5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Your First RV

Buying your first RV can be a roller coaster of an adventure. Unfortunately, it’s common for first-time buyers to make a handful of critical mistakes.

If you’re not careful, your entire RVing experience could get derailed before you even go camping for the first time.

So, what are the biggest pitfalls you must avoid when buying your first RV?

Today, we’ll share some insights and tips to help you make an educated purchase.

Let’s get started!

How Hard Is It to Purchase an RV?

Buying an RV can be very challenging. This is primarily because many financial institutions see recreational vehicles as luxury purchases. As a result, they have stricter rules and regulations for approving consumers for loans.

Having your finances squared away is generally best before purchasing an RV. Resources like Credit Karma can help you to know your credit score. You’ll want to ensure it’s above 680 for the best approval odds.

Additionally, delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, or late payments will be red flags for lenders.

A healthy debt-to-income ratio and a consistent employment history are critical to banks and financial institutions. They want to have confidence you’ll be able to repay the money they’re lending you.

A new travel trailer parked at an RV show, ready for people to tour it.

5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Your First RV

As we mentioned, it’s easy to make mistakes when buying your first RV.

However, we have some tips to help you avoid these potential issues and have a smoother buying experience.

Impulse Buying

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is allowing yourself to make an impulse decision to buy. Typically, making quick financial decisions doesn’t end well for you or your finances. You’re likely overlooking essential factors, which you may not realize until too late.

Remember, you’re the consumer and the one with all the control and power. A seller pressuring you to decide quickly doesn’t have your best interest in mind. They’re looking to expedite the sale and get more cash in their pocket.

To avoid this mistake, take your time and never allow yourself to feel rushed. Give yourself ample time to research and shop for the perfect rig.

Avoid setting hard-and-fast deadlines, as they’ll only increase anxiety and stress. When this occurs, you’ll be more likely to decide impulsively.

After you’ve read the pitfalls to avoid, be sure to brush up on The 3 Most Important Things When Buying an RV.

Ignoring Your Budget

The second biggest mistake you want to avoid when buying your first RV is ignoring your budget. Your monthly RV payment shouldn’t put tremendous stress on your budget. If it does, it’s best to consider a less expensive model.

It’ll be hard to enjoy your new RV if you’re stressing about how you’ll be able to pay for it. In addition, if you have to work overtime to afford it, you won’t have time to take it out.

Additionally, just because the lender will allow you to extend the loan to 15 or 20 years doesn’t mean you should. Sure, this drastically reduces your monthly payment and makes it more affordable.

However, RVs depreciate quickly, and you’ll likely owe more than it’s worth. Selling it will require you to write a check to the lender for the remaining balance.

A picture of a van's window showing the showing the price being $181,321.91

Overlooking Size and Parking

Another critical pitfall you want to avoid is forgetting to consider the size of your rig and where you’ll park it.

Unfortunately, many cities and homeowners associations have rules and regulations regarding recreational vehicles. Even if you have the space, you may be unable to park your rig at home.

RV storage at a private facility can easily cost $100 to $300 or more monthly. Costs vary based on the rig’s size and the storage type.

Outside and uncovered storage is typically the cheapest option but provides the least protection. Inside or climate-controlled storage spots are also great, but they’ll likely cost you several hundred dollars.

Not Asking Enough Questions 

Many first-time buyers make the mistake of not asking the dealership enough questions. This is because they don’t know what questions they should ask.

Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake. The only way to avoid this mistake is by educating yourself.

Before stepping onto a dealership lot or into a financing office, create a list of questions to ask about each RV. This can help you ensure you completely understand any rigs you’re considering.

As the sales team answers them, take extensive notes and jot down what you like and don’t like about each one.

The outside wet bay, propane tanks, and storage container of a fifth wheel.

Ignoring the Used Market

The RV industry experienced an explosion of growth over the last few years. Manufacturers and dealerships struggled to keep up with the increased demand. Despite their intentions, many of these new owners rarely used their rigs.

As a result, it’s not uncommon to find used RVs that are practically in new condition. Their owners tire of the monthly payments, especially if they’re not using them. However, their loss can be your gain.

Search RV Trader, Facebook Marketplace, and other online resources to search the inventory around you.

However, we strongly recommend hiring a professional RV inspector to go through any rigs you’re seriously considering. It may cost you a few hundred bucks, but they can help you avoid investing in a lemon.

When Is the Best Time to Buy an RV?

The best time to buy an RV is towards the end of summer and the start of fall. This is typically the end of camping season for most of the country.

As a result, dealerships know they’re about to experience a tremendous decrease in sales and traffic to their lots. They’ll be more likely to cut you a deal to avoid the rig sitting on their lot taking up space.

Unfortunately, you may have to wait months before taking it on an adventure. While this can be frustrating, the financial savings can be worth it. It’ll give you time to gather the supplies and equipment needed to make the most of the experience.

Additionally, RV shows are another good time to buy an RV, as prices are set to sell. Just be sure you’re buying an RV that isn’t being used as the show model. You don’t want thousands of shoppers walking through your brand new RV.

A view of an RV show taken from inside a destination trailer. There are lots of people, banners, and other RVs.

Are RVs a Good Investment?

As mentioned, RVs are like most other vehicles and tend to depreciate quickly. Some models can lose as much as a third of their value in three to five years. Overall, they’re terrible financial investments.

On the other hand, most people aren’t buying an RV as a financial investment. It’s a tool or resource that enables them to invest in making memories with loved ones. These can be priceless experiences you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

RVs can be a good investment if you understand that the vehicle will likely lose value. Knowing you’ll create unforgettable memories with your family makes it worth every penny.

Know What to Do When Buying Your First RV

Unfortunately, you don’t know what you don’t know. As a result, you must take your time through and prepare for the entire process. Don’t let the dealer or seller rush you.

Despite what they may tell you, plenty of other RVs are out there for sale. Have answers to all your questions and feel comfortable signing on the dotted line.

Are there any other pitfalls first-time RV buyers should avoid?

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