Vintage cream and teal travel trailer parked in the desert.

Where Are All the Used RVs?

If you’ve tried to buy an RV in the past year or so, there likely weren’t many options. Dealerships that once offered plenty of options for you to walk through and daydream about now present practically empty sales lots.

This has forced many potential buyers to look in the used market, but it’s not much better there. Let’s look at where all the used RVs are and what you can do to find them. 

Vintage cream and teal travel trailer parked in the desert.

Are RVs Still in High Demand?

In August 2021, RVIA reported that RV manufacturers shipped more than 52,000 RVs. This monstrous number is a 33.8% increase from August 2020.

So while 2020 saw some insane sales numbers for RVs, 2021 isn’t slowing down. The same report predicts that manufacturers will finish the year having shipped approximately 577,000 RVs.

Many potential buyers find that they have to wait several months before they can get their RV. Those who aren’t nearly as patient are turning to used RVs as viable options. But while you could previously score a solid deal on a barely used RV, the demand has caused prices even for used RVs to skyrocket.

The RVIA forecasts that demand will continue well into 2022. Early estimates are that manufacturers will crank out more than 600,000 units in 2022. So if you’re hoping to wait out the market, you may be waiting for a long time.

Woman outside the canopy of her RV grilling dinner in a summer dress with colorful string lights lighting up the night.

What’s Driving the Huge Demand for RVs?

The unprecedented demand for RVs is mainly due to a perfect storm hitting the RV market. With much of the world forced to stay close to home and a global supply chain shortage for much of 2020, the demand for RVs quickly increased.

Travel restrictions and uneasiness left many adventurers looking for ways to make memories and get out of the house. Families had to cancel expensive vacations and come up with alternative plans. Camping at a local campground was much more possible than an exotic trip to a popular theme park or tourist hotspot.

How to Find and Buy Used RVs

If you’re in the market for a new RV, there’s a handful of things you should consider. Let’s take a look!

Have a Plan

One of the worst things you can do is jump into making a large purchase without a plan. You need to understand what you’re looking for in an RV, how you’ll use it, and what you’re willing to pay. You don’t want to feel pressured into deciding on an RV without a plan.

Having a budget in mind and understanding what you’re looking for in an RV are two of the most critical elements of any plan. The RV may be a good deal financially, but it might require a substantial amount of repairs.

If you’re handy, that might be a good option. However, if you’re looking to hit the road ASAP and don’t want a DIY project, this could be a nightmare.

Woman researching on computer, from the perspective of the mouse.

Search Online

The internet gives us instant access to markets all across the country. You may find a steal of a deal on the exact RV model you’re looking for, but it might require a bit of a drive. If the price is right and you believe it’s in the condition you’re looking for, it may be worth a road trip.

Searching online allows you to see plenty of pictures and even sometimes videos of the RV. Someone serious about selling their RV will post plenty of pictures of the RV and provide a lot of information about the RV.

You should never send money or provide any information you’re uncomfortable with during the initial phases of the transaction. You should run from any deal where the seller requests a deposit when you haven’t even seen the RV yet.

If you’re looking to buy a used RV, have you considered buying a rental?

Know the RV’s History Before You Buy

If possible, speak with the owner to get to know the history of the RV. A seller looking to make a sale will gloss over any negatives of the unit. Ask for proof of maintenance or any services done on the RV. This can help you know whether the RV was well taken care of or not.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Purchasing an RV is a significant financial decision. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. The seller likely wants you to be comfortable with your purchase and not have buyer’s remorse after pulling off their lot.

Asking questions is a great way to build trust with the seller and learn about the RV. No question is a bad question when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of your new rig. It’s a good idea to write down any questions you might think of to ensure everyone in the process feels good about it.

Man and woman smiling and happily talking on speaker phone.

Is a Used RV Worth It?

Buying a used RV is most definitely worth it. While you may have had a wide selection of used RVs in the past, it’s slim pickings currently.

Buying a used RV allows the original owner to absorb the massive depreciation that RVs typically experience. New RV prices are quickly increasing, which makes used RVs so much more appealing.

However, even used RV prices are rising, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Would you buy a used RV?

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