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.

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

  1. Hi
    We just purchased 2015 Coachmen Leprechaun 319DS. It has 7000 miles on it. We want to sell it or trade in for a travel trailer instead. What is the best way to do this? How do we check trade in value or market value?

    • Rosa,

      First, thanks for reaching out. According to NADA, low retail is 49170 and avg retail is 59235. These figures do take into consideration the number of miles on your camper. Further, these numbers will re-value (downwards) on July 1st (NADA updates values every 60 days.)

      As to selling it, after checking similar units currently for sale and knowing the current market selling conditions, if you were a client of mine, I would suggest we list it for 59900 and settle for between 50000-54000 from a buyer. My service is detailed here – This is all assuming that your camper is in excellent condition.

      In contrast, a dealer will value your camper at 37000. They may try to hide this figure from you and I would be glad to explain how when we talk (307 269 2546). So, all in all, you come out about $15,000. ahead of what a dealer will offer you by selling it privately. My Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service will help you to get the most you can get for your camper. One word of caution – currently it is very much a “sellers market”, however that condition may not continue forever and when it turns, all estimated values will be reduced. I encourage you to act sooner rather than later as NADA will revalue your camper in about 10 days.


  2. Hello,
    I have a 2011 JayFlight G2 33 RLDS travel trailer that I would like to sell. We built a cabin so we no longer need it. It has been sitting on our lot since we bought it. We are dealing with mice so we removed the couches and mattress. The NADA average price is $16,350; the low is $13,500. We owe $9320 on it. Should I try to sell it myself ? I also have the sway bar hitch, or try to get a dealership to sell it on consignment? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for reaching out. You’re NADA figures check at my end as well. Ok, first, can the mattress & sofa go back into the camper so it can be sold with those things? Or… is the camper going to be sold without a sofa and mattress? This will greatly impact any suggestions I make. I will say this – consignment generally does NOT work out well for the owner of a camper, so almost always you’re better off selling it privately. I don’t know if you’ve seen my Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service ( – but through that I can manage the sale of your camper, and in doing so, ensure it goes well and try to get you top dollar for it.

      Either way – now is the time to act to get a trailer sold. The industry has been on fire since early May and in my view, its got a few more weeks to run, but will eventually slow down.

      Hope this helps,


  3. I have a 2014 Winnebago, 35F. I am trying to sell it, but so far no luck. I really want to downsize to a 25 foot motorhome and love the Lexington GTS 25 foot. Not sure what to do.

  4. I have an interesting situation. I purchased a brand new destination model $60,000. I traded in a 2016 tracer travel trailer. The sales guy came out and appraised it. Said it was meticulous. Deal is done signed papers new camper delivered to site trade is with the company. I get a call that their are soft spots on the front roof and I’m responsible to pay. Is this normal? Nothing ever leaked and I had no knowledge of it. Do I need a lawyer?

    • Tim,

      Forgive me but what is a “destination” trailer? Have you actually towed / driven it off the dealers lot? If not, the deal is NOT done. (From your wording, I’m not clear on its status.) How much do they want you to pay? Bottom line answer – you signed a document swearing that the trailer you traded was in the condition you represented it to be in. They *may* be able to enforce it and as roof repairs are EXPENSIVE, they may go after you for this. As to whether you need an attorney, I look forward towards answers to my questions and will offer further thoughts then. Al

  5. 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 –


  6. 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

  7. 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.


  8. 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

  9. 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.


  10. 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.


  11. 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)


  12. 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.


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