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.

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…


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

  1. Hi, we bought a 2021 leprechaun motorhome and since it was out first one, were not completely thrilled with it. I miss the freedom of not having a vehicle to go to town with or to drive to the fun part of the parks. It’s a 20 year loan and we bought it for 61000. There’s nothing with it so should I just suck it up and stay with it?

    • Normally you’d be in really poor shape to make a move – but – you may not be considering the buying pressure in this market. Call me at 307 269 2546 – I’m in Mountain time and please have the model # of the leprechaun you’ve got. From that I can determine what its going to take to get you out of what you’re in. Al

  2. A higher interest rate is associated with buying a new RV so it’s a good idea to purchase a used one and remodel on your own. Remodeling the camper is hectic but it will surely worth your time.
    Moreover, I would love to hear your traveling stories from Oregon and Idaho.

    Happy RVing!

  3. HI Al,

    It was pretty enjoyable reading. I am trying to figure it out which RV I should buy to settle down at my small property in Arizona. I am from British Columbia, I am heading to join snowbird gang for my retirement.

    I am not looking for massive RV nor smallest RV. I would like to have some “garage” in the back with ramp door, to bring in All Terrain Vehicle or keep me busy with my tools, and a comfy new home. I did paid visit to various RV retails, I think their price are overpriced. I could build the new home for the half of the cost. I understand they are looking for hefty profit but is it necessary to hurt retirement’s pocket. It was amazed to see the price soared in past few years.

    Your advice would be a great appreciate, we plan to settle down for years to come. not planning to travel with our new RV. We would explore on daily basis around there.

    Drop me a line with your suggestion, thanks in advance,


    • Willy,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’d welcome a time when we can talk. My number is 307 269 2546 – but my cell service is weak, so if I know in advance when we can talk it helps. I do have some ideas and based upon your note, some questions that we can discuss when you call. I definitely know I can help you find the right camper for your needs and get it at the best possible price.

      A couple of questions at the outset –

      – Do you plan to purchase in British Columbia and use the camper to travel to Arizona – or will you buy in Arizona?
      – Do you currently have an all terrain vehicle? If so, what length garage does it require?
      – What kind of budget do you want to stay within for your camper purchase?

      All the best,

      Alan Sills
      307 269 2546

  4. We recently bought a 2012 Montana 3750FL. We thought we would love it but find it is not comfortable for us. We live in it full time. So we are looking at other 5th wheels. The low retail per NADA on the 3750FL is $32000. Fortunately I only owe $22,000. Do you think we can get close to what we owe on a trade in? It is difficult to sell ourselves and then buy as it is our only home.

    • Robin,

      Thanks for reaching out – and I’m going to respond directly to your email so you have the greatest chance at receiving this info…

      I checked values on your camper, the avg. retail is about $38k. A dealer will try to buy it for 19 or 20,000. – assuming its in really good shape. If you want me involved through my Concierge RV Service ( I can help you to select a camper that better suits your needs AND is built well. (The newer montana’s would not be on my list!) I can negotiate the deal involving your trade & purchase and get you the best offer possible. Feel free to call me at 307 269 2546 and we can discuss.

      All the best,

      Alan Sills

  5. We bought a 2018 Aspen Trail 2810BHS back in June of last year, we put $13000 down and owe with finance fees 10k. We love it but have realized that traveling with our fur babies would be so much better in a class A. So we checked one out at a dealer and of course, just as you have said, they offered 10k for the travel trailer. We obviously would not end upside down on the finance because it would be paid off but we would still be taking that original 13k hit. We decided to refuse and wait but you are correct in the fact that it would just keep depreciating. Advice on what to do now? Should we try to sell ourselves?

    • Monica,

      Yes! You should expect (assuming your camper is in excellent condition) at least $17,000. I can help with this – as well as your next purchase for the Class A. My service is detailed here: Feel free to call me at 307 269 2546 (central time for now)


  6. I have a 2015 FR Sierra 330rls 5th wheel that we bought new back in 2014. Because of some health concerns we are thinking about down sizing to either a small class A or Class c RV. I have been paying extra on my payments since the very first payment but I don’t know what the payoff is on my camper. We love our 5th wheel but it is 38′ 9″ long and that makes it rough to get into some CG’s. Also the Wife is intimated with the camper and will not drive our truck when it is hooked up. Because of some health issues we may have to downsize to a smaller camper and we are looking at either a Class C or small Class A. Are there any RV’s That you would recommend?

    • Freddie,

      Thanks for reaching out. First, you can contact your lender to find out the payoff – its no big deal to get that info, it may even be on an automated line after you supply your account number. Second – you have a long 5th wheel trailer made by a forest river company – to a dealer, it has limited value. You’re likely better off selling it privately (I can help with this – please see to learn more about my Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service.

      Health issues or not, you’re better off downsizing because as you’ve experienced, a nearly 39 ft 5th wheel doesn’t easily fit into quite a number of rv campsites. As to a Class C or A, it all comes down to budget. Yes, there are many I can recommend, but I’d need to learn a bit more about your wants/needs/ and budget before I can intelligently suggest. Feel free to call me (307 269 2546) when you’re free (I’m in Pacific time for now) and we can talk. After Oct 18 or so, I will be back in Mountain and then likely Central time for the winter.


  7. Hi, I am in a situation with my 5th wheel. I would like to trade it in for a boat. I know one money Pitt for another, but we had a good time in our 5th and now would like to be on the water more. We live in Florida.

    It’s a 2018 Forest River Heritage Glen LTZ (368RLBHK); Own more than it’s worth by I am sure at least 1/2, I put down like 1500 dollars. Own about 40K on it. Have all the warranties.. and etc. that they sell you with it.

    Ideally, my 1st choice is to get a boat and swap out payments and possibly pay a little more; I would be fine with. Or a jet ski for fishing and family time. Jet skies around 15-20k, But I don’t see that happing anytime soon with the amount owed.

    The second option is to buy some land closer to the homestead with sewer and electric. Then stage it as an Air B&B to.. one would hope to pay it off early or at least get some traction on loan. This, of course, would cost me somewhere around 20-40K for the land, but… it’s land, and unlike a motor home, I can count it as an investment.

    The third option, just chip away at payments 350 a month and make some larger ones now and then and revisit the topic in a few years.

    And also considered selling my truck 2015 F250 and the 5th wheel as a ‘combo’; Since I am at least above the water on the truck by 15K.

    Anyways just looking for thoughts and maybe other options.



    • Jim,

      Thanks for reaching out. You’re not in a great spot. If you sell the camper, you’re going to take a BIG hit; if you trade it, you’ll take a VERY BIG hit; and if you keep it, it will do nothing but depreciate – and since its a forest river, gradually fall apart (thus costing you MORE money.)

      If you sell it privately (I can help with that via my Concierge Service here – – I believe most likely it will sell for between $27500 – 30,000. If you enlist my services, I’d list it for about $33000. The sad reality is large 5th wheels do not sell fast in most cases, and often you have to go well below nada book values (and my numbers are based upon it being in “like new” condition; if it has issues, we’ll have to talk.)

      If you trade it (to any kind of business), they’ll value it at just about $20,000. – and since you owe $40k, you’re 20k under water – that’s a big gap to fill. One way or the other, your lender will have to get their money.

      Keeping it longer will help you to pay down the balance due – but then you’ll have something worth significantly less than it is now.

      Savor the fun you got with it, and now bite the bullet and get what you can for it.


  8. Hello,
    We recently bought 2018 Coachmen Chaparral 370FL for 32,000 this past April 2020. We put 2,000 down and have it on 15 yr loan. We do not have a truck yet was waiting for next year to buy one, but now I much rather have a motorhome. How do we go about trading this fifth wheel in and get a motorhome? We haven’t been late on payments and alway pay extra each month on our loan.
    Thank you for your advice.

    • Tina,

      Oh boy, here we go. I’m going to give you honest and frank feedback that may not make me your favorite person, is that ok? Here’s the good news – you didn’t overpay too much for the ’18 370FL when you bought it. Now the bad news – selling a LARGE (41.75 ft) 5th wheel is OFTEN very difficult. I’ve seen campers like this sit for MONTHS and only sell when the price is reduced to WELL BELOW NADA’s “low retail” (currently 29,400.) So… here are your options, sell it privately (I have a service that can help you do this) and most likely it will sell for between $24,000 – 27,000, if you went with my service, I’d list it for 31,900. “just incase” the market is hotter (just so you know, you can buy brand new 2020 units for about 45000) and then reduce the asking price if there’s little to no interest in it.

      Your alternative is to trade it in – if you opt for that, a dealer will value it at just over 20,000. (they may “work the numbers” to say they’re giving you more – they’re NOT), and that would be applied against any motorhome you opt for.

      The other thing working against you is Coachmen is Forest River – and more and more folks are learning just what forest river is all about (and they’re avoiding it as a result.)

      I hate to sound like a downer in all this. The bottom line is: 1) selling privately will net you several thousand more than trading it in and 2) I can assist with both the sale of the Coachmen & advise/negotiate on the purchase of a new/replacement camper. My service is detailed here –


  9. We have a 40ft 2001 Monaco Dynasty Class A – clear title – that we’re looking to either sell or trade in for something smaller as we’re now just the two of us.
    It’s seen a lot of scenery (220,000 miles) – it’s been well used and would probably be considered “in fair/good condition”. I’m updating the inside privacy drapes and putting a manual outside awning on it but beyond that, it’s in pretty good condition.
    My husband is a mechanic and we’ve kept all the important stuff up to date and in great condition but I have NO IDEA how to go about selling it. I need some assistance on what a professional thinks it’s worth.

    • Carrieann,

      Thanks for reaching out. We probably ought to have a phone conversation to discuss your campers value. I’ll need the actual model number along with discussing what is causing it to be in “fair-good condition”. 307 269 2546 – currently in Pacific time. Al

  10. Hi! I am wanting to sell my 2012 Forest River Sunseeker 2250 SLE motor home. I looked up NADA pricing…low retail is $31,147…high retail is $37,500. Mileage is 15, 500…it had a roof leak which has been fixed, but there is a soft spot on roof. And there is minor damage at the coach door bottom…moulding is dented. I was offered $18,000 by one person and at a dealership they said they would cut a check for $21,500. Should I go with either of these deals or am I better to try to sell it myself. I really don’t want the hassle of doing the fsbo. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you!

  11. Hi there! We just paid cash for a 2016 Keystone Springdale trailer about 2 months ago through a private seller. We got a great deal from what I have found on Nada for it. It was originally just going to be for my husband when he is working out of town and so we could visit, but the kids and I are LOVING the freedom and are considering going full time, but we need something bigger! The previous owner did have solar panels put in with 2 batteries but that’s the only extra. Nada lists it as low end 14k and the higher as 17k. Would it be better to trade in or try to sell ourselves? We did only pay 9k but replaced the jacks and stairs. We would be looking at a 5th wheel under 35k with at least 3 separate sleeping areas. Can’t really move out to sell it because my husband stays in it for work. So selling and buying would have to be very close together. Thanks!

    • Amanda, Please share the model number of your ’16 Springdale, I’ll look up some figures and provide you with estimates of what you’ll get in a private sale vs. trading it in. I can also advise on a 5th wheel that will work for your family. Al


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