RV Sales Curiosities

As an RV kinda guy, I watch what’s rolling down the highways. I travel each week at least 600 miles, so the opportunities for RV watching are many. Since about late Summer last year, I’ve seen more of them out there on the roads. Most of them are newer models, no more than 5 years old. They appear to be either family bunkhouse models or mid-sized 5th wheelers. The motor coaches seem to be high end. It was only a few years ago when older motor coaches were the majority in these parts. It looks as though sales are growing – and hearing from the dealers I visit, this appears to be true. But another trend I noticed a few years back seems to have found its niche, and is now steady state.

1976Coachmen2 The “ancient” trailers and motor coaches are still selling, and they are going to the homeless.  The older units sometimes get traded in for “newer” used RVs. There are dealers that specialize in these turnarounds.  I visited one such used RV dealer today.  He tells me that the homeless sales are holding steady at around 30% (same as in 2010). That’s almost 1/3 of his clientèle. They scrounge the cash, beg and borrow, take delivery and move in. He says that the majority of them place their “new” homes on the lands of friends, off to the back and with rigged connections to septic tanks. Others roam around the city looking for a place to settle, hoping to stay put for a couple weeks before being run off.

One of the advantages of buying used units this way is that they are pretty much guaranteed to function safely as they roll off the lot. Tires, brakes, electrical and lights must operate properly when a dealer sells a unit. Private sellers aren’t so closely controlled. It’s pretty much whatever the two parties agree upon, and that leaves room for a seller’s lies or ignorance to pass on potentially dangerous problems. Buyer beware in all cases, but especially when purchasing a used RV.

Because there is a trade in older units, the door is still open for those seeking BORVs to pick up inexpensive units. A couple travel trailers I saw today were rather large, but had water damage. Project rigs. Handymen could make short work of them. One was water tight, but very rough inside. Gutted, it would make a palate for a remodel. Cabinets from Home Depot or Lowe’s would go a long way in one of those. I saw a bunkhouse model for about $6,000, and it was ready to roll. Slept 8. Good tires. Looked good enough to not draw curious attention. It’s funny what you can find when you look and daydream a bit.


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