What is the book value on my used RV?

(It depends on who’s book you’re looking at)

Everyone wants to know what their used RV is worth, and it’s wise for consumers to do their due diligence. However, the answer to the question above is not so simple. The reason is because there is one guide that is predominantly used in the industry that publishes two distinct categories of values. The leading guide used to value used RV’s is NADA. Consumers can go online to https://www.nadaguides.com/RVs and access this guide for free. This guide allows consumers to search for their specific year, make, and model and will provide them with a base “low retail” and base “average retail”. Consumers are also able to add options. This is where numbers can get really inflated since many of the RV’s being valued already include these options in the “Suggested List Price” that NADA is using to calculate the “low retail” and “average retail” values. This means consumers might mistakenly be adding those options in again. While the values look great on the screen, they are over inflated and will likely lead to disappointment in the real marketplace when they talk to a dealer. Consumers also look at the term “average retail” and think that their RV is much nicer than “average”, so they again feel that their RV is worth more.

Now the consumer has a value in mind based on the information they have gathered. They go to their local RV dealer armed with this knowledge and here is where the problem begins. Dealers do not use the NADA consumer guide to value a used RV. Dealers use the wholesale edition which provides auction and lender wholesale pricing for business. Now this is where the consumer thinks a dealer is trying to take advantage of them since they feel they are using the same NADA guide as the dealer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Dealers are using the wholesale edition which provides a “base wholesale” value, not a “low retail” or “average retail”. This is because dealers take trades in at wholesale and try to retail them. Consumers are used to dealing in the world of retail, so seeing a wholesale value for their trade can be quite shocking and disappointing. Owner’s also tend to have an emotional attachment to their RV’s since they know all the money and effort they have invested over the years. Dealers are simply looking at the numbers in order to make a business decision.

In the dealer’s world, they would like to sell their RV at a retail price and take a trade in at a wholesale price. The consumer would of course prefer to buy a new RV at a significant discount and get a retail price for their trade in. The good news is there is a fair solution for both parties. Dealers will either discount their new unit a little and give the consumer a lot for their trade in, or they will discount their new unit a lot and give the consumer a little less for their trade in. In the end it is simply a difference figure that the consumer will agree to, and the deal is made.

In conclusion, it is always best for consumers to do their due diligence and gather all the information they can on the value of their trade in and pricing on new RV’s. They should understand that dealers use a different book and they should not be afraid to ask the dealer to see the book value of their RV. Consumers also need to remember that dealers are entitled to a fair profit just as much as they are entitled to a fair deal. Honesty and transparency exercised by both the consumer and the dealer is where good business is consummated, and both parties win.


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