Thinking of trading your RV? Consider THIS before you do…

RV Trading Tips… Thinking of trading in or selling your RV?

rv trade in tips
Think its time to trade in your trailer? Here are some helpful “RV Trade in tips”

In addition to being a full time traveler (with a NEW 5th wheel soon!!), I spend my summers consulting and selling RV’s. I often approach folks with the following – “How can I help you lighten your wallet, put you in debt for years to come, and sell you something that will do nothing but depreciate from the moment it leaves the lot?”

Truth? You bet! RV’s – virtually ALL of ’em are NOT a financial investment – instead they are an investment in lifestyle, quality time with the family, quality experiences, etc. Agreed? Oh, and most folks laugh, but then contemplate it and say “you’re right!”

So, knowing you’re buying something that IS going to depreciate (but you WILL have lots of fun as it does), is there a better (or worse) time to trade it in?

Fact: The average rv’er keeps their rig for 3-5 years. Does it matter whether you trade closer to 3 or 5 years? TIMING is everything. Consider my thoughts in the following brief video…

There are better – and worse times to trade your RV

Join me in this brief video as I set the stage – then below I clarify the example I discuss in my video

Lets consider the example I offered in the video:  (take your time with this!!)

Original purchase price: $35,000, then you decide to trade your RV in after about 2 years…

NADA Avg. Retail value after 2 years on your trailer: $23,000 (real value to the dealer: $14,000*)

You want to trade your 2 year old trailer for a new one – lets say the new one is $60,000. (retail price.) You know the NADA avg. retail on yours is 23,000 and you’re not happy that its already 12,000 less than what you paid just 2 years earlier (and you REALLY don’t want to hear its actually worth 14,000 to the dealer!!) AND since you’ve paid mostly just interest, you still owe the lender $33,000.

Join in on the conversation! Let’s talk RV’ing. Share your thoughts and ideas – get your questions answered…

I now have 3 “RV Across America” Social Media Groups…




So here is what happens when you try to work a trade on your current 2 year old RV…

You visit a dealer, see a shiny, new, featured laden RV that “stickers” (MSRP) for $60,000. Without a trade, the dealer may offer you that 60,000. trailer for 51,000. as a purchase price (perhaps even better.)

BUT… with your trade, he “shows you” 23,000. for the trade – but he does it against the $60,000. price, and asks you for a difference of 60,000 – 23,000 = 37,000. to get the new trailer.

BUT remember, you still owe 33,000. on your original loan (remember – you did a $0. down loan!), so now, your new loan will be for the 37,000 difference noted above and the 33,000 you currently owe, or in other words, you’ll be carrying a loan for $70,000. which can’t work because the new trailer retails for… $60,000. so thats the most you will get a loan for. To get the trailer for a 60,000. loan, you’ll have to come up with 10,000 cash! THIS is why when you trade with a high balance due (and a low NADA book value), you HAVE to step up to a MUCH more expensive trailer! And… you end up carrying a BIG “note” on that new trailer.

You’d better be happy with that new trailer for SEVERAL years to come as you pay down your new loan!!

*Note: If you take 23,000 (retail for your trade) and subtract 14,000 (real or wholesale value for your trailer), this yields $9,000. If you think that is the profit the dealer will make on your trade, think again! The dealer has costs – in addition to basic overhead and salaries/commissions, your trade (by law) must be (at a minimum) “safety checked” and many dealers will execute additional repairs before selling it to the next buyer. Further, the longer your tradein sits on the dealers lot (sometimes YEARS), it is continually depreciating. So, while some trades result in good profit for a dealer, others see the profit fade away as potential buyers (for whatever reason) fail to purchase it. This is the risk the dealer takes and a good part of the reason he won’t offer you anywhere near the 23,000. that NADA shows as the “average retail” value for your 2 year old trailer.

Ok, when it comes to trading in your older RV, three quick thoughts…

  1. If you do want to get rid of a “recent purchase” (lets say up to 3 years old), you’re likely to be better off selling it yourself than trading it – you’ll get closer to the NADA average retail value. To advertise your trailer, you will find several free resources to advertise it including Facebook classified groups for your area and classified groups for those who like a particular type of RV (5th wheels, Class B Motorhomes…) Additionally, Craigslist offers free advertising (be careful of scams – read their advice on their own site.) Lastly, RV Trader (.com) and “RVT” are both worth considering, RVT is free, but RV Trader will charge you about $60 for 12 weeks.
  2. If you are can live with your RV longer, by years 4 or 5, you’ll be in better shape with your loan as you’ll have paid down more of the principle AND the depreciation rate slows after year 3. As such you will be in a far better negotiating position with the dealer that has the new RV of your dreams! If you bought it then… its probably safe to trade your RV in now – except for the fact that the dealer wants to obtain your trade at the BOTTOM dollar he will pay for it.
  3. Want a “guide by your side?” I am now offering a Concierge Buying and Selling Service. Simply put… you’ll save time, money AND aggravation.

    Simpy put, I will help you get the most you can for your current trailer and then I will LISTEN to you to learn your wants and needs in a replacement (new/used) trailer. I will then recommend the BEST camper for your needs and then find it at the RIGHT price (again – new or used, WITHOUT the bias that a store salesman has to consider his on-site inventory.) My search for this camper for you can be anywhere in the USA and is not limited to any brand or manufacturer. Contact me HERE to learn more.

rv trading tips
Does your trade look like this?!

Does all of the above make sense? If not, ASK ME BELOW – or – post in my Facebook group and if you can identify where I lost you.

Hey, while you’re here, my earlier two posts on these lines can be found HERE: Summer 2017 Reflections and The REAL cost of a RV loan (and how to reduce it).

Lastly, as I write this, I’m about to “hit the road” to begin my journey west to Oregon and Idaho. I’m CERTAIN to have some stories for you – stay tuned. While you’re here, have a look at some of my other articles. RV Across America is broken down into 9 broad categories and from the home page, you can find these along with recent and popular articles. Enjoy – and please DO keep in touch. You can join our mailing list (look above or below) for a place to enter your first name & email address.

FYI, Links to related articles can be found below.

Lastly… If you found this content to be of value, and you’d like to receive updates when I make new posts – please join my mailing list below…


Connect with us:

71 thoughts on “Thinking of trading your RV? Consider THIS before you do…”

  1. What is the oldest Class A, either diesel or gas, you would buy? For example, it is currently 10/2017, would you consider a high end diesel pusher built in 2001?.


    • Probably about a 2000. BUT – I’d get as much of an extended service contract (which I can get you a quote on) to cover repairs that can be costly.

  2. I think the math is a little off: $60,000 (new rv) – $23,000 (trade in) = $37,000. $37,000 (what is left over on new rv after trade) + $33,000 (left on original loan) = $70,000. Now you are carrying a $70K note on your new MSRP $60K RV. Not best of ideals.

  3. Loved your piece ..we have seen couples do this time and time again…usually at or around six months ..and we just shake our head?? Brand new Diesel Trucks and Fifth Wheels being traded in on new ‘Coaches’ I was in the car business most of my life and as far as I can see the RV business was very similar …These people that I am referring to had just come off some huge retirements, and life insurance benefits …guess maybe I am jealous deep down but cannot believe the beating they must have taken in these transactions..we currently OWN a 1999 Ford F350 7.3 diesel and a 2009 Keystone Laredo 265 Fifth Wheel..key word here is OWN..first six years we had the luxury of heated indoor storage, and now winter in Florida, upon return in the spring to Michigan we keep her in covered storage…Enjoyed your video but we are owners just watching what you are too LoL..

  4. I want to sale or trade I have a bad credit I think I want something easy I have 1994 truck with a newer camper but it needs TLC and it’s got come alongs have holding it on the truck should be on a 3/ quarter ton want do you as suggest. Thanks Brenda Degeyter

      • My wife and I purchased a 2017 40.6′ 5th wheel new. We looked at used but most more expensive than new. 2018’s were coming in & we bought it half price. Then put 15k down and added some items. We now have it in for 2nd year warranty repairs. But the shop has had it for 3 months and still waiting for parts. They claim it’s not usable because they have One Tip Out Removed and the front cap is removed because from the Factory the King Pin is only Tac Welded. They know this is our Home. Should we get a Lawyer? Would this fall under the Lemon Law?

  5. I’m really hating all dealers for RVs or autos. Last year I bought a used 2011 Heartland Elkridge 27RLSS 5th wheel. Dealer firm on $24K. NADA inline says $14.5K to $20K. Lender says $24 is good according to THEIR NADA book. I’m wanting to but a new 2018 E293. MSRP $40K. Selling at $30,300. Out of the kindness of their awesome heart they will give me $8K for my trade in. Right now online NADA says my trailer is worth $14.7K to $17.7K. Guess I am going to sell myself.

    • Jim, May I be brutally honest and frank? Can ya handle it? 🙂

      Allow me to “school” you on the facts of life: First, dealers are simply doing what they do – they buy at wholesale and sell at retail. Now, if the dealer wanted 24k and NADA online said $20k is the ‘average retail’, WHY did you buy it? I trust that the dealer was not holding a gun to your head, right?! (By the way – Elkridge, after selling it for the past 3 years is TRULY nothing special. I’d FAR more recommend buying a USED trailer like an Arctic Fox over a new Elkridge.

      Now… you tell me you want to REPEAT your mistake (I hope I’m not being too rough on you here, but I gotta be real!) You want a E293 – well, the dealer has dropped their price from 40 to 30k… thats a VERY fair price. Now you have a trade – NADA says its worth about 17,700. Look at it this way – you are asking them to take your trailer on trade, and they NEED to buy it at a below wholesale price. So, 8k is about right in this case (again – remember they’ve already discounted the new trailer) Why? 3 reasons – 1) they have overhead and they’re there to make a profit 2) they (by law) have to pay service techs to check & often fix trades 3) it may very well sit for weeks/months (even YEARS) and all the meantime, it is DEPRECIATING. So, only in a perfect world will they turn it next week for close to 17,700! (and rarely do they get OVER nada book).

      Selling it yourself WILL likely net you about 15,000. so, yes, you’ll come out ahead, THEN, honestly don’t buy another Elkridge! Have you looked at Arctic Fox? Perhaps the 29-5K or 29-5L – and perhaps a 2012 to 2015 model will fit in your price range of 30,000. But realize, those who are “in the know” will scoop these up when they come available so they’re hard to negotiate on. Yeah, they’re THAT good.

      By the way, if you had come to me in my store with the same scenario – I’d give you $18k for your trade BUT I’d charge $40k for the trailer – if you do the math – its the SAME thing as your dealer is offering you.


  6. It all comes down to greed. My trade in was a 2014 Cruiser RV. got $16K ($1K under low book) they turned around and sold it for $24K. More than I paid new for it. The Arctic Fox is OK but not liking the floor plan. At $60K it’s much more than I want to pay. Dry weight is a lot more than the Elkridge.

    • Jim,

      As I stated before, you can get an Arctic Fox for far less than 60k if you buy a used one – which I would encourage you to do instead of buying a mediocre (at best) trailer. As to what the dealer got on your trade – if it worked out well for them, good for them! No one forced you to trade it in to them, and for every deal that works out well for them, there are others that do not as I explained previously. As to dry weight – the elkridge is light for a reason – it is built to MINIMAL standards whereas the Arctic Fox is WELL built. So, yeah, its heavier! Al

  7. Would love and need some honest advice…other words I need help!! I own a 1996 Dolphin 33.5ft /560 Ford engine with the 553 Banks transmission . It gets really great for one that size mileage and has been a joy to own but need something smaller as alone. Meet the nicest folks out RV -n !! However, today is my 61st birthday and was going to take to Lone Rock/Lake Powell for a couple of days. I live in Page AZ and the one place that works on RV said I needed a new starter for the ONAN generator which worked fine aways before now and he says its too much trouble & expense to replace.
    It is old …just like me !! Its engine just like my heart run well!! So, is it like me too old to bother with fixing??? I am second owner /had 10yrs it has 61,000 miles on it…I have a hell of alot more on me!! Seriously, been crying this morning as seems I been told it is a lost cause and no one will want either of us! Please HELP with any ideas!!

    • Mary,

      First of all, it sounds like its about a 500. repair (parts & labor). Its certainly less expensive than replacing the generator. As for the trailer, from your description, it sounds like you want to downsize anyway. If it were me, I’d sell it “as is”, get the NADA book value on it (probably between $10,000 – 15,000) and disclose the issue with the generator – let the new owner deal with it. If you want a shorter camper, get one! What part of the nation are you in?


  8. I have a 2016 Thor motorcoach 23h and my wife and I bought it the summer of 2015. We put 10% down payment and also payed for extended warranty. After camping with 2 two small dogs in tow we realized this is not the right RV for us since we didn’t have a slide out. Now I’m owing $59,000 and am upside down and as you say we have to wait three to five years before taking to a dealer to trade. I would like to throw down $10,000 and look for a motor home in the 65k to 75k range but my monthly payment even with 10k down will still be at least $600-700 a month vs my current $435 a month.
    Do you think I should try to sell in on my own? I presume I could get $49,000 for it and then with the $10,000 I’d be getting back to my starting over point and can then make a new deal but it’s so much easier to do a trade. I do have a 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King that could sweeten the pot/ use on trade but that would’ve been the $10,000 to be used to go for the new motor home with the slide out. We like the Thor Model 24HE (it has a slide) and it’s sellong for $65,000 so should we try to trade now? or wait a couple of more years.

    • You’re always going to come out ahead when you sell a trailer yourself and not trade it. You already know your best move is to sell it then go to a dealer and negotiate your best deal with no trade. Sell the motorcycle privately as well. Al

  9. Hello Can you help me? I have a 2016 BigHorn I am selling. I have someone interested. A young couple who wants to buy. Who could I recommend them going to for Financing? I owe more than the worth . I understand I may have to pay a sum of money .
    How does this work. All I want to do is cut my debt . Who is the best to attempt to get financing from . I have US Bank. Should I send them there? Also someone mentined assuming my loan. That kind of sounds as if I would be like a co signer. I definitely dont want to be responsible for it. Is there a way to assume a loan and take my name off it? Is that even a thing?

    • I’m not a finance expert in private sales. That said, I’d have them do their own research for where they can get a loan. They will not get a loan for more than the retail book value in NADA for your bighorn. When you sell it, you’ll need to provide them with the title, so, you’ll need to send funds to your lender in full to clear your own debt – even if that is more than what they are paying for the camper. Do not have them assume your loan – and they won’t do it anyway because you owe more than its worth.

  10. We have a 2014 Gulf Stream Amerilite 198BH. We bought it from the original owner in fall 2016. As our kids are getting bigger, the upper bunk is just not working out for any of the 3 kids so 1 always ends up sleeping on the floor. I’d like to trade for something a little bigger (25’-28’) with double bunks and a sofa bed and/or dinette bed. We paid about $8K for our trailer and it’s in great shape with new tires. Do you recommend selling it outright or trading it in at an RV place? Or is there a website to list trade requests? Is it realistic to hope to find someone to trade for an older model used trailer that’s larger?

    • Kathi, a couple of thoughts – first, i’d sell it outright. You’re in it at a good price and may even get your money out of it when you sell it. If you bring it to a dealer, even if they tell you “they’ll give you $8000.”, they’re doing it in lieu of discounting your next purchase. To them its worth about $2500. (at best).

      As to replacing it, I have to share something, and you may not like me much after I say this – Gulf Stream is NOT known for building quality trailers. When you replace it, I’d go for a better built trailer. Some suggestions include Jay Flight, Outback, or a Zinger. Go as old as you need to to be in your price range, but check to insure its in good shape (check axles, bearings, interior for any soft spots or evidence of water getting in.) Al

  11. I bought a truck about a year ago to pull an RV which I did purchase 6 months ago.
    My husband is sick so have to do it all and I’m not good at hitching up makes me nervous and its hard to keep in the road.
    It’s a 2018 heartland mallard which we live in and wanted to travel a lot but not working out cause of the hitching up.
    If I trade in both truck and RV on a class c will i lose a lot. I need advice!

    • Hello Pam,

      Thanks for reaching out. Yep, you’re going to get clobbered if you do a trade-in. And you say you’re living in the Mallard? Hmmmm… ok, a few questions. Where in the nation are you located? I can help you sell the trailer (and then the truck) – but I’ll need details & photos. You can email them to Once I know the year/make/model on both I can give you an idea of what you can get on each. As to a Class C, I can assist with that as well as I offer a buying service to help you find the right one – new or used. (I suggest used!)

      If you elect to trade, the dealer to whom you trade will look at the wholesale value of both the truck and trailer and while he may not “show” you the wholesale value in his offer, it will come at the cost of NOT discounting the Class C (nearly as much) as he would if no trade is involved.

      I’m here to be of assistance if you want to explore the options I’ve detailed above.


  12. We are full timers. Winter in Miami four months, then travel rest of year: so selling our 2003 Monaco Dynasty 99,000 miles (NADA retail $82K) is not practical since we are always moving. We bought it three years ago and own it outright. Want to sell and go to fifth wheel. NADA trade in is $60K. Dealer trade in quotes we have received range from $48K to low $50Ks; we thought this was crazy since trade in is $60K. But from reading your excellent analysis maybe we should adjust our thinking and accept the lower than trade in amount. Reason selling: repairs are too expensive and disruptive when we live in motorhome. Plan was trade in RV for $60K, buy fifth wheel for dealer’s sticker price of $60K but have dealer throw in $10K to install washer/dryer combo, generator, satellite dish and bike rack…..please rip apart where we are being naive and what your advice would be: we respect your honesty and business like approach.

    • Dawn,

      I’d be glad to get very specific to your situation (and even quote you on a 5th wheel with the additions you are interested in) but I’ll need the specific Monaco Dynasty model you have along with any options that are genuine options that would drive the value over the NADA average retail values (which from my cursory review of all the Monaco Dynasty models is between 70-76k). I have not yet factored in 99,000 miles – which for a motorhome is considered high mileage.


  13. Thank you Al for your response! Here are items I believe fall into the options category for our 42’ Regal 2003 Monaco Dynasty: aqua hot system, washer/dryer combo, inverter, 12 cu ft two way four door Norcold fridge w/ ice maker, Carefree automatic patio awning, new microwave/convection combo, two of our three roof 3.5 M BTUs w/ heat pumps are new, Onan generator w/ slide out upgraded to 10.0 KW, power cord reel, booth dinette, storage bay slide out tray pass through, dual air/hydraulic leveling,exhaust brake, furnace, inmotion satellite, blue ox tow bar stays w/ motorhome, plus tire covers. Of the eight tires, three are new and five are four years old. We are in Colorado for the next month, Plan on putting a shine on the Dynasty this week and take it the following week to the big dealers along the Front Range,but with your input to make sure we do it right, you are a prophet crying in the RV World wilderness,…only humble, honest people will benefit from your insight. The rest have egos that won’t allow them to listen to sage advice from an expert; what a valuable service you provide to RVers,👍

    • Dawn,

      Thanks again for your kind words. With respect to the options list you provided, most of it is standard on a Regal Monaco Dynasty as they do come loaded. The 10kw generator is a legitimate upgrade (but it only adds 170. to the value) and the aqua hot system may be as well. According to NADA, the retail value is 76,500., I believe we can up the value to 77000 but thats about it. What is working against you is age (over 15 years now that the 2019 models are showing up) and mileage (about 100,000 miles) – mileage does not factor in directly, but it is in the back of the dealers mind as he knows he will get “push back” from potential buyers when they see those miles on it. Now to “wholesale” and “acv” values – your wholesale is about 56000 and the acv (as you assessed initially) is 48000 – this is the REAL value to any dealer.

      Ok, lets look at your plan: Get 60k on trade and buy a 60k 5th wheel. Mathematically, while that can work, if you want a new 5th wheel of any real quality, you’re looking at more than 60k. On my lot in Casper, Wy (about 4 hours North of the front range in Co.), my 5th wheels that retail for 60k are not built for true full time use and I would not recommend them.

      I do have a 2018 Jayco Eagle 317RLOK I would recommend for several reasons – first, its 37 ft. long which is “not too short, not too long”, it has dual opposing slides in the living area with a LARGE fridge (happens to be a residential fridge), center island (makes for more food prep and storage space), 2 a/c units, 4pt auto-level, and a nice rear living type layout. The bedroom has a slide and the bed is east-west which means the complete front cap is a closet (and has w/d hookups) and it is gen-prepped. The retail on the Eagle 317RLOK 5th wheel is 77223. If I were to do a deal on this with yours as a trade, I’d take yours on trade plus $5000. and that would get you the Eagle 317RLOK (and frankly, that would be an excellent deal as our profit on that deal would be similar to what I make when I sell a $20,000. trailer!)

      Seeing these numbers as they are, any extras (w/d, generator, solar, etc.) would be tacked on as additional costs. If you were to find a trailer (even a used one) for $60,000., the dealer would be making you an offer where you can go “straight across” and perhaps get a w/d added in, but not much more. Again – my concern is new 5th wheels that retail for $60k are NOT what you want to live in.

      You’re certainly welcome to come up to Casper to see the 317 Jayco up here; if you opt to shop the Front Range, I’d be glad to consult with you if you see something you believe has potential and I do offer a buying service where I can even negotiate the final price for you to secure the best deal. Oh, and regardless, don’t buy an extended service contract as I can get you a great deal on that, and yes, I highly recommend them!


  14. Thank you Alan for the feedback. Let me do some deeper research. How does your extended repair plan work . CW in Denver verbally said $51K on our trade in so that sounds pretty good; You agree? They have a 2018 Jayco 317 RLOK for $53,669. I think an even trade might fly, then we will just pay for them to add the WD, Gen. Jolley Roger in Cheyenne is asking $49,900 for same Jayco; my husband likes the Jayco 336 FBOK 1.5 BA for $56K at CW in Denver, assuming we could get them to even swap on trade in. Are there photos and more detail on the Jayco on your lot? I do like that it’s prepped for WD and Gen. Would love to find something in our trade in price range that already has WD and Gen. as I worry whoever installs them will drag it out for more than a week and they’ll screw up something based on our experience ( CW comes to mind. Lol) Liked your post about RV length and agree 34.5 ft sounds perfect! Your writing is very professional—when is your book coming out?

    • Dawn,

      Lets start with this: It MATTERS where you get the trailer, especially if you are looking to add a w/d and generator – that kind of work, if done poorly, will cost you for years to come.

      Next thought – when it comes to trade-in value, CW can say “51,000”, but that means nothing. What DOES mean something is the DIFFERENCE that you will have to pay to get what you want. At the moment, CW is showing a difference of 2669. between the 51000 and 53669. Perhaps they’ll negotiate further, perhaps they won’t, BUT, what you need to know about CW, beyond what you stated yourself about their (well known) reputation for their service department, is their hidden fees. Ask them if you have to pay 2669. as a difference, what additional fees will you have to pay. (I had a client who was quoted 35000 for a trailer and when all the added fees were tacked on, it was 41600!!)

      In contrast, I have offered you a difference of 5000. and there are NO additional fees on that deal. AND… I can assure you the generator work & washer/dryer (and anything else) will get done right as I have faith in my techs. I should also point out that the price of a trailer is dependent upon how it is equipped. The 317 on our lot in Casper has two a/c units, dry camping package with gen prep, 2″ receiver in the back, auto-level, 23 cu ft residential fridge, and more. You can see photos here – (This likely explains why Jolly Roger in Cheyenne is asking less for theirs.)

      I’d like to invite you to come to Casper, perhaps today or even tomorrow (Sunday) to see the 317RLOK and I want you to know that if you purchase it, I can get the w/d and gen installed within just a few days (along with prepping the trailer, etc.) Every trailer we sell gets a full dealer prep, a comprehensive walk-through and orientation, 2 batteries, filled propane, and a 60 day temporary plate AT NO EXTRA CHARGE.

      Regarding the 336FBOK, it has 2 bathrooms, I’d only recommend it if you TRULY need 2 bathrooms (within about 10 feet of each other!), otherwise its a poor use of the space you have within the trailer.

      Lastly – our extended service contract gives you 7 years of coverage on all components (a/c, refrig, landing gear, slide motors, furnace, etc…) where the service is $0 per incident if handled here in Casper, and $100 per incident anywhere else in the US or Canada. You choose your repair facility. There is also money built in for mobile service calls, hotel stays when traveling if you can’t stay in your trailer, and more. You can also terminate the contract and receive the unused portion back or you can transfer it to a new owner if you sell your trailer.

      Lastly, in your price range to get the w/d and gen included, if you go for a new trailer, you’re going to be sacrificing quality as I noted in an earlier message. Feel free to call me at 307 269 2546 to arrange a time to meet if you wish to visit Casper. (If its late in the day, we can break bread or get coffee and talk.) Alan

  15. I am wanting to buy a 2019 Grand Design. List is $61,587. My trade is a 2012 Keystone Passport Ultra Light Grand Touring. They figured $22,000 for my trade bringing the cost of the Grand design down to $39,587. I owe $15,000 so that puts the price of the Grand Design back at $54,000 and change. Is this deal on the up and up? Is it a good deal. Never seen one done like this.

    • Ken,

      I need model numbers to figure out whether they’re giving you a good deal or not. And… what do you mean by “never seen one done like this”?

  16. Sorry. The Keystone Passport Ultra Light Grand Touring is a 2650BH. And the Grand Design is a 320MKS. I have only bought one other RV and that was the passport so I’m not familiar with why they are offering me the $22,000 which would be way top end. You know the saying too good to be true…

    • They’re offering you 22000 on the trade to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. What they are not doing is discounting the trailer one penny. Ok, so what matters here is the difference of 39587. How they derive it, whether its by assigning a bloated figure on your trade or a deep discount on the grand design – you’re paying 39587 for that trailer with your trade (plus what you owe currently on your loan for the passport.) I believe you can probably get a dealer (maybe this one, maybe another) to do the same deal for a difference closer to 35000. – and THAT would be a fair deal.

      What part of the nation are you in? I could help with the negotiating and see what offer I can get you. I also have 2 concerns (of significance) about the Grand Design as I personally was considering their trailers but rejected them after a conversation with their engineers. First – they use Westlake tires – these are chinese and in my view not as reliable as GoodYear Endurance. Second, above the tires, there is NO metal plate to separate the tires (in the event of a blowout) from the interior of your coach. When this happened to me in 2012 with junk chinese tires, I suffered over $3000. in damage and weeks in the repair shop to undo the damage caused by poor construction (I had a Crossroads Seville that retailed for over $80,000!)

      As an example I have a Jayco Eagle HT 30.5CKTS here on my lot ( that is about the same price as the Grand Design, if I worked a deal for you, it would come closer to 35000 than what they’re offering (you also need to ask them about any other “hidden” fees to get an “out the door” price.)

      I know I’m throwing a lot at you, but its a lot of money and I’d want to see you in something quality for what you’re spending. Feel free to call me at 307 269 2546 to discuss further. Alan

  17. i traded in my 5th wheel the dealer didn’t inspect the unit. after it was traded in hidden damage was found in back wall and floor due to the the top not being maintained. the dealer wants me to pay for the damage. I didn’t know it was there so am i responsible or does it fall on the dealer?

    • Lisa,

      Thats a legal question. As a non-attorney, it would seem to me that if you didn’t know about the damage, and all the paperwork is signed, you acted in good faith and you owe them nothing (after all, they are the experts and they are expected to identify issues on your trade before they commit to a final price. (i’m assuming you have the new trailer and all paperwork is signed and done.) That said – you need to read the contract you signed with them, they may have a clause requiring you to disclose all damage and that may entitle them to go after you for the damage. You may wish to consult some local legal services to see how this situation is handled in your state. Let me know how it turns out. Al

  18. We bought a 2018 JaycoJayFlight pull behind in November 2017. We owe $20K. I don’t like it because and we have had so many issues. My husband has done all the work instead of taking it to the dealer as we are full time RVers. Is it worth it to trade it in when it’s less than a year old? I know we would have to buy more expensive. I don’t know if we could sell it for the $20K we owe. I would like me an Airstream.

    • Judith, what model Jay Flight? What issues have you had with it? And… why are you looking to switch to Airstream?

  19. Hi,
    I have been trying to sell my 1993 Winnebago Brave for 5500. Everything works, except waterheater needs a new overflow valve. Was used for long distance last year without any issues. Runs like a charm but needs about 3hours worth of light work and maybe 80bucks in parts. New tires, brake work all set, no dry rot, sleeps 3 cause I modified it. no leaks, rubber roof etc. Had it on FB, had a bunch of people msg me about it but highest offers I got was 3200. I am like Dudes, this is not a junkyardworthy 4door sedan, it’s a fully functioning motorhome with a few light repairs ( i can’t do them, cause i don’t have the strength anymore). My question is: how low of a price is acceptable in a private sale? Engine is chevy 454. Thanks in Advance..

    • The book value on your camper is probably closer to 10,000. – I’d keep posting it on FB in the classifieds groups & go on craigslist. I have had a lot of success in both. Be patient, you should get at least 4900. for that thing – and the buyer will be happy to have it. Al

  20. Hi
    We are thinking of trading but we’re not sure if the price is a good deal for the rv we’re looking at after all final numbers.
    Buying: $25900
    2016 Dutchmen Denali Fifth Wheel 307RLS—auto leveling 2 A/C’s very clean
    Raptor 300MP 5th wheel toy hauler

    New unit 25900
    Owe 42000
    Offered 21000
    Down payment 16000
    Final loan 30900

    • What year is your Raptor? AND… when you say “buying 25900” – is that the DIFFERENCE between the Denali and yours? If so, why is the loan for 30,900?

    • Ren,

      As I look at this deal – your Raptor has a NADA retail value of 29450, and you say you owe 42000? If so, thats a pretty upside down position to be in. Most dealers will likely “acv” (actual cash value) your trailer for about 17,000, which means you’re giving up about 12,000 by trading it in instead of selling it yourself (I can assist with this process if you like). Now… as to the denali – first, there are FAR better 5th wheels to consider spending your hard earned money on (and I’d be glad to confer with you on this.) The NADA book value on the Denali is about 29,000. (including factoring in the auto level & 2nd a/c). The dealer appears to be charging you (effectively) 30,900. – which is about the MOST they can get a lender to give you – and you’re paying 16,000. to “unbury” yourself. Is it a good deal? Not really. You’re effectively spending 46,900. for a 5th wheel that is (at best) worth 29,000.

      I would do this: sell the Raptor privately – you might even get over book as its a toy hauler. Lets say (for kicks) you get $32,000. for it. Upon selling it, you’re going to have to take $10,000. out of your savings to pay off the loan. At that point your hands are “clean” and you can negotiate a deal (or I can negotiate for you) on a good 5th wheel (I have some ideas) that you will pay no more than NADA average retail for and ideally less. Feel free to contact me if you’d like me to work with you on this “project.” Al

  21. Hi Ron,

    I have a 2017 FR Forester 2501TS class C with 6k miles outright no loan. Everything is in great condition, and we installed a 360 watt solar system, 2000 w inverter and 2 deep cycle 12v AGM batteries last spring. We recently bought some land, and our camping plans have changed so that we will park our unit on our land for summer/fall, and our Forester isn’t going to cut it. I’ve found a 2018 Montana 3700LK for $58k. I would need to add the same solar system/inverter because we don’t have power on the property. Low retail on the 2501 with all add-ons/solar is $72k ($58k base). Do you think it is realistic to do an even trade? I know I could sell my 2501 myself and come out ahead, but that’s a hassle. We are in a small town in Idaho so buyers would have to travel. Do you provide a 3rd part selling service?

  22. We have a 2005 HR 34ft Presidential in pretty fair shape. Solid, not many out there. But, we need a good toy hauler: Fuzion or “Suggestion”. We need at least 13ft or more garage area to haul our Polaris Slingshot.
    Of course we still owe $11K on the Presidential. I want to take it to the dealer and use it as a trade in on a new one. My husband thinks we should pay it off first, which we do have the money to do so. BUT, I think we should us what would be the pay off money on the Presidential as our Down payment on the new one, plus we will be able to add so additional money with it. Please help decide who is right on this.

    • If you trade in your HR to a dealer, you’re going to be throwing away about $10,000. According to NADA, (assuming you have a 34SBD – Ford), your retail value is 27,300. – that could go up/down depending upon a few other factors. I’d bet I could get it sold for you at about $23,000. (perhaps more) – depending upon condition. A dealer (assuming all is ok) will give you about $13,000. They may not STATE this to you directly, as they’ll simply discount the new trailer less to “show” you more for yours (thus tricking you into thinking its worth more than they’re really giving you.) So… your best action is to sell the camper privately (I have a selling (and buying) service that is detailed here – – get the $$ for it, then pay it off (no need to pay it off in advance – and if you brought it to a dealer, it would not matter at all whether its paid off or not). Once its sold, you can go to a dealer and negotiate your best price (or I can do it for you as I also recommend toy haulers for you.) As to the toy hauler, its going to come down to what you are pulling it with and your budget – with that info, I can be of more assistance. If you wish to contact me about my concierge services, feel free to text me at 561 676 1205 (i’m in mountain time) and I’ll get back with you. Text me the truck you’re using and your budget to purchase assuming you get around $20,000 or a bit better for your current camper in a private sale. Al

  23. I’ve been trying to sell my 2016 Jayco Greyhawk 31fs for a out 6 months and only getting offered in the high 40’s to mid 50’s. NADA shows it retailing for around $80k. I paid $90k out the door. I’m trying to sell for $69,500. Do you think that is a fair price? Reason we are selling is we bought a small farm and just don’t have the time to to use it as much as we’d like to. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I would even consider trading to bring my debt down if deal is fair. Link to rvtrader

  24. I’ve been trying to sell my 2016 Jayco Greyhawk 31fs for a out 6 months and only getting offered in the high 40’s to mid 50’s. NADA shows it retailing for around $80k. I paid $90k out the door. I’m trying to sell for $69,500. Do you think that is a fair price? Reason we are selling is we bought a small farm and just don’t have the time to to use it as much as we’d like to. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I would even consider trading to bring my debt down if deal is fair.

    • I checked your rv’s value – avg. retail is 70,000, and low retail is 58,000. I’d bet you’re getting 80,000 by adding in options that aren’t really options. I also do not know the mileage on your camper, so I can’t fix a firm value, nor do I know if there are any GENUINE options on it. Slides, fridges and a/c units do NOT count to adding value! So… all that said, first, these things depreciate like a rock; second – jayco’s are pretty common – I see on RV trader a ’17 for 65000. (and thats the ASKING price.) Frankly, I would be happy to get in the high 50’s for your rig. If I got a real offer for even 55000, I’d probably take it as NADA is devaluing it every 60 days. Trading will NEVER bring your debt down!!! Dealers will look to buy your camper at “ACV” (look up my article on this topic.) ACV on yours is about $42,000. If you owe big on this camper, you’re either going to have to keep it or take the hit and sell it at market value. Next time, I’d suggest, don’t get into a situation where you’re financing the vast majority of the cost of a camper. It will ALWAYS bite you.

  25. Fabulous write up, thank you. And thank you for responding to your comments so thoroughly and honestly as well.
    My family is somewhat in the exact situation you described in your example, i.e. we have a 2016 Arcitc Fox 25Y, which is fabulous, BUT, we are finding that towing is has been more of a burden than expected. To the point that we are only going on 1 out of 2 scheduled outings, and have only once done an ad hoc.
    The original intention for an RV for us was to take regular ad hoc excursions. Our son is 7 years old, and we want to enjoy these years with him in this way.
    Given all this, and your simple formula of knowing the price of trading in and questioning if it’s worth it for the, otherwise intangible, family happiness, here is the quandry we are in.
    1) We know we will take large hit for a trade, and we are willing to accept that.
    2) Part of your advice, which spoke directly to me, was that we need to ensure that the next purchase will be the RIGHT RV for at least the next 5 years.

    We are considering moving to a small class A, in particular a Newmar Bay Star Sport 2813.
    We have talked through many many many contigencies and scenarios and believe this is the right choice, but the truth is, we have no experience in using a class A. So we can’t finalize that this is the right choice.
    We look at rental options, but for anything meaningful, that seems to be an additional 4k + of expense.
    Do you have any advice on how we can determine that this would be the right move to meet our interests?
    We like to go to state type campgrounds and blm, with a fair amount of dry camping. We also have short 3 days trips to see family within 2-300 miles.
    We also plan to do 2 large (2,000 mile+) trips every 3 years or so.

    • Thanks for your kind words Joe. What challenges have you had towing your AF? What vehicle are you towing it with? Have you considered upgrading your towing vehicle? Al

      • Hello,
        Thanks for asking. We are actually 2 years into our situation and have been through many talks and ideas. Probably enough to make our own blogs about it all and help share with others. I am trying to keep things succinct here though.

        We have a Ford F-150 2017 SuperCrew 4wd with the Max Tow Package. I’ll save you the configuration research, and before anyone squawks about using a half ton for an 8k tow, know that a huge amount of research went into this, and some of these new class of half tons are, well, simply put, better spec’d than older 3/4 and full ton pickups.
        We have a 11,600 tow capacity with a 2050lb payload upgrade to the suspension. The engine (3.5 Ecoboost Twin Turbo) is MORE than capable, we have never been wanting for power. I may have even occasionally looked down at the speedometer to find myself well past my own personal recommended tow speed limits.

        We made the decision for the half ton over the diesels for daily comfort for the family and my wife (and I) wanted the best safety features available, and also, the cab is larger. This was all only available in the half ton at the time.

        As for upgrading, we have had the conversation twice, the first time, about 2 months after everything was new, I was willing to take a big hit, but not as big as the dealer suggested it would be. The truck dealer actually steered us away from the change stating that it would make no difference, that our 150 was certainly more than capable, confirmed we configured it right, and that our discomfort wouldn’t disappear with a 350. Turns out 2 years later our KBB value is higher now than it was 2 months after purchase, as the exceptional features of our configuration had not yet been quantified.

        The second time we discussed upgrade, we had the opportunity to tow with a new full ton, the issues were the same. It’s simply the comfort level my wife has with moving an 8k+ tow. In short, she just isn’t comfortable with it and doesn’t believe she ever will be. This is the main issue. We have upgraded to a hensley style hitch, which, for the most part is amazing, but that too had an early failure (weight distribution related) which has since been solved, but has reduced her comfort level even more. We always find ourselves white knuckling for that next clank followed by a dynamic change in the tow feel.

        That went much longer than I meant. But, in the end, the short of it is my wife just doesn’t like the feel of towing something that heavy or large. She’s not a huge fan of driving a small bus either as she puts it, but is comfortable enough to do it.

        • Joe,

          Ok, a few quick thoughts – 1) you DO have the right truck for that trailer – and you have a really good trailer. If it were me, I’d keep it, perhaps get a better hitch for it, and gain confidence in traveling with it.

          **Trailers/5th wheels are in general preferred for many reasons (in my view) over motorhomes** If nothing else, you arrive at your campsite, set up the trailer, and now you have a nice truck to travel around with. This is FAR more practical than a little 4 cylinder thing that won’t travel forest roads easily.

          Now… if you’re dead set on getting rid of your AF, I do have a concierge selling service ( where I’ll get you the best dollar you can get. It will definitely be THOUSANDS more than what a dealer offers you on a trade. If you decide to replace it…

          2) My first “go to” would be a 5th wheel and a 3/4 ton diesel truck (similar setup to what I have).

          3) As a distant 3rd option, I’d go for a motorhome.


          • Thank you again.
            And thanks for confirming on the truck. We REALLY love that thing.
            On the note of a toad, we actually were sticking with a sub-30 Class A for both where we could take it, but also that we didn’t want a toad, although likely a 2 wheeled critter of some sort would get on the back.

            We have been going down 2 paths for some time, path 1, keep the truck and trailer and get more comfortable, path 2, trade for something else. We are at a point where we finally have to commit to one or the other.

            This discussion, and thank you for having it with us, is just one more of many that puts us on path 1. So thank you again for that.

            If and when the day comes, we will definitely consult you for selling the AF, but for now, she remains happily our Hoku Hele (Traveling Star)


  26. Hello,

    I have a 2017 Forest River Vibe 287 QBS. Dealer is offering me 15k as a trade in. Still owe 26500 on it. I am trying to get into a Class A – 2019 Georgetown GT5 36B5 at 108k. What do you think of the deal? Thanks for any input you can provide.

    • The dealer is “showing” you 15000, its REAL value to him is about 11500. He is making up the difference by limiting his discount on the new motorhome by about 3500. Your BEST bet is to sell is privately. At the moment, you should be able to get about 18000. for it. If you need help selling it, I have a Concierge service here – May I ask why you’re selling it so soon after buying it?

      • Thanks for the reply. I ended not moving forward on the deal. I want to sell, because like most people I want to upgrade. I realize I should have considered more about what I would like and what my needs would be prior to purchasing the Vibe Part of the reason I am upside down is because I purchased the Vibe after trading in a unit that had water damage.

        I think the most sense would be to hang onto my travel trailer as long as it suits my family’s needs. I have three young kids (9,6 and 3), and my thinking was it would be far more comfortable in a motorhome, however I believe my kids would be much safer in my tow vehicle (Ford Excursion) vs being in a car seat in a motorhome.

        I know I answer some of my own questions, but the idea of owning a diesel pusher still appeals to me, so maybe I should just wait until the kids are older before thinking of trading? And when I do purchase, my thinking is to get a used higher quality rig such as a Newmar. What do you think?

        • I agree. Hang onto what you have. Get use out of it. When you move forward down the road, yes, a motorhome may be the answer. Newmar (or Tiffin, Monaco) are 3 good names. I’m still more a fan of a towable as if the engine needs work in a diesel, that can be a big deal and after all, its your home you’re taking in for service – sometimes for WEEKS on those diesel pushers.


  27. Good evening! We own a Grand Design Reflection 323 BHS and love it! It is a 2016 and we owe around 28,000. When is the best time to sell to upgrade due to age factor/resale value? Although we are happy in it, we dont want to owe more than it’s worth. We would love to sell and get a newer one without carrying over a loan payment form the older one. We live in Utah and bunkhouses are in high demand here for larger families! We have completely remodeled the inside as very tending Fixer Upper design and custom everything including full paint job inside.So here is my question:
    How do our changes in remodeling effect resale?
    What is our’s worth currently if we sold it ourselves?
    At what age should we consider selling it before it drastically drops in resale value?
    Are we already upside down in it for resale?!?
    I appreciate your help and advice!

    • Hey Julie,

      There is no doubt you have a nice, reasonably well built 5th wheel that should find a new owner with the right message when advertised (and fyi – that’s what I do!) You first asked when the best time is to sell – the answer is about now. Your rig is 4 model years old (the 2020’s are out now). Ideally it would be great to list it in mid-late March, but thats 4 more reductions by NADA in value, so, even though late July is not optimal, I’d rather see it listed now than wait another winter. You next asked how does remodeling affect resale – it almost never helps it and can hurt it significantly. Part of that is due to the fact that most people do a lousy job remodeling, but its also due to the fact that a 323bhs buyer wants grand designs concept of it, not necessarily yours. So, you’re hoping to find a buyer who loves what you did to it as much as you do. And… for a dealer it makes it even tougher, because the dealer is all about “turnover”, if he takes on a rig that he’s not sure how long it will sit on his lot, he will likely protect himself by lowering the money he’ll give you for it. (As you may know, they do a great job of hiding that by showing you an inflated figure – at the expense of NOT discounting the new rig as much. Either way, you’re paying!

      Current nada book is 36500 (avg retail) and about 30300 (low retail). Un-modified, a dealer will assess it at about 23000. (again, they will often hide this figure in the offer they make on a new trailer.) Given your modifications, to a dealer I’d bet they value it at less than 23000, perhaps as little as 20,000. BUT to a private buyer, there’s a chance you can get 36,000 – depending upon the exact nature of the rebuild and again how its explained in a classified ad. If I handle this for you (my service is detailed here –, I would want to have a more extensive discussion of what was done to it and see photos – and then assess an asking price.

      In any case, selling it privately IS the way to go – it is NEVER a good idea to trade-in to a dealer unless ultimate convenience is desired – and you’re paying dearly for that!

      The drastic drop in value occurs as you approach 10 years- thats when no one wants them, but for the next 4 years or so, you’re going to see it drop about 10% per year. When it hits about 8 yrs. you’re closing in on 10 and theres a perception that campers get turned away from campgrounds if you’re over 10. (Note the word perception.)
      As to upside down – I’m fairly confident (if the remodel was done well), I can get you over 28000 on a private sale; I doubt a dealer would come anywhere near that – in fact, I’m certain they won’t.

      If you would like to explore moving forward with me, lets set a time to talk. You can text or call me at 307 269 2546 and we’ll go from there.


  28. We bought a 2018 Grand Design 375RES-R from a dealer at a great price at the end of the 2018 season, we really love it except for a couple of things…the bathroom has poor storage and it is really small, shag carpet under the slides especially the dining room has got to go! GD has a new floor plan 390RK that for our life style (we will live in it 5-6 months a year) will be more accommodating, bathroom is large with plenty of storage, no carpet under slides & the set up is very residential. We do not have a loan, we paid cash. The coach is pretty much loaded with every option available; full body paint, slide toppers, pull out kitchen, generator prep, linen interior, splendide stackable washer dryer and residential fridge. We purchased it for 69,995 plus an additional 3k for the upgrades. Would you be able to tell me what a dealer would consider as book value for the trade or should we try to sell it privately. I have looked for our model coach on the market in the US and there aren’t any for sale that compares to ours right now.

    • Julie,

      The short answer is we need to talk. Please call me at 307 269 2546 (I’m in Mountain time) – yours is what I’d call a “very special situation.” NADA rates your camper as having an avg retail value of at least 76,000 but a dealer will at best value it at about 46000. If you tried to make a deal with a dealer, they will likely “hide” the actual value they’re placing on your camper by “giving you” (lets say for example) 56,000, but that means they’re simply holding the price on the new camper closer to the full retail price. Bottom line – when can we talk? (I updated my figures after checking my math!)

      Alan Sills

  29. Hi Alan,

    Looking forward to the conversation, I will be available to have a give you a call some time this week, most likely in the late afternoon my time (Eastern time zone)

    • Julie,

      Thats fine. If for some reason I don’t answer my phone, please leave a message and I’ll get back with you as quickly as I can. I also just reflected upon the numbers I shared earlier and made an update. We can talk about it when we speak.


  30. Bought a 2017 Coleman 2405BH in November of 2017. This was not an ideal purchase but we needed to make an upgrade from my small KZ to accommodate my mother in law who started coming along full time.

    Anyways, we have since inherited some land (and cabin) and do not wish to maintain and cabin life and travel trailer life. we would love to know any advice for getting out of this (likely large) backwards loan were stuck in. Purchase price was 27,156 and we still owe about 24,000. I’m sure i wont like what I’m going to hear but i need honesty more than anything at this point.

    Thank you


    • Pete,

      Yep, with that camper, life is ugly. Its a private label for Camping World. Its current low retail is 15,950. – this is a realistic selling price for it (if I handle this for you through my Concierge Buying/Selling Service (, I’d list it for about 18,000. and negotiate with the buyer for you. High retail is 19,200. – you definitely won’t see that. If you bring it to a dealer, on a direct purchase, they’ll toss you about $10,000. (thats the “actual cash value”) The only way you’re getting out of this realistically is to sell it retail and still stroke a big check to the lender to cover the difference. Let me know if you want my help with this. Al

  31. Great site and comments. I have a 2018 Minnie Winnie, Ford 25B. We love the lifestyle but I need to free up some cash. NADA average on the Minnie is $52K and I owe about $50K. I was thinking of “trading down” to a travel trailer. Should I sell the Minnie myself first, or do you think trading down is a good idea? Thanks for any advice you have. Dan

    • Dan,

      I checked values on it and I see about 47k for “avg retail” and 39k for “low retail”. Your campers avg retail value may be as high as 52k IF you have low miles – or – extra options that don’t come with all the 2018 minnie winnies. On trade, a dealer will value your camper at about 29k (yep, 29k) – so – while they can hide the figures to some degree, thats the REAL value they’re assessing to it. So… you’ll come out FAR ahead by selling it privately. I do offer a Concierge Buying and Selling Service through which I can help with the sale – and then subsequent purchase. We can discuss REALISTIC figures you’ll get for the Minnie Winnie if you want my assistance. Here’s a link that details my Concierge Service –



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)