Trading in your motorhome in Australia

Author: Cathy Anderson  


Buying your first motorhome is a thrill — it’s the satisfaction of finding the perfect vehicle and the excitement about future adventures. But inevitably, people’s needs and tastes change, and so buying your second (or third) motorhome comes with the question of what to do with your existing vehicle. 

Trading it in is an excellent, fuss-free option. But there are a few things you should be aware of before you drive off into the sunset in your next RV. We spoke with Ray Phie, Sales Manager at the RV Sales Centre in Melbourne, to find out all you need to know about trading in your motorhome.


Why do people trade in their motorhome or campervan?

Some of the reasons are that people want a bigger motorhome, or a smaller one, or they just want to update. Sometimes people have bought a smaller motorhome because they didn’t know if they will like the lifestyle or not, and they don’t want to over-invest. Then if they like it, they come back and look for a bigger vehicle. Others buy a bigger one to go travelling around the countryside extensively, and then family circumstances change and they want to go back to something they can just use on weekends, which is when they trade down to a smaller RV. 



Why is trading in your motorhome a good idea?

It takes a lot of stress and strain out of trying to sell it yourself. You need to advertise it, organise a roadworthy certificate, handle all enquiries and, if you do happen to sell it to someone who lives in another city or another state, then work out how to get it to the buyer. Of course, you can get more money from a private sale than a trade-in, but most people would rather just go to one place and not be bothered with all that. They want to say ‘here’s my vehicle, here’s my money, give me a new motorhome and I am off on holidays once again’.


How do you know how much your motorhome is worth?

A dealer will work out the price they will offer you based on the type of vehicle you have. Its age, the brand, its condition, odometer reading and service history are all things to be considered. The price offered is what is known as wholesale as opposed to resale. The dealer has other costs to consider —  they have repairs and have to do roadworthy certification and provide service and warranties and pay stamp duties and taxes, so the amount of money you would expect on a trade-in is less than a retail price, but definitely less hassle for the buyer.



What is the process of a trade-in? 

An RV owner approaches a dealer about a trade-in because they are interested in buying something from their sales yard. The person trading in their RV comes in to the yard and shows the dealer their RV and the dealer can work out a price if they are interested in it. If the seller lives far away from the dealer, they can send detailed photographs and information to the dealer in what is known as a ‘self-assessment’, but they need to be brutally honest about its condition. If everyone agrees on the trade-in price and the sale price of the chosen new vehicle, then the deal is done.


Is it just like trading in a car?

It does differ in one respect. The difficulty comes in when the person wanting to buy a different vehicle is trading a vehicle that the dealer would not normally keep and therefore they would need to find another party to buy the vehicle from them, such as a wholesaler. In the car industry there are literally thousands of car dealerships and millions of cars and thousands of car wholesalers and dealers, so it is not that difficult for the dealer to find a wholesaler to take the vehicle off their hands. In the case of the RV buyer, because the industry is much smaller, the person intending to trade their vehicle in must investigate if the dealer they want to buy from is likely to deal in the kind of RV they want to trade in. 


Will every kind of motorhome be accepted as a trade-in?

Not all dealers will accept every kind. As a general rule, the more mainstream and the more readily acceptable the brand is, the easier a trade-in will be. There are some things that would be standouts that dealers wouldn’t take, such as home-made or one-off made RVs, vehicles that are non-supported imports, and those above a certain age because of a lack of parts availability and motorhome components. But there is no definitive criteria — it is more of a case by case basis.


Does RCSV accept other models to its own KEA brand?

Yes we do, and our dealer network also does the same thing. We see it as a positive to make the motorhomes and campervans for sale in our yards a bit more diverse. So that as well as having the stock sold under the KEA banner, there are choices for people who are looking for something a little bit different. 


What are the benefits of trading it in to RVSC in Melbourne or one of your dealers?

We sell a range of vehicles that have proven themselves to be popular in the rental market and fulfilled the needs and wants of travellers. Most people who want to trade in a vehicle may not think first off about buying an ex-rental vehicle but one of the things I have said for many years is you can generally buy a vehicle that is two to four years newer for around $20,000 less than a privately owned vehicle. 

So buyers should look at the mathematics of it. By trading their vehicle in to one of the dealers which sells ex-Maui, Britz or KEA vehicles, what they may lose on their trade-in they could pick up by buying an ex-rental and saving that differential. It’s very much worth investigating.

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