When it’s time to buy, sell, or insure a camper, trying to figure out how much your RV is worth is a common dilemma.
While some websites and services can help value your RV, other factors come into play to find a fair value.
To help you sort through how to know what your RV is worth, I put together this comprehensive guide. Inside, you’ll find all details about determining RV worth so you can buy or sell with confidence!
How To Find RV Worth
When it’s time to sell a recreational vehicle, many owners assume there’s a Kelley Blue Book for RVs that will give them the value.
Unfortunately, there isn’t such a Blue Book anymore, but next up is other similar options.
Finding RV Value With NADA Guides
To start, most people in the RV market check out the NADA Guides. Plugin the details you have about the recreational vehicle you’re buying or selling, and the site finds the high and low range of the RV’s worth.
The NADA Guides database has a comprehensive listing of 2,206 recreational vehicle manufacturers, so you can find pricing information on even more obscure brands, which is very helpful.
The NADA Guides’ biggest downside is their price range still leaves you to guess about the RV’s exact value. The figure is really a standard depreciation rate off of the new MSRP of the camper model.
The guide misses out on other pertinent information such as the supply and demand for that camper model in your local market that drives the actual worth.
Using RV Trader for Current Market Pricing
RV Trader is another place to find local pricing data for all makes and models of recreational vehicles, including:
- Fifth wheels
- Truck campers
- Large and small travel trailers
- Class A, Class B, Class C motorhomes
- Park models
Seeing what similar RVs are selling for can help you narrow your price range even further. Accessing data from across the country helps when your make and model RV isn’t up for sale in your local area.
By putting in the year, brand, and model of any RV, the site will give you the average selling statistics.
When you make a general search for RVs on the market, you’ll find similar campers for sale that you can compare.
The pictures are a great resource to help you determine the camper’s condition in relation to the one you are interested in buying or selling.
Another great tool you can use when buying an RV is to use the VINDATA vehicle history checker you can access through the RV Trader website.
The history is for motorhomes only, but for a low fee, you’ll get information on:
- Title History
- Odometer History
- Inspection Information
- Junk or Salvage Info
- Safety Recalls
- Active and Recovered Theft
- Warranty Info
RV Trader has a variety of other resources for RVers, including financing information and new model guides.
Just for fun, I put a 2020 Coachmen FREELANDER 22XG Class C into the search on the two websites above, and here is what each thought the RV was worth:
As you can see, the “average” figure between the two is over an $11,000 difference! If you only have these two sites to come up with a value, the smart solution would be to split the numbers and come up with a “worth” of around $71,000.
RV Dealership Appraisal
Another way to help you find how much your RV is worth is to bring it to a dealership specializing in recreational vehicle sales.
Many dealerships will offer a rough estimate of value based on the condition, features, and recent sales of the RV model.
Dealerships have their finger on the market’s current pulse and which makes and models have consistent issues that require repairs.
This aspect of “inside” knowledge is why it is smart to go to a dealer for an RV valuation.
Searching Online Sold Listings for RVs
If you want to know what people have sold their RV for, go online to eBay and type in the search bar the year, make, and model of your camper. Use the advanced search tool to click on “sold” items.
Any sales of that particular RV or those that are similar will display, showing you the final price the seller accepted.
Many local RV dealers have an online presence and will put “sold” tags on inventory pictures letting you see what models are hot sellers and get a general idea of the unit’s base price.
Please pay close attention to the city or state of the sold listings, as your area may have more or fewer RVs for sale, which ultimately alters any RVs worth.
Using a Professional RV Appraisal Service
When you need to find the value of luxury, unique, vintage, or high-end RVs, many people find paying a few hundred dollars for a professional RV appraisal service is worth the investment.
Often, the company will not see the RV in person but will require extensive photos and video of the camper’s interior, exterior, roof, and undercarriage, along with paperwork showing any mechanical and maintenance work.
Some companies will fly an appraiser to your location at a hefty charge if you feel an in-person inspection will bring a more accurate worth to the RV.
Take Motorhomes to a Mechanic
Motorhomes have engines like cars and trucks, so a mechanical inspection can help determine the recreational vehicle’s overall value.
Find an expert mechanic who has experience with RVs or trucks, especially if you have a motorhome that runs on diesel.
Motorhomes will have wear and tear on different components, and a good mechanic will know where to look for hidden damage.
As a buyer, always ask the seller for a road-test and tell them you plan to take the RV to a mechanic for inspection.
Telling sellers upfront about your plans may give them a nudge to offer up any mechanical issues they were hoping to keep quiet about so they could push for a higher sales price.
Having a complete inspection and paperwork to prove a clean bill of health can boost your final sales price as a seller.
Factors That Affect RV Value
The most significant factor when coming up with how much an RV is worth is condition.
Any RV kept in excellent condition will demand a higher value than a newer model in poor shape.
Here are more things to look for that add value to the final sales price:
- Low mileage for motorhomes
- RV age – Newer is typically better but vintage is hot
- Exterior condition – crisp decals and paint color, no dents, holes, or scratches
- Roof condition – no leaks, tears, peeling of material
- Tires are under three years old and without visible damage
- Upgrades to standard features, such as a tankless water heater
- Floorplan is spacious and thoughtful
- Extra storage compartments
- Outdoor kitchen
- Size – both compact and very large RVs are in demand
Don’t skip over the value of tires. RV tires are expensive, and many trailers or motorhomes need four or six.
This fact means a buyer may need to shuck out $1000+ to replace bad tires so that RV will be worth less than one with good tires.
A smoke-free camper is another top-selling feature, as tobacco smells can linger, and many people are sensitive to the smell and will bypass any RVs that reek of cigarettes.
Why You Need to Know RV Value
You must know RV value and have some data to support your numbers for these reasons:
Buying, Selling, or Trading in an RV
Agreeing on worth when buying or selling an RV is a song and dance most people dread to go through. But, without some data to back up your numbers, the process would be much more difficult to settle and still leave both parties happy with the transaction.
Don’t let someone use a value figure for an RV sold in Montana when you’re making the deal in Florida, where RV sales are much more in demand in every season of the year.
If the other party’s numbers are way different than yours, ask for specifics on how they came to that number.
When both buyer and seller do their due diligence to arrive at a value, it’s the starting point for fair price negotiation, and hopefully, they can meet in the middle.
Just like with automobiles, RV dealerships may play some games on trade-in value to make you feel you’re getting a lot for your used camper, so you’ll be more inclined to purchase an expensive RV.
If you know your camper is only worth $15,000 and the dealership offers you $22,500, be on alert.
Most likely, you’ll be getting no real deal as the value is only good against your new RV’s MSRP, which has ample cushion in place to give you their inflated “trade-in value” and still make a hefty profit.
To Acquire Adequate RV Insurance Coverage
RVs are expensive to repair or replace, so having enough insurance to cover possible accidents or damage is critical.
If you don’t know how much your RV is worth, you certainly won’t know if you have proper insurance coverage.
There are extraneous costs associated with RVing that many owners don’t take into consideration when choosing RV insurance such as:
- Vacation interruption if there’s an accident (hotel, eating out)
- Cost of towing such a large vehicle
- Need for car rental while RV is in shop
- Repairs made with OEM parts to maintain warranty
All of these items increase the insurance coverage you’ll need on top of the general replacement value of your RV.
For travel trailers and fifth-wheels, most automobile insurance will extend coverage for a towable but won’t cover everything. Ensure you prove the value of your camper to the insurance agent, so there’s enough protection for the RV and personal belongings.
Difficulties Finding RV Worth
RVs are often a challenge to value because there are so many thousands of combinations of brands, models, and floor plans that alter how much they are worth to the pool of prospective buyers.
Along with all those choices, each RV manufacturer also offers a wide array of features, amenities, options, upgrades, and design color-schemes that add to the confusion of finding worth.
On top of all that, the majority of RV owners will alter their camper to suit their needs or taste, which changes the value even further.
Some people invest a good deal of money to make RV improvements that a new owner will appreciate such as a:
- Back up camera
- Tire-pressure regulatory system
- High-quality mattresses
- Solid-surface flooring
- New, top-of-the-line tires
But changes can go the other way and lower the RV’s value to customers, such as by:
- Painting interior cabinetry an odd color
- Removing storage or cabinet space
- Installing a composting toilet
Most RV buyers need to know that every RV will be somewhat unique, so it can be hard to compare apples to oranges and come up with a fair price.
That’s why my best advice is to use a combination of all the resources you have available to answer the question of RV worth.
You can print out an RV inspection checklist and fill it out for your RV or when shopping for a camper to make it easier to have all the information you need to determine value before completing a deal.
Gather up all the various prices you find for RVs that are for sale or have sold, add in any appraisals or estimates of value from local dealers or services, and lastly, use the averages from the NADA Guides or RV Trader.
Once you have all the numbers, average them out and then add a value boost for any extraordinary features that set the RV apart from others in the same class.
Don’t forget as a buyer or seller to leave wiggle room for negotiation, but don’t back down on your RV’s worth when getting insurance coverage. Shop around for the best RV insurance company that will deliver what you need.
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With RV sales skyrocketing in recent months, most campers’ value may be higher than expected as demand is far outweighing supply.
When you have a reasonable figure of how much your RV is worth, you can use it as a starting point to set a price and begin negotiations for selling the unit or for getting adequate insurance coverage.
By doing the right research, buyers can locate fair pricing for RVs of all types, makes, and models so you can get the best deal possible when shopping for a camper.
If you’re an RV seller, using the tools above can help you put a fair market value on your camper so you can pocket all the cash you’re entitled!
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide