Last Updated on January 4, 2022
When most people think about recreational vehicles, the image that comes to mind is of a sprawling motorhome with all the bells and whistles. But what if you don’t need or want all that space? Enter the Class B RV—a versatile option for those who want to get out and explore without spending a fortune.
Although priced similarly to some Class A motorhomes, Class B is gaining popularity due to the compact size and ease of parking. Some folks even use them as a second vehicle when not traveling. If you are looking to purchase one, you will find those on the East Coast at a lower rate than the West Coast. Some people actually make a living by traveling to the East Coast, searching for good RVs then driving them to the West Coast and selling it, making 10-15k on it.
When it comes to buying a used RV you have two choices. You can look at a dealership or attempt to buy from an individual. Dealerships, of course, are more expensive, but they also offer warranties, an option that most private sellers don’t.
Private sellers, on the other hand, are more flexible on prices, but you take a risk since there are no warranties to protect you. Considering the cost of a used Class B it is very appealing, but you have to be smart when looking for one. Even if you plan to buy from a private party, a visit to your local dealership will give you a good idea of the amenities available for Class B motorhomes.
Tips for Buying from a Private Party
For personal sales, the best places to search are near retirement communities or where lots of retired people live. Your perfect seller is retired couples or a single person who have traveled for a while and for some reason they are ready to settle down and they will sell their used RV. These are the best people to buy from.
Maybe they decided to stay at one place and they don’t want to pay to keep up with maintenance or storage. Maybe they like the easy life without stress of maintenance or maybe they got sick and can’t handle the road anymore. But most importantly, you don’t want to buy from someone who is in a hurry to sell it.
Most of these people might not be the most internet savvy and won’t trust most online websites. The best way to find your perfect buyer is to look at local newspaper ads and Craigslist.
Figure out how much you want to spend on your new RV and stick with it. You really don’t want to go over that number. If it is a good deal, but the price is just outside of your budget, explain to the seller why you can only pay so much and see if they will negotiate with you.
Tips for Buying at a Dealership
Financing for used RVs is very rare that’s why most individuals just pay cash. However, there are some dealerships that will finance your purchase if you have good credit. The best way to get the best financing deal is to shop around before settling on one dealership.
If you want to try shopping at several different dealerships, make sure your first stop is with a dealer that specializes in the brand and model you want. These dealerships will know more about what they have on their lot and why it is priced where it is. A good salesman should be knowledgeable of any specials or incentives available for buying used RVs. You should try talking to the salesman about repair or maintenance records if they are available. If they don’t have them, ask for a guarantee that everything on the vehicle works properly before you make your final decision.
If you purchase from a dealership, be ready to haggle over the price. Generally, you should be able to talk them down at least 10% of the asking price or be ready to walk away. Either way, do not allow yourself to be pressured into purchasing something you do not really want. You might think the dealer is your friend but he is there to complete a sale. Don’t forget that.
What Kinds of RVs are Good to Buy?
Believe it or not, the most expensive class B is usually not the best one to buy. This just means that they were more expensive to purchase in the first place and sometimes, they may have been used for business purposes.
So when looking at a used Class B RV my advice is to do your research! Figure out what you want before you go out there looking for it. Then go on the hunt, look at all your options, and try to find the best deal possible!
Ideally, you should not purchase an RV that is more than a decade old or has over 80000 miles. It should also have a good curb appeal. You want to get a motorhome that you enjoy today but will be able to sell for a good price in the future.
You should always perform a complete inspection; see my complete checklist before you buy. It should be clean with a clean title and from a well-known manufacturer, such as Winnebago, Fleetwood, Pleasureway, Leisure, or similar good brands.
Don’t settle for something you are not 100% satisfied with. This is your future home on wheels so make sure it’s perfect for you.
How to Find Out What a Used RV is Worth?
Finally, you should look up the value of each Class B that you are considering buying. While the prices may vary, this will give you an idea of how much it is worth and whether you are getting a good deal or not. While some people think this is a daunting task, doing your research and figuring out prices will help you get a better understanding of what you should be paying for. If all else fails, just know the general price range and don’t pay more than that!
Utilize the advanced search tool on eBay to find out what comparable RVs have sold for. Remember, this is a more important number than the asking prices, which are almost always inflated.
When you are in the Advanced Search, enter your keywords like “winnebago” pick the option for “Sold listings” and go on the bottom of the page, and hit the SEARCH there. There are other fields you can fill up, but the more you fill out, the fewer results will show. This will show you an idea of how much similar models sell in your area.
Check Craigslist as well. Searchtempest.com is the best way to view multiple listings across the country on one platform. Probably you already know of RVtrader but most prices I saw on there were too high. The NADA sometimes gives you an inflated price.
Make your search effective
You can use browser extensions just like CraigsHunter that will check Craigslist for your saved searches and notify you when there is a new related ad. You can use rvs.oodle.com a website that collects motorhome listings from dealers as well as from private sellers all over the web.
Tips when Negotiating with a Seller
In most cases, RVs have negotiable prices. This is because their price depends on several factors, such as the current market value of the RV. Moreover, it largely depends on the overall condition of the vehicle, and how much use it has gone through. Below are some helpful tips that you can use while negotiating with a seller to get a good price:
1) Be Realistic
First and foremost, the seller knows their own vehicle better than you. So asking for a ridiculously low price might not get you very far. You have to be realistic about how much money you can spend on it without going over your budget.
2) Look at How Much Use It Has Gone Through
This factor largely decides how much value you can get from a used Class B RV. If it has been driven a lot over the last few years, then there is less value in it than if it was driven sporadically or not at all during that time.
3) Don’t Negotiate Too Early
It is best to negotiate after you’ve found a vehicle that perfectly matches your criteria. Haggling is best done once you’re already fairly close to closing a deal. By this time, the seller most likely has invested too much of their own time and effort into selling it so they will be more flexible on the price.
4) Be Prepared for Common Objections
Expect some common objections like “it’s just been serviced by the dealer!” or “it’s well maintained!”. You might not be able to get the price down that much, but you can bring it down a little bit.
5) Be Prepared To Walk Away
Don’t forget that this is your hard-earned money! You have the right to walk away if you feel like it is not worth your money.
- Never pay for a vehicle without seeing it first. If you have to fly somewhere to see it, just do it. An RV is a big investment and you have to check it out in person.
- If you buy from a private party, make sure they provide a bill of sale as well as the title. Also, check with your state to see if there are any other taxes or registration fees that might need to be paid.
- Check for odors; if you smell bad odors or smoke, don’t buy it.
- Consider having a mechanic check out the engine before you finalize the deal.
- Avoid those purchases where the title or the original owner is not available.
- Be careful of buying from people who own multiple motorhomes, buy then sell them.
- At all times, trust your gut feeling, and don’t settle for less than what you want or need!
- How many owners has it had? How long has the current owner had it?
- What’s the reason for selling?
- Are the maintenance records available? Records of tire or oil changes, major par changes, and checkups
- Adult-owned, family-owned, business-owned?
- When was the last time the generator was serviced/how often do they usually service them?
- What brand is the generator? What condition are the tires in? Are all of its components working properly (stove
- How old is it, with how many miles? (Low mileage is not necessarily a good thing)
- Has it been in an accident? Any dents on the body? Try to get a vehicle history.
- What kinds of fuel does it need? How many gallons does it use?
- Was it in storage most of the year? Was it rented out? Was it used by full-timers? Infrequent use is not always a good thing.
- Check all the tires and the spare
- How is the home battery? A home battery is a deep circuit battery, it can cost around $200 to replace.
- Test the water system: in the sink, the toilet, and the shower.
- Test the propane system: the burners and the furnace
- Test all electrical devices: microwave, air conditioner, ceiling fan, inside lights, fridge, TV, and DVD player
- Check for leaks on the walls and the ceiling
- Check the gray water and black water tanks, how do they work? Is the toilet going into a black water tank or it has a separate cassette?
- Test the awning
- See if it has a working carbon monoxide, propane detector and a fire extinguisher
- Check for underbody rust – it is ok if it is only surface rust
- Take a look at all liquids in the engine: oil, water, coolant, etc
- Test drive and test the brakes
- Check the roof for dents and leaks
- Check all appliances work. If they say no, ask why
- Check the tires and brake pads.
- Check to see what appliances work, such as water pump, furnace fan, fridge, light bulbs inside and outside, stove burners, and oven.
- If it has a generator installed: test the generator by plugging in one appliance at a time to see if it works.
- Check to make sure all appliances work
- Does the RV run and drive OK? If not what needs fixing and how much is that going to cost you