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Buying New or Used

July 16, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Happy family
A Few Helpful Hints on Both Scenarios

One of the first things you want to do when beginning your RV search is to secure the financing. Prices for RVs vary dramatically, even between new units. So, whether you plan on buying new or used, having a pre-approved bank loan can give you a better negotiating stance with dealer financing and equipment options.

RVs depreciate in value every bit as quickly as their automobile counterparts. Most lose 40% of their sticker price during the first year. That opens the door to significant savings should you decide to buy a used RV. In one case study, it was determined that buyers could save as much as 50% of the original cost by purchasing a three year old RV. And here’s the best part: A two year old RV that has been well maintained will require less service than its brand new equivalent because it has past the somewhat expensive break in period.

You’ll find that there are plenty of used RVs to choose from and a number of places to shop for bargains. There are local and state-based classified ads, trade magazines and consignment RV lots. However, every great deal comes with a risk. We suggest bringing a seasoned RV goer along if you’re new to the world of recreational vehicles. He or she will know the right questions to ask and help you tell the difference between a quick $100 fix and the type of repair that will require a second mortgage. That kind of information can also give you a very favorable negotiating position when it’s time to close the deal.

Here’s one more fact to consider: Low-mileage RVs are very much in demand. And the nicest ones will sell quickly. If you happen upon one that’s right for your needs, it would be wise to make the owner an acceptable offer quickly so you don’t lose out on a keeper.

Run Your RV through the Paces

When you’re buying an RV, you’re buying a car and a house. In addition to performing a test drive, you’ll want to open every door and cabinet, flush the toilet, turn on the faucets, lie on the beds, fire up the stove and see if there’s enough overhead storage. You might also want to inspect the previous owner’s service records, and hire an RV mechanic to look over the vehicle and estimate repair costs.

For New RV Buyers

You can already sense that new RV smells. Some enthusiasts enjoy upgrading to the newest and best more than anything else. They like to break in a brand new vehicle and be the first to try out every feature. We see this RV goer as more of a seasoned pro than first-timer. We strongly recommend testing the waters with a gently-used RV before taking the plunge and buying the biggest and best. After all, RVs are not like automobiles. New ones can and do require any number of mechanical adjustments. That’s a plus for the mechanically inclined tinkerer. But those of you who want to hop in and get going would be well advised to look into used RVs or rentals.

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