While we couldn’t be more excited about our new home, it was quite an undertaking trying to figure out the best course of action for the sale of our beloved Winnie the View. Ordinarily this would be a relatively easy process, but because we live full time in our RV and we needed the proceed from the sale to purchase the new rig, the timing of each transaction was critical. After a thorough inquisition of everyone we could find who had any experience in buying and selling RVs (including some very kind and honest dealerships – thank you Findlay RV in Las Vegas and La Mesa RV in Tucson for your time and patience in educating us on ALL of the possibilities for finding a new family for our beloved Winnie the View), we found that basically we had three viable options to consider.
Hands down, the easiest and sometimes best option (especially considering our timing constraints) is to trade it in at the dealership. While they charge a hefty fee (on the order of $10-15K) to take the used RV off your hands, they will take care of all of the details of the sale from cleaning, repairs and maintenance, to marketing and legal aspects all of which can be quite time consuming and stressful. This is a particularly good option if there is any kind of maintenance or mechanical problem with your RV. By trading in your used RV, you let the experts deal with the risk, cost and effort of dealing with the used coach. But, because we rely on our rig daily to get us where we want to go, and have always performed routine maintenance and taken care of any necessary repairs, Winnie was in great shape both mechanically and aesthetically. And with new tires and brakes in the last 5K miles, we really didn’t need any assistance from a dealership to get Winnie in tip-top form.
The second option we considered was a consignment agreement with the dealership where we purchased our new RV. The way it works is there is a $500 fee for the service department to do a safety inspection and make a list of required repairs. The dealership then makes any necessary repairs (on our nickel) and sells the RV for an agreed upon price. Once the RV sells, we would receive a check for the total amount we agreed to and the dealer would keep anything above that amount. The benefits of a consignment is that we could take our time moving into our new RV and the dealer would take care of the logistics of the sale. The biggest downside is that we would not have the capital from the sale to apply to our new purchase, which for us meant taking out a short-term loan (which we try to avoid at all cost). A secondary (but not insignificant concern is that we had to pay $500 for the inspection before we agreed on a sales price, and we didn’t like the lack of control of what we had to fix (if anything). We were also concerned that there were no guarantees that our rig would sell and we would lose our upfront investment in the safety inspection and repairs. However, knowing the top condition of our RV coupled with the high demand for Views (particularly the 24J model), we believed that this option was a good Plan B.
The third option, and ultimately the path we chose, was the private sale of our RV. We spent almost two months monitoring the internet for comparable models and visited several dealerships across the Southwest to hone in on the value of our RV and determine an appropriate list price. Once we had a pretty good feel for the competition, the next hurdle was to find a buyer who would be willing to coordinate the timing of the sale to meet our parameters. Optimistically, we decided to a month would be enough time to find the perfect buyer. Exactly 30 days out, we purchased an ad on RV Trader and blasted the ad across all of our social media outlets (Facebook and Instagram) that Winnie the View was looking for a new home, and then we waited. One week later, we received an inquiry from our ad, but it was a sales pitch from someone wanting to help us sell our rig for a petty $1000. Another two weeks went by and not a single inquiry.
Five days before we were set to take possession of our new RV, (and while we were mentally moving on to Plan B) the phone rang and we had a buyer (a friend who saw our ad on Facebook). This is where things got a little hectic. We spent the next few days scrubbing every nook and cranny, inside and out to make Winnie the View shine like new. We cleaned the carpet, had the exterior detailed and changed the oil. We printed a bill of sale off of the internet and signed over the title to the new owner. The buyer gave us a cashiers check for the agreed upon amount and will take care of the sales tax when he registers the vehicle in his home state.
While a private sale was quite a bit more work, and definitely more stressful, we were able to keep the $10K that we we would have paid the dealer, and our buyer was able to save quite a bit over what he would have paid at a dealership – a win/win for everyone. Aside from the extensive elbow grease in getting Winnie ready for her new family, the most difficult part of the entire transaction was in saying goodbye to such a steadfast companion, our shelter and an integral component of so many wonderful adventures over the past two years. The only consolation was the anticipation and excitement of the next chapter for Famagogo – moving into Winnie the View…Two.