Ever dreamed of hitting the open road and exploring the great outdoors in your very own recreational vehicle (RV)? You’re not alone! More and more people are discovering the joys of RV travel and with good reason. Owning an RV gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace, visit incredible destinations, and create unforgettable memories with friends and family. But when it comes to buying an RV, there’s a lot to consider. One option that many people find attractive is purchasing a used RV for sale by owner.
When we searched for a camper to remodel way back in 2012, we wanted to buy a used one. Why buy a used RV, you ask? Well, there are countless reasons. For starters, it’s a more budget-friendly option than buying a brand-new RV. New RVs can be quite expensive, and much like cars, they start to depreciate in value as soon as they leave the dealership. By purchasing a used RV, you can save a significant amount of money and still get a fantastic vehicle that’s perfect for your needs.
We scoured the internet and looked at all sorts of sites to narrow down our options to find used class a motorhome for sale. We didn’t want to buy an RV from a dealership and were specifically looking for used RVs for sale by owners. Before we get to resources, let’s talk about why you may want to buy a used RV directly from an owner versus a retailer.
Advantages of Buying a Used RV From an Owner
One of the biggest advantages of buying a used RV from an owner is that you can often get a better deal than if you were to buy from a dealership. Private sellers are usually more motivated to sell their RV and may be more willing to negotiate on the price. Plus, buying from an owner means you can avoid sales taxes and dealer fees, which can add up quickly.
Another advantage is that you can get a better idea of how the RV has been maintained and cared for by its previous owner. You can ask the seller questions about the RV’s history, maintenance, and any repairs that have been done. This information can help you make a more informed decision about whether the RV is the right fit for you.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Used RV
Before you start searching for a used RV for sale by owner, it’s essential to consider several factors.
- Your budget. Knowing how much you can afford to spend on an RV will help you narrow down your search and make the process more manageable.
- Type of RV. Are you looking for a small travel trailer, a spacious fifth wheel, or a luxurious motorhome? Each type of RV comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks, so it’s essential to understand the differences between them.
- Features & Amenities. Some RVs come with basic amenities like a sleeping area, kitchenette, and bathroom, while others have more deluxe features such as surround sound systems, a washer/dryer unit, or a fireplace.
Be sure to make a list of your must-have features and keep this in mind when browsing used RVs for sale by owner.
Top Online Platforms to Find Used RVs for Sale by Owner
When it comes to finding used RVs for sale by owner, the internet is your best friend. There are several online platforms where you can search for the perfect RV to suit your amenity needs and budget. Many of these sites allow you to narrow down campers by type such as Class A motorhomes, Class Bs, Class Cs, truck campers, pop-up campers, conversion vans, travel trailers (bumper pullers), and 5th wheels.
All the sites below will connect you to used RVs for sale by private owners and many have RV dealer ads. These sites are in no particular order and are sure to keep you busy as you hunt for the perfect used RV for sale by owner.
Some of the top platforms to find used RVs for sale by owner include:
General Search Engine:
- Facebook Marketplace. If you are on Facebook, Marketplace is an excellent option to find a used RV. This is my favorite way to search for used RVs for sale near me. Of course, you can always expand your search further and go outside of your local area.
- Craigslist. Of course, there is always a good ole’ Craigslist search. You can easily see all RVs by clicking the category RVs + Camp. If you want to search for multiple cities, you can use a site such as Tempest, which I’ll get into in a minute.
RV Search Engine:
- Facebook Groups. We’re back to Facebook because this is an RV-specific site. One Facebook group we’ve found super-helpful is RV Classifieds. There are other groups out there of course but the ease of Facebook makes this such a quick and simple place to look. You can post what you’re looking for on this group as well and instantaneous updates make it an easy way to look. Inventory is small but feedback on particular models is an added bonus.
- RV Trader. There are so many search results on here, it may be a little overwhelming. We’ve heard concerns that many listings are outdated. For many years, RV Trader was the gold standard for finding a used RV. You can search for used RVs by make, model, year, price, and location, making it easy to find the perfect RV in your area.
- RVT. This site is similar to RV Trader but not quite as large of an inventory. That may be a good thing as the vast amount of listings on RV Trader can be overwhelming.
- Classy RV. If you’d like to view RVs by state, this one is so simple and straightforward to navigate.
- Cranky Ape. Are you into bidding on your RV? If so, then Cranky Ape is your place to be. Bidding may seem risky to you can find some deals on there.
- RVUniverse. Through RVUniverse, you are able to filter your search very specifically. For example, you can search for teardrop trailers, truck campers, class A, B, B+, C, park models, toy haulers, etc. Just be aware that dealer ads are also included in the search results.
- PopRVs. This site has many options you can filter by such as state, RV class, price range, mileage, etc.
- Conversion Trader. If you’re looking for a van or bus conversion, this is the site for you. There are some seriously inspiring rigs on here if you are looking for a conversion or undertaking a conversion yourself.
Keep in mind that when using these online platforms, it’s essential to exercise caution and follow safe online buying practices. Always do your research, ask plenty of questions, and if possible, inspect the RV in person before making a purchase.
Tempest for Craigslist, eBay, & Facebook Marketplace
I really LOVE Tempest but wanted to talk about this site for a quick minute.
Tempest has gone through some updates over the years and you can now search Craigslist, eBay & Facebook Marketplace. What a deal right?! Personally, I would probably never buy an RV on eBay but it is an option for searching with Tempest. Anytime a website saves me time, I’m all in. Plus Tempest is free. HIGHLY recommend you start here in your used RV search.
Local Listings for Used Campers & Travel Trailers
In addition to these online search sites, don’t forget to check your local newspaper classifieds and community bulletin boards for local campers for sale by owner. You may also find used travel trailers and campers for sale in your area by simply driving around and keeping an eye out for “For Sale” signs on RVs parked in driveways, alongside the road, or in RV storage areas.
RV Buying Guide for First-Time Buyers
If you’re a first-time RV buyer, the process of finding and purchasing a used RV can be overwhelming. To help you navigate the process, I’ve put together a condensed RV buying guide to ensure you find the perfect used RV for sale by owner.
- Budget: Set a budget for your RV purchase and stick to it. I know it is easy to get sucked into paying more for a camper when you start to see added features and amenities at higher price points. No one wants to be house-poor or camper-poor and not have the flexibility to travel/RV due to hefty camper payments. Keep in mind that in addition to the purchase price, you’ll also need to budget for:
- Camping Fees
- Inspect: When you find a used RV that you’re interested in, arrange to inspect it in person. This will allow you to get a better idea of the RV’s condition and ensure it meets your needs and expectations. Some of you may be looking for a fixer-upper. If you’re not, a few more minutes of inspecting will save you a headache.
- Exterior: Check the RV’s exterior for any signs of damage, rust, or leaks. Be sure to inspect the roof, windows, doors, and seals.
- Tires: Inspect the tires for wear and tear, and make sure they are properly inflated and have good tread. Check the age of the tires as well, as older tires can be a safety hazard.
- Mechanical systems: Test all of the mechanical systems, including the engine (if it’s a motorhome), brakes, steering, and transmission. Look for any signs of leaks or damage.
- Electrical systems: Test all of the electrical systems, including the battery, generator, and wiring. Check that all lights, outlets, and appliances are working correctly.
- Plumbing systems: Test the plumbing systems, including the water pump, hot water heater, and toilet. Look for any signs of leaks or damage.
- Interior: Speaking from our negative experience with a rotted camper wall, an interior inspection is crucial. Press on the walls to see if there are any soft spots. Look for signs of damage or wear and tear. Check all cabinets, drawers, and appliances. Look for any signs of water damage or mold.
- Test drive: If possible (and especially for driver RVs), take that baby out for a test drive to ensure it runs smoothly and is easy to maneuver.
- Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price of the used RV with the seller.
- Know the market value of the RV you’re interested in and use this information to inform your negotiations.
- Check similar listings on websites like RV Trader and RVT.com to get a sense of what other sellers are asking for the same or similar RVs.
- To see if they are selling for a fair price, check J.D. Power.com (the Kelly Blue Book for RVs) to get an estimate.
- Be polite but firm in your negotiations, and be prepared to walk away if the seller isn’t willing to meet your price. There are plenty of used RVs for sale by owner out there, and you’re likely to find another RV that meets your needs and budget.
- If you’ve noticed any issues with the RV during your inspection or test drive, use these as negotiating points. For example, if the tires are worn or the roof needs repair, you can use this information to justify a lower price.
- While it’s important to negotiate, it’s also essential to be fair and reasonable in your offer. Offering a price that’s too low may insult the seller and make them less willing to negotiate with you.
- Negotiating can take time, and it’s important to be patient and not rush the process. Remember that buying a used RV is a significant investment, and it’s worth taking the time to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.
- Finalize the sale: Once you’ve agreed on a price, be sure to get a bill of sale, transfer the title and registration into your name, and set up your insurance.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Buying a used RV for sale by owner can be a great way to save money and get a camper that’s perfect for your needs. By following my tips, you can make the process of buying a used RV as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Remember to do your research, inspect the RV thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to negotiate the price. With a little patience and persistence, you can score your dream RV and hit the road in no time! Happy RV shopping!