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Old 10-15-2016, 12:29 AM   #1
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Value and depreciation on older motorhomes?

I am currently shopping for my first real motorhome (I have been seriously looking for about 4 months), l have owned conversion vans and a small van like class B before, and am looking to move up to something a little (not a lot) larger. I am primarily looking at models that are 10-15 years old, we are empty nesters, I am semi-retired early and my wife still works, so whatever we buy will likely only be used a few weeks per year for now. Therefore I am looking for something that has already taken most of the initial depreciation hit.

In this pursuit I have found that the values and asking prices on used motorhomes seem to be all over the map, with no easily understood reasoning. So I am here to ask, what am I missing?

From what I have seen class C's hold their value much better than Class A's regardless of their build quality. Just today I was at a local used RV dealer and saw yet another example of this. They had 2 very similar RV's next to each other, an 11 year old E-450 platform 31 ft Class C Fleetwood with 2 slides, and a 13 year old Class A 32 ft Holiday Rambler with 2 slides on a Ford chasis (F-53?). Both were in similar condition, yet the asking price on the Class C was more than double the asking price on the Class A, ($50K vs $23K), why? I see this over and over again comparing similar size coach Class A and C units.

As I have been shopping I have narrowed my pick to a few preferred models, one of which was sold under 2 major brand names both owned by the same parent company. Lets just call them Brand A and Brand B, Same RV, built on the same assembly line was sold under brand A, then also sold under brand B, but were built with lower grade components at a lower price on brand B. (particle board vs real wood, larger vs smaller inverter, etc.). Brand A was discontinued during the big 2009 melt down, but brand B is still alive and well. It seems in every case when I find one of these for sale the more cheaply built brand B coaches have an asking price $5,000+ or more than the brand A higher quality version of the same coach. Is there some benefit to buying a brand name that is still in production that I don't see?

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Old 10-15-2016, 03:34 AM   #2
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Well, to answer your question, Nope, I know, not what you were looking for!
In all honesty, I have bought two MH's in the last two years, both class A's, 1 a gas, 1996 HR Vacationer, listed at 32', measured it, 36' VG condition, needed nothing! Sold it for 900 dls. less than I paid for it, 2 months after I bought it! I put just under 5000 miles on it, with out a problem. Bought it from a dealer in Phoenix.
The MH I have now, 1996 Monaco Windsor DP, 38' got it for way under book value, from a private seller, and it needed battery's and a Alt. rebuilt, and a new control board for the propane side of the WH, everything else was rebuilt or replaced by the PO!
The prices for used MH's is all over the place because, some people pay for what they fall in love with, and don't care?
And the savy buyers, look, research, check NADA, PPL, for a price reference, so they know what others have sold for! The best deals seem to come from private sellers, or dealers that have had them to long, and just want them gone!
The one thing to tell you is that from most dealer's, the price they tell you first is way high, take 30 to 40% of that amount, and counter offer! And have the cash ready, if needed for that great deal!
On the Monaco, I sent a buddy from this site to look at it for me, as he was way closer than me, and from the pic's, I would have given him, the PO, 3000 dls. more, because it was a great deal at that price, but he dropped the price 3000 for a cash sale! So we were both very happy, and the PO, left all his extra's in the coach for me too, which saved me another 1000 dls. or so!
The one thing I can tell you is to use Craigslist, RVtrader.com, and RVT.com, and be willing to travel for the really good deal! You can set them all with your search parameters and have them notify you when one pops up in your budget, and with your punch list!
Hopes this helps you a little bit? Good luck, Rail!
PS, buying a MH that the parent co. has gone out of business, does not mean a lot, as most of the major app's are the same, and the chassis all have easy to find parts in all the manufacture's!
Leaks are the main reason to walk away, period! Water stains, "oh yeah, we fixed that long time ago, hasn't leaked since!" Walk away, or run! If they fixed it right, you would never see the stain in the first place!

Retired, and "Always on Holiday!"
1996 Monaco Windsor 38PB, "Mona" 275 HP., 8.3 Cummins, 3060 Allison 6 speed, 2001 PT Cruiser, "Bailey"
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:34 AM   #3
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Buying used; I think of it this way. I'm buying an old house and an old truck. Either the former owner took care of them, or didn't.

If you're able to perform you own maintenance on the house and truck, you'll be in a much better position to inspect, negotiate, buy, and maintain your new to you MH. However, If you need to write a check whenever something needs repair, this could become a very, very costly venture.

There are only a few truck builders (the chassis), they are all good quality and good performance. The one chassis type that changes the equation slightly is the Diesel Pushers (DP). DPs will be more expensive to buy, maintain, and operate.

House Builders. I believe all of them do a good job, You'll find the higher end coaches build their houses on higher end trucks (chassis), and these fetch high prices.

LIFE EXPECTANCY - The truck should easily outlive the house.

In the house you have typical stuff that breaks, water heater leaks, frig broke, furnace is bad, roof need re-work, etc. But the MH present additional items that need to be looked at, especially older MHs.

Windows and joints may need resealing. This is probably the number one source of water leaks and subsequent rot.

Delaminations, wood rot. although most are caused by lack off maintenance, Many are be caused by poor choice of materials and building technique.

Additional syatems that you normally wouln't finfd in a home; generator - very nice to have, but may not be necessary, depending how you use your MH.

Automatic systems. These are all nice things, awnings that come in and out electrically, steps that automatically extend, retract. generators that self start, etc etc. These are all nice things to have, until they break. Do you need these items in your lifestyle? What would the cost difference be if these items wern't installed.


The more you know what your looking at, the better you'll be at negotiating, Be RUTHLESS in your negotiation. be prepared to walk, AND, be prepared to jump on a deal.

All those things I mentioned will drive up the cost, do you need them?

Look at other places besides dealers, i.e. e-bay, craigs list. You need to become the expert on what your looking at

If this is your first time out, you may not know what questions to ask, what you really need, or what your lifestyle will be. This is your first MH and it will have training wheels. It won't take a lot of usage to figure out what you'd like to have and what you don't need.
1999 Fleetwood Southwind 35S (Ford F53 6.8L V10) - Toad 2003 Saturn Vue.

It won't do MACH 2, but I can get a sandwich and take a pee.
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:57 AM   #4
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As long as you buy a MH suited for your individual needs, You should be fine. Make a list of what you want in a MH. Set a budget. Floor plan preferences. Water capacities. Motor/tranny preference. Maintenance records are crucial. Price/value is very subjective. You are not investing in a value increasing product. Don't let dirty carpet or a dull finish sway your decision, easy fixes and lower price generally.
1992 Bounder 28T, Chevy 454, Yak Rak
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Old 10-15-2016, 08:36 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, I agree with what has been said, and have already done many of the things suggested. The main difficulty I am having is finding the right balance on purchase cost to condition and which projects can/should be DIY.
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:07 PM   #6
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The early gas class A's (pre '99 or so) have some handling issues, and a MUCH wider cab area (compared to a C) that turns a lot of newbies (wives) off.

Age- banks hate financing anything over about 10 years old. This means somebody selling one this age or older, is looking for a potential buyer with only cash, or a really solid credit rating - eliminating at least 50% of the buyers that might otherwise be interested. Bottom line, the owner has taken a huge hit in depreciation. MANY, including myself, recognize this a an awesome buying opportunity - IF - you can find a clean well maintained coach.

Keep looking, and keep reading and asking questions. Many take a year or more to make a decision (like me!).

At some point, you'll see a coach that makes you wonder why it's being sold so inexpensively - because you've educated yourself to what it SHOULD be selling for. That's a coach that needs to be seriously considered - and quickly - as you aren't the only one out there looking for a diamond in the rough.....
1997 37' HR Endeavor, 275hp Cat, Freightliner
03 CR-V Blue Ox, Ready Brake
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:41 PM   #7
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If you belong to a credit union , it may help. We bought our 96 class A 3 yrs ago financed with credit union , no problem whatsoever.
We're pleased with it .

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