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Is Excessive RV Depreciation Avoidable? Yes! Here’s How to Hold an RV’s Value (and Profit When Selling)

Published on November 16th, 2023 by Chelsea Gonzales

RV depreciation is a thing all RV owners must deal with. It’s going to happen no matter what. But in some cases, excessive RV depreciation can drastically reduce the value of your RV in a surprisingly short amount of time. 

The good news? There are common-sense ways to reduce the amount of RV depreciation that comes your way.

By making a wise RV purchase, being a responsible RV owner, and using a few clever tips when selling, you can get the most out of your RV while losing the least amount of money possible. 

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Depreciation Factors to Consider When Buying an RV

First, let’s discuss what RV buyers should be looking for when buying a camper that will hold its value. Knowing what is going to best withstand the effects of RV depreciation is incredibly helpful. This will likely sway your decision if you’re worried about long-term finances. 

Buy Used

Just like automobiles, brand-new RVs lose a whole lot of their value in the first year of ownership. The rate of excess depreciation varies on the model, but in general, the very second you drive them away from the dealership, you own a depreciating asset.

You can avoid excessive RV depreciation by choosing a gently used RV over a new one.

Avoid Loans

While financing an RV doesn’t actually make an RV’s rate of depreciation happen faster, paying interest certainly does mean you’ll end up spending more than the purchase price. If you’re thinking of buying an RV after bankruptcy, higher interest rates are in your future too.

If you can, pay cash to get a better discount than the MSRP listed on the rig. Save the money you would have spent on interest to offset RV depreciation.

Consider a Class C

Lovely new class C RV in the desert

The type of RV that depreciates the slowest? The class C motorhome. If you want your RV to retain as much value as possible, choose a class C first.

Class A RV models and Class B campervans can also be good choices, but remember; a fifth wheel trailer depreciates the fastest of all.

Consider Buying an Older Travel Trailer

If you want to buy something on the older side, you might consider a travel trailer. Bumper-pull travel trailers depreciate at about the same rate as class A motorhomes for the first ten years.

If the trailer is well maintained, depreciation slows significantly after those first ten years.

Consider Age as Well as Mileage

When you buy a car, low mileage is arguably the most important factor. But not when it comes to buying a used RV.

A motorhome with very few miles might be worse off than an RV with a moderate number of miles. This is because RVs should not be left to sit, and an older one with very few miles has probably spent a lot of time sitting around. 

While you don’t want a motorhome with an enormous number of miles on a motorized RV, age is actually more important than mileage in the case of RVs.

How to Maintain Value on Your RV

Even if you already own your RV, there are some things you can do to reduce the effects of excessive RV depreciation. Use the tips below to take excellent care of your rig to reduce expenses, and maintain its value as well as it possibly can, no matter how long you hold onto it.

1. Maintain the Rig Well

RV maintenance is incredibly important for keeping the value of your RV up. This is especially true if you are using it for full time use. A small leak can lead to significant water damage very quickly. This level of damage reduces your RV’s value by a lot.

Another example? An RV that isn’t properly protected from pests can be severely damaged by mice, another thing that significantly cuts back on the total worth of the trailer or motorhome. 

Read your manufacturer’s owners manual. Stick to scheduled RV maintenance to avoid problems like this.

2. Make Repairs Immediately

In addition to maintaining the RV, you’ll also want to make sure repairs are made right away. As illustrated above, small damages can lead to bigger damages if not addressed, and all of these things do add up, speeding RV depreciation along.

3. Avoid Big Makeovers in Newer RVs

It might seem like a freshly painted RV with new furniture would be worth more than a stock rig. This makes perfect sense and might be true in the case of super old RVs that are in desperate need of updating. If you want a makeover for business use, be prepared for the highest amount of excessive RV depreciation. Most buyers are looking for a camper for personal use only.

In rigs that are less than 10 years old, you might be able to get away with a small makeover. But in newer rigs, painting and replacing RV furniture can drastically contribute to excessive RV depreciation.

4. Use Covered Storage

We explained above how badly a leak can damage your RV. While regular maintenance should help you avoid this issue, sometimes seals aren’t perfect, and unknown leaks can lead to terrible damage unless you store your RV the right way in winter.

Covered storage can help you avoid this issue. It can also help protect your RV from rust, hail damage dents, and sun damage, both things that will lead to faster RV deprecation.

5. Take the RV out Regularly

RVs are not made to sit. An RV that sits too much is more likely to be damaged and have broken parts. Use your RV and all its amenities regularly. Not only will you get more out of your purchase, you’ll also be more likely to maintain it well and catch little issues when they come up. 

How to Get the Most Money When Selling an RV

When the time comes to sell your RV, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure it sells for as much as possible. This will reduce the effects of depreciation and help you come out of the sale with more money in your pocket.

Sell at the Right Time

The time of year you decide to sell will make a huge difference in how much you can sell for. You’ll likely get the most out of your RV if you sell during the spring, as this is the time of year most people are thinking about camping.

Prepare the RV for the Sale 

Before you list your RV for sale, remove all of your own items, clean it really well, and fix anything that is broken. The goal is to get it as close to factory condition as possible. Once it’s totally clean, open up the slides and shades and take plenty of good quality pictures to include in your posting. 

Holiding an RV’s value isn’t too hard.

Do these simple tasks, and you can avoid excessive RV depreciation while you own the rig. In return, you can ask for more money when finally selling your RV.

RVs are a worthwhile purchase even when excessive RV depreciation is in the future. No, they don’t increase in value the way that real estate does. But even a depreciating asset can bring you a lot of joy in your life, and endless happy memories.

We hope these tips help you avoid the worst effects of RV depreciation so you can keep more money in your pocket for things like camping fees and sightseeing!

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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