The question for camping enthusiasts: Is there a Kelley Blue Book for RVs and trailers? Unfortunately, the Blue Book website no longer includes RV’s or campers. That can make it harder to determine RV values when you’re beginning your search.
But no worries, as there are other ways to determine the market value of your RV or travel trailer without a Kelley Blue Book! Below are great tips to get the best value for your used RV or travel trailer.
Why It’s Important
An RV or travel trailer represent a big investment, so it stands to reason that you should learn as much as you can about their value. When you’re purchasing a used model—be it from a dealership or an individual—the information can help you from making a colossal and costly mistake.
On the other hand, if you’ve decided to sell your unit, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a decent price, but not one that’s so high that it scares away potential customers.
The bad news? It’s not that easy to determine the worth of a used motorhome or travel trailer. While vehicle owners can simply consult the KBB website for a solid idea of how much their property is worth, the site no longer includes information on RVs. Since Kelley Blue Book (KBB) stopped publishing hard copies of their guide in 2017, the information can only be found online.
Fortunately, the Kelley Blue Book website isn’t the only resource for determining the value of your travel trailer. In our Website Review Guide, below, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular ones, letting you know whether or not they’re useful—and why.
Things Every Seller Should Know
Private Sale or RV Dealership?
First of all, decide whether you’ll be selling your RV to a private buyer or enlisting the aid of an RV dealership. Each choice has its pros and cons, so there’s no right answer. Which one you choose depends on how much time you have, as well as your financial situation.
If you decide to sell your RV through a dealership, there’s a good chance you’ll get the rig off your hands sooner rather than later. This is a major perk if you want to unload the RV quickly.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need the money right away. You might be looking to clear space in your garage for a new purchase, or you’re moving and won’t have the space to keep the RV any longer. Whatever your reasons, selling your RV through a dealership will be much quicker than waiting on a private sale.
On the downside, the dealership probably won’t be willing to pay your asking price. If you find a buyer who’s interested in your RV, they might not take the time to ask questions about pricing and value. Even if they do, you’re probably offering them a better price than they would get if they visited a dealership themselves.
So, if you’re willing to be patient for a while, it might be worth parking the RV in your yard with a prominent “For Sale” sign in front of it. The perfect buyer could be literally right around the corner.
Before putting your used RV or travel trailer on the market, be sure to take the following factors into account:
•Cleanliness—The unit should be spic-and-span before you even think about showing it to potential buyers. If you need to hire a professional to get the job done, the reward should be well worth the expense.
•Time of year—Most buyers will be starting their search in the spring and early summer, so have your travel trailer ready for walk-throughs by the time the snow melts. RV pricing tends to go up during this time of year, which is all the more reason to offer a good deal to prospective customers.
One caveat: If you’ve spent a great deal of money outfitting your RV for winter camping, then it might show better in the fall when the temperature drops. However, keep in mind that fewer people will be shopping for a travel trailer or RV at this time, so you might have a harder time finding the right buyer.
•Repairs—Now is the time to tend to any problems the unit might have. If the floor of the bathroom has suffered moisture damage, or if there are any nagging mechanical issues, have them taken care of before you show the unit to prospective buyers. You’ll be able to sell your RV much more quickly if it’s in good overall condition.
•Personal items—Remove all photos, as well as anything that might be considered “kitschy.” You want the buyers to be able to envision themselves in the space, with as few distractions as possible.
•Coziness—That said, you don’t want the RV to look completely barren, or it won’t show well. Keep a few well-placed linens and pillows on the dinette and in the master bedroom to give the rooms a lived-in look. Other ideas include putting books on the shelves and keeping a couple of tempting staples in the kitchen cabinets.
Tips For Buyers
On the other hand, if you’re looking to buy a new travel trailer or motorhome, a slightly different set of criteria applies. Keep the following in mind before beginning your search:
•Do Your Research—Spend some time chatting with seasoned RVers, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. You’ll pick up invaluable advice on RV pricing—and probably make a few friends along the way.
•Research Local Mechanics—It can be difficult to find a repair shop that’s willing to work on motorhomes, and many dealerships will only take the job if the rig was purchased from them. Make sure you have a resource for maintenance and repairs before taking the plunge.
Another tip: If you’re purchasing from a dealership, it’s also worth asking the sales rep whether they offer any special deals on routine cleaning and maintenance after the purchase. Because they’re hoping to earn your business, you might end up getting a few perks thrown in.
•Play The Waiting Game—Don’t be tempted to jump on the first good deal you find. The main reason for this research is to help you get the best deal possible—and that means shopping around. Keep in mind that RV values may rise and fall depending on factors like availability, popularity, and what time of year it is.
Website Review Guide
This website is an especially valuable asset for sellers, but it can be used by anyone who’s curious about the going rate for RVs. While the main page of the website has more of a retail vibe, the Price Checker page is a user-friendly way to appraise the value of your unit.
The drop-down filters allow you to browse by type (for example, class A or class B), as well as year, make, and location. If you leave any of these fields blank, you’ll be directed to a longer list—a useful tool for buyers, but time-consuming if you’re looking for the price of a specific unit.
Once you’ve selected from the list of available RVs, you’ll be given three different values for the rig: high, low, and average. That’s why this guide is such a handy resource if you’re trying to sell your RV—you can set your price based on the industry standard.
The NADA Pricing and Value Guide (reviewed below) has a similar feature, but we think the RVTrader Price Checker page is slightly easier to use, especially if you only need a quick reference.
National Automobile Dealers Association
Even though there isn’t a Kelley Blue Book for RVs, there is a resource that hews as closely to the KBB model as possible, then the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) could be the answer.
The site is easily navigable and refreshingly up-to-date, thereby allowing you to get an accurate estimate of the value of your travel trailer.
Unlike the RVTrader Price Checker page, the NADA guide gives you the option of detailing the extras and add-ons featured by a certain unit. The process is slightly more convoluted, but it will also provide you with more specific information.
Here’s how it works: Go to the NADA website and click on the “RVs” button at the top of the page. From there, you’ll be able to choose from the following selections:
- Travel Trailers/5th Wheels
- Camping Trailers
- Truck Campers
- Park Models
- Tow Vehicles
On the following page, you’ll be directed to select the make and model of the unit you’re pricing. Novices, take note: There are typically several units for every “series” of motorhomes, so make sure all your information is as accurate and detailed as possible before you begin.
As with the KBB site, you’ll be invited to customize your search by adding your postal code, in addition to other pertinent factors such as mileage and condition of the motorhome in question.
Keep in mind that NADA only collects and posts the RV pricing information up to a certain point in time. That means that some early models won’t be included. If the website hasn’t updated its information with regards to a certain model, you should be redirected to the company website—a handy feature that can save you a lot of time.
One of our favorite aspects of this website is the inclusion of towing vehicles in the RV and motorhome section. This allows for one-stop shopping, so to speak, in case you’re purchasing your travel trailer and towing vehicle at the same time.
We also appreciate the “low retail” and “average retail” comparisons, which make it easier for buyers to tell whether or not they’re getting a good deal. If you’re selling your RV or travel trailer, the feature should give you a solid idea of how much you should be charging.
Because RVChecks charges a fee to access its services, we’ve listed it last. The RV Trader and NADA websites should tell you what you need to know, especially if you’re looking to sell your unit rather than purchase a new one. As far as buyers are concerned, you probably don’t need to worry as long as you’re working with a reputable dealer.
If you’re overly concerned about the history of a specific unit, however, the services of RVChecks just might come in handy. To take advantage of their offerings, you’ll need to have the vehicle identification number (VIN) for the unit in question. Fortunately, if you’re thinking about selling your RV, it’s useful to keep that close at hand anyway.
For about $25, you’ll receive 30 days of access to a full-scale report that will tell you everything you want to know about the motorhome. A second option allows you to order three separate reports with 30 days of access, priced at around $50.
Be aware that these reports will only give you detailed information about the history and condition of the unit, and nothing about whether or not the price is a fair one. In this way, it’s more like CARFAX than KBB. However, for buyers who want to know exactly what they’re getting into, it’s a valuable resource.
So, do we favor any of these websites over the rest when it comes to finding a replacement for the KBB resources?
In short, we like the RVTrader Price Checker for its user-friendly interface and its ability to quickly look up the price of a certain model. For a more personal and customized approach, however, we would prefer the NADA website.
Buyers might find RVChecks to be a useful resource, especially when trying to choose between several available options. Otherwise, we’d advise sticking with the first two. Good luck on valuing your used RV or travel trailer.
Best of luck, and happy camping!