First-Time RV Buying Tips

Hey everybody, Josh RV nerd with Bishops RV here with a little bit different kind of video today. I’ve got eight big tips to help a first-time buyer enter the RV marketplace as it were. This can be it’s a really big fun thing and you think about getting the RV and all the places you’re going to take it but I want to give you some tips that I’ve learned over the years, some things that will help you get there and to set you up for financial success and safety during the buying process.

Now I also want to preface this by saying that some of this is kind of my opinion but these are things that I’ve learned and what I’ve found over a lot of years of experience. I’ve been in it for a minute and these are some things maybe to help you avoid some pitfalls that I see a lot of first-time RVs fall into. I also feel very strongly that the information I’m sharing today, it’s true whether you’re buying from or not. It’s true whether you’re buying from a dealership or not. This is just good sound advice to give a first-time owner who maybe has never gotten into one of these things before.

So my first tip for you is actually not to buy an RV now. To hear that from a place that literally makes its money by selling customers like you RVs, I hope you appreciate the fact that we’re willing to put that information out there. What I’m getting at though is to rent or maybe see if you can borrow for like even a weekend a friend’s RV or something like that. Uh this will put you in a position where you can be the chicken instead of the pig on the breakfast plate, and I’ll explain what I mean. Uh the chicken has an interest in that plate but the pig is committed. You know what I’m saying. So this will let you uh for far less money discover is this even the lifestyle that I’m going to enjoy or uh rarely some folks would go out and go RV and go not for me not for me no thanks no.

Well if you’ve purchased a new RV and you take it out that first time and you go uh oh this sucks again, that’s rare but you’re now the pig on the breakfast plate. You are committed, there’s no going back. The chicken it just laid an egg, no big deal. And by the way the egg came before the chicken because there were eggs before chickens, I can’t believe people haven’t figured that out. Regardless, it is a far less expensive far less scary far less risky way to get into camping which is why my number one, I really recommend trying to borrow or rent before you dive head first into just purchasing a camper.

Number two, at some point before a purchase is complete, be willing to actually speak to the people with whom you’re considering handing a lot of money. Again whether it’s a dealership or whether it’s a private individual, I still feel that is good advice.

I talk to so many people who want to say “no, text or email me only, don’t ever call me.” I don’t ever want to talk to you. I, if I’m early in the process of like searching and buying something, I don’t want to talk to people. I’m really no different, but before I hand somebody a lot of money, potentially tens of thousands of dollars, I want to know who I’m speaking with. You know what I mean? That’s just me personally.

There’s also certain things, especially like your first timer, if you don’t know what you don’t know. A very common question I get is “what can my uh vehicle handle?” You know, like here’s an example. They say “well I got a half ton, can I tow it?” Well, I don’t know. The problem is there’s very rare instances in which a vehicle has only one potential towing capacity. And if you say I have a half ton, someone says you’re good, without investigating, that’s someone who’s not really concerned about your safety. You know? And even in the case they’ll say “tell me about your halftime, do you know what your capacities are for like towing and payload at least?” And they’ll say “well it’s a uh it’s an f-150, it’s got a 5.3 and it’s a 4×4.” That is useful information, we’re getting closer, but even that still doesn’t tell me what I need to know to be able to answer a very important safety question for you. So at some point, like I said, it’s not a bad idea to talk actually talk, even over the phone, to the people that you might be doing some serious business with, and there may be some safety factors involved.

Now number three is a really big one for me and was really the thing that almost kicked this video off. One of my biggest recommendations for a first-time RV buyer is to actually not jump into the new RV market, but actually considered something pre-owned in the used RV market. And there’s some very big advantages and drawbacks both ways, but overall I feel the advantages outweigh those drawbacks. So some of the benefits and this is not necessarily everything, but these are some of the major benefits of getting into a used RV first, instead of a new RV. One of the major factors the price of it. I used RV versus an identical copy of a brand new RV should be less money than the brand new RV. It’s just lower budget, it’s more accessible, it’s less threatening, it’s easier in, easier out. You know?

The other thing is it’s already had an owner, it’s already gone through at least one depreciation cycle. So the money that you’re uh you know spending on this RV, you’re going to maintain more of that because the thing that a lot of people don’t think about is eventually everything trades or resells. Eventually everything flips, if you will. I don’t like the word but it makes we know what that means. Um so you know, if you find out this isn’t for you, it’s an easier way to get out of it. Or if you’re like “man we really like this, we want to upgrade and get something bigger.”

If you’re going to trade up instead of just, uh, get out, it’s uh, it was an easier way into the market and it’s an easier way to exit the RV into your next one. But part of the reason it’s less money is the warranty and assurance that you are now not getting necessarily on a used RV. Because if you weren’t aware, very few manufacturer warranties transfer. Um, even when they do, usually there’s a fee associated with it. And it’s amazing, even if it’s only like 100 bucks, I have found in my experience very few people actually would be interested in spending that money to get the warranty transferred. They kind of just like knowing that there was some warranty coverage on it. It’s a really weird thing. I don’t like would you spend 100 bucks to get a balance of factory warranty? I guess you know it really depends on how much time is left. Because the thing is, unlike the automotive industry, a lot of RVs don’t have long-term warranties.

But that’s one of the when people say depreciation that’s one of the major things they don’t realize is uh, the biggest chunk of the the the value lost on uh, getting rid of a brand new RV is that uh, as soon as it’s owned as soon as it’s registered, it’s now a used RV. The original owner has the benefit of the warranty, generally speaking nobody else does. So there’s value to that warranty. These things don’t just come free. So that’s why there’s usually an initial uh, significant drop in value right there. Um, so that also means, like I said, a used RV has no warranties. It’s typically sold as is. It’s, “Hey, here’s how it is, here’s what it is.” Um, and uh, you know, maybe it’s in great shape maybe it’s not. I don’t know. But at that point, you buy it, you own it. Um, another downside to the used RV market is, unlike the new RV market where it’s like, “I want this floor plan.” Well, if a place is sold out, they can order you one, they can get another one built or another one will be built in time.

The used RV market it’s a grab bag. This is the one I have right now. It is effectively a one of a kind camper in a sense. Obviously, if it’s a very common popular floor plan, there’s going to be a couple of them out there. But it may mean that if you find one that you’re really hot to trout on, you may have to act a little more quickly and there’s not necessarily just going to be another one down there. There’s also some uh, financing uh, things to consider when getting into a used RV. Because something I don’t know that a lot of people know about RV financing is it is not the same whether you’re necessarily if you’re looking at a used versus a new RV. Um, often RV finance terms are more favorable to new RVs.

Sometimes rates and/or terms are better for new RVs. Now a lot of lenders have a “same as new” financing policy for used RVs, but it comes with a couple of caveats, and it varies from lender to lender. But typically, the RV needs to be less than five years old as compared to the current model year, and also it needs to come with qualifying credit from the person who’s asking for the money (you, the customer), so it’s not necessarily just a guarantee.

So sometimes looking at the used market, the financing conditions may not necessarily be as favorable to you, but the thing is a lot of that is offset by the lower price tag on an RV. So there’s often a lot less risk involved to a lender, which tends to make the RV more attractive in terms of completing the purchase from a lender’s point of view.

Speaking of age of RVs though, that can be another thing to consider when you are looking at the used market and that is that there are times where in certain ways the RV might be too old. So you know, if an RV gets really really old, some banks say “I’m not going to deal anything, I’m not going to lend a whole bunch of thousands of dollars on an RV that’s very old and it could go put tomorrow.” Now that it does have to be quite old to get there, and most of the RVs you find in the used market aren’t at that stage. There can be some another thing is there are some campgrounds that don’t like to let RVs in if they’re past a certain age bracket.

Typically that mark is about 10 years old if an RV is 10 years or older as designated by usually the manufacturing date on the front, but every campground owner is going to have their own set of guidelines on that so keep that in mind. It’s going to be case by case, I can’t tell you what they’re going to do and not do, I don’t know in the campgrounds, but I wouldn’t be making these videos if I owned all of the campgrounds. But my point is, there are some places that might say “no, that RV’s too old, you can’t come camp here.” So that may limit your opportunity to actually go out and use the RV again.

I want to give you the good with the bad, I want to be fair, I hope you appreciate that kind of stuff. Now topic number four is just like topic number one in that, if it isn’t a good example of the fact that this is just candid good beneficial information for you as a consumer, not dedicated to to tipping the scales in my favor as a dealership, I don’t know what else I can do to demonstrate that for you.

My number four tip: Hire an RV inspector. Whether it’s used, whether it’s new, whether it’s a dealership, whether it’s a private the owner almost a private dealership, what um hire an RV inspector.

Again, this video is really geared primarily towards first time RVers but anyone who’s purchasing an RV especially something used, new doesn’t matter, I guess I don’t care. It is such a good idea. It’s it’s it’s similar to the concept of renting before you own. It is a far lower dollar version to find out is this going to be the right one in the right thing for me and uh if it is yeah maybe it’ll cost you a couple bucks but you may also find out that for a couple hundred bucks or whatever I don’t even know what an inspector cost. Could somebody leave me some comments if you’ve had an RV inspected how much did that run you and did you find it was worth it? I would love to hear that from someone who actually went through the process. I think that would be very beneficial.

But again it’s it’s an easy way uh an inexpensive way in the scheme of things to find out is this one that is gonna be okay for me to spend my money on because with this video being geared toward a first-time buyer chances are you don’t know what you’re looking at. Chances are you don’t know what you’re looking for and I’ve put videos out. I’ll leave you a link in the video description one actually some some like five or six things uh common fault points to look for when you’re looking at a used RV. Maybe that’ll help uh get you along the way.

But think about this before you can purchase a home and get financing from a bank the bank requires it to first be inspected. It’s not an option you can’t just say no I looked at it it looked alright. It’s got to be inspected for a big time residential purchase. This is this is a big ticket purchase right. Why why would you be any different about this and here’s this is another major thing for me if you are purchasing from a dealership ask them what their policy is on you hiring an independent inspector and coming in.

Folks, if that place doesn’t want you to bring an inspector, if you’re like, “No, we don’t allow that,” that’s a huge red flag to me that there’s potentially something shady going on here. Now, again, I like to be fair. Um, every dealership is going to have their own policy, and again, this video is not dedicated to just what we do at Bish’s RV. Frankly, I’m not even sure what Bishop’s policy is. Put us to the test, let’s find out.

But some dealerships may require an RV technician of their own to join the inspector and you may be required to compensate them for their time for doing that. It’s not necessarily unreasonable to need to compensate a trained uh technician for the time that they invest in a project. I don’t, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I think that if you work, I think you expect to get paid. I think it’s kind of the same thing.

Now that may be a thing where you look at and uh you might consider saying, “Okay, I’m going to hire an inspector, and if it’s uh uh a uh you know a satisfactory inspection, I’ll purchase the RV.” You know maybe you know you, you absorb your the tech time or something like that. Maybe we kind of split it that way or something like that. It’s a conversation point. It’s a thing that you may be able to work out um with that dealership or the person that you’re buying from to maybe potentially offset that cost.

But again, at the end of the day, for lack of a better way to say it [Music], it’s one heck of a cheap insurance policy compared to buying and finding out it had something going on with it you didn’t know about. Now number five sounds like total stupid common sense, but I have found that very few people actually do this: ask what you’re actually getting for your money.

And it sounds like, “Well yeah, of course I would do that.” It is incredible to me how often people do not do that. Like, I’m in all kinds of different RV groups and forums, and I see people all the time say, “Am I supposed to get a battery with my camper?” You know, they just, they didn’t know, they didn’t ask. Find out exactly what is getting included for your money, and it’s frankly not a bad idea to get that in writing um, you know, you a lot of people would make a natural assumption. I think, I would also make this same assumption. I don’t fault anyone for doing it. I’ve just been around here and I’m sharing some of the things that I’ve learned.

People would assume, “Yeah, it comes with the battery and the hoses and the cables and everything else, right?” Well, not necessarily. You can’t assume that every dealership, every private individual may be selling that RV under different conditions. Maybe they’re getting a new RV, maybe their accessories are not getting included. Find out, you know, what accessories does it include uh, you know what um pieces and parts are you going to need to purchase to go along with it, what.

You’re smoking out basically, what is your total cost of ownership going to be? Because the RV is going to cost this much, you’re always going to need to get a couple extra things for it. But, what is the total value of all of that combined going to be and unless you ask, you’re never going to find out until it’s too late.

Now, tip number seven I think applies equally well to a first-time buyer as a second, third, fourth, fifth-time buyer. I think anytime you’re, if you’re purchasing an RV and you’re financing, and I’d be surprised if less than 95% of RVs were financed. I bet it’s that or north of that. If you’re financing an RV, put money down, put put whatever down you comfortably reasonably can. Even like you know when you get a let’s say somebody buys a motorcycle, you don’t just buy the motorcycle, you buy the boots and the helmet and the bags and all the other stuff that goes with it, right? Anytime you purchase something, there’s always all the extra stuff.

At the very least, cover out of pocket, your accessories like your wheel checks or your hitching or any sort of upgrades or something you do on that. Otherwise, what happens is you’re paying interest on a hitch and that will very quickly become the most expensive hitch you will ever own in your life. Or, at least try to put money down to cover the taxes. Do you want to pay interest on taxes? I get a bad taste in my mouth just saying those words out loud makes my stomach churn. Then again, I tend to pinch pennies until Lincoln squeals, which is why in the wintertime you see why a lot of my white undershirts have a bacon neck because those are the same ones that I’ve been shoving my fat nugget through since I was in high school.

But my point is, put down what you can. It benefits you in so many ways. It may actually secure you a better rate because the interest rate that you get from a lender is a reflection of their assessment of their risk in lending you this money. So if you’ve made it less risky to give you this money, they might be more inclined to work with you and give you a softer interest rate. It may also be the thing that actually just literally makes the banker go, “Okay, I will work with these people” instead of “No.” And here’s what I mean by that. Let’s say you’re the banker now and somebody that you’ve never met before comes up to you and says, “I want to buy a camper, it’s 20,000. I would like you to give me all of that money, but I’ll hit you back a little bit here and there. I’m good for it.” It doesn’t sound real appealing, right?

But that’s what they do for a living now. Um, imagine that same person comes up and says, “I’d like to buy a camper. Um, it’s uh, twenty thousand dollars. I’ve got twenty-five hundred of it. Could you float me the other seventeen five?”

Okay, well this person’s worked really hard for twenty-five hundred dollars. They’re not just gonna walk and bock off twenty-five hundred dollars. They’re going to find a way to uh make sure that they keep that uh thing that they’re buying with their twenty-five hundred dollars down right. Um, it just it, it makes things look easier and more appealing and more attractive to lender not not to mention the fact one of those again being that mitigating the risk factor if you have money down it puts you in a position far more quickly to trade up or get out of that camper and like even if you just say i’m something happened. Let’s say you love camping, everything worked out fine but um, little jimmy broke a leg and you know that’s where your money’s going to medical bills. Now that money down will put you in a position to just offload that camper even far sooner. It just puts you in such a better safer position as a consumer whether you want to trade up to a new one or get out for any reason. Blaring some lead zeppelin in there, somebody’s getting their let out very nice anyway.

Sorry, number seven is kind of one thing that’s kind of two things. Uh, i, I think again this is all presuming that you’re primarily a first-time RVer or maybe you’re shifting from a trailer to a fifth wheel or from a trailer to a motor. You’re getting into a very different thing from what you’ve had before. One, I would verify that someone’s going gonna show you how this thing works. Uh, just for your own peace of mind and comfort factors but two, when you are getting we’ll just call it your walkthrough, your orientation, your whatever. Record it, record it. Grab this thing out of your pocket, hold it in front of you and just point it at whatever they’re looking at. If they say hey, see this, zoom in on it, back out, get a good look at it, get a reference point because the day that you take one of these things home, emotions are high, energy is high, everyone’s telling you congratulations, whoa, excitement right.

Um, you’re getting all jazzed up by this stuff right here, you’re doing the ric flair whoa, but the fact is. Um, you’ve got a lot coming at you, a lot of information in a small amount of time and even if you’ve owned a couple of these RVs, if you get into something new, there’s all kinds of new widgets and whiz bangs and there’s all this sort of stuff that you’re just, there’s no way you can absorb all of it that’s coming at you so quickly. So, record your walkthrough and as soon as you get home, watch it and walk through your actual RV while watching that to reaffirm to to double up on that knowledge to uh, double up, it will do wonders for you. It’s absolutely incredible and i didn’t mean to flex on you like this but yes, i am driving a 2012 uh, korean mini cooper back here.

Finally, number eight, it’s gonna sound again like stupid common sense, but it’s it’s shocking how often people don’t do this – ask questions. Ask a lot of questions. And as you’re doing that, this is really the pro tip advice I have for you – sneak in one or two questions you already know the answer to.

There’s I know the used RV market, like I said, is a little bit more of a grab bag, but typically there’s going to be another camper out there that could work for you, um maybe not immediately, but it might show up. What I’m getting at here is in a sense, you’re interviewing the seller of your RV. Think of it that way. Um, you’re about to hand these people a lot of money. Don’t you want to know what kind of people they are? Whether it’s a private owner, whether it’s a dealership, ask them a couple questions – reasonable stuff. Don’t get stupid in that low, what, how, how exactly what’s the diameter of the screws, like you know, if you’re an engineer and you need to know that, if you’re curious, okay, that’s fine, ask some legitimate questions. But let’s, I don’t know, like an enclosed belly. You’ve already, like maybe you’ve seen the pictures, you know, it has an enclosed belly or you know it doesn’t have an enclosed belly. Ask, “Does this camper have an enclosed belly?” Find out what kind of answer you’re gonna get, and I hope you get the right one. But I think it’s very possible you may bump into somebody who won’t give you the right answer, and you may have just found out that is not someone with whom I should trust thousands potentially tens of thousands of dollars of the money you worked your tail off for.

You know and again, I, I want to mention one more time, some of this is somewhat of an opinion, but these are things I feel very strongly apply whether you’re buying from a dealership, whether buying new or used, or whatever, if you’re a first-time buyer, or even a second-time buyer, or getting a different kind of RV than you’ve ever had before, like you’re changing classes, this is good advice, whether you’re buying from me or not. This is stuff that I just really recommend.

If you found this beneficial, if you like the message that we’re sharing here, just trying to help give you good information, hit that subscribe button and catch us on the next one. And know that I’ll always do my best to shoot you straight. I won’t claim to be perfect. I don’t claim to be an authority that knows everything about everything, but I’ve been living in this industry for over a dozen years now and I’ve learned some stuff along the way. And I’ve seen some people make these very mistakes that I’m talking about.

And like, like the ask questions, well, of course, I’ll ask questions. It’s shocking to me how often I’ll get on like a Facebook group and someone says, “Hey, I just brought this RV home from six hours away, how do you like the water heater?” Nobody showed you that, you didn’t ask. And no, they didn’t, maybe they were afraid. I don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Camping is a community. Other people out there want to help you. Um, you know, feel free to, I tell you if you, if you found benefit in this or if you know someone that would, please share this into something like you know Facebook social media group or something like that. Because these are things, like I said, I, I feel like a lot of first-time buyers it sounds like common sense, but they just don’t know, and I, and I’d love to see someone come in and feel a little bit better about their purchase and uh, you know, just have a better concept of what they’re getting into and how to do it better effectively, to have a positive overall experience. That’s always the goal here.

So, as always, thank you for tuning in. I appreciate you guys, appreciate your support and I’m gonna support you the best that I can all day every day, to the best of my ability. So take care, stay safe, have fun and best wishes everyone.

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Channel name: Josh the RV Nerd at Bish’s RV