., without going through a service like RV Trader or going through a dealership), you will need to manage the relationship with potential buyers entirely on your own. You need to be transparent and up-front about how you expect payment from your buyers and then stick to your request. Unfortunately, there are people out there who might try to swindle you. For this reason, the best and safest option for accepting payment is by a cashier’s check. Traditional personal checks are not ideal, and we do not recommend accepting payment in this form. There are a few other safe payment options you can consider, including:
- Direct bank transfer
- Cashier’s check
Our best advice is to be transparent about how you would like to receive payment and not accept payment in a form that makes you uncomfortable. Ideally, you will receive the full agreed-upon amount for the RV up-front at the time of sale. If a buyer tries to do installments, you might consider getting a lawyer involved to write up some type of physical agreement, but we do not recommend going this route. If a buyer wants the RV, they will pay you in full.
Check Out More Helpful RV Guides and Articles
Selling your RV might feel like the end of something, but it is also the beginning of your search for a new RV! There is a lot to think about and consider when deciding what RV fits your needs. Luckily, we have done a lot of the research for you; take a look at some other helpful articles on RVs by GoRollick.
- How to Choose an RV Floorplan
- The Ultimate Guide to Buying an RV
- 10 Best Fifth Wheel RVs
- How Much is an RV?
- What I Wished I’d Asked Myself Before I Bought an RV
- Renting Your RV: A Money-Making Guide
- See nationwide inventory, specs, and incentive information
- Get an upfront, transparent price on your desired RV
- Receive special offers on both the RV as well as additional accessories
- Take advantage of Bonus Savings plus the option to Buy From Home from select Certified Dealers
- Shop at one of our Certified Dealers who are committed to providing an exceptional buying experience