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The Pros and Cons of Selling an RV on Consignment

The Pros and Cons of Selling an RV on Consignment

As spring approaches, you may be considering selling your RV, either to retire from the RV lifestyle, to upgrade to another unit, or (as with some people we know) to reduce the number of RVs you own. 

No matter where you live in North America, you likely have an RV Dealer who sells motorhomes, travel trailers or other RVs on a consignment basis reasonably close to where you are.  There are advantages and disadvantages to selling your RV on consignment through these dealers, and some things you should know about the process of choosing a dealer.

PROS

  1.        You don’t have the time and expense of advertising your RV for sale.
  2.        You will eliminate the hassle of arranging appointments to show your RV to prospective buyers, as well as any potential security issues surrounding those showings.
  3.        If you do your initial research well, you’ll have a professional RV dealership promoting and selling your RV better than you can (after all, RV sales are their business)
  4.        As long as your RV is priced right and promoted effectively, you will likely sell it more quickly that you could yourself. 

CONS

  1.  Expect to have to pay the costs to bring your RV into a saleable condition.  If the dealer is going to stand behind your vehicle, it won’t be able to have any unreasonable defects present.  If you can do any needed repairs yourself, do them because it will be less expensive than having the dealer take care of them.  Keep in mind that we at RV Part Shop can source most RV parts and accessories that you might need to do those repairs.
  2.        Unless you want to pay the dealer to do it, you will likely have to clean the RV yourself to prepare it for sale. 
  3.        Once you consign the RV, you won’t be able to take it off the lot for a family weekend RV trip (nor do you want to.)  The dealer won’t want to disappoint potential buyers who have set up appointments to see your RV.

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL CONSIGNMENT SELLING

  1.        Before you call any dealers, do some online research on what comparable RVs are selling for in your area and nationally. 
  2.        You can also check out www.nadaguides.com/rvs  which aggregates RV sales from member dealers to come up with their values.  However, don’t use the “add and subtract options” functions for optional equipment because they are all the same value for every motorhome or trailer, which isn’t realistic.  You might end up with a lower number, but that’s fine, this is only a guideline to start.
  3.        Next, put all of those prices out of your head.  First of all, asking prices online are generally inflated.  In some cases, you will see almost full new retail prices listed for used RVs.  For-sale-by-owner RVs are usually priced based on the inflated dealer listings you are seeing, and they rarely sell for those numbers.  We also find that the NADA Guides also tend to be higher than consignment sale values.  Expect to net something around 15-20% less than the average of all of the prices, less the cost of any required repairs.
  4.        Once you have a estimated price range in mind, and are prepared to live with it, do a web search for “RV Consignment Dealers” and you should come up with some consignment RV Dealers within 100-200 miles of you.
  5.        Contact the dealers and ask them about consigning your vehicle.  Make sure you understand their process and terms and conditions for consigning your RV.  Ask hard questions about what service standards you should expect from them.  You’ll learn a lot from their answers about the level of professionalism present.
  6.        Ask for a rough estimate on what your RV will be worth.  They may want to see the RV first, but they should be able to give you a ball park figure over the phone.  (Most dealers have a book or online resource they can reference.  Actually, it’s the NADA guides information that you referenced, except they have wholesale value information as well)
  7.        They may ask about the vehicle condition. DO NOT tell the dealer that “the RV is in perfect condition” and “there is nothing that needs to be fixed”.  Every RV consignment seller says that, but the reality is that there is in most cases some repairs required to your RV and usually the more emphatically these assertions are made, the worse shape the RV is actually in.  Be honest about the defects you know about, the dealer is not going to sell your unit without finding out anyway.   It won’t save you any money and you’ll enjoy a better working relationship with the dealer if you establish trust.  Ultimately, you’re going to have to be responsible for defects in the RV.  The dealer or seller will expect the market and purchase the same quality level that you would expect if you were buying.
  8.        After these calls, you’ll have a pretty good feel for which RV dealer represents the best option for consigning your RV.  Beware of price promises that are too high compared to your price research.  If you list the motorhome or travel trailer at too high a price, it won’t sell and you will have to reduce it later, having the cost of a delayed sale reducing your price.  Also, don’t rule out dealers who may seem too low on their price estimate, but who give you confidence through their professionalism.  They may be able to up that price once they see your RV, and may sell it faster with fewer issues.
  9.        Once you do choose a consignment dealer, keep in touch with them on a regular basis to find out what marketing efforts they are undertaking to sell your RV.  If they are doing nothing, you could have rented a parking space and purchased a for sale sign for the window with the same  result.  Don’t be afraid to put some pressure on the dealership to perform.  After all, they do work for you.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you choose the right consignment RV dealer and work well with them, you should expect to receive a price A) higher than wholesale because the dealer doesn’t have the cost of carrying your RV in inventory and B) less than retail because the dealer does need to make some money and cover the cost of marketing your vehicle.  You’ll probably receive less net dollars in your pocket than if you sold it yourself.  But if you count the time and money you’ll expend selling your motorhome or travel trailer yourself, it will likely be pretty close to a break-even amount.

Good luck!

February 9, 2017

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