Purchasing a new RV is a major investment. It’s not a car and it’s not a house, it’s a different playing field altogether. It’s tougher to get a loan for an RV. There’s a lot to learn about how to buy the right RV. It takes time. Things to know before you even considering purchasing an RV:
Key Questions for You!
- Do you want to RV full-time (year round), part-time(4-6 months), go only for family vacations or do you just want to RV on random weekends?
- Do you want a Class A, B or C motorhome, a fifth wheel or toyhauler, a travel trailer or a truck camper?
- Do you want new or used?
- How much can you afford or are willing to spend?
- Do you need a truck for transport?
- Where do you buy and why
- Knowing what to expect after the purchase
- Getting your price and being realistic
Then you need to know how much RV you want. There are many different lengths and floorplans to choose from. If you are going to full-time in it you’ll want all the comforts of home. If you are just using the RV for weekends you’ll only want the most basic layout. Here are some of the options you will be considering:
- Length of the RV (The longer it is the more options you’ll have)
- How many bath’s
- How many bedrooms (bunk room)
- Location of living room or kitchen, front or back
- Washer/dryer hookups
- A garage for toys
- Storage capabilities inside and out
- Light weight or heavy
- Are things like the furnace accessible from the outside so they are easy to get to and not cost so much in labor?
- Do you want to go with a custom frame (quality) or a manufacturer’s general specs (quantity)?
- Do you want name brand (Michelin) or no-brand name tires (“China bombs?”) Think blow outs.
- What kind of insulation do you want: Fiberglass or high-density foam?
- Do you want your storage bay doors thick and well-insulated for protection?
- What kind of carrying capacity do you want: How many pounds do you want your axles to be?
- Attention to details:
- Solid Counter-tops vs. laminate
- Arched roof?
- Insulation in slide outs? Toppers?
- Electric awnings?
Only after you have decided on the type and size of RV and you want, plus the quality, does the actual shopping begin. Usually people start looking online (RV Trader) to get a good idea of where to start looking for dealers and to see what there is out there, new and used.
You can find a used RV locally easier than a brand new one. Some brand names like Arctic Fox (Northwood Mfg.) only sell out west. You’ll also, more likely than not, have to travel quite a distance for your dream RV or have it delivered. It can be a long drawn out process and not an easy one.
For this guide I will not only be focusing on the best time of year to buy your new RV, but factors that create a best time.
Key Factors to Consider
When fuel prices go up, the demand for RV’s goes down leading to dealers inventories remaining stagnant and causing them to drop prices.
Blue Book Values
Knowing your RV’s blue book value will put you in a good bargaining position. You can knock 40% off the asking price of any dealer. (NADA/RVS)
Private sellers will usually knock down their price every couple of months just to get it sold. The longer it sits, the better the price. Don’t act desperate, like you have to have it yesterday. Watch and wait.
When do New RV Models Come Out?
When the new models come out dealers are anxious to get old inventory out. You can get ‘last years’ model new at a great price. In general, most RV sales centers WON’T actively announce new models (so they can move old inventory). BUT, typically new models are released around March, prior to the early Summer rush.
After Holiday Weekend
Monday or Tuesday after a holiday weekend is a good time to bargain for the right RV for you.
After an RV show dealers are looking to get rid of everything that didn’t sell. They also want to avoid the transport charges getting the RV’s back to the dealership. States like Arizona have RV shows year round so there’s always an RV to deal on.
Change in Seasons
The end of summer is when people decide “this is the last time.” This is when there are more sellers than buyers leading to a buyers market.
Dead of Winter
In January/February the snowbirds are already living in their RV’s and summer people haven’t started serious shopping yet so there is plenty to choose from at the right price.
People aren’t motivated to buy on rainy, hot, snowy or cold days. Getting out there when people normally won’t will help in finding the right deal.
“It’s all in the timing…” When to buy an RV can be tricky or not, depending on how diligent you are about your shopping and paying close attention to key factors:
- Doing your research
- Doing your homework
- Knowing what you want
- Knowing what you want to pay
- Knowledge is power
Waiting until the right time of the year can be advantageous if you are able to hone in on exactly when that is. There is one time that everyone can agree on is a good time, and that is in the dead of winter, especially up North.
Key Factoids about Timing
- Slow season differs from North to South
- Dealer’s want to move old inventory especially when a new year’s model comes out
- New year’s models usually come out in June and July
- Timing can reduce pricing by thousands of dollars
- Can get RV’s at cost, but remember your trade in will also be less
North vs. South
Slow season in the North is typically November through February/March. When the snow flies and snowbirds have already escaped, dealers are hungry to decrease their floorplans in order to move the new year’s units in come late spring/summer.
(There are smaller dealerships that actually shutdown between November and March it’s so slow.)
Slow season in the South is typically April through September/October the end of the tourist season. The heat is oppressive, there are hurricanes and big bugs. The southwest desert heat is no picnic either. The snowbirds and potential RV buyers flee to the North.
Private owners are motivated to sell by knowing how much time, money and work go into the RV at the start and close of the season. Rather than having to spend time and money winterizing/de-winterizing and paying for storage rentals, a private seller wants it off his hands and the sooner the better.
Reducing their inventories before the new year’s RV’s comes out let’s dealers increase their cash flow into the new season. They reduce their interest rates and open up their floorplans with the bank. It’s all about finances which can get complicated for any layman to comprehend.
You get a better deal when it’s snowing outside and you are their only customer as dealers are looking towards next years’ line up.
The absolute worst time to buy is the start of camping season when you’re wanting to go camping as soon as possible. You’ll pay dearly.
Stick to the off seasons, north and south, and you’ll get your better deals.
Great forums for advice on how and when to buy:
Getting advice from people who have “been there, done that” is priceless.
Conclusion: So When is the Best Time?
We all know that the off-season is the best time to buy. The off-season is different from north to south so paying attention to this and being the right place at the right time of the year will save you thousands of dollars. In the off-season, sellers (private and dealers) are super motivated therefore buyers have a wide-open market; a buyers market so to speak.