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.

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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.

Don’t miss my latest update on the RV market posted mid-march 2022 with IMPORTANT UPDATES HERE.

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.

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

  1. We owed $19560.00 on our old camper. We traded it in and they allowed for the full amount. Does thar amount now get tacked onto our new loan? Is that how it work’s?

    • Yes, your 19560. debt does not go away. The dealer was able to build that debt into the deal, so you are now (to be honest) buried in debt in your new (or new to you) camper. I truly hope you like your current camper. I say this because you are almost guaranteed to be VERY upside down on your current camper (ie – you owe far more on it than what its worth.) If you want further clarification, call me at 307 269 2546. Al

      PS – if you haven’t traded your old camper in yet, DON’T

  2. I’m looking for a used Fleetwood Pulse in good shape with less than 30K miles. My preference is to buy in the Midwest by would travel for the right deal. I’m a rookie looking for advice and insights. Your thoughts ?

    • Bill,

      I’d be glad to be of assistance. The best way to get started is to call me at 307 269 2546 (i’m in mountain time). I will be available later today. If you call and I don’t answer, please leave a message and I’ll get back with you as soon as I can. What you want is possible, but I believe we should talk.


  3. I would to sell my 2021MPG2500bh and want to buy a new or used 25to28foot non bunk house with recliner and couch queen bed big shower gas and electric refrigerator

    • Ricky,

      I encourage you to call me (307 269 2546- mountain time) – I will discuss your plans with you. You may know I offer a Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service and can advise you on your selling options for your MPG and discuss trailers to consider as your next camper.

      All the best,

      Alan Sills

  4. We don’t have a loan on our trailer, it’s a 2019, 24ft Springdale. We recently purchased a new truck that came with the connections for a 5th wheel. We are considering trading in our 2019 Springdale for something larger. It’s is great shape we’ve literally only used it 7 times and we bought it brand new.
    Is there anything we need to be aware of going for a trade in with out having a loan?

    • Yes, and thanks for reaching out – first – the dealer will only pay you “wholesale” IF that for your trailer. For my clients, I can assess how far AHEAD you come out by selling it privately – and I help with the sale. The difference between selling it privately and trading it could EASILY be $5000+. To go any further, I would at least need the model number. Further, buying a 5th wheel may or may NOT be a good idea depending upon your truck – again – I need details! Also – buying a 5th wheel is fraught with pitfalls – so – if you wish to avoid buying an inferior product, again, my service can be of GREAT value. Here’s a link to what I do – – and I invite you to call me at 307 269 2546 (i’m in mountain time) and we can discuss specifics – both about what I do and what you have currently. Al

  5. I have a 2021 Coleman lantern bh244 bought June 2020. We realize that it’s just too big for our family. The space is nice but we need to downgrade to a small option. Is it worth trading it in or waiting for a while till we pay down some of the loan!

    • Victor,

      The best answer I can offer with what I know thus far is “maybe” – please call me at 307 269 2546 (mountain time) and I’ll be glad to assist you. Basically, I need to know more before I can offer an intelligent opinion.

      Alan Sills
      RV Across America


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