Selling Your RV? Avoiding RV Consignment Might Be Wise
There are numerous reasons to avoid RV consignment, both as a seller and as a buyer, but this article will focus on the 5 most obvious reasons for sellers to steer clear of consignments.
One drawback to using an RV consignment service is the same as using a wholesaler. They will take at least 10% of your total selling price and that can be a significant amount of money depending on what type of RV you are selling and its age.
The consignment company will act as your representative, fielding inquires, making appointments to show or test drive your RV, and they may even park it on their lot while you wait for the right buyer to show up, and all that service comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
Extra costs for advertising and even lot fees may also apply to your consignment contract. You may be obligated to pay for a specific period of time and not be able to cancel the service early. If you decide to use an RV consignment service, be sure you understand what you’re getting into and for how long.
Another concern with consignment lots is security and possibly scammers taking advantage of you through untrained or naïve consignment staff. If your rig is parked on a consignment lot, it may not get the same level of attention and security as it would get at your home or in a fenced storage area.
Components such as lithium batteries, solar panels, satellite antennas, or electrical surge protectors, could be removed from the basements or stripped right off of the vehicle without detection. Additionally, the outside of your RV could be vandalized with graffiti or damaged just for sport, which would be quite costly to repair.
If you use an RV consignment service, be sure to ask who is responsible for on-site losses.
Would your insurance policy cover the damage or would their insurance cover it? If your insurance will need to cover any loss or damage while your rig is on the consignment lot, then you cannot cancel your insurance. This can add additional costs to the sales process because your rig could be on a consignment lot for a protracted period of time… perhaps months.
Scammers are also a concern.
Many scammers present themselves as affluent and fully capable of purchasing your RV. They may suggest that financing will not be needed. They might offer to pay for the entire purchase with a cashier’s check. But not all cashier’s checks are valid. If you are standing there with a bogus check in your hands and they are driving away in your RV with the title in their pocket, you could be in a very difficult place.
Experienced scammers are charming and convincing and would probably try to complete the sale after the banks close or on a weekend, so they have hours or days to disappear with your RV. Good scammers know how to disarm their victims, so they never trigger any internal alarms.
As a former police officer, I assure you that people like this exist, and they are both charming and likable. A naïve consignment salesperson who just wants to get the sale finished might be easily duped. Again, the question remains, who would be responsible for that loss?
Another downside of using an RV consignment lot are the people who may go through your RV just because they’re curious. Many of these folks are not serious about buying an RV but they feel comfortable using a consignment lot to explore all the possibilities.
Some of them might not be as careful with your personal property as you’d like them to be. Not knowing how things work, they may reef on handles, shades, or any number of fixtures with disregard to the damage they could be causing.
Prospective RV Buyers Damage RVs on the Lot
Want to see how destructive potential RV buyers can be? Just go to an RV show on the last day of the show. Look at the damage left behind by the curious crowds. Handles are pulled off, refrigerator doors no longer latch or lock. Recliners won’t go back into the upright position. Controls and knobs are left lying where they fell.
On one lot, I saw gum tracked through a brand-new motorhome. The safety handle next to the door on a motorhome hanging by just one screw. All the screws on the top of the mounting bracket had been pulled out of the side of the RV.
If you are showing your own RV to potential buyers, you can determine who is serious and who is not and limit their access. And you monitor how your property is handled by the potential buyer. But a consignment lot might have dozens of RVs open for public inspection. There may be no sales representative accompanying the shoppers. This could leave your RV exposed to people mishandling or damaging your RV.
An RV consignment lot might get more traffic and potential buyers than if you have the RV parked in your driveway or at a busy intersection, but there are still many issues involving the logistics of selling an RV.
Want to increase exposure? You or the consignor might advertise your rig in a national publication like RV Trader. But what if someone from thousands of miles away is interested in your RV? Who will manage that lead and how? Will the potential buyer need to drive to your location to inspect the rig? What if they ask the consignment staff to hold your rig while they try to get financing? Or what if another buyer shows up while the consignment lot has it on hold?
What about the sales process?
Also, there are logistical challenges with getting the money into your account before the buyer leaves with your RV. Even if all of those issues don’t kill the sale, how will the new owner’s take possession?
Will you need to drive it to their location, or will they fly to your location and drive it home, or drive to your location and tow it home? What if neither of those options works for you, the seller, or your potential buyer? Who will coordinate the transportation of your rig to the buyers? Is that a service the consignor will manage, or will they leave that up to you and the buyer?
Other logistical questions are:
- How long will your consignment contract last?
- Who pays for the advertising and what advertising venues will be used?
- What fees must you pay even if they are unable to sell your RV?
- Do you need to pay for lot space monthly or is it a one-time charge?
- Can you find a buyer on your own while the rig is in consignment?
- Do you have to pay the 10% fee to the consignor if you find the buyer?
Finally, working with an RV consignment lot might result in unanticipated delays. If they are not available 7 days a week to show your vehicle, that could result in missed opportunities. Also, if someone from the consignment service doesn’t answer phone calls promptly, a potential buyer might just move on.
If they only showcase your RV locally, the pool of potential buyers is greatly reduced, which could result in an even longer wait time before you can sell your rig. Depending on your location, RV buying can be seasonal.
Few people are thinking about buying an RV when its freezing cold and snowing. If the consignor can’t get the rig sold in the peak season, you might be stuck with your RV through a long cold winter and that can raise even more concerns.
Should you winterize the RV to protect it from the cold weather? What if someone wants to inspect it or take it out on a test drive and test all the systems to be sure they are functional? If your rig is all buttoned up for the winter, will it be in a condition to be shown?
Alternatives to RV consignment
When you want to sell your RV but do not want to trade it in on a new rig at a dealership, you’re pretty much on your own. You could park it at a busy intersection with a For Sale sign in the window, advertise it on Craigslist, and hope that a potential buyer will eventually come calling.
You could alternatively sell it to a wholesaler. This would be a speedy way to get the sale done. But you’ll certainly not get the best price for your rig by using a wholesaler. In fact, they offer the lowest prices for used RVs. Unless your rig is old, broken down or you need to get it sold quickly, this is not a great option.
Consignment services are the middle ground. It’s halfway between parking your rig at a busy intersection and selling it to a wholesaler. The consignment option gives you a little more service. It may attract a wider set of potential buyers. Consignment takes some of the burden off of you. No need to be present when a potential buyer wants to inspect your RV. But as we have discussed, there are drawbacks to using a consignment service to sell your RV.
Selling your RV privately? There is an alternative to these three choices.
You have another alternative to selling your RV.
I wrote about this service in this Camper Report article. The alternative is to use a more comprehensive service. They can assist with:
- vehicle appraisal
- national advertising
- vehicle inspection
- arranging financing for the buyer
- making sure the money is in your bank account before the RV leaves your custody
- delivering the RV to the new owner regardless of where they are located
All these services are provided by National Vehicle, They charge a fraction of what a consignor does. You get the help you need to sell your RV privately. There’s no extra costs, exposure, security risks, logistical nightmares, or delays.
Continue reading: 3 Tips For Selling An RV
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com
FRANKLIN MURPHY says
Our RV friends should know about what are called “in-and-out sales.” We did this through the Dallas National Indoor RV Center and were pleased with the smoothness and ease of the sale and the more than $12,000 we saved. We passed up consignment, and I am certainly glad we did. Of course, the hard part is that you have to find a buyer. Our ad in “RV Trader” (online) opened the door to our buyers. All went smooth and we continue to be friendly with our buyers via email.
Connie Smith says
Wow!! Your article on consignment is pretty harsh. I work for one of the largest Consignment Dealership in KCMO. You make us look like a bunch of crooks.
We are very careful.with out customers RV, spend lots of money on security, and hire professional sales representatives.
Maybe you should consider writing an article on the advantages of using a reputable RV Consignment Dealership.
Robert Spencer says
I sold my Lance Camper a couple of years ago. I was trying to trade it in and the local dealer low-balled me at $6000. I sold it through National in about a month for $36,000. It cost me $750 for them to advertise it and it was a great experience!
Trust an RV dealer to sell yours on consignment? The 1st TT I sold on consignment thru a well known dealer. Price (1997)- $14k. Dealer called saying they wanted to reduce price to $10. Then they had an interested buyer. No way- I’d just been beaten down by a realtor selling my house.
Trying to sell our 2019 Heartland Fuel 5th wheel toy- hauler with party deck. Unfortunately, my husband got sick shortly after he retired and is now on hospice. I am trying to do everything on my own and thought about selling it back to Camping World but would like to try to sell it myself after watching your video. Tried to find the video you spoke about for figuring out how much it is worth but couldn’t find it. Can you help? Thank-you Debbie L , Idaho
I have had two great experiences with using a consignment dealer when selling and one more with buying. The two 5ers each sold within 10 days for top dollar according to my previous research. I bought one from the same dealer at a reasonable price.