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Janet and Paul Stearns

What we paid for our RV

I’ve looked all over the internet for anyone who was sharing their actual RV purchase price numbers. I couldn’t find a single blog or forum post anywhere. There are plenty of articles on negotiating tips and the best time to buy, but not one that I could find has ever posted what they actually paid. Why is that? We have so many resources these days for car buying and what you can expect to pay, why no transparency in RV buying?

Let’s go totally transparent

In this article, I outline the process we went through to purchase our first RV motorhome and our actual purchase price numbers.

Getting started

This article is going to start out like any other, where I am going to tell you to do your research! Do lots and lots of research. Talk to multiple dealers. Go see the coaches in person and then go home and do more research.

If it is possible for you, I highly recommend securing your loan before you select your exact coach and dealer. This makes your buying process similar to buying a new home. You’re pre-approved, you have the power and you can negotiate all day long. In my experience, once you get involved with the dealer’s finance department the “funny math” starts and you don’t know which way is up anymore. Negotiating a good deal on the price of your RV is stressful enough without also having to deal with the financing games.

Set your budget and requirements

We definitely wanted a motorhome and our goal was to get something as big as possible for the money we budgeted. Secondly, we wanted an interior that was modern style-wise. Since this would be our first RV, we would likely not modify it in order to resell or trade-in quickly when the time came. Therefore it had to be sans grandma fabrics so as not to drive me nuts while living in it.

We budgeted $80K and got pre-approved for a loan through Good Sam Financing.

For modern interior design, my inspiration RV was the Winnebago View with its amazing ultra-modern interior. However, it was not winning in the price tag category (over $100K) or its small size. Two adults and two Siberian Huskies is a tight fit for a queen bed and a love seat sized sofa.

We narrowed our search down to the following RVs:

2017 Winnebago Fuze 23A
2017 Thor Ace 30.1
2017 Fleetwood Flair 30U
2017 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U

We quickly eliminated the Winnebago Fuze due to size. We could not reconcile spending the same money for something that small even though the interior ranked high for my modern design style criteria.

Let’s go shop!

We visited local dealerships that had the three models in stock. After seeing the Thor Ace in person, we removed it from the list which narrowed us down to the Fleetwood or the Holiday Rambler. These two coaches are actually identical, they are both built by REV Group.

Figuring out the right price

We took business cards from each salesperson and thanked them. Then we went home and did more research. The coaches we looked at did not have the exact design elements I wanted, so instead of negotiating with these dealerships, I took their pricing as our starting point and began looking for exact matches at other dealerships.

Check MHSRV for pricing

This dealership’s website is pure gold. They are not afraid to show their real discounted pricing on the website. End of year models can be priced up to 40% off. Use this information when negotiating for your coach. Ask your salesperson if they are willing to come in under MHSRV’s price to get your business. If MHSRV has exactly what you want, I don’t think you can go wrong purchasing from them, I’ve read many good reviews.

Get the window sticker (MSRP)

Ask the dealership for the window sticker for each coach you are interested in and compare them to the sticker for the same coach model from other dealerships. We’ve heard many a salesperson say “our model has more upgrades that’s why the price is different”. Stick fingers in your ears and do not listen! Get the sticker, compare it to the same model sticker from other dealerships. You’ll soon find that their claim is just BS. Stick it to them!

Putting it all together to figure out the right price

We began looking for our RV just as the 2018 models were rolling out to dealerships and there was an incentive for dealers to clear out the 2017s. We decided to shop for 2017 models to take advantage of these discounts. The time frame we shopped was March-April 2017 and we completed our sale at the end of April 2017.

2017 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U from MHSRVMHSRV had a 2017 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U for $79,999 a 36% discount off the MSRP of $122,623

 

 

 

 

2017 Fleetwood Flair 30U from General RVGeneral RV had a 2017 Fleetwood Flair 30U for $77,995 a 34% discount off the MSRP of $118,605

 

 

 

 

The difference in these two models was an additional AC on the Holiday Rambler, all other specs were the same.

Now that we had an understanding of the % discount we should be working towards, I started to look at all dealerships for these models to find the exact coach I wanted e.g. color scheme, interior design choices, upgrades, etc.

I located a 2017 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U at Camper’s Inn in Raleigh, NC that had the interior design choices that I wanted. It was not as futuristic modern as the Winnebago View, more like a mid-century mod, but that was cool with me. The listed price on their website was $82,995 which was 31% off the MSRP of $120,560. Based on our research, we knew we needed to get this number down to at least the 36% discount available from MHSRV.

Negotiate by email

I did all my negotiating with Camper’s Inn via email and I recommend this highly for keeping a ‘paper trail’. When we spoke by phone, I followed up with an email to recap what we discussed.

I simply wrote, “Hey, here are two RV’s I’m looking at and their prices are X, can you send me the window sticker for yours to compare?” Then, when I could see they were equal, I asked if they would be willing to come in under their competitor’s price. The salesperson at Camper’s Inn came back quickly at $76K for their 2017 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U. Not bad, now we’re at 36.7% off MSRP.

But then…

2016 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U InteriorBut then I found another coach because I’m obsessed with research. On the Camper’s Inn website, they had a brand new 2016 Holiday Rambler Admiral XE 30U with an interior design I liked even better than the 2017 equivalent. It was listed at $69,988 approximately 35.9% off the MSRP of $109,175. The difference in this RV compared to the 2017 model was again the additional AC unit. The 2016 model had only one AC.*

*In hindsight, this was a mistake for us since we suffered with a hot RV in the Florida summer. Chalk this up to being newbie RVers, our next RV will most certainly have two of the most powerful ACs available!

First I confirmed that it was in fact brand new. It was. Feeling confident that warranty service would take care of any issues whether it was 2016 or 2017, I offered $65K for this coach, approximately 40.5% off the MSRP.

After emails and “checking with the manager”, we agreed to meet in the middle at $67,500 approximately 38% off the MSRP.

To wrap up, we started out intending to spend $80K but we got what we wanted for $67,500 and paid 38% less than the MSRP for a brand new, 30′ class A motorhome.

What do you think? Did we do ok? What has your experience been like when negotiating pricing on a new RV?

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