Here is a brief story as to how I bought my used Alpine. Any companies mentioned are only listed because they are who I used and was pleased with their service and prices. It also should be mentioned that I enjoy doing research and all the work I did was fun, not work.
What do I want?
Generally I was looking for a used motorhome that others would have already taken the big deprecation hit on. The big items on my list of wants were a passenger side dinette so I can look at my own campsite when parked, pass through storage because I will store it next to a block wall on one side and a side radiator for easy engine maintenance. I also wanted more of a premium motorhome about 36' in length.
I searched past postings on rv.net and found that Country Coach, Foretravel and Alpine were premium coached that seem to be mentioned often. Looking at these brands I found that Alpine had all the features I wanted so I looked closer.
I contacted Western RV, the maker of Alpine Coaches, and they sent me brochures of all past year products, 1998 - 2006. This was very helpful to know what changed from year to year.
Search, search, search...
Now that I knew what I wanted I checked the prices on NADA guide as a starting point and began my search. First I started searching the online RV sites:
On one of these search sites I found the perfect motorhome. It was for sale at a local dealer. It turns out Western RV changes their models mid-year so a newer 1999 is the same as an older 2000. This resulted in a 2000 priced as a 1999. I called the dealer and the motorhome was already sold. This is when I realized I needed to contact the dealers also. If they can't sell a motorhome they will list it on a RV search site and I wanted to be in the front of the line.
I found out all of Western RV's dealers and other large dealers and began searching their sites.
I also called these dealers and told them what I was looking for. Next I contacted Western RV and asked their Western Rep. if he knew of any trades that were on the books. He knew of two that I tracked down but passed on.
Finally, I found my coach. It was being sold by PC Auto & RV Concepts, pcautotx.com, in Texas.
Coach & engine history
I contacted PC Auto & RV Concepts in Texas and obtained the VIN number of the coach. Next I contacted Western RV and got the history of this coach and the engine serial number. The coach history was good. I called Cummins and liked what they saw for the history of the engine. It had a fuel pump problem that was repaired back in 2003. The dealer also supplied me with many picture of everything inside and outside on the coach. All the manuals were missing for this coach so the dealer ordered a new manual and had it shipped to my house.
I also contacted the NHTSA to look for any recalls on this coach.
Financing & insurance
Next I searched rv.net to see who was mentioned for financing. I went through the list and found, for me, Scott Financial had the best rates. For insurance I wanted coverage to covered cracked windshields. Progressive's, Drive insurance with the $250 deductible worked best for me. Since I have my motorcycles covered with Progressive, the multi vehicle discount kicked in and the $250 deductible was about the same price as the $500 deductible without the multi vehicle discount. Progressive also has a diminishing deductible that is reduced by 1/4 each year the deductible it is not used. The insurance for the new motorhome is within a few dollars of what I am currently paying for my trailer and pickup truck.
Pay & pickup
After doing my homework, my wife and I felt really good about purchasing this motorhome from this dealer. The dealer has really gone above and beyond to answer all my questions. We flew to Texas after Christmas and picked it up. I had a check from Scott financial and the balance of my down payment in my back pocket. $2,500 was put on a credit card to hold the coach. It is understood by the dealer and myself that upon final inspection by me, if the coach isn't what I'm expecting it to be, I get my $2,500 back and the deal is off. I'll be out a trip to Texas, a little interest on the loan I'll cancel and about a week of insurance premium.
I hope this information will make it a little easier while you search for an Alpine.