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Buyer Beware of Craigslist RVs

The huge increase in demand for RVs has caused used ones to be in demand now more than ever before. Supply shortages and lack of inventory increase the appeal of used RVs for many buyers. However, shopping Craigslist RVs and other online marketplaces can be dangerous, especially if you don’t protect yourself. 

Today, we’re looking at how you can protect yourself and your money when buying a used RV. This is a must-read if you’re considering purchasing an RV from Craiglist. Let’s dive in.

What Are Craigslist RVs?

Craigslist is a popular website that allows users to create listings for items they want to sell. Those in the market for a particular item can look locally or nationwide. When a shopper finds something they’re interested in purchasing, they can contact the seller with a few clicks. A Craiglist RV is simply an RV listed on the Craigslist platform.

How to spot a Scam on Craigslist When Buying a RV

Craigslist is a modern form of the classified section of a local newspaper. You can find just about anything you could imagine on it. Listings constantly change, and you can keep checking back to see any updated listings.

Is It Safe to Buy an RV on Craigslist?

Buying an RV on Craigslist can be safe but has the potential to be very risky. If you don’t research, you could easily find yourself in an unsafe situation. We wouldn’t discount an RV listing just because it’s on Craigslist, but we encourage you to proceed cautiously. We’ll share a few important safety tips with you later.

Why Are There So Many Fake RV Ads on Craigslist?

Anyone with an email account can sign up for Craigslist and list an item for sale. RVs have been in high demand over the last few years, and scammers know this. They look for popular items that have the potential to net them some quick cash. 

Scam button being pressed on keyboard.
Stay on high alert for scams while shopping for RVs on Craigslist.

Until an account gets flagged as spam, it’s very difficult for Craigslist to know the difference between an actual seller and a scammer. Scammers can hide behind the internet and simply create a new account and listing in minutes. 

Pro Tip: If you’re buying an RV sight-unseen, keep an eye out for these 7 Red Flags to Watch For.

Buyer Beware of Craigslist RVs

If you’re in the market for an RV and considering buying a Craigslist RV, here are a few things you should consider while shopping. These will help you avoid getting scammed but also help ensure you’re making a wise purchase. Let’s take a look.

Watch for Scams

It can be very easy to fall for an internet scam when shopping for a used RV on Craigslist. Most of your interactions will be through exchanging emails until you’re serious about buying a rig. However, we recommend proceeding cautiously and being mindful that scammers look for easy targets. You don’t want to be one.

You should never need to send any advanced money to a seller. Many scammers will have stories they’ll use on one victim after another. You should be wary of any stories that require the seller not to meet in person or for you to send them money in advance. If you find anything suspicious, report it to Craigslist and move on your way. 

Craisglist RV google search
Searching for a used RV on Craigslist can be safe, as long as you are aware of potential scams.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

When making a large purchase, including an RV, you should always feel comfortable asking questions. If the seller is unwilling to answer your questions, it tells you a bit about them. You’ll likely want to keep shopping and not waste your time dealing with them. A motivated seller will respond quickly and provide answers to any questions you might have. 

Talk to the Seller

If you like what you’ve seen and read about the RV on Craigslist, the first big step is to talk on the phone with the seller. This is an interview where you can ask questions about the RV and any issues you might want to know.

Trust your gut with this step. If you get any uncomfortable or uneasy feelings from the Craiglist seller, you have no obligation to purchase the RV. Again, sketchy behavior is a reason for you to keep shopping.

Woman searching on Craigslist for a used RV.
Don’t be afraid to ask as questions to determine if a Craigslist seller is legitimate.

See It for Yourself

You should always see the rig for yourself before committing to buying it. Buying a used RV without seeing it can be a huge financial mistake. So even if you have to drive hours to see it with your own eyes, it’s worth it.

If you arrive and the RV is not in the described condition, you’ve wasted your time and some money on gas. However, buying it outright could cause a bigger financial loss and leave you stuck with a money pit.

Hire an Inspector

Consider hiring an RV inspector when buying a used RV off Craigslist. These services can cost several hundred dollars, but they can save you thousands if they discover an issue. RV inspectors will often provide a very detailed report of their findings, and you’ll have more information about the RV than the seller.

The information the inspector provides to you could be enough for you to walk away from a deal. RV inspectors can find mold and water damage, two red flags when proceeding with a transaction. They can be expensive and, in some cases, impossible to repair correctly.

Older couple standing in RV doorway
Hire an RV inspector to ensure your investment is worthwhile.

Practice Negotiating

If you have negotiating skills, this is a good time to use them. Use the information you’ve received from the inspector and what you’ve learned from researching to determine a fair price for the RV. Keep in mind that no two used RVs are the same. Each is unique in the wear and accessories or items the seller might include.

Make a fair and serious offer. You’ve made it this far; don’t spoil a deal by trying to lowball the seller. If your deal is your maximum offer, be ready to walk away respectfully. They may reconsider your offer if you don’t burn a bridge with them.

Trust Your Gut

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Finding an RV for half what anyone else is asking, finding low mileages, or just too good of RV condition can be red flags indicating more research is needed. At the end of the day, if you’re gut is telling you something fishy is going on, it probably is.

Don’t be afraid to walk away and find something else. Regret of a potential lost opportunity feels a lot better than being scammed for thousands of dollars.

Pro Tip: Craigslist isn’t the only place that scams RV buyers! Here are 5 Ways the RV Salesman Is Ripping You Off.

Craigslist RV Scams and More!

Are Craigslist RVs Worth It?

There are plenty of great RV deals on Craigslist and other online sales platforms. However, you must proceed cautiously and protect yourself during the process. You don’t want to be the victim of a scam or invest your hard-earned money into a hunk of junk.

Have a healthy dose of skepticism when first interacting with sellers, and always trust your gut when backing out of a transaction. Some risks are worth taking, but we don’t recommend taking large financial risks on a whim.

It’s easy to get excited and hasty when purchasing an RV. We recommend you slow down and consider these 10 Things We Looked for When Buying Our Used Class A Motorhome.

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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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Tuesday 16th of August 2022

Run the VIN number before purchasing an RV! I’ve looked at several RV’s that said so many miles on the rig only to find out the RV in fact had many more miles-especially older units with 5 digit mileage indicator. They usually had a 100,000 more miles on them!