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How to Buy a Used RV From a Private Party

All of the RVs we’ve purchased have been used RVs. Believe us, we understand how daunting it can be between all the options and price ranges. And then you have to deal with the seller! But when all is said and done, we’ve found that one of the best ways to get a great deal on a great RV is to buy a used RV from a private party.

Here’s our guide on how to do this properly based on our experience.

How to Buy a Used RV From a Private Party

Before we ever hand over any cash, we always want to take these steps to ensure we’re getting the best (and safest!) deal.

Do The Research

Before we look at a used RV from a private party, we always need to do our research. There are tons of different rig options, and the more specific we can be, the better we can research appropriate pricing. 

Usually, we recommend trying to narrow down the RV type we want as much as possible before looking at private party sales. Going to RV dealerships and looking at their inventory (even if we don’t intend to buy from them) is a good way to figure this out. We find that RV shows are another great option to get into a lot of different rigs in quick succession.

3 Important Things When Looking For A New RV @lazydays #rvlife #rvshow #lazydayssupershow

Narrow In On Your Model and Its Common Problems

Once we have it narrowed down, we research the particular models we are looking at. We type the particular model name into search engines and then read personal blogs and forums to get people’s real-world experience with it. 

Next, we try to figure out what the common problems are. That way, when we go look at the RV, we can look at these specific areas and ask about them. In our research, we also try and get an idea of what a reasonable selling price is for the camper. 

Find The Right RV

The next step is to find that RV. When searching for a used RV from a private party, we might have to be a little more patient or clever to find the perfect one. The best way to find private party sales is on the internet. 

There are many sites online where people post RVs for sale, and we’re going to want to check them all.  Some of them are Facebook Marketplace, RV Trader, and There are also online forums for particular brands and rig types, so be sure to check those, too. 

Always start with a search radius nearby, but consider that the best deal might be further away. We usually slowly widen our search until we find what we are looking for. Then we decide if it’s worth going to get it. We personally have traveled thousands of miles for the perfect vehicle and saved a lot of money doing it.

If you’re not keen on traveling yourself, you can always hire someone to transport your newly purchased RV for you. Companies like uShip specialize in connecting individuals with certified and trusted transporters all over the country! We recommend a reputable company like this to ensure you get the best shipment price, have total shipping transparency, and that funds are held securely until your RV is delivered as agreed upon. You can get an easy uShip cost estimate here.

Thanks to uShip, we were able to sell a used RV in Michigan to a gentleman all the way in California!

Old Class C motorhome for sale by private party
Make sure you or someone you trust goes and sees the RV in person, as pictures can be deceiving.

Ask Lots of Questions

After narrowing our search, we make sure to ask the seller LOTS of questions. No question is off the table.

This is really important because we want to see if the seller is willing to communicate. Do they seem honest, or do they seem to get frustrated with you? These are signs to help you get a feeling for their character and how they took care of the RV. 

If possible, we ask lots of questions before going to see it, as we might learn that it’s not even worth our time. 

Pro Tip: If you’re considering buying an RV sight unseen, here are 7 Red Flags to Watch For.

Check for Clean Title and Loan Status

If we’re feeling good about an RV, take the next step to make sure it has a clean title. We want all the records to look good and make sure it hasn’t been in any accidents. 

If we are buying a drivable motorhome that has a VIN number, using a service like RVChex is a great way to check its history. It will not always include detailed information about the interior “home” space of the motorhome but will give us an idea of any public records about the drivetrain. 

Unfortunately, there is no service like this for trailers, so we would have to do our own due diligence. Also, see if the owner has a loan on the vehicle. Maybe they are behind on their payments, and the bank is about to reclaim the vehicle. We would want to make sure there is a clean break so we can transfer the title without a problem.  

RV Buying Danger! AVOID Title Transfer & Vin Verification Problems. If you buy a used RV you MUST...

Get a Professional RV Inspection

Before buying the RV from a private party, always get a professional inspection. Unless you are an expert RVer with extensive knowledge, a trained RV inspector will be able to take a close look at all the systems. They will go through the rig with their checklist and make sure they catch anything that could be a potential red flag. Since Tom is basically an RV tech, he has done all of our inspections personally. If, however, we could not get on-site before negotiation, an RV inspection would be a must for us.

RV inspectors can be found by running web searches in your local area, but we recommend that you use an NRVIA-certified instructor if possible. You can find a list of their inspectors on their site.

Many RV inspectors offer services like oil analysis of engine and transmission oils for motorhomes that are not something most people will look at. It’s just like a home inspection, where they deep-dive into everything.

Remember that it is the inspector’s job to inspect everything to help us make an informed decision. Just because they find something wrong, however, doesn’t mean it’s not the right RV. Nothing will ever be perfect—even on brand-new rigs. Something will always break eventually, so we have to decide if any problem is ultimately a deal-breaker or not.

Negotiate a Price After the Inspection

After the inspection, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!

Even if the RV is absolutely perfect and spotless, always negotiate! It doesn’t matter if we’re at a dealership or buying used with a private party; we may be able to talk them into a better deal.

If they say no, then walk away and see if they come running after you. If not, and you still really want that RV and are okay with the asking price, then give it a few hours and say you’ll take it. 

Class A motorhome for sale
Always try to negotiate on price. We never know until we ask!

How Negotiable Are Used RV Prices?

Whether or not we can negotiate the price of a used RV depends on the motivation of the seller, the condition of the RV, and the demand for that particular model. Some sellers simply won’t budge on price, especially if they own a highly sought-after RV model. Others may negotiate based on their eagerness to get rid of a camper they no longer use.

Still, it’s always worth trying! Asking a seller to shave as much as 20% off the asking price is not uncommon. However, if the RV is in need of major repairs, one may be able to score an even better deal.

Pro Tip: Are you a hunter? We think buying a used RV to use as a hunting camp is an excellent idea.

Dealing With the Sale When Buying a Used RV From a Private Party

When finalizing a deal, we always make sure we take care of these few things to protect ourselves.

Draft a Bill of Sale

Always draft a bill of sale. This doesn’t have to be notarized or made by a lawyer (unless required by the state we are purchasing in). Just make sure it is in writing, signed by both parties, and dated.

The bill of sale should have a short description of what is being sold, for how much, to whom, and how it was paid for. This acts as our receipt to prove the transaction happened. Also, make sure to keep a record of any funds that are transferred.

Get Funding If Necessary

It is best to pay in cash or with a cashier’s check with a private party, but if you need to get a loan, make sure to work with your bank. The bank will need specific things, so be sure to provide all necessary information and documentation. Otherwise, you may get turned down.

When going through a private party, there may not be as many financing options (like dealer financing), so keep this in mind.

Pro Tip: Need financing to buy your dream rig? Find out How to Finance Your Camper With an RV Loan.

How to buy a used RV with cash
Once you’ve made the deal, you’ll want to get a bill of sale along with the title and keys.

Purchase the RV, Get Signed Title and Keys

Now that everything is done, all we need to do is exchange the title and get the keys. When doing this, make sure to exchange information, such as addresses and phone numbers. Make sure the seller fills out the title correctly, and take pictures of everything for reference if needed later. 

Get RV Insurance

After purchasing an RV, we call our insurance company and get the RV added ASAP.

We always make sure we let them know that it’s an RV and tell them its intended use. Some insurance companies have to file it a certain way, depending on how we plan to use the rig. Full-time use of an RV, for example, will be treated differently than one that is only used a couple of times per year.

Pro Tip: Wondering how much it’s going to cost you to insure your RV? We uncovered How Much Is RV Insurance?

You Did Your Due Diligence – Now Enjoy Your RV!

Getting your first RV
If you’ve done your homework, you can buy a used RV with confidence.

It can be stressful buying an RV, especially a used rig from a private party. It’s more than just a vehicle; it’s a house on wheels. Because of this, there is more to inspect and think about. But if done correctly, the reward is amazing. All the stress that came with buying an RV melts away in the rearview mirror as we embark on our first adventure.

Lastly, try not to get too upset when something breaks and you think to yourself, “I just purchased a lemon.” You did your due diligence. And it doesn’t matter if it’s brand new or used; something will break, and that is normal. Keep a positive attitude, fix it, and keep trekking on!

Have you ever bought a used RV from a private seller? Share your experience in the comments.

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Sunday 13th of March 2022

Is the truck camper up for sale?

Mortons on the Move

Friday 1st of April 2022

No, we're not planning to sell the truck camper. We still have a lot more adventuring to do in it. :)

George Callas

Sunday 8th of August 2021

Am primarily interested in a tiny unit I can pull and stand up in for occassional needed roadstops. I only need it to take care of periodic personal issues and am not interested in finding a supermarket, gas station, hotel, etc when i can take care of business by jumping out of my car and getting into the unit i will be hauling Wouldn't mind a tiny toiilet or sink but nothing else is important; George Thank you. PS i LIVE in Riverside Calif. area.

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 25th of August 2021

We've written a few articles on small campers with bathrooms. You might find a good option on one of these lists. 7 Super Teardrop Campers with Bathrooms that Will Blow Your Mind: 7 Surprisingly Small Camping Trailers with Bathrooms:

Bill Hall

Sunday 17th of January 2021

"Get an inspection" - do you have any references for where to find inspectors?

Mortons on the Move

Monday 18th of January 2021

Thanks for the comment, I was planning on writing a separate article around that but I always recommend an NRVIA certified inspector if possible.


Sunday 17th of January 2021

A couple of remarks:

Don't waste time by asking why the seller is selling the rig. Many times they will volunteer this at some point, and if not- no one will ever say "Well it's beginning to shift strangely and there's a small oil leak."

Insurance is important (as mentioned) but you should get it immediately - or at least the day after the sale.

And, it can't be stressed enough that you have to do your diligence. Use rv forums and You Tube to get the history and reputations of the rigs you're considering . You can automatically scratch off anything built buy Forest River or Thor. You'll still have much to choose from. No amount of owner's care and maintenance will compensate for a poorly designed and built rv.

Thanks for the aritcle- many good points.

Karen Bankovich

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Why do say to automatically scratch of anything built by Forest River? We are currently looking at a Forest River 5th wheel.

Bryan Carbonnell

Sunday 17th of January 2021

Hey guys, I love your content however I need to clarify one thing you said in this article. First, let me give you some background, I am an NRVIA Certified RV Inspector and RVIA/RVDA Certified Technician.

You said, "Do remember that it is the inspector’s job to find problems, so they will." That statement is not correct. Our job is to INSPECT the rig and let our clients know what we find. We aren't out looking for issues, we are out to give our customers as much information as we can so they can make an informed purchase decision.

The rest I personally agree with. Just because there are issues, doesn't necessarily mean it's a deal-breaker. It is all about the individual's comfort level with the issues found.

It's all just information so you can make as informed a decision as possible.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 18th of January 2021

Thanks for your comment, you are very right. I was going to write another article about inspecting and recommend people use NRVIA certified instructors. I will amend this article, however.