When buying or selling anything, it’s only natural to want the best deal possible and to have a safe and easy transaction. When buying or selling a high-priced item like an RV, the stakes are even higher. 

Much like buying or selling a home, where most folks retain the professional services of a real estate agent, many people turn to dealerships to oversee the RV transaction process. When working with a dealership, you can either sell or trade straight to the dealer, or you can consign the Class A RV or other motorhome and let the dealership handle all the work of selling it, with the knowledge that they will take a percentage of the sale for their efforts.

If you decide to sell on your own, your risks of fraud are greater, but you’re likely to get a higher amount of money from the sale. Keep in mind that with a private sale, you’re not only dealing with all the marketing and advertising of the vehicle, you also have to handle all the inquiry calls, setting up appointments for walk-throughs and test drives, and all of the legal aspects of the sale, including the paperwork involved that legally transfers the vehicle ownership from you to the buyer.

When buying on your own, you also need to take care of the due diligence of searching for the fifth wheel camper or other RV you want, contacting the seller to make an appointment to view the vehicle, then handle the financial aspects of paying the seller for your new purchase.

It’s a two-way street, so you’ll both need to work together. If anything seems odd or suspicious on either side, don’t be afraid to walk away. All that being said, here are a few tips from RVT to keep in mind for safe transactions with buying or selling an RV.

Safety In Numbers

On either side of the equation, do not buy or sell a vehicle without bringing backup with you. Having someone else with you increases the odds of your personal safety throughout the process. It’s also recommended that you set up appointments to show or view an RV during daylight hours. If you can do it in a public place where there are other people in the immediate area that can provide help if needed, that’s even better. 

Full Disclosure

Sellers legally should provide full disclosure about any accidents or defects associated with the Class B camper van or other RV. Failure to do so can be considered fraud, which can lead to lawsuits. When buyers and sellers can communicate with transparency, the transaction will go much more smoothly for both parties.

Payment Options

If you are the seller of the vehicle, only accept a cashier’s check or certified bank check. Sure, it may be tempting to accept a suitcase full of cash, but it’s always best to have a paper trail of the transaction. Check with your financial institution on what procedures they recommend and ask if they have any specifications required for the transaction, such as a picture of a government issued photo ID from the buyer, etc. 

Safety Check

Your bank should also be able to immediately verify and validate a cashier’s check or certified bank check. It is recommended that the exchange of the check takes place at your bank or credit union so verification can happen at the time of the transaction. Don’t just accept a check and hand over the keys. 

You’ll also want to hang onto the title of the vehicle until the transaction is fully verified. From a buyer’s perspective, the transaction can be canceled at any time if the transaction is fraudulent in any way. However, if you hand over the title at the time of payment and the transaction goes wrong, you may be out of luck.

Buyers should be prepared to have the transaction verified but should also be leery if there is no third-party involvement from a bank. You don’t want to hand over a large check to someone without some reassurances that the transaction for the toy hauler RV or other camper has safeguards involved. 

Signatures Are Binding

If the transaction goes well and everyone is happy, the buyer can safely hand over the title and any bill-of-sale documentation required. However, if you are a seller, make sure that the buyer signs all documentation before they take possession of the vehicle. 

If they drive off with the vehicle and the documentation without signatures that prove the transaction has legally taken place and the seller has proof of the transaction, the buyer could claim they are not the owners and only borrowed the vehicle. Without a record of the transaction, the authorities have no course except to believe the vehicle is still yours. You will not only have a damaged vehicle and potential expenses to take care of if legal actions are taken by the other party involved in the accident, the “buyer” may disappear and leave you handling all of the expenses.

Back It Up

It’s good to create a document that includes the buyer’s legal name, your name as the seller, the make/model/and year of the RV, the date of purchase, the mileage of the vehicle, and the sale amount. Both parties should sign and date a separate copy of the document—ideally in front of a Notary Public. If a Notary isn’t available or convenient to the transaction, both parties should take a photo of each other’s signed paper to have as proof.

Buying and selling RVs is such an exciting prospect, and if you’ve taken steps to ensure a safe transaction, you can enjoy the moment worry-free. If you’re feeling confident to get started, be sure to shop RVT.com to find your next motorhome or camper. And if you want to sell, list your RV for-sale on our marketplace!

By Barrett Baker

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