Everyone wants a good deal, especially when making an expensive purchase like a home or car. An RV has the potential to cost you tens of thousands of dollars before you even sign on the dotted line. To find the best RV prices possible, you need the best negotiating and buying strategies to secure the optimal RV price tag for your budget.
You may have been buying a new or used motorhome every ten years from the same dealer, but that doesn’t mean they will always have the best deal for you. Loyalty will only get you so far in negotiating a great price, so always keep your options open. Your dealer’s competitor down the street might have a better deal, or they might have one up the dealer you’ve been going to for years.
Look at as many prices as possible, your dealer, their competitor, online dealers, and more before you make a move. Don’t settle for the first dealership or the first price tag that fits within your ideal budget.
Don't Settle for New
Many consumers believe a new home or a new car or a new anything is the way to save money long-term. It seems that by buying new, you’ll have fewer issues, need to perform less maintenance, and your purchase will last longer. But that isn’t always true.
When it comes to RVs, buying used allows you more control over your budget, improvements, customizations, and more. By spending less upfront, you have more to invest in your rig over time giving you a true home away from home with features and functionality you can’t always get buying new in this industry.
Don’t Tie Yourself to a Brand
People are loyal to brands. Whether it’s toilet paper or your cell phone or a car, brand loyalty is one of the reasons certain brands are always on top no matter the year. When it comes to RVing, the same is true, but at the end of the day, all RVs serve the same purpose.
They’re designed to give you a place to stay at the end of the day comfortably. Even though you may have your heart set on a brand, look at similar RV types to find the rig you’ll call home. You may be surprised by what you find, and you may save thousands of dollars in the process.
Buy Now, Customize Later
One of the biggest downfalls of buying an RV is realizing how much more money you’re going to have to spend to get the features you want. Whether it’s a better mattress or an upgraded entertainment center, the price tag on the RV is enough to make most turn away and give up on the RV lifestyle.
When budgeting for an RV, think long-term. Don’t be afraid to buy a basic model and upgrade it later. Customizations from installing new cabinetry to wiring an intercom system to fitting a skirt to your RV can all be done down the line. Think of your RV like a home; you’re always going to have improvement projects to tackle.
Buy a Fixer Upper
One of the most popular trends among RVers is to buy an older model, such as an Airstream, and fix it up. There are communities around the US dedicated to doing this and saving money while doing it. You can get a cheap RV on Craigslist or other unconventional places, gut it, and fix it up the way you imagine your dream RV to look and feel.
Buying a fixer-upper comes with risk, but you’ll put out much less upfront and if you plan properly, save more than half of the cost of a brand-new RV with all the bells and whistles. Buying a fixer-upper isn’t for everyone, but if you play your cards right, you’ll be the envy of every RV park or campground.
Watch Financing Rates
Financing your RV can be the make or break on securing a great deal. Financing rates depend on current market trends; RV loan rates tend to mirror auto loan rates. Don’t accept financing from an RV dealer if you can get a better rate from your bank or credit union or vice versa.
Get a quote from your bank before you go to an RV dealership and use that to leverage a better deal there. If you know the market is sweet on auto loans, it’s your time to strike for good RV loan rate as well.
Pool Your Resources
Have you ever heard a timeshare pitch? Imagine the same concept but for an RV. Another trend started by millennials is going in together on an RV. By going in together, you can split the cost, maintenance, and share an awesome home on wheels at a fraction of the cost.
While sharing an RV isn’t for everyone, if scheduled efficiently, everyone who goes all in can get the time they want on the road. Make sure if you consider this option, you get a contract drafted up by all parties in case anything goes wrong down the line.
Find a Friendly Salesperson
We all get it. A salesperson is going to do everything within reason they can to get you into that new RV. This includes being friendly, but it goes both ways. Your salesperson wants you to like him or her because you’re more apt to buy from a “friend,” but a seller is also likely to want to give a friend a better deal.
Be friendly, polite and develop a good rapport with your salesperson. They could end up pulling a few strings to get you a better deal, especially if it’s the end of the month and they’re trying to make their quota.
How Will You Use the RV?
With Lyft, Airbnb, and other interesting ways to make a few bucks on the side becoming more popular, have you considered how else you could use your RV? There’s a variety of options out there, like RVShare, Outdoorsy, and RVwithMe to name a few. List your RV when it’s not in use, share it with others and see what extra income might pay off your initial investment or improvement plans.
Many have considered RVing full-time and telecommuting to save on rising house costs across the country. This could change your budget and on-going maintenance costs for an RV purchase, so keep that in mind as you begin plotting how you’ll use your RV and the budget you’ll set aside to be comfortable in it.
Some dealers may mark their prices up over 50 percent. Don’t fall for “sale,” “low price,” and other stickers plastered across an RV windshield. They’re luring you in to make you think the markup is the “market value” of the RV. They plan on negotiating the price down but can usually get away with a higher price than they should.
That’s why it’s important to take risks in negotiation. Start low, very low, half the asking price. If they recognize you know what you’re talking about, and you’re interested in the RV, you will be surprised at some concessions the dealer may make.
Find the Right Incentives
Your salesperson will throw many incentives at you to sweet-talk you into the deal and avoid the best RV prices for your budget. If the amenities add inherent value, it may be worth spending a bit more but forget about the free pair of sunglasses or seat warmers and hold out for the real incentives.
When closing the deal or looking for a bargaining chip, ask for a real incentive, such as free oil changes for a year or interior upgrades, make the temptation worth it. If the incentives aren’t worth it, the overall price tag on the RV you’re looking at aren’t worth it either.
Wait for the Deal
No matter what kind of reasonable financing rates a third-party institution can secure for you, the dealer can always beat them if they want to. Come with a firm budget, multiple loan quotes if possible, and be flexible when the time is right. While in general getting your RV financed through a bank is usually cheaper, they can’t beat promotions and specials straight from the dealer.
Some good examples are promotions such as zero percent APR on RVs for a year or dramatic price cuts should you choose to finance with the dealer. Wait for these deals to happen before moving in on a new ride.
Try RV Shows
RV dealers aren’t at trade shows to look pretty; they’re there to sell RVs. This can work in your favor with some calculated risk. Spend the first day scouting around RVs that grab your interest and make a note of your options. Talk to people, learn about brands, and start narrowing down the list of best rigs you’ve seen.
Wait until the last day of the show and see what is still available on your list. The chances are that the dealer will offer better prices and incentives to move his merchandise before the RV show ends to avoid having to tow or ship it back to their lot.
Buy at the End of the Season
This is like the RV show strategy. Like auto dealerships, RV dealers operate on monthly and yearly schedules. This means if they have not met their sales quotas by month or year’s end, they will be eager to move some RVs. You may also find sweet spots during the middle of fall when RV season is coming to an end in most of the US.
Dealers will be eager to sell before the chilly weather settles in. This may be the perfect time to negotiate a deal out of the dealer or target a salesperson who may not be having the best month selling.
You are never obligated to take a deal no matter what the salesperson has done for you. If you don’t feel the deal is right, feel too much pressure, or uncomfortable about anything, walk away.
Never, ever feel compelled to make the buy because the salesperson has met you half way. Never feel like you must buy no matter the circumstances. If it’s out of your price range, unfavorable loan terms, or just the wrong RV, take a deep breath and walk away. While you may feel bad at the time, you won’t feel any better down the line with an RV you’re unhappy with in the future.