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11 Thoughtful Ways to Maximize Your RV’s Resale Value

Even if you don’t plan to sell your RV soon, maintaining its resale value is always a good idea. You never know when you may need to part ways with it. Unfortunately, many owners don’t know where to start when it comes to caring for their camper. However, there are several things you can do to keep your rig in excellent condition. Today, we have 11 ways to maximize your RV’s resale value to help you get top-dollar for your rig.

Let’s get to it!

How To Sell Your RV - Tips and Tricks to get the most Money

Do RVs Have Good Resale Value?

Typically, most RVs have a terrible resale value. In most cases, an RV is a depreciating asset. The second you take it off the dealership lot, it loses thousands of dollars. It continues to lose value every year as manufacturers release newer models with the latest features.

Many owners shed a tear or two when they discover their camper is worth a fraction of its original value in only a few years. This can become a severe problem for those who only plan to use their rig for a brief time. You can end up owing more than the camper is worth. A significant down payment or paying more than your monthly minimum is the best way to avoid this financial disaster.

Some RVs retain their value more than others. Typically, Class A and Class B motorhomes are the worst regarding depreciation. Some estimate that they can lose between 30 and 33% of their value within the first three years. However, Class C units tend to depreciate the least and lose approximately 38% of their value in five years.

How Do You Determine the Resale Value of an RV?

One of the best ways to determine the resale value of an RV is to use the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA). While it’s not the Kelly Blue Book, it provides a general idea of an RV’s worth. However, this won’t factor in upgrades or any extras you may include in your sale.

Another option for checking the resale value of an RV is to use RV Trader. This is a massive database of active listings from others selling their campers. Unless you have a rare or ancient RV, there’s a chance you’ll find a similar listing. Comparing your rig to those you see online can give you an idea of what to expect when you finally list it.

However, the condition of the RV is a major factor to consider for determining real resale value. This is something you have a lot of control over, and in the next section we share ways to preserve and improve the condition of your RV to get the most at sale time.

Class A motorhome priced to sell
Certain RVs will maintain their resale value more than others over time.

11 Ways to Maximize Your RV’s Resale Value

When it comes to shopping for an RV, these are the top things we look for in a valuable purchase. In other words, these are the things that we have been willing to pay a premium price for to get a good rig. So, these are the exact things we and you can do to help retain our RVs’ resale values. If you want to get the most out of the transaction, your best bet is to do as many of them as possible. Let’s take a look!

1. Consider Brand at Purchase

Some brands have reputations for quality construction and using the best building materials. For example, Airstream estimates that 70% of all of their trailers are still on the road and they’ve been making them since the 1930s.

A long track record might also give you the confidence that they won’t close up shop out of nowhere. If they do, the value of your rig will plummet. Warranty work and parts will be challenging to come by as they may not be in production.

Not to say that out-of-business RVs are no good. Monaco RV had been out of business for a long time when we purchased our motorhome. But, they had a reputation for high quality that was built to last. Ironically, it was that high quality that made it difficult for them to stay in business through the 2008 economic recession. If you find it challenging to find the parts you need for repair work, we’ve found Wholesale Warranties provides exceptional service for quick repairs.

2. Perform Regular Maintenance

Another thing you can do to help your RV with its resale value is to perform routine maintenance. A recommended maintenance schedule was likely in the massive pile of paperwork and manuals you received when purchasing your rig. If you can’t find it, check in your owner’s manual and see if it’s there.

We’ve also pulled together a list of the most important routine items to extend the life of your RV.

Putting off regular maintenance is never a good idea. Days can turn quickly into months or years. If you’re not careful, your camper will start falling apart before you know it. Staying on top of your maintenance is essential to keep your rig looking and working like new.

3. Keep Detailed Service Records on All Work Performed

Providing a detailed list of service records is one thing that we look for when buying a used RV. The more service records the better! This is because someone who keeps detailed service records often takes care of their stuff more than the average owner. There’s a better chance that the camper was well-loved by the seller and is in decent shape.

Also, detailed service records can let the buyer know what maintenance will be due soon. One of the worst experiences for anyone buying a used vehicle is immediately sending it to the shop for service. Keeping your records organized helps those interested in your rig to have confidence that you cared for it properly.

Performing RV maintenance
Regular RV maintenance can make all the difference for your RV’s resale value.

4. Low Miles

The more miles you put on your RV, the more it’ll lose its resale value. This typically applies more to motorized units than towable ones because towable campers don’t have odometers. But, more miles on towables still equals more wear and tear.

Keep in mind that while potential buyers may want to see low miles, they want to see some mileage. If you have an older RV with low miles, it can be cause for concern. This means the vehicle has been in one place for most of its life. There’s a good chance that essential items like the engine, transmission, and other components weren’t used much, which can be bad for them.

Many RVs can last upwards of 200,000 to 300,000 miles. If you used it to cross the country multiple times and put 100,000 miles or more on it, don’t be surprised if the value tanks. However, you bought the camper to take out and to use. So don’t let the fear of someday reselling your camper stop you from using it.

5. Wash and Wax Exterior Regularly 

Letting gunk and debris sit on the exterior surfaces of your camper can be a big mistake, especially if it sits in the sun. These items can bond to various materials and eventually become nearly impossible to remove. Keeping your camper looking like new requires you to wash and wax it regularly.

Cleaning your RV helps ensure the protective layers and coatings don’t disappear. It doesn’t take long before fading and sun damage starts to occur. Washing and waxing your camper’s exterior prevents it from looking older.

How often you wash and wax your RV will significantly depend on how and where you use it. In addition, you also must consider how you’re storing it. Since this is a big job, you may want to hire a professional to do it for you.

cleaning an RV with dawn
Regularly washing and waxing your rig will keep it looking good as new for when you want to sell it.

6. Keep Interior Clean

While keeping the exterior clean is essential, so is cleaning the interior. Sellers who can say their camper is “pet and smoke-free” tend to attract premium resale values. These types of campers are desirable to people with allergies.

You must keep the inside of your camper as clean as possible. Will it get messy while you use it? Absolutely. However, there’s a significant difference between messy and dirty. The basics of wiping surfaces, vacuuming carpets, and cleaning messes can go a long way.

7. Proper Storage: Covered and Dehumidied

How you store your RV can significantly impact its resale value. Indoor storage is typically the best way to help your camper retain its value. If you can’t do indoor storage, getting your RV at least covered will be a major help. This allows your camper to stay out of the elements, which can reduce damage and aging. Indoor and covered storage are more expensive options, but it’s a small price to pay for protecting your camper.

Additionally, it’s essential to be aware of humidity and how it can destroy a camper. Moisture inside your camper can lead to mold growth. To avoid this, use products like DampRid that soak up moisture from the environment. Most buyers will run away quickly if they discover mold or moisture damage.

Pro Tip: Keep your camper moisture-free by using one of these 6 Best RV Dehumidifiers and Why You Need One.

outdoor rv storage
Covered RV storage will keep your RV in top condition longer, increasing it’s resale value.

8. Fix Anything That’s Broken or Worn Out

If you want to maximize the resale value of your RV, you should fix anything broken or worn out. You want to ensure that crucial items like your refrigerator, furnace, and water heater work as they should. If they’re not working correctly, you should replace them.

Toss out or replace items that are showing their age. Remove any rust you find and replace old, torn awning fabrics and toppers. These cause a camper to look shabby and lower a premium value.

Other items to consider are your tires and brakes. The last thing most buyers want is to immediately dump a ton of money into fixing things, especially if they paid a high cost for the rig.

Ideally, if you’re correctly caring for your camper, you’ll repair and address these issues as they come up. This can help you avoid investing too much into the camper to help it sell. If you’re going to pay to fix the essentials, you might as well benefit from enjoying an RV that’s not broken or worn out.

9. Consider Value-Add Upgrades

Many owners enjoy upgrading items in and around their RV. This is a way to increase comfort and usability. However, some upgrades don’t provide a return on your investment. In addition, the enhancements you make could limit your potential buyers.

We learned this firsthand, and it’s why we decided not to sell our heavily modified fifth wheel. We simply wouldn’t get the value out of it that we put in. While we enjoyed our 3000-watt solar system and composting toilet that allowed us to camp anywhere, it’s not for everyone. Those who spend most of their time connected to shore power while camping won’t benefit from a massive solar system or composting toilets.

However, some upgrades are universally valued. Here are some examples:

  • Upgrading a plastic toilet to porcelain
  • Replacing an old fridge or air conditioner
  • Residential kitchen appliances
  • New awnings and slide toppers
  • Swap your RV lead acid batteries for lithium
  • Upgraded RV mattress

Lastly, don’t skimp when upgrading. We understand trying to save money. However, the value of these upgrades comes from the quality of the materials and components you use. You could do more harm than good to the resale value of your RV by choosing generic or new brands.

replacing an RV ac
Replacing an old A/C unit with a new one is considered a universal upgrade.

10. Renovate With Caution

There are more than 225,000 posts on Instagram under #rvrenovation. If this isn’t evidence that people enjoy a good DIY project, we don’t know what is. However, just like upgrades, we encourage you to proceed cautiously when renovating if you’re worried about your RV’s resale value.

When renovating, you’ll create a custom look and feel you enjoy. It can be a comfortable space for you to relax and live. However, the problem with custom is that others may not share your style or have similar needs.

You’ll want to keep things neutral. The bolder you go, the more you’ll limit the market. Just because your chosen design is popular now doesn’t mean it always will be. All trends eventually come to an end. We’re not saying don’t renovate. However, exercise caution to avoid limiting potential buyers.

11. Strategize the Sale

It will take some strategy to get the most out of your RV’s resale value. You need to know when to sell, not only the season but also your camper’s age. Don’t expect someone to pay a premium price if all your appliances and equipment are nearing the end of their life.

Research the Market. When creating your strategy, research the market. Look at what similar models are going for and set your price accordingly. You want to ensure your unit stands out from the rest. Whether it’s upgrades or extras you’re including, give buyers a reason to pay a premium price compared to other models.

Take Great Photos. Another crucial part of maximizing your camper’s resale value is taking quality photographs. Here are some tips:

  • Clean the RV, declutter, and remove personal items
  • Stage the RV with tasteful items
  • Use a quality camera to ensure the images are clear and not blurry.
  • The pictures should be bright and have plenty of light.
  • Use photo editing tools to brighten dark areas for increased visibility.
  • Use the wide-angle view available on many smartphones

Write a Very Detailed Description. Write an extensive and compelling description of your RV and all that comes with it. There is no such thing as too much information. Include details like the make/model of the fridge, type of water pump, brand and age of the tires, etc. You want to give potential buyers a complete picture. More details also makes you appear more trustworthy and that you’re not trying to hide anything.

Pre-plan Your Negotiation. One mistake many make is not brushing up on their negotiation skills. Buyers will want to feel like they’re getting a deal. However, don’t allow yourself to get the raw end of the deal. If you’re getting attention and inquiries, hold firm at your price. 

Pro Tip: What time of year you sell your rig matters. Find out Why Fall Is a Terrible Time to Sell Your RV.

Get the Most from Your RV’s Resale Value

Getting the most from your RV’s resale value can help you keep more money in your pocket. If you’re parting ways with your rig, you should get the most out of it. Taking these steps can help you accomplish your goal. You can then use the funds to purchase your next rig or go on another exciting adventure.

Are you planning to sell your RV in the future? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Chazman

Sunday 26th of November 2023

I upgraded my tongue jack from crank to electric, stock TV to a smart one, and new (better) faucets in the kitchen and bathroom.. Not a lot of money, but still upgrades that I would mention if I were selling...