In this short guide, we will explore the following topic: Are RV show prices better? We are explaining the real costs of an RV. We also give you a few suggestions on how to negotiate the best price for an RV, no matter if you are buying it at an RV show or from a private seller.
Are RV show prices better?
In truth, RV show prices are not better, they just look like a better deal because of something called good marketing strategies. This is a summary of how most deals at RV shows take place:
- The buyer sets his eyes on a beautiful new and shiny RV.
- The seller presents the products with all of its “amazing and outstanding” features.
- The buyer looks reluctant because of the price that doesn’t really meet his intended budget.
- The RV show dealer offers a “generous” 15% discount.
- The buyer is happy that he made a really good deal!
But did he? In most cases, if the buyer has gone to a dealer he could have got the same discount, or even a 20% the MSRP of the motorhome. And if you get a one-year-old RV model, you could buy it even with a 40% discount. In fact, you will never find the lowest price at an RV show, and this is a fact many will confirm.
To avoid paying too much for an RV, you must understand the price of the motorhome and how much it is actually worth. This is what we discuss in the next section of this article.
What is the real price of an RV?
The price of your RV will depend on several criteria such as brand, size, engine, equipment, and of course whether it is a new or used vehicle. Here we offer some average price ranges and buying tips for the different types of vehicles on the market.
Price of a new RV
A new vehicle will certainly be more expensive but will provide you with many guarantees such as the absence of wear on the mechanics and its equipment, and therefore great reliability. And of course your brand new travelling companion has never been someone else’s, curtains, cushions, mattresses and textiles are still fresh!
- Trailers, truck campers and fifth wheels: Between 40,000 and 60,000 dollars.
Low profile motorhomes and truck campers are the most common models thanks to their great versatility. Where a streamlined vehicle will be more manoeuvrable and consume less with its lower wind resistance, the truck camper offers more living space thanks to its berth above the cockpit. This fairly equivalent benefit-to-disadvantage ratio between the two models justifies fairly similar prices. It’s up to you to see what your priorities are!
The good entry-level models are offered at around 40,000 dollars and the more the price increases, the more the vehicle will offer numerous and quality equipment. At around 60,000 dollars, we will find, for example, a vehicle such as a Pilot Pacific P740 with a fully-equipped kitchen and multiple storage spaces, a double bench seat or even an 1800 L cargo hold (compared to 900 for entry-level models).
- Class A, B and Class C RVs: From 70,000 dollars.
An integral motorhome is a perfect ally for frequent travellers who are looking for maximum comfort during their adventures, with a real small house on wheels.
Good entry-level models are priced around 60,000 dollars. At this price, you will already have great comfort with a spacious living space, 4 berths, a fitted kitchen and a separate bathroom for example for a Hymer Exsis-i 580.
Beyond that, prices rise quickly, and the equipment on offer too! Some top-comfort models are real small buses, sometimes with a built-in garage to fit in a car! But be careful, because, in addition to a price which for these models often exceeds 200,000 dollars, a heavy vehicle license can be requested if the GVWR exceeds 7,500 lbs.
More generally, a good new integral motorhome with good equipment will have a price set between 60,000 and 100,000 dollars.
- Vans and camper vans: Between 20,000 and 50,000 dollars.
Vans and converted vans are trendy because their compact size allows them to sneak around! If you want to buy a van or van, you have two options:
- Buy a classic utility vehicle such as a non-fitted Renault Trafic, which you can equip to your liking, either by yourself or by calling on a specialist
- Buy a vehicle already fitted out like those offered by the brands Westfalia, Font Vendôme, etc.
In the first case, a bare utility vehicle can be found for 10,000 dollars. But the price can be doubled (often at least!) By fitting it out! If you want to buy a van or van that has already been fitted out, there are many brands that offer excellent, comfortable and customizable equipment up to around 50,000 dollars. For these top-of-the-range models, we will even find a real motorhome layout with kitchen, bathroom, storage, berths and hold on average 100 L.
Price of a used RV
The main advantage of the second-hand market is of course that it offers much lower prices! A full inspection of the vehicle and its equipment is essential if you want to buy a used motorhome to avoid scams and overestimates. Remember to ask the seller for the history of technical inspections and overhauls, especially for vehicles with high mileage or lower prices!
An important parameter to also take into account with the occasion is the notion of “discount” (the decrease in the value of a motorhome in circulation over time). On average, compared to the price of a new vehicle, this discount is 20% the first year, then 15% per year the second and third year before stabilizing at 5% per year thereafter. So remember to compare the price of the vehicle against a new model, depending on the number of years of circulation for it.
- Trailers, truck campers and fifth wheels: Between 20,000 and 40,000 dollars.
Caravans and truck campers are plentiful on second-hand sites and you will be spoiled for choice! It is estimated that the reasonable price of this type of vehicle is between 20,000 and 40,000 dollars if it is fairly recent (put into service after 2010), in good condition and has never experienced a major defect.
Watch out for models before 2010 which tend to have very low prices (around 10,000 dollars) but which cost a lot in terms of gasoline consumption! For higher prices (above 40,000 dollars), if they are not very recent models (less than two years old), having driven very little (less than 10,000 km) and with quality equipment in a perfect condition, prefer to invest in a new vehicle within this budget.
- Class A, B and Class C RVs: Between 30,000 and 50,000 dollars
It can be very interesting to buy a full-size motorhome second-hand because the average price of a good model is 30,000 dollars or half of a new model! Between 30,000 and 50,000 dollars, you can also find real over-equipped nuggets like Hymer S820s that have driven very little. There are indeed a lot of advertisements for used integral motorhomes because many owners finally decide to fall back on low-profile, more compact and versatile.
Avoid models prior to the 2000s which can be around 10,000 dollars but which often consume a lot of gasoline and will require investments in equipment (often obsolete or in any case very ageing), in addition to questionable reliability.
- Vans and camper vans: Between 10,000 and 40,000 dollars.
The price differences can be quite surprising when you want to buy a used van or campervan! Once again, it depends on the layout or not of the interior because there are many advertisements for “converted vans” which in reality are not real, and which display unbeatable prices around 5,000 dollars. On the other hand, there are fully equipped vans that have driven very little, sold for around 40,000 dollars!
Here too, it is advisable to be very careful about the history and the quality of the equipment of the vehicles, in particular for the Combi models of the 80s and 90s whose advertisements around 5,000 dollars are numerous whereas they require big investments to bring up to date.
Overall, a well-converted minivan will be around 10,000 dollars second-hand and if you want a comfortable, over-equipped van, plan on a budget of 40,000 dollars in this market.
Essential advice for negotiating the price of an RV (old or new)
To get the lowest cost of ownership possible on a new or second-hand RV, follow these simple tips:
- Check the resale value of the model you plan to buy on websites like RV Trader, AutoHebdo, FindTonVR or NADA. Look for the same model, but three to five years older. This will give you a good indication of the average devaluation.
- Make sure the model is rare. If there are hundreds of trailers like yours for sale on these sites, it will take longer to find a buyer and you probably won’t get the best price. Rare pearls, especially if they are of high quality, are always easier to sell.
- Try to take advantage of the exchange rate. Most RVs and almost all equipment/accessories are made in the USA. So if you buy your trailer when the dollar is strong and sell it when it is weak, you could get a price very close to the amount you originally paid because the price of the same model, new, will have climbed since your purchase.
- Devaluation takes on even greater importance when it comes to motorized RVs. In this case, it is absolutely necessary to consider the mileage that one thinks to be done annually because the number entered in the odometer is the main input in the calculation of the value of the vehicle.
- Finally, the bigger, heavier and less aerodynamic the RV, the more fuel it will cost. It’s an expensive item that can make all the difference when gasoline or diesel prices go up.
Some RV dealers seem to offer a lot for the price. But be careful, it’s almost always because the vehicles are built with inferior materials. For almost the same cost of ownership, you could enjoy a higher quality, more luxurious and comfortable vehicle.
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FAQ on Are RV show prices better?
What do you have to take into account when buying a motorhome?
When buying a motorhome, you have to take into account so many things that it is best to involve each member of the family in the process. Give each person precise instructions. Do an eye check of the tires, electrical system, the condition of the furniture, etc.
How much does an RV cost?
RV costs depend on whether they are pre-owned, new, large, luxurious, simple, etc. However, an estimate (from a used one to a new luxury one) is between $ 15,000 USD to $ 100,000 USD.
How to negotiate a price reduction for an RV?
Here are the basics to negotiate a price reduction for an RV:
- Carry out a preliminary market study.
- Do not give too much information on the first visit.
- Make a reasonable offer on the RV.
- Have another purchase option.
- Be clear if the RV is what you are looking for at a reasonable price.