By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
I am a regular Craigslist reader. I check the ads offering RVs and RV accessories for sale nearly every day. At times I have seen ads posted for months — even years. That must be frustrating for the owners. If you find yourself in this position, the single thought I would share is this: You can sell anything if the price is low enough. When something doesn’t sell, it means you are trying to get more than buyers are willing to pay. It seems to me that should be obvious. The question is, why don’t folks get it?
Common mistake #1: An owner thinking what they have is worth much more than the market will pay, simply because something is in good condition. Here is an example. A local owner is advertising a very clean tag-along for almost double what it normally would bring. This trailer is 16 years old, has no slideout, and was a very basic model when it was new. Now, unless the owner is extremely lucky and finds someone who knows little about RVs, no one is going to pay the asking price. Because something is clean and everything works does not justify an extreme asking price. Old RVs are simply old RVs. Clean is better, but age rules!
Common mistake #2: Not understanding how to use NADA pricing or having an idea of how much basic repairs cost. Here’s an example of that. An owner lists a travel trailer. A graphic taken from the NADA listing is included in the ad, as is commonly the case in Craigslist ads. In the ad, the owner has included the base price and then added in the value of all the standard components as though they were options.
Standard components — things like refrigerators, air conditioners and so forth — are included in the base price, as clearly stated on the NADA site. They are not options. Adding those features in increases the asking price by $1,600. Now, in addition to the elevated price, the ad notes this trailer requires multiple repairs before it is even usable — a roof leak being one of them.
Will this trailer sell at the owner’s asking price? It seems doubtful. He is trying to get well above book value for an RV that will require something in the area of $1,500 to $2,000 worth of repairs, depending on who does the work. In my opinion, the asking price is not realistic, and given the ad says the asking price is “firm,” I have a hunch the owner will wait a long time to find a buyer. If someone is capable of making the necessary repairs in good fashion and shops the parts online, I think this no-slide, not-very-clean-looking trailer should bring half of the owner’s asking price.
The thought I would leave you with is this. Yes, you can ask for much more than your RV is worth to most people, but if you do, you must be willing to sit on it until just the right buyer comes along. And each month it ages, it becomes worth even less.