How RV Dealers Determine Your RV's Wholesale or Trade-in Value

The first thing you need to know is that the typical RV values obtained from ONLINE sources are usually much higher than those allowed by the dealer from his copy of the N.A.D.A. RV valuation guide. (National Automotive Dealer's Association.) In other words, what YOU think your RV is worth is probably much, much higher than what the DEALER will actually allow for it.

This is the same for the automotive, boat or RV industries. The dealer MUST take trade-ins at or below wholesale to ever hope to eventually make a reasonable profit. He must allow for interest payments on his used inventory, commissions to sales people, overhead, and much more.

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A typical mid-sized RV dealer will have a monthly overhead of $50,000 to $500,000 or more per MONTH! Believe me, it's not an easy game. He has laid out millions of dollars to allow you to browse a decent selection of RVs, so please don't think of him as the bad guy.

Let's take a look at the online RV valuation sources and how to use them in order to place a realistic wholesale and retail value on your RV.

Wholesale RV Values - Meet Mr. NADA

The best place to get fairly accurate online values for RVs is N.A.D.A. at: RVs. Click th Start Button, (or navigate to any other type of vehicle), and select the appropriate section that corresponds to the make, year and model of your subject RV.

Now is where you're going to have to grit your teeth and do something completely against your nature. DON'T ADD FOR ANY OPTIONS! The dealer won't, so in this case, we won't either. Understand that we are only trying to determine what the dealer will allow for your trade-in. This doesn't mean that you have to take it. In fact, you will be many dollars ahead if you decide to market your RV on your own, and then approach the dealer on a cash-only basis, but that's another topic we'll address in another article.

At the bottom of the NADA page, click on the "Continue" button. Let you your jaw drop as you look at the value for: "Low Retail."

Now emit a mild groan, because it gets worse from here. DEDUCT another 7% to 10% of that figure to establish the RV wholesale value in the dealer's copy of the NADA book. This is the value that the dealer will be looking at. If your RV is an upper-line or luxury RV, or if it is a specialty RV you will need to deduct even more - 10% to 15% of the "Low Retail" figure.

Since the online Low Retail prices do not match the wholesale prices in the dealer's NADA guide, this is an educated guess for you. It will, however, get you close enough to decide whether or not you are willing to trade your RV, and accept the actual cash value (ACV) the dealer will allow

Do NOT add for OPTIONS!

I know you tried to sneak a few in there didn't you? Remember, the dealer NEVER adds for options when determining an ACV on a trade-in. In some rare cases such as a custom ordered, higher horsepower engine, full-body paint or other options that are very expensive, he MAY allow a little more, but nowhere near the actual cost of the option.

Your best bet in determining what the dealer is allowing you for your trade-in is to take the "Low Retail" figure minus 10%. (Again, more for upper-line or specialty units.)

Certain factors such as mileage, condition and unit popularity and salability my influence the actual cash value allowed for your vehicle. Remember that we are dealing with an inexact science. We are simply trying to establish a guideline for estimating the true amount allowed for your trade-in.

Whether or not you decide to trade-in your RV, or sell your unit "by owner", is completely up to you. But, now you have a way to weigh one against the other. The final decision of course... is up to you.

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