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One of the biggest challenges we face as owners of an RV, motorhome, or camper, is accurately determining the used price or values of RVs. You may be wondering… What’s my RV worth? Whether buying or selling an RV, there are many factors to consider. The process can be stressful and overwhelming. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how to accurately value an RV to ensure it’s priced fairly. When buying, you don’t want to overpay for an RV. And when selling, you want to get as close to market value as you can.
In this guide, we will provide you with a step-by-step process to help you determine the right values of RVs, motorhomes, and campers. Keep reading to the end to also learn how and where to get an accurate RV valuation, and how to save.
Let's start with a few assumptions
Before we get into the detailed steps, let’s first cover our assumptions of those reading this post. We assume that if you are buying an RV, you have already done your initial research narrowing down the type of RV you want. And you have a ballpark estimate of what you are comfortable spending on an RV. When selling an RV, you already have some basic information about the rig that will guide you through the steps below.
If you need some guidance on choosing the right RV for you, check out this high-level blog post. And if you need to better understand the costs of RV ownership before setting your budget, we suggest you start with this detailed blog post comparing our full-time versus part-time RV ownership costs.
New to the world of RVing? You might want to familiarize yourself with all the things you need to consider, by reading our first book: Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road (available in print, digital and audio).
Now let’s dive in.
The Value Of An RVs Condition And History
This is the first step in assessing the value of RVs. There are many factors to consider when determining what an RV is worth. These include the RV’s age, condition, mileage, modifications, accidents, and needed repairs. RVs are complex machines.
They are part home and part vehicle, especially when you are talking about motorhomes. Generally speaking, the older an RV gets, the lower its value, and the more likely you will encounter issues with wear and tear. We discuss all this in our comprehensive article RV Extended Warranties – are they worth it?
A lot will depend on the care and maintenance provided by the current and previous owner(s). For example. You might find two RVs that are the same year, make, and model. The first one has been lived in full-time by owners who travel in it frequently, often travel off-road on rough terrain, and are not skilled in maintaining it.
Another owner of a similar RV might only use their RV a few weeks per year, store inside a garage when not in use, and be extremely particular about maintenance. On paper, you might expect they would have a similar value. But the reality is the value of RV number two is far higher.
Accidents, Repairs, Modifications Impact Values of RVs
Accidents and needed repairs will also dramatically decrease the value. You may need to get an estimate of the cost of the repairs so you know how much to discount the value of the RV.
Modifications can go either way. For example, styling modifications can raise or lower the value depending on the interests of the buyers. But in general, most RV shoppers prefer to have an RV be as close to the original look as possible. That is, how it looked when it came from the factory. Your pool of interested buyers usually shrinks if you make significant changes.
Another example is major upgrades to power systems. Some buyers know the value of those upgrades, and it will increase the value of RVs. But other buyers will be nervous about the changes and may not need or value them. In general, if the upgrade was less than $1,000, this will not impact the value of RVs when doing an appraisal.
What’s My RV Worth Compared To Others? Researching Values Of RVs
After you have analyzed the condition of the RV you plan to buy or sell, the next step is to compare it to similar RVs. This helps you get a ballpark number on the value of RVs like it. We like checking out what people are trying to sell their used RVs for on major RV sales platforms.
The two most common are RVTrader.com and RVT.com. These are both large nationwide platforms with tens of thousands of RVs listed. And they both have filters that allow you to narrow your search down to the specific types, brands, and features you are looking for.
People also look at online marketplaces, like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace, where RVs are often listed for sale. But these are not accurate indicators of what an RV is really worth in actual value. And the sheer number of scams on these sites only increase confusion and stress.
Remember, the prices you see on these platforms are what people are hoping to sell the RV for. Not what they actually sell for! RVs that have sold are no longer listed. And it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find out what it actually sold for. Plus, the longer an RV has been for sale, the further it is from the actual value of RVs like it, in the current market conditions. RVs that are properly cared for and priced well tend to sell faster and easier.
Other RV price estimating tools for values of RVs
You might be also familiar with websites that estimate the value of cars and trucks. Popular examples are KBB and JDPower (formerly and perhaps better known as NADA RV Values). While the website JDPower.com/rvs can provide initial estimates of the values of RVs, the truth is, it’s just not accurate. Their data is based on depreciation formula estimates, and not actual RV sales data.
If you peek behind the curtain, you’ll see these websites really exist as lead generation and marketing tools. These sites are now owned by marketing companies, and are used to connect you with RV dealers and sellers of related services, NOT provide you with any real, accurate sales data. And it makes sense when you really sit down and think about it. Why would they give you such valuable information for free?
Sure, we have used these sites ourselves over the years, and they can have some benefits in terms of historical values. We tend to find them most useful for initial ballpark research. But these do NOT provide an accurate estimate of the actual values of RVs in the current market conditions.
How do you determine the price of an RV to buy or sell?
For the most current and accurate estimate, you will need to get an expert appraisal. This is also known as a professional appraisal, or a certified appraisal. Just as you would get a home appraisal, or an appraisal for other valuables, such as a boat, expensive jewelry, art, or other high ticket item. Getting a professional appraisal for the value of an RV is going to provide you with the best and most accurate information to help you determine and negotiate the purchase or sale price of your RV.
Credit: Pat Knoer-Jennette
Certified Appraisals For Accurate Values of RVs
There is no better place to get an accurate answer to the question ‘What is My RV Worth?’ than a professional certified appraiser. But why? Certified appraisers have access to data that the public simply cannot access.
Tools like all the latest sales data from RV dealer networks and RV auctions. Appraisers purchase this type of data daily, covering 85% of the RVs sold, nationwide. So it offers the most up-to-date and accurate information at any given time.
Appraisers look at what used RVs are actually selling for, NOT what they are listing for. When you are browsing through RVs for sale online, or on a dealer lot, the price tag only shows you what they hope to sell for. Not the actual value of RVs and what they WILL sell for.
Why a professional RV appraisal?
Professional appraisers can see what RVs have sold for around the country, over the past 30 days. They have access to a dealer buyer network, which enables them to see, in advance, which RV the dealers are getting rid of at auction. RV dealers pay to access these programs. And importantly, the general public CANNOT access this data!
Professional appraisals are regularly used by finance companies like lenders, and insurance companies, to determine the actual value of an item. If you take out a loan to buy an RV, there’s a high probability the lender will require a certified appraisal.
Information on RV values from certified appraisers can be used for insurance claims, court cases, and any time the real accurate information is required. This is a skilled job, and it can take over a year to become certified as an appraiser.
What information does a certified RV appraisal provide?
Aside from the details of the RV you provided, like the year, make, model, miles and condition. The appraisal will give you a few different types of RV pricing. Let’s take a look at them all.
The three levels of RV pricing
There are three levels of pricing that you will see on a certified appraisal. Retail, Wholesale/Trade-in, and ACV. So what do they all mean?
Retail pricing is the price a dealer or private party would plan to sell the RV to a consumer/buyer. Wholesale/Trade-in pricing is what a dealer might offer a consumer for their trade-in, when purchasing another RV. And ACV is Actual Cash Value. This is the amount of money you could expect to receive if you just walked into a dealer and walked out with a check.
As you can imagine – and may have already experienced – there can be a big difference between the retail and wholesale/trade-in values of RVs. But the difference between retail and ACV is far more. In some cases, we are talking about tens of thousands of dollars.
Our Personal Experiences With Certified Appraisals
We’ve learned this first-hand through our own personal experiences, when we have asked the question… ‘What’s My RV Worth?’ throughout our nine years of RVing, having owned several rigs.
Let’s take a look at a few examples and show you how exactly having a professional appraisal in hand has saved us thousands of dollars each time.
How we sold our first RV for an extra $25,000
When we were preparing to sell our first RV in 2018, we briefly considered trading it in at an RV dealership for another, newer, used motorhome. The dealer offered us a $50,000 trade-in value for our six year old RV which was in great shape. However, we felt we could sell it retail for far more.
So we paid to have a professional appraisal done and learned what – based on the year, age, tires, condition etc – we should be able to sell our RV for. The result? We sold our first RV privately to the next owner for $75,000. That’s $25,000 more!
Keep in mind, if we had accepted the much lower trade-in value offered by the dealer, that $25K would have been rolled into the cost of a new RV loan! But that $25,000 would have cost even more than that. When you consider the taxes interest payments, and fees, over the term of the loan. This would have immediately put us upside-down in the value of the second RV.
But by selling our first RV ourselves in 2018 at the $75K retail price, we dramatically reduced our depreciation cost on that RV. Learn more about RV depreciation and other costs of RV ownership for that motorhome here.
What we wish we knew…
On that note, when we bought our first RV in 2014 we thought we did pretty well. Being newbies, we were relying on NADA RV values at the time. But in hindsight, we wish we had known then what we know now… and gotten a professional appraisal for a more accurate value of the RV!
Fortunately, we’ve been able to take what we’ve learned and apply that to our subsequent RV buy and sell transactions. We are far more educated RVers buyers now than we were back then! Keep reading for more examples of how we’ve benefited from professional RV appraisals.
Saving more than $10,000 when buying our second RV
Our next RV – an older, high quality diesel motorhome – was initially listed for sale at an RV dealer in Tucson, AZ for $49,999. When we went to look at it, the sticker price was $39,999 and their internet sale price was $34,999. It looked like a great price but we knew we could get a better deal! We had done a lot of research, and were well armed with our knowledge, information from our certified appraisal, plus a professional RV inspection.
And because of all that, we were able to negotiate even further, and purchase that RV at what equated to the ACV (actual cash value) price that an RV dealer would have paid!
What did we pay for our RV?
We actually ended up buying this diesel motorhome for just $25,000. Yes, $10K less than their discounted asking price. AND the exact amount of money we saved by NOT trading in our first RV, by knowing how to price it properly for a private sale instead. Now, keep in mind the $25K we paid for the Country Coach was an extremely low price for a consumer to pay for an RV. But we were able to pull this off thanks to a ‘perfect storm’.
First, we had a professional appraisal in hand, detailing a fair price we should pay for this RV (at the time, around $30K). Also, being March 2018, it was the end of peak selling season in Arizona, so the snowbirds were leaving town. Plus, this 20-year motorhome had been sitting on the dealer’s lot for well over 40 days, after another potential buyer’s financing had fallen through.
The coach also had high miles, and a white interior, which wasn’t as popular back then. Finally, we knew from a professional RV inspection that it needed work – and money spent – right away. We planned to immediately put on a set of new tires, do some mechanical work, then an RV makeover.
We knew the dealer would be highly motivated to sell. So we negotiated hard, and ended up with a second ‘new to us’ motorhome that literally cost less than we paid for our Jeep! Keep in mind this was all before the massive surge in the value of RVs in 2020–2022. Many Country Coaches like ours now sell for much more. If you want to see what this RV was like when we first bought it, you can see our first tour and overview here.
Figuring out what to sell our second RV for?
A few years later, after pouring a lot of love into this RV, it came time to sell it. So again, we looked into getting a certified appraisal. However, because the RV was over 20 years old, with more than 100K miles, and so highly customized, it was difficult to get a professional appraisal.
The RV may have only cost $25K to buy, but we spent more than that on renovations and upgrades, including a robust off-grid solar and lithium battery system. Not to mention, the many hundreds of hours of labor from us and our friends!
It was truly a one-of-a-kind motorhome. Which meant there were no realistic comparables for an appraiser to give an accurate estimate. So, when we asked ourselves… What’s my RV worth? this time, we just had to make our best guess at what we could sell it for. Then hopefully find a buyer that liked everything we did enough to increase the value of the RV.
Luckily, by the summer of 2020, RV sales were booming. We put together a detailed ad listing with quality photos, and within a few weeks we sold our ultimate home and office on wheels to a private buyer for $49K. Considering this RV was our full-time home for 2.5 years, we were quite happy with that!
Check out our Ultimate RV Makeover for more details on our RV renovation. And if you want more detail about the costs of repairing and upgrading that RV, here’s our eye-opening cost of RV ownership post.
Our most recent RV. What’s my RV worth?
You might have seen our other articles explaining that we bought our most recent RV from a friend after an 8,500-mile test drive. Our friend was very motivated to sell the RV, and we wanted to offer a fair price for the current market. So where do you think we turned for the most accurate RV value? You guessed it. An independent, certified appraiser.
We bought this RV at a great but fair price, considering we needed to invest time and money in maintenance and repairs. By buying this RV well, our goal was to (hopefully) significantly reduce the impact of depreciation when it comes time to sell it. With our desire to change up our travel experiences (and do some RVing internationally) coupled with the economy slowing, it was time to explore our options. So we went ahead and ordered a professional appraisal for our RV.
Here are the results. What’s my RV worth?
The goal retail selling price was likely to be right around $90K ($89,950 to be exact). The trade-in value of the RV showed as $78,650, which incidentally would also be the goal purchase price if you were an educated buyer. Actual cash value if we just sold the RV on the spot to a dealer would have been $70,100. Keep in mind, we’re just sharing this as an example! Today’s prices would be different to what we got in this appraisal a few of months ago.
The appraiser also advised if the RV doesn’t sell at retail price, the price should be lowered by $1,000 every two weeks until reaching trade-in value.
As you can see, there is nearly a $20,000 difference between the retail and ACV price. So while it may take more time and work to sell an RV yourself, you can also end up with a whole lot more money in your pocket!
Of course, every RV is different, and the market is constantly changing on a weekly, if not daily, basis. But this information gives a good snapshot to demonstrate just how much more educated you can be, whether you are an RV buyer or seller. Knowledge is power, and knowing exactly what an RV is worth at any given time, gives you the power to negotiate what you want. Or maybe even the confidence to walk away.
Where To Get a Professional RV Appraisal?
Many years ago, we were referred to a highly reputable and experienced company called RV Pricing and Appraisals, and that’s the only one we’ve ever used. Each time with excellent results, as shown in the examples above.
There are hundreds of certified appraisers out there, but it’s not easy to find which ones specialize in appraising RVs, motorhomes, and trailers. In our research, we did find an organization called ASA – American Society of Appraisers – that provides training, support and services for Accredited Senior Appraisers. They have around 900 independent appraisers and affiliated professionals, for all industries (eg. home, jewelry, planes, cars etc).
Where NOT to get an accurate RV valuation
All too often, people rely on random online searches or by asking questions of strangers in Facebook groups. Now more than ever, it’s so important to check the source of quality information and recommendations.
When it comes to RVs, most of our searches revealed articles out there that recommend NADA guides (now JD Power) for low, average and high retail pricing on RVs. But again, remember, this information is not accurate. It doesn’t come from actual, recent RV sales data! These websites are merely a lead generation / sales tool for RV dealers and service providers. So please beware of any articles or sources that recommend NADA / JD Power for RV pricing, because they are inaccurate.
You WILL get detailed, accurate RV valuations from accredited, independent, certified professionals, such as those found at RV Pricing and Valuations. If you want to read more examples from other RVers who have also successfully use their service, you can find them here in their own consumer Facebook group.
Which RV Appraisal Company Do We Use And Recommend? (And How to Get a Discount)
Ever since we first started getting professional RV appraisals many years ago, we have used RV Pricing and Appraisals. They were once a relatively small company offering an appraisal service, mostly through their Facebook group, and email requests.
Today, RV Pricing And Appraisals has grown through word of mouth recommendations from their many customers, to become the largest professional appraisal company out there. They now have over 40,000 customers, and 5,000 unsolicited testimonials, and claim to have saved their clients hundreds of millions of dollars when buying RVs and motorhomes.
Now they have a simple appraisal process through their website to handle their high volume of requests. The RV Pricing and Appraisals team has 16 employees – former high-level managers and owners of RV dealerships, and current RV brokers, that are buying and selling RVs on a daily basis. They have access to almost all of the RV sales data from RV dealers (and even some private sellers) nationwide.
So they have a vast amount of financial information to draw from, to help determine the accurate value for RVs. By the way, you can also have RV Pricing and Appraisals do appraisals for autos and trucks. We even used them to get a professional appraisal and ensure we weren’t over paying for our Jeep!
Is it worth paying for a certified RV appraisal?
As shared in our examples above, we have personally found getting certified appraisals to be extremely valuable. Every time we invested in a professional RV appraisal, we ended up saving tens of thousands of dollars. Having a detailed document that specifies the various levels of pricing for our RV (and vehicle), gave us a lot more confidence when negotiating.
This helped us make the best decisions possible, AND avoid huge financial losses. It’s a small price to pay, and the return on investment (for us) has been at least 100-fold, often much more.
Looking for the value of RVs? How long and how much?
Certified appraisals normally take 7-10 days to complete, and cost several hundred dollars. But RV Pricing and Appraisals offers a much faster service, and at a lower price. They even have a same-day service for a nominal extra fee. When we told RV Pricing and Appraisals we were writing an article about appraisals, they offered us an exclusive discount code to share with you.
Save 10% on Same-Day RV Appraisal with code RVLOVE
When you order your professional RV appraisal (currently $99) AND add the “Same Day Service” option (normally $49) then use the coupon code RVLOVE you will save 10%. The same-day RV appraisal service usually costs $148, but after the 10% discount, you’ll pay just $133.20. Just make sure you add ‘Same Day Service’ then use coupon code RVLOVE to get the 10% discount.
When you get your appraisal (within 24 hours), you’ll be armed with an accurate document that details your specific RV value with three pricing options. This will empower you to make the best financial decisions around buying AND selling your RV.
Note: This discount coupon is exclusive to RVLove and does not apply to normal RV appraisals or auto appraisals. It only applies to an RV appraisal with the added same-day service.
How to order a certified RV appraisal?
Here are the three steps:
1. Gather relevant information on the RV or motorhome you want a certified appraisal for, including:
- Personal details – your full name, email, phone number, buyer/seller
- V details – Class, Year, Make, Model, Model no., Mileage (if applicable)
- RV condition – Date codes on the tires, detail the exterior and interior condition, paint, note any damage or repairs needed, level of care, service and maintenance info etc. Provide as much detail as you can.
- Add any other comments or options valued at over $1,000
- Include a link to the ad listing (if applicable) and/or a link to view photos
2. Go to the RV Pricing and Appraisals website, and enter all of the above information you gathered for their Certified Appraisal Request Form. Click the button to SUBMIT APPRAISAL REQUEST.
3. Select and pay for your appraisal service. Select Same Day Service add-on and enter coupon code RVLOVE to save 10% on the entire amount. So your shopping cart (pre-checkout) will look like the screenshot below.
Their website is a little clunky, as you need to enter and submit information for the RV appraisal first. Next, select and add the Regular Appraisal Service to the shopping cart. THEN you also need to add the Same-Day Service to your shopping cart, and enter code RVLOVE to get the 10% discount. Your shopping cart should look like the screenshot above.
Of course, you need to complete payment through the online shopping cart before the appraisal work begins. Then keep an eye on your email inbox for your professional RV appraisal to arrive! If you have any questions, you can always reach out to their customer service via email or phone. But it is all pretty straight forward.
So, finally after wondering… What’s my RV Worth? Now you know how to find out for certain. No more guesswork. As you prepare to buy or sell your RV, getting a certified appraisal is the best tool available to help you get the most accurate value of RVs. With the constantly changing market, we get how it can be very challenging to determine the true value of RVs. That’s where an expert appraisal comes in as an invaluable tool to keep in your negotiating pocket.
Certified appraisers have the best knowledge, tools, and data to give you the most current and accurate price estimate. This ensures you can get the most for your money when buying an RV. It also helps you know how much you can realistically expect to get when selling an RV, depending on where and how you sell it.
So before making your next RV (or auto) purchase or sale, do consider investing in a professional appraisal. You’ll be well armed to make a successful transaction happen. And your wallet will thank you.
Have you had experience getting a professional appraisal on your RV? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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