Purchasing an RV doesn’t have to be intimidating! Buyers often don’t realize that they can take a more active role in acquiring their new or used Class A Gas RV or other motorhome, instead of being entirely dependent on dealers or other sellers. Owning the buying experience gives you greater peace of mind, less stress, and more satisfaction with your decision. Here’s how you can take greater ownership of the RV-buying process:

  1. Do Your Basic Research Ahead of Time

If you’re a first-time buyer, you may not know exactly what you’re looking for. And that’s okay! Helping you explore options is what the salesperson is for. But it does help to research different model types ahead of time to get a feel for the RVs that best align with your lifestyle. Factors include:

  • Where you plan to travel
  • How many people you’ll travel with
  • The time of year you’ll be traveling
  • The duration and/or frequency of your travels

Once you’ve narrowed down the best RV type, browse online RV listings to get a feel for what’s available at which price points. Keep an accurate list of all the RVs you’d consider buying, or take it a step further and create a spreadsheet to organize your listings based on criteria that’s most important to you. You can also explore RV reviews to help guide your evaluations.

Remember: It’s only a great deal if it suits your desired lifestyle. Your dealer can help you from under- or overbuying if your wants and needs are clearly identified ahead of time.

  1. Visit the Dealer with Specific Questions Prepared

When visiting a dealership, take ownership over the interaction by having questions to ask your RV dealer. Some questions might depend on the exact RV model, so be prepared to ask your salesperson more specific questions when you visit. 

For example: If a new travel trailer is catching your eye, ask your dealer if it’s safe for your current vehicle to tow. If you have to buy a brand new vehicle to tow it, then even the best deal for the trailer may not be good for your overall finances! Or, if a great sticker price drew you in, ask about what’s included (often, the listed price doesn’t include fees, taxes, etc.). Here are more questions to ask:

  • What are the warranty limitations? Some warranties are dealer-specific while others can be exercised across the country. 
  • What extra equipment will you need? It’s possible to negotiate them into the sale. 
  • Are there finance options? If so, can you get a low interest rate? A discount for paying in full with cash?  This could help keep more immediate money in your pocket for adventures. 
  • If you do get financing, are there any penalties for paying it off early?
  • Can the dealer work maintenance or accessories into the purchase price? Don’t be afraid to negotiate this!
  • What service plans do they offer, and for how long after purchasing? 

Remember: you don’t have to buy on your first visit. There’s nothing wrong with using it as a fact-finding mission. Just remember to keep notes of the answers they provide!

  1. Be Patient, But Persistent

When you’re ready to buy, remember that your salesperson is busy just like you, so try reaching out to them via phone, text, or email instead of dropping in unexpectedly. If you don’t get a call back as quickly as you’d like, don’t get upset; just give them another call. Patient persistence is key. It could be that they’re better with texts than calls (or vice versa) so try to find out early on in the process how best to reach them.

  1. How to Own the Process With a Private Seller

The same research principles apply when working with a private seller, but you should also do a little extra legwork to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on a quality RV.

First, find out what the vehicle is worth by using tools like RVT’s RV Price Checker. Don’t forget to ask for maintenance and repair records, as they can help determine an accurate value. You can also request a certified RV inspector to check the vehicle, but the seller may not agree to it. Then, get your insurance company to check the VIN for any claims that may have been made against it. 

If all checks out and you feel comfortable making an offer, start at a price a bit lower than actual value/listed price and negotiate from there. Move in small increments, but never exceed what you’re willing to pay. And remember, cash is king. If you can purchase in cash, sellers will sometimes take a lower amount to close a deal quickly. Just don’t bring any more cash than your max price.

Finally, if you can’t come to a price agreement with the seller, leave them your contact information and move on. They could always come around if other buyers walk away, too. A week or two later, you may choose to contact them again to see if they’ve sold the unit and, if not, if they’re now more flexible on the price.

You don’t have to rely entirely on dealers and other sellers when buying an RV. Taking ownership of the purchase process will help you find the motorhome you want, and give you greater confidence in the decision. And if you’re ready to start browsing new and used RVs for sale, start researching today at RVT.com.

By Audrey Somero

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