Before You Buy: Follow These 6 Tips for Negotiating the Best RV Price

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Nobody wants to overpay for anything they buy, much less an expensive purchase like an RV. Many people don’t know how to go about negotiating the best RV price. This could be due to several reasons like a lack of available resources on the subject or even a little intimidation. With a little research, there is no reason that you can’t get a great deal on your next transaction.

Negotiating a great price does require a little bit of time and effort, but it is well worth it when you save money at the closing table. The time you spend in negotiations could result in saving thousands of dollars when buying an RV. If you are looking to buy any time soon, here are seven guidelines that you need to follow to negotiate the best price.

Do Your Homework

The first guideline is a crucial one. Do plenty of research before ever stepping foot onto the lot at the RV dealership. Once you have decided on the type of RV you plan to purchase, start looking online to get an idea of what they are selling for. Check out multiple RV dealerships in the area to see the listed price on the type of unit you like.

One thing to keep in mind is that RV prices can vary significantly between different regions of the country. When doing your research, try to keep your search limited to no more than 200 miles from your area. Going outside of that range may give you a false sense of the market in your area. Unless you plan on driving a great distance to make your purchase, it’s hard to use prices outside of your market as leverage at your local dealer.

In addition to finding the listed price for models in your area, there are even some websites that allow you to research the actual sale price of similar models. This gives you an even better idea of what you can expect to pay when everything is said and done.

Know When to Shop

The RV industry is quite cyclical, and RV prices tend to reflect that somewhat. Not people are camping in the winter, and that means not many people are in the market to buy an RV at that time. There are certain times of the year when an RV dealership is a little more willing to negotiate than others.

One of those times is late fall when the camping season is winding down. Dealers may have some current year models still on the lot, and they need to move them to make room for the new models coming in before the next season. A lot of times, you can get an excellent deal around the end of the camping season.

Like at the end of the camping season, many dealerships work on monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. You may find that your dealer is more likely to sell at a lower price at the end of the month or quarter in order to meet the sales quota for that period. Knowing the proper time to shop and taking advantage of the dealer’s situation can end up saving you a lot of money and gives you the advantage when trying to negotiate the best RV price.

Visit a Local RV Show

There are many reasons for shopping at your local RV show, and getting a great deal is one of them. An RV show is a great place to see many different manufacturers and models, and you can easily compare price ranges between dealers because they are all together in one place. At the end of the show, the dealers must pack up their unsold inventory and tow it all back to their lot. Many of them had rather sell the units at a lower price than go through the hassle of taking them back to the lot.

Walkthrough the show and check out the units that interest you. Talk to the salespeople about those units and determine which ones seem ready to make a great deal. Many of them are willing to do what it takes in order to make a deal on the spot and get that trailer sold. Use this to your advantage!

Secure Your Own Financing

If you come to the dealership with your own pre-approved financing, you generally have more leverage in negotiating the best RV price you can get. This shows the dealer that you are serious about buying and that you can buy. Once they realize that you’re not just a tire-kicker, they can get serious about lowering the purchase price to convince you to buy.

While it is convenient to apply for financing at the dealership, they don’t always have your best interest in mind. It may take a little more effort, but you can still shop around for financing on your own to get the best rate and terms. When you walk in the door at the dealer pre-approved for your loan, they will take you seriously and work with you to make a deal on your RV purchase.

Watch for Hidden Fees

Some dealers like to throw in additional fees like prep fees or doc fees that you did not realize were going to be a part of the price. Watch out for these, and always attempt to negotiate your way out of paying them. Make sure that the price you agreed to is what is reflected in the final paperwork.

Some extra fees are required by law. Sales tax, for example, must be added to the purchase price. However, prep and doc fees or advertising fees are not required by law, and they are a way for the dealer to make some extra money on the sale. If they refuse to remove those fees, then you must determine whether you’re willing to pay that extra few hundred dollars or not. The RV may still be a good deal. This leads directly to our next tip.

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

This one is quite simple. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you aren’t able to negotiate the best RV price. If the sales manager refuses to remove specific fees or they can’t hit the price for your budget, then don’t be frightened to leave without buying. Don’t feel pressured into completing the sale simply because they have shown you around the lot or even drawn up paperwork.

You are free to leave at any point in the process, and until you sign the contracts, you are under no obligation to purchase anything. Walking away can be a powerful negotiating tool in some cases. For instance, if the dealer refuses to remove the $500 prep fee and you walk away, they will often call you back the next day and agree to remove it. Remember that you can always find a recreational vehicle for sale in many places, and you don’t have to take just any deal. Wait until you get the deal that you’ve been looking for!

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3 comments
  1. Tks for the tips. we are about to get out feet wet. Hence a 27 ‘ something we can tow with our Tundra
    Looking a new and used. Always good to hear additional input.
    Jim & Connie
    Oh we have been camping and off reading for a few years.

  2. Hi
    Thanks for the great tips!! What are your thoughts on there low inventory during this pandemic? RV dealers are telling us that travel trailers are seeking fast and manufacturers cannot get parts so inventory is low. Leaves little room for bargaining.

  3. Will I agree with some of what you have said in the article I have to strongly disagree with doing your own financing. It is smart to have a pre approval form your bank or credit union to compare, but if you give the dealership an opportunity to match or beat your rate they are much more likely to get you a better deal. If you have a good dealer with honest finance people you can often get a better rate and save money while the managers are more inclined to give you a better deal since they would make a couple bucks from the bank on financing. Doing your own financing actually decreases your chances of getting a good deal because the dealership wont make any money from the bank. It is a common misconception. I work in the industry doing finance and can tell you a customer gets a much better deal when they allow us to do financing. It comes down to saving money and you only cut the dealership out when you finance separately and the bank makes more off you rather than throwing the dealership a couple hundred dollars for the exact same rate.

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