JD Power (formerly NADA) is the RV industry standard who establishes “book values” for used RV’s. What makes them the industry standard? Simple! Lenders rely upon JD Power values to assess what they are willing to lend borrowers on a used camper. Their values also impact RV dealers when they assess what they’re willing to pay on a used RV when they take it on trade. So… what JD Power says, means something.
JD Power updates RV Camper book values 6 times each year
This means every other month, new (and typically lower values) are established for used RV’s.
The latest JD Power update was EXTREMELY revealing
As many of my readers know, I offer a Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service. I am currently selling several campers, so I track the book values of those campers carefully. Here are a few of the latest changes in JD Power’s November 1st update:
a 2020 Outdoors RV travel trailer was reduced from 30600 (Sept. 1 update) to 30000 (Nov. 1 update), a 2% reduction.
a 2021 Voltage Toy Hauler from 99400 to 94900 (a $4500 reduction in ONE update, on an annualized basis, if the pace of this decline continues, it will amount to $27,000!), about a 5% reduction
a 2015 hybrid Aerolite trailer from 16300 to 14950, this is MASSIVE for a 9 yr. old camper! OVER an 8% reduction
a 2021 Viking bunk house trailer, from 21500 to 20000. A nearly 7% reduction.
With the exception of the Outdoors RV (quality holds its value), the other campers saw massive reductions in value considering this is just one of SIX updates made by JD Power each year.
Why are RV Camper values declining so dramatically?
Some of the decline could be attributed to the extreme valuation bubble that occurred in 2021 and a return to normal, but later 2022 and early 2023 saw most of that bubble deflate. In my view, the massive downward movement in this latest JD Power update is due to the lack of buyers for RV’s.
In my concierge business, I’m seeing few buyers both in the new and used markets. For my buyers, I’ve been able to negotiate very aggressively on new campers, and the same is true for used campers. Unfortunately for those whom I’m selling campers for, I can only get them the most the market will bear. There is an art to writing advertisements, and creating a story via photos, but that only goes so far when so many campers are up for sale – and loans are harder to get (and costing more.)
Additional stresses on the RV sales market
Fuel prices. Diesel is well over 4.00 per gallon in the intermountain west and gasoline is in the mid to high 3’s. Combine that with inflation, especially on food, rent, mortgage rates and elsewhere, people are simply running out of discretionary income. And discretionary income is the “budget line item” most households use to purchase an RV.
Further, more and more Americans are feeling less secure at their jobs. When Yellow Trucking went out of business, 30000 employees immediately lost their jobs. I’m sure some of them were considering RV’s. No longer. But it doesn’t stop at 30000 employees for Yellow. What about the hundreds of thousands of employees working for other freight and related companies? What happened to their job security when Yellow went under?
When you add it all up, that’s lots of folks who may have been considering an RV camper and are no longer; and some who own campers that decided it may be a good idea to sell it to recoup some cash and remove an activity that has become increasingly expensive over the past couple of years as fuel prices, campground fees, and food prices rise (skyrocket?)
Is it all bad news?
Well, not for buyers! Deals can be had, BUT, you must know what is the RIGHT price to pay (often its NOT what JD Power has established), and you must AVOID the abundance of absolute JUNK produced by many manufacturers in this industry. My most recent post, prior to this one can be eye opening to the novice. I have many posts on this topic here at RVAcrossAmerica.net, and my Concierge Buying Service helps folks to avoid the pitfalls.
Further, some of the nightmare stories you hear about RV’ing of late can be to a great degree avoided. I spend most of my time traveling either to “2nd tier” campgrounds, which are still VERY affordable (and less crowded) or dry camping (which is free or near free.)
**Nearing 65? Turning 65? Be sure to check out my Medicare Post – what I learned when I turned 65 a few months back – and the choices I made as an RV Traveler.**
Money saving tips while RV Camping
I use these discount programs, I joined the Elks (which have very affordable campsites at some Elks lodges), and I do campground research with two resources: Allstays (best on a laptop or tablet), not free, but VERY comprehensive, and Campground Reviews.
Staying longer at one location also helps to reduce costs as monthly rv park rates are FAR better than weekly or daily. Also, it costs a lot less to travel without the trailer in tow! I now set up for one or more months at a time in a RV park and then explore the region from that “home base.”
Combine reduced camping costs with a camper that isn’t falling apart all around you, and you begin to see RV’ing in a different light! Am I still optimistic about RV travel and RV life? YES! But, if your camper is built by one of the two giants discussed in my recent post, and/or if your goal is to camp in over crowded National Parks or over priced “name brand” campgrounds, then I fully understand your frustration!
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Times are definitely challenging for RV’ers – both RV owners and RV sellers, but, as an RV’er now on the road for 12+ years, I believe its a great lifestyle and worth the effort to stay “on the road!”
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