Getting an RV ready for sale takes more than just a wash and interior cleaning.
You can and should do many things to increase buyer interest and profit when selling any recreational vehicle.
To help you get the best price for your RV, I put together this guide full of the best advice from experts in the RV industry. Inside, learn how to price your camper, ready it for selling, and stage it for buyers to encourage a fast sale.
The RV market is on fire, so get top dollar for your used RV by following the tips below!
How to Ready an RV for Selling
There are many aspects to selling an RV that includes:
- Gathering the correct paperwork
- How to determine RV value
- Deep cleaning
- Maintenance checks
- Touch-ups of exterior and interior surfaces
- RV staging
- RV customer walkthrough strategies
When you start your journey selling a recreational vehicle with a comprehensive plan, customers will see your camper in its best light, and you’ll have all the documentation necessary to close on a quick sale.
To make the process easier, I break down the steps for selling an RV the right way so you don’t overlook the crucial details that will lower your profit. Let’s dig in!
What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My RV?
To sell your RV, you should have the following paperwork in order:
- RV title
- Owner’s manual
- Manuals for all appliances
- Warranty information (if it transfers)
- Paperwork or receipts for all maintenance, upgrades, and repair work
The first task is to ensure you have a clean title that won’t impede a sale.
Some buyers will request the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to price insurance, secure a loan, or verify the RV wasn’t stolen or in an accident, so have it available for serious inquiries.
Get a folder and gather the RV owner’s manual and all the user manuals for any appliance inside the camper. A neat stack of manuals for potential buyers to see shows you care about the details.
How to Determine RV Value
It’s smart to come up with a fair selling price before listing your RV.
Valuing your RV can be very challenging when dealing with a motorhome, travel trailer, fifth-wheel, pop-up, or other types of campers that are so different from one another.
The best way to determine your RV value is to combine the average prices you find through using the NADA Guides for RVs, RV Trader comparable listings and sales, and local sales figures from recreational vehicle dealerships or by-owner sale ads.
Once you come up with an average value for your camper, add or subtract from that figure depending upon your RV’s condition. For example, if you recently replaced all the tires, you should add that cost onto your value total, but if they are two years old, you won’t.
If the back bumper has a nasty dent you don’t want to fix, you should lower the value to accommodate it.
Always set your listing sale price above your bottom-line selling price point, so you have room for negotiation and potentially higher profit.
Don’t go crazy with the figure, as going too high will turn off RV shoppers. Depending on your camper type, you should add around $1,000-$5,000 above the value you came up with earlier.
How to Deep Clean an RV before Selling
The next step in getting ready to sell your RV is a deep cleaning of the exterior and interior.
EXTERIOR CLEANING CHECKLIST
Most sellers will only need to perform a standard wash to the exterior if the siding or paint finish is in good condition.
If the exterior siding looks dull, a professional wash and wax should bring a good return on investment in the final selling price. A shiny finish coat makes an RV look newer and therefore more expensive.
Aside from the exterior siding, don’t forget to pay close attention to these other RV features that need a good scrub:
- RV roofing and slide covers
- Windows and side mirrors (on motorhomes)
- Window, vent, and door screens
- Storage compartments
- Sewer hose and hose compartment
- Propane, battery bank, and water heater compartment
INTERIOR CLEANING CHECKLIST
After you empty your RV of all loose items, you need to give it an extreme clean.
If you have carpets, they’ll need vacuuming and a run-over with a carpet cleaner to get them as fresh as possible.
Dust and vacuum the insides of all cabinets, around beds and couches, and under the captain’s chairs in a motorhome cab area.
Use an all-purpose anti-bacterial cleaner to wash down all the cabinet doors and shelves, built-in furniture, motorhome dash and console, refrigerator inside and out, flooring, other appliances, sinks, shower, and toilet.
A magic eraser-style sponge damp with a cleaning product can do wonders to remove grimy build-up around the stove and soap-scum build-up in the tub or shower basin. Once the debris is loose, quickly wipe off the residue with a clean rag.
Wash all the interior windows and polish up any mirrors or appliance glass.
Don’t forget to wipe down all the walls and ceiling panels, clean any air vents for heating, and the air conditioner housing, filter, and vent louvers.
Open ceiling vent covers, go up on the roof, clean the inside of the cap and remove any leaves or debris sitting on top of the screening.
WASTE TANK CLEANING
Perform a deep clean of your RV waste tanks using an RV tank cleaner and wand or fill tanks with bleach water and let them soak. After you sanitize and empty the tanks, open the drain valves and toilet flange and air dry the interior before closing them.
You don’t want any smells wafting from your tanks during buyer walkthroughs, and dry, clean tanks will have little to no scent.
Pre-sale RV Maintenance Checks
It would be best to go over all the general maintenance checks on your RV next to ensure proper working order.
Inspect and test these RV components:
- Engine (motorhomes)
- Power and manual awnings
- Tank sensors
- Waste tank valves
- Propane system
- Furnace and water heater
- Water pump
- Control panel
- Air Conditioner
- All interior/exterior appliances and TVs
- Tail and running lights
- Back-up or sideview camera systems
- Tire pressure monitors
- RV door lock
- Travel trailer hitch systems and wiring harnesses
If you keep your RV in good shape, most of these checks will be quick and without issue. Create a printout of what you inspected to show buyers, which will also be helpful for them to keep as a reference to use for future RV maintenance checks.
If you take your RV in for any significant repairs, document the issue and the correction.
If you have a motorhome, perform a tune-up or oil change if they are near their scheduled date. Doing these tasks allows you to tell potential buyers you took care of it for them so they can get straight to camping, which will gain you more trust and RV value.
How to Prep RV Interior and Exterior
After a good cleaning and assurance all the appliances and other RV features work correctly, you now need to start fixing up any cosmetic or further damage that could detract from the selling price.
You also now need to take a hard look at potential selling pitfalls, like a super worn-out carpet that may make more sense to replace than to take a hit on the final selling price.
Here’s the top things to watch out for on the interior of the RV:
- Chipped paint
- Scratches or marks on wood cabinets, walls, or flooring
- Dirty tile grout
- Dirty or missing caulk
- Worn upholstery
- Broken, leaking, or corroded plumbing fixtures
- Smelly refrigerator
- Musty odors
Take an objective look at the general condition of interior cabinetry, flooring, upholstery, and kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
Just as you would when prepping a home for sale, you need to clear away and replace discolored or cracking caulk around showers, tubs, sinks, baseboards, and backsplashes.
Touch up paint or stain chips and scratches with a small brush or stain marker. If furniture items are very worn, sand and refinish the whole thing.
If you can’t clean away scuffs or other markings, consider painting over the wall in a neutral color like tan or off-white.
Take the time to reupholster worn dinette or couch cushions, and replace faded curtains or torn shades.
Consider making some updates that can modernize the look of your RV and increase value, such as removing fabric-covered valances, changing cabinet hardware, or replacing that ugly and cheap-looking accordion door with a high-quality curtain instead.
You’ll want to ensure the RV smells fresh when buyers enter. Open all the cabinetry doors and use an odor-neutralizing spray liberally, then let the camper air out. Repeat if necessary.
Here’s what to check on the exterior of the RV:
- Roof sealant
- Paint finish
- Awning appearance
- Appearance of tires and hub caps
Get up on the roof and fix gaps in the caulking or roofing material. Please don’t overlook the slideout tops.
If you have a paintable roof surface, consider rolling on a new coat of sealant to fill any hard-to-spot holes or thin areas. RV leaks are a deal killer, so focus on leak-prevention measures first.
Check the caulking and fill problem areas elsewhere on the RV exterior, such as around lights, trim work, and windows.
Are your decals in good shape, or are they faded, cracking, or peeling? Replace worn decals or sand them lightly and go over them with matching outdoor enamel paint.
Often an expert waxing or a fresh clear-coat finish can fix a dull siding and decal problem.
Lastly, open up the awning and inspect the fabric, hardware, and arms.
If you see any mildew spots that didn’t come clean during the RV wash, spray those areas with a bleach-water solution until it clears, then rinse with a hose.
Oil up any moving parts, and if you spot any tears (or seams that look weak), use a clear awning repair tape to patch it. If the fabric is very worn or torn, spend the money on an awning replacement to increase value to a buyer.
How to Stage an RV for Sale
Staging the RV for selling is something many sellers overlook, but it can hasten a sale and bring a higher price.
Start by removing any personal decor items that depict a particular style. You want RV buyers to see themselves in the camper, not be thinking about that unicorn picture hanging in the bathroom.
Next, open every curtain and shade to bring in all the natural light possible. If your RV has dark corners, turn on lights in those areas.
While you want the interior to be neutral, do add some pops of color that attracts buyers to brighten the space.
A couple of yellow throw pillows on the couch is cheerful without being overwhelming. A spring green towel set in the bathroom will bring the outdoors in and amplify the camping vibe.
For showings, open the awning, put a nice doormat at the base of the stairs, place a potted plant, set up a couple of camp chairs and a small table, or even hang some awning lights to highlight the outdoor space. Doing this will make the camper feel larger as buyers move from an outer “room” to an inner room.
Once you have a beautiful staging setup, take lots of pictures to add to your listing or email to potential buyers.
Tips for the RV Walkthrough
Do try to only have one person in the camper with the potential buyer to keep the space as open as possible.
As you give buyers a tour, point out all your improvements, explain general costs you’ve incurred such as fuel charges to reach XYZ or what you pay for oil changes, and show them the folder with all the manuals and service receipts.
Lastly, answer questions honestly and be ready to show newbies how to operate certain features, even how to flush an RV toilet correctly.
RVing is exciting, but it’s not all fun and games, so be helpful. If you have tricks for backing the rig perfectly into an RV park campsite or the best way to pull into a gas station, share it.
The more comfortable you can make the buyers feel, the better chance you have of making a sale at top dollar.
Is it hard to sell a used RV?
It can be if you price it too high, don’t bother washing it or touching up damage, or you don’t paint over those purple cabinets you love so much with a neutral color.
When you follow the best advice for selling an RV in this guide, you’ll be able to gain value by prepping your camper before you list it for sale.
There are tons of buyers ready to experience the excitement of camping and traveling to new places in an RV. Prepare your RV for selling now, and enjoy getting the highest value possible while keeping all those priceless camping memories!